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Procopius Divisch

Premonstratensian, b. at Senftenberg, Bohemia, March 26, 1698; d. at Prenditz, Moravia, December 21, 1765

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Divisch, PROCOPIUS, Premonstratensian, b. at Senftenberg, Bohemia, March 26, 1698; d. at Prenditz, Moravia, December 21, 1765. He was christened Wenceslaus, but took the name of Procopius when he became a religious. He began his studies at the Znaym Gymnasium and later entered the cloister school of the Premonstratensians at Bruck, Styria. In 1726 he was ordained and soon after became professor of philosophy at the school. His lectures on physics were illustrated by numerous interesting experiments. He received the doctorate in theology at Salzburg in 1733, his thesis being “Tractatus de Dei unitate sub inscriptione A et ‚Ѷ”. In 1736 he took charge of the little parish of Prenditz near Znaym. Here he had sufficient leisure for work and experiment in his favorite subjects, hydraulics and electricity, constructing the necessary instruments himself. His fame soon spread abroad, and he was called to Vienna to repeat his electrical experiments before the Emperor Francis and the Empress Maria Theresa. He was one of the first to apply electricity in the treatment of disease. In 1750, prior to the publication of the French translation of Franklin’s letters to Collinson (1751), he knew of the discharging property of pointed rods and applied his knowledge to the performance of curious tricks. The first lightning-rod was erected by Divisch at Prenditz, in 1754, before Franklin’s suggestions were known and before they had been carried out elsewhere. Divisch’s device is quite different from that proposed by the Philadelphian. He petitioned the emperor in 1755 to put up similar rods all over the country and thus protect the land from lightning. This proposal was rejected on the advice of the mathematicians of Vienna. He also constructed the Denydor (Denis, “Divisch”, d’or, “of gold”), a musical instrument, imitating string and wind instruments and producing orchestral effects. His theories are expounded in his published work, “Theoretischer Tractat oder die langst verlangte Theorie von der meteorologischen Electricitat” (Tubingen, 1765; Frankfort, 1768; Bohemian tr. Prague, 1899).

WILLIAM FOX


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