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The Scottish Nation
Bassantin


BASSANTIN, a corruption of Bassendean or Bassingdene, a surname derived from an estate in the parish of Westruther, Berwickshire, which seems at one period to have belonged to a family of the same name, and subsequently was a vicarage belonging to the nuns of Coldstream. Soon after the Reformation, Andrew Currie, vicar of Bassendean, conveyed to William Home, third son of Sir James Home of Coldenknows, “terras ecclesiasticas, mansionem, et glebam vicariae de Bassendene;” whereupon, he obtained from James the Sixth, a charter for the same, on the 11th of February, 1573-4. This William was a progenitor of the Homes of Bassendean, the most distinguished of which family was George Home of Bassendean, who suffered much for his zealous attachment to the cause of civil and religious liberty during the persecuting reigns of Charles the Second and James the Seventh, and was one of those expatriated Scotsmen who brought about the Revolution of 1688.

      Of the ancient family of Bassantin, Bassantoun, or Bassendean, was the subject of the following notice:

BASSANTIN, JAMES, an eminent astronomer and mathematician, the son of the laird of Bassendean, in Berwickshire, was born in the reign of James IV.; and, after studying mathematics at the university of Glasgow, he travelled for further information on the continent. He subsequently went to Paris, where, on a vacancy occurring in the mathematical chair of the university, he was elected professor, and he remained there for some years. He returned to Scotland in 1562, and spent the remainder of his life on his patrimonial estate of Bassendean. The prevailing delusion of that age, particularly in France, was a belief in judicial astrology. In his way home through England, as we learn from Sir James Melville’s Memoirs, he met with Sir Robert Melville, the brother of that gentleman, who was at that time engaged, on the part of the unfortunate Mary, in endeavouring to effect a meeting between her and Elizabeth; when he predicted that all his efforts would be in vain; “for, first, they will neuer meit togither, and next, there will nevir be bot discembling and secret hattrent (hatred) for a whyle, and at length captivity and utter wrak for our Quen by England.” Melville’s answer was, that he could not credit such news, which he looked upon as “false, ungodly, and unlawful;” on which Bassantin replied, “Sa far as Melanthon, wha was a godly theologue, has declared and written anent the naturall scyences, that are lawfull and daily red in dyvers Christian universities; in the quhilkis, as in all othir artis, God geves to some less, to some mair and clearer knawledge than till othirs; be the quhilk knawledge I have also that at length, that the kingdom of England sall of rycht fall to the crown of Scotland, and that ther are some born at this instant that sall bruik lands and heritages in England. Bot, alace, it will cost many their lyves and many bluidy battailes will be fouchen first, and the Spaniartis will be helpers, and will take a part to themselves for ther labours.” The first part of Bassantin’s prediction, which he might very well have hazarded from what he may have known of Elizabeth’s character and disposition, and also from the fact that Mary was the next heir to the English throne, proved true; the latter portion showed, in the result, how little faith should be placed in the pseudo-science of astrology, which is now exploded. Bassantin was a zealous protestant, and a supporter of the Regent Murray. He died in 1568. His principal work is a Treatise of Discourse on Astronomy, written in French, which was translated into Latin by John Tornaesius, (M. de Tournes,) and published at Geneva in 1599. He wrote four other treatises. Although well versed for his time in what are called the exact sciences, Bassantin had received no part of a classical education. Vossius observes, that his astronomical discourse was written in very bad French, and that the author knew “neither Greek nor Latin, but only Scotch.” Bassantin’s Planetary System was that of Ptolemy. His works contain a laborious collection of the theories and observations of preceding astronomers, and are monuments of his own extensive acquirements. The following is a list of them:

      Astronomia Jacobi Bassantini Scoti, Opus absolutissimum, & c. In which the Observations of the most expert Mathematicians on the Heavens are digested into order and method. Latin and French, Geneva, 1599. fol.

      Paraphrase de l’Astrolabe, avec une amplification de l’usage de Pastrolabe. Lyons, 1555; and, again, at Paris, 1617, 8vo.

      Super Mathematica Genethliaca; i.e. of the Calculation of Nativities.

      Arithmetica.

      Musica Secuudum Platonem, or Music on the Principles of the Platonists.

      De Mathesi in genere.


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