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JACOB CATS (1577-1660)

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Originally appearing in Volume V05, Page 537 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JACOB CATS (1577-1660), Dutch poet and humorist, was born at Brouwershaven in Zeeland on the loth of November 1577. Having lost his mother at an early age, and being adopted with his three brothers by an uncle, Cats was sent to school at Zierikzee. He then studied law at Leiden and at Orleans, and, returning to Holland, he settled at the Hague, where he began to practise as an advocate. His pleading in defence of a wretched creature accused of witchcraft brought him many clients and some reputation. He had a serious love affair about this time, which was broken off on the very eve of marriage by his catching a tertian fever which defied all attempts at cure for some two years. For medical advice and change of air Cats went to England, where he consulted the highest authorities in vain. He returned to Zeeland to die, but was cured mysteriously by a strolling quack. He married in 1602 a lady of some property, Elisabeth von Valkenburg, and thenceforward lived at Grypskerke in Zeeland, where he devoted himself to farming and poetry. His best works are: Emblemata or Minnebeelden with Maegdenplicht (1618); Spiegel van den ouden en nieuwen Tijt (1632); Houwelijck . . . (1625); Selfstrijt (1620); Ouderdom, Buitem levee . . . en Hofgedachten op Sorgvliet (1664); and Gedachten op slapelooze nachten (1661). In 1621, on the expiration of the twelve years' truce with Spain, the breaking of the dykes drove him from his farm. He was made pensionary (stipendiary magistrate) of Middelburg; and two years afterwards of Dort. In 1627 Cats came to England on a mission to Charles I., who made him a knight. In 1636 he was made grand pensionary of Holland, and in 1648 keeper of the great seal; in 1651 he resigned his offices, but in 1657 he was sent a second time to England on what proved to be an unsuccessful mission to Cromwell. In the seclusion of his villa of Sorgvliet (Fly-from-Care), near the Hague, he lived from this time till his death, occupied in the composition of his autobiography (Eighty-two Years of My Life, first printed at Leiden in 1734) and of his poems. He died on the 12th of September 166o, and was buried by torchlight, and with great ceremony, in the Klooster-Kerk at the Hague. He is still spoken of as " Father Cats " by his countrymen. Cats was contemporary with Hooft and Vondel and other distinguished Dutch writers in the golden age of Dutch literature, but his Orangist and Calvinistic opinions separated him from the liberal school of Amsterdam poets. He was, however, intimate with Constantin Huygens, whose political opinions were more nearly in agreement with his own. For an estimate of his poetry see DUTCH LITERATURE. Hardly known outside of Holland, among his own people for nearly two centuries he enjoyed an enormous popularity. His diffuseness and the antiquated character of his matter and diction, have, however, come to be regarded as difficulties in the way of study, and he is more renowned than read. A statue to him was erected at Brouwershaven in 1829. See Jacob Cats, Complete Works (1790-1800, 19 vols.), later editions by van Vloten (Zwolle, 1858-1866; and at Schiedam, 1869-187o) ; Pigott, Moral Emblems, with Aphorisms, &c., from Jacob Cats (186o) ; and P. C. Witsen Gejisbek, Het Leven en de Verdienstenwan Jacob Cats (1829). Sou they has a very complimentary reference to Cats in his " Epistle to Allan Cunningham.' CAT'S-EYE, a name given to several distinct minerals, their common characteristic being that when cut with a convex surface they display a luminous band, like that seen by reflection in the eye of a cat. (1) Precious cat's-eye, oriental cat's-eye or chrysoberyl cat's-eye. This, the rarest of all, is a chatoyant variety of chrysoberyl (q.v.), showing in the finest stones a very sharply defined line of light. One of the grandest known specimens was in the Hope collection of precious stones, exhibited for many years at the Victoria and Albert Museum. (2) Quartz cat's-eye. This537 is the common form of cat's-eye, in which the effect is due to the inclusion of parallel fibres of asbestos. Like the chrysoberyl, it is obtained chiefly from Ceylon, but though coming from the East it is often called "occidental cat's-eye "—a term intended simply to distinguish it from the finer or "oriental" stone. It is readily distinguished by its inferior density, its specific gravity being only 2.65, whilst that of oriental cat's-eye is as high as 3'7. A greenish fibrous quartz, cut as cat's-eye, occurs at Hof and some other localities in, Bavaria. (3) Crocidolite cat's-eye, a beautiful golden brown mineral, with silky fibres, found in Griqualand West, and much used in recent years as an ornamental stone, sometimes under the name of " South African cat's-eye." It consists of fibrous quartz, coloured with oxide of iron, and results from the alteration of crocidolite (q.v.). It is often distinguished as " tiger's-eye " (or more commonly " tiger-eye "), whilst a blue variety, less altered, is known as " hawk's-eye." By the action of hydrochloric acid the colour of tiger's-eye may to a large extent be removed, and a greyish cat's-eye obtained. (4) Corundum cat's-eye. In some asteriated corundum (see ASTERIA) the star is imperfect and may be reduced to a luminous zone, producing an indistinct cat's-eye effect. According to the colour of the corundum the stone is known as sapphire cat's-eye, ruby cat's-eye, topaz cat's-eye, &c. (F. W. R.*)
End of Article: JACOB CATS (1577-1660)

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