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WILHELM ROMBERG (1652-1715)

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Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 625 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WILHELM ROMBERG (1652-1715), Dutch natural philosopher, was the son of an officer of the Dutch East India Company, and was born at Batavia (Java) on the 8th of January 1652. Coming to Europe with his family in 1670, he studied law at Jena and Leipzig, and in 1674 became an advocate at Magdeburg. In that town he made the acquaintance of Otto von Guericke, and under his influence determined to devote himself to natural science. He, therefore, travelled in various parts of Europe for study, and after graduating in medicine at Wittenberg, settled in Paris in 1682, From 1685 to 1690 he practised as a physician at Rome; then returning to Paris in 169r, he was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences and appointed director of ' Communicated by Madame Wagner, December 28th, 1897. its chemical laboratory. Subsequently he became teacher of physics and chemistry (1702), and private physician (1705) to the duke of Orleans. His death occurred at Paris on the 24th of September 1715. Homberg was not free from alchetnistical tendencies, but he made many solid contributions to chemical and physical knowledge, recording observations on the preparation of Kunkel's phosphorus, on the green colour produced in flames by copper, on the crystallization of common salt, on the salts of plants, on the saturation of bases by acids, on the freezing of water and its evaporation in vacuo, &c. Much of his work was published in the Recueil de l'Academie des Sciences from 1692 to 1714. The Sal Sedativum Hombergi is boracic acid, which he discovered in 1702, and " Homberg's phosphorus " is prepared by fusing sal-ammoniac with quick lime. HOMBURG-VOR-DER-HOHE, a town and watering-place of Germany, in the Prussian province of Hesse-Nassau, prettily situated at the south-east foot of the Taunus Mountains, 12 M. N. of Frankfort-on-Main, with which it is connected by rail. Pop. (1905) 13,740. Homburg consists of an old and a new town, the latter, founded by the landgrave of Hesse-Homburg Frederick II. (d. 1708), being regular and well-built. Besides the palatial edifices erected in connexion with the mineral water-cure, there are churches of various denominations, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Russian-Greek and Anglican, schools and benevolent institutions. On a neighbouring hill stands the palace of the former landgraves, built in 168o and subsequently enlarged and improved. The White Tower, 183 ft. in height, is said to date from Roman times, and certainly existed under the lords of Eppstein, who held the district in the 12th century. The palace is surrounded by extensive grounds, laid out in the manner of an English park. The eight mineral springs which form the attraction of the town to strangers belong to the class of saline acidulous chalybeates and contain a considerable proportion of carbonate of lime. Their use is beneficial for diseases of the stomach and intestines, and. externally, for diseases of the skin and rheumatism. The establishments connected with the springs are arranged on a scale of great magnificence, and include the Kurhaus (built 1841-1843), with a theatre, the Kaiser Wilhelmsbad and the Kurhausbad. They lie grouped round a pretty park which also furnishes the visitors with facilities for various recreations, such as lawn tennis, croquet, polo and other games. The industries of Homburg embrace iron founding and the manufacture of leather and hats, but they are comparatively unimportant, the prosperity of the town being almost entirely due to the annual influx of visitors, which during the season from May to October inclusive averages 12,000. In the beautiful neighbourhood lies the ancient Roman castle of Saalburg, which can be reached by an electric tramway. Homburg first came into repute as a watering-place in 1834, and owing to its gaming-tables, which were set up soon after, it rapidly became one of the favourite and most fashionable health-resorts of Europe. In 1849 the town was occupied by Austrian troops for the purpose of enforcing the imperial decree against gambling establishments, but immediately on their withdrawal the bank was again opened, and play continued unchecked until 1872, when the Prussian government refused to renew the lease for gambling purposes, which then expired. As the capital of the former landgraviate of Hesse-Homburg, the town shared the vicissitudes of that state. Homburg is also the name of a town in Bavaria. Pop. (1g0o) 4785. It has a Roman Catholic and an Evangelical church, and manufactures of iron goods. In the neighbourhood are the ruins of the castles of Karlsberg and of Hohenburg. The family of the counts of Homburg became extinct in the 15th century. The town came into the possession of Zweibrucken in 1755 and later into that of Bavaria. See Sapp, Bad Homburg (7th ed., Homburg, 1903);, Baumstark, B,id homburg and seine Heilquellen (Wiesbaden, 19o1); Schiek, Homburg and Umgebung (Homburg, 1896) ; Will, Der Kurort [lom''nrg, seine Mineralquellen (Homburg, 188o) ; Hoeben, Bad Homburg and sein Heilapparat (Homburg, 1901); and N. E. Yorke-Davies. Homburg and its Waters (London, 1897).
End of Article: WILHELM ROMBERG (1652-1715)
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