DIEGO DE TORRES Y VILLAROEL (1696-1759?), Spanish miscellaneous writer, was born in 1696 at Salamanca, where his father was bookseller to the university. In his teens Torres escaped to Portugal where he enlisted under a false name; he next moved to Madrid, living from hand to mouth as a hawker; in 1717 he was ordained subdeacon, resumed his studies at Salamanca, and in 1726 became professor of mathematics at the university. A friend of his having stabbed a priest, Torres was suspected of complicity, and once more fled to Portugal, where he remained till his innocence was proved. He then returned to his chair, which he resigned in 1751 to act as steward to two noblemen; he was certainly alive in 1758, but the date of his death is not known. Torres had so slight a smattering of mathematics that his appointment as professor was thought scandalous even in his own scandalous age; yet he quickly acquired a store of knowledge which he displayed with serene assurance. His almanacs, his verses, his farces, his devotional and pseudo-scientific writings show that he possessed the alert adaptiveness of the born adventurer; but all that remains of his fourteen volumes (1745-1752) is his autobiography, an amusing record of cynical effrontery and successful imposture.
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