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Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences

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Georges Cuvier

3. Sixteenth-century Botanists, Mineralogists, and Chemists

9. The Early Mineralogists

Texte intégral

De machinis tractoris fatis…
Plate from Agricola’s De re metallica libri XII (1556) Cliché Bibliothèque centrale, MNHN.

1Messieurs,

2You remember that the period of our study covers the sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth centuries, which is the time between the Renaissance of the Arts and the foundation of the academies of sciences. We already discussed the history of anatomy, zoology, and botany during that time; we still need to go over the history of mineralogy and chemistry.

3Mineralogy followed the same steps as the other natural sciences. It started as well with the commentaries and explanations of the Ancients; then observations were done on minerals that were geographically closely located, and later on minerals located in foreign countries. However, since minerals on a global scale are less varied than plant and animal productions, these observations did not have the significance they had for zoology and botany. Finally, as with both of these sciences, mineralogy was given systematic methods, with divisions and subdivisions to make the study of minerals easier; in fact, minerals were organized much faster than plants and animals because they were less numerous than the organized living things.

  • 1 [Torbern Olaf Bergman (born 20 March 1735, Katharinberg; died 8 July 1784, Medevi), Swedish chemis (...)
  • 2 [Baron Axel Fredrik Cronstedt (born 23 December 1722, Turinge; died 19 August 1765, Säter), Swedis (...)

4But these works were far from being perfect; it is only much later that they started to introduce specific characteristics on which today’s classification of minerals is based. The distribution of minerals is more complete and more perfect than the one of organized living things because it is based on the chemical nature and the mathematical form of mineral substances, which are two qualities that can be asserted; whereas, the classification of the organized living things is based only on the visible structure of the organs and the apparent phenomena of life, which are still difficult to explain since it does not fall as much within the sciences of mathematics and experimentation. We will see that Bergman1 and Cronstedt,2 around the middle of the eighteenth century, were the first to begin to classify minerals according to their chemical composition, and it is only at the end of the same century that observations were done on the structure of crystals, the molecules of minerals, and their shape as a direct result of their molecule arrangement, with enough accuracy to enable the study of minerals to become a science.

5I mentioned that mineralogy started and developed in the same order as zoology and botany; its geographic development was also similar since Italy is again where the first editors of the works of the Ancients on mineralogy can be found as well as the first authors of systems and methods. However, Italy did not contribute to this science as much as other countries because it does not have as many mines as other countries and those it owns have not been in operation for as long as those in Germany, for example. We will see that the German mineralogists are the ones who contributed the most to the progress of this science during the period we are studying.

  • 3 [Camillo Leonardi de Pesaro (born Pesaro, fl. 1502, died after 1532), physician, astronomer, and a (...)
  • 4 [Speculum lapidum clarissimi artium et medicine doctoris Camilli Leonardi pisaurensis. Valerii Sup (...)
  • 5 [Cesare Borgia (born 13 September 1475 or April 1476, Rome; died 12 March 1507, Viana, Kingdom of (...)
  • 6 [Pope Alexander VI, see Lesson 5, note 50.]
  • 7 [Peripatetic philosophy, a school of philosophy in Ancient Greece that dates from about 335 B.C., (...)
  • 8 [For Albert the Great, see Volume 1, Lesson 23.]

6The first Italian author to study minerals was Camillo Leonardi de Pesaro;3 his book called Speculum lapidum, the Mirror of Stones, was printed in Venice in 1502.4 It is dedicated to the famous Cesare Borgia5 who was the son of Pope Alexander VI6 and, at that time, Duke of Romagna. This book looks at minerals according to the peripatetic philosophy.7 In the first part, the author studies them in a general perspective; he examines their composition and what creates their concretion. He cites the locations where each kind of stone can be found and relates how during his lifetime some meteorites had fallen from the sky in Lombardi. You can remember that this phenomenon had been reported by authors of all periods of history and during the Middle Ages —Albert the Great tried to give an explanation for it.8

  • 9 [Conrad Gessner, see Lesson 4, below.]
  • 10 [Diamond, from the ancient Greek adamas, meaning unbreakable or unalterable, one of the best known (...)

7In his second part, Leonardi explains quite accurately how to recognize whether precious gemstones are natural or artificial. He discusses each one separately, but with no systematic method, only in alphabetical order, like Gessner9 had done for his studies of animals, and most of the first botanists did with plants. I already told you that this method is somewhat against nature because it implies we already know the names of the objects; but the human mind reaches the truth so slowly that it took quite a long time before this error was acknowledged. Leonardi began his study with the adamas diamond,10 agate, amethyst, etc. This section of his book is a full compilation of the Ancients, like all the writings from the beginning of this period.

  • 11 [Les pierres talismaniques, part 3 of Camillo Leonardi’s Speculum lapidum; see notes 3 and 4, abov (...)
  • 12 [Cabala, any occult doctrine or science; more specifically, a system of esoteric philosophy develo (...)
  • 13 His [Leonardi’s] book features a recipe [whereby one can] become invisible just by wishing for it (...)
  • 14 [Sympathia septem metallorum ac septem selectorum lapidum ad planetas, D. Petri Arlensis de Scudal (...)
  • 15 [Petrus Arlensis de Scudalupi (fl. 1610), French physician, chemist, and writer, author of Sympath (...)
  • 16 [Erasmus Stella or John Stiller (born 1460, Zwickau, Saxony; died 2 April 1521), a German physicia (...)
  • 17 [Pliny’s work on precious stones is found in book 36 of Naturalis historia; see Volume 1, Lesson 1 (...)

8The third part, called Of the sculpture of stones,11 is very weird and filled with superstitions. At that time, the figures engraved on stones supposedly held very peculiar virtues taken from the cabala and alchemy,12 but especially from the philosophical cabala I told you about, which was a mixture of Platonism and Jewish superstitious beliefs. Leonardi describes all the rules that need to be followed to make these engravings, and explains their various virtues; he explains the effect of illustrating this or that planet, or geometric shape.13 Although these beliefs are completely absurd, they were still quite popular a century after Leonardi and his book, which was reprinted in 1610, in Paris, with a new appendix entitled Sympathia septem metallorum ac septem selectorum lapidum ad planetas, D. Petri Arlensis de Scudalupis presbyteri Hierosolymitani.14 You know that the alchemists from the Middle Ages had made a connection between the seven planets and the seven metals that were known at that time. The sun was associated with gold, the moon with silver, Saturn with lead, Venus with copper, Jupiter with pewter, and Mercury with quicksilver; the latter association still bears this old name. Scudalupi15 established similar relationships between the planets and some precious gemstones. However, all these books were written with a cabalistic or alchemic approach; thus, they do not belong to natural history. The same applies to Erasmus Stella’s book, De gemmis libellus,16 which was printed in Strasburg in 1530, and which is merely a reproduction of or comments on Pliny’s work on precious gemstones.17

  • 18 [Georg Pawer, or Bauer in modern German, better known by the Latinized version of his name, Georgi (...)
  • 19 [De re metallica libri XII, see note 18, above.]
  • 20 This date [1546] is of a second edition since the first edition is from 1530; it is called Dialogu (...)

9The first author who truly observed after nature and whose book kept the credit it deserved the longest, because of the strength of its composition, is a German called Bauer, Georgius Agricola in Latin.18 He was born in Glauchau in 1494; thus, he is from the end of the fifteenth century. He studied in Leipzig, then in Italy, and worked as a physician in Joachimstal, in Bohemia, and Chemnitz, near the mines of Saxony, which were the richest and the oldest of Europe. He was the doctor for the workers and managers of these mines; thus, it was easy for him to learn about mining exploitation, the various kinds of minerals and the location of their deposit. Because he was so well educated, he studied the various schools of philosophy of that time and was a student of what we call today the classical school; his book, De re metallica (Of metals),19 is written with great elegance. It was printed in Basel in 154620 and because it was considered to be the work of reference on the subject, and therefore studied by all the men who were involved in mining exploitation, it was reprinted many times. The topic is divided into twelve parts. The first part is a very well-done introduction that describes the history of ancient mines. The second part discusses how to discover mines, and describes the nature of the mountains that usually hold metallic veins. Already by then, some people pretended they were able to discover mines and water sources with a divinatory wand also called a hydroscope. This hydroscope was a forked branch of hazel wood that was held in the hand and that was supposed to strongly turn by itself as the person holding it was walking on soil that contained either water or metallic substances.

  • 21 Pan amalgamation is a process that involves burning or extracting from the mines sulfur, arsenic, (...)
  • 22 A stamp battery was used to crush the ore before burning it. It was made of two metallic jaws that (...)
  • 23 [Agua regia is nitro-hydrochloric acid, a highly corrosive mixture of acids, formed by mixing conc (...)
  • 24 [Geber is Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan (fl. c. 721-c. 815), a prominent Persian or Arab polymath: a c (...)
  • 25 The crucible is a small container in the shape of a cup made of vegetal ashes or burnt bones; chem (...)

10Agricola explained that he had someone do this experiment in front of him and declared that the rotation movement of the divinatory wand is always created by an accidental movement of the hand that holds it; thus, if any water source or metallic deposits were ever discovered that way, it was by pure chance. In his third part, Agricola discusses the veins, which are cavities or canals that go through large rocks and are usually the repository of minerals. He gives their direction, their differences in power, and what the miner can expect from them. His fourth part treats of geometry applied to the surface of mines in the case of concessions; the fifth part is about all the necessary operations required to reach the minerals, how to dig the well, build the galleries, support them, etc. The sixth part includes details of all the equipment used by miners, from the hammer to the exhaustion equipment. The seventh part describes the crucibles, the furnaces, and how to produce mineral in large quantity. The eighth part discusses washing, pan amalgamation,21 ore crushing,22 and melting. The description of the wind tunnels is featured in the ninth part. The smelting process or separation of the precious metals, such as gold or silver that is contained in the ore, is discussed in the tenth part. Agricola discusses this topic as a well-versed man; he describes agua regia,23 which is a discovery from the Middle Ages that we find also in the work of Geber24 and that of other Arab and European chemists. It was used to dissolve gold. He also describes the melting crucible,25 which is another piece of equipment used for smelting. In the eleventh part, the author goes on with the same topic. Finally in his twelfth part, he discusses vitrification and the history of famous stones that existed during his lifetime. This work is more a treatise on mine exploitation than a treatise on mineralogy.

  • 26 [De animantibus subterraneis liber, ab autore recognitus, cum indicibus diuersis, quicquid in oper (...)
  • 27 [Aristotle, see Volume 1, Lessons 7 and 8.]

11Agricola wrote other books as well, some on physics, some on mineralogy; but even his books on physics are related to the science of minerals. In his book called Of the Origin and Causes of subterraneous substances,26 he explains the mineral phenomena according to Aristotle’s principles,27 but in a very imperfect way.

  • 28 [De natura eorum quae effluunt ex terra libri IIII, Basel: Hieronymum Frobenium & Nicolaum Epicopi (...)

12In another book called Of the Nature of things that come from the earth,28 he describes the various mineral waters, bitumen —basically everything that can run on an incline.

  • 29 [De natura fossilium libri X, Basel: Hieronymum Frobenium & Nicolaum Epicopium, 1546, pp. 654-664. (...)

13His third book is called Of the Nature of Fossils.29 This book is a real treatise on mineralogy. It is divided into ten parts and was printed in Basel in 1546, the same year as the treatise on metallurgy that I mentioned earlier. He provides the first method of classification of minerals; what is remarkable is the fact that this method was used almost up until it was decided to divide minerals according to their chemical structure. The first class includes soil; the second is about concrete substances; the third, rocks; the fourth, minerals or semi-metals; and the fifth, pure metals. The author does not associate soils with rocks as today’s mineralogists do, which is correct since the only difference between rocks and soil is that rocks are solid and soil is friable. At the time of Agricola, only the external shape, consistency, and uses were taken into account. Agricola divided soils according to their uses; he separates those that are used for agriculture from those that are used for pottery or as fuller’s earth, and those used by painters and artists, as well as those used in medicine. This method is wrong: it is designed backward, like the methods in botany I told you about, since it requires the knowledge of what we want to learn. I will not discuss the subdivisions of the other chapters that are not very methodic either; however, we can notice already the specific knowledge of many substances. For example, the rock classification includes fluorite and several other similar minerals.

  • 30 [De re metallica, see note 18, above.]

14In his treatise De re metallica,30 Agricola introduces molybdenum, antimony, and pyrite. Antimony became very famous during his lifetime for its chemical and medical uses. His treatise on metals mentions zinc, bismuth, and several metals that were known by the Ancients.

15Both his books, De re metallica and De natura fossilium, were used as references by all subsequent mineralogists until the middle of the eighteenth century.

16Agricola wrote a few other books but we don’t need to talk about them today. This remarkable man died in 1555.

  • 31 [Christopher Encelius Salveldensis or Christoph Entzelt (born 1517, Saalfeld, Germany; died 15 Mar (...)

17Two years after his death, a book was published with the same title as his De re metallica. This book was written by a German called Christopher Encelius31 from Salfeld in Saxony. It is far less significant than the one written by Agricola and includes only three volumes; however, it describes the chemical principles of metallurgy. In addition, the author adopts ideas related to the structure of minerals from the chemists of the Middle Ages and the alchemists. According to him, sulfur is the father of metals and quicksilver its mother; the different kinds of metals are the result of their various combinations with salts. These ideas were very favorable to alchemy since, as long as it was thought that metals differed from each other only in the proportional differences of such fixed substances, it was believed that it would be possible to interchange them, with an addition or a subtraction of such substances. Thus, we can see that alchemy was the passion of that time; it was only at the end of the period we are studying that alchemy started to lose its momentum. Encelius also had a system by which he divides minerals into four classes: first he discusses rocks, then elements that can be melted (which are the metals), then sulfur, and salts. These divisions are closer to today’s divisions than to the former divisions that were only based on chemical properties because it matches the soils to rocks. He considers soils as pulverized rocks. His book actually contains several observations that are well known today but were new at that time. Ores are linked to the kind of metal they produce but this connection is not always accurate; for example, he links pyrite and cadmium to copper, while pyrite contains as much iron as copper, and cadmium contains zinc and silica.

18Encelius is still a commentator on the Ancients; he mixes erudition with his own observations, but this approach is natural. This is how human things progress: they do not cut short one day to start a new direction the day after; they develop as a continuum; they move forward without disconnections.

  • 32 [De thermalibus aquis libri VII, de metallis et fossilibus libri duo, Venice: Ludovicum Avantium, (...)

19At the time of Encelius, a small book was published by Gabriello Falloppio called De thermalibus aquis, de metallis et de fossilibus (Of thermal waters, metals, and fossils)32 but we are just mentioning it for memory since it does not contain anything important.

  • 33 [Conrad Gessner, see Lesson 4.]
  • 34 [De rerum fossilium, lapidum et gemmarum maxime, figuris & similitudinibus liber: non solum medici (...)
  • 35 [There seems to be no satisfactory English equivalent for this term, which in French is pierres fi (...)
  • 36 Voltaire [nom de plume of François-Marie Arouet (French Enlightenment author, historian, and philo (...)
  • 37 [Cerebrites are stony corals, specifically brain corals of the family Faviidae, so called because (...)
  • 38 [Asterites are radiated or star-shaped minerals or fossils; more specifically the fossilized stems (...)
  • 39 [Crinoids or sea lilies, marine animals that make up the class Crinoidea of the phylum Echinoderma (...)
  • 40 [Belemnites, an extinct order of cephalopods that existed during the Mesozoic era, from the Lower (...)
  • 41 [Lapides Judaici or Jew’s Stones are fossilized spines of certain cidaroid echinoids, that is, sea (...)
  • 42 [Glossopetrae, large, triangular fossilized teeth of sharks, once believed to be petrified tongues (...)

20And here comes again a man we praised so much when we talked about zoology and botany, Conrad Gessner.33 This great naturalist left us a book called De rerum fossilium, lapidum et gemmarum figuris et similitudinibus; it was printed in Zurich in 1565, in-octavo.34 Mineralogy is not studied in its entirety in this book; Gessner only studies the structure of minerals. The former authors had barely looked at this aspect of their properties; Gessner dedicates a whole book to it and we can consider it the first book to discuss “pierres figurées.”35 He studies the mathematic form that mineral substances take when they are left in their own solutions. He considers stalactites and other formations as accidental. The most important of his remarks is related to petrification. He did not know yet whether petrified rocks used to be living things or whether they were the product of natural forces, opinions that split scholars to such an extent that even a century after Gessner’s death, there were still some people who thought that nature had strong enough powers to configure mineral matter, the same way it can configure organic matter.36 However, what is important in Gessner’s work is his perfect representation of several fossils such as cerebrites,37 asterites,38 crinoids,39 belemnites,40 Lapides Judaici,41 and glossopetrae.42 The latter fossil was called glossopetrae, which means stones of tongue, because it was believed that they represented the tongue of petrified snakes.

  • 43 [Great or High Priest of the Jews, the chief religious official of the Israelite religion and of c (...)
  • 44 [Ruaeus or Larue is Charles de La Rue (born 3 August 1643; died 27 May 1725), known in Latin as Ca (...)
  • 45 [Andrea Bacci (born 1524, Sant ‘Elpidio a Mare; died 24 October 1600, Rome), an Italian philosophe (...)
  • 46 [Epiphanius of Salamis (born c. 310 or 320, Judea; died 403, at sea), bishop of Salamis, Cyprus, a (...)
  • 47 [Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation, often known simply as Revelation, the final book of the New T (...)

21Around the same time as the publication of Gessner’s book, were also published several other works on some stones that are mentioned in various ancient authors. These writings are only commentaries, especially those related to the precious gemstones that are mentioned in the old and new Testaments. You remember that the Great Priest of the Jews43 bore on his chest a plate with twelve precious gemstones, which are mentioned in the Book of Leviticus. The question of knowing what these stones were kept many people busy. Ruaeus or Larue44 wrote about it; and Andrea Bacci from the Marche in Ancona wrote a short treatise on these twelve precious gemstones.45 There is still a book by Epiphanius,46 an ancient Greek archbishop, in which the stones located on the chest plate held by the Great Priest of the Jews are mentioned. There is also another book related to the stones mentioned in the Apocalypse.47 I mentioned all these books so that we do not forget anything that is somewhat known about the topic since the science has not benefited much from them.

  • 48 [Lazarus Erkern or Ercker (born c. 1528, Annaberg; died 7 January 1594, Prague), a Saxon and Bohem (...)
  • 49 [Docimastic art is metallurgy, the art of assaying metals; the art of separating metals from forei (...)
  • 50 [Agricola, see notes 18 and 20, above.]
  • 51 [Beschreibung allerfürnemisten Mineralischen Ertzt, unnd Bergwercks arten, wie dieselbigen, unnd e (...)
  • 52 [There are Frankfurt editions of Ercker’s Aula subterranea, domina dominantium, subdita subditorum (...)

22In 1574, Lazarus Erkern48 published a work in folio that provides information of a more distinguished nature. In one of the volumes of this publication, the author discusses the docimastic art,49 which is the art of determining the nature and quantity of useful metal in an ore. The processes of this art, which is so critical to all mineralogists, had only been developed superficially by Agricola.50 Erkern, whose history is not very well known, filled that gap. His book, published in 1574, is called Description of the main kinds of minerals and how to smelt ore in furnace in order to identify its metal.51 Furnace smelting was the process used in the past to smelt ore in large furnaces. This work was reprinted in Frankfurt in 1578 and 1590, with this peculiar title: Alua subterranea, etc., Subterranean courtyard without which princes cannot govern and subjects obey them;52 it is an allusion to precious metals. This treatise by Erkern remained a classic resource on docimastic art for a century, like the one by Agricola, which was the general source of knowledge in metallurgy. Thus, around the end of the sixteenth century, all the branches of mineralogy and metallurgy had been discussed by the Germans with more or less accuracy.

  • 53 [Bernard Palissy (born c. 1510; died c. 1590, Paris), a French Huguenot potter, hydraulics enginee (...)
  • 54 [Anne de Montmorency (born 15 March 1493, Chantilly, Oise; died 12 November 1567, Paris), a French (...)
  • 55 [Chateau d’Ecouen, a historic chateau in the city of Ecouen, north of Paris, built between 1538 an (...)
  • 56 [Henry II, see Lesson 2, note 52.
  • 57 Monsieur [Marie Alexandre] Lenoir [French archaeologist; born 27 December 1761, Paris; died 11 Jun (...)
  • 58 [Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre, see Lesson 2, note 54.]
  • 59 [Laroche Foucault is François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac (born 15 September (...)
  • 60 [Henry IV, see Lesson 2, note 57.]
  • 61 [When on 12 May 1588 King Henry III (see Lesson 2, note 41) was forced to flee Paris during the Fr (...)
  • 62 [Charles of Lorraine or Charles de Guise, Duke of Mayenne (born 26 March 1554, Alençon; died 3 Oct (...)
  • 63 Henry III [see note 61, above] went to visit him in jail and told him: “My dear friend, if you are (...)

23We owe the introduction of such knowledge in France to a man who is almost contemporary to those we talked about earlier; his name was Bernard Palissy.53 He was born in the diocese of Agen in 1499; he was very poor and never learned Latin. His first occupation was land surveyor, designer, and painter of figures; in order to survive, he traveled all over France. Always very curious, wherever he went he researched natural productions. Whenever he had the opportunity, he met with pharmacists and people dealing with chemistry or even better, with alchemy. This is how he acquired the great knowledge that he applied to the art of manufacturing earthenware and to the structure of enamels. He then established a way to manufacture enamels, the products of which are still famous today, although the colors are not very diverse and the blue is too dominant. He took the title of earth worker and designer of rustic figurines. The constable of Montmorency54 was his first benefactor; he hired him to make the cobblestones and other earth tiles that embellished the castle of Ecouen;55 some are still there today; others were removed and are kept in cabinets. He created for Henry II,56 and for some of this king’s successors, jars of various dimensions, dishes, and other similar objects on which are applied enamel figures, with a process and substance that he learned from his long research. Today, these figures are remarkable only for the good taste in design. Palissy, who was a designer during his travels, seemed to have had the sense of art, and he tried to reproduce the drawings of the great masters who, during the sixteenth century, were more numerous and skilled than at any other time. As a potter, he already had the merit to have chosen such models.57 He was granted a certificate as potter to the king, which allowed him to live in the Tuileries where he continued his manufacture. It was for him a way to escape the massacre of Saint Bartholomew58 since in 1562 he had already been put in jail for being a Protestant. Laroche Foucault59 and other lords who had hired him at that time saved him by hiding him in his factory in the Tuileries. But he was persecuted again by Henry IV60 during the siege of Paris and during the domination of the Sixteen.61 The Duke of Mayenne62 was able to save his life but not prevent his incarceration at the Bastille63 where he died in 1589.

  • 64 He [Palissy] was so convinced about the truth of his opinions that he posted on the wall of his sc (...)

24Palissy not only manufactured ceramics; he also gave public lectures on mineralogy for which he had put together quite a significant cabinet.64 During his travels he had gathered everything that seemed unique to him and had classified these items. According to the catalog of his cabinet that he left behind, it seems that it included many peculiar stalactites, minerals, metals, pyrites, and most of all, a large number of petrified specimens. He had a preference for these kinds of rocks. He was the first, or at least one of the first, to assert that fossil shells that could be found in the mountains were actually remains of marine animals; he even proved in a very delicate manner, by showing how the most fragile and delicate parts of these shells were maintained in their entirety, that they had not been transported by a flood to the locations where they were found but that they lived in these very locations, which proved thus that the sea used to exist in these locations.

25This is, as you can see, the beginning of modern zoology. We saw in the various works on rocks either from the Ancients, the Middle Ages, or from a more recent time, how some questions of physics related to each rock structure, the formation of crystals and of small rocks were discussed, but the general question of how these huge crusts, which today make up the solid parts of the earth, had not been asked yet; it only started to be asked when one wondered where this humongous quantity of organic things, and especially these billions of shells that can be found in some parts of the globe came from. Men from the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries asserted that they were the result of natural processes, a product of the forces of nature, of the aberrations of its life-giving strength. Palissy excluded these errors from the domain of science.

  • 65 [Saintonge, a small region and historical province on the Atlantic coast of France within the dépa (...)
  • 66 [Recepte véritable par laquelle tous les hommes de la France peuvent apprendre à multiplier et aug (...)
  • 67 [Discours admirables, de la nature des eaux et fonteines, tant naturelles qu’artificielles, des me (...)
  • 68 [Palissy’s treatise on marl (calcium carbonate or lime-rich sedimentary rock), part of his Discour (...)
  • 69 [ Œuvres de Bernard Palissy, revues sur les exemplaires de la Bibliothèque du Roi, avec des notes (...)

26This great man is also one of those who contributed the most to agriculture by recommending the use of the marl and of shelly sand, the latter being another kind of marl made of fragments of shells that he had the opportunity to learn about during his trips to Saintonge65 and other provinces where this shelly sand was abundant. The book in which he mentions it is called True recipe that can make every man of France learn how to multiply and increase their wealth.66 It was published in La Rochelle in 1563. The other book of importance from him is called Admirable discourse of the nature of waters and fountains, either natural or artificial, of metals, salts and saline, rocks, soils, fire, enamels, and several other excellent secrets about natural things.67 In 1580, he also published a treatise on marl;68 finally, a few of his other writings were included in a new edition of his works that was published in 1777 by Monsieur Faujas de Saint-Fond.69

27Bernard Palissy did not have any classical education; he was a self-taught man, which did not prevent him from being one of the most useful men of his time since he spread in France the taste for mineralogy, contributed to the progress of agriculture, and was the first to express ideas related to the earth’s revolution.

  • 70 [Andre Cesalpino, see Lesson 2, note 47.]
  • 71 [De metallicis libri tres, Rome: Aloysi Zannetti, 1596, [16] + 222 + [1] p., in-4°; a book of grea (...)
  • 72 [Tabasheer, a translucent white substance, composed of silica and water, with traces of lime and p (...)

28The other authors of that time are more regular mineralogists than the ones we just talked about. Their methods of classification still deserves some credit; they are closer to the ones that were used around the same time in zoology and especially in botany. The first creator of these methods is one who actually helped methodic botany develop. Andre Cesalpino,70 whom I talked about when I discussed his work on plants, was the one who classified minerals in the most satisfying manner. His work called De metallicis libri tres was printed in Rome in 1596.71 Under the word metallicis, the author included, like his predecessors, every single mineral, as we can see in his system. First he separates minerals between soils and salts, or substances that dissolve in water; the word dissolve also means dilute since while salts dissolve, soil only dilutes. At that time, chemical knowledge was not developed enough to make this distinction possible. Then he discusses substances that dissolve in oil and that some mineralogists called sulfurs; then those that are not meltable and do not dissolve in water (rocks); then metals and substances that melt in fire. This division is based on apparent characteristics; while some soils and salts melt under fire like metals, this division is quite satisfactory for a first trial and it has been kept in its main principles until now. Cesalpinus’s subdivisions are based on less important characteristics: he divids earth into arid and fertile, colored earths and medicinal earths. This latter division is somewhat outside of the rules of his system since it is based on the uses or properties of substances rather than on apparent properties. Stones are divided into rocks, marble, precious gemstones, and stones that come from organized bodies —since at that time, mineralogy included all stony products that come from organized living things, such as the stones that form in the bladder and the liver— Tabasheer,72 and other stony products from plants.

  • 73 [Gaspard or Caspar Schwenckfeld von Ossig (born 1489 or 1490, Ossig, Silesia; died 10 December 156 (...)
  • 74 [Stirpium et fossilium Silesiae catalogus, in quo praeter etymon, natales, tempus; natura et vires (...)

29Several other systems similar to Cesalpinus’s system existed and I will talk about them rapidly. The first is the one by Gaspard de Schwenckfeld,73 from Silesia who also wrote several books on the animals of Silesia, which we will talk about later. The book we want to discuss today is a treatise on plants and fossils from Silesia that was published in 1600.74 He divides minerals into earth, stones, substances, metals, and ores. Each of these classes is then subdivided: he separates earth into simple and conglomerate; among the conglomerates, he includes mostly the sandstones that contain various elements, the soils that are impregnated with asphalt substances, and those that are mixed with saline or metallic composites. With regard to stones, he divides them into rough stones and noble stones; the noble ones are those that can be polished, which he divides into semi-precious gemstones like marble, porphyry, and agates, and the real precious gemstones. While this classification is somewhat based on the use of minerals, it also includes characteristics based on apparent properties. The other subdivisions described in this book are not interesting enough to talk about.

  • 75 [Bernardus Caesius or Bernardo Cesi (born 1580; died 1630), author of Mineralogia, sive naturalis (...)

30Then comes the treatise written by a Jesuit from Medina named Bernardus Caesius;75 it was printed in Lyon in 1636. Minerals are divided between soils and hard substances, stones and metals, thus the author did not invent anything new, but I mention this book because it also contains many superstitious beliefs from the cabala or alchemy on the virtues of stones.

  • 76 [We are unable to identify this “Georgius” (not to be confused with Georgius Agricola; see note 18 (...)

31Sweden, which produced such a large number of mineralogists, gave us one of the oldest authors; his name is Georgius and his book was published in Stockholm in 1643.76 Minerals are divided into earths, ores (which include salts and sulfurs), metals, mines or substances related to metals that are made up of various combinations of their parts, and finally stones. These were more or less the subdivisions that were known at that time, except for a few changes in the order.

  • 77 [Ulisse Aldrovandi, see Lesson 4, note 31.]
  • 78 [Musaeum metallicum in libros IV distributum Bartholomaeus Ambrosinus... labore et studio composui (...)

32Ulisse Aldrovandi,77 a professor from Bologna whose work I already told you about, dedicated one of his volumes to the history of minerals; this volume is called Musaeum metallicum, published in Bologna, in 1648, by Ambrosinus.78 As done by Cesius, a division is made between earths, concrete substances, stones, and metals. He is only noteworthy for the great quantity of petrifactions and fossils that he introduces. I already mentioned a few words about it when I talked about the other works written by this great naturalist. You probably remember that these fossils were teeth of the elephant, hippopotamus, and horse, and a large quantity of shells and other similar objects. They were at that time of the greatest interest and remained interesting for a long time; as a matter of fact, teeth of the hippopotamus mentioned by Aldrovandi were understood only recently when a large quantity of this kind of fossil was found in various regions of Italy.

  • 79 [Jonston, see Lesson 6, note 113.]
  • 80 [Notitia regni mineralis: seu subterraneorum catalogus, cum praecipuis differentiis, Leipzig: Viti (...)

33Finally, here comes Jonston.79 This man, who ended the history of zoology during the period of our study, can be considered the one who achieved a key milestone in mineralogy during the same period of time, with his book Notitia regni mineralis, printed in Leipzig in 1661.80 Jonston classifies minerals the same way as the three or four authors I just talked about: earths, concrete substances, combustible or asphalt substances, stones, and metals. You see that he only differs from his predecessors by the order of his classification, but his divisions are exactly the same. His subdivisions, however, are very different; some authors had divided stones as to whether they can be polished or not. Jonston classifies them according to whether they are concretions and nodules or not. Then he subdivides them whether they are clear, colored, or opaque; then by color; all these were apparent properties that could fit a system in mineralogy, but they have been replaced since then by characteristics that are more significant and more substantial.

  • 81 [Agricola, see note 18, above.]

34I will not talk any longer about these methods and their authors that I just introduced in alphabetical order. They did not contribute very much to the progress of mineralogy since almost all of them repeated or copied each other. Only a few stood out with their discovery of a few gems or a larger number of nodules or concretions; but, in terms of new principles, we did not see anything new since Agricola81 who was the main contributor to mineralogy, along with Gessner, Aldrovandi for his model for petrified rocks, and Cesalpinus for the method of classification.

35According to the plan we set up when we began our study, we are now going to look at the history of chemistry during the same period, with a special focus on mineralogy.

  • 82 [Galen, see Volume 1, Lesson 16.]
  • 83 [Dioscorides, see Volume 1, Lesson 12, note 62.]
  • 84 [Theophrastus, see Volume 1, Lesson 9.]
  • 85 [Aristotle, see Volume 1, Lessons 7 and 8.]
  • 86 [Pliny, see Volume 1, Lesson 13.]

36Chemistry played a more significant role than mineralogy. Its origin is also different from the other sciences we talked about. Anatomy had been studied by the ancients with great success since it reached great perfection with Galen’s work;82 botany was also a subject of study by the Ancients and we can only praise the efforts of Dioscorides83 and Theophrastus84 for its improvement. We should always talk about Aristotle’s zoology with admiration.85 Finally with regard to mineralogy, the information that Theophrastus, Pliny,86 and even Dioscorides left behind was so valuable that when men of the Renaissance started studying scientific matters, they felt the need to research their works.

37But chemistry was unknown to Antiquity; the Egyptians only had some knowledge to produce colors and enamels, and to exploit mines. These actions do include chemical effects, but it is one thing to obtain results than to have theories; yet the Ancients did not have any theories, or at least none remains.

  • 87 [Raymond Lull or Ramon Llull, also Lully (born c. 1232, Palma, Kingdom of Majorca; died 29 June 13 (...)

38The science of chemistry was born on one side in Constantinople, under the Late Roman Empire, and on the other side with the Arabs who cultivated the sciences, in particular medicine. It was brought to Western and Southern Europe with the Crusades and mostly with the studies done by the Moors from Spain since we see that one of the first chemists from the Middle Ages is Raymond Lull87 from Majorca who had been communicating with these Arabs from Spain.

  • 88 [Arnaldus de Villanueva or Villa Nova (born c. 1235, Aragon; died 1311, at sea off the coast of Ge (...)
  • 89 [Johann Joachim Becker or Becher (born 6 May 1635, Speyer, Holy Roman Empire; died October 1682, L (...)
  • 90 [Georg Ernst Stahl (born 22 October 1660, Ansbach; died 24 May 1734, Berlin), a German chemist, ph (...)

39Another chemist from that time was Arnaldus de Villanueva88 who was from Aragon and also had been in communication with the Arabs from Spain; however, the knowledge in chemistry was expressed at that time in mysterious ways, with emblems and enigmatic terminology. This knowledge was then brought to Italy and Germany where it expanded the most because it is where mining exploitation was at its highest level of activity. It developed rather well and brought out a lot of enthusiasm, but it did not lose any of its mysterious or enigmatic ways, either because of human thought or because of the influence of philosophical principles and religious ideas that dominated at that time. These various reasons need to be studied with more detail; when I do so, you will see that among a whole range of weird and superstitious ideas, alchemists also discovered some very valuable phenomena that gave a start to chemistry and produced, a century later with Becker89 and Stahl,90 a true scientific doctrine. I will tell you in detail in our next lesson how the ideas in chemistry, or rather in alchemy, went to Germany, how they were developed and why, and what they became, as well as the main authors who wrote on this subject.

Notes

1 [Torbern Olaf Bergman (born 20 March 1735, Katharinberg; died 8 July 1784, Medevi), Swedish chemist and mineralogist noted for his 1775 Disquisitio de attractionibus electivis (Dissertation on elective attractions), published in volume 2 of Nova Acta Regiae Societatis Scientiarum Upsaliensis (pp. 161-250 or 159-248), containing the largest chemical affinity tables ever published.]

2 [Baron Axel Fredrik Cronstedt (born 23 December 1722, Turinge; died 19 August 1765, Säter), Swedish mineralogist and chemist who discovered nickel in 1751; he is considered one of the founders of modern mineralogy.]

3 [Camillo Leonardi de Pesaro (born Pesaro, fl. 1502, died after 1532), physician, astronomer, and astrologer who traveled extensively in Arab countries, accumulating Arab knowledge of gems and precious stones; he later wrote an important treatise on mineralogy and gemology (see note 4, below) in which he elaborated on the virtues of gems as having mysterious healing powers.]

4 [Speculum lapidum clarissimi artium et medicine doctoris Camilli Leonardi pisaurensis. Valerii Superchii Pisaurensis physici Epigrammata. Quicquid in humanos gemmarum parturit usus terra parens: uasti quicquid & unda maris. Quamlibet exiguo Claudis Leonarde libello mirandum & seræ posteritatis opus. Quod positis Cæsar interdum perlegat armis: seruarique suas imperet inter opes et tibi pro meritis æquos decernat honores: consulat & famæ tempus in omne tuæ, Venice: Joannem Baptistam Sessa, 1502, 116 leaves, in-4°.]

5 [Cesare Borgia (born 13 September 1475 or April 1476, Rome; died 12 March 1507, Viana, Kingdom of Navarre), an Italian nobleman, politician, and cardinal; the son of Pope Alexander VI (see Lesson 5, note 50), he, as holder of the offices of the duke of the Romagna and captain general of the armies of the church, enhanced the political power of his father’s papacy.]

6 [Pope Alexander VI, see Lesson 5, note 50.]

7 [Peripatetic philosophy, a school of philosophy in Ancient Greece that dates from about 335 B.C., the teachings of which originated with its founder, the Greek philosopher Aristotle (see Volume 1, Lessons 7 and 8). “Peripatetic” is a name given to his followers, which refers to the act of walking; as an adjective, “peripatetic” is often used to mean itinerant, wandering, meandering, or walking about. After Aristotle’s death, a legend arose that he was a “peripatetic” lecturer, indicating that he walked about as he taught.]

8 [For Albert the Great, see Volume 1, Lesson 23.]

9 [Conrad Gessner, see Lesson 4, below.]

10 [Diamond, from the ancient Greek adamas, meaning unbreakable or unalterable, one of the best known and most soughtafter gemstones.]

11 [Les pierres talismaniques, part 3 of Camillo Leonardi’s Speculum lapidum; see notes 3 and 4, above.]

12 [Cabala, any occult doctrine or science; more specifically, a system of esoteric philosophy developed by rabbis, reaching its peak in the Middle Ages and based on a mystical method of interpreting the Scriptures.]

13 His [Leonardi’s] book features a recipe [whereby one can] become invisible just by wishing for it (p. 213). Everything in this book [Speculum lapidum; see note 4, above] is as peculiar as that [M. de St.-Agy].

14 [Sympathia septem metallorum ac septem selectorum lapidum ad planetas, D. Petri Arlensis de Scudalupis presbyteri Hierosolymitani, an appendix to the 1610 edition of Speculum lapidum (see note 4, above), published in Paris by Carolum Seuestre, Davidem Gillium & Joannem Petitpas, [2] p. + pp. 245-499 + [137] p., illus., in-8°.]

15 [Petrus Arlensis de Scudalupi (fl. 1610), French physician, chemist, and writer, author of Sympathia septem metallorum ac septem selectorum lapidum ad planetas; see note 14, above.]

16 [Erasmus Stella or John Stiller (born 1460, Zwickau, Saxony; died 2 April 1521), a German physician and historian, author of De gemmis libellus unicus, Plinius secundus de gemmis, Strasburg: Henricum Sybold, 1530, [64] leaves, in-8°.]

17 [Pliny’s work on precious stones is found in book 36 of Naturalis historia; see Volume 1, Lesson 13.]

18 [Georg Pawer, or Bauer in modern German, better known by the Latinized version of his name, Georgius Agricola (born 24 March 1494, Glauchau; died 21 November 1555, Chemnitz), a German scholar and scientist, called the father of mineralogy; he is best remembered for his book De re metallica libri XII quibus officia, instrumenta, machinæ, ac omnia deniq[ue] ad metallicam spectantia, non modo luculentissimè describuntur, sed & per effigies, suis locis insertas, adjunctis latinis, germanicisq[ue] appellationibus ita ob oculos ponuntur, ut clarius tradi non possint. Ejusdem De animantibus subterraneis liber, ab autore recognitus: cum indicibus diversis, quicqiuid in opere tractatum est, pulchrè demonstrantibus, a catalogue of the state of the art of mining, refining, and smelting metals; it was published posthumously in 1556 (Basel: [s. n.], [10] + 502 + [74] p. + [2] leaves of pls, illus., wood engr., in-folio), apparently because of a delay in preparing woodcuts for the text. The book remained the authoritative text on mining for the next one hundred and eighty years.]

19 [De re metallica libri XII, see note 18, above.]

20 This date [1546] is of a second edition since the first edition is from 1530; it is called Dialogues de re metallica excusus [i.e., Bermannus, sive de re metallica dialogus; rather than the first edition of De re metallica, this book was a much earlier attempt by Agricola to organize what was then known about mining and metallurgy] printed at Basel by [Hieronymum] Frobenium [M. de St.-Agy].

21 Pan amalgamation is a process that involves burning or extracting from the mines sulfur, arsenic, antimonial, and volatile components of the metal before it is melted [M. de St.-Agy].

22 A stamp battery was used to crush the ore before burning it. It was made of two metallic jaws that crushed the ore into sand. Those who never visited a forge can now understand what the process involved [M. de St.-Agy].

23 [Agua regia is nitro-hydrochloric acid, a highly corrosive mixture of acids, formed by mixing concentrated nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, and used to dissolve the noble metals, gold and platinum.]

24 [Geber is Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan (fl. c. 721-c. 815), a prominent Persian or Arab polymath: a chemist and alchemist, astronomer and astrologer, engineer, geographer, philosopher, physicist, pharmacist, and physician, considered to have been the first practical alchemist.]

25 The crucible is a small container in the shape of a cup made of vegetal ashes or burnt bones; chemists used it to purify gold and silver [M. de St.-Agy].

26 [De animantibus subterraneis liber, ab autore recognitus, cum indicibus diuersis, quicquid in opere tractatum est, pulchre demonstrantibus, Basel: Hieronymum Frobenium & Nicolaum Epicopium, 1549, 79 + [10] + [16, index] + [3] p.; a compendium of what Greek, Latin, and medieval authorities wrote about animals known to exist in the subsurface, supplemented by Agricola’s (see note 18, above) own observations, and posing questions about the existence of some of the more fanciful beasts described by those who came before him.]

27 [Aristotle, see Volume 1, Lessons 7 and 8.]

28 [De natura eorum quae effluunt ex terra libri IIII, Basel: Hieronymum Frobenium & Nicolaum Epicopium, 1546, pp. 556-566.]

29 [De natura fossilium libri X, Basel: Hieronymum Frobenium & Nicolaum Epicopium, 1546, pp. 654-664.] No need to mention, as everybody knows, that all these books are in Latin. Monsieur Cuvier often gives the titles of the books he analyses in French because there are some women among his audience [M. de St.-Agy].

30 [De re metallica, see note 18, above.]

31 [Christopher Encelius Salveldensis or Christoph Entzelt (born 1517, Saalfeld, Germany; died 15 March 1583, Osterburg), a German clergyman, historian, and naturalist, author of De re metallica, hoc est, de origine, varietate, et natura corporum metallicorum, lapidum, gemmarum atque aliarum quae ex fodinis euuntur, rerum, ad medicinae usum deservientium, libri III, Frankfurt: Christian Egenolph, 1557, 7 pls + 271 p., illus., tables.]

32 [De thermalibus aquis libri VII, de metallis et fossilibus libri duo, Venice: Ludovicum Avantium, 1564, in-4°; for Falloppio, see Lesson 2.]

33 [Conrad Gessner, see Lesson 4.]

34 [De rerum fossilium, lapidum et gemmarum maxime, figuris & similitudinibus liber: non solum medicis, sed omnibus rerum naturae ac philologiae studiosis, utilis & iucundus futurus, Zurich: Jacob Gessner, 1565, [7] + 169 p., in-8°.]

35 [There seems to be no satisfactory English equivalent for this term, which in French is pierres figurées, pierres à images, or pierres graphiques: stones (usually marble, jasper, agate, or flint, but also concretions and nodules) that appear to be true works of art (designs, shapes, and letters), either representational or abstract, but which originate through natural processes.]

36 Voltaire [nom de plume of François-Marie Arouet (French Enlightenment author, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state; born 21 November 1694, Paris; died 30 May 1778, Paris] shared this opinion; he recalls with deference in the article on shells in his Philosophical Dictionary [Dictionnaire philosophique portatif, an encyclopedic dictionary, first published anonymously in 1764, in Geneva, by Gabriel Grasset], an observation by Monsieur [Félix François Le Royer] de la Sauvagère [French military engineer, antiquarian; born 1707, Strasburg; died 9 March 1782, Savignyen-Véron], senior engineer, who would have said that in the region of Touraine, near Chinon, part of the ground would have been transformed twice in a bed of soft rocks, within a period of eighty years and, that each time, some shells were formed that could not be seen at first through the microscope and grew with the stone. These shells, said Voltaire, were of a different kind: there were some ostracites and gryphites that are not found in any of our seas; and clams, tellin shells, and heart cockle shells whose germs developed imperceptibly and grew up to six lines of thickness. Voltaire was not versed in the natural sciences and we should not consider him to be an authority in that regard. To have positive knowledge of fossils, one should read the admirable treatise [Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles de quadrupèdes, où l’on rétablit les caractères de plusieurs espèces d’animaux que les révolutions du globe paroissent avoir détruites, Paris: Deterville, 1812, 4 vols, illus. (some col.)] written by Monsieur Cuvier [M. de St.-Agy].

37 [Cerebrites are stony corals, specifically brain corals of the family Faviidae, so called because of their spheroid shape and grooved surface that resembles a brain; important reef builders found in shallow warm seas around the world and well-represented in the fossil record.]

38 [Asterites are radiated or star-shaped minerals or fossils; more specifically the fossilized stems (columnalia) of crinoids (see note 39, below).]

39 [Crinoids or sea lilies, marine animals that make up the class Crinoidea of the phylum Echinodermata; found in both shallow water and at depths as great as 6,000 meters, there are about 600 living crinoid species, but they were much more abundant and diverse in the geological past.]

40 [Belemnites, an extinct order of cephalopods that existed during the Mesozoic era, from the Lower Jurassic to the Upper Cretaceous, and possibly surviving into the Eocene epoch of the Paleogene; superficially squid-like in appearance, they possessed ten arms of equal length studded with small inwardcurving hooks used for grasping prey.]

41 [Lapides Judaici or Jew’s Stones are fossilized spines of certain cidaroid echinoids, that is, sea urchin spines, often belonging to genus Balanocidaris.]

42 [Glossopetrae, large, triangular fossilized teeth of sharks, once believed to be petrified tongues of dragons and snakes and thus referred to as “tongue stones” or “glossopetrae”; commonly thought to be a remedy or cure for various poisons and toxins, they were used in the treatment of snake bites and many noblemen and royalty commonly wore them as pendants or kept them in their pockets as good-luck charms.]

43 [Great or High Priest of the Jews, the chief religious official of the Israelite religion and of classical Judaism, from the rise of the Israelite nation until the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem; the high priest belonged to the Jewish priestly families that trace their paternal line back to Aaron, the first high priest and elder brother of Moses.]

44 [Ruaeus or Larue is Charles de La Rue (born 3 August 1643; died 27 May 1725), known in Latin as Carolus Ruaeus, one of the great orators of the Society of Jesus in France in the seventeenth century.]

45 [Andrea Bacci (born 1524, Sant ‘Elpidio a Mare; died 24 October 1600, Rome), an Italian philosopher, physician, and writer, author of Delle dodici pietre preziose, che risplendevano nella vesle sacra del Sommo Sacerdote, Rome: [Giorgio Martinelli], 1581, in-4°.]

46 [Epiphanius of Salamis (born c. 310 or 320, Judea; died 403, at sea), bishop of Salamis, Cyprus, at the end of the fourth century; considered a saint and a Church Father by both the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches, his De Gemmis (On the Twelve Gems) survives in a number of fragments.]

47 [Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation, often known simply as Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, which forms a central part of Christian thought related to the ultimate destiny of mankind, the “end of the world” or the “end of time.”]

48 [Lazarus Erkern or Ercker (born c. 1528, Annaberg; died 7 January 1594, Prague), a Saxon and Bohemian Master of the Mint (in Kutna Hora, now in the Czech Republic), guard (Münzguardein in Dresden), and author of a detailed description of a process for the recovery of metals from ores, as well as the detection of the metal content and the composition of alloys (see note 51, below).]

49 [Docimastic art is metallurgy, the art of assaying metals; the art of separating metals from foreign matters and determining the nature and quantity of metallic substances contained in any ore or mineral.]

50 [Agricola, see notes 18 and 20, above.]

51 [Beschreibung allerfürnemisten Mineralischen Ertzt, unnd Bergwercks arten, wie dieselbigen, unnd eine jede insonderheit, der Natur und Eigenschafft nach, auff alle Metale Probirt…. in fünff Bücher verfast, Prague: Georg Schwartz, 1574, [4] + CXXXX + [5] bl., ill.]

52 [There are Frankfurt editions of Ercker’s Aula subterranea, domina dominantium, subdita subditorum, published in 1672 (by J. D. Zunner, XII + 334 p., figs, in-folio), 1684 (by J. D. Zunner, [7] + 220 + 123 + [5] + 68 p., illus.), 1703 (by Zunner, [5] + 196 + [2] p., in-folio), and 1736 (by Johann David Jung, [12] + 208 + [4] + 36 p., figs, in-folio), but we cannot verify these earlier printings of 1578 and 1590.]

53 [Bernard Palissy (born c. 1510; died c. 1590, Paris), a French Huguenot potter, hydraulics engineer, and craftsman, famous for having struggled for sixteen years to imitate Chinese porcelain; he is remembered also for his contributions to the natural sciences, especially for discovering principles of geology, hydrology, and fossil formation.]

54 [Anne de Montmorency (born 15 March 1493, Chantilly, Oise; died 12 November 1567, Paris), a French soldier, statesman, and diplomat, Honorary Knight of the Garter, Marshal of France, and later Constable of France.]

55 [Chateau d’Ecouen, a historic chateau in the city of Ecouen, north of Paris, built between 1538 and 1550 by Jean Bullant (French architect and sculptor; born 1515, died 1578) for Anne de Montmorency (see note 54, above).]

56 [Henry II, see Lesson 2, note 52.

57 Monsieur [Marie Alexandre] Lenoir [French archaeologist; born 27 December 1761, Paris; died 11 June 1839, Paris] speculates that Palissy [see note 53, above] painted the stained glass of the castle of Écouen [see note 55, above] that represents the history of Psyche after Raphael’s [Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, Italian painter and architect of the High Rennaissance; born 6 April or 28 March 1483, Urbino; died 6 April 1520, Rome] drawings; he [Lenoir] published forty-five prints [of the Raphael collection] in Volume 6 of [the journal of the] Musée des Monuments Français [histoire de la peinture sur verre, et description des vitraux anciens et modernes, pour servir à l’histoire de l’art, relativement à la France; ornée de gravures, et notamment de celles de la fable de Cupidon et Psyché, d’après les dessins de Raphaël, Paris: Guilleminet, 1803, vol. 6, XXXII + 130 p. + [10] + 45 leaves of pls, in-8°.] [M. de St.-Agy].

58 [Saint Bartholomew’s Day massacre, see Lesson 2, note 54.]

59 [Laroche Foucault is François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac (born 15 September 1613, Paris; died 17 March 1680, Paris), a well-known French author of maxims and memoirs, considered an exemplar of the accomplished seventeenth-century nobleman.]

60 [Henry IV, see Lesson 2, note 57.]

61 [When on 12 May 1588 King Henry III (see Lesson 2, note 41) was forced to flee Paris during the French Wars of Religion (1562-1598), an uneasy alliance was formed with a faction of the Parisian Catholic League known as the Sixteen; composed of clerics, merchants, minor government officials, and lawyers, it played an important role in the politics of the kingdom and the city until Paris surrendered to Henry IV in 1594 (see Lesson 2, note 57).]

62 [Charles of Lorraine or Charles de Guise, Duke of Mayenne (born 26 March 1554, Alençon; died 3 October 1611, Soissons), a French nobleman of the house of Guise and a military leader of the Catholic League, which he headed during the French Wars of Religion (see note 61, above).]

63 Henry III [see note 61, above] went to visit him in jail and told him: “My dear friend, if you are not in agreement on the subject of religion, I will have to leave you in the hands of my enemies.” “Sir,” responded Palissy [see note 53, above], “those who constrain me will not be able to do anything with me; I will know how to die” [M. de St.-Agy].

64 He [Palissy] was so convinced about the truth of his opinions that he posted on the wall of his school that he would give the money back to those who would prove him wrong. There are indeed few professors who would take great risks by posting such a note above their chair [M. de St.-Agy].

65 [Saintonge, a small region and historical province on the Atlantic coast of France within the département of Charente-Maritime.]

66 [Recepte véritable par laquelle tous les hommes de la France peuvent apprendre à multiplier et augmenter leurs thresors. Item, ceux qui n’ont jamais eu cognoissance des lettres, pourront apprendre une philosophie necessaire à tous les habitans de la terre. Item, en ce livre est contenu le dessein d’un jardin autant delectable & d’utile invention, qu’il en fut onques veu. Item, le dessein & ordonnance d’une ville de forteresse, la plus imprenable qu’homme ouyt jamais parler, compose par maistre Bernard Palissy.., La Rochelle: Barthelemy Berton, 1563, 132 p., in-4°.]

67 [Discours admirables, de la nature des eaux et fonteines, tant naturelles qu’artificielles, des metaux, des sels & salines, des pierres, des terres, du feu & des emaux. Avec plusieurs autres excellens secrets des choses naturelles. Plus un traité de la marne, fort utile & necessaire, pour ceux qui se mellent de l’agriculture. Le tout dressé par dialogues, esquels sont introduits la theorique & la practique. Par M. Bernard Palissy, inventeur des rustiques figulines du Roy, & de la Royne sa mere. A treshaut, et trespuissant sieur le sire Anthoine de Ponts, chevalier des ordres du Roy, capitaine des cents gentils-hommes, & conseiller tresfidele de Sa Majesté, Paris: chez Martin le Jeune, a l’enseigne du Serpent, 1580, [16] + 361 + [23] p., in-8°.]

68 [Palissy’s treatise on marl (calcium carbonate or lime-rich sedimentary rock), part of his Discours admirables of 1580 (see note 67, above), stresses the life-giving properties of salt, claiming that marl, along with manure, increases crop yields when spread on fields because salt is released from the substance through rain and normal weathering processes.]

69 [ Œuvres de Bernard Palissy, revues sur les exemplaires de la Bibliothèque du Roi, avec des notes par MM. Faujas de Saint Fond, et Gobet, Paris: Ruault, 1777, XXVI + 734 p.; edited by Barthélemy Faujas de Saint-Fond (French geologist and traveler; born 17 May 1741, Montélimar; died 18 July 1819).]

70 [Andre Cesalpino, see Lesson 2, note 47.]

71 [De metallicis libri tres, Rome: Aloysi Zannetti, 1596, [16] + 222 + [1] p., in-4°; a book of great value for mineralogy and geology at the time, displaying a correct understanding of fossils.]

72 [Tabasheer, a translucent white substance, composed of silica and water, with traces of lime and potash, obtained from the nodal joints of some species of bamboo; an ingredient in many traditional Chinese medicines.]

73 [Gaspard or Caspar Schwenckfeld von Ossig (born 1489 or 1490, Ossig, Silesia; died 10 December 1561, Ulm), a German theologian, writer, and preacher who became a Protestant Reformer and spiritualist, one of the earliest promoters of the Protestant Reformation in Silesia.]

74 [Stirpium et fossilium Silesiae catalogus, in quo praeter etymon, natales, tempus; natura et vires cum variis experimentis assignantur, Leipzig: Davidis Alberti, 1600, [40] + 407 + [16] p.]

75 [Bernardus Caesius or Bernardo Cesi (born 1580; died 1630), author of Mineralogia, sive naturalis philosophiae thesauri, in quibus metallicae concretionis medicatorúmque fossilium miracula, terrarum pretium, colorum & pigmentorum apparatus concretorum succorum virtus lapidum atque gemmarum dignitas continentur, Lyon: Jacobi & Petri Prost, 1636, [viii] + 626 + [lxix] p.]

76 [We are unable to identify this “Georgius” (not to be confused with Georgius Agricola; see note 18, above) and suspect that Cuvier meant to say Forsius; that is, Sigfridus Aronus Forsius (born 1560, Helsinki; died 1624, Tammisaari), a Finnish priest, astronomer, astrologer, and natural philosopher, author of Minerographia, thet är mineralers, åthskillighe jordeslags, metallers eller malmars och edle steenars beskrifwelse; aff förnemlige authoribus sammanhämptat, och medh flijt disponerat vthi treo böker, Stockholm: Ignatius Meurer, 1643, 190 p., in-8°.]

77 [Ulisse Aldrovandi, see Lesson 4, note 31.]

78 [Musaeum metallicum in libros IV distributum Bartholomaeus Ambrosinus... labore et studio composuit cum indice copiosissimo Marcus Antonius Bernia propriis impensis in lucem edidit, Bologna: Giovanni Baptista Ferroni, 1648, [6] + 979 + [12] p., illus.]

79 [Jonston, see Lesson 6, note 113.]

80 [Notitia regni mineralis: seu subterraneorum catalogus, cum praecipuis differentiis, Leipzig: Viti Jacobi Trescheri, 1661, 101 p., in-12.]

81 [Agricola, see note 18, above.]

82 [Galen, see Volume 1, Lesson 16.]

83 [Dioscorides, see Volume 1, Lesson 12, note 62.]

84 [Theophrastus, see Volume 1, Lesson 9.]

85 [Aristotle, see Volume 1, Lessons 7 and 8.]

86 [Pliny, see Volume 1, Lesson 13.]

87 [Raymond Lull or Ramon Llull, also Lully (born c. 1232, Palma, Kingdom of Majorca; died 29 June 1315, Tunis, stoned to death by the Saracens), philosopher, poet, and theologian, credited with writing the first major work of Catalan literature; extremely prolific, he wrote more than 250 works during his lifetime, written in Catalan, Latin, and Arabic.]

88 [Arnaldus de Villanueva or Villa Nova (born c. 1235, Aragon; died 1311, at sea off the coast of Genoa), an alchemist, astrologer, and physician, credited with translating a number of medical texts from Arabic.]

89 [Johann Joachim Becker or Becher (born 6 May 1635, Speyer, Holy Roman Empire; died October 1682, London), a German physician, alchemist, precursor of chemistry, scholar and adventurer, best known for his development of the phlogiston theory of combustion.]

90 [Georg Ernst Stahl (born 22 October 1660, Ansbach; died 24 May 1734, Berlin), a German chemist, physician and philosopher. He was a supporter of vitalism, and until the late eighteenth century his works on phlogiston were accepted as an explanation for chemical processes.]

Table des illustrations

Légende De machinis tractoris fatis…Plate from Agricola’s De re metallica libri XII (1556) Cliché Bibliothèque centrale, MNHN.
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