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Cuvier’s History of the Natural Sciences

Georges Cuvier

4. Early Eighteenth-Century Advances in Chemistry

8. Further Advances in Chemistry

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De ferro. Engraving (detail, part left) from Swedenborg’s Opera philosophica et mineralia… (1734).

As I said in the last session, we will now continue to examine the detailed works that advanced chemistry in the first half of the eighteenth century. We saw that Marggraf1 performed successful studies of vegetable substances. Cartheuser (J.-F.),2 born in 1704, a professor in Frankfurt an der Oder where he died in 1777, focused even more on these studies, mainly on their applications to pharmacy. He exposed his most important results in a small treatise published in 1741 under the title Rudimenta materiae medicae.3 A more extensive work was published in 1749, Fundamenta materiae medicae, which was later translated into French.4 But his most renowned work was his treatise on the immediate principles of plants,5 which presents many new and important facts.

You might remember that plant chemistry was the subject of diligent and continuous works as early as the seventeenth century, but it di...

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