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Biographical Memoir of M. Duhamel. By Baron CuVIER *.

M. DUHAMEL was one of those philosophers of the old stock, if we may be allowed to use the expression, whereof many are recorded in the history of the Academy; men who, labouring in retirement for their own pleasure, and for the benefit of their fellow creatures, regardless of fame, knew little of the world, and cared as little to be known by it; whose works the public read with advantage, unaware almost whether the authors themselves were still living, or without informing themselves at what period they lived. So great was his modesty, that notwithstanding the undoubted title which he had to speak with authority in the Academy, during a long academic career, his voice was scarcely heard among us. Many of his fellow members, perhaps, did not know him by sight, and yet he was one of the benefactors of his country; he diffused a knowledge of many useful processes; he was one of the first who introduced among us the true principles of metallurgy. All those who at the present day practise the art of mining, either derived their knowledge from him or from those whom he instructed ; and the entire body of men attached to this branch of the administration, professes to recognise him as its venerable patriarch. These circumstances are surely more than sufficient to incite us all to cherish his

* Read to the Royal Academy of Science of the Institute of France on

the 8th April 1822. OCTOBER-DECEMBER 1830.

memory with that care which he himself too much neglected, and to influence you in paying towards him the debt of his contemporaries.

JEAN PIERRE-FRANÇOIS-Guillot DUHAMEL, Inspector-General of the Mines, and member of the Academy of Sciences of the Institute, was born on the 31st August 1730, at Nicorps near Coutances, in the Department de La Manche, and was descended from an old family in the province.

From his earliest years, he was mild and reserved in his manners, but manifested great steadiness in his undertakings. His father, who intended him for the bar, placed him under the care of an attorney, according to the practice which had become necessary at that period, when, through the negligence and selfishness of the professors, the instruction in law to be oba tained in the public schools had become utterly inefficient.

Placing him with an attorney, and at the extremity of Lower Normandy, was less likely to enable him to learn jurisprudence, than to shew him chicanery in all its deformity. Nor had the profession any charm for him. A young man of his character required another object of study; an irresistible presentiment made him think there existed more worthy occupations; and in order to seek them unrestrained, without apprising any one, he commenced making his escape from the sort of prison in which he felt that his intellect could never be expanded. He had a granduncle, who, after having long served as an engineer, without obtaining advancement, and after having in vain tried several other professions, resolved to put an end to his disappointments by becoming a capuchin friar. More fortunate under the frock than in the world, he had arrived at the dignities of his orderfor there is no society of men, however humble, that has not dignities and baits for ambition and at this time he was guardian of the capuchins of the city of Caen, and superior of those of the provinces. It was with him that the young Duhamel sought a refuge. · A man such as he could not be insensible to evils which he had himself experienced, nor to that restlessness so common in youth of energetic minds, so long as they have not obtained the true place assigned them by nature. He not only received his

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grand-nephew with a' fatherly affection, but judging mental employment in the highest degree necessary, he undertook to teach him what he had formerly known of mathematics. Like those platonic souls that seek 'out each other as soon as they are cast into the actual world, the young attorney's clerk at length found the food that agreed with him, and seized it with avidity. Henceforth absorbed in his retreat, by this sole object of study, he soon became a more expert mathematician than his uncle.

It may well be judged, that in thus directing the attention of his nephew, the good guardian of capuchins did not intend to condemn him to his own profession. On the contrary, he busied himself in renewing his connexions with his old companions. M. Peyronnet, under the authority of M. Trudaine the elder, at that time founded the School of Bridges and Highways, which has since become so useful and so honourable to France. M. Duhamel was introduced to him, and gave such decisive proofs of capacity, that he immediately admitted him among his pupils. With unrelaxed assiduity he added to his acquirements, and he was upon the point of leaving the school and of entering with distinction into the Corps of Engineers of Bridges and Highways, when a new project of M. Trudaine's called him to another branch of service.

M. Trudaine, a distinguished member of this Academy, and one of those who have contributed much to spread enlightened principles of administration in France, satisfied with the impulse which he had given to the act of facilitating conveyance by founding the School of Bridges and Highways, thought that a similar procedure might operate beneficially upon a much more neglected part of administration, that of Minés.

Fortunately for France, her mineral riches will always remain the least part of those with which nature has favoured her. Her vast and fertile fields, her rich pasture grounds, her vineyards so remarkable for the variety and excellence of their productions, are an ample equivalent for the rareness of those metallic veins which are almost always indicated by the aridity and barrenness of the lands they traverse. But since we have some such lands too, it might be important to examine whether

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