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thus planted his foot on the ladder of fame, deed, was possible. Even the finance be set it unconsciously on the first step of minister could gain but little information the scaffold. Adjoint of the Académie of the details of its monetary transactions. des Sciences, he now became adjoint of in 1774, Terray, towards the conclusion the ferme-général. His friends, the Aca of the first lease in which Lavoisier was demicians, looked somewhat askance at interested, addressed a confidential inthis action. Lalande tells us that in his quiry to the fermiers-généraux as to the election they had been influenced by the number of beneficiaries which the will of consideration that a young man of parts the court — i.e., the king or his mistresses and activity, whose private means placed - had imposed upon the ferme-général. him beyond the necessity of seeking an. Through the indiscretiou of a clerk the other profession, would naturally be useful list was made public. Paris was scandal. to science, and they now feared that the ized to learn that the pensions alone new duties would clash with what they amounted to upwards of 400,000 livres imagined was to be the real work of his annually. In addition, the king secured life. But, luckily, there are always some a sixtieth share of the property of the who readily offer consolation. • Tant ferme ; his sisters and aunts disposed of mieux !” said the geometer Fontaine, 50,000 livres; the nurse of the Duke of "the dinners that he will give us will be Burgundy, 10,000 livres; Madame Du all the better.” Although Lavoisier had Barry's physician 10,000 livres; the Abbé inherited his mother's fortune, it was Voisenon 3,000 livres; a court singer hardly sufficient for the career which he 2,000 livres; and so on. Altogether, the now planned for himself, and by the ad- court and its creatures netted in this way vice of a friend of the family, M. de La fourteen-sixtieths of the proceeds of the Galaizière, he became adjoint of the lease of Alaterre. Many of the fermiers. fermier-général Baudon, in return for a généraux themselves outraged public third of his interest in the lease of Ala. opinion by their prodigality and the luxury terre.
of their hotels and petites-maisons. The But there were doubtless other reasons organization was detested throughout the for the disapproval of the Academy. The length and breadth of France. The peasferme-général was a part of the rotten ants, too far from the capital to hear the financial system which ultimately landed curses which Mercier Aung at the Hôtel France in disaster. It was a company of des Fermes, were constantly witnesses of financiers, to whom the State conceded, the hardships it inflicted, and the terrible for a fixed annual sum, payable in advance, retribution which followed any contraventhe right of collecting the indirect taxes tion of its decrees. The taxes were most of the country. Created originally by Col- unequally levied ; each province had its bert, its constitution and functions were own frontier, and to a population impover. modified by successive finance ministers ished and on the verge of starvation there during the reigns of Louis XIV.and Louis was every temptation to smuggle ; conflicts XV., as the will of the king, or the exi- with its officers were of almost daily occur. gencies of the national exchequer deterrence; no house was safe against domi. mined. At the time that Lavoisier entered ciliary visits, and hundreds of persons it, the number of the fermiers-généraux were yearly sent to the galleys for the was sixty, and the sum to be paid in ad- most triling acts of contraband. It is vance for the lease of six years was 90,- true that there was the Court des aids, to 000,000 livres, together with a douceur of which the peasant might appeal against 300,000 livres for the controller-general. the imposition of the ferme, but too freThe fermiers-généraux received sums on quently be found that the “gratuitous account during the continuance of the justice” thus dealt out to him meant only lease, but the actual result of the specula- "justice by gratuities." Nor was it only tion was known only at its expiration. on the frontiers that smuggling prevailed. They had to bear all the expenses of man. It was calculated that at least one-fifth agement and collection, to enforce the of the merchandise that entered Paris was customs and excise regulations, and their contraband. To render the collection of profits were subject to all sorts of rebates, the octroi more certain, and to check irreg. perquisites, pensions, and pots-de-vin. It ularities, the ferme proposed to surround need hardly be said that in the time of the the city with a wall. Public feeling against grand monarch and his worthy great- the project was intense. A wit of the grandson, the ferme was a very hotbed of period declared that "le mur murant Paris jobbery, corruption, and malversation. rend Paris murmurant.” Military opinion There existed no public audit; none, in. I also was adverse to the proposal ; the
Duke de Nivernais, a marshal of France, |: Ferme des Poudres was managed solely is reported to have said that its author in the interest of its members ; waste, deserved hanging from one of his own peculation, and jobbery were as rampant towers ;, and Marat subsequently de: as in the old days of the ferme-général. nounced Lavoisier as the originator of Turgot changed all this. In 1775 he what the citizens were taught to regard as created the Régie des Poudres and nomian ingenious method of robbing them of nated four commissioners, who should be the pure air of the country.
directly responsible to the State for the There were of course, honest fermiers manufacture of gunpowder. Lavoisier is généraux - men like Delahante, Paulez, expressly named as one of the commis. D'Arlincourt, and others, and Lavoisier sioners, as being known, not only for his was of the number, who discharged their chemical knowledge, so necessary for ad. trust honorably, and who sought to intro- ministrative work of this kind, but also for duce order and good management into the the diligence, capacity, and honesty with affairs of the society. With the advent of which he discharged his duties as a ferthe better times which the beginning of mier-général. At his suggestion, Turgot the reign of Louis XVI. seemed to prom. invited the Academy to offer a prize for ise, and under the administration of Tur the best essay on the economical produc. got, the character of the ferme-général tion of saltpetre, with a view of obtaining improved. With each new lease the po- information on the modes of manufacture sition and influence of Lavoisier was practised in various parts of Europe. No strengthened, until, in 1783, he was placed detail of administration was too minute to by D'Ormesson upon the Committee of escape his attention. He regulated the Administration, the most important of the conditions under which the employés were whole, and the only one which had direct selected; he simplified the methods of relations with the government. He was manufacture and refining of saltpetre, thus enabled to remedy many abuses, and and by successive improvements in comto mitigate in various ways the burden of position and modes of mixing he greatly imposition under which France groaned. increased the ballistic properties of gunBut it was too late. Nothing the ferme powder. He who was condemned in 1794, could do would ever wipe out the memo as an enemy to his country was in 1780 ries of its exactions. With the growth of recognized as having contributed to its Lavoisier's power and influence in the triumphs by augmenting the force of its ferme, the odium with which it was re- arms. At times the exercise of his duties garded seemed gradually to concentrate placed him in considerable danger, as, for itself upon him. His rectitude, his public example, in the explosion which resulted services, the purity of his private life, the from the experiments made to introduce splendor of his scientific achievements Berthollet's newly discovered chlorate of were unheeded. In the day of reckoning potash in the place of nitre. But no gunhe was remembered only as Lavoisier the powder-mill under Lavoisier's charge was fermier-général.
half so explosive as Paris in 1789. The M. Grimaux has been at considerable events of July had demoralized the city, pains to lay the details of Lavoisier's con- and it was only too ready to give heed to nection with the ferme-général before us. the slanders and coarse invective of the He estimates that, in all, he acquired, Père Duchesne, of Marat, and other selffrom 1768 to 1786, nearly 1,200,000 livres. styled "Friends of the People.”. The air He continued to be a member of the was full of plots and counter-plots. An ferme until it was suppressed by a decree order to transport some gunpowder was of the National Assembly in 1791, when maliciously misconstructed; the report its liquidation was confided to six of his was spread that it was to be given to the colleagues.
enemies of the nation, and Lavoisier and Lavoisier's success in administration his fellow.commissioner, Le Faucheux, induced Turgot to consult him on the nearly fell victims to an angry mob which means of ensuring a regular supply of surged round the gates of the arsenal. gunpowder for the service of the State. Lavoisier's journeyings through France Prior to Turgot's ministry, the manufac. in connection with the work of the minerture of the gunpowder required for the alogical atlas and as a fermier-général, Dational defence was entrusted to a finan- had taught him much concerning the life cial company, with the result that, on more of the peasant. Indeed, no Frenchman than one occasion, France was obliged to of his time knew his country better, or sue for peace from inability to provide was more keenly alive to the vast ecoberself with the munitions of war. The nomic movement which was slowly gathering strength during the latter half of ceeding year saw a change for the better the eighteenth century. His interest in in the lot of the peasants at Fréchines. this movement was no doubt quickened In 1793 the crop of wheat '
had doubled by, even if it did not originate in, his con. itself, and was more than ten times the nection with the ferme. It was obvious weight of the seed, and the number of to him that the whole fiscal system of beasts on the estate had increased five. the country fell with the most crushing fold. In the following year came the end, effect upon the class least able to bear it
, but the memory of the man who was a and in the numerous commissions in which veritable father of his people is still cher. he took part he repeatedly indicated the ished in the district of Blois. economic disadvantages with which the Lavoisier's position as a landed propricultivators of the soil had to contend. In etor was doubtless the cause of his selec1785 he became a member, and immedi. tion as a member of the Assembly of the ately afterwards secretary of the Commit. Orléanais, a sort of county council created tee of Agriculture - - a consultative body in 1787, according to a plan devised by created by Calonne for the purpose of en-Necker during his first administration. It lightening the controller-general on agro. was composed of twenty-five members nomic matters in general. Lavoisier not selected by the king, six for the clergy, only held the pen; he was the directing six for the nobility, and twelve for the spirit of the committee. He drew up re. third estate, together with the Duke of ports and instructions on the cultivation Luxembourg as president. The twentyof flax, of the potato, on the liming of five so nominated were directed to elect wheat; he prepared a scheme for the es. an equal number of colleagues, the same tablishment of experimental farms, for the proportion being observed for the three collection and distribution of agricultural orders. The duties of the Assembly were instruments, for the better adjustment of to determine the modes of levying the the tithes and of the rights of pasturage, taxes, to undertake the construction and etc. He was no mere theorist in these maintenance of the highways, and to con. matters. In 1778, when he acquired the sider how the commerce and industry of demesne of Fréchines, the condition of the province might best be developed. the peasants was wretched in the extreme. Lavoisier, although an esquire, was chosen Cultivated grazing land was unknown; the as a member of the third estate, and he at farmers from the impossibility of feeding once became the leader of that section. their cattle during the winter had but few in the town library of Orleans are prebeasts; the fields were unmanured; and served the minutes of the Provincial the yield of corn, even in the best years, Assembly, together with such of the man. was only about five times the weight of uscripts of Lavoisier as relate to its busithe seed. With a view of demonstrating ness. During the greater part of its how much might be done by improved existence the Assembly was engaged in methods of tillage, he decided to make attempts to settle the mode of incidence trials on above 80 hectares of the worst and collection of the taxes. The third land on the demesne; and he divided estate demanded the abolition of the exe about 240 hectares into three farms, of emptions enjoyed by the nobles; the which he directed the cultivation with all substitution of a fixed subscription for the the precision of laboratory trials. He in- tithes, which fell with especial severity on troduced the cultivation of the beetroot the smaller proprietors ; and the abolition and potato, hitherto unknown in the Blé- of the corvée, which compelled the peas. sois. He improved the breed of sheep by ants to undertake the construction and the importation of rams and ewes from maintenance of the roads. On all these Spain, and that of cows by the introduc questions Lavoisier was the mouthpiece tion of animals from the modern farm of of his order. He also introduced schemes Chanteloup. In 1788 when he presented for the founding of saving and discount to the Society of Agriculture the results banks, workhouses, and insurance socieof his ten years' experience, he again set ties, for the creation of nursing establishforth the various disadvantages under ments, for the formation of canals, and for which the cultivator labored - short the sploitation of the mineral produce leases, iosecurity of tenure, want of captions of the province. “ Celui qui fait ital and of credit; and he made a strong tout, qui anime tout, qui se multiplie en appeal to the proprietors to spend more quelque sorte, c'est Lavoisier ; son nom on the amelioration of their land in order reparait à chaque instant."* Few, if any, to improve the condition of those who were obliged to live upon it. Each suc- • Leonce de Lavergne, Les Assemblées Provinciales.
of these projects were realized.
In his paper, the Ami du Peuple, he is provincial assemblies might initiate, but even more furious : they were powerless to execute, and in 1790 they became merged into the States. tans, Sieur Lavoisier, son of a land-grabber
I denounce this Corypheus of the charla. General, to which Lavoisier was sent as (grippe-sol), chemical apprentice, , pụpil of the député suppléant for the bailiwick of Genevese stock-jobber, fermier-général, regisBlois, having for his colleague the unfor. seur of powder and saltpetre, administrator tunate Vicomte de Beauharnais, whose of the Discount Bank, secretary of the king, widow, Josephine Tascher de la Pagerie, member of the Academy of Sciences. became the wise of Bonaparte. In the Would to Heaven that he had been strung same year he was elected a member of to the lamp-post on the 6th of August. The the Commune of Paris, and of the famous electors of La Culture would then not have to club of '89, of which he was ultimately
blush for having nominated him. secretary. This institution, which sought At the same time, Lavoisier, as fermierto develop, defend, and propagate the général, was the object of repeated and principles of constitutional liberty, num. violent attacks in the journals and in bered amongst its adherents all who were various political clubs.' The leaders of eminent in art, literature, science, and the Revolutionary party, who clamored for politics in France. It had, however, but the abolition of all State control over the little influence on the main currents of manufacture of war material, denounced political thought, and absolutely none on his administration at the Régie des Pou. the political action of the time; it dealt dres, and he was shortly afterwards retoo largely with questions of political moved by the National Assembly. The metaphysics to stem the forces which king, however, so far intervened in his ultimately gained an overwhelming behalf as to order that he should be alstrength. It ended by being suspected lowed to remain in undisturbed possession of " aristocratism,” and it became a crime of his rooms in the arsenal, where he had to have been one of its members. At the established a laboratory, on which he had beginning of 1794 the Jacobins expelled expended a large portion of his private from their club all who had been part of fortune. He had been appointed a memthe society of '89 as, ipso facto, guilty of ber of the National Treasury in 1791, but "incivism."
in 1793, to the regret of his colleagues, he Dark clouds were now rapidly gather-requested to be relieved of his functions. ing; the days of the Great Terror were in truth, the strain of a constant anxiety approaching, and Lavoisier found himself was beginning to react upon him; he was menaced on every side. The first attack becoming weary of the incessant struggle came from Marat. Marat had sought, at against enemies who were as vindictive as the outset of his career, to make a name they were uoscrupulous, and longed for in science by publishing a treatise on fire, the peace and quietude which he found full of the crudest and most ridiculous only in his laboratory. To have property speculations on the nature of combustion, was, in the eyes of the Revolutionary tri. and which he caused the Journal de bunals, to be guilty of “incivism ;” and Paris to announce had been received incivism was a crime against the Rewith approbation by the Academy. The public. Lavoisier told Lalande that he statement was absolutely baseless, and expected to be stripped of everything, but Lavoisier, as director of the Academy, he added he was not too old to work, and said so in a few disdainful words. Marat would begin life again as an apothecary. now vented his rage on the Academy, and On quitting the Treasury, he was re-apin a miserable pamphlet traduced men pointed to the Régie des Poudres, but a like Laplace, Monge, and Cassini, accus. few months afterwards he resigned the ing them of malversation, and of spending position, although he engaged to continue in disgraceful orgies the sums voted for his studies on the manufacture of powder, the study of aerostation. But it was spe. and on the methods for the analysis of cially on Lavoisier that he concentrated pitre. It is possible that he may have all his venom and rancor. “Lavoisier, the had some warning of what followed. putative father of all the discoveries Three days after his resignation, a comwhich are noised abroad, having no ideas mission of the Assembly suddenly entered of his own, fastens on those of others; the arsenal, placed the papers under seal, but, incapable of appreciating them, he and ordered the removal of the comabandons them as readily as he adopts missioners to La Force. The elder Le them, and changes his systems as he does Faucheux, one of Lavoisier's colleagues, his shoes!”
enfeebled by age and infirmities, killed
himself in despair, and the son was thrown tain of the more urgent cases. The into prison. But however desirous La- society continued to hold its meetings as voisier might have been to relinquish usual until the spring of 1792, when an political life, it was impossible for him to unexpected motion by Fourcroy revealed escape from the penalties and responsi- to the Academicians the danger in which bilities of his position. In 1791 he had they stood. Fourcroy demanded that the been named secretary and treasurer of Academy should expel such of its mem: the famous Commission of Weights and bers as were known for their “incivism." Measures, which had undertaken to real- The motion was resisted on the ground ize the long-cherished idea of supplying that the Academy had no concern with France and the world with an international the political opinions of its members ; the system of weights and measures based progress of science was its sole business. upon a natural unit. He was not only the Fourcroy insisted on his motion, when administrative officer of the commission, the geometer Cousin found the way of he contributed to the nomenclature of the escape from a position which it was evi. system, and took a prominent part in dent had been most skilfully chosen, by directing the determination of the various proposing that the question should be physical constants on which the measure. submitted to the minister, who would ments ultimately rested, and especially in make such erasures from the list as he the determination of the weight of the thought necessary, whilst the Academy unit volume of water, on which the value should continue to pursue its more intel. of the standard of mass was based. The lectual occupations. project had to be carried out under condi. This suggestion was adopted, but Fourtions which could not possibly have been croy was not a man to submit tamely to a more disadvantageous. Its realization rebuff, and the Academy soon felt the largely depended on the cordial co-opera- effect of his resentment. Although the tion of other nations, and the work of responsible ministers of the government measurement could only properly be con- still recognized it as the intellectual centre ducted at a time of peace. France was torn of France, its enemies within the Convenand distracted by internal dissensions; tion were unceasing in their efforts to her national credit was gone; and she was overthrow it. The outlook was gloomy in threatened on all sides. Delambre has the extreme. The shadow of its impend. left us an account of the extraordinary ing doom seemed to hang over its meet. difficulties and dangers under which the ings. We find at this time in its minutes geodetical observations were executed. Do mention of the members present, nor Lavoisier's work in Paris as treasurer was of the discussions in which they engaged. hardly less onerous or less hazardous. The Even during the dark days of 1793, Lavoi. project was more than once imperilled by sier, active, hopeful, and courageous as ihe vacillating action of the Convention. ever, strained every nerve to maintain the The sums voted by the Assembly were continuity of its work; he was the life not always forthcoming from the Treasury, and soul of the society, and the ever. and Lavoisier was occasionally under the watchful guardian of its interests. Tonecessity of depending upon his own gether with Haüy and Borda he labored means, or his private credit, for the money incessantly at the work of the commission. which Méchain required in order to ex. He obtained for Vicq d’Azir 8,400 livres tend the measurement of the arc to Bar- for the continuation of his treatise on hucelona. Doubtless, much of the difficulty man and comparative anatomy; Jeurat was due to the attitude of the Convention received 300 livres for the calculations of towards the Academy. In turn with every his new lunar tables; Berthollet the joo monarchical institution of the time, it was louis which he required for his work on suspected of “incivism,” and its destruc- applied chemistry. Even Sage, one of the tion was already being compassed. La- most bitter opponents of the new chemisvoisier, who had been named treasurer in try, and Fourcroy still obtained the money succession to Tillet, whose long illness which they needed for the prosecution of had thrown the financial affairs of the their investigations. He exerted all his learned body into confusion, now found influence with ministers, with the admin. himself confronted with new troubles. istrators of the Directory, and with the The salaries of the Academicians, many commissioners of the treasury, to induce of whom were old men, and in straitened the government to fulfil its obligations circumstances, were in arrear. Lavoisier towards the Academy. The eloquence of was again under the necessity of advanc. Grégoire, and the courage of Lakanal for ing money from his private purse in cer- a time averted the final blow, but the ene.