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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/16

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

des Plantes, but after the revolution as the Museum of Natural History.

Begun in 1633 as a royal garden, its design was to furnish better opportunities for the study of pharmacy and to preserve rare specimens of flowers and herbs. The garden was in reality founded by the two physicians, Herouard and Guy de la Brosse, in the time of Louis XIII. There was a garden of apothecaries in Paris in the fifteenth century. But one far more extensive than any yet known was desired, one in which botany could be studied with advantage to medical science. The king favored the proposal of Herouard and de la Brosse as early as 1626, but as the faculty of the university opposed it, nothing was done till 1633. The garden was placed under the charge of la Brosse as superintendent, with Herouard as assistant. The latter soon died and his place was taken by Charles Barnard. Salaries were small, yet sufficient to support life. Three demonstrators and an operator in botany were appointed and a small sum of money was set aside for purchases and the payment of extra help. The garden was to contain a sample of all simple and compound drugs. It consisted of twenty-four acres and was situated in the faubourg of St. Victor.

To this garden la Brosse gave his life. He laid out the grounds, planted herbs and trees, formed collections and organized courses of study in botany, chemistry, natural history and astronomy. By 1640 there were 2,560 specimens of plants for examination, all of them valuable. Under Vallot, the successor of la Brosse, the garden suffered, but under the direction of Fagan, a nephew of la Brosse and the chief physician of Louis XIV., it improved. Things went from bad to worse under Chiroc, who cared for nothing but anatomy, but under Dufoy, a real lover of nature, there was a change for the better. He made Buffon his successor, who, from 1739 to 1788 was at the head of affairs and whose ideas of what the garden should be were largely realized. Cuvier followed him. Cuvier came to the garden a poor boy, well educated in the classics, mathematics and literature, but supremely fond of natural history. He was soon made a professor. He studied comparative anatomy and through his contributions to this branch of knowledge gained great honor. He was a professor in the College of France, a member of the French Academy, of the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres, and of nearly all the learned societies in the world. But he permitted neither honors nor requests from any source whatever, to interrupt his favorite studies. His modest home was in the garden itself, and during his lifetime was the meeting place of most of the more famous scientists of Europe. The house, covered with vines and adorned with a bust, is preserved, and marked as the house of Cuvier.

Through the influence of Bernardine do St. Pierre the convention