Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 15
Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin

by Charles Francis McKenna


Born at Saint-André d'Hebertot, Normandy, 16 May, 1763; died 14 Nov., 1829. In youth as apprentice to an apothecary of Rouen he developed a liking for chemistry. Later he went to Paris and met Foureroy, who had been influenced by Lavoisier and the latter's insistence upon the importance of quantitative measurements. Later he became even more accomplished than his master in the field of analytical chemistry. In fact he did nothing in any other branch of clinical work, and although he wrote voluminously, as many as three hundred and seventy-eight papers being published by him, none of his work had any other direction than that of giving descriptions of analytical operations and results. It made no difference whether it was in vegetable or mineral chemistry, or whether physiological or pathological, his work was only analytical, but of course it led to large advances in the field of the constitution of substances he studied. In 1812 he published a manual of assaying. He was one of the first to instruct students by means of practical laboratory teaching. The most illustrious of these followers was Thenard. In 1798 Vauquelin discovered oxide of beryllium in beryl. He also isolated chromium from lead ores. With Berzelius he ascertained correctly the composition of carbon bisulphide, which had been first made by Lampadius in 1796. He discovered quinic acid, asparagin, camphoric acid, and other organic substances. His death, which was very edifying, occurred while he was on a visit to his birthplace.

Charles F. McKenna.