1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Academies
ACADEMIES. The word “academy” is derived from “the olive grove of Academe, Plato’s retirement,” the birthplace of the Academic school of philosophy (see under Academy, Greek). The schools of Athens after the model of the Academy continued to flourish almost without a break for nine centuries till they were abolished by a decree of Justinian. It was not without significance in tracing the history of the word that Cicero gave the name to his villa near Puteoli. It was there that he entertained his cultured friends and held the symposia which he afterwards elaborated in Academic Questions and other philosophic and moral dialogues.
“Academy,” in its modern acceptation, may be defined as a society or corporate body having for its object the cultivation and promotion of literature, of science and of art, either severally or in combination, undertaken for the pure love of these pursuits, with no interested motive. Modern academies, moreover, have, almost without exception, some form of public recognition; they are either founded or endowed, or subsidized, or at least patronized, by the sovereign of the state. The term “academy” is very loosely used in modern times; and, in essentials, other bodies with the title of “society” or “college,” or even “school,” often embody the same idea; we are only concerned here, however, with those which, bearing the title of academy, are of historical importance in their various spheres.
Early History.—The first academy, as thus defined, though it might with equal justice claim to be the first of universities, was the museum of Alexandria founded at the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. by the first of the Ptolemies. There all the sciences then known were pursued, and the most learned men of Greece and of the East gathered beneath its spacious porticos. Here, too, was the nucleus of the famous library of Alexandria.
Passing over the state institute for the promotion of science founded at Constantinople by Caesar Bardas in the 9th century, and the various academies established by the Moors at Granada, at Corduba and as far east as Samarkand, we come to the academy over which Alcuin presided, a branch of the School of the Palace established by Charlemagne in 782. This academy was the prototype of the learned coteries of Paris which Molière afterwards satirized. It took all knowledge for its province; it included the learned priest and the prince who could not write his own name, and it sought to solve all problems by witty definitions.
The David of Alcuin’s academy (such was the name that the emperor assumed) found no successors or imitators, and the tradition of an Oxford academy of Alfred the Great has been proved to rest on a forgery. The academy of arts founded at Florence in 1270 by Brunetto Latini was short-lived and has left no memories, and modern literary academies may be said to trace their lineage in direct descent from the troubadours of the early 14th century. The first Floral Games were held at Toulouse in May 1324, at the summons of a gild of troubadours, who invited “honourable lords, friends and companions who possess the science whence spring joy, pleasure, good sense, merit and politeness” to assemble in their garden of the “gay science” and recite their works. The prize, a golden violet, was awarded to Vidal de Castelnaudary for a poem to the glory of the Virgin. In spite of the English invasion and other adversities the Floral Games survived till, about the year 1500, their permanence was secured by the munificent bequest of Clếmence Isaure, a rich lady of Toulouse. In 1694 the Académie des Jeux Floraux was constituted an academy by letters patent of Louis XIV.; its statutes were reformed and the number Of members raised to 36. Suppressed during the Revolution it was revived in 1806, and still continues to award amaranths of gold and sliver lilies, for which there is keen competition.
Provence led the way, but Italy of the Renaissance is the soil in which academies most grew and flourished. The Accademia Pontaniana, to give it its subsequent title, was founded at Florence in 1433 by Antonio Beccadelli of Palermo and fostered by Laurentius Valla. Far more famous was the Accademia Platonica, founded c. 1442 by Cosimo de’ Medici, which numbered among its members Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Machiavelli and Angelo Poliziano. It was, as the name implies, chiefly occupied with Plato, but it added to its objects the study of Dante and the purification of the Italian language, and though it lived for barely half a century, yet its influence as a model for similar learned societies was great and lasting.
Modern Academies.—Academies have played an important part in the revival of learning and in the birth of scientific inquiry. They mark an age of aristocracies when letters were the distinction of the few and when science had not been differentiated into distinct branches, each with its own specialists. Their interest is mainly historical, and it cannot be maintained that at the present day they have much direct influence on the advancement of learning either by way of research or of publication. For example, the standard dictionaries of France, Germany and England are the work, not of academies, but of individual scholars, of Littré, Grimm and Murray. Matthew Arnold’s plea for an English academy of letters to save his countrymen from the note of vulgarity and provinciality has met with no response. Academies have been supplanted, socially by the modern club, and intellectually by societies devoted to special branches of science. Those that survive from the past serve, like the Heralds’ College, to set an official stamp on literary and scientific merit. The principal academies of Europe, past and present, may be dealt with in various classes, according to the subjects to which they are devoted.
I. Scientific Academies
Austria.—The Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften at Vienna, originally projected by Leibnitz, was founded by the emperor Ferdinand I. in 1846, and has two classes—mathematics and natural science, and history and philology.
Belgium and the Netherlands.—A literary society was founded at Brussels in 1769 by Count Cobenzl, the prime minister of Maria Theresa, which after various changes of name and constitution became in 1816 the Académie impériale et royale des sciences et belles-lettres, under the patronage of William I. of the Netherlands. It has devoted itself principally to natural history and antiquities. The Royal Institute of the Low Countries was founded in 1808 by King Louis Bonaparte. It was replaced in 1851 by the Royal Academy of Sciences at Amsterdam, to which in 1856 a literary section was added.
Denmark.—The Kongelige danske videnskabernes selskab (Royal Academy of Sciences) at Copenhagen owes its origin to Christian VI., who in 1742 invited six Danish numismatists to arrange his cabinet of medals. Historians and antiquaries were called in to assist at the sittings, and the commission developed into a sort of learned club. The king took it under his protection, enlarged its scope by the addition of natural history, physics and mathematics, and in 1743 constituted it a royal academy with an endowment fund.
France.—The old Académie des sciences had the same origin as the more celebrated Académie française. A number of men of science had for some thirty years met together, first at the house of P. Marsenne, then at that of Montmort, a member of the Council of State, afterwards at that of Melchisédec Thévenot, the learned traveller. It included Descartes, Gassendi, Blaise and Etienne Pascal. Hobbes, the author of Leviathan, was presented to it during his visit to Paris in 1640. Colbert conceived the idea of giving an official status to this learned club. A number of chemists, physicians, anatomists and eminent mathematicians, among whom were Christian Huyghens and Bernard Frenicle de Bessy (1605–1675), the author of a famous treatise on magic squares, were chosen to form the nucleus of the new society. Pensions were granted by Louis XIV. to each of the members, and a fund for instruments and experiment was placed at their disposal. They began their session on the 22nd of December 1666 in the Royal Library, meeting twice a week—the mathematicians on Wednesdays, the physicists on Saturdays. Duhamel was appointed permanent secretary, a post he owed more to his polished Latinity than to his scientific attainments, all the proceedings of the society being recorded in Latin, and C. A. Couplet was made treasurer. At first the academy was rather a laboratory and observatory than an academy proper. Experiments were undertaken in common and results discussed. Several foreign savants, in particular the Danish astronomer Roemer, joined the society, attracted hy the liberality of the Grand Monarque; and the German physician and geometer Tschirnhausen and Sir Isaac Newton were made foreign associates. The death of Colbert, who was succeeded by Louvois, exercised a disastrous effect on the fortunes of the academy. The labours of the academicians were diverted from the pursuit of pure science to such works as the construction of fountains and cascades at Versailles, and the mathematicians were employed to calculate the odds of the games of lansquenet and basset. In 1699 the academy was reconstituted by Louis Phelypeaux, comte de Pontchartrain, under whose department as secretary of state the academies came. By its new constitution it consisted of twenty-five members, ten honorary, men of high rank interested in science, and fifteen pensionaries, who were the working members. Of these three were geometricians, three astronomers, three mechanicians, three anatomists, and three chemists. Each of these three had two associates, and, besides, each pensionary had the privilege of naming a pupil. There were eight foreign and four free associates. The officers were, a president and a vice-president, named by the king from among the honorary members, and a secretary and treasurer chosen from the pensionaries, who held office for life. Fontenelle, a man of wit, and rather a popularizer of science than an original investigator, succeeded Duhamel as secretary. The constitution was purely aristocratical, differing in that respect from that of the French Academy, in which the principle of equality among the members was never violated. Science was not yet strong enough to dispense with the patronage of the great. The two leading spirits of the academy at this period were Clairault and Réaumur. To trace the subsequent fortunes of this academy would be to write the history of the rise and progress of science in France. It has reckoned among its members Laplace, Buffon, Lagrange, D'Alembert, Lavoisier, and Jussieu, the father of modern botany. On the 21st of December 1792 it met for the last time, and it was suppressed with its sister academies by the act of the Convention on the 8th of April 1793. Some of its members were guillotined, some were imprisoned, more were reduced to poverty. The aristocracy of talent was almost as much detested and persecuted by the Revolution as that of rank.
In 1795 the Convention decided on founding an Institut National which was to replace all the academies, and its first class corresponded closely to the old academy of sciences. In 1816 the Académie des sciences was reconstituted as a branch of the Institute. The new academy has reckoned among its members, besides many other brilliant men, Carnot the engineer, the physicists Fresnel, Ampère, Arago, Blot, the chemists Gay-Lussac and Thénard, the zoologists G. Cuvier and the two Geoffroy Saint-Hilaires. In France there were also considerable academies in most of the large towns. Montpellier, for example, had a royal academy of sciences, founded in 1706 by Louis XIV., on nearly the same footing as that of Paris, of which, indeed, it was in some measure the counterpart. It was reconstituted in 1847, and organized under three sections—medicine, science and letters. Toulouse also has an academy, founded in 1640, under the name of Société de lanternistes; and there were analogous institutions at Nîmes, Arles, Lyons, Dijon, Bordeaux and elsewhere.
Germany.—The Collegium Curiosum was a scientific society, founded by J. C. Sturm, professor of mathematics and natural philosophy in the university of Altorf, in Franconia, in 1672, on the plan of the Accademia del Cimento. It originally consisted of twenty members, and continued to flourish long after the death of its founder. The early labours of the society were devoted to the repetition (under varied conditions) of the most notable experiments of the day, or to the discussion of the results. Two volumes (1676–1685) of proceedings were published by Sturm. The former, Collegium Experimentale sive Curiosum, begins with an account of the diving-bell, “a new invention”; next follow chapters on the camera obscura, the Torricellian experiment, the air-pump, microscope, telescope, &c.
The Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, if judged by the work it has produced, holds the first place in Germany. Its origin was the Societas Regia Scientiarum, constituted in 1700 by Frederick I. on the comprehensive plan of Leibnitz, who was its first president. Hampered and restricted under Frederick William I., it was reorganized under Frederick II. on the French model furnished by Maupertuis, and received its present constitution in 1812. It is divided into two classes and four sections—physical and mathematical, philosophical and historical. Each section has a permanent secretary with a salary of 1200 marks, and each of the 50 regular members is paid 600 marks a year. Among the contributors to its transactions (first volume published in 1710), to name only the dead, we find Immanuel Bekker, Böckling, Bernoulli, F. Bopp, P. Buttmann, Encke (of comet fame), L. Euler, the brothers Grimm, the two Humboldts, Lachmann, Lagrange, Leibnitz, T. Mommsen, J. Müller, G. Niebuhr, C. Ritter (the geographer), Savigny and Zumpt. Frederick II. presented in 1768 A Dissertation on Ennui. To the Berlin Academy we owe the Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum, the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, and the Monumenta Germaniae Historica.
The Akademie der Wissenschaflen zu Mannheim was founded by the elector Palatine in 1755. Since 1780 it has devoted itself specially to meteorology, and has published valuable observations under the title of Ephemerides Societatis Meteorologicae Theodoro-Palatinae.
The Bavarian Akademie der Wissenschaften zu München was founded in 1759. It is distinguished from other academies by the part it has played in national education. Maximilian Joseph, the enlightened elector (afterwards king) of Bavaria, induced the government to hand over to it the organization and superintendence of public instruction, and this work was carried out by Privy-councillor Jacobi, the president of the academy. In recent years the academy has specially occupied itself with natural history.
The Königliche Akademie der Wissenschaften, at Erfurt, which dates from 1754 and devotes itself to applied science, and the Hessian academy of sciences at Giessen, which publishes medical transactions, also deserve mention.Great Britain and Ireland.—In 1616 a scheme for founding a royal academy was started by Edmund Bolton, an eminent scholar and antiquary, who in his petition to King James I., which was supported by George Villiers, marquis of Buckingham, proposed that the title of the academy should be “King James, his Academe or College of honour.” A list of the proposed original members is still extant, and includes the names of George Chapman, Michael Drayton, Ben Jonson, John Selden, Sir Kenelm Digby and Sir Henry Wotton. The constitution is of interest as reflecting the mind of the learned king. The academy was to consist of three classes,—tutelaries, who were to be Knights of the Garter, auxiliaries, all noblemen or ministers of state, and the essentials, “called from out of the most famous lay gentlemen of England, and either living in the light of things, or without any title of profession or art of life for lucre.” Among other duties to be assigned to this academy was the licensing of all books other than theological. The death of King James put an end to the undertaking. In 1635 a second attempt to found an academy was made under the patronage of Charles I., with the title of “Minerva’s Museum,” for the instruction of young noblemen in the liberal arts and sciences, but the project was soon dropped. (For the “British Academy” see III. below.) About 1645 the more ardent followers of Bacon used to meet, some in London, some at Oxford, for the discussion of subjects connected with experimental science. This was the original of the Royal Society (q.v.), which received its charter in 1662.
A society was formed in Dublin, similar to the Royal Society in London, as early as 1683; but the distracted state of the country proved unpropitious to the cultivation of philosophy and literature. The Royal Irish Academy grew from a society established in Dublin about 1782 by a number of gentlemen, most of whom belonged to the university. They held weekly meetings and read, in turn, essays on various subjects. They professed to unite the advancement of science with the history of mankind and polite literature. The first volume of transactions appeared in 1788.
Hungary.—The Magyar Tudományos Akadémia (Hungarian Academy of Sciences) was founded in 1825 by Count Stephen Széchenyi for the encouragement of the study of the Hungarian language and the various sciences. It has about 300 members and a fine building in Budapest containing a picture gallery and housing various national collections.
Italy.—The Academia Secretorum Natarae was founded at Naples in 1560 by Giambattista della Porta. It arose like the French Academy from a little club of friends who met at della Porta ’s house and called themselves the Otiosi. The condition of membership was to have made some discovery in natural science. Della Porta was suspected of practising the black arts and summoned to Rome to justify himself before the papal court. He was acquitted by Paul V., but commanded to close his academy.
The Accademia dei Lincei, to which della Porta was admitted when at Rome, and of which he became the chief ornament, had been founded in 1603 by Federigo Cesi, the marchese di Monticelli. Galileo and Colonna were among its earliest members. Its device was a lynx with upturned eyes, tearing a Cerberus with its claws. As a monument the Lincei have left the magnificent edition of Fernandez de Oviedo ’s Natural History of Mexico (Rome, 1651, fol.), printed at the expense of the founder and elaborately annotated by the members. This academy was resuscitated in 1870 under the title of Reale Accademia dei Lincei, with a literary as well as a scientific side, endowed in 1878 by King Humbert; and in 1883 it received official recognition from the Italian government, being lodged in the Corsini palace, whose owner made over to it his library and collections.
The Accademia del Cimento was founded at Florence in 1657 by Leopold de' Medici, brother of the grand duke Ferdinand II., at the instigation of Vincenzo Viviani, the geometrician. It was an academy of experiment, a deliberate protest against the deductive science of the quadrivium. Its founder left it when he was made a cardinal, and it lasted only ten years, but the grand folio published in Italian (afterwards translated into Latin) in 1667 is a landmark in the history of science. It contains experiments on the pressure of the air (Torricelli and Borelli were among its members), on the incompressibility of water and on universal gravity.
Science in Italy is now represented by the Reale Accademia delle Scienze (Royal Academy of Sciences), founded in 1757 as a private society, and incorporated under its present name by royal warrant in 1783. It consists of 40 full members, who must be residents of Turin, 20 non-resident, and 20 foreign members. It publishes a yearly volume of proceedings and awards prizes to learned works. There are, besides, royal academies of science at Naples, Lucca and Palermo.
Portugal.—The Academia Real das Sciencias (Royal Academy of Sciences) at Lisbon dates from 1779. It was reorganized in 1851 and since then has been chiefly occupied in the publication of Portugaliae Monumenta Historica.
Russia.—The Académie Impériale des sciences de Saint-Petersbourg, Imperatorskaya Akademiya naük, was projected by Peter the Great. The advice of Wolff and Leibnitz was sought, and several learned foreigners were invited to become members. Peter himself drew the plan, and signed it on the 10th of February 1724; but his sudden death delayed its fulfilment. On the 21st of December 1725, however, Catherine I. established it according to his plan, and on the 27th the society met for the first time. On the 1st of August 1726, Catherine honoured the meeting with her presence, when Professor G. B. Bilfinger, a German scientist, delivered an oration upon the determination of magnetic variations and longitude. Shortly afterwards the empress settled a fund of £4982 per annum for the support of the academy; and 15 eminent members were admitted and pensioned, under the title of professors in the various branches of science and literature. The most distinguished of these were Nicholas and Daniel Bernouilli, the two Delisles, Bilfinger, and Wolff.
During the short reign of Peter II. the salaries of members were discontinued, and the academy neglected by the Court; but it was again patronized by the empress Anne, who added a seminary under the superintendence of the professors. Both institutions flourished for some time under the direction of Baron Johann Albrecht Korff (1697–1766). At the accession of Elizabeth the original plan was enlarged and improved; learned foreigners were drawn to St Petersburg; and, what was considered a good omen for the literature of Russia, two natives, Lomonosov and Rumovsky, men of genius who had prosecuted their studies in foreign universities, were enrolled among its members. The annual income was increased to £10,659, and sundry other advantages were conferred upon the institution. Catherine II. utilized the academy for the advancement of national culture. She altered the court of directors greatly to the advantage of the whole body, corrected many of its abuses, added to its means, and infused a new vigour and spirit into its researches. By her recommendation the most intelligent professors visited all the provinces of her vast dominions, with most minute and ample instructions to investigate the natural resources, conditions and requirements, and report on the real state of the empire. The result was that no country at that time could boast, within so few years, such a number of excellent official publications on its internal state, its natural productions, its topography, geography and history, and on the manners, customs and languages of the different tribes that inhabited it, as came from the press of this academy. In its researches in Asiatic languages, oriental customs and religions, it proved itself the worthy rival of the Royal Asiatic Society in England. The first transactions, Commentarii Academiae Scientiarum Imperialis Petropolitanae ad annum 1726, with a dedication to Peter II., were published in 1728. This was continued until 1747, when the transactions were called Novi Commentarii Academiae, &c.; and in 1777, Acta Academiae Scientiarum Imperialis Petropolitanae, with some alteration in the arrangements and plan of the work. The papers, hitherto in Latin only, were now written indifferently in Latin or in French, and a preface added, Partie Historique, which contains an account of the society ’s meetings. Of the Commentaries, fourteen volumes were published: of the New Commentaries (1750–1776) twenty. Of the Acta Academiae two volumes are printed every year. In 1872 there was published at St Petersburg in 2 vols., Tableau général des matières contenues dans les publications de l'Académie Imperiale des Sciences de St Petersbourg. The academy is composed, as at first, of fifteen professors, besides the president and director. Each of the professors has a house and an annual stipend of from £200 to £600. Besides the professors, there are four pensioned adjuncts, who are present at the meetings of the society, and succeed to the first vacancies. The buildings and apparatus of this academy are on a vast scale. There is a fine library, of 36,000 books and manuscripts; and an extensive museum, considerably augmented by the collections made by Pallas, Gmelin, Guldenstadt and other professors, during their expeditions through the Russian empire. The motto of the society is Paulatim.
Spain.—The Real Academia Española at Madrid (see below) had a predecessor in the Academia Naturae curiosorum (dating from 1657) modelled on that of Naples. It was reconstituted in 1847 after the model of the French academy.Sweden.—The Kongliga Svenska Vetenskaps Akademien owes its institution to six persons of distinguished learning, among whom was Linnaeus. They met on the 2nd of June 1739, and formed a private society, the Collegium Curiosorum; and at the end of the year their first publication made its appearance.
As the meetings continued and the members increased the society attracted the notice of the king; and on the 31st of March 1741 it was incorporated as the Royal Swedish Academy. Though under royal patronage and largely endowed, it is, like the Royal Society in England, entirely self-governed. Each of the members resident at Stockholm becomes in turn president, and continues in office for three months. The dissertations read at each meeting are published in the Swedish language, quarterly, and make an annual volume. The first forty volumes, octavo, completed in 1779, are called the Old Transactions.
United States of America.—The oldest scientific association in the United States is the American Philosophical Society Held at Philadelphia for Promoting Useful Knowledge. It owed its origin to Benjamin Franklin, who in 1743 published “A Proposal for Promoting Useful Knowledge among the British Plantations in America,” which was so favourably received that in the same year the society was organized, with Thomas Hopkinson (1709–1751) as president and Franklin as secretary. In 1769 it united with another scientific society founded by Franklin, called the American Society Held at Philadelphia for Promoting Useful Knowledge, and adopted its present name, adding the descriptive phrase from the title of the American Society, and elected Franklin president, an office which he held until his death (1790). The American Philosophical Society is national in scope and is exclusively scientific; its Transactions date from 1771, and its Proceedings from 1838. It has a hall in Philadelphia, with meeting-rooms and a valuable library and collection of interesting portraits and relics. David Rittenhouse was its second and Thomas Jefferson was its third president. In 1786 John Hyacinth de Magellan, of London, presented a fund, the income of which was to supply a gold medal for the author of the most important discovery “relating to navigation, astronomy or natural philosophy (mere natural history excepted).” An annual general meeting is held.
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Boston), the second oldest scientific organization in the United States, was chartered in Massachusetts in 1780 by some of the most prominent men of that time. James Bowdoin was its first president, John Adams its second. The Academy published Memoirs beginning in 1785, and Proceedings from 1846. The Rumford Premium awarded through it for the most “important discovery or useful improvement on Heat, or on Light” is the income of $5000 given to the Academy by Count Rumford.
The National Academy of Sciences (1863) was incorporated by Congress with the object that it “shall, whenever called upon by any department of the Government, investigate, examine, experiment and report upon any subject of science or art.” Its membership was first limited to 50; after the amendment of the act of incorporation in 1870 the limit was placed at 100; and in 1907 it was prescribed that the resident membership should not exceed 150 in number, that not more than 10 members be elected in any one year, and that the number of foreign associates be restricted to 50. The Academy is divided into six committees: mathematics and astronomy; physics and engineering; chemistry; geology and palaeontology; biology; and anthropology. It gives several gold medals for meritorious researches and discoveries. It publishes scientific monographs (at the expense of the Federal Government). Its presidents have been Alexander D. Bache, Joseph Henry, Wm. B. Rogers, Othuiel C. Marsh, Wolcott Gibbs, Alexander Agassiz and Ira Remsen.
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia was organized in 1812. It has a large library, very rich in natural history, and its museum, with nearly half a million specimens, is particularly strong in conchology and ornithology. The society has published Journals since 1817, and Proceedings since 1841; it also has published the American Journal of Conchology. The American Entomological Society (in 1859–1867 the Entomological Society of Philadelphia, and since 1876 part of this academy) has published Proceedings since 1861, and the Entomological news (a monthly).
There are also other scientific organizations like the American Association for the Advancement of Science (chartered in 1874, as a continuation of the American Association of Geologists, founded in 1840 and becoming in 1842 the American Association of Geologists and Naturalists), which publishes its proceedings annually; the American Geographical Society (1852), with headquarters in New York; the National Geographic Society (1888), with headquarters in Washington, D.C.; the Geological Society of America (1888), the American Ornithologists' Union (1883), the American Society of Naturalists (1883), the Botanical Society of America (1893), the American Academy of Medicine (1876); and local academies of science, or of special sciences, in many of the larger cities. The Smithsonian Institution at Washington is treated in a separate article.
II. Academies of Belles Lettres
Belgium.— Belgium has always been famous for its literary societies. The little town of Diest boasts that it possessed a society of poets in 1302, and the Catherinists of Alost date from 1107. It is at least certain that numerous Chambers of Rhetoric (so academies were then called) existed in the first years of the rule of the house of Burgundy.
France.—The French Academy (l’Académie française) was established by order of the king in the year 1635, but in its original form existed four or five years earlier. About the year 1629 certain literary friends in Paris agreed to meet informally each week at the house of Valentin Courart, the king’s secretary. The conversation turned mostly on literary topics; and when one of the number had finished some literary work, he read it to the rest, and they gave their opinions upon it. The fame of these meetings, though the members were bound to secrecy, reached the ears of Cardinal Richelieu, who promised his protection and offered to incorporate the society by letters patent. Nearly all the members would have preferred the charms of privacy, but, considering the risk they would run in incurring the cardinal’s displeasure, and that by the letter of the law all meetings of any sort were prohibited, they expressed their gratitude for the high honour the cardinal thought fit to confer on them, proceeded at once to organize their body, settle their laws and constitution, appoint officers and choose a name. Letters patent were granted by the king on the 29th of January 1635. The officers consisted of a director and a chancellor, chosen by lot, and a permanent secretary, chosen by vote. They elected also a publisher, not a member of the body. The director presided at the meetings, being considered as primus inter pares. The chancellor kept the seals and sealed all the official documents of the academy. The cardinal was ex officio protector. The meetings were held weekly as before.
The object for which the academy was founded, as set forth in its statutes, was the purification of the French language. “The principal function of the academy shall be to labour with all care and diligence to give certain rules to our language, and to render it pure, eloquent and capable of treating the arts and sciences” (Art. 24). They proposed “to cleanse the language from the impurities it has contracted in the mouths of the common people, from the jargon of the lawyers, from the misusages of ignorant courtiers, and the abuses of the pulpit” (Letter of Academy to Cardinal Richelieu).
The number of members was fixed at forty. The original members formed a nucleus of eight, and it was not till 1639 that the full number was completed. Their first undertaking consisted of essays written by the members in rotation. To judge by the titles and specimens which have come down to us, these possessed no special originality or merit, but resembled the ἐπιδείξεις of the Greek rhetoricians. Next, at the instance of Cardinal Richelieu, they undertook a criticism of Corneille’s Cid, the most popular work of the day. It was a rule of the academy that no work could be criticized except at the author’s request, and fear of incurring the cardinal’s displeasure wrung from Corneille an unwilling consent. The critique of the academy was re-written several times before it met with the cardinal’s approbation. After six months of elaboration, it was published under the title, Sentiments de l’académie française sur le Cid. This judgment did not satisfy Corneille, as a saying attributed to him on the occasion shows. “Horatius,” he said, referring to his last play, “was condemned by the Duumviri, but he was absolved by the people.” But the crowning labour of the academy, begun in 1639, was a dictionary of the French language. By the twenty-sixth article of their statutes, they were pledged to compose a dictionary, a grammar, a treatise on rhetoric and one on poetry. Jean Chapelain, one of the original members and leading spirits of the academy, pointed out that the dictionary would naturally be the first of these works to be undertaken, and drew up a plan of the work, which was to a great extent carried out. A catalogue was to be made of all the most approved authors, prose and verse: these were to be distributed among the members, and all approved words and phrases were to be marked for incorporation in the dictionary. For this they resolved themselves into two committees, which sat on other than the regular days. C. F. de Vaugelas was appointed editor in chief. To remunerate him for his labours, he received from the cardinal a pension of 2000 francs. The first edition of this dictionary appeared in 1694, the sixth and last in 1835, since when compléments have been added.
This old Académie française perished with the other pre-revolutionary academies in 1793, and it has little but the name in common with the present academy, a section of the Institute. That Jean Baptiste Suard, the first perpetual secretary of the new, had been a member of the old academy, is the one connecting link.
The chronicles of the Institute down to the end of 1895 have been given in full by the count de Franqueville in Le premier siècle de l’Institut de France, and from it we extract a few leading facts and dates. Before the Revolution there were in existence the following institutions—(1) the Académie de poésie et de musique, founded by Charles IX. in 1570 at the instigation of Baïf, which counted among its members Ronsard and most of the Pléiade; (2) the Académie des inscriptions et medailles, founded in 1701; (3) the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres; (4) the old Académie des sciences; (5) the Académie de peinture et de sculpture, a school as well as an academy; (6) the Académie d’architecture.
The object of the Convention in 1795 was to rebuild all the institutions that the Revolution had shattered and to combine them in an organic whole; in the words of the preamble:—“Il y a pour toute la République un Institut national chargé de recueiller les découvertes, de perfectionner les arts et les sciences.” As Renan has remarked, the Institute embodied two ideas, one disputable, the other of undisputed truth:—That science and art are a state concern, and that there is a solidarity between all branches of knowledge and human activities. The Institute was at first composed of 184 members resident in Paris and an equal number living in other parts of France, with 24 foreign members, divided into three classes, (1) physical and mathematical science, (2) moral and political science, (3) literature and the fine arts. It held its first sitting on the 4th of April 1796. Napoleon as first consul suppressed the second class, as subversive of government, and reconstituted the other classes as follows: (1) as before, (2) French language and literature, (3) ancient history and literature, (4) fine arts. The class of moral and political science was restored on the proposal of M. Guizot in 1832, and the present Institute consists of the five classes named above. Each class or academy has its own special jurisdiction and work, with special funds; but there is a general fund and a common library, which, with other common affairs, are managed by a committee of the Institute—two chosen from each academy, with the secretaries. Each member of the Institute receives an annual allowance of 1200 francs, and the secretaries of the different academies have a salary of 6000 francs.
The class of the Institute which deals with the language and literature takes precedence, and is known as the Académie française. There was at first no perpetual secretary, each secretary of sections presiding in turn. Shortly afterwards J. B. Suard was elected to the post, and ever since the history of the academy has been determined by the reigns of its successive perpetual secretaries. The secretary, to borrow an epigram of Sainte-Beuve, both reigns and governs. There have been in order: Suard (13 years), François Juste Raynouard (9 years), Louis Simon Auger, François Andrieux, Arnault, Villemain (34 years), Henri Joseph Patin, Charles Camille Doucet (19 years), Gaston Boissier. Under Raynouard the academy ran a tilt against the abbé Delille and his followers. Under Auger it did battle with romanticism, “a new literary schism.” Auger did not live to see the election of Lamartine in 1829, and it needed ten more years for Victor Hugo after many vain assaults to enter by the breach. The academy is professedly non-political. It accepted and even welcomed in succession the empire, the restoration and the reign of Louis Phillppe, and it tolerated the republic of 1848; but to the second empire it offered a passive resistance, and no politician of the second empire, whatever his gifts as an orator or a writer, obtained an armchair. The one seeming exception, Emile Ollivier, confirms the rule. He was elected on the eve of the Franco-German war, but his discours de réception, a eulogy of the emperor, was deferred and never delivered. The Institute appears in the annual budget for a grant of about 700,000 fr. It has also large vested funds in property, including the magnificent estate and library of Chantilly bequeathed to it by the duc d’Aumale. It awards various prizes, of which the most considerable are the Montyon prizes, each of 20,000 fr., one for the poor Frenchman who has performed the most virtuous action during the year, and one for the French author who has published the book of most service to morality. The conditions are liberally interpreted; the first prize is divided among a number of the deserving poor, and the second has been assigned for lexicons to Molière, Corneille and Madame de Sévigné.
One alteration in the methods of the French Academy has to be chronicled: in 1869 it became the custom to discuss the claims of the candidates at a preliminary meeting of the members. In 1880, on the instance of the philosopher Caro, supported by A. Dumas fils, and by the aged Désiré Nisard, it was decided to abandon this method.
A point of considerable interest is the degree in which, since its foundation, the French Academy has or has not represented the best literary life of France. It appears from an examination of the lists of members that a surprising number of authors of the highest excellence have, from one cause or another, escaped the honour of academic “immortality.” When the academy was founded in 1634, the moment was not a very brilliant one in French letters. Among the forty original members we find only ten who are remembered in literary history; of these four may reasonably be considered famous still—Balzac, Chapelain, Racan and Voiture. In that generation Scarron was never one of the forty, nor do the names of Descartes, Malebranche or Pascal occur; Descartes lived in Holland, Scarron was paralytic, Pascal was best known as a mathematician—(his Lettres provinciales was published anonymously)—and when his fame was rising he retired to Port Royal, where he lived the life of a recluse. The duc de la Rochefoucauld declined the honour from a proud modesty, and Rotrou died too soon to be elected. The one astounding omission of the 17th century, however, is the name of Molière, who was excluded by his profession as an actor. On the other hand, the French Academy was never more thoroughly representative of letters than when Boileau, Corneille, La Fontaine, Racine, and Quinault were all members. Of the great theologians of that and the subsequent age, the Academy contained Bossuet, Fléchier, Fenelon, and Massillon, but not Bourdaloue. La Bruyere and Fontenelle were among the forty, but not Saint-Simon, whose claims as a man of letters were unknown to his contemporaries. Early in the 18th century almost every literary personage of eminence found his place naturally in the Academy. The only exceptions of importance were Vauvenargues, who died too early for the honour, and two men of genius but of dubious social position, Le Sage and the abbé Prévost d'Exiles. The approach of the Revolution affected gravely the personnel of the Academy. Montesquieu and Voltaire belonged to it, but not Rousseau or Beaumarchais. Of the Encyclopaedists, the French Academy opened its doors to D'Alembert, Condorcet, Volney, Marmontel and La Harpe, but not to Diderot, Rollin, Condillac, Helvetius or the Baron d'Holbach. Apparently the claims of Turgot and of Quesnay did not appear to the Academy sufficient, since neither was elected. In the transitional period, when the social life of Paris was distracted and the French Academy provisionally closed, neither André Chénier nor Benjamin Constant nor Joseph de Maistre became a member. In the early years of the 19th century considerations of various kinds excluded from the ranks of the forty the dissimilar names of Lamennais, Prudhon, Comte and Béranger. Critics of the French Academy are fond of pointing out that neither Stendhal, nor Balzac, nor Théophile Gautier, nor Flaubert, nor Zola penetrated into the Mazarine Palace. It is not so often remembered that writers so academic as Thierry and Michelet and Quinet suffered the same exclusion. In later times neither Alphonse Daudet nor Edmond de Goncourt, neither Guy de Maupassant nor Ferdinand Fabre, has been among the forty immortals. The non-election, after a long life of distinction, of the scholar Fustel de Coulanges is less easy to account for. Verlaine, although a poet of genius, was of the kind that no academy can ever be expected to recognize.
Concerning the influence of the French Academy on the language and literature, the most opposite opinions have been advanced. On the one hand, it has been asserted that it has corrected the judgment, purified the taste and formed the language of French writers, and that to it we owe the most striking characteristics of French literature, its purity, delicacy and flexibility. Thus Matthew Arnold, in his Essay on the Literary Influence of Academies, has pronounced a glowing panegyric on the French Academy as a high court of letters, and a rallying-point for educated opinion, as asserting the authority of a master in matters of tone and taste. To it he attributes in a great measure that thoroughness, that openness of mind, that absence of vulgarity which he finds everywhere in French literature; and to the want of a similar institution in England he traces that eccentricity, that provincial spirit, that coarseness which, as he thinks, are barely compensated by English genius. Thus, too, Renan, one of its most distinguished members, says that it is owing to the academy “qu'on peut tout dire sans appareil scholastique avec la langue des gens du monde.” “Ah ne dites,” he exclaims, “qu'ils n'ont rien fait, ces obscures beaux esprits dont la vie se passe à instruire le procès des mots, à peser les syllables. Ils ont fait un chef-d'œuvre—la langue française.” On the other hand, its inherent defects have been well summed up by P. Lanfrey in his Histoire de Napoléon: “This institution had never shown itself the enemy of despotism. Founded by the monarchy and for the monarchy, eminently favourable to the spirit of intrigue and favouritism, incapable of any sustained or combined labour, a stranger to those great works pursued in common which legitimize and glorify the existence of scientific bodies, occupied exclusively with learned trifles, fatal to emulation, which it pretends to stimulate, by the compromises and calculations to which it subjects it, directed in everything by petty considerations, and wasting all its energy in childish tournaments, in which the flatteries that it showers on others are only a foretaste of the compliments it expects in return for itself, the French Academy seems to have received from its founders the special mission to transform genius into bel esprit, and it would be hard to introduce a man of talent whom it has not demoralized. Drawn in spite of itself towards politics, it alternately pursues and avoids them; but it is specially attracted by the gossip of politics, and whenever it has so far emancipated itself as to go into opposition, it does so as the champion of ancient prejudices. If we examine its influence on the national genius, we shall see that it has given it a flexibility, a brilliance, a polish, which it never possessed before; but it has done so at the expense of its masculine qualities, its originality, its spontaneity, its vigour, its natural grace. It has disciplined it, but it has emasculated. impoverished and rigidified it. It sees in taste, not a sense of the beautiful, but a certain type of correctness, an elegant form of mediocrity. It has substituted pomp for grandeur, school routine for individual inspiration, elaborateness for simplicity, fadeur and the monotony of literary orthodoxy for variety, the source and spring of intellectual life; and in the works produced under its auspices we discover the rhetorician and the writer, never the man. By all its traditions the academy was made to be the natural ornament of a monarchical society. Richelieu conceived and created it as a sort of superior centralization applied to intellect, as a high literary court to maintain intellectual unity and protest against innovation. Bonaparte, aware of all this, had thought of re-establishing its ancient privileges; but it had in his eyes one fatal defect—esprit. Kings of France could condone a witticism even against themselves, a parvenu could not.”
On the whole the influence of the French Academy has been conservative rather than creative. It has done much by its example for style, but its attempts to impose its laws on language have, from the nature of the case, failed. For, however perfectly a dictionary or a grammar may represent the existing language of a nation, an original genius is certain to arise—a Victor Hugo or an Alfred de Musset—who will set at defiance all dictionaries and academic rules.
Germany.—Of the German literary academies the most celebrated was Die Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft (the Fruitful Society), established at Weimar in 1617. Five princes were among the original members. The object was to purify the mother tongue. The German academies copied those of Italy in their quaint titles and petty ceremonials, and exercised little permanent influence on the language or literature of the country.
Italy.—Italy in the 16th century was remarkable for the number of its literary academies. Tiraboschi, in his History of Italian Literature, has given a list of 171; and Jarkius, in his Specimen Historiae Academiarum Conditarum, enumerates nearly 700. Many of these, with a sort of Socratic irony, gave themselves ludicrous names, or names expressive of ignorance. Such were the Lunatici of Naples, the Estravaganti, the Fulminales, the Trapessati, the Drowsy, the Sleepers, the Anxious, the Confused, the Unstable, the Fantastic, the Transformed, the Ethereal. “The first academies of Italy chiefly directed their attention to classical literature; they compared manuscripts; they suggested new readings or new interpretations; they deciphered inscriptions or coins, they sat in judgment on a Latin ode or debated the propriety of a phrase. Their own poetry had, perhaps, never been neglected; but it was not till the writings of Bembo furnished a new code of criticism in the Italian language that they began to study it with the same minuteness as modern Latin.” “They were encouragers of a numismatic and lapidary erudition, elegant in itself, and throwing for ever little specks of light on the still ocean of the past, but not very favourable to comprehensive observation, and tending to bestow on an unprofitable pedantry the honours of real learning.” The Italian nobility, excluded as they mostly were from politics, and living in cities, found in literature a consolation and a career. Such academies were oligarchical in their constitution; they encouraged culture, but tended to hamper genius and extinguish originality. Far the most celebrated was the Accademia della Crusca or Furfuratorum; that is, of bran, or of the sifted, founded in 1582. The title was borrowed from a previous society at Perugia, the Accademia degli Scossi, of the well-shaken. Its device was a sieve; its motto, “Il pìu bel fior ne coglie” (it collects the finest flower); its principal object the purification of the language. Its great work was the Vocabulario della Crusca, printed at Venice in 1612. It was composed avowedly on Tuscan principles, and regarded the 14th century as the Augustan period of the language. Paul Beni assailed it in his Anti-Crusca, and this exclusive Tuscan purism has disappeared in subsequent editions. The Accademia della Crusca is now incorporated with two older societies—the Accademia degli Apatici (the Impartials) and the Accademia Florentina.
Among the numerous other literary academies of Italy we may mention the academy of Naples, founded about 1440 by Alphonso, the king; the Academy of Florence, founded 1540, to illustrate and perfect the Tuscan tongue, especially by the close study of Petrarch; the Intronati of Siena, 1525; the Infiammati of Padua, 1534; the Rozzi of Siena, suppressed by Cosimo, 1568.
The Academy of Humorists arose from a casual meeting of witty noblemen at the marriage of Lorenzo Marcini, a Roman gentleman. It was carnival time, and to give the ladies some diversion they recited verses, sonnets and speeches, first impromptus and afterwards set compositions. This gave them the name, Beni Humori, which, after they resolved to form an academy of belles lettres, they changed to Humoristi.
In 1690 the Accademia degli Arcadi was founded at Rome, for the purpose of reviving the study of poetry, by Crescimbeni, the author of a history of Italian poetry. Among its members were princes, cardinals and other ecclesiastics; and, to avoid disputes about pre-eminence, all came to its meetings masked and dressed like Arcadian shepherds. Within ten years from its establishment the number of academicians was 600.
The Royal Academy of Savoy dates from 1719, and was made a royal academy by Charles Albert in 1848. Its emblem is a gold orange tree full of flowers and fruit; its motto “Flores fructusque perennes,” the same as that of the famous Florimentane Academy, founded at Annecy by St Francis de Sales. It has published valuable memoirs on the history and antiquities of Savoy.
Spain.—The Real Academia Española at Madrid held its first meeting in July 1713, in the palace of its founder, the duke d'Fscalona. It consisted at first of 8 academicians, including the duke; to which number 14 others were afterwards added, the founder being chosen president or director. In 1714 the king granted them the royal confirmation and protection. Their device is a crucible in the middle of the fire, with this motto, Limpia, fixa, y da esplendor—“It purifies, fixes, and gives brightness.” The number of its members was limited to 24; the duke d'Escalona was chosen director for life, but his successors were elected yearly, and the secretary for life. Their object, as marked out by the royal declaration, was to cultivate and improve the national language. They were to begin with choosing carefully such words and phrases as have been used by the best Spanish writers; noting the low, barbarous or obsolete ones; and composing a dictionary wherein these might be distinguished from the former.
Sweden.—The Svenska Akademien was founded in 1786, for the purpose of purifying and perfecting the Swedish language. A medal is struck by its direction every year in honour of some illustrious Swede. This academy does not publish its transactions.
III. Academies of Archaeology and History
France.—The old Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres (or “Petite Academie,” founded in 1663) was an offshoot of the French Academy, which then at least contained the élite of French learning. Louis XIV. was of all French kings the one most occupied with his own aggrandisement. Literature, and even science, he only encouraged so far as they redounded to his own glory. Nor were literary men inclined to assert their independence. Boileau well represented the spirit of the age when, in dedicating his tragedy Berenice to Colbert, he wrote: “The least things become important if in any degree they can serve the glory and pleasure of the king.” Thus it was that the Academy of Inscriptions arose. At the suggestion of Colbert a company (a committee we should now call it) had been appointed by the king, chosen from the French Academy, charged with the office of furnishing inscriptions, devices and legends for medals. It consisted of four academicians: Chapelain, then considered the poet laureate of France, one of the authors of the critique on the Cid; the abbé Amable de Bourzeis (1606-1671); François Charpentier (1620-1702), an antiquary of high repute among his contemporaries; and the abbé Jacques de Cassagnes (1636-1679), who owed his appointment more to the fulsome flattery of his odes than to his really learned translations of Cicero and Sallust. This company used to meet in Colbert's library in the winter, at his country-house at Sceaux in the summer, generally on Wednesdays, to serve the convenience of the minister, who was always present. Their meetings were principally occupied with discussing the inscriptions, statues and pictures intended for the decoration of Versailles; but Colbert, a really learned man and an enthusiastic collector of manuscripts, was often pleased to converse with them on matters of art, history and antiquities. Their first published work was a collection of engravings, accompanied by descriptions, designed for some of the tapestries at Versailles. Louvois, who succeeded Colbert as a superintendent of buildings, revived the company, which had begun to relax its labours. Félibien, the learned architect, and the two great poets Racine and Boileau, were added to their number. A series of medals was commenced, entitled Médailles de la Grande Histoire, or, in other words, the history of the Grand Monarque.
But it was to M. de Pontchartrain, comptroller-general of finance and secretary of state, that the academy owed its institution. He added to the company Renaudot and Jacques Tourreil, both men of vast learning, the latter tutor to his son, and put at its head his nephew, the abbé Jean Paul Bignou, librarian to the king. By a new regulation, dated the 16th of July 1701, the Académie royale des inscriptions et médailles was instituted, being composed of ten honorary members, ten pensioners, ten associates, and ten pupils. Its constitution was an almost exact copy of that of the Academy of Sciences. Among the regulations we find the following, which indicates clearly the transition from a staff of learned officials to a learned body: “The academy shall concern itself with all that can contribute to the perfection of inscriptions and legends, of designs for such monuments and decorations as may be submitted to its judgment; also with the description of all artistic works, present and future, and the historical explanation of the subject of such works; and as the knowledge of Greek and Latin antiquities, and of these two languages, is the best guarantee for success in labours of this class, the academicians shall apply themselves to all that this division of learning includes, as one of the most worthy objects of their pursuit.”
Among the first honorary members we find the indefatigable Mabillon (excluded from the pensioners by reason of his orders), Père La Chaise, the king's confessor, and Cardinal Rohan; among the associates Fontenelle and Rollin, whose Ancient History was submitted to the academy for revision. In 1711 they completed L'Histoire métallique du roi, of which Saint-Simon was asked to write the preface. In 1716 the regent changed its title to that of the Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres, a title which better suited its new character.
In the great battle between the Ancients and the Moderns which divided the learned world in the first half of the 18th century, the Academy of Inscriptions naturally espoused the cause of the Ancients, as the Academy of Sciences did that of the Moderns. During the earlier years of the French Revolution the academy continued its labours uninterruptedly; and on the 22nd of January 1793, the day after the death of Louis XVI, we find in the Proceedings that M. Bréquigny read a paper on the projects of marriage between Queen Elizabeth and the dukes of Anjou and Alençon. In the same year were published the 45th and 46th vols. of the Mémoires de l'académie. On the 2nd of August of the same year the last séance of the old academy was held. More fortunate than its sister Academy of Sciences, it lost only three of its members by the guillotine. One of these was the astronomer Sylvain Bailly. Three others sat as members of the Convention; but for the honour of the academy, it should be added that all three were distinguished by their moderation.
In the first draft of the new Institute, October 25, 1795, no class corresponded exactly to the old Academy of Inscriptions; but most of the members who survived found themselves re-elected either in the class of moral and political science, under which history and geography were included as sections, or more generally under the class of literature and fine arts, which embraced ancient languages, antiquities and monuments.
In 1816 the academy received again its old name. The Proceedings of the society embrace a vast field, and are of very various merits. Perhaps the subjects on which it has shown most originality are comparative mythology, the history of science among the ancients, and the geography and antiquities of France. The old academy has reckoned among its members De Sacy the orientalist, Dansse de Villoison (1750-1805) the philologist, Anquetil du Perron the traveller, Guillaume J. de C. L. Sainte-Croix and du Theil the antiquaries, and Le Beau, who has been named the last of the Romans. The new academy has inscribed on its lists the names of Champollion, A. Rémusat, Raynouard, Burnout and Augustin Thierry.
In consequence of the attention of several literary men in Paris having been directed to Celtic antiquities, a Celtic Academy was established in that city in 1805. Its objects were, first, the elucidation of the history, customs, antiquities, manners and monuments of the Celts, particularly in France; secondly, the etymology of all the European languages, by the aid of the Celto-British, Welsh and Erse; and, thirdly, researches relating to Druidism. The attention of the members was also particularly called to the history and settlements of the Galatae in Asia. Lenoir, the keeper of the museum of French monuments, was appointed president. The academy still exists as La société nationale des antiquaires de France.
Great Britain.—The British Academy was the outcome of a meeting of the principal European and American academies, held at Wiesbaden in October 1899. A scheme was drawn up for an international association of the academies of the world under the two sections of natural science and literary science, but while the Royal Society adequately represented England in science there was then no existing institution that could claim to represent England in literature, and at the first meeting of the federated academies this chair was vacant. A plan was proposed by Professor H. Sidgwick to add a new section to the Royal Society, but after long deliberation this was rejected by the president and council. The promoters of the plan thereupon determined to form a separate society, and invited certain persons to become the first members of a new body, to be cailed “The British Academy for the promotion of historical, philosophical and philological studies.” The unincorporated body thus formed petitioned for a charter, and on the 8th of August 1902 the royal charter was granted and the by-laws were allowed by order in council. The objects of the academy are therein defined—“the promotion of the study of the moral and political sciences, including history, philosophy, law, politics and economics, archaeology and philology.” The number of ordinary fellows (so all members are entitled) is restricted to one hundred, and the academy is governed by a president (the first being Lord Reay) and a council of fifteen elected annually by the fellows.
Italy.—Under this class the Accademia Ercolanese (Academy of Herculaneum) properly ranks. It was established at Naples about 1755, at which period a museum was formed of the antiquities found at Herculaneum, Pompeii and other places, by the marquis Tanucci, who was then minister of state. Its object was to explain the paintings, &c., discovered at those places. For this purpose the members met every fortnight, and at each meeting three paintings were submitted to three academicians, who made their report at their next sitting. The first volume of their labours appeared in 1775, and they have been continued under the title of Antichità di Ercolano. They contain engravings of the principal paintings, statues, bronzes, marble figures, medals, utensils, &c., with explanations. In the year 1807 an academy of history and antiquities, on a new plan, was established at Naples by Joseph Bonaparte. The number of members was limited to forty, twenty of whom were to be appointed by the king; and these twenty were to present to him, for his choice, three names for each of those needed to complete the full number. Eight thousand ducats were to be annually allotted for the current expenses, and two thousand for prizes to the authors of four works which should be deemed by the academy most deserving of such a reward. A grand meeting was to be held every year, when the prizes were to be distributed and analyses of the works read. The first meeting took place on the 25th of April 1807; but the subsequent changes in the political state of Naples prevented the full and permanent establishment of this institution. In the same year an academy was established at Florence for the illustration of Tuscan antiquities, which published some volumes of memoirs.
IV. Academies of Medicine and Surgery
Austria.—The defunct Academy of Surgery at Vienna was instituted in 1784 by the emperor Joseph II. under the direction of the distinguished surgeon, Giovanni Alessandro Brambilla (1728-1800). For many years it did important work, and though closed in 1848 was reconstituted by the emperor Francis Joseph in 1854. In 1874 it ceased to exist; its functions had become mainly military, and were transferred to newer schools.
France.—Académie de Médecine. Medicine is a science which has always engaged the attention of the kings of France. Charlemagne established a school of medicine in the Louvre, and various societies have been founded, and privileges granted to the faculty by his successors. The Académie de médecine succeeded to the old Académie royale de chirurgie et société royale de médecine. It was erected by a royal ordinance, dated December 20, 1820. It was divided into three sections—medicine, surgery and pharmacy. In its constitution it closely resembled the Académie des sciences. Its function was to preserve or propagate vaccine matter, and answer inquiries addressed to it by the government on the subject of epidemics, sanitary reform and public health generally. It has maintained an enormous correspondence in all quarters of the globe and published extensive minutes.
Germany.—The Academia Naturae Curiosi, afterwards called the Academia Caesaraea Leopoldina, was founded in 1662 by J. L. Bausch, a physician of Leipzig, who published a general invitation to medical men to communicate all extraordinary cases that occurred in the course of their practice. The works of the Naturae Curiosi were at first published separately; but in 1770 a new arrangement was planned for publishing a volume of observations annually. From some cause, however, the first volume did not make its appearance until 1784, when it was published under the title of Ephemerides. In 1687 the emperor Leopold took the society under his protection, and its name was changed in his honour. This academy has no fixed abode, but follows the home of its president. Its library remains at Dresden. By its constitution the Leopoldine Academy consists of a president, two adjuncts or secretaries and unlimited colleagues or members. At their admission the last come under a twofold obligation—first, to choose some subject for discussion out of the animal, vegetable or mineral kingdoms, not previously treated by any colleague of the academy; and, secondly, to apply themselves to furnish materials for the annual Ephemerides.
V. Academies of the Fine Arts
France.—The Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture at Paris was founded by Louis XIV. in 1648, under the title of Académie royale des beaux arts, to which was afterwards united the Académie d'architecture, founded 1671. It is composed of painters, sculptors, architects, engravers and musical composers. From among the members of the society who are painters, is chosen the director of the French Académie des beaux arts at Berne, also instituted by Louis XIV. in 1677. The director's province is to superintend the studies of the painters, sculptors, &c., who, chosen by competition, are sent to Italy at the expense of the government, to complete their studies in that country. Most of the celebrated French painters have begun their career in this way.
The Académie nationale de musique is the official and administrative name given in France to the grand opera. In 1570 the poet Baif established in his house a school of music, at which ballets and masquerades were given. In 1645 Mazarin brought from Italy a troupe of actors, and established them in the rue du Petit Bourbon, where they gave Jules Strozzi’s Achille in Sciro, the first opera performed in France. After Molière’s death in 1673, his theatre in the Palais Royal was given to Sulli, and there were performed all Gluck’s great operas; there Vestris danced, and there was produced Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Devin du Village.
Great Britain.—The Royal Academy of Arts in London, founded in 1768, is described in a separate article. (See Academy, Royal.)
The Academy of Ancient Music was established in London in 1710, with the view of promoting the study and practice of vocal and instrumental harmony. This institution had a fine musical library, and was aided by the performances of the gentlemen of the Chapel Royal and the choir of St Paul’s, with the boys belonging to each, and continued to flourish for many years. About 1734 the academy became a seminary for the instruction of youth in the principias of music and the laws of harmony. The Royal Academy of Music was formed for the performance of operas, composed by Handel, and conducted by him at the theatre in the Haymarket. The subscription amounted to £50,000, and the king, besides subscribing £1000, allowed the society to assume the title Royal. It consisted of a governor, deputy-governor and twenty directors. A contest between Handel and Senesino, one of the performers, in which the directors took the part of the latter, occasioned the dissolution of the academy after it had existed with honour for more than nine years. The present Royal Academy of Music dates from 1822, and was incorporated in 1830. It instructs pupils of both sexes in music. (See also the article Conservatoire for colleges of music. )
Italy.—In 1778 an academy of painting and sculpture was established at Turin. The meetings were held in the palace of the king, who distributed prizes among the most successful members. In Milan an academy of architecture was established so early as 1380, by Gian Galeazzo Visconti. About the middle of the 18th century an academy of the arts was established there, after the example of those at Paris and Rome. The pupils were furnished with originals and models, and prizes were distributed by competent judges annually. The prize for painting was a gold medal. Before the effects of the French Revolution reached Italy this was one of the best establishments of the kind in that kingdom. In the hall of the academy were some admirable examples of Correggio, as well as several statues of great merit, particularly a small bust of Vitellius, and a torso of Agrippina, of most exquisite beauty. The academy of the arts, which had been long established at Florence, fell into decay, but was restored in the end of the 18th century. In it there are halls for nude and plaster figures, for the use of the sculptor and the painter, with models of all the finest statues in Italy. But the treasures of this and the other institutions for the fine arts were greatly diminished during the occupancy of Italy by the French. The academy of the arts at Modena, after being plundered by the French, dwindled into a petty school for drawing from living models. There is also an academy of the fine arts in Mantua, and another at Venice.
Russia.—The academy of St Petersburg was established in 1757 by the empress Elizabeth, at the suggestion of Count Shuvalov, and annexed to the academy of sciences. The fund for its support was £4000 per annum, and the foundation admitted forty scholars. Catherine II. formed it into a separate institution, augumented the annual revenue to £12,000, and increased the number of scholars to three hundred; she built for it a large circular building, which fronts the Neva. The scholars are admitted at the age of six, and continue until they have attained that of eighteen. They are clothed, fed and lodged at the expense of the crown; and are instructed in reading, writing, arithmetic, French, German and drawing. At the age of fourteen they are at liberty to choose any of the following arts; first, painting in all its branches, architecture, mosaic, enamelling, &c.; second, engraving on copper-plates, sealcutting, &c.; third, carving on wood, ivory and amber; fourth, watch-making, turning, instrument-making, casting statues in bronze and other metals, imitating gems and medals in paste and other compositions, gilding and varnishing. Prizes are annually distributed, and from those who have obtained four prizes, twelve are selected, who are sent abroad at the charge of the crown. A certain sum is paid to defray their travelling expenses; and when they are settled in any town, they receive during four years an annual salary of £60. The academy has a small gallery of paintings for the use of the scholars; and those who have made great progress are permitted to copy the pictures in the imperial collection. For the purpose of design, there are full-size models of the best antique statues in Italy.
South America.—There are several small academies in the various towns of South America, the only one of note being that of Rio de Janeiro, founded by John VI. of Portugal in 1816 and now known as the Escola Nacional de Bellas Artes.
Spain.—In Madrid an academy for painting, sculpture and architecture, the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, was founded by Philip V. The minister for foreign affairs is president. Prizes are distributed every three years. In Cadiz a few students are supplied by government with the means of drawing and modelling from figures; and such as are not able to purchase the requisite instruments are provided with them.
Sweden.—An academy of the fine arts was founded at Stockholm in the year 1733 by Count Tessin. In its hall are the ancient figures of plaster presented by Louis XIV. to Charles XI. The works of the students are publicly exhibited, and prizes are distributed annually. Such of them as display distinguished ability obtain pensions from government, to enable them to reside in Italy for some years, for the purposes of investigation and improvement. In this academy there are nine professors and generally about four hundred students.
Austria.—In the year 1705 an academy of painting, sculpture and architecture was established at Vienna, with the view of encouraging and promoting the fine arts.
United States of America.—In America the institution similar to the Royal Academy of Arts in London is the National Academy of Design (1826), which in 1906 absorbed the Society of American Artists, the members of the society becoming members of the academy.
The volume of excerpts from the general catalogue of books in the British Museum, “Academies,” 5 parts and index, furnishes a complete bibliography. (F. S.)
- The Academy has made the amende honorable by placing in the Salle des séances a bust of Molière, with the inscription “Rienne manque à sa gloire, il manquait à la notre.”
- Hallam's Int. to Lit. of Europe, vol. i. p. 654, and vol. ii. p. 502.