1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Guyton de Morveau, Louis Bernard, Baron

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

GUYTON DE MORVEAU, LOUIS BERNARD, Baron (1737–1816), French chemist, was born on the 4th of January 1737, at Dijon, where his father was professor of civil law at the university. As a boy he showed remarkable aptitude for practical mechanics, but on leaving school he studied law in the university of Dijon, and in his twenty-fourth year became advocate-general in the parlement of Dijon. This office he held till 1782. Devoting his leisure to the study of chemistry, he published in 1772 his Digressions académiques, in which he set forth his views on phlogiston, crystallization, &c., and two years later he established in his native town courses of lectures on materia medica, mineralogy and chemistry. An essay on chemical nomenclature, which he published in the Journal de physique for May 1782, was ultimately developed with the aid of A. L. Lavoisier, C. L. Berthollet and A. F. Fourcroy, into the Méthode d’une nomenclature chimique, published in 1787, the principles of which were speedily adopted by chemists throughout Europe. Constantly in communication with the leaders of the Lavoisierian school, he soon became a convert to the anti-phlogistic doctrine; and he published his reasons in the first volume of the section “Chymie, Pharmacie et Metallurgie” of the Encyclopédie méthodique (1786), the chemical articles in which were written by him, as well as some of those in the second volume (1792). In 1794 he was appointed to superintend the construction of balloons for military purposes, being known as the author of some aeronautical experiments carried out at Dijon some ten years previously. In 1791 he became a member of the Legislative Assembly, and in the following year of the National Convention, to which he was re-elected in 1795, but he retired from political life in 1797. In 1798 he acted as provisional director of the Polytechnic School, in the foundation of which he took an active part, and from 1800 to 1814 he held the appointment of master of the mint. In 1811 he was made a baron of the French Empire. He died in Paris on the 2nd of January 1816.

Besides being a diligent contributor to the scientific periodicals of the day, Guyton wrote Mémoire sur l’éducation publique (1762); a satirical poem entitled Le Rat iconoclaste, ou le Jésuite croqué (1763); Discours publics et éloges (1775–1782); Plaidoyers sur plusieurs questions de droit (1785); and Traité des moyens de désinfecter l’air (1801), describing the disinfecting powers of chlorine, and of hydrochloric acid gas which he had successfully used at Dijon in 1773. With Hugues Maret (1726–1785) and Jean François Durande (d. 1794) he also published the Élémens de chymie théorique et pratique (1776–1777).