Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/177

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173
THE OLD ACADEMY OF SCIENCE, PARIS

the decimal system which was afterwards adopted. Meanwhile the work of the academy was supposed to go on without interruption. But its sessions could not be held regularly. Some feared to attend them, Bailly and Condorcet did not venture to show themselves at these meetings. Yet Lagrange, Laplace, de Jussieu, Desfontaines, Adamson, Haüy, Berthollet, Coulomb, Borda, Bossuet, Portal, Thomasin, Daubenton and Lavoisier were usually in their places at every session of the academy. Lalande acted as secretary. November 14, 1792, Chanfort moved that the sessions of the academy be suspended. This motion did not carry, though a similar motion passed November 26. The last meeting, however, was held December 21, at which it was voted to adjourn for Christmas. Although the academy did not meet as an academy, the ministers of the government continued to ask its advice as late as January, 1793. A Commission of Public Instruction sought its opinion as to a system of weights and measures. The opinion was given by Borda, Laplace, and Lagrange. The report which these men made is the last report which appears on the records of the Old Academy. Yet many of its members wrought as patriots for their country Fourcroy discovered a new method for making saltpeter, Guylonde, Morceau and Berthollet worked on steel, Monge gave his attention to improving the foundries, and A. C. Perrier to forges. August 6, 1793, the Convention sent to the academy, which it suppressed August 8, a request for its opinion as to the value of money. August 14, 1793, Lakenal, as one of the officers of the new government, issued a decree requiring the members of the academy to meet in their old place and be ready to answer any question which might be sent them. But these meetings were irregular and of little value. The academy had been proscribed as the enemy of the Republic. During the four years from 1789 to 1793 half of the members of the Old Academy died. Many of them had lived in poverty, all of them in fear. October 25, 1793, the Convention ordered the establishment of the Institut, of which the Academy of Science might form one of its classes. It was indeed its first class. It was intended to serve the Republic by its practical knowledge of mathematics and physics. Nothing was done at this time toward establishing an Academy of Moral and Political Science, or of Literature and the Fine Arts. These were to come later. This order, which was secured through the influence of Lakenal, was, as a matter of fact, carrying out the order of the king as issued April 23, 1783. All science was united in two great classes, physical and mathematical. By the Republic these classes were made sections of the Institut. In each of these sections there were three pensionaires, and three associates. In 1803 another reorganization took place and in the new Institut, the Academy of Science was given the third place. Its further history is the history of a section of the French Institute.