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Chapter 6 The Natural History of Plants: Rival Conceptions
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Editorial Rivalry

Duclos's nemesis was the young previous hit Dodart next hit, physician and protégé of Perrault, whose association with the Academy began in 1671.[57] previous hit Dodart next hit quickly took a position of responsibility and leadership. He was instrumental in reinstating the practice of keeping minutes and in reviving the Academy during an early slump.[58] Within five years he had become director of the natural history of plants, and his Mémoires des plantes reveals his control rather than Duclos's. With Perrault's protection, his influence transcended his lack of seniority in the Academy.

previous hit Dodart next hit rose at the expense of Duclos. Director of the botanical project and leading theoretician of chemical research at the Academy in the 1660s, Duclos found his authority diminished during the 1670s. The minutes chart this decline. In his heyday from 1667 until 1669, Duclos read an average of more than three substantial papers a year — on topics ranging from coagulation and solvents to a detailed analysis of one of Boyle's books — filling roughly five hundred pages of minutes. During his decline in the period from 1675 to 1683, Duclos presented an average of fewer than two papers a year, and these fill at most twenty-odd pages in the minutes. In the 1660s Duclos dominated chemical and botanical planning with his long-range proposals, the status symbols that were the preserve of members who controlled the facilities and supervised others. Thereafter, this became previous hit Dodart's next hit prerogative. Duclos conducted only his personal research by the mid-1670s, while previous hit Dodart next hit supervised some of the work in chemistry and directed the natural history of plants. Why did this happen?

previous hit Dodart's next hit interests and relative youth made him a plausible replacement for Duclos as director of the natural history of plants. Duclos's papers focused on experimental or theoretical chemistry, while previous hit Dodart next hit was fascinated with all natural phenomena.[59] previous hit Dodart next hit supervised the natural history and chemical analysis of plants energetically.[60] Duclos, however, was preoccupied with his books on mineral waters and on alchemical subjects. Since Duclos was at least thirty-five years older than previous hit Dodart next hit, his flagging energy and waning interest in all but his favorite projects make previous hit Dodart's next hit assumption of the natural history of plants even more understandable. Yet Duclos did not happily relinquish his responsibility to the new junior colleague. Thus previous hit Dodart's next hit interests and qualifications do not explain a succession that was forced rather than amicable.


Fig. 7.
Mandragora mas/Mandragore. (From Estampes; engraved
by Bosse; photograph courtesy of Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.)


Fig. 8.
Mandragora flore sub caeruleo purpurascente, C.B./Mandragore. (From
Estampes; artist unknown; photograph courtesy of Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.)


Fig. 9.
Buglossum creticum bullatum, flore vario odorato/Buglosse de Candie à feuilles
bosselées, et à fleur odorante de plusieurs couleurs. (From Estampes; drawn
and engraved by Robert; photograph courtesy of Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.)


Duclos's espousal of Platonist and Paracelsian views and his lifelong alchemical study complete the explanation. He made no secret of these interests, which he presented to his colleagues in several papers during the 1660s. For a while the Academy tolerated Duclos's pursuits. Later it feared embarrassment should his leanings become associated in the public mind with the institution itself, and academicians went so far as to refuse Duclos permission to publish one of his books.[61]

Duclos deeply resented previous hit Dodart's next hit usurpation and counterattacked by maligning his editorial, scholarly, and collegial integrity. He accused previous hit Dodart next hit of writing badly and reproached him for ignorance and careless reasoning. He unfairly denied that the Academy asked previous hit Dodart next hit to write the Mémoires des plantes . Most important, Duclos criticized previous hit Dodart next hit for misrepresenting the Academy. previous hit Dodart next hit, he claimed, attributed ideas improperly to the Academy, represented his own views as those of his colleagues, portrayed the opinions of a few as if all academicians accepted them, and misrepresented theories he did not share. Duclos claimed that previous hit Dodart next hit failed to collaborate with other academicians who had directed the research. The truth was that previous hit Dodart next hit had simply rejected many of Duclos's views. Finally, Duclos was appalled because previous hit Dodart's next hit book elaborated methodological issues instead of presenting conclusions about the nature of plants. At the heart of their disagreement was an argument about the purpose of analyzing plants chemically: Duclos had anticipated substantial insights into the nature of plants, but previous hit Dodart next hit found the analyses more beneficial for medicine.[62] Duclos's animosity, therefore, had both personal and professional aspects; the latter, which focused on the purposes of chemical analysis, will become clearer in the following chapter.

previous hit Dodart next hit certainly used his editorial power to alter the project, and his Mémoires des plantes was a very different book from anything Perrault or Duclos had conceived. It enumerated the obstacles to carrying out Duclos's instructions of 1668. In contrast, Marchant's Descriptions de quelques plantes nouvelles simply ignored them. Duclos had hoped to establish from the chemical analyses a theory with practical applications, but previous hit Dodart next hit declared such efforts fruitless and advocated a more pragmatic use of Bourdelin's findings.[63] It is not surprising therefore that Duclos perceived the book as a disavowal of his views.[64]

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