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Seized natural-history collections and the redefinition of scientific cosmopolitanism in the era of the French Revolution

  • ELISE S. LIPKOWITZ (a1)
Abstract

In order to recast scholarly understanding of scientific cosmopolitanism during the French Revolution, this essay examines the stories of the natural-history collections of the Dutch Stadholder and the French naturalist Labillardière that were seized as war booty. The essay contextualizes French and British savants' responses to the seized collections within their respective understandings of the relationship between science and state and of the property rights associated with scientific collections, and definitions of war booty that antedated modern transnational legal conventions. The essay argues that the French and British savants' responses to seized natural-history collections demonstrate no universal approach to their treatment. Nonetheless, it contends that the French and British approaches to these collections reveal the emergence in the 1790s of new forms of scientific nationalism that purported to be cosmopolitan – French scientific universalism and British liberal scientific improvement.

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1 Joseph Banks to J.J. Houtou de Labillardière, 9 June 1796, GAB/2, Caird Library, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

2 In the eighteenth-century scientific community the cosmopolitan ideal referred to the notion that science was a transnational endeavour, independent of political or confessional interests, and dedicated to improving the lot of humanity in general rather than national or parochial causes. Although this ideal was only partially fulfilled, Lorraine Daston suggests that cosmopolitanism shaped ‘the grosser contours’ of ‘intellectual exchange’ in eighteenth-century science. In my work, I see cosmopolitanism functioning, depending on the situation, both as a set of lived practices that shaped scientific community and as a rhetorical stance or rationalization. For discussion of scientific cosmopolitanism see Daston, Lorraine, ‘Nationalism and scientific neutrality under Napoleon’, in Frängsmyr, Tore (ed.), Solomon's House Revisited: The Organization and Institutionalization of Science, Canton, MA: Science History Publications, 1990, pp. 99115; Daston, , ‘The ideal and reality of the Republic of Letters in the Enlightenment’, Science in Context (1991) 4, pp. 367386.

3 de Beer, Gavin, The Sciences Were Never at War, London: Nelson, 1960, pp. 4568.

4 Dupree, A. Hunter, ‘Nationalism and science: Sir Joseph Banks and the wars with France’, in Pinkney, David H. and Ropp, Theodore (eds.), A Festschrift for Frederick B. Artz, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1964, pp. 3839.

5 Fox, Robert, ‘Editorial’, Notes and Records of the Royal Society (2008) 62, pp. 337339.

6 On the political character of French savants' service during the Revolution see Alder, Ken, Engineering the Revolution: Arms and Enlightenment in France, 1763–1815, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997; Bret, Patrice, L'état, l'armée, la science: L'invention de la recherche publique en France, 1763–1830, Rennes: Presse universitaires de Rennes, 2002; Nicole, and Dhombres, Jean, Naissance d'un nouveau pouvoir: Sciences et savants en France 1793–1824, Paris: Editions Payot, 1989. For treatment of the changing science–state relationship and the national uses of science in Britain see Gascoigne, John, Science in the Service of Empire: Joseph Banks, the British State and the Uses of Science in the Age of Revolution, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998; and Drayton, Richard, Nature's Government: Science, Imperial Britain, and the Improvement of the World, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000. For discussion of the competitive nature of Pacific exploration see Raj, Kapil, ‘18th-century Pacific voyages of discovery, “Big Science”, and the shaping of an European scientific and technological culture’, History and Technology (2000) 17, pp. 7998. For discussion of the political use of natural history see Spary, Emma, Utopia's Garden: French Natural History from Old Regime to Revolution, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000.

7 On the relationship between scientific nationalism and scientific cosmopolitanism in the late eighteenth century see Daston, ‘Nationalism and scientific neutrality’, op. cit. (2); Daston, ‘The ideal and reality’, op. cit. (2); Sörlin, Sverker, ‘National and international aspects of cross-boundary science: scientific travel in the eighteenth century’, in Crawford, Elisabeth et al. (eds.), Denationalizing Science: The Contexts of International Scientific Practice, Boston: Springer, 1993, pp. 4367; Gascoigne, John, ‘Enlightenment, cosmopolitanism, and nationalism’, in Millful, John (ed.), Britain in Europe: Prospects for Change, Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999, pp. 2835; and Chambers, Neil, Joseph Banks and the British Museum: The World of Collecting, 1770–1830, London: Pickering & Chatto, 2007.

8 Bell, David, The First Total War: Napoleon's Europe and the Birth of Warfare as We Know It, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007, p. 8.

9 Letters between René de Réaumur and the Swiss naturalist Abraham Trembley from 1756 detail their activities in securing the return of Réaumur's scientific objects that had been seized by British sailors from French vessels. See the Correspondance inédite entre Réaumur et Abraham Trembley comprenant 113 lettres recueillies et annotées par Maurice Trembley (ed. Emile Guyénot), Geneva: Georg, 1943, pp. 397–410. James McClellan and François Regourd cite additional examples of natural-history collections seized by privateers and enemy nations during the Seven Years War and the American Revolution. I view the increase in such activity as indicative of the new prominence that natural history held in the eyes of Enlightenment European states. See McClellan, James and Regourd, François, The Colonial Machine: French Science and Overseas Expansion in the Old Regime, Turnhout: Brepols, 2011, pp. 422424.

10 According to the Encyclopédie, natural history was ‘dedicated to the discovery of the inter-relationships of all items in the natural world’. ‘Natural History’, in the Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (ed. Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert), University of Chicago: ARTFL Encyclopédie Project (Spring 2010 Edition) (ed. Robert Morrissey), http://encyclopedie.uchicago.edu. For more on the transformations in early modern natural history see the articles by Ashworth, William B., Findlen, Paula and Roche, Daniel in Jardine, Nicholas, Secord, James and Spary, Emma (eds.), Cultures of Natural History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

11 Emma Spary, ‘Political, natural and bodily economies’, in Jardine, Secord and Spary, op. cit. (10), pp. 178–196, 180; Koerner, Lisbet, Linnaeus: Nature and Nation, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

12 Spary, op. cit. (11); Alder, Ken, The Measure of All Things: The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error that Transformed the World, New York: Free Press, 2002, pp. 8596; Drayton, op. cit. (6), p. xv.

13 While government patronage of science pre-dated the eighteenth century, Rhoda Rappaport emphasizes that after 1750 governments sought savants' advice more regularly. Rappaport, Rhoda, ‘Government patronage of science in eighteenth-century France’, History of Science (1969) 8, pp. 119136, 123.

14 Burkhardt, Richard, ‘The leopard in the garden: life in close quarters at the Muséum d'histoire naturelle’, Isis (2007) 98, pp. 675694; Lacour, Pierre-Yves, ‘La place des colonies dans les collections d'histoire naturelle 1789–1804’, in Bandau, A., Dorigny, M. and von Mallinckrodt, R. (eds.), Les mondes coloniaux à Paris au XVIIIe siècle: Circulation et enchevêtrement des savoirs, Paris: Editions Karthala, 2010, pp. 4973, 55; Drayton, op. cit. (6); Spary, op. cit. (6). Projecting power in the Pacific through control of specimens was particularly important since eighteenth-century European powers had more tenuous territorial claims, having eschewed, with Britain being the notable exception, the establishment of settler colonies. For discussion of the kangaroo's symbolic resonances, including its role in projecting British national power, see Plumb, Christopher, ‘In fact, one cannot see it without laughing: the spectacle of the kangaroo in London, 1770–1830’, Museum History Journal (2010) 3, pp. 1723.

15 Findlen, Paula, Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting, and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994, pp. 395396.

16 Raj, op. cit. (6), p. 81.

17 While the early modern scientific Republic of Letters never attained its ideal as a meritocratic transnational community, immune to confessional, political or national divisions, increased state patronage of science in the latter decades of the eighteenth century placed further pressure on the cosmopolitan ideal. For more on the early modern scientific Republic of Letters see McClellan, James, Science Reorganized: Scientific Societies in the Eighteenth Century, New York: Columbia University Press, 1985; Daston, ‘The ideal and reality’, op. cit. (2); Grafton, Anthony, Worlds Made by Words: Scholarship and Community in the Modern West, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009, p. 2.

18 Sandholtz, Wayne, Prohibiting Plunder: How Norms Change, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, pp. 4344.

19 As early as 1792, French savants, sanctioned by successive Revolutionary assemblies, seized scientific booty within France. For further discussion see Lacour, Pierre-Yves, ‘Les Amours de mars et flore aux cabinets: Les confiscations naturalistes en Europe septentrionale’, Annales historiques de la Révolution française (2009), 4, pp. 71–92, 72. Lacour's research, pursued independently but concurrently with mine, confirms my perception that French plunder of artistic and scientific objects from the homes of émigrés and from France's religious orders set the model for subsequent French plunder in the Low Countries, German lands, Italy and Egypt.

20 ‘Extrait du registre des arrêtés du Comité de salut public de la Convention nationale’, 3 fructidor an 2 (20 August 1794), Archives nationales, Paris (subsequently AN), F17/1276/#189. In 1793 and 1794 Thouin and Faujas had, at the behest of the Commission temporaire des arts, gathered scientific and artistic objects from suppressed academies and societies, former houses of religion, and the homes of émigrés in metropolitan France. These collections became national property, expanding the Muséum d'histoire naturelle's holdings and forming the basis of the new National Museum of Fine Arts (the Louvre).

21 The four commissioners lamented that in the Austrian Netherlands, ‘cabinets of natural history are much rarer in this country than libraries’. The commissioners to ‘Citoyens Représentants’, Bruxelles 4ème jour complémentaire an 2 (20 September 1794), AN, F17/1276, Dossier 2 #78.

22 The French commissioners were relieved to find the Stadholder's collection largely in situ since the deposed local elector in Bonn had sent the majority of his natural-history collection across the Rhine as the French army approached. Unsigned letter likely by Faujas to ‘cher collègue et ami’, 24 ventôse an 3 (14 March 1795), AN, AJ/15/836, Dossier 1; and Michel Le Blond to the Commission temporaire des arts, 12 nivôse an 3 (1 January 1795), AN, F17/1276, Dossier 5 #197. For discussion of the Stadholder's flight to England see the Gazette nationale, 16 pluviôse an 3 (4 February 1795).

23 Unsigned letter likely by Faujas to ‘cher collègue et ami’, 24 ventôse an 3 (14 March 1795), op. cit. (22). The Stadholder's natural-history collection had been enlarged between 1756 and 1796 thanks to purchases that the cabinet's director, Aernout Vosmaer, made at auction and to shipments of natural-history objects from the Dutch colonies. See Pieters, Florence F.J.M., ‘Notes on the menagerie and zoological cabinet of the Stadholder William V of Holland, directed by Aernout Vosmaer’, Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History (1980) 9, pp. 539563.

24 André Thouin to the Comité de l'instruction publique, 4 ventôse an 3 (22 February 1795), AN, F17A/1276, Dossier 2 #83.

25 André Thouin to Citoyen Jussieu, 24 germinal an 3 (13 April 1795), AN, AJ15/578, Dossier 7.

26 Lacour, op. cit. (19), pp. 73–79, discusses some of the intellectual and imperial rationales for the commissioners' interest in the collection, though he does not problematize the collection's confiscation, nor does he explore its seizure through the lens of the Republic of Letters.

27 Between 1784 and 1786 the Dutch population had staged an unsuccessful revolt against the Stadholder, a revolt that many French Revolutionaries perceived as having anticipated their own Revolution. As Jonathan Israel notes, ‘From 1789, the Patriot Revolution [of the 1780s] became inextricably linked, politically and ideologically, to the French Revolution.’ Additionally, the United Provinces witnessed pro-Revolutionary agitation in advance of the French troops. Israel, Jonathan, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1477–1806, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 11021103, 1115 and 1119–1120.

28 Palmer, R.R.Much in little: the Dutch Revolution of 1795’, Journal of Modern History (1954) 26, pp. 1535, 18. Positioning themselves as friends and allies of the Dutch, the French established a quasi-independent client state that managed its domestic affairs under French military occupation. The Treaty of The Hague (16 May 1795) stipulated Dutch territorial concessions, an indemnity, maintenance of an occupation army, and participation on the French side in the ongoing European war.

29 The National Convention's decree of 15 September 1793 had ordered generals to renounce philanthropy and treat subjugated nations and individuals according to the ordinary law of war. In the Austrian Netherlands and the German lands, the commissioners followed suit, seizing goods, furniture, vessels and ordinary property belonging to hostile governments, French émigrés, priests and other religious corporations. For the text of the Convention's decree see Arrêté du 18 septembre 1793 in Alphonse Aulard (ed.), Recueil des actes du comité de salut public, Paris, 1891, tome VI, pp. 553–554. For discussion of the commissioners' activities see Caron, Pierre, ‘Les Agences d’évacuation de l'an II’, Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine (1910) 13, pp. 153169, 153.

30 In France's subsequent military campaign in Italy, the French stipulated the surrender of art and scientific objects as part of peace treaties to circumvent the issue of invoking the right of conquest in sister republics. By using treaties to ratify the seizure of scientific and artistic booty, the French declared ‘perpetual ownership’ and provided firmer legal ground for the retention of seized collections should a subsequent victor claim the spoils. Mainardi, Patricia, ‘Assuring the empire of the future: the 1798 Fête de la Liberté’, Art Journal (1989) 48, pp. 155156.

31 Despite the agreement to seize only the items in the Stadholder's collection, the French commissioners illegally looted another specimen, the fossil mosasaurus. For more on this confiscation see Pieters, Florence, ‘Natural history spoils in the Low Countries in 1794/1795: the looting of the fossil mosasaurus from Maastricht and the removal of the cabinet and menagerie of Stadholder William V’, in Bergvelt, Ellinoor, Meijers, Debora, Tibbe, Lieske and van Wezel, Elsa (eds.), The Rise of National Museums in Europe 1794–1830, Berlin: G & H Verlag, 2009, pp. 5572.

32 Charles Alquier to the Dutch Estates General, 21 ventôse an 3 (11 March 1795), Gazette nationale, 13 germinal an 3 (2 April 1795).

33 Although the Dutch Stadholder viewed his collection as private property, it arguably could have been viewed as public property. The French debate over the nationalization of Prince de Condé's Chantilly collections validated the idea that collections that had been purchased with state funds and belonged to members of the House of Bourbon were public property. Eager to ensure the Stadholder's collection's transfer, French officials in Holland took care to construct the Stadholder's collection as the Stadholder's private property.

34 André Thouin to the professeurs-administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle, 30 germinal an 3 (19 April 1795), AN, AJ/15/836, Dossier 1. Thouin to Comité de l'instruction publique, 12 prairial an 3 (31 May 1795), AN, F17/1229, Dossier 12 #289.

35 Spary, op. cit. (6), p. 257; Gillispie, Charles, Science and Polity in France: The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Years, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004, pp. 165183; Osborne, Michael, ‘Applied natural history and utilitarian ideals: Jacobin science and the Muséum d'histoire naturelle’, in Ragan, Bryant and Williams, Elizabeth (eds.), Re-creating Authority in Revolutionary France, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1992, pp. 125143; and Burkhardt, op. cit. (14), pp. 675–694.

36 Thouin to the Comité de salut public, 20 floréal an 3 (9 May 1795), AN, F17/1277, Dossier 1 #60.

37 Thouin to the professeur-administrateurs of the Muséum d'histoire naturelle, 20 floréal an 3 (9 May 1795), AN, AJ15/836, Dossier 2.

38 Lacour, op. cit. (19), p. 74, has also identified French savants' use of neo-Roman rhetoric.

39 Thouin to the Comité de salut public, 20 floréal an 3 (9 May 1795), op. cit. (36).

40 For discussion of the French savants' commitment to labelling and celebrating the provenance of the seized natural-history objects see Lacour, op. cit. (19), p. 75; and Robbins, Louise, Elephant Slaves and Pampered Parrots: Exotic Animals in Eighteenth-Century Paris, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002, pp. 224227.

41 Comité d'instruction publique to Thouin, 25 floréal an 3 (14 May 1795) AN, F17/1229, Dossier 12 #277.

42 For discussion of the universalist claims associated with the metre see Alder, op. cit. (12), pp. 93–94.

43 Burkhardt, Richard, The Spirit of System: Lamarck and Evolutionary Biology, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995, p. 117.

44 The Committee of Public Instruction emphasized that the French conquest had liberated the Stadholder's private collection from ‘isolation’ and made it public. Comité d'instruction publique to Thouin, 25 floréal an 3 (14 May 1795), op. cit. (41). On the ‘republican’ cast to the French discourse of public collections see Lacour, op. cit. (19), p. 78.

45 Professeurs-administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle au Comité d'agriculture et des arts, 15 fructidor an 3 (1 September 1795), AN, AJ/15/836, Dossier 1.

46 Burkhardt, op. cit. (43), p. 119.

47 Quoted in Boyer, Ferdinand, ‘Le transfert à Paris des collections du Stathouder (1795)’, Annales historiques de la Révolution française (1971), 43, pp. 389404, 394. Alquier's offer resurfaced when Brugmans reclaimed the collection for the Dutch in 1815. Professeurs-administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle to Brugmans, 22 septembre 1815, AN, AJ/15/611, Dossier ‘Séance des Professeurs-Administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle du vendredi 22–dimanche 24 septembre 1815’.

48 The billeting of a Prussian infantry platoon on the Muséum's grounds raised the spectre of the seizure or destruction of the Muséum's collections. The famed Prussian savant and explorer Alexander von Humboldt intervened, at the Muséum's savants' behest, to prevent such an occurrence. See Botting, Douglas, Humboldt and the Cosmos, New York: Harper & Row, 1973, p. 217.

49 Sebald Brugmans to the Professeurs-administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle, 21 septembre 1815, AN, AJ/15/611, Dossier ‘Séance des Professeurs-Administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle du vendredi 22–dimanche 24 septembre 1815’.

50 Brugmans to the Professeurs-administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle, 21 septembre 1815, op. cit. (49).

51 Brugmans to the Professeurs-administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle, 21 septembre 1815, op. cit. (49).

52 Professeurs-administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle to Brugmans, 22 septembre 1815, op. cit. (47).

53 Professeurs-administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle to Brugmans, 22 septembre 1815, op. cit. (47).

54 Professeurs-administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle to Brugmans, 22 septembre 1815, op. cit. (47).

55 Professeurs-administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle to Brugmans, 22 septembre 1815, op. cit. (47).

56 Professeurs-administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle to le Ministre de l'intérieur, 22 septembre 1815, AN, AJ/15/611, Dossier ‘Séance des Professeurs-Administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle du vendredi 22–dimanche 24 septembre 1815’.

57 Brugmans to the Professeurs-administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle, 23 septembre 1815, AN AJ/15/611, Dossier ‘Séance des Professeurs-Administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle du vendredi 22–dimanche 24 septembre 1815’.

58 Alexander von Humboldt to the Professeurs-administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle, n.d., AN, AJ/15/611, Dossier ‘Séance des Professeurs-Administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle du vendredi 22–dimanche 24 septembre 1815’.

59 Excerpt from letter from the Professeurs-administrateurs du Muséum d'histoire naturelle to the Ministre de l'intérieur, Procès verbaux des assemblées des professeurs, séance du 25 octobre 1815, AN, AJ/15/115, Dossier 168.

60 De Beer, op. cit. (3), pp. 45–68.

61 Duyker, Edward, Citizen Labillardière: A Naturalist's Life in Revolution and Exploration (1755–1834), Carlton, Australia: Miegunyah Press, 2003, p. 28.

62 Harrison, Carol, ‘Projections of the revolutionary nation: French expeditions in the Pacific, 1791–1803’, Osiris (2009) 24, pp. 3352, 48.

63 ‘Observations générales de la Société d'histoire naturelle sur le voyage à entreprendre pour aller à la recherche de M. de la Peyrouse’. Bibliothèque centrale du Muséum d'histoire naturelle, Paris (subsequently BMHN), Ms. 46, Dossier 1.

64 The National Assembly, which had sponsored the d'Entrecasteaux voyage, had been dissolved in 1792 and news of the establishment of a Republic exacerbated tensions between the voyage's republicans and royalists. For a detailed discussion see Duyker, op. cit. (61), pp. 187–196.

65 Duyker, op. cit. (61), p. 194. Labillardière, along with Jacques-Bertrand Legrand, Patrice-Gaspard Laignel, Jean-Baptiste-Philibert Willaumez, Claude-Antoine-Gaspard Riche, Louis Ventenat and Piron, were held under house arrest and later imprisoned in Fort Angké. Maisie Carr, Stella Grace and Carr, Denis John, ‘A charmed life: the collections of Labillardière’, in , Carr and Carr, (eds.), People and Plants of Australia, Sydney: Academic Press, 1981, pp. 79115, 94. According to Labillardière, the seized items included twenty-two cases of dried plants; four boxes of insects; six cases of birds; a small kangaroo from New Holland; two Mason jars of reptiles, fish and insects; three jars of flowers; a box of shells; wood samples; rocks and other mineralogical items; and many items useful to the inhabitants of the South Seas. J.J. Houtou de Labillardière to André Thouin, 24 February 1794, BMHN, Ms 46, Dossier 9.

66 Some of the collection may have on Edouard de Rossel's order remained in Java with Deschamps, another ‘royalist’ naturalist. Richard, Hélène, Le voyage de d'Entrecasteaux à la recherche de Lapérouse, Paris: Editions du Comité des travaux historiques et scientifique, 1986, p. 201. Labillardière was convinced that Deschamps had kept many of the doubles and accused Deschamps of traitorous behavior. Labillardière to Thouin, 24 February 1794, op. cit. (65).

67 Duyker, op. cit. (61), p. 189.

68 Duyker, op. cit. (61), p. 197; Richard, op. cit. (66), p. 202.

69 In contrast to Labillardière's claim that the collection was his personal property, the French navigators, in their plea to Essington, stated that the natural-history objects were not their personal property. Richard, op. cit. (66), p. 203.

70 The Comte de Provence was Louis XVI's brother. He spent the Revolution in exile in Venice, Russia and later England. He was restored to the French throne as Louis XVIII in 1815.

71 Duc d'Harcourt to Sir Joseph Banks, 29 March 1796, reprinted in Ernest Bonnet, ‘Les collections de l'expédition envoyée à la recherche de la Pérouse d'après des documents inédits', in Comptes rendus de l'Association française pour l'avancement des sciences, Paris, 1891, Part II, pp. 489–490.

72 As Banks wrote, ‘Provided … that Her Majesty does not choose to encumber herself with the stuffed animals, a word from her would probably direct the Duc de Harcourt's attention toward the British Museum, where if they were placed they would become a national ornament & promote materially the knowledge of Natural History.’ Joseph Banks to William Price, 31 March 1796, Joseph Banks Papers, Dawson Turner Copies (subsequently DTC), British Museum Natural History (subsequently BMNH), London, Vol. 10, #29–32. See also Comte de Bournon to Joseph Banks, n.d., British Library (subsequently BL), Add. Ms. 33980.

73 Banks to Price, 31 March 1796, op. cit. (72).

74 Banks to Price, 31 March 1796, op. cit. (72).

75 Labillardière to Thouin, 15 germinal an 4 (4 April 1796), BMHN, Ms 46, Dossier 9.

76 Labillardière to Banks, 25 germinal an 4 (14 April 1796), in Bonnet, op. cit. (71), p. 490.

77 Labillardière to Banks, 25 germinal an 4 (14 April 1796), in Bonnet, op. cit. (71), p. 491.

78 Labillardière to James Edward Smith, 25 germinal an 4 (14 April 1796), Smith Manuscripts, Linnean Society, London, 301, Vol. 6, #189.

79 Carr and Carr, op. cit. (65), p. 101, suggest that when Banks spoke with the Duc d'Harcourt in late March 1796, he may have been privy to a rumour started by another member of the voyage, Etienne-Pierre Ventenat, claiming that Labillardière did not intend to return to France. Ventenat circulated this rumour in the hope that he would be elected to one of the prized places in the Institut's botanical section.

80 Banks to Labillardière, 9 June 1796, op. cit. (1).

81 Banks to Labillardière, 24 June 1796, Correspondence of Sir Joseph Banks, Kew Royal Botanic Gardens Library (subsequently KRBG), Vol. 2, #42. Upon Labillardière's death, the British naturalist Philip Barker Webb purchased the collection at auction. Webb distributed the specimens to scientific institutions in Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, the US and Britain. Today, almost none of the items in Labillardière's collection remain in France. Apfelbaum, Joan, ‘Australian collections of Labillardière in the herbarium of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia’, Taxon (1977) 26, pp. 541548.

82 The instructions governing the d'Entrecasteaux voyage had specified that no individual could reserve for himself natural-history specimens or other objects. Carr and Carr, op. cit. (65), p. 103; and Richard, op. cit. (66), p. 186.

83 Labillardière to Thouin, 15 germinal an 4 (4 April 1796), op. cit. (75).

84 Harrison, op. cit. (62).

85 Banks's suspicions prompted him to write Jean Charretié on 24 June 1796 to ascertain whether the late Louis XVI had possessed a personal interest in the voyage. Banks to Charretié, 24 June 1796, KRBG, Banks Correspondence, Vol. 2, #142.

86 Banks to Price, 31 March 1796, BMNH DTC 10 (1), ##29–32.

87 Banks to Charretié, 2 November 1796, BL Ms. 56299, #34.

88 The disbanding of France's Ancien Régime academies in 1793 had inhibited transnational science in the early years of the French Revolution's international phase.

89 Banks to Labillardière, 9 June 1796, op. cit. (1).

90 Banks to William Wyndham Grenville, 20 July 1796, in Chambers, Neil (ed.), The Letters of Sir Joseph Banks, A Selection 1768–1820, London: Pickering & Chatto, 2000, p. 174.

91 I am not the first to claim that the ideals of the pre-war Republic of Letters could be channelled toward British national interest in the Revolutionary era. For discussion of these themes in the context of Joseph Banks see Gascoigne, op. cit. (6), pp. 4 and 147–162.

92 John Woodford to Banks, 11 August 1796, BL, Add. Ms. 33980, #74 verso.

93 In this letter, Banks mistakes J.J. Houtou de Labillardière, the naturalist and member of the d'Entrecasteaux expedition whose natural-history collection was in question, for Flahaut de la Billarderie, who served as the director of France's Jardin du Roi from 1788 to 1791. Banks's letter to Grenville suggests that he had seen documents indicating that Labillardière was director of the Botanical Garden in Paris. Labillardière, however, never served in that role. Determining the source of Banks's error is further complicated by French natural-history scholars' disagreement as to which of the Flahaut de la Billarderie brothers served as the Jardin's director. Banks does not appear to have corresponded with any of the Flahaut de la Billarderie brothers. Banks' biographers – including Harold Carter, Sir Joseph Banks 1743–1820, London: British Museum Natural History, 1988; Gascoigne, op. cit. (6); and Patrick O'Brian, Joseph Banks: A Life, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987 – do not mention them. Nor are the Flahaut de la Billarderie brothers listed as correspondents in Neil Chambers's six-volume series of the Scientific Correspondence of Joseph Banks, 1765–1820, London: Pickering & Chatto, 2007. Confusing the two names would have been easy enough for a non-francophone, particularly if the Flahaut de la Billarderies were unknown to Banks. Banks to William Wyndham Grenville, 20 July 1796, in Chambers, op. cit. (90), pp. 173–174.

94 Banks to Price, 4 August 1796, BL, Add. Ms. 33980, #72.

95 Banks to Antoine Laurent de Jussieu, 10 August 1796, BMNH DTC, Vol. 10 (1), ##63–64.

96 In the summer of 1796, Banks appears to have been unaware of Labillardière's activities with the Commission of Sciences and Arts in Italy.

97 Deschamps, one of the ‘royalist’ naturalists on the d'Entrecasteaux expedition, remained in Java and botanized under the Dutch Governor General's protection. Carter, op. cit. (93), p. 412.

98 Carter, op. cit. (93), p. 412.

99 Carter, op. cit. (93), p. 413. In the 1880s, the British Museum's natural-history collections moved to the newly built Natural History Museum in South Kensington.

I wish to thank Ken Alder, Richard Burkhardt, Neil Chambers, Pierre-Yves Lacour, Dániel Margócsy, Michigan's Eighteenth-Century Studies Group, the members of the Michigan Society of Fellows, and the anonymous reviewers for their comments, critiques and suggestions on various iterations of this article.

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The British Journal for the History of Science
  • ISSN: 0007-0874
  • EISSN: 1474-001X
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-for-the-history-of-science
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