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Scientific travel in the Atlantic world: the French expedition to Gorée and the Antilles, 1681–1683

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 August 2009

NICHOLAS DEW
Affiliation:
McGill University, Department of History, 855 rue Sherbrooke ouest, Montréal, Québec, H3A 2T7, Canada. Email: nicholas.dew@mcgill.ca.

Abstract

Although historians have long recognized the importance of long-range scientific expeditions in both the practice and culture of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century science, it is less well understood how this form of scientific organization emerged and became established in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In the late seventeenth century new European scientific institutions tried to make use of globalized trade networks for their own ends, but to do so proved difficult. This paper offers a case history of one such expedition, the voyage sponsored by the French Académie royale des sciences to Gorée (in modern Senegal) and the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique in 1681–3. The voyage of Varin, Deshayes and de Glos reveals how the process of travel itself caused problems for instruments and observers alike.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © British Society for the History of Science 2009

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References

1 See, among others, Harris, S. J., ‘Long-distance corporations, big sciences and the geography of knowledge’, Configurations (1998), 6, 269304CrossRefGoogle Scholar; McClellan, J. E. III and Regourd, F., ‘The colonial machine: French science and colonization in the ancien régime’, Osiris (2000), n.s., 15, 3150CrossRefGoogle Scholar; P. H. Smith and P. Findlen (eds.), Merchants and Marvels: Commerce, Science and Art in Early Modern Europe, New York, 2002; S. Schaffer, ‘Golden means: assay instruments and the geography of precision in the Guinea trade’, in Instruments, Travel and Science: Itineraries of Precision from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century (ed. M.-N. Bourguet, C. Licoppe and H. O. Sibum), London, 2002, 20–50; L. Schiebinger and C. Swan (eds.), Colonial Botany: Science, Commerce, and Politics in the Early Modern World, Philadelphia, 2004; L. Schiebinger, Plants and Empire: Colonial Bioprospecting in the Atlantic World, Cambridge, MA, 2004; C. de Castelnau-L'Estoile and F. Regourd (eds.), Connaissances et pouvoirs: les espaces impériaux (XVIe–XVIIIe siècles): France, Espagne, Portugal, Pessac, 2005; K. Raj, Relocating Modern Science: Circulation and the Construction of Knowledge in South Asia and Europe, Delhi, 2006; J. Cañizares-Esguerra, Nature, Empire, and Nation: Explorations of the History of Science in the Iberian World, Stanford, 2006; H. J. Cook, Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine, and Science in the Dutch Golden Age, New Haven, 2007; J. Delbourgo and N. Dew (eds.), Science and Empire in the Atlantic World, New York, 2008; D. Bleichmar et al. (eds.), Science in the Spanish and Portuguese Empires, 1500–1800, Stanford, 2008.

2 See, for example, B. Latour, Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society, Milton Keynes, 1987, 247–57; see also D. N. Livingstone, Putting Science in Its Place: Geographies of Scientific Knowledge, Chicago, 2003, esp. 135–78.

3 On the eighteenth-century expeditions see Raj, K., ‘Eighteenth-century Pacific voyages of discovery, “Big Science”, and the shaping of a European scientific and technological culture’, History and Technology (2001), 17, 7998CrossRefGoogle Scholar; D. P. Miller and P. H. Reill (eds.), Visions of Empire: Voyages, Botany, and Representations of Nature, Cambridge, 1996; Sorrenson, R., ‘The ship as a scientific instrument in the eighteenth century’, Osiris (1996), 11, 221–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar; R. Iliffe, ‘Science and voyages of discovery’, in The Cambridge History of Science, vol. 4: Eighteenth-Century Science (ed. R. Porter), Cambridge, 2003, 618–45. On canonization see Terrall, M., ‘Heroic narratives of quest and discovery’, Configurations (1998), 6, 223–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

4 See Olmsted, J. W., ‘The scientific expedition of Jean Richer to Cayenne (1672–1673)’, Isis (1942), 34, 117–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar; idem, ‘The voyage of Jean Richer to Acadia in 1670’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society (1960), 104, 612–34; F. C. Hsia, ‘Jesuits, Jupiter's satellites, and the Académie royale des sciences’, in The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences and the Arts, 1540–1773 (ed. J. W. O'Malley et al.), Toronto, 1999, 241–57; idem, Sojourners in a Strange Land: Jesuits and Their Scientific Missions in Late Imperial China, Chicago, forthcoming; J. Kellman, ‘Discovery and enlightenment at sea: maritime exploration and observation in the eighteenth-century French scientific community’, Princeton University Ph.D. dissertation, no. AAT 9813872, 1997; F. Regourd, ‘Sciences et colonisation sous l'ancien régime: le cas de la Guyane et des Antilles françaises, XVIIe–XVIIIe siècles’, doctoral thesis, Université de Bordeaux-III, 2000, esp. 233–358.

5 G.-D. Cassini (I), Les Elemens de l'astronomie verifiez par Monsieur Cassini par le rapport de ses tables aux observations de M. Richer faites en l'isle de Caïenne: avec les observations de MM. Varin, Des Hayes, et De Glos faites en Afrique & en Amerique, Paris, ‘1684’, 51–74, part 5 of [Académie des sciences], Recueil d'observations faites en plusieurs voyages par ordre de Sa Majesté, pour perfectionner l'astronomie et la géographie, Paris, 1693. Although printed in 1684, the fascicule was not widely available until the Recueil was published in 1693. See H. Oldenburg, Correspondence (ed. A. R. Hall and M. Boas Hall), 13 vols., Madison, 1965–86, xiii, 198, n. 5; and C. Huygens, Oeuvres complètes (ed. D. Bierens de Haan and J. Bosscha), 22 vols., The Hague, 1888–1950, ix, 114 (La Hire to Huygens, 5 December 1686). The account was reprinted as ‘Observations astronomiques faites au Cap Verd, en Afrique, et aux Isles de l'Amérique’, in Mémoires de l'Académie Royale des Sciences: depuis 1666 jusqu'à 1699, Paris, 1729, vii, 431–59.

6 I. K. Steele, The English Atlantic, 1675–1740: An Exploration of Communication and Community, New York, 1986; and K. J. Banks, Chasing Empire across the Sea: Communications and the State in the French Atlantic, 1713–1763, Montreal and Kingston, 2002.

7 Archives de l'Académie des Sciences (Paris), Registres des Procès-Verbaux (henceforth AAS, RPV), 9, ff. 89r–92v, ‘L'Inuention des Longitudes verifiée par les Observations nouuelles’, read by Cassini at session of 14 December 1680. On Cassini's method see A. Van Helden, ‘Longitude and the satellites of Jupiter’, in The Quest for Longitude (ed. W. J. H. Andrewes), Cambridge, MA, 1996, 86–100. On the mapping project see Gallois, L., ‘L'Académie des sciences et les origines de la Carte de Cassini’, Annales de géographie (1909), 18, 193204CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 89–310; J. W. Konvitz, Cartography in France, 1660–1848: Science, Engineering, and Statecraft, Chicago, 1987, 1–8; and L. A. Brown, Jean Domenique [sic] Cassini and His World Map of 1696, Ann Arbor, 1941, which contains a translation of the published set of Cassini's instructions at 47–60.

8 AAS, RPV, 9, ff. 96v–97r. Picard's proposal for a triangulation survey was not seen through until the end of the ancien régime: see J.-P. Martin, Une Histoire de la méridienne: Textes, enjeux, débats et passions autour du méridien de Paris, 1666–1827, Cherbourg, 2000.

9 See, for example, G. de Glos, Le Manuel des pilotes, ou l'introduction à la navigation, contenant les principes de cet art, Rouen, 1678, 39–40; cf. J. Le Rond d'Alembert, ‘Méridien’, in Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (ed. D. Diderot and d'Alembert), 35 vols., Paris, 1751–80, x, 383–4.

10 Lagarde, L., ‘Historique du problème du méridien origine en France’, Revue d'histoire des sciences (1979), 32, 289304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar See also Bigourdan, G., ‘La Conférence des longitudes de 1634: la déclaration de Louis XIII relative au premier méridien’, Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences (1916), 163, 229–33Google Scholar, 319–23.

11 The Hierro scheme is first mentioned, along with Varin's name, in a report of the Académie's mathematics section for August 1680–15 June 1681: AAS, RPV, 9 bis, f. 107 r–v.

12 AAS, RPV, 9 bis, f. 123v (29 November 1681): ‘Mr Cassini a fait son rapport de ce que le Roy luy auoit fait l'honneur de luy dire touchant le dessein qu'on a d'obseruer les longitudes’; the royal visit was the following Friday (5 December 1681).

13 Huygens to La Hire, 19 February 1682 (‘Je me rejouis de voir que le Roy et Monseign[eur] Colbert prennent son avancement encore plus à cœur, que par le passé, dont ces voiages &c. sont d'indisputables marques … Mais je souhaiterois bien d'estre informé touchant les personnes qui ont esté choisies pour aller faire ces observations eloignees’): Huygens, op. cit., (5), iii, 344; replying to La Hire to Huygens, 31 January 1682, iii, 339.

14 Olmsted, ‘Scientific expedition of Jean Richer to Cayenne’, op. cit. (4), 120; idem, ‘Voyage of Jean Richer to Acadia’, op. cit. (4), 618, 632–3; and M. S. Mahoney, ‘Christiaan Huygens, the measurement of time and longitude at sea’, in Studies on Christiaan Huygens (ed. H. J. M. Bos et al.), Lisse, 1980, 234–70.

15 Some of those sent on other expeditions, such as Richer and La Voye-Mignot, had the status of élève (‘trainee’), but this was not yet an official rank within the Académie. On preparations for this mission see A. Mallon, ‘Science and government in France, 1661–1699: changing patterns of scientific research and development’, Ph.D. thesis, Queen's University, Belfast, 1983, 121–5, 160–1. For hydrography teaching see F. Russo, ‘L'Hydrographie en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles: Ecoles et ouvrages d'enseignement’, in Enseignement et diffusion des sciences en France au XVIIIe siècle (ed. R. Taton), Paris, 1964, 419–40; and Kellman, op. cit. (4). C. Wolf, Histoire de l'Observatoire de Paris de sa fondation à 1793, Paris, 1902, 144–5, claims (144 n. 1) that Varin and Deshayes were ingénieurs du roi pour l'hydrographie, but gives no evidence for this.

16 In a letter to Varin and Deshayes, 7 November 1681, Cassini mentions that Varin had taught mathematics at the house of Pablo Spinola Doria, marquis of Los Balbases, whilst he was ambassador in Paris, in the late 1670s (Paris, Bibliothèque de l'Observatoire, hereafter Bib. Obs., D. 1. 11, bundle B).

17 Mallon, op. cit. (15), 121; cf. Olmsted, ‘Voyage of Jean Richer to Acadia’, op. cit. (4), 622–5. See also J. S. Pritchard, ‘Deshayes, Jean’, in Dictionary of Canadian Biography (ed. G. W. Brown), 14 vols., Toronto, 1965–91, s.v.

18 Bib. Obs. B. 4. 9 bis, bundle De Glos, letter dated 14 November 1681. On de Glos's earlier career see A. Anthiaume, Evolution et enseignement de la science nautique en France, et principalement chez les Normands, 2 vols., Paris, 1920, i, 217–9, 300–6.

19 Bib. Obs. A. 4. 2, bundle 36, 17, item Mm: Cassini to La Hire (copy of outgoing letter), 21 November 1681 (‘pour s'exercer dans la méthode que nous pratiquons’), also cited by Wolf, op. cit. (15), 144 n. 1; cf. item Hh, Cassini to Picard, 22 November 1681 (‘apprendre la méthode dont nous nous seruons’). La Hire had initially hoped to go to the Canaries himself, but had been too ill in the summer of 1681 (Mallon, op. cit. (15), 121).

20 Cassini had published a set of tables for Jupiter's satellites in 1668, but his revised tables were not published until 1693. See also Hsia, ‘Jesuits, Jupiter's satellites’, op. cit. (4); Van Helden, op. cit. (7), 96.

21 Cassini-I, ‘Instruction générale pour les observations géographiques à faire dans les voyages’: incomplete copy at Bib. Obs. D. 1. 11, bundle A1; complete copy at AAS, RPV, 9 bis, ff. 141r–147r, included in the published account of the voyage (‘Observations astronomiques faites au Cap Verd’, op. cit. (5), 432–8); ‘Instruction particulière pour le voyage des Canaries’, original at Bib. Obs. D. 1. 11, bundle A1; copy at AAS, RPV, 9 bis, ff. 135r–137r. ‘Instruction pour les Observations qu'il faudra faire dans l'isle de St Thomé’, copy at AAS, RPV, 9 bis, ff. 150v–154r.

22 On this ‘equal altitude’ technique see Andrewes, ‘Finding local time at sea, and the instruments employed’, in The Quest for Longitude (ed. W. J. H. Andrewes), 394–404, 396.

23 L. Defossez, Les Savants du XVIIe siècle et la mesure du temps, Lausanne, 1946, 153–67; P. Costabel, ‘Picard et l’étalon universel de longueur fondé sur le pendule', in Jean Picard et les débuts de l'astronomie de précision au XVIIe siècle (ed. G. Picolet), Paris, 1987, 315–28.

24 Olmsted, ‘Scientific expedition of Jean Richer to Cayenne’, op. cit. (4). On the debates over Richer's finding see N. Dew, ‘Vers la ligne: circulating measurements around the French Atlantic’, in Delbourgo and Dew, op. cit. (1), 53–72.

25 I. Newton, The ‘Principia’: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, tr. I. B. Cohen and A. Whitman, Berkeley, 1999, 826–32 (Book 3, Proposition 20). Even in the first edition (1687), Newton refers to figures from Gorée, although without naming the observers. On Newton's handling of such data, see Schaffer, op. cit. (1), 37–8, and idem, The Information Order of Newton's Principia Mathematica, Uppsala, 2008.

26 Terrall, M., ‘Representing the Earth's shape: the polemics surrounding Maupertuis's expedition to Lapland’, Isis (1992), 83, 218–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Iliffe, R., ‘“Aplatisseur du monde et de Cassini”: Maupertuis, precision measurement and the shape of the Earth in the 1730s’, History of Science (1993), 31, 335–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar; J. L. Greenberg, The Problem of the Earth's Shape from Newton to Clairaut, Cambridge, 1995; N. Safier, Measuring the New World: Enlightenment Science and South America, Chicago, 2008.

27 AAS, RPV, 9 bis, f. 128v: ‘Mr Borelli a donné des verres objectifs de 18 pieds pour faire ces obseruations.’ Cassini and Huygens did not have a high opinion of Jacques Borelly's lenses. A. Stroup, A Company of Scientists: Botany, Patronage and Community at the Seventeenth-Century Parisian Royal Academy of Sciences, Berkeley, 1990, 20; Mallon, op. cit. (15), 104–5.

28 This is based on J. Picard, Mesure de la terre, Paris, 1671, 3–5.

29 According to Wolf, op. cit. (15), 144 n. 1, citing no sources.

30 G. B. Riccioli, Geographiae et Hydrographiae Reformatae libri duodecim, Bologna, 1661; reprinted Venice, 1672. Varin and Deshayes mention using it (e.g. Bib. Obs. B. 5. 2, p. 61).

31 This is reported in the published account: ‘Observations astronomiques faites au Cap Verd’, op. cit. (5), 439–41 (‘On regla à la situation horisontale le quart de Cercle de deux pieds & demi, qui avoit été rapporté de Caïenne, & qu'on avoit divisé de nouveau à cause que la premiere division avoit été éffacée’).

32 For example, Cassini to Varin and Deshayes, Paris, 7 March 1682 (copy), Bib. Obs. D. 1. 11, bundle B: Cassini has sent some tables for Jupiter's satellites (‘les feuilles des configurations des satellites de Jupiter pour trois autres mois que vous n'auez pas’) and adds that he is deliberately neglecting certain inaccuracies (‘Je dis a quelques minutes prez, parce qu'il y a des inegalitez que je neglige icy’).

33 Cassini, ‘Instruction particulière pour le voyage des Canaries’; ‘Instruction générale’.

34 See Bourguet, M.-N. and Licoppe, C., ‘Voyages, mesures et instruments: Une nouvelle Expérience du monde au siècle des Lumières’, Annales: histoire, sciences sociales (1997), 52, 1115–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar, 1121.

35 Colbert told the French ambassador in Lisbon to ask the Portuguese crown to tell the governor of São Tomé to expect the expedition: J.-B. Colbert, Lettres, instructions et mémoires de Colbert (ed. P. Clément), 10 vols., Paris, 1861–82, v, 421–2, 17 February 1682. Later, Colbert paid de Glos expenses of 2,300 livres (ibid., 495; cf. Comptes des Bâtiments du Roi sous le règne de Louis XIV (ed. J.-J. Guiffrey), 5 vols., Paris, 1881–1901, ii, col. 236), but no record exists of a similar payment to Varin and Deshayes for this voyage.

36 On this crisis and its effects see G. Antonetti, ‘Colbert et le crédit public’, in Un nouveau Colbert (ed. R. Mousnier), Paris, 1985, 189–210, esp. 200–1. On the Senegal companies see A. Ly, La Compagnie du Sénégal, new edn., Dakar, 1993.

37 Cassini-I, ‘Anecdotes de la Vie de J.-D. Cassini, rapportées par lui-même’, in J.-D. Cassini (IV), ed., Mémoires pour servir à l'histoire des sciences et à celle de l'Observatoire Royal de Paris, suivis de la Vie de Jean Dominique Cassini écrite par lui-même, Paris, 1810, 291: ‘M. Dancourt … me vint trouver, et s'offrit de travailler sous ma direction aux opérations … dans des pays éloignés, pour la détermination des longitudes. Ce fut lui qui, après quelques années, conduisit au Cap Vert et à l'ile de Gorée MM. Varin, Deshayes et de Glos.’ In fact, only de Glos travelled with Dancourt.

38 Deshayes to Cassini, Rouen, 23 October 1681, Bib. Obs. B. 4. 9 bis, bundle ‘Deshayes’.

39 Cassini to Varin and Deshayes, Paris, 7 November 1681, Bib. Obs. D. 1. 11, bundle B (copy). Madame Baudry, ‘marchande de Dieppe’, is probably Marthe Baudry (c.1661–1743), business partner and future wife of the privateer-cum-colonial governor, Jean Du Casse. See Dictionnaire de biographie française, art. ‘Du Casse, Jean’.

40 Deshayes to Cassini, Dieppe, 18 November 1681, Bibliothèque nationale de France (hereafter BN), ms n. a. fr. 6197, ff. 87–8.

41 Deshayes to Cassini, Dieppe, 10 December 1681, Bib. Obs. B. 4. 9 bis, bundle ‘Deshayes’ (‘j'ay entreueu quelques endroits d'une autre lettre où on luy mande non de nous mener aux Canaries mais de nous faire trouuer bon les raisons qu'ils ont de ne le pas faire’).

42 Similar reluctance is documented in Olmsted, ‘Voyage of Jean Richer to Acadia’, op. cit. (4), 623.

43 Cassini to Varin and Deshayes, Paris, 7 November 1681, Bib. Obs. D. 1. 11, bundle B (copy): ‘mais vous ne deuriez pas pour cela laisser de vous embarquer, quand mesme vous deuriez aller au Senega [sic], qui est vn lieu qui merite bien d'estre obserué, et cela en cas qu'il ny eut pas d'autre vaisseau qui fut prest de partir en cette saison’.

44 Varin to Cassini, Dieppe, 11 December 1681, BN ms n. a. fr. 6197, ff. 170–1, f. 170r: ‘Puis que Vous souhaittez que lon aille au Cap Vert Je seray bien aise de faire ce Voyage et il me suffit de scauoir que Vous le souhaittez pour me faire trouuer du plaisir a lentreprendre et Je puis Vous protester que si je nestois point en famille jirois jusqu'au Japon si vous me lordonniez pour auoir la gloire destre du nombre de ceux qui executeront vos illustres projets dans toutes les parties du monde.’

45 Some of the voyage's details are recorded by another of Le Conquis's passengers, one François de Paris: G. Thilmans, ‘La Relation de François de Paris (1682–1683)’, Bulletin de l'Institut fondamental d'Afrique noire, series B (1976), 38/1, 1–51.

46 Varin to Cassini, Dieppe, 11 December 1681, BN ms n. a. fr. 6197, ff. 170–1, f. 171r: ‘Nous auons parlé a Mr le Capitaine Layolle qui nous a tesmoigné qu'il auoit ordre de Mr So[u]bret de nous debarquer au Cap Vert. Mais nous ayant témoigné que ce pays estant tres desert des choses necessaires a la Vie, et que nous ne pouuions viure qu'auec des negres qui viue[nt] tres mal, nous auons offert a luy payer pension pour subsister par le moyen de ses prouisions. Il nous a respondu qu'il ne le pouuoit faire, a cause qu'estant arriué au Senega [sic], il feroit tout son possible pour partir au plustost aller aux Isles de l'Amerique, ou il ne pouuoit nous mener sans vn ordre expres de la Compagnie de sorte qu'il faut se resoudre d'aller aux isles si nous voulons faire le voyage du Cap-Vert veu mesme que nous ne scaurions reuenir en France que dans le mesme Vaisseau.’ Captain Layolle was wrong: the envoys did not sail west from Gorée on the same vessel.

47 Deshayes to Cassini, Dieppe, 23 December 1681. Bib. Obs. B. 4. 9 bis, bundle ‘Deshayes’: ‘Mr de Layolle nous a bien receu et nous a dit qu'il n'auroit pu rien faire sans les lettres que vous nous auez fait la grace de nous faire auoir. Il a veu aussy celle de Mr Jarmineau [sic]’.

48 Deshayes to Cassini, Dieppe, 23 December 1681, Bib. Obs. B. 4. 9 bis, bundle ‘Deshayes’.

49 François de Paris explains that ‘mesme nous avions désia eu ordre de la Compagnie de mener ces Mrs à Ténériffe. Mais la guerre qui survint avec les Algériens détourna ce voyage, pour le grand danger qu'il y a autour des Canaries’. Thilmans, op. cit. (45), 6. No further mention of the two ‘astrologues’ is made.

50 AAS, RPV, 9 bis, f. 148r, 17 January 1682: ‘Mrs Varin et Deshayes ne pouuant aller aux Canaries a cause des Corsaires, iront au Cap Verd en Afrique ou ils feront les obseruations pour la longitude, et la latitude, et y attendront Mr De Glos qui les y doit joindre pour aller tous ensemble obseruer dans l'isle St Thomé sous la ligne Equinoctiale suiuant les memoires qu'on leur a donné’. Cf. f. 169v (summary of July 1682). In 1672 Richer had tried to pay to stop at the Canaries, but the captain wanted to press on to Senegal. Richer to Cassini, 4 May 1672, Bib. Obs. B. 4. 11 bis, bundle ‘Richer’.

51 Lagarde, op. cit. (10): the minim friar Louis Feuillée visited Hierro in 1724, but his results were questioned; Le Monnier visited in 1742; a more durable result was not obtained until 1789.

52 See Van Helden, A., ‘Telescopes and authority from Galileo to Cassini’, Osiris (1994), 2nd series, 9, 929CrossRefGoogle Scholar; for nineteenth-century attempts to address such issues see Schaffer, S., ‘Astronomers mark time: discipline and the personal equation’, Science in Context (1988), 2, 115–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

53 Deshayes to Cassini, Rouen, 23 October 1681, Bib. Obs. B. 4. 9 bis, bundle ‘Deshayes’. In the rest of this section, it should be borne in mind that the letters of Deshayes are much fuller than those of Varin, so the account may well be one-sided.

54 Deshayes to Cassini, Dieppe, 18 November 1681, BN ms n. a. fr. 6197, ff. 87–8 (‘apres … que Mr V. eut quitté la lunette’).

55 Deshayes to Cassini, Dieppe, 10 December 1681, Bib. Obs. B. 4. 9 bis, bundle ‘Deshayes’ (‘j'avois commencé vne table, je ne l'ay pas trouué conforme a quelques calculs de M. V.’).

56 Varin to Cassini, Dieppe, 11 December 1681, BN ms n. a. fr. 6197, ff. 170–1: ‘Je crois que Mr Des Hayes y peut prendre part puis que les raisons que Vous alleguez de ma reception dans lAcademie luy peuuent conuenir comme a moy. Je ne luy en ay pourtant point encore parlé estant bien aise de ne rien faire sur cela ny sur autre chose que par Vostre aduis.’

57 Deshayes to Cassini, Dieppe, 6 February 1682, Bib. Obs. B. 4. 9 bis, bundle ‘Deshayes’ (‘j'en ay voulu essaier pour ne trouver pas tout a la fois tant de choses etranges quand je m'embarqueray’).

58 Deshayes to Cassini, Dieppe, 6 February 1682, Bib. Obs. B. 4. 9 bis, bundle ‘Deshayes’: ‘Si je luy disois ce que je pense je luy dirois que son plus grand mal et qui luy rend tout insupportable est le regret qu'il a de sa chere petite femme et de son menage et qu'il voudroit bien trouuer quelque faux fuyant pour le dispenser de s'embarquer. Il dit quelque fois vn garcon encore passe mais vn homme qui a famille faire vn si grand voyage’.

59 Varin's fears echo commonplaces of seafaring literature; compare, for example, J. Atkins, A Voyage to Guinea, Brasil, and the West-Indies; in his Majesty's ships, the Swallow and the Weymouth, London, 1735: ‘A Sea-Life absolutely considered, had so much of Hardship and Danger, that in King John's Time a national Synod ordained, no married Persons should go beyond Sea without publishing their mutual Consent.’

60 The main sources are in Bib. Obs. B. 5. 2, 5–97 (the ‘Livre d'Observations’, apparently written by Varin on 5–61, thereafter by Deshayes), and 593–4 (‘Relation des Observations de MM. Varin, Deshayes et de Glos’, which is copied at AAS, RPV, 9 bis, ff. 181r–182v); both need to be read alongside ‘Discussion entre Varin et Deshayes’, Bib. Obs. B. 4. 9 bis, bundle ‘Deshayes’, where Deshayes refutes some of Varin's statements.

61 Bib. Obs. B. 5. 2, 78: ‘on a trouué vne fourmilliere dans le tuyau et vn pertuis a quoy on a remedié’; 92: ‘il ne faut point s'arrester a ce que montre la boussole dans la forteresse y ayant plusieurs magasins pleins de barres de fer’.

62 Bib. Obs. B. 5. 2, 68–9: ‘Je luy demanday s'il auoit veu le satellite il dit qu'ouy et je dis que je ne le voiois point du tout. Sur quoy il reuint a sa lunette et auouä qu'il ne voioit rien encore et attendant toujours attentiuement, a la fin nous vismes le satellite tous deux en mesme temps. Si bien que cette obseruation deuroit estre encore une des plus certaines. Cependant Mr Varin a esté variable sur l'estime de cette obseruation, d'abord en la comparant a ses precedentes il la crut tardive d'une minute et crut qu'il pouuoit bien s'estre trompé aux minutes du quadrant, comme je n'en fais aussy point de doute. Et M. Varin rabattit pour lors une minute de ce qu'il auoit premierement marqué. Depuis il a changé d'auis en enuoyant de la Guadeloupe ses obseruations de Goree. C'est a Monsr Cassini d'en faire la discution.’ Another version of Deshayes's account, with slight variations, is at B. 5. 9 (unpaginated, sheets headed ‘Emersions du premier satelite de Jupiter 1682’): Deshayes here comments, ‘Au pis-aller, ce petit different qui est toujours trop grand pour l'exactitude de l'Observatoire n'est rien en comparaison de quelques tables qui font le Cap Vert plus occidental que nous ne le trouuons de pres de cinq degrez.’

63 ‘Discussion entre Varin et Deshayes’, Bib. Obs. B. 4. 9 bis, bundle ‘Deshayes’: ‘je fus ebranlé et interrompu par la grande opposition que M. V. me temoigna pour ce que j'auois fait le 5 auril’. Such adjustments were made almost daily.

64 ‘Discussion entre Varin et Deshayes’, Bib. Obs. B. 4. 9 bis, bundle ‘Deshayes’: ‘il quitta le disner des le commencement pour venir seul dans nostre chambre. Je disnay viste pour venir bientost voir pourquoy contre sa coustume il auoit ainsy quitté le disner me doutant presque de ce j'allois trouuer. Scauoir l'horloge toute changée et les aiguilles hors de leurs places. Je ne pus m'empescher de luy declarer mon soupçon sur quoy nous eumes vne tres forte querelle et je n'eusse jamais creu luy tramer vne telle assurance a soustenir que ce n'estoit point luy et qu'il faloit plutost que ce fust moy. Ce ne peut estre que luy ou moy je scay bien que ce n'est pas moy et j'en jure mais cet vn secret entre nous deux et il n'y a point de preuue que suiuant la creance qu'on donnera a l'un et a l'autre’.

65 See Varin's report (‘Livre d'Observations’, B. 5. 2, 5–65, esp. 13), and Deshayes's response in ‘Discussion entre Varin et Deshayes’ (Bib. Obs. B. 4. 9 bis, bundle ‘Deshayes’).

66 This information comes from comparing Thilmans, op. cit. (45), with Bib. Obs. B. 5. 2, and with the printed ‘Observations astronomiques faites au Cap Verd’, op. cit. (5) (where the date given for the landing at Guadeloupe in October is a misprint).

67 This was in accordance with the Académie's publishing policies. See C. Licoppe, La Formation de la pratique scientifique: le discours de l'expérience en France et en Angleterre (1630–1820), Paris, 1996, 53–87.

68 Several measurements were made at Gorée, and the length recorded by cutting a piece of straw (Bib. Obs. B. 5. 2, 18, 28, 55, 79–84). On the envoys' return, the Académie ordered repeat measurements to be made (AAS, RPV, 9 bis, f. 192v., Saturday 6 March 1683).

69 For the meridian work see Comptes des Bâtiments du Roi, op. cit. (35), ii, col. 236; for Varin's fate see Archives nationales, Marine B2 130, f. 49; J. Deshayes, L'Usage du compas de proportion de D. Henrion, Paris, 1681; reprinted 1685; idem, La Théorie et la pratique du nivellement, Paris, 1685; reprinted 1695. Deshayes's 1699 voyage is recorded in Bib. Obs. B. 5. 2, 325–56. For Deshayes's later work as surveyor in Canada see Roy, P.-G., ‘Jean Deshayes, hydrographe du roi’, Bulletin des recherches historiques (1916), 22, 129–33Google Scholar; J. S. Pritchard, ‘French developments in hydrography with particular reference to the St Lawrence River during the reign of Louis XIV (1665–1709)’, University of Western Ontario MA thesis, no. AAT EC45619, 1965; idem, ‘Early French hydrographic surveys in the Saint Lawrence river’, International Hydrographic Review (1979), 56, 133–52; Regourd, op. cit. (4), 291–4; and M. Schotte, ‘A hydrographer's library: Jean Deshayes and navigational education in early eighteenth-century Quebec’, University of Toronto, MA thesis, 2007.

70 See, for comparable points on travel and science, N. Safier, ‘Fruitless botany: Joseph de Jussieu's South American odyssey’, in Delbourgo and Dew, op. cit. (1), 203–24; Schiebinger, op. cit. (1), 65–72; Dew, ‘Vers la ligne’, op. cit. (24), 58–60; and the essays in M.-N. Bourguet, C. Licoppe and H. O. Sibum, eds., Instruments, Travel and Science: Itineraries of Precision from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century, London, 2002. For wider contexts see Harris, op. cit. (1); and S. Shapin, A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in Seventeenth-Century England, Chicago, 1994, 243–309.

71 Banks, op. cit. (6), 153–83. Although Banks's evidence is from the period 1713–63, his conclusions seem likely to apply to the 1680s.

72 See the remarks in Shank, J. B., ‘The sciences in Old Regime France: a review of recent scholarship’, French Historical Studies (2005), 28, 661–95CrossRefGoogle Scholar, esp. 668–71.

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