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His spirits were less elastic, and tinctured by personality or sarhe was more subject to absence or indifference in general society. It should be mentioned, among But his mind had lost none of its the peculiarities of Mr. Tennant's vigour ; and he never failed, when literary taste, that in common he exerted himself, to display his perhaps with most other original peculiar powers. His remarks thinkers, he bestowed little attenwere original; and his knowledge, tion on books of opinion or theoassisted by a most retentive me- ry; but chiefly confined himself mory, afforded a perpetual sup- to such as abound in facts, and ply of ingenious and well-applied afford the materials for speculaillustrations. But the quality for tion. His reading for many years which his conversation was most had been principally directed to remarkable, and from which it accounts of voyages and travels, derived one of its peculiar charms, especially those relating to Orienwas a singular cast of humour, tal nations; and there was no book which, as it was of a gentle, equa- of this description, possessing even ble kind, and had nothing very tolerable merit, with which he pointed or prominent, is hardly was not familiarly conversant.capable of being exemplified or His acquaintance with such works described. It seldom appeared in had supplied him with a great the direct shape of what may be fund of original and curious incalled pure humour, but was so information, which he employed much blended either with wit, with much judgment and ingefancy, or his own peculiar cha- nuity, in exemplifying many of racter, as to be in many respects his particular opinions, and illusentirely original. It did not con- trating the most important docsist in epigrammatic points, or trines in the philosophy of combrilliant and lively sallies ; but merce and government. was rather displayed in fanciful Of his leading practical opinitrains of imagery, in natural, but ons, sufficient intimations have ingenious and unexpected, turns been given in the course of the of thought and expression, and in preceding narrative. They were amusing anecdotes, slightly ting- of a liberal and enlightened cast, ed with the ludicrous. The effect and such as might be expected of these was much heightened by from the character of his genius a perfect gravity of countenance, and understanding Among them a quiet familiar manner, and a must be particularly mentioned characteristic beauty and simpli- an ardent, but rational, zeal for city of language. This unassuming civil liberty; which was not, in tone of easy pleasantry gave a very him, a mere effusion of generous peculiar and characteristic colour- feeling, but the result of deep reing to the whole of his conversa- flection and enlarged philosophic tion. It mingled itself with his views. His attachment to the ge.. casual remarks, and even with his neral principles of freedom origraver discussions. It had little ginated from his strong convicreference to the ordinary topics tion of their influence in promotof the day, and was wholly un- ing the wealth and happiness of
nations. A due regard to these lection of his talents and virtues principles he considered as the must always remain a pleasing, only solid foundation of the most though melancholy, bopd of union. important blessings of social life, and as the peculiar cause of that distinguished superiority, which our own country so happily enjoys From the Biographical Account by among the nations of Europe.
M. Cuvier. Of his moral qualities, it is Antoine Augustin Parmentier scarcely possible to speak too high- was born at Montdidier in 1737, ly. He described himself as na- of a family established for many turally passionate and irascible, years in that city, the chief offices and as roused to indignation by in the magistracy of which it had any act of oppression or wanton fulfilled. exercise of power.
The latter The premature death of his fafeeling he always retained, and it ther, and the small fortune which formed a distinguished feature of he left to a widow and three young his character. Of his irritability, children, confined the first educaa few traces might occasionally be tion of M. Parmentier to some discovered; but they were only notions of Latin, which his nioslight and momentary. His vir- ther gave him—a woman of abi, tuous dispositions appeared on lities, and better informed: than every occasion, and in every form, most of her rank. which the tranquil and retired ha- An honest ecclesiastic underbits of his life would admit of.- took to develope these first germs, He had a high sense of honour on the supposition that this young and duty; and was remarkable for man might become a precious subbenevolence and kindness, especi- ject for religion ; but the necessially towards his inferiors and de- ty of supporting his family obligpendants. But his merits were ed him to choose a situation which inostconspicuous in the intercourse would offer more speedy resources. of social life. His amiable tem- He was therefore under the neper, and unaffected desire of giv- cessity of interrupting his studies ; ing pleasure, no less than his su- and his laborious life never allowperior knowledge and talents, had ed him to resume them again comrendered him highly acceptable to pletely. This is the reason why a numerous and distinguished cir. his works, so important for tbeir ele of society, by whom he was utility, have not always that order justly values, and is now most and precision which learning and sincerely lamented. But the real long practice alone can give to a extent of his private worth, the writer. genuine simplicity and virtuous In 1755 he was bound apprenindependence of his character, and tice to an apothecary of Montdithe sincerity, warmth, and con- dier, and next year came to constancy of his friendship, can only tinue it with one of his relations, be felt and estimated by those, to who exercised the same profession whom he was long and intimately in Paris. Having shown intelliknown, and to whom the recol- gence and industry, he was em
ployed in 1757 as apothecary in with facts before unknown to the hospitals of the army of Ha- them. nover.
The late M. Bayen, one M. Parmentier, stimulated by of the most distinguished members his virtuous masters, took advanwhom that Class ever possessed, tage of these sources of instruction presided then over that part of the with ardour. When his service science. It is well known that he brought him to any town, he viwas no less estimable for the ele- sited the manufactures least known vation of his character than for his in France; he requested of the talents. He observed the dispo- apothecaries leave to work in their sitions and the regular conduct of laboratories. In the country he young Parmentier, contracted an observed the practice of the faracquaintance with him, and in- He noted down the intertroduced him to M. Chainousset, esting objects which struck him ip Intendant General of the Hospi- his marches along with the troops. tals, rendered so celebrated by his Nor did he want opportunities of active benevolence, and to whom seeing all varieties of things; for Paris and France are indebted for he was five times taken prisoner, so many useful establishments. and transported to places whither
It was in the conversation of his generals would not have carthese two excellent men that M. ried him. He learned then by his Parmentier imbibed the notions own experience how far the horand sentiments which produced rors of need might go, a piece of afterwards all his labour's. He information necessary perhaps to learned two things equally un- kindle in him in all its vigour that known to those, whose duty it was glowing fire of humanity which to have been acquainted with burnt in him during the whole of them : the extent and variety of his long life. misery from whic! it would be But before making use of the possible to free the common peo- knowledge which he had acquired, ple, if we were seriously to occupy and attempting to ameliorate the ourselves with their happiness; lot of the conimon people, it was and the number and power of the necessary to endeavour to render resources which nature would of his own situation less precarious. fer against so many scourges, if He returned then at the peace we were at the trouble to extend of 1769 to the capital, and resumed and encourage the study of them. in a more scientific manner the
Chemical knowledge, which ori- studies belonging to his art. The ginated in Germany, was at that lectures of Noliet, Rouelle and time more general in that country d'Antoine, and of Bernard de Justhan in France. More applica- sieu, extended his ideas, and assisttions of it had been made. The ed him in arranging them. He many petty sovereigns who di- obtained extensive and solid knowvided that country had paid par. ledge in all the physical sciences : ticular attention to the ameliora- and the place of lower apothecary tion of their dominions; and the being vacant at the Invalides in chemist, the agriculturist, the 1766, he obtained it, after an erfriend of useful arts, met equally amination obstinately disputed.
His maintenance was thus se- and he showed how it might be eured, and his situation soon be extracted from the roots and seeds came sufficiently comfortable. of different indigenous plants, and The administration of the house bow deprived of the acrid and poiseeing that his conduct justified sonous principles which alter it in his success, induced the King in some plants. He pointed out 1712 to make him Apothecary in likewise the mixtures which would Chief; a recompense which an assist in converting this starch unforeseen accident rendered more into good bread, or at least into a complete than had been intended, kind of biscuit fit for being eaten or than he had expected.
The pharmacy of the Invalids There is no doubt that in cerhad been directed from its first es- tain cases some advantage may be tablishment by the Sæurs de Cha- derived from the methods which rité. These good women, who he proposes ; but as most of the had made a great deal of young plants pointed out are wild, scanParmentier while he was only their ty, and would cost more than the boy, took it ill that he should be dearest corn, absolute famine is put upon a level with them. They the only thing that could induce made so much noise, and put in mankind to make use of them.motion such powerful interest, Parmentier easily perceived that it that the King himself was obliged was better to turn the attention to draw back; and after two years of cultivators to such plants as of controversy, he made the sin- would render a famine, or even a gular decision that Parmentier scarcity, impossible. He thereshould continue to enjoy the ad- fore recommended the potatoe vantages of his place, but should with all his might, and opposed no longer fulfil its functions. with constancy the prejudices
This enabled him to devote the which opposed themselves to the whole of his time to his zeal for propagation of this important root. researches of general utility. From Most botanists, and Parmenthat moment he never interrupted tier himself, have stated on the them.
authority of Gaspar Bauhin that The first opportunity of pub- the potatoe was brought from lishing some results respecting his Virginia about the end of the sixfavourite subject had been given teenth century; and they usually him in 1771 by the Academy of ascribe to the celebrated and unBesançon. The scarcity in 1769 fortunate Raleigh the honour of had drawn the attention of the ad- having first brought it to Europe. ministration and of philosophers I think it more probable that it towards vegetables which might was brought from Peru by the supply the place of corn, and the Spaniards. Raleigh only went 10 Academy had made the history of Virginia in the year 1586; and them the subject of a prize, which we may conclude, from the testiParmentier gained. He endea- mony of Cluvius, that in 1587 the voured to prove in his dissertation potatoe was common in different that the most useful nourishing parts of Italy, and that it was alsubstance in vegetables is starch, ready given to cattle in that country. This supposes at least seve- bited in Burgundy, because it was ral
years of cultivation. This ve- supposed that they produced the getable was pointed out about the leprosy. end of the sixteenth century by It is difficult to believe that a several Spanish writers, as culti- plant so innocent, so agreeable, vated in the environs of Quito, so productive, which requires so where it was called papas, and little trouble to be rendered fit for where different kinds of dishes food ; that a root so well defended were prepared froin it: and, what against the intemperance of the seems decisive, Banister and Clay- seasons; that a plant which by a ton, who have investigated the in- singular privilege unites in itself digenous plants of Virginia with everyadvantage, without any other great care, do not reckon the po- inconvenience than that of not tatoe among the number; and lasting all the year, but which even Banister mentions expressly that owes to this circumstance the adhe had for 12 years sought in vain ditional advantage that it cannot for that plant; while Dombey found be hoarded up by monopolistsit in a wild state on all the Cor- that such a plant should have redilleras, where the Indians still quired two centuries in order to apply it to the same purposes as overcome the most puerile prejaat the time of the original disco- dices. verv.
Yet we ourselves have been The mistake may have been ow. witnesses of the fact. . The Enging to this circumstance, that Vir- lish brought the potatoe into ginia produces several other tuber- Flanders during the wars of Louis ose plants, which from imperfect XIV. It was tience spread, but descriptions may have been con- very sparingly, over some parts of founded with the potatoe. Bauhin, France. Switzerland had put a for example, took for the potatoe higher value on it, and bad found the plant cailed openawk by Tho- it very good. Several of our mas Harriot. There are likewise southern provinces had planted it in Virginia ordinary potatoes; but in imitation of that country at the the anonymous author of the his- period of the scarcities, wbich tory of that country says, that they were several times repeated during have nothing in common with the the last years of Louis XV. Turpotatoe of Ireland and England, got in particular rendered it comwhich is our pomme de terre. mon in the Limousin and the An
Be this as it may, that admira- goumois, over which he was Inble vegetable was received in a tendant; and it was to be expectvery different manner by the na- ed that in a short time this new tions of Europe. The Irish seem branch of subsistence would be to have taken advantage of them spread over the kingdom, when first ; for at an early period we some old physicians renewed a. find the plant distinguished by the gainst it the prejudices of the 16th name of Irish potatoe. But in century. France they were at first proscrib- It was no longer accused of proed. Bauhin states that in his time ducing leprosy, but fevers. The the use of them had been prohi- scarcities had produced in zre