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Bourguet, Louis


(b. Nîmes, France, 23 April 1678; d. Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 31 December 1742)

archaeology, philology, philosophy, biology, geology, crystallography, physics.

Bourguet was the eldest son of Jean Bourguet, a rich wholesale merchant in Nîmes, and of Catherine Rey,boih Huguenots. In 1685, the year of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Bourguet’s family fled to Switzerland, seeking refuge first in Lausanne and then in Zurich. Bourguet enthusiastically began his studies at the College of Zurich in 1688 but was compelled the following year to accompany his father to Casteseigna, in the Grisons, to establish a stocking and muslin factory. Upon his return in 1690, Bourguet was obliged to enter the family firm. Thus began a conflict between his scholarly vocation and business that did not end until 1716. He read widely in archaeology, numismatics, and philology and hean assembling a large collection of medals, antiquities, and rare books, notably in Oriental and Slavic languages.

Between 1697 and 1715 Bourguet was often in Italy on business with his father or other members of his family. Until 1705 he stayed principally in Verona, Venice, and Bolzano, where he studied Hebrew and the Mishnah with a rabbi. Between these trips he lived in Zurich until the French refugees were expelled and his family was separated; he then lived in Bern and finally in Neuchâtel. where he became a citizen in 1704. During this period Bourguet began to correspond with J.-J. Scheuch-zer and a number of other scholars. In 1707 he went to Rome where he copied ancient inscriptions (including the Iguvine Tables), studied the ancient monuments, and established contact with the leading scholars and Jesuit missionaries.

Toward the end of 1708, upon his return to Neuchâtel, Bourguet took up the study of geology. In 1709 he explored the Jura Mountains near Neuchâtel, collected fossils, and examined mineral springs, as well as cave stalactites and grottoes. This new interest undoubtedly reflected the influence of Scheuchzer, whom Bourguet greatly admired. During a trip to Italy in 1710, Bourguet befriended Vallisnieri at Padua and Zannichelli at Venice. He accompanied them on a geological expedition in the area around Verona and Vicenza, where they observed the fossiliferous strata of the Alpine foothills, especially those containing pierres lenticulaires (nummulites and related forms, the nature of which was then a subject of debate). In 1711, a few months after returning to Neuchâtel, Bourguet and his wife moved to Venice, where they remained until 1715. During these intellectually decisive years, guided by Jakob Hermann (then professor at Padua) and probably by Bernardino Zendrini, Bourguet began to study Leibniz’ infinitesimal calculus and astronomy. He further expand ed his already extensive correspondence, particularly with Leibniz, who esteemed him highly from the time they began corresponding about the binary calculus of the Chinese, an exchange of letters that lasted from 1707 until 1716.

Bourguet discussed geology and biology with Vallisnieri, the famous student of Malpighi. He studied the viviparous plant lice and through microscopic study verified the existence of Leeuwenhoek’s vers séminaux (spermatozoa), but he questioned their role in reproduction. In addition, he assembled a collection of fossils with the aid of Vallisnieri, Gian Girolamo Zannichelli (to whom he communicated his enthusiasm), and Giuseppe Monti of Bologna. At Bologna oceanographic studies were much in favor, and Bourguet, with Monti and Jean Daniel Geissel, explored the nearby Apennines. Without adopting the very limited diluvial views of his Italian friends, Bourguet shared their conviction that the fossils they found were of organic and marine origin; he felt an urgent need to combat the outdated theses put forward by Karl Lang (1708), against which he directed” Dissertation sur les pierres figurées “(1711), which was not published.

For unknown reasons, Bourguet’s life underwent a major change at the end of 1715. Leaving Venice and Italy for good, he moved to Neuchâtel and did not leave Switzerland again except for a trip to Holland in 1725 to resolve some printing problems. He abandoned commerce and set about finding employment. His health deteriorated in 1718, and in 1721 his financial problems became acute following bankruptcies at Basel and Geneva. In order to obtain money to live he gradually sold his collections, retaining only his Bibles in nearly fifty languages.

In 1717 Bourguet’s friends urged him to seek nomination to the vacant chair of law at Lausanne, but he did not receive the post. It was not until October 1731 that, at the age of fifty-three, he was finally named to a professorship of philosophy and mathematics created for him at Neuchâtel. Bourguet’s teaching duties, which he continued to fulfill until his death, consisted of private courses in logic. philosophy, natural law, and natural sciences, and public lectures on philosophy, history, alchemy, minerals, meteors, true and false miracles, and the formation of the earth.

Bourguet spent liberally to establish and maintain two periodicals. With several friends, he founded a scholarly review, Bibliotheque italique (1728), designed to present the results of Italian science to a French general audience. In 1732 Bourguet created another review with a group of Swiss collaborators. Devoted to literary and historical as well as scientific subjects, it first appeared as the Mercure Suisse and later as the Journal helvetique. Bourguet expended great energy on this monthly publication, which survived its founder and played a role in the cultural awakening of French-speaking Switzerland. While satisfying the reader’s taste for lighter material, it also published, for example, a series of articles debating the merits of Leibniz’ system and the notion of preestablished harmony, of which Bourguet like Christian Wolff, was a fervent and well-informed advocate.

At Neuchâtel, Bourguet expanded his circle of correspondents to more than seventy persons. Through his exchange of letters he set forth the major controversies of the time and played an important role in the diffusion of ideas, as in the debates in geology over the historicity of the Flood and in biology over the preformation of germ cells. He was unaware that in according priority to strictly interpreted biblical theses (especially those in Genesis 1:1–11:9 and II Peter 3:5–7), he was involving himself in serious errors.

Encyclopedic in his erudition, Bourguet, whom his friends called the Pliny of Neuchâtel, became a member of the Berlin Academy of Sciences and the Etruscan Academy of Cortona. He read or spoke a great many languages, knowledge of which he acquired from the daily reading of a translation of the Bible, assisted, where possible, by a grammar. In 1733, for example, he learned Basque and, about 1735, the Celtic languages. Throughout these studies he was motivated by the hope of establishing the filiation and harmony of the world’s languages.

Works. Bourguet’s surviving works include two books: Lettres philosophiques, which has as an appendix the Mémoire sur la théorie de la terre, written in 1723 and published in 1729; and Traité des pétrifications (1742), several sections of which are by Pierre Cartier or are collaborative efforts. There are also numerous articles and news columns, signed either with Bourguet’s name, with such pseudonyms as Philaléthe or Philanthrope, or with initials, or published anonymously, and a large number of manuscripts.

Lettres philosophiques. This book, which Bourguet had published in 1729 at Amsterdam, is a unified work (except for the pages on the theory of the earth) presented in the form of four letters to Scheuchzer. Taking as his point of departure the demonstration of the animal origin of belemnites and pierres lenticulaires, Bourguet compares the elementary processes of the mineral world (crystallization) and of the living world (generation, assimilation, growth).

Crystal growth is a product of the mineral mechanism, whereas the growth of plants and animals is an effect of the organic mechanism. Bourguet makes a highly instructive comparison of the fine structures of a stalactite and a belemnite. The internal complexity of the latter is sufficient proof that it is a product of the living world and not of the mineral. That it was once in a marine environment is attested by various details, such as incrusting organisms. Similarly, the organic origin of the pierres lenticulaires (nummulites and similar forms) can be clearly seen in their structure. Bourguet thought they should be grouped with the couvercles or opercula of the Ammonoidea, an order that then customarily included the ammonites, nautiluses, spiru-las, and even the small spiral Foraminifera discovered shortly before by Beccari. He also showed why the entrochites must be placed among the étoiles de mer arbreuses (crinoids) and not among the zoophytes.

Bourguet studied stalactites and described their internal radial structure, as well as their final cleavage into small crystalline rhomboids; their genesis obeys the same laws of crystallization as soluble salts and natural crystals (rock crystals). Their deviations revealed to him that they are accidental productions of nature in contrast with the unvarying symmetry and organization of living creatures. which are products of a final purpose. Bourguef’s attempt to explain crystallization was innovative. First, he asserted that a crystal is created not from water but in water that carries a multitude of extremely small particles, the fusion of which creates a crystal or concretion. To each crystalline substance there correspond particles of specific, determinate shape where particular laws of growth govern the external form. Each corpuscle, endowed with a specific dynamism or vital activity, contributes to a solid body as it coalesces with other particles. The corpuscles group together according to divine plan but may form nothing more advanced than a crystal. This notion derives from the concept of the chain of immaterial beings that Bourguet adapted from Cudworth and Grew and modified to fit a Leibnizian context. Even if the actual microscopic order escapes our senses, everything is organized in matter, which we perceive only as a whole, as if it were a crowd or a distant maneuvering army. All organization in the universe was originally and simultaneously created by God.

Since Bourguet had no notion of evolution, he did not consider the question of the increasing organization and complexity of the biosphere. He merely related the problem to the origin of the universe, thereby rendering it inaccessible to human reason-Thus, he adhered firmly to the theory of the em-boîtement des germes or “encasement” theory of germ cells (particularly as formulated by Male-branche) and consequently denied any role in reproduction to the vers séminaux (spermatozoa) and to pollen. Bourguet believed that embryonic processes did not signify a genuine formation but rather the appearance of previously invisible, preformed organs. This conception fitted a mathematical image of convergent and infinite series but, as Firmin Abauzit pointed out, it was not physically feasible–even for the short biblical chronology–as soon as it was assumed that matter is composed of finite corpuscles.

Bourguet seems to have established direct contact with Buffon through Jean Bouhicr, and according to Jacques Roger they began to discuss the problem of generation in 1733. However, the hypothesis of organized organic molecules later adopted by Buffon was a regression from Bourguet’s early notions on the mécanisme organique. Bourguet held that there are neither special organic molecules nor occult vital forces. The elementary corpuscles circulate ceaselessly and by their combinations constitute the infinitely complex tissues of organisms. He compared the growth of a crystal with that of a shell and with more advanced structures (an ear of grain, a feather, and so on). Both shell and crystal are merely concretions assembled in layers, differing only in that the productive mechanism of the former is regulated by final causes. The mechanism is called organic “because it acts by means of an organized body, without which it would not exist.” In more advanced structures, growth occurs by the addition of molecules selected from the general stream of corpuscles according to the local needs of each site of the organism. Only that which is already organized can organize, for it is the visible expression of an immaterial being, endowed with a perfect, specific power of organization. Bourguet made this postulation in the spirit of Leibniz and in an attempt to reconcile various contemporary (nonmaterialistic) doctrines. Thus the Organic Mechanism was simply the combination of the motion of an infinity of differing moving particles, in conformity with particular systems, which are predetermined by God. Each system is bound to a single dominant monad, to which the other participant monads are subordinated. That which we name Matter is nothing but the totality of countless actions and reactions that bound every creature to others.

Traité des pétrifications. This book (1742), a collaborative work done mainly by Bourguet with Pierre Cartier (a minister) and other friends, consists of two parts –a collection of rather polemical letters or articles dealing with subjects encountered in the Lettres philosophiques and an atlas illustrating the bulk of the fossil animals discovered by the authors in Switzerland or drawn from the works of Lang and Scheuchzer. The atlas, with its succinct explanatory text, its extensive bibliography of European paleontology (enlarged and modernized by Guettard for the second edition of 1778), and its list of the world’s recorded fossiliferous localities, was the first of its kind to be published in French. Bourguet sought to arrange all mineral and organic species in a single chain, a series characterized by imperceptible gradations leading from the simplest (mineral) products of nature to the most complex: a concrete representation of the Great Chain of Being.

In his classification of the mineral kingdom (partly based on John Woodward and partly original–see Bibliothèque italique,2 [1728], 99–131), Bourguet distinguished the clays (including soils, chalks, etc.). the stones, and the metals (including the minerals). In 1728 he divided the stones according to their origin: 1) sand, gravel, and pebbles; 2) bitumen. Fint, marble, etc., formed through a kind of fusion; and 3) salts, crystals, granite, etc., formed by aqueous crystallization. In 1742 he rejected any fusion in favor of a strict neptunism that attributed even granite and metamorphic rock to the great changement wrought by the Flood. Still, he allowed that some rocks dated from the first formation of the earth and that some were still being formed. Despite his erroneous conceptions, Bourguet was more closely allied to Hutton than to Werner in that he posited that the same kinds of rock can date from different cycles and that certain rocks form only as a result of a grand changement (in fact, orogeny) or of processes different from the sedimentation currently occurring in the depths of the sea (for example, flint, fossil pyrites).

The Traité presents the fossil animals in four classes: I) the champignons (sponges and certain corals), madrepores, and coralloids: 2) our bivalves and brachiopods (poorly distinguished); 3) our gas-teropods and cephalopods, plus the spiral worms (Serpulidae) and the pierres lenticulaires: 4) our echinoderms and crinoids, the dentalia, our crustaceans, the actual or alleged fish teeth (glossopetrae), belemnites, and the race of men that, according to Scheuchzer, witnessed the Flood. Despite its rudimentary character, the Traité was an indispensable manual of paleontology that diffused widely the competing theories.

Mémoire sur la théorie de la terre consists of a methodological and historical introduction; an objective, descriptive section; a theoretical portion comprising twenty-six propositions that seek to present a hypothesis for the development of the earth; and a conclusion containing an outline of a future work. Bourguet believed that the solid mass of the earth, continuous from the mountains to the sea floors, is formed of heterogeneous materials arranged in beds and strata of varying thickness. Quarries, mines, and natural sections through the mountains reveal the existence of strata extending for great distances in every direction. The hardest rocks (sandstone, conglomerates, pierres grises. slate, limestone, marble, granite, and porphyry) compose the mountains, the beds of which may be horizontal, vertical, inclined, or curved in concave or convex arcs. Bourguet found that each bed preserves a constant thickness despite its various inflections but is often broken by vertical or inclined joints and cracked in all directions. Some beds have remained horizontal over great distances but are not always ordered according to density, as postulated by Woodward. Fossil shells and other animal and plant remains exist in an infinity of strata of earth and rock from the summits of mountains to the depths of quarries. Bourguet noted that shells are invariably filled with the same material surrounding them, that their origin is organic, and that they had had a period of marine existence.

Bourguet emphasized the order evident in the disposition and structures of the mountains. It was known that order existed on a global scale, since mountains were found to be grouped into chains generally displaying a preferred orientation, some parallel to the meridian, others to the equator. Further, inside a given chain–and here Bourguet was proud of having made what he considered an important discovery–advanced thrusts lie perpendicular to each side of the secondary formation, whether the latter was north-south or east-west. When two secondary ridges are parallel, the advanced thrusts of one correspond to the reentrant angles of the one facing it, in the fashion of fortifications. This geometric disposition can occasionally be seen at lower levels, in traces of riverbeds, on the plain, and along rocky marine shorelines. For Bourguet, it was the mot de l’énigme and the key to the theory of the earth. Concerning the destruction of the earth, Bourguet presented the evidence of erosion and fluvial transport, including coastal alluvial deposits, but assigned little significance to it. Nor did he (again like Buffon and De Maillet) attach much importance to the uplift and subsidence of islands and mountains through the action of volcanoes and earthquakes.

Theory of the Earth. In speaking of a “theory of the earth” Bourguet intended a rational reconstruction of its history and dynamic causality, which he claimed to deduce solely from his observations. He declared that all parts of the earth as it is presently constituted are more or less coeval, dating from the time of the Flood. This deluge was not a supernatural miracle but the amplification of normal processes and the exceptional convergence, ordained by God, of ordinary causes. In rough outline, Bourguet’s scheme is at first close to that proposed by Woodward. But, influenced by Scheuchzer, Bourguet elaborated a genuine theory of orogeny (however warped to fit orthodox diluvianism). which he linked to the dynamics of terrestrial rotation. His theory encompassed the phenomena of sedimentation fed by attacks on old outcrops, the disturbance and raising of originally horizontal strata by a coordinated motion, and the circulation of mineralizing solutions.

In Bourguet’ view, mountains were formed only near the end of the grand changement (or renovation of the earth by the Flood), when the flat-lying, concentric new strata, rebuilt from the dissolution of the ancient world, began to harden. The acceleration of the earth’s rotation then induced an upward thrust, or dynamic direction d élévation.He explained the differing local arrangement of the strata by the variable degree of consolidation at the start. Furthermore, he attributed their “more or less regular conformity” to the earth’s motion and to the general and particular orientation of the chain being formed. Such considerations (unfortunately over-condensed) point directly to the ideas of H. B. de Saussure. For Bourguet, as for Buffon after him, mountains and all their topographic features were carved by the retreating sea (hence their zigzag pal-tern and ripplelike marks); but Buffon denied or ignored Bourguef’s assertions both of the diluvial catastrophe and of the linked orogeny.

Bourguet rejected both the mineral generation in situ of fossils and any notion that the seas had washed over the face of the earth. He also examined the theory proposed by Henri Gautier in Nouvellaes conjectures sur le globe de la terre (1721). According to this theory (which is very close to According to this theory (which is very close to Hutton’s), rain and rivers had leveled the mountains over long periods of time, and the material that was thus removed and deposited in the seas later formed the strata of new mountains erected by lateral upheaval. Bourguet discarded this theory because of the immense periods of time that it implied. Thus, it appears that Bourguet unwittingly eased the way for Hutton, Playfair, and Lyell by rescuing from oblivion the main ideas of this forgotten predecessor and demonstrating that one must either accept the biblical chronology or a very long uniformitari-an one.

Humanities. In the eyes of his contemporaries Bourguet’s greatest achievement was his philological investigation of the Etruscan alphabet. He was guided in this work by his conviction in the common origin of all peoples, of their languages, and of their alphabet, which he believed derived from ancient Hebrew. He worked in this perspective from 1704 to 1709 on his “Histoire critique de Porigine des lettres.” of which only the outline was published. The material assembled on this matter is preserved in the manuscript division of the Bibliotheque National in Paris. Bourguet also sought to discover affinities between the Amerindian and Asiatic languages on the basis of his notions of the late dispersion and migration of the peoples in the relevant areas. He also wrote on the traditions and antiquities of China, challenging their presumed great age and isolation.


I. Original Works. Bourguet published two books: Leitres philosophiques sur la formation des sets et des crystaux, et sur la génération et le mechanisme orga-tuque des planus et des animaux. à l’occasion de la pierre belemnite et de In plerre lentieulaire, avec an mimoire sur la théorie de la terre(Amsterdam. 1729; 2nd ed.. 1762); and. anonymously, Traité des pétrifications (Paris, 1742; 2nd ed.. enl. and rev., with author’s name, 1778); another ed. of the Traité is cited under the title Mémoires pour strvir à l’histoire naturelle des pétrifications dans les quatre parties du monde; avec figures, et divers indices aussi méthodiques que nécessaires (The Hague, 1742).

Among the most important of Bourguet’s many articles are ’Plan abrégé de i’histoire critique de Torigine des lettres.” in Histoire critique de la république des lettres.1 (1712), 300–303; “Lettre... à Monsieur Antoine Vallisnieri... sur la gradation et l’echelle des fossiles,” inBiblothèque italique ou histoire littéraire de I’Italic,2 (1728), 99–131; “Lettre sur deux prétendues inscriptions étrusques.” ibid..3 (1728). 174–204: “Éloge historique de Mr. Antoine Vallisnieri.” ibid.,5 (1729) 46–73: “Éloge historique de Mr. Jean-Jérôme Zanni-chelli,” ibid.,6 (1729), 152- 169: “Litanies pelasges, des anciens habitants del’Italic” ibid.. 14 I 1732). 1 -32:” De Bononiensi seientarum et artitim instituto at que aca-demiaeommentari – Mémoires de rinstitut et de I’Acu-demie des sciences et des arts de Bologne“ibid.. 78- 125: “Suite de I’extrait des Memmres de I’Academie des sciences de I’lnstiutt de Botogne,“ibid.,15 (1732). 126–161; “Lettre sur ’alphabet étrusque.” ibid.,18 (1734), 1–62, translated into Italian -along with “Lettre sur deux prétendues inscriptions etrusques”-by A. degli Abati-OIivieri as Spiegazione di alcum monumenti degli antiche Pelasgi. Tmsportata del francese, con attune osservazioni sovra i medesimi (Pesaro, 1735); “Analyse du diseours inaugural de M. Bourguet sur l’histoire abrégée de la philosophic et des mathématiques,” in Mercure suisse (Journal helvétiquc) (Dec. 1732). 65–67; ’Lettre sur les noyés par tin philanthrope... adressée à I’Académie des sciences de Berlin.“ibid, (Nov. 1733), 70–84: “Mémoire sur les progres du Christian is me dans les Indes orientates.” ibid, (July 1734). 82–88: and “Conclusion de la dispute sur les noyes,” ibid., 88–93.

See also “Discours sur les phénoménes. que ies anciens regardaient comme miraculeux,” in Mercure Suisse (Journal helvétique) (Jan. 1735), 100- 113; “Lettre... sur la jonction de l’Amérique à 1’Asie.” ibid. (July 1735). 67–97; “Particularités intéressantes sur la colonie protestante de Herrenhut. et sur les missions du Greenland, et de la Côte de Coromandel,” ibid. (Sept. 1735). 49–66: “Letire à Mr. Engel... sur la jonction de l’Amérique avec l’ Asie.” ibid. (Feb, 1736), 53–62: “Lettre sur”office de bibliothécaire... à Monsieur Engel. bibliothécaire à Berne,” ibid. (July 1736), 64–83. extracts of which are reproduced in Godet (see below); ’Lettre à Monsieur C. . , . servant de réponse à l”épître adressée à Mr. le professeur B. , . . dans le Mercure de septembre 1735, p. 96,” ibid. (Jan. 1737). 90–106. on the errors of the philosophers and à eulogy of Wolff; “A Mr. de la Faie.... à foceasion d’un extrait des Lett res philosophiques de M. B. inséré dans les Mémories de Trévoux” ibid. (Dec. 1740). 531–549. in which Bourguel records his change of opinion on the belcm-niles and corrects Castel’s errors of interpretation: and “Lettre à Monsieur Seigneux de Correvon... sur deux ouvrages envoyés de Rome à Pauteur. qui traitent de quelques monuments antiques,” ibid. (Nov. 1737), 33 - 59, à review of Spieguzione di alvuni monument i and à critique of Olivieri’s commentary.

Further works are “Lettre à Mr. Meuron ... sur la philosophie dc Mr. le baron de Leibnitz.” in Mercure suisse (Journal helvétique) (May 1738). 333–419, notably on binary arithmetic and the Théodicée; “Seconde lettre à Mr. Meuron... sur la philosophic de Mr. le baron de Leibnitz.” ibid. (July 1738), 15–36, à refutation of the criticisms of Crousaz: “Lettre à Monsieur Meuron... sur les hypothéses concernant de l'âme avec le corps,” ibid. (Dec. 1738), 521–556. on preestablished harmony and against Locke; “Lettre à Mr. Roques ... servant de réponse aux quatre lettres qui ont paru de lui dans le Journal helvétique contre le systéme de Mr. de Leibnitz,” ibid. (Aug. 1739), 49–84; “Lettre à Mr. Roques... sur les idées innées et leur developpement.” ibid. (Mar. 1740), 204–223, à comparison of the development of innate ideas and of organic bodies; and ’Lettre à Monsieur Ostervald... sur la conversion des églises du Comté de Northampton, dans la Nouvelle Angieterre,” ibid. (Nov. 1740), 427–435.

Additional writings are “De crystallorum genera-tione,” in Acta Academiae naturae curiosorum. 4 (1730), app., 7–46; “Dissertatio de fatis philosophiae inde ejus natalibus ad nostra usque tempora,” in Jempe Helvetica. L pL 2 (1735), 129- 160; “Dissertatio de vera atque genuine juris naturalis studii usu.” ibid..3, pt. 1 (1738), 9–41; “Epistolae Ludovici Bourgueti . . , ad primorum Fvangelii apud Malabares praeconum ex ipsis autographis descriptae,” in J. G. Schellhorn Amoenitates historiae ecchsiasticue el lilterariae... (Frankfurt -Leipzig, 1737- 1738), 710–754; and “Dissertazione di Lodovico Bourguei, professore in Neufchastel sopra l’affabeto etrusco,” in Saggi di dissertuzioni accademuichv pubhheamente tette neliu nobile Accadentia vlrusca deiranth’hhsirna cittd di Cortona.1 (1742). 1–23. It should be noted that a number of Bourguet’s articles appeared either anonymously or pseudony-mously.

Bourguet left numerous MSS. Among the collections containing principally reading notes and bibliographic information are “Livre d’extraits et de remarques” (Zurich. 1695–1696). now at the municipal library of Neuchâtel MS 1241, a compilation of reading notes; “Miscellanea ad theoriam telluris pertinemia.” municipal library of Neuchâtel MS 1242, which contains Bourguet's bibliographic sources in geology, long extracts from works by various writers, a fragment of a narrative of his trip with Monti in the region of Bologna, and a memoir entitled “Quelques observations sur les coquillages qu’on trouve dans la terre et sur le Déluge, “Livre d'extraits... relatifs à la théologic. aux langues, à l’epigraphie, à la numismatique sémitiques; aux langues de I’extrême-orient, chinois, siamois. etc.. à l’histoire de l’écriture et de l’imprimerie: catalogue des livrcs qui peuvent scrvir pour Thistoire critique de l’originc des lettres; plan pour la même histoire.” Bibliothéque Nationale. Paris. MS 12809; and “Recueil des alphabets et des caracteres de toutes les langues,” Bibliotheque Nationale. Paris, MS n.a.f. 891, an incomplete dummy of the planned book.

Other MSS are of lectures or articles. These include “Dissertation sur les monuments de I’ancienne Égypte et les labyrinthes.” municipal library of Neuchâtel MS 1250; “Discours sur les phénomènes prétendus miraculeux, 31 déc. 1734,” Neuchâtel MS 1248, text of a public lecture summarized in Mercure Suisse (Jan. 1735), 100–113; “Cours de philosophie. du 19 déc. 1731 au 12 mai 1734.” Neuchâtel MS 1244, the texts of eleven lectures, those of particular interest being the ones of 7 Apr. and 12 May 1734. on the formation of the earth; “Cours de philosophic Neuchâtel. du 19 mai 1734 au 15 avril 1735,” Neuchâtel MS 1245. beginning with the text of the “Discours sur l’origine des pierres” (dated 15 Apr. 1735). which bears interesting variants and corrections, followed by a portion of a long letter from John Toland. without indication of the recipient, containing critical marginal notations in Bourguet’s hand; an incomplete MS on the secours aux noyes. 28 Aug. 1734, Neuchâtel MS 1251; “De fatis philosophiae. Lecon du 19 déc. 1731,” Neuchâtel MS 1247; and “Cours de philosophie en latin (Praelectiones XV); Cours sur la providence, 2 juillet 1733.” Neuchâtel MS 1243.

Finally, Bourguet’s MSS include numerous letters and copies of letters. His principal correspondents have been named by L. Favre (1866). who gives some representative extracts, as well as by L. Isely (1903- 1904, 1904). and P. Bovet (1904), Only a few of the letters can be cited here. On the apologetic aim of the Mémoire sur la théorie de la tern; with several clarifications and an elucidation of the meaning of the word miracle, see “Lettres à Monsieur Poller” of 30 Mar. and 24 Apr. 1726. 26 Sept. 1727, 7 and 21 Feb.. 4 Mar.. 7 Apr., and 30 May 1728. Neuchâtel MS 1261: on the objections of Vallisnieri and Firmin Abauzit to Bourguet’s account of the Flood, and on Rizzetti’s theory of the change experienced by the polar axis, see “Lettres a Monsieur Abuzit” of 28 Feb. and 29 Apr. 1722; on the weight engendered by the rotation (turbination) of the heavenly bodies, see the letter to Abauzit of 15 Mar. 1724, Neuchâtel MS 1259; on the reconciliation of the churches, the history of the missions, the study of languages, and the edition of the letters of Leibniz, see the letters of Bourguet included in “Correspondance du président Jean Bouhier,” MSS Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris, f. 24409 and f. 24464. See also the letters to Caze (MSS Neuchâtel and cantonal library of Lausanne), to du Lignon (MS Neuchâtel), to Castel (MS Neuchâtel), to Antoine de Jussieu (MS Neuchâtel), and to G. de Seigneux (MS Neuchâtel). Other MSS are at Basel, Lausanne, and Nîmes. A complete catalog of Bourguet’s letters has not yet been compiled.

II. Secondary Literature. The principal biographical source is the anonymous obituary “Abrégé de la vie thématiques à Neuchâtel, décédé le 31 décembre 1742,” in Mercure suisse (Journal helvétique) (Feb. 1743), 184–195; (Mar. 1743). 295–306; and (Apr. 1743). 368–376. Nothing of substance is added by the biographical accounts of E. and É. Haag, in La France protestante, II (Paris, 1847; facs. repr., Geneva, 1966). 484–486; of M. Nicolas, Histoire littéraire de Nîmes., II (Nîmes, 1854), 76–83; or of the Biographie universelle ancienne et moderne, V (Paris, 1812), 384–385. Two remarkable studies of Bourguet’s life and work are F. A. Jeanneret and J. H. Bonhôte, “Louis Bourguet,” in Biographie neuchâteloise, I (Le Locle, 1863), 59–80. with bibliography: and L. Favre, “Inauguration de l’Académie de Neuchâtel, discours de M. Louis Favre,” in Musée neuchâtelois, 3 (1866), 288–310. These works furnish much important new information but provide little analysis of Bourguet’s printed works.

More recently, P. Bovet, in “Le premier enseignement de la philosophie à Neuchâtel, 1731,” in Musée neuchâtelois, 41 (Sept.-Oct. 1904), 195–210, gives details on Bourguet’s professorial activity: and in “Louis Bourguet, son projet d’édition des oeuvres de Leibniz,” in 11 eCongrés international de philosophie (Geneva, 1904), 252–263, recounts Bourguet’s efforts to edit Leibniz’s correspondence for publication. L. Isely published three articles on the Leibniz-Bourguet correspondence: “Leibniz et Bourguet, Correspondance scientifique et philosophique, 1707–1716,” in Bulletin de la Société neuchâteloise des sciences naturelles, 32 (1903 - 1904), 173–214; Cinq letters inédites de Bourguet (La Chauxde-Fonds, 1904); and Les origines de la théorie des fractions continues, Leibniz et Bourguet. Correspondance scientifique et philosophique (Geneva, 1904).

Recent works include H. Perrochon, “Un homme du XVIIIe siècle: Louis Bourguet,” in Vie, art, cité, 1 (1951), 34–38, esp, on the role played by the Mercure suisse: and M. Godet, “L’office de bibliothécaire, comment on le concevait à Neuchâtel il y a deux siècles,” in Nouvelles de l’Association des bibliothécaires suisses, 3rd ser., 18 , no. 1 (1942), 1–12; and “Au temps de la Respublica litterarum: Jacob Christophe Iselin et Louis Bourguet,” in Festschrift Karl Schwarber (Basel, 1949), 117–127.

See also N. Broc, Les montagnes vues par les géographes et les naturalistes de langue francaise au XVIIIe siècle (Paris, 1969), 49–50, 126, 147–148, which underestimates Bourguet’s pioneering role as a challenger of Gautier’s views; J. Roger, Les sciences de la vie dans la pensée francaise du XVIIIe siècle (Paris, 1963), 376–378, which, in a brief aside, places Bourguet in the context of contemporary thought; B. Sticker, “Leibniz et Bourguet. Quelques lettres inconnues sur la théorie de la terre,” in Actes du XIIe Congrès international de l’histoire des sciences (Paris, 1971), 143 - 147; and F. B. C. Ullrich, “Scipione Maffei e la sua corrispondenza inedita con Louis Bourguet,” which is Memorie del R. Istituto veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti. Classe di scienze morale, lettere ed arti, 34 , no. 4 (1969): and “Johann III Bernoulli ed il carteggio Bourguet,” in Rivista Storica svizzera, 19 (1969), 356–370.

Bourguet’s crucial role in the history of crystallography is well treated by H. Metzger, La genèse de la science des cristaux (Paris, 1918), 44–52, 151–155; K. B. Bork, “The Geological Insights of Louis Bourguet (1678–1742),” in Journal of the Scientific Laboratories of Dennison University, 55 (1974), 49–77, is the first study to treat Bourguet’s work in geology and paleontology in any real detainl–it also offers much new information. See also F. Ellenberger, “De Bourguet à Hutton: Une source possible des thèses huttoniennes; originalité irréductible de leur mise en oeuvre,” in Comptes rendus... de l’Académie des science, 275 (1972), ser, D, 93–96; “Un précurseur méconnu de James Hutto: L’ingénieur Henri Gautier (1600–1737),” ibid., 280 (1975), vie acad., 165–169; and “À l’aube de la géologie moderne: Henri Gautier (1660–1737). Première partie,” in Historie et nature, 7 (1975), 3–58; deuxième partie, ibid., 9 (in press, 1976).

During his lifetime and shortly after his death. Bourguet was cited in the Journal des savants (1742), 643–652, and especially in the Journal de Trévoux, ou Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire des science et des beauxarts (facs. repr., Geneva, 1968), which published two detailed critical reviews by L.B. Castel of the Letters philosophiques: 30 (1730), 1739–1750 (repr. ed. 442–444); and 40 (1740), 1636–1665 (repr. ed. 420–428).

Some years after Bourguet’s death, Buffon referred to him in his Théorie de la terre (1749), arts, V. VIII, and IX, but his citations are very sparse considering the extent to which he drew on Bourguet’s work. Desmarest devoted an article to Bourguet in the Encyclopédie méthodique, I (1795), 28–34, reproducing, although in somewhat altered form, a portion of the articles of the Mémoire sur la théorie de la terre dealing with geological phenomena. Bourguet’s ideas on pierres lenticulaires are carefully discussed and criticized by Guettard, “Sur les pierres lenticulaires ou numismales... ,” in Mémoires sur différenrts parties de la physique, de l’histoire naturelle, des sciences et des arts, II (Paris, 1774). 197–207.

FranÇois Ellenberger

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