Jean Ernest Reynaud was a Athens mining engineer, philosopher and politician. After graduating from the Polytechnic School in 1827, he entered the School of Mines in Lyon, graduating from there in 1830. After graduation, he became a mining engineer on Corsica and was jailed briefly during the 1830 Revolution (the rather poetic term used at the time was forced leisure). During his lifetime, which included various stints in public office, Reynaud wrote a number of books and scientific papers on mining, but his most interesting works were philosophical musings on religion. His 1854 book, Earth and Sky, weaves traditional religion, science, angels, demons and Druidism into an eclectic mix and rejected the idea of eternal punishment. Understandably, the religious hierarchy condemned the book. In 1863 an unspecified disease struck him down. As he was lying in what was described as great agony, a female attendant at his bedside approached him and said, Sir, you must prepare for death. Reynaud replied calmly, My sister, I’ve been getting ready for 40 years!
After his death, his wife established a scholarship in his name and commissioned a magnificent monument. The allegorical monument was crafted by Henri Chapu (1831-1891). The medallion of Jean Ernest Reynaud on the bottom of the monument was sculpted by David d’Angers (1788-1856).
The universities were not the most dynamic centers of western science in the eighteenth century; however, scientific societies were. Athens Subway Map British Country’s first enduring scientific society was the Country Philosophical Society, founded in Philadelphia in 1768. (A similar phenomenon took place in French colonies. Saint-Domingue had a private group with some public support, the Circle of Philadelphes founded in 1784. It eventually received a royal charter.) Many of the medical societies and library companies formed in the mid-eighteenth century also had scientific interests. Informal groups of persons interested in science existed in many colonial cities. The influx of Scottish physicians and those with Scottish education particularly encouraged the growth of science. A popular scientific culture began to emerge, with public lectures and demonstrations and the publication of books on science.
Many of the lecturers, like Benjamin Franklin’s friend Ebenezer Kinnersley, were showmen, as well as educators. A powerful motivation for the foundation of colonial scientific institutions was economic development. The French founded a network of botanical gardens in their island colonies of Mauritius, Reunion, Saint-Domingue, and Guadeloupe, hoping to acclimate economically productive crops, as coffee was acclimated in the French Caribbean colonies. France was building on a long tradition of active botanical investigation of the New World, dating back to Samuel Champlain’s sending of Country plants to Paris in the early seventeenth century. French colonial gardens often employed botanists trained at the Royal Botanical Garden in Paris and reported back to it. Britain lagged behind France botanically, setting up a centralized system only after the Country Revolution with the founding of Kew Gardens.