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Handwritten letter from Dom Pedro II to a French scientist (1880)

Handwritten letter from Dom Pedro II to a French scientist (1880)

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In 1880, Dom Pedro II became interested in Graham Bell's new Photophone and observed Jupiter.

Handwritten letter from Dom Pedro II to Henri Edouard Tresca. One page. In French. 13.6 cm x 21.1 cm. Rio de Janeiro, the 23rd of ? 1880. Excellent condition. Single piece.


I haven't had many opportunities to talk about science these past few months. We cannot yet appreciate the full importance of the principle from which the photophone was invented. I have read your government's latest reports regarding the metro commission and am waiting for official and private information on this matter.

I am sending a new work from the Rio Observatory. I had the opportunity to enjoy the view of the beautiful arc of Jupiter.

Greetings to you and to all my acquaintances in France.

Dom Pedro d'Alcântara.

Very interested in science and technology since he was a child, Dom Pedro II studied languages, astronomy, geology, archeology and various other subjects all his life. Through reading, observations, travels and meetings, he gradually acquired real knowledge in these fields of research, despite the little time left by his political and administrative responsibilities as Emperor of Brazil.

Often accused of being indifferent to the country's social and political issues, causing Brazilian newspapers to often represent him with a spyglass in hand, a clear reference to his interest in astronomy, Dom Pedro II was highly praised by the academic world, of literati and scientists, for their love and dedication to art and science. The Brazilian Historical and Geographical Institute (IHGB), for example, received the support of the Emperor since its founding in 1838, who participated in hundreds of meetings and personally financed several research projects.

Exiled in France for the last two years of his life after the Proclamation of the Republic, the deposed Emperor devoted himself almost exclusively to his reading, research and scientific friendships, such as that with Henri Edouard Tresca (1814 - 1885). Tresca was such a renowned engineer that Gustave Eiffel had his name engraved on the Eiffel Tower, along with those of 71 other personalities who honored France from 1789 to 1889.

In the 1880s, Brazil continued to prosper and develop, including socially, with, for example, the first movement for women's rights. However, the letters that Pedro II wrote at this time usually show a tired and a little pessimistic man. Even though he took his responsibilities as Head of State seriously, he led without great enthusiasm.

Written precisely in 1880, this letter - in almost perfect French - shows all Dom Pedro's curiosity and knowledge of science. The Emperor comments on an important discovery of the moment: the Photophone, invented by Alexander Graham Bell and his assistant, the ancestor of today's smartphones. We see that the emperor also participates and shares in the research carried out by the Rio de Janeiro Observatory, which he created in 1846.

The letter is particularly beautiful, with paper and ink in excellent condition. Also notable is the Emperor's elegant handwriting, which he signed "D. Pedro d'Alcantara", a custom he had with his foreign correspondents.

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