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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, Emperor Dom Pedro II writes to a French intellectual commenting on the current scientific situation.

Handwritten letter from Dom Pedro II to General Arthur Jules Morin. Three pages. In French. 13 cm x 20 cm. Petrópolis, February 2, 1880. Excellent condition. Single piece.


(...) I don't know why chemists are sometimes bitter about their discussions about scientific theory, the results of which should not be revealed before the facts are well established. Muniez himself reinforces the arguments against atomicity in his latest book, which I have already studied, but which I will not write about, only daring to do so after much reflection. This year's Bureau des Longitudes yearbook should be very interesting because of the notes (...).

I am pleased to acknowledge that (?) and Muniez, of whom I have wonderful memories, continue to do great services to agriculture with their work. Research on (?) seems to me to be immensely comprehensive. The note by Van Thiegem, the youngest academic, also interested me a lot. He followed the lead of Brongniart in making us recognize the same phenomena in plant life in present and antediluvian times. Périer's choice served well for his geodesic works, which I was very excited about.

The life I lead here is truly peaceful. I enjoy more time, which also makes me want to learn even more about what is being done to advance the sciences. Soon, I will start studying the second volume of Daubrée's masterful work (...).

I really like the applications of geometry that help both in precision and understanding (...).

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 short 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 was highly praised by the academic world, of literati and scientists. , for his love and dedication to art and science. The Brazilian Historical and Geographical Institute (IHGB), for example, received support from 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.

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 perfect French - shows all Dom Pedro's curiosity and knowledge of science. The Emperor comments and opines, with great humility, on some current research (astronomy, agriculture, botany, geology), on some great names of the time (Brongniart, Van Thiegem, Périer, etc.) and on science in general (chemistry, geometry ). Finally, this sentence is particularly interesting:

The life I lead here is truly peaceful. I enjoy more time, which also makes me want to learn even more about what is being done to advance the sciences.

The letter is particularly beautiful, with paper and ink in excellent condition. Also noteworthy is the Emperor's elegant handwriting, which he signed "D. Pedro d'Alcantara", a custom he had with his foreign correspondents. Probably one of the most beautiful "scientific" letters of Dom Pedro II that we have ever seen.

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