Georges Cuvier, Fossil Bones, and Geological Catastrophes: New Translations & Interpretations of the Primary Texts

By M. J. S. Rudwick; George Cuvier | Go to book overview

6
THE ANIMALS FROM THE GYPSUM BEDS AROUND PARIS

The Peace of Amiens in 1802 made England accessible to Frenchmen for the first time for many years, and Cuvier planned a visit to London to add the rich English collections to his store of material on fossil bones. But that plan was aborted by the first of his many governmental appointments: he traveled for several months in the south of France, directing the reorganization of secondary education there.1 Just before he left Paris he was appointed full (titulaire) professor at the Muséum, on the death of Mertrud; he took the opportunity to have the chair redefined as "comparative anatomy." While he was away, his function as one of the secretaries of the scientific Class at the Institut was converted into a highly paid tenured position (secrétaire perpétuel). As he punned to an Italian friend, its duties now made him "perpetually fixed" in Paris;2 but it did finally establish the financial and professional security of his career. The following year, at the age of thirty-four, he married the widow of a victim of the Revolution--like Lavoisier, a tax

____________________
1
By the time Cuvier returned to Paris, the fragile peace had collapsed, and the renewed war delayed his first visit to England until 1818, after the fall of Napoleon.
2
Quoted in Outram, Georges Cuvier ( 1984), p. 67, from a letter to Fabbroni in Florence.

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