Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 8, Slice 2 - "Demijohn" to "Destructor"
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The Geometry of Descartes, unlike the other parts of his essays, is not easy reading. It dashes at once into the middle of the subjects with the examination of a problem which had baffled the ancients, and seems as if it were tossed at the heads of the French geometers as a challenge. An edition of it appeared subsequently, with notes by his friend Florimond de Beaune (1601-1652), calculated to smooth the difficulties of the work. All along mathematics was regarded by Descartes rather as the envelope than the foundation of his method; and the "universal mathematical science" which he sought after was only the prelude of a universal science of all-embracing character.[29]

Descartes' method.

The method of Descartes rests upon the proposition that all the objects of our knowledge fall into series, of which the members are more or less known by means of one another. In every such series or group there is a dominant element, simple and irresoluble, the standard on which the rest of the series depends, and hence, so far as that group or series is concerned, absolute. The other members of the group are relative and dependent, and only to be understood as in various degrees subordinate to the primitive conception. The characteristic by which we recognize the fundamental element in a series is its intuitive or self-evident character; it is given by "the evident conception of a healthy and attentive mind so clear and distinct that no doubt is left."[30] Having discovered this prime or absolute member of the group, we proceed to consider the degrees in which the other members enter into relation with it. Here deduction comes into play to show the dependence of one term upon the others; and, in the case of a long chain of intervening links, the problem for intelligence is so to enunciate every element, and so to repeat the connexion that we may finally grasp all the links of the chain in one. In this way we, as it were, bring the causal or primal term and its remotest dependent immediately together, and raise a derivative knowledge into one which is primary and intuitive. Such are the four points of Cartesian method:—(1) Truth requires a clear and distinct conception of its object, excluding all doubt; (2) the objects of knowledge naturally fall into series or groups; (3) in these groups investigation must begin with a simple and indecomposable element, and pass from it to the more complex and relative elements; (4) an exhaustive and immediate grasp of the relations and interconnexion of these elements is necessary for knowledge in the fullest sense of that word.[31]

"There is no question," he says in anticipation of Locke and Kant, "more important to solve than that of knowing what human knowledge is and how far it extends." "This is a question which ought to be asked at least once in their lives by all who seriously wish to gain wisdom. The inquirer will find that the first thing to know is intellect, because on it depends the knowledge of all other things. Examining next what immediately follows the knowledge of pure intellect, he will pass in review all the other means of knowledge, and will find that they are two (or three), the imagination and the senses (and the memory). He will therefore devote all his care to examine and distinguish these three means of knowledge; and seeing that truth and error can, properly speaking, be only in the intellect, and that the two other modes of knowledge are only occasions, he will carefully avoid whatever can lead him astray."[32] This separation of intellect from sense, imagination and memory is the cardinal precept of the Cartesian logic; it marks off clear and distinct (i.e. adequate and vivid) from obscure, fragmentary and incoherent conceptions.

Fundamental principles of philosophy.

The Discourse of Method and the Meditations apply what the Rules for the Direction of the Mind had regarded in particular instances to our conceptions of the world as a whole. They propose, that is, to find a simple and indecomposable point, or absolute element, which gives to the world and thought their order and systematization. The grandeur of this attempt is perhaps unequalled in the annals of philosophy. The three main steps in the argument are the veracity of our thought when that thought is true to itself, the inevitable uprising of thought from its fragmentary aspects in our habitual consciousness to the infinite and perfect existence which God is, and the ultimate reduction of the material universe to extension and local movement. There are the central dogmas of logic, metaphysics and physics, from which start the subsequent inquiries of Locke, Leibnitz and Newton. They are also the direct antitheses to the scepticism of Montaigne and Pascal, to the materialism of Gassendi and Hobbes, and to the superstitious anthropomorphism which defaced the reawakening sciences of nature. Descartes laid down the lines on which modern philosophy and science were to build. But himself no trained metaphysician, and unsusceptible to the lessons of history, he gives but fragments of a system which are held together, not by their intrinsic consistency, but by the vigour of his personal conviction transcending the weaknesses and collisions of his several arguments. "All my opinions," he says, "are so conjoined, and depend so closely upon one another, that it would be impossible to appropriate one without knowing them all."[33] Yet every disciple of Cartesianism seems to disprove the dictum by his example.

Cogito ergo sum.

The very moment when we begin to think, says Descartes, when we cease to be merely receptive, when we draw back and fix our attention on any point whatever of our belief,—that moment doubt begins. If we even stop for an instant to ask ourselves how a word ought to be spelled, the deeper we ponder that one word by itself the more hopeless grows the hesitation. The doubts thus awakened must not be stifled, but pressed systematically on to the point, if such a point there be, where doubt confutes itself. The doubt as to the details is natural; it is no less natural to have recourse to authority to silence the doubt. The remedy proposed by Descartes is (while not neglecting our duties to others, ourselves and God) to let doubt range unchecked through the whole fabric of our customary convictions. One by one they refuse to render any reasonable account of themselves; each seems a mere chance, and the whole tends to elude us like a mirage which some malignant power creates for our illusion. Attacked in detail, they vanish one after another into as many teasing spectra of uncertainty. We are seeking from them what they cannot give. But when we have done our worst in unsettling them, we come to an ultimate point in the fact that it is we who are doubting, we who are thinking. We may doubt that we have hands or feet, that we sleep or wake, and that there is a world of material things around us; but we cannot doubt that we are doubting. We are certain that we are thinking, and in so far as we are thinking we are. Je pense, donc je suis. In other words, the criterion of truth is a clear and distinct conception, excluding all possibility of doubt.

The fundamental point thus established is the veracity of consciousness when it does not go beyond itself, or does not postulate something which is external to itself. At this point Gassendi arrested Descartes and addressed his objections to him as pure intelligence,—O mens! But even this mens, or mind, is but a point—we have found no guarantee as yet for its continuous existence. The analysis must be carried deeper, if we are to gain any further conclusions.

Nature of God.

Amongst the elements of our thought there are some which we can make and unmake at our pleasure; there are others which come and go without our wish; there is also a third class which is of the very essence of our thinking, and which dominates our conceptions. We find that all our ideas of limits, sorrows and weaknesses presuppose an infinite, perfect and ever-blessed something beyond them and including them,—that all our ideas, in all their series, converge to one central idea, in which they find their explanation. The formal fact of thinking is what constitutes our being; but this thought leads us back, when we consider its concrete contents, to the necessary pre-supposition on which our ideas depend, the permanent cause on which they and we as conscious beings depend. We have therefore the idea of an infinite, perfect and all-powerful being—an idea which cannot be the creation of ourselves, and must be given by some being who really possesses all that we in idea attribute to him. Such a being he identifies with God. But the ordinary idea of God can scarcely be identified with such a conception. "The majority of men," he says himself, "do not think of God as an infinite and incomprehensible being, and as the sole author from whom all things depend; they go no further than the letters of his name."[34] "The vulgar almost imagine him as a finite thing." The God of Descartes is not merely the creator of the material universe; he is also the father of all truth in the intellectual world. "The metaphysical truths," he says, "styled eternal have been established by God, and, like the rest of his creatures, depend entirely upon him. To say that these truths are independent of him is to speak of God as a Jupiter or a Saturn,—to subject him to Styx and the Fates."[35] The laws of thought, the truths of number, are the decrees of God. The expression is anthropomorphic, no less than the dogma of material creation; but it is an attempt to affirm the unity of the intellectual and the material world. Descartes establishes a philosophic monotheism,—by which the medieval polytheism of substantial forms, essences and eternal truths fades away before God, who is the ruler of the intellectual world no less than of the kingdom of nature and of grace.

To attach a clear and definite meaning to the Cartesian doctrine of God, to show how much of it comes from the Christian theology and how much from the logic of idealism, how far the conception of a personal being as creator and preserver mingles with the pantheistic conception of an infinite and perfect something which is all in all, would be to go beyond Descartes and to ask for a solution of difficulties of which he was scarcely aware. It seems impossible to deny that the tendency of his principles and his arguments is mainly in the line of a metaphysical absolute, as the necessary completion and foundation of all being and knowledge. Through the truthfulness of that God as the author of all truth he derives a guarantee for our perceptions in so far as these are clear and distinct. And it is in guaranteeing the veracity of our clear and distinct conceptions that the value of his deduction of God seems in his own estimate to rest. All conceptions which do not possess these two attributes—of being vivid in themselves and discriminated from all others—cannot be true. But the larger part of our conceptions are in such a predicament. We think of things not in the abstract elements of the things themselves, but in connexion with, and in language which presupposes, other things. Our idea of body, e.g., involves colour and weight, and yet when we try to think carefully, and without assuming anything, we find that we cannot attach any distinct idea to these terms when applied to body. In truth therefore these attributes do not belong to body at all; and if we go on in the same way testing the received qualities of matter, we shall find that in the last resort we understand nothing by it but extension, with the secondary and derivative characters of divisibility and mobility.

But it would again be useless to ask how extension as the characteristic attribute of matter is related to mind which thinks, and how God is to be regarded in reference to extension. The force of the universe is swept up and gathered in God, who communicates motion to the parts of extension, and sustains that motion from moment to moment; and in the same way the force of mind has really been concentrated in God. Every moment one expects to find Descartes saying with Hobbes that man's thought has created God, or with Spinoza and Malebranche that it is God who really thinks in the apparent thought of man. After all, the metaphysical theology of Descartes, however essential in his own eyes, serves chiefly as the ground for constructing his theory of man and of the universe. His fundamental hypothesis relegates to God all forces in their ultimate origin. Hence the world is left open for the free play of mechanics and geometry. The disturbing conditions of will, life and organic forces are eliminated from the problem; he starts with the clear and distinct idea of extension, figured and moved, and thence by mathematical laws he gives a hypothetical explanation of all things. Such explanation of physical phenomena is the main problem of Descartes, and it goes on encroaching upon territories once supposed proper to the mind. Descartes began with the certainty that we are thinking beings; that region remains untouched; but up to its very borders the mechanical explanation of nature reigns unchecked.

Physical theory.

The physical theory, in its earlier form in The World, and later in the Principles of Philosophy (which the present account follows), rests upon the metaphysical conclusions of the Meditations. It proposes to set forth the genesis of the existing universe from principles which can be plainly understood, and according to the acknowledged laws of the transmission of movement. The idea of force is one of those obscure conceptions which originate in an obscure region, in the sense of muscular power. The true physical conception is motion, the ultimate ground of which is to be sought in God's infinite power. Accordingly the quantity of movement in the universe, like its mover, can neither increase nor diminish. The only circumstance which physics has to consider is the transference of movement from one particle to another, and the change of its direction. Man himself cannot increase the sum of motion; he can only alter its direction. The whole conception of force may disappear from a theory of the universe; and we can adopt a geometrical definition of motion as the shifting of one body from the neighbourhood of those bodies which immediately touch it, and which are assumed to be at rest, to the neighbourhood of other bodies. Motion, in short, is strictly locomotion, and nothing else.

Descartes has laid down three laws of nature, and seven secondary laws regarding impact. The latter are to a large extent incorrect. The first law affirms that every body, so far as it is altogether unaffected by extraneous causes, always perseveres in the same state of motion or of rest; and the second law that simple or elementary motion is always in a straight line.[36] These doctrines of inertia, and of the composite character of curvilinear motion, were scarcely apprehended even by Kepler or Galileo; but they follow naturally from the geometrical analysis of Descartes.

Theory of vortices.

Extended body has no limits to its extent, though the power of God has divided it in lines discriminating its parts in endless ways. The infinite universe is infinitely full of matter. Empty space, as distinguished from material extension, is a fictitious abstraction. There is no such thing really as a vacuum, any more than there are atoms or ultimate indivisible particles. In both these doctrines of priori science Descartes has not been subverted, but, if anything, corroborated by the results of experimental physics; for the so-called atoms of chemical theory already presuppose, from the Cartesian point of view, certain aggregations of the primitive particles of matter. Descartes regards matter as uniform in character throughout the universe; he anticipates, as it were, from his own transcendental ground, the revelations of spectrum analysis as applied to the sun and stars. We have then to think of a full universe of matter (and matter = extension) divided and figured with endless variety, and set (and kept) in motion by God; and any sort of division, figure and motion will serve the purposes of our supposition as well as another. "Scarcely any supposition,"[37] he says, "can be made from which the same result, though possibly with greater difficulty, might not be deduced by the same laws of nature; for since, in virtue of these laws, matter successively assumes all the forms of which it is capable, if we consider these forms in order, we shall at one point or other reach the existing form of the world, so that no error need here be feared from a false supposition." As the movement of one particle in a closely-packed universe is only possible if all other parts move simultaneously, so that the last in the series steps into the place of the first; and as the figure and division of the particles varies in each point in the universe, there will inevitably at the same instant result throughout the universe an innumerable host of more or less circular movements, and of vortices or whirlpools of material particles varying in size and velocity. Taking for convenience a limited portion of the universe, we observe that in consequence of the circular movement, the particles of matter have their corners pared off by rubbing against each other; and two species of matter thus arise,—one consisting of small globules which continue their circular motion with a (centrifugal) tendency to fly off from the centre as they swing round the axis of rotation, while the other, consisting of the fine dust—the filings and parings of the original particles—gradually becoming finer and finer, and losing its velocity, tends (centripetally) to accumulate in the centre of the vortex, which has been gradually left free by the receding particles of globular matter. This finer matter which collects in the centre of each vortex is the first matter of Descartes—it constitutes the sun or star. The spherical particles are the second matter of Descartes, and their tendency to propel one another from the centre in straight lines towards the circumference of each vortex is what gives rise to the phenomenon of light radiating from the central star. This second matter is atmosphere or firmament, which envelops and revolves around the central accumulation of first matter.

A third form of matter is produced from the original particles. As the small filings produced by friction seek to pass through the interstices between the rapidly revolving spherical particles in the vortex, they are detained and become twisted and channelled in their passage, and when they reach the edge of the inner ocean of solar dust they settle upon it as the froth and foam produced by the agitation of water gathers upon its surface. These form what we term spots in the sun. In some cases they come and go, or dissolve into an aether round the sun; but in other cases they gradually increase until they form a dense crust round the central nucleus. In course of time the star, with its expansive force diminished, suffers encroachments from the neighbouring vortices, and at length they catch it up. If the velocity of the decaying star be greater than that of any part of the vortex which has swept it up, it will ere long pass out of the range of that vortex, and continue its movement from one to another. Such a star is a comet. But in other cases the encrusted star settles in that portion of the revolving vortex which has a velocity equivalent to its own, and so continues to revolve in the vortex, wrapped in its own firmament. Such a reduced and impoverished star is a planet; and the several planets of our solar system are the several vortices which from time to time have been swept up by the central sun-vortex. The same considerations serve to explain the moon and other satellites. They too were once vortices, swallowed up by some other, which at a later day fell a victim to the sweep of our sun.

Such in mere outline is the celebrated theory of vortices, which for about twenty years after its promulgation reigned supreme in science, and for much longer time opposed a tenacious resistance to rival doctrines. It is one of the grandest hypotheses which ever have been formed to account by mechanical processes for the movements of the universe. While chemistry rests in the acceptance of ultimate heterogeneous elements, the vortex-theory assumed uniform matter through the universe, and reduced cosmical physics to the same principles as regulate terrestrial phenomena. It ended the old Aristotelian distinction between the sphere beneath the moon and the starry spaces beyond. It banished the spirits and genii, to which even Kepler had assigned the guardianship of the planetary movements; and, if it supposes the globular particles of the envelope to be the active force in carrying the earth round the sun, we may remember that Newton himself assumed an aether for somewhat similar purposes. The great argument on which the Cartesians founded their opposition to the Newtonian doctrine was that attraction was an occult quality, not wholly intelligible by the aid of mere mechanics. The Newtonian theory is an analysis of the elementary movements which in their combination determine the planetary orbits, and gives the formula of the proportions according to which they act. But the Cartesian theory, like the later speculations of Kant and Laplace, proposes to give a hypothetical explanation of the circumstances and motions which in the normal course of things led to the state of things required by the law of attraction. In the judgment of D'Alembert the Cartesian theory was the best that the observations of the age admitted; and "its explanation of gravity was one of the most ingenious hypotheses which philosophy ever imagined." That the explanation fails in detail is undoubted: it does not account for the ellipticity of the planets; it would place the sun, not in one focus, but in the centre of the ellipse; and it would make gravity directed towards the centre only under the equator. But these defects need not blind us to the fact that this hypothesis made the mathematical progress of Hooke, Borelli and Newton much more easy and certain. Descartes professedly assumed a simplicity in the phenomena which they did not present. But such a hypothetical simplicity is the necessary step for solving the more complex problems of nature. The danger lies not in forming such hypotheses, but in regarding them as final, or as more than an attempt to throw light upon our observation of the phenomena. In doing what he did, Descartes actually exemplified that reduction of the processes of nature to mere transposition of the particles of matter, which in different ways was a leading idea in the minds of Bacon, Hobbes and Gassendi. The defects of Descartes lie rather in his apparently imperfect apprehension of the principle of movements uniformly accelerated which his contemporary Galileo had illustrated and insisted upon, and in the indistinctness which attaches to his views of the transmission of motion in cases of impact. It should be added that the modern theory of vortex-atoms (Lord Kelvin's) to explain the constitution of matter has but slight analogy with Cartesian doctrine, and finds a parallel, if anywhere, in a modification of that doctrine by Malebranche.

Optical theories.

Besides the last two parts of the Principles of Philosophy, the physical writings of Descartes include the Dioptrics and Meteors, as well as passages in the letters. His optical investigations are perhaps the subject in which he most contributed to the progress of science; and the lucidity of exposition which marks his Dioptrics stands conspicuous even amid the generally luminous style of his works. Its object is a practical one, to determine by scientific considerations the shape of lens best adapted to improve the capabilities of the telescope, which had been invented not long before. The conclusions at which he arrives have not been so useful as he imagined, in consequence of the mechanical difficulties. But the investigation by which he reaches them has the merit of first prominently publishing and establishing the law of the refraction of light. Attempts have been made, principally founded on some remarks of Huygens, to show that Descartes had learned the principles of refraction from the manuscript of a treatise by Willebrord Snell, but the facts are uncertain; and, so far as Descartes founds his optics on any one, it is probably on the researches of Kepler. In any case the discovery is to some extent his own, for his proof of the law is founded upon the theory that light is the propagation of the aether in straight lines from the sun or luminous body to the eye (see LIGHT). Thus he approximates to the wave theory of light, though he supposed that the transmission of light was instantaneous. The chief of his other contributions to optics was the explanation of the rainbow—an explanation far from complete, since the unequal refrangibility of the rays of light was yet undiscovered—but a decided advance upon his predecessors, notably on the De radiis visus et lucis (1611) of Marc-Antonio de Dominis, archbishop of Spalato.

If Descartes had contented himself with thus explaining the phenomena of gravity, heat, magnetism, light and similar forces by means of the molecular movements of his vortices, even such a theory would have excited admiration. But he did not stop short in the region of what is usually termed physics. Chemistry and biology are alike swallowed up in the one science of physics, and reduced to a problem of mechanism. This theory, he believed, would afford an explanation of every phenomenon whatever, and in nearly every department of knowledge he has given specimens of its power. But the most remarkable and daring application of the theory was to account for the phenomena of organic life, especially in animals and man. "If we possessed a thorough knowledge," he says,[38] "of all the parts of the seed of any species of animal (e.g. man), we could from that alone, by reasons entirely mathematical and certain, deduce the whole figure and conformation of each of its members, and, conversely, if we knew several peculiarities of this conformation, we could from these deduce the nature of its seed." The organism in this way is regarded as a machine, constructed from the particles of the seed, which in virtue of the laws of motion have arranged themselves (always under the governing power of God) in the particular animal shape in which we see them. The doctrine of the circulation of the blood, which Descartes adopted from Harvey, supplied additional arguments in favour of his mechanical theory, and he probably did much to popularize the discovery. A fire without light, compared to the heat which gathers in a haystack when the hay has been stored before it was properly dry—heat, in short, as an agitation of the particles—is the motive cause of the contraction and dilatations of the heart. Those finer particles of the blood which become extremely rarefied during this process pass off in two directions—one portion, and the least important in the theory, to the organs of generation, the other portion to the cavities of the brain. There not merely do they serve to nourish the organ, they also give rise to a fine ethereal flame or wind through the action of the brain upon them, and thus form the so-called "animal" spirits. From the brain these spirits are conveyed through the body by means of the nerves, regarded by Descartes as tubular vessels, resembling the pipes conveying the water of a spring to act upon the mechanical appliances in an artificial fountain. The nerves conduct the animal spirits to act upon the muscles, and in their turn convey the impressions of the organs to the brain.


Man and the animals as thus described are compared to automata, and termed machines. The vegetative and sensitive souls which the Aristotelians had introduced to break the leap between inanimate matter and man are ruthlessly swept away; only one soul, the rational, remains, and that is restricted to man. One hypothesis supplants the various principles of life; the rule of absolute mechanism is as complete in the animal as in the cosmos. Reason and thought, the essential quality of the soul, do not belong to the brutes; there is an impassable gulf fixed between man and the lower animals. The only sure sign of reason is the power of language—i.e. of giving expression to general ideas; and language in that sense is not found save in man. The cries of animals are but the working of the curiously-contrived machine, in which, when one portion is touched in a certain way, the wheels and springs concealed in the interior perform their work, and, it may be, a note supposed to express joy or pain is evolved; but there is no consciousness or feeling. "The animals act naturally and by springs, like a watch."[39] "The greatest of all the prejudices we have retained from our infancy is that of believing that the beasts think."[40] If the beasts can properly be said to see at all, "they see as we do when our mind is distracted and keenly applied elsewhere; the images of outward objects paint themselves on the retina, and possibly even the impressions made in the optic nerves determine our limbs to different movements, but we feel nothing of it all, and move as if we were automata."[41] The sentience of the animal to the lash of his tyrant is not other than the sensitivity of the plant to the influences of light and heat. It is not much comfort to learn further from Descartes that "he denies life to no animal, but makes it consist in the mere heat of the heart. Nor does he deny them feeling in so far as it depends on the bodily organs."[42]

Descartes, with an unusual fondness for the letter of Scripture, quotes oftener than once in support of this monstrous doctrine. the dictum, "the blood is the life"; and he remarks, with some sarcasm possibly, that it is a comfortable theory for the eaters of animal flesh. And the doctrine found acceptance among some whom it enabled to get rid of the difficulties raised by Montaigne and those who allowed more difference between animal and animal than between the higher animals and man. It also encouraged vivisection—a practice common with Descartes himself.[43] The recluses of Port Royal seized it eagerly, discussed automatism, dissected living animals in order to show to a morbid curiosity the circulation of the blood, were careless of the cries of tortured dogs, and finally embalmed the doctrine in a syllogism of their logic,—No matter thinks; every soul of beast is matter: therefore no soul of beast thinks.

Relation of mind and body.

But whilst all the organic processes in man go on mechanically, and though by reflex action he may repel attack unconsciously, still the first affirmation of the system was that man was essentially a thinking being; and, while we retain this original dictum, it must not be supposed that the mind is a mere spectator, or like the boatman in the boat. Of course a unity of nature is impossible between mind and body so described. And yet there is a unity of composition, a unity so close that the compound is "really one and in a sense indivisible." You cannot in the actual man cut soul and body asunder; they interpenetrate in every member. But there is one point in the human frame—a point midway in the brain, single and free, which may in a special sense be called the seat of the mind. This is the so-called conarion, or pineal gland, where in a minimized point the mind on one hand and the vital spirits on the other meet and communicate. In that gland the mystery of creation is concentrated; thought meets extension and directs it; extension moves towards thought and is perceived. Two clear and distinct ideas, it seems, produce an absolute mystery. Mind, driven from the field of extension, erects its last fortress in the pineal gland. In such a state of despair and destitution there is no hope for spiritualism, save in God; and Clauberg, Geulincx and Malebranche all take refuge under the shadow of his wings to escape the tyranny of extended matter.


In the psychology of Descartes there are two fundamental modes of thought,—perception and volition. "It seems to me," he says, "that in receiving such and such an idea the mind is passive, and that it is active only in volition; that its ideas are put in it partly by the objects which touch the senses, partly by the impressions in the brain, and partly also by the dispositions which have preceded in the mind itself and by the movements of its will."[44] The will, therefore, as being more originative, has more to do with true or false judgments than the understanding. Unfortunately, Descartes is too lordly a philosopher to explain distinctly what either understanding or will may mean. But we gather that in two directions our reason is bound up with bodily conditions, which make or mar it, according as the will, or central energy of thought, is true to itself or not. In the range of perception, intellect is subjected to the material conditions of sense, memory and imagination; and in infancy, when the will has allowed itself to assent precipitately to the conjunctions presented to it by these material processes, thought has become filled with obscure ideas. In the moral sphere the passions or emotions (which Descartes reduces to the six primitive forms of admiration, love, hatred, desire, joy and sadness) are the perceptions or sentiments of the mind, caused and maintained by some movement of the vital spirits, but specially referring to the mind only. The presentation of some object of dread, for example, to the eye has or may have a double effect. On one hand the animal spirits "reflected"[45] from the image formed on the pineal gland proceed through the nervous tubes to make the muscles turn the back and lift the feet, so as to escape the cause of the terror. Such is the reflex and mechanical movement independent of the mind. But, on the other hand, the vital spirits cause a movement in the gland by which the mind perceives the affection of the organs, learns that something is to be loved or hated, admired or shunned. Such perceptions dispose the mind to pursue what nature dictates as useful. But the estimate of goods and evils which they give is indistinct and unsatisfactory. The office of reason is to give a true and distinct appreciation of the values of goods and evils; or firm and determinate judgments touching the knowledge of good and evil are our proper arms against the influence of the passions.[46] We are free, therefore, through knowledge: ex magna luce in intellectu sequitur magna propensio in voluntate, and omnis peccans est ignorans. "If we clearly see that what we are doing is wrong, it would be impossible for us to sin, so long as we saw it in that light."[47] Thus the highest liberty, as distinguished from mere indifference, proceeds from clear and distinct knowledge, and such knowledge can only be attained by firmness and resolution, i.e. by the continued exercise of the will. Thus in the perfection of man, as in the nature of God, will and intellect must be united. For thought, will is as necessary as understanding. And innate ideas therefore are mere capacities or tendencies,—possibilities which apart from the will to think may be regarded as nothing at all.

The Cartesian School.—The philosophy of Descartes fought its first battles and gained its first triumphs in the country of his adoption. In his lifetime his views had been taught in Utrecht and Leiden. In the universities of the Netherlands and of lower Germany, as yet free from the conservatism of the old-established seats of learning, the new system gained an easy victory over Aristotelianism, and, as it was adapted for lectures and examinations, soon became almost as scholastic as the doctrines it had supplanted. At Leiden, Utrecht, Groningen, Franeker, Breda, Nimeguen, Harderwyk, Duisburg and Herborn, and at the Catholic university of Louvain, Cartesianism was warmly expounded and defended in seats of learning, of which many are now left desolate, and by adherents whose writings have for the most part long lost interest for any but the antiquary.


The Cartesianism of Holland was a child of the universities, and its literature is mainly composed of commentaries upon the original texts, of theses discussed in the schools, and of systematic expositions of Cartesian philosophy for the benefit of the student. Three names stand out in this Cartesian professoriate,—Wittich, Clauberg and Geulincx. Christoph Wittich (1625-1687), professor at Duisburg and Leiden, is a representative of the moderate followers who professed to reconcile the doctrines of their school with the faith of Christendom and to refute the theology of Spinoza. Johann Clauberg (q.v.) commented clause by clause upon the Meditations of Descartes; but he specially claims notice for his work De corporis et animae in homine conjunctione, where he maintains that the bodily movements are merely procatarctic causes (i.e. antecedents, but not strictly causes) of the mental action, and sacrifices the independence of man to the omnipotence of God. The same tendency is still more pronounced in Arnold Geulincx (q.v.). With him the reciprocal action of mind and body is altogether denied; they resemble two clocks, so made by the artificer as to strike the same hour together. The mind can act only upon itself; beyond that limit, the power of God must intervene to make any seeming interaction possible between body and soul. Such are the half-hearted attempts at consistency in Cartesian thought, which eventually culminate in the pantheism of Spinoza (see CARTESIANISM).

Descartes occasionally had not scrupled to interpret the Scriptures according to his own tenets, while still maintaining, when their letter contradicted him, that the Bible was not meant to teach the sciences. Similar tendencies are found amongst his followers. Whilst Protestant opponents put him in the list of atheists like Vanini, and the Catholics held him as dangerous as Luther or Calvin, there were zealous adherents who ventured to prove the theory of vortices in harmony with the book of Genesis. It was this rationalistic treatment of the sacred writings which helped to confound the Cartesians with the allegorical school of John Cocceius, as their liberal doctrines in theology justified the vulgar identification of them with the heresies of Socinian and Arminian. The chief names in this advanced theology connected with Cartesian doctrines are Ludwig Meyer, the friend and editor of Spinoza, author of a work termed Philosophia scripturae interpres (1666); Balthasar Bekker, whose World Bewitched helped to discredit the superstitious fancies about the devil; and Spinoza, whose Tractatus theologico-politicus is in some respects the classical type of rational criticism up to the present day. Against this work and the Ethics of Spinoza the orthodox Cartesians (who were in the majority), no less than sceptical hangers-on like Bayle, raised an all but universal howl of reprobation, scarcely broken for about a century.


In France Cartesianism won society and literature before it penetrated into the universities. Clerselier (the friend of Descartes and his literary executor), his son-in-law Rohault (who achieved that relationship through his Cartesianism), and others, opened their houses for readings to which the intellectual world of Paris—its learned professors not more than the courtiers and the fair sex,—flocked to hear the new doctrines explained, and possibly discuss their value. Grand seigneurs, like the prince of Cond, the duc de Nevers and the marquis de Vardes, were glad to vary the monotony of their feudal castles by listening to the eloquent rehearsals of Malebranche or Regis. And the salons of Mme de Svign, of her daughter Mme de Grignan, and of the duchesse de Maine for a while gave the questions of philosophy a place among the topics of polite society, and furnished to Molire the occasion of his Femmes savantes. The Chteau of the duc de Luynes, the translator of the Meditations, was the home of a Cartesian club, that discussed the questions of automatism and of the composition of the sun from filings and parings, and rivalled Port Royal in its vivisections. The cardinal de Retz in his leisurely age at Commercy found amusement in presiding at disputations between the more moderate Cartesians and Don Robert Desgabets, who interpreted Descartes in an original way of his own. Though rejected by the Jesuits, who found peripatetic formulae a faithful weapon against the enemies of the church, Cartesianism was warmly adopted by the Oratory, which saw in Descartes something of St Augustine, by Port Royal, which discovered a connexion between the new system and Jansenism, and by some amongst the Benedictines and the order of Ste Genevive.

The popularity which Cartesianism thus gained in the social and literary circles of the capital was largely increased by the labours of Pierre-Sylvain Regis (1632-1707). On his visit to Toulouse in 1665, with a mission from the Cartesian chiefs, his lectures excited boundless interest; ladies threw themselves with zeal and ability into the study of philosophy; and Regis himself was made the guest of the civic corporation. In 1671 scarcely less enthusiasm was roused in Montpellier; and in 1680 he opened a course of lectures at Paris, with such acceptance that hearers had to take their seats in advance. Regis, by removing the paradoxes and adjusting the metaphysics to the popular powers of apprehension, made Cartesianism popular, and reduced it to a regular system.

But a check was at hand. Descartes, in his correspondence with the Jesuits, had shown an almost cringing eagerness to have their powerful organization on his side. Especially he had written to Pre Mesland, one of the order, to show how the Catholic doctrine of the eucharist might be made compatible with his theories of matter. But his undue haste to arrange matters with the church only served to compromise him more deeply. Unwise admirers and malicious opponents exaggerated the theological bearings of his system in this detail; and the efforts of the Jesuits succeeded in getting the works of Descartes, in November 1663, placed upon the index of prohibited books,—donec corrigantur. Thereupon the power of church and state enforced by positive enactments the passive resistance of old institutions to the novel theories. In 1667, the oration at the interment was forbidden by royal order. In 1669, when the chair of philosophy at the Collge Royal fell vacant, one of the four selected candidates had to sustain a thesis against "the pretended new philosophy of Descartes." In 1671 the archbishop of Paris, by the king's order, summoned the heads of the university to his presence, and enjoined them to take stricter measures against philosophical novelties dangerous to the faith. In 1673 a decree of the parlement against Cartesian and other unlicensed theories was on the point of being issued, and was only checked in time by the appearance of a burlesque mandamus against the intruder Reason, composed by Boileau and some of his brother-poets. Yet in 1675 the university of Angers was empowered to repress all Cartesian teaching within its domain, and actually appointed a commission charged to look for such heresies in the theses and the students' note-books of the college of Anjou belonging to the Oratory. In 1677 the university of Caen adopted not less stringent measures against Cartesianism. And so great was the influence of the Jesuits, that the congregation of St Maur, the canons of Ste Genevive, and the Oratory laid their official ban on the obnoxious doctrines. From the real or fancied rapprochements between Cartesianism and Jansenism, it became for a while impolitic, if not dangerous, to avow too loudly a preference for Cartesian theories. Regis was constrained to hold back for ten years his System of Philosophy; and when it did appear, in 1690, the name of Descartes was absent from the title-page. There were other obstacles besides the mild persecutions of the church. Pascal and other members of Port Royal openly expressed their doubts about the place allowed to God in the system; the adherents of Gassendi met it by resuscitating atoms; and the Aristotelians maintained their substantial forms as of old; the Jesuits argued against the arguments for the being of God, and against the theory of innate ideas; whilst Pierre Daniel Huet (1630-1721), bishop of Avranches, once a Cartesian himself, made a vigorous onslaught on the contempt in which his former comrades held literature and history, and enlarged on the vanity of all human aspirations after rational truth.

The greatest and most original of the French Cartesians was Malebranche (q.v.). His Recherche de la vrit, in 1674, was the baptism of the system into a theistic religion which borrowed its imagery from Augustine; it brought into prominence the metaphysical base which Louis Delaforge, Jacques Rohault and Regis had neither cared for nor understood. But this doctrine was a criticism and a divergence, no less than a consequence, from the principles in Descartes; and it brought upon Malebranche the opposition, not merely of the Cartesian physicists, but also of Arnauld, Fnelon and Bossuet, who found, or hoped to find, in the Meditations, as properly understood, an ally for theology. Popular enthusiasm, however, was with Malebranche, as twenty years before it had been with Descartes; he was the fashion of the day; and his disciples rapidly increased both in France and abroad.

In 1705 Cartesianism was still subject to prohibitions from the authorities; but in a project of new statutes, drawn up for the faculty of arts at Paris in 1720, the Method and Meditations of Descartes were placed beside the Organon and the Metaphysics of Aristotle as text-books for philosophical study. And before 1725, readings, both public and private, were given from Cartesian texts in some of the Parisian colleges. But when this happened, Cartesianism was no longer either interesting or dangerous; its theories, taught as ascertained and verified truths, were as worthless as the systematic verbiage which preceded them. Already antiquated, it could not resist the wit and raillery with which Voltaire, in his Lettres sur les Anglais (1728), brought against it the principles and results of Locke and Newton. The old Cartesians, Jean Jacques Dortous de Mairan (1678-1771) and especially Fontenelle, with his Thorie des tourbillons (1752), struggled in vain to refute Newton by styling attraction an occult quality. Fortunately the Cartesian method had already done its service, even where the theories were rejected. The Port Royalists, Pierre Nicole (1625-1695) and Antoine Arnauld (1612-1694), had applied it to grammar and logic; Jean Domat or Daumat (1625-1696) and Henri Franois Daugesseau (1668-1751) to jurisprudence; Fontenelle, Charles Perrault (1628-1703) and Jean Terrasson (1670-1750) to literary criticism, and a worthier estimate of modern literature. Though it never ceased to influence individual thinkers, it had handed on to Condillac its popularity with the masses. A Latin abridgment of philosophy, dated 1784, tells us that the innate ideas of Descartes are founded on no arguments, and are now universally abandoned. The ghost of innate ideas seems to be all that it had left.


In Germany a few Cartesian lecturers taught at Leipzig and Halle, but the system took no root, any more than in Switzerland, where it had a brief reign at Geneva after 1669. In Italy the effects were more permanent. What is termed the iatro-mechanical school of medicine, with G. A. Borelli (1608-1679) as its most notable name, entered in a way on the mechanical study of anatomy suggested by Descartes, but was probably much more dependent upon the positive researches of Galileo. At Naples there grew up a Cartesian school, of which the best known members are Michel Angelo Fardella (1650-1708) and Cardinal Gerdil (1718-1802), both of whom, however, attached themselves to the characteristic views of Malebranche.


In England Cartesianism took but slight hold. Henry More, who had given it a modified sympathy in the lifetime of the author, became its opponent in later years; and Cudworth differed from it in most essential points. Antony Legrand, from Douai, attempted to introduce it into Oxford, but failed. He is the author of several works, amongst others a system of Cartesian philosophy, where a chapter on "Angels" revives the methods of the schoolmen. His chief opponent was Samuel Parker (1640-1688), bishop of Oxford, who, in his attack on the irreligious novelties of the Cartesian, treats Descartes as a fellow-criminal in infidelity with Hobbes and Gassendi. Rohault's version of the Cartesian physics was translated into English; and Malebranche found an ardent follower in John Norris (1667-1711). Of Cartesianism towards the close of the 17th century the only remnants were an overgrown theory of vortices, which received its death-blow from Newton, and a dubious phraseology anent innate ideas, which found a witty executioner in Locke.

For an account of the metaphysical doctrines of Descartes, in their connexions with Malebranche and Spinoza, see CARTESIANISM.

BIBLIOGRAPHY.—I. Editions and Translations.—The collected works of Descartes were published in Latin in 8 vols. at Amsterdam (1670-1683), in 7 vols. at Frankfort (1697) and in 9 vols. by Elzevir (1713); in French in 13 vols. (Paris, 1724-1729), republished by Victor Cousin (Paris, 1824-1826) in 11 vols., and again under the authority of the minister of public instruction by C. Adam and P. Tannery (1897 foll.). These include his so-called posthumous works. The Rules for the Direction of the Mind, The Search for Truth by the Light of Nature, and other unimportant fragments, published (in Latin) in 1701. In 1859-1860 Foucher de Careil published in two parts some unedited writings of Descartes from copies taken by Leibnitz from the original papers. Six editions of the Opera philosophica appeared at Amsterdam between 1650 and 1678; a two-volume edition at Leipzig in 1843; there are also French editions, OEuvres philosophiques, by A. Garnier, 3 vols. (1834-1835), and L. Aim-Martin (1838) and OEuvres morales et philosophiques by Aim-Martin with an introduction on life and works by Amede Prvost (Paris, 1855); OEuvres choisies (1850) by Jules Simon. A complete French edition of the collected works was begun in the Romance Library (1907 foll.). German translations by J. H. von Kirchmann under the title Philosophische Werke (with biography, &c., Berlin, 1868; 2nd ed., 1882-1891), by Kuno Fischer, Die Hauptschriften zur Grundlegung seiner Philosophie (1863), with introduction by Ludwig Fischer (1892). There are also numerous editions and translations of separate works, especially the Method, in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Hungarian. There are English translations by J. Veitch, Method, Meditations and Selections from the Principles (1850-1853; 11th ed., 1897; New York, 1899); by H. A. P. Torrey (New York, 1892).

II. Biographical.—A. Baillet, La Vie de M. Des Cartes (Paris, 1691; Eng. trans., 1692), exhaustive but uncritical; notices in the editions of Garnier and Aim-Martin; A. Hoffmann, Ren Descartes (1905); Elizabeth S. Haldane, Descartes, his Life and Times (1905), containing full bibliography; A. Barbier, Ren Descartes, sa famille, son lieu de naissance, &c. (1901); Richard Lowndes, Ren Descartes, his Life and Meditations (London, 1878); J. P. Mahaffy, Descartes (1902), with an appendix on Descartes's mathematical work by Frederick Purser; Victor de Swarte, Descartes directeur spirituel (Paris, 1904), correspondence with the Princess Palatine; C. J. Jeannel, Descartes et la princesse palatine (Paris, 1869); Lettres de M. Descartes, ed. Claude Clerselier (1657). A useful sketch of recent biographies is to be found in The Edinburgh Review (July 1906).

III. Philosophy.—Beside the histories of philosophy, the article CARTESIANISM, and the above works, consult J. B. Bordas-Demoulini Le Cartsianisme (2nd ed., Paris, 1874); J. P. Damiron, Histoire de la philosophie du XVII^e sicle (Paris, 1846); C. B. Renouvier, Manuel de philosophie moderne (Paris, 1842); V. Cousin, Fragments philosophiques, vol. ii. (3rd ed., Paris, 1838), Fragments de philosophie cartsienne (Paris, 1845), and in the Journal des savants (1860-1861); F. Bouillier, Hist. de la philosophie cartsienne (Paris, 1854), 2 vols., and Hist. et critique de la rvolution cartsienne (Paris, 1842); J. Millet, Descartes, sa vie, ses travaux, ses dcouvertes avant 1637 (Paris, 1867), and Hist. de Descartes depuis 1637 (Paris, 1870); L. Liard, Descartes (Paris, 1882); A. Fouille, Descartes (Paris, 1893); Revue de mtaphysique et de morale (July, 1896, Descartes number); Norman Smith, Studies in the Cartesian Philosophy (1902); R. Keussen, Bewusstsein und Erkenntnis bei Descartes (1906); A. Kayserling, Die Idee der Kausalitt in den Lehren der Occasionalisten (1896); J. Iverach, Descartes, Spinoza and the New Philosophy (1904); R. Joerges, Die Lehre von den Empfindungen bei Descartes (1901); Kuno Fischer, Hist. of Mod. Phil. Descartes and his School (Eng. trans., 1887); B. Christiansen, Das Urteil bei Descartes (1902); E. Boutroux, "Descartes and Cartesianism" in Cambridge Modern History, vol. iv. (1906), chap. 27, with a very full bibliography, pp. 950-953; P. Natorp, Descartes' Erkenntnisstheorie (Marburg, 1882); L. A. Prvost-Paradol, Les Moralistes franais (Paris, 1865); C. Schaarschmidt, Descartes und Spinoza (Bonn, 1850); R. Adamson, The Development of Modern Philosophy (Edinburgh, 1903); J. Mller, Der Begriff der sittlichen Unvollkommenheit bei Descartes und Spinoza (1890); J. H. von Kirchmann, R. Descartes' Prinzipien der Philos. (1863); G. Touchard, La Morale de Descartes (1898); Lucien Lvy-Bruhl, Hist. of Mod. Philos. in France (Eng. trans., 1899), pp. 1-76.

IV. Science and Mathematics.—F. Cajori, History of Mathematics (London, 1894); M. Cantor, Vorlesungen ber die Geschichte der Mathematik (Leipzig, 1894-1901); Sir Michael Foster, Hist. of Physiol. during the Sixteenth, Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (1901); Duboux, La Physique de Descartes (Lausanne, 1881); G. H. Zeuthen, Geschichte der Mathematik im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert (1903); Chasles, Aperu historique sur l'origine et le dveloppement des mthodes en gomtrie (3rd ed., 1889). (W. W.; X.)


[1] It was only published after the author's death; and of it, besides the French version, there exists an English translation "by a Person of Quality."

[2] OEuvres, v. 255.

[3] Ib. vi. 199.

[4]: OEuvres, viii. 59.

[5] Ib. viii. 173.

[6] Ib. viii. 181.

[7] Ib. vi. 123.

[8] Ib. x. 375.

[9] Ib. ix. 6.

[10] Ib. iii. 24.

[11] Ib. vi. 234.

[12] Ib. ix. 131.

[13] Ib. ix. 341.

[14] Ib. vi. 89.

[15] Ib. vi. 210.

[16] Ib. vi. 73.

[17] Ib. vi. 239.

[18] Ib. vi. 248.

[19] OEuvres, vi. 276.

[20] Ib. ix. 250.

[21] Princip. L. iii. S. 45.

[22] OEuvres, x. 26.

[23] OEuvres, x. 3.

[24] Ib. x. 53.

[25] Regulae, OEuvres, xi. 202.

[26] OEuvres, xi. 219.

[27] Disc. de mthode, part ii.

[28] Gomtrie, book iii.

[29] OEuvres, xi. 224.

[30] Ib. xi. 212.

[31] Disc. de mthode, part. ii.

[32] OEuvres, xi. 243.

[33] Ib. vii. 381.

[34] OEuvres, vi. 132.

[35] Ib. vi. 109.

[36] Princip. part ii. 37.

[37] Ib. part iii. 47.

[38] OEuvres, iv. 494.

[39] Ib. ix. 426.

[40] Ib. x. 204.

[41] Ib. vi. 339.

[42] Ib. x. 208.

[43] Ib. iv. 452 and 454.

[44] OEuvres, ix. 166.

[45] Passions de l'me, 36.

[46] Ib. 48.

[47] OEuvres, ix. 170.

DESCHAMPS, MILE (1791-1871), French poet and man of letters, was born at Bourges on the 20th of February 1791. The son of a civil servant, he adopted his father's career, but as early as 1812 he distinguished himself by an ode, La Paix conquise, which won the praise of Napoleon. In 1818 he collaborated with Henri de Latouche in two verse comedies, Selmours de Florian and Le Tour de faveur. He and his brother were among the most enthusiastic disciples of the cnacle gathered round Victor Hugo, and in July 1823 mile founded with his master the Muse franaise, which during the year of its existence was the special organ of the romantic party. His tudes franaises et trangres (1828) were preceded by a preface which may be regarded as one of the manifestos of the romanticists. The versions of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1839) and of Macbeth (1844), important as they were in the history of the romantic movement, were never staged. He was the author of several libretti, among which may be mentioned the Romo et Juliette of Berlioz. The list of his more important works is completed by his two volumes of stories, Contes physiologiques (1854) and Ralits fantastiques (1854). He died at Versailles in April 1871. His OEuvres compltes were published in 1872-1874 (6 vols.).

His brother, Antoine Franois Marie, known as ANTONY DESCHAMPS, was born in Paris on the 12th of March 1800 and died at Passy on the 29th of October 1869. Like his brother, he was an ardent romanticist, but his production was limited by a nervous disorder, which has left its mark on his melancholy work. He translated the Divina Commedia in 1829, and his poems, Dernires Paroles and Rsignation, were republished with his brother's in 1841.

DESCHAMPS, EUSTACHE, called MOREL (1346?-1406?), French poet, was born at Vertus in Champagne about 1346. He studied at Reims, where he is said to have received some lessons in the art of versification from Guillaume de Machaut, who is stated to have been his uncle. From Reims he proceeded about 1360 to the university of Orleans to study law and the seven liberal arts. He entered the king's service as royal messenger about 1367, and was sent on missions to Bohemia, Hungary and Moravia. In 1372 he was made huissier d'armes to Charles V. He received many other important offices, was bailli of Valois, and afterwards of Senlis, squire to the Dauphin, and governor of Fismes. In 1380 his patron, Charles V., died, and in the same year the English burnt down his house at Vertus. In his childhood he had been an eye-witness of the English invasion of 1358; he had been present at the siege of Reims and seen the march on Chartres; he had witnessed the signing of the treaty of Bretigny; he was now himself a victim of the English fury. His violent hatred of the English found vent in numerous appeals to carry the war into England, and in the famous prophecy[1] that England would be destroyed so thoroughly that no one should be able to point to her ruins. His own misfortunes and the miseries of France embittered his temper. He complained continually of poverty, railed against women and lamented the woes of his country. His last years were spent on his Miroir de mariage, a satire of 13,000 lines against women, which contains some real comedy. The mother-in-law of French farce has her prototype in the Miroir.

The historical and patriotic poems of Deschamps are of much greater value. He does not, like Froissart, cast a glamour over the miserable wars of the time but gives a faithful picture of the anarchy of France, and inveighs ceaselessly against the heavy taxes, the vices of the clergy and especially against those who enrich themselves at the expense of the people. The terrible ballad with the refrain "S, de l'argent; s, de l'argent" is typical of his work. Deschamps excelled in the use of the ballade and the chant royal. In each of these forms he was the greatest master of his time. In ballade form he expressed his regret for the death of Du Guesclin, who seems to have been the only man except his patron, Charles V., for whom he ever felt any admiration. One of his ballades (No. 285) was sent with a copy of his works to Geoffrey Chaucer, whom he addresses with the words:—

"Tu es d'amours mondains dieux en Albie Et de la Rose en la terre Anglique."

Deschamps was the author of an Art potique, with the title of L'Art de dictier et de fere chancons, balades, virelais et rondeaulx. Besides giving rules for the composition of the kinds of verse mentioned in the title he enunciates some curious theories on poetry. He divides music into music proper and poetry. Music proper he calls artificial on the ground that everyone could by dint of study become a musician; poetry he calls natural because he says it is not an art that can be acquired but a gift. He lays immense stress on the harmony of verse, because, as was the fashion of his day, he practically took it for granted that all poetry was to be sung.

The work of Deschamps marks an important stage in the history of French poetry. With him and his contemporaries the long, formless narrations of the trouvres give place to complicated and exacting kinds of verse. He was perhaps by nature a moralist and satirist rather than a poet, and the force and truth of his historical pictures gives him a unique place in 14th-century poetry. M. Raynaud fixes the date of his death in 1406, or at latest, 1407. Two years earlier he had been relieved of his charge as bailli of Senlis, his plain-spoken satires having made him many enemies at court.

His OEuvres compltes were edited (10 vols., 1878-1901) for the Socit des anciens textes franais by Queux de Saint-Hilaire and Gaston Raynaud. A supplementary volume consists of an Introduction by G. Raynaud. See also Dr E. Hoeppner, Eustache Deschamps (Strassburg, 1904).


[1] "De la prophcie Merlin sur la destruction d'Angleterre qui doit brief advenir" (OEuvres, No. 211).

DESCHANEL, PAUL EUGNE LOUIS (1856- ), French statesman, son of mile Deschanel (1819-1904), professor at the Collge de France and senator, was born at Brussels, where his father was living in exile (1851-1859), owing to his opposition to Napoleon III. Paul Deschanel studied law, and began his career as secretary to Deshayes de Marcre (1876), and to Jules Simon (1876-1877). In October 1885 he was elected deputy for Eure and Loire. From the first he took an important place in the chamber, as one of the most notable orators of the Progressist Republican group. In January 1896 he was elected vice-president of the chamber, and henceforth devoted himself to the struggle against the Left, not only in parliament, but also in public meetings throughout France. His addresses at Marseilles on the 26th of October 1896, at Carmaux on the 27th of December 1896, and at Roubaix on the 10th of April 1897, were triumphs of clear and eloquent exposition of the political and social aims of the Progressist party. In June 1898 he was elected president of the chamber, and was re-elected in 1901, but rejected in 1902. Nevertheless he came forward brilliantly in 1904 and 1905 as a supporter of the law on the separation of church and state. He was elected a member of the French Academy in 1899, his most notable works being Orateurs et hommes d'tat (1888), Figures de femmes (1889), La Dcentralization (1895), La Question sociale (1898).

DES CLOIZEAUX, ALFRED LOUIS OLIVIER LEGRAND (1817-1897), French mineralogist, was born at Beauvais, in the department of Oise, on the 17th of October 1817. He became professor of mineralogy at the cole Normale Suprieure and afterwards at the Muse d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. He studied the geysers of Iceland, and wrote also on the classification of some of the eruptive rocks; but his main work consisted in the systematic examination of the crystals of numerous minerals, in researches on their optical properties and on the subject of polarization. He wrote specially on the means of determining the different felspars. He was awarded the Wollaston medal by the Geological Society of London in 1886. He died in May 1897. His best-known books are Leons de cristallographie (1861); Manuel de minralogie (2 vols., Paris, 1862, 1874 and 1893).

DESCLOIZITE, a rare mineral species consisting of basic lead and zinc vanadate, (Pb, Zn)2(OH)V04, crystallizing in the orthorhombic system and isomorphous with olivenite. It was discovered by A. Damour in 1854, and named by him in honour of the French mineralogist Des Cloizeaux. It occurs as small prismatic or pyramidal crystals, usually forming drusy crusts and stalactitic aggregates; also as fibrous encrusting masses with a mammillary surface. The colour is deep cherry-red to brown or black, and the crystals are transparent or translucent with a greasy lustre; the streak is orange-yellow to brown; specific gravity 5.9 to 6.2; hardness 3. A variety known as cuprodescloizite is dull green in colour; it contains a considerable amount of copper replacing zinc and some arsenic replacing vanadium. Descloizite occurs in veins of lead ores in association with pyromorphite, vanadinite, wulfenite, &c. Localities are the Sierra de Cordoba in Argentina, Lake Valley in Sierra county, New Mexico, Arizona, Phoenixville in Pennsylvania, and Kappel (Eisen-Kappel) near Klagenfurt in Carinthia.

Other names which have been applied to this species are vanadite, tritochorite and ramirite; the uncertain vanadates eusynchite, araeoxene and dechenite are possibly identical with it.

DESCRIPTIVE POETRY, the name given to a class of literature, which may be defined as belonging mainly to the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in Europe. From the earliest times, all poetry which was not subjectively lyrical was apt to indulge in ornament which might be named descriptive. But the critics of the 17th century formed a distinction between the representations of the ancients and those of the moderns. We find Boileau emphasizing the statement that, while Virgil paints, Tasso describes. This may be a useful indication for us in defining not what should, but what in practice has been called "descriptive poetry." It is poetry in which it is not imaginative passion which prevails, but a didactic purpose, or even something of the instinct of a sublimated auctioneer. In other words, the landscape, or architecture, or still life, or whatever may be the object of the poet's attention, is not used as an accessory, but is itself the centre of interest. It is, in this sense, not correct to call poetry in which description is only the occasional ornament of a poem, and not its central subject, descriptive poetry. The landscape or still life must fill the canvas, or, if human interest is introduced, that must be treated as an accessory. Thus, in the Hero and Leander of Marlowe and in the Alastor of Shelley, description of a very brilliant kind is largely introduced, yet these are not examples of what is technically called "descriptive poetry," because it is not the strait between Sestos and Abydos, and it is not the flora of a tropical glen, which concentrates the attention of the one poet or of the other, but it is an example of physical passion in the one case and of intellectual passion in the other, which is diagnosed and dilated on. On the other hand Thomson's Seasons, in which landscape takes the central place, and Drayton's Polyolbion, where everything is sacrificed to a topographical progress through Britain, are strictly descriptive.

It will be obvious from this definition that the danger ahead of all purely descriptive poetry is that it will lack intensity, that it will be frigid, if not dead. Description for description's sake, especially in studied verse, is rarely a vitalized form of literature. It is threatened, from its very conception, with languor and coldness; it must exercise an extreme art or be condemned to immediate sterility. Boileau, with his customary intelligence, was the first to see this, and he thought that the danger might be avoided by care in technical execution. His advice to the poets of his time was:—

"Soyez riches et pompeux dans vos descriptions; C'est-l qu'il faut des vers taler l'lgance,"


"De figure sans nombre gayez votre ouvrage; Que toute y fasse aux yeux une riante image,"

and in verses of brilliant humour he mocked the writer who, too full of his subject, and describing for description's sake, will never quit his theme until he has exhausted it:—

"Fuyez de ces auteurs l'abondance strile Et ne vous chargez point d'un dtail inutile."

This is excellent advice, but Boileau's humorous sallies do not quite meet the question whether such purely descriptive poetry as he criticizes is legitimate at all.

In England had appeared the famous translation (1592-1611), by Josuah Sylvester, of the Divine Weeks and Works of Du Bartas, containing such lines as those which the juvenile Dryden admired so much:—

"But when winter's keener breath began To crystallize the Baltic ocan, To glaze the lakes, and bridle up the floods, And perriwig with wool the bald-pate woods."

There was also the curious physiological epic of Phineas Fletcher, The Purple Island (1633). But on the whole it was not until French influences had made themselves felt on English poetry, that description, as Boileau conceived it, was cultivated as a distinct art. The Cooper's Hill (1642) of Sir John Denham may be contrasted with the less ambitious Penshurst of Ben Jonson, and the one represents the new no less completely than the other does the old generation. If, however, we examine Cooper's Hill carefully, we perceive that its aim is after all rather philosophical than topographical. The Thames is described indeed, but not very minutely, and the poet is mainly absorbed in moral reflections. Marvell's long poem on the beauties of Nunappleton comes nearer to the type. But it is hardly until we reach the 18th century that we arrive, in English literature, at what is properly known as descriptive poetry. This was the age in which poets, often of no mean capacity, began to take such definite themes as a small country estate (Pomfret's Choice, 1700), the cultivation of the grape (Gay's Wine, 1708), a landscape (Pope's Windsor Forest, 1713), a military manoeuvre (Addison's Campaign, 1704), the industry of an apple-orchard (Philip's Cyder, 1708) or a piece of topography (Tickell's Kensington Gardens, 1722), as the sole subject of a lengthy poem, generally written in heroic or blank verse. These tours de force were supported by minute efforts in miniature-painting, by touch applied to touch, and were often monuments of industry, but they were apt to lack personal interest, and to suffer from a general and deplorable frigidity. They were infected with the faults which accompany an artificial style; they were monotonous, rhetorical and symmetrical, while the uniformity of treatment which was inevitable to their plan rendered them hopelessly tedious, if they were prolonged to any great extent.

This species of writing had been cultivated to a considerable degree through the preceding century, in Italy and (as the remarks of Boileau testify) in France, but it was in England that it reached its highest importance. The classic of descriptive poetry, in fact, the specimen which the literature of the world presents which must be considered as the most important and the most successful, is The Seasons (1726-1730) of James Thomson (q.v.). In Thomson, for the first time, a poet of considerable eminence appeared, to whom external nature was all sufficient, and who succeeded in conducting a long poem to its close by a single appeal to landscape, and to the emotions which it directly evokes. Coleridge, somewhat severely, described The Seasons as the work of a good rather than of a great poet, and it is an indisputable fact that, at its very best, descriptive poetry fails to awaken the highest powers of the imagination. A great part of Thomson's poem is nothing more nor less than a skilfully varied catalogue of natural phenomena. The famous description of twilight in "the fading many-coloured woods" of autumn may be taken as an example of the highest art to which purely descriptive poetry has ever attained. It is obvious, even here, that the effect of these rich and sonorous lines, in spite of the splendid effort of the artist, is monotonous, and leads us up to no final crisis of passion or rapture. Yet Thomson succeeds, as few other poets of his class have succeeded, in producing nobly-massed effects and comprehensive beauties such as were utterly unknown to his predecessors. He was widely imitated in England, especially by Armstrong, by Akenside, by Shenstone (in The Schoolmistress, 1742), by the anonymous author of Albania, 1737, and by Goldsmith (in The Deserted Village, 1770). No better example of the more pedestrian class of descriptive poetry could be found than the last-mentioned poem, with its minute and Dutch-like painting:—

"How often have I paused on every charm: The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm; The never-failing brook, the busy mill, The decent church that topped the neighbouring hill: The hawthorn-bush, with seats beneath the shade. For talking age and whispering lovers made."

On the continent of Europe the example of Thomson was almost immediately fruitful. Four several translations of The Seasons into French contended for the suffrages of the public, and J. F. de Saint-Lambert (1716-1803) imitated Thomson in Les Saisons (1769), a poem which enjoyed popularity for half a century, and of which Voltaire said that it was the only one of its generation which would reach posterity. Nevertheless, as Madame du Deffand told Walpole, Saint-Lambert is "froid, fade et faux," and the same may be said of J. A. Roucher (1745-1794), who wrote Les Mois in 1779, a descriptive poem famous in its day. The Abb Jacques Delille (1738-1813), perhaps the most ambitious descriptive poet who has ever lived, was treated as a Virgil by his contemporaries; he published Les Gorgiques in 1769, Les Jardins in 1782, and L'Homme des champs in 1803, but he went furthest in his brilliant, though artificial, Trois rgnes de la nature (1809), which French critics have called the masterpiece of this whole school of descriptive poetry. Delille, however, like Thomson before him, was unable to avoid monotony and want of coherency. Picture follows picture, and no progress is made. The satire of Marie Joseph Chnier, in his famous and witty Discours sur les pomes descriptifs, brought the vogue of this species of poetry to an end.

In England, again, Wordsworth, who treated the genius of Thomson with unmerited severity, revived descriptive poetry in a form which owed more than Wordsworth realized to the model of The Seasons. In The Excursion and The Prelude, as well as in many of his minor pieces, Wordsworth's philosophical and moral intentions cannot prevent us from perceiving the large part which pure description takes; and the same may be said of much of the early blank verse of S. T. Coleridge. Since their day, however, purely descriptive poetry has gone more and more completely out of fashion, and its place has been taken by the richer and directer effects of such prose as that of Ruskin in English, or of Fromentin and Pierre Loti in French. It is almost impossible in descriptive verse to obtain those vivid and impassioned appeals to the imagination which are of the very essence of genuine poetry, and it is unlikely that descriptive poetry, as such, will again take a prominent place in living literature. (E. G.)

DESERT, a term somewhat loosely employed to describe those parts of the land surface of the earth which do not produce sufficient vegetation to support a human population. Few areas of large extent in any part of the world are absolutely devoid of vegetation, and the transition from typical desert conditions is often very gradual and ill-defined. ("Desert" comes from Lat. deserere, to abandon; distinguish "desert," merit, and "dessert," fruit eaten after dinner, from de and servier, to serve.)

Deserts are conveniently divided into two classes according to the causes which give rise to the desert conditions. In "cold deserts" the want of vegetation is wholly due to the prevailing low temperature, while in "hot deserts" the surface is unproductive because, on account of high temperature and deficient rainfall, evaporation is largely in excess of precipitation. Cold deserts accordingly occur in high latitudes (see TUNDRA and POLAR REGIONS). Hot desert conditions are primarily found along the tropical belts of high atmospheric pressure in which the conditions of warmth and dryness are most fully realized, and on their equatorial sides, but the zonal arrangement is considerably modified in some regions by the monsoonal influence of elevated land. Thus we have in the northern hemisphere the Sahara desert, the deserts of Arabia, Iran, Turan, Takla Makan and Gobi, and the desert regions of the Great Basin in North America; and in the southern hemisphere the Kalahari desert in Africa, the desert of Australia, and the desert of Atacama in South America. Where the line of elevated land runs east and west, as in Asia, the desert belt tends to be displaced into higher latitudes, and where the line runs north and south, as in Africa, America and Australia, the desert zone is cut through on the windward side of the elevation and the arid conditions intensified on the lee side. Desert conditions also arise from local causes, as in the case of the Indian desert situated in a region inaccessible to either of the two main branches of the south-west monsoon.

Although rivers rising in more favoured regions may traverse deserts on their way to the sea, as in the case of the Nile and the Colorado, the fundamental physical condition of an arid area is that it contributes nothing to the waters of the ocean. The rainfall chiefly occurs in violent cloud-bursts, and the soluble matter in the soil is carried down by intermittent streams to salt lakes around which deposits are formed as evaporation takes place. The land forms of a desert are exceedingly characteristic. Surface erosion is chiefly due to rapid changes of temperature through a wide range, and to the action of wind transferring sand and dust, often in the form of "dunes" resembling the waves of the sea. Dry valleys, narrow and of great depth, with precipitous sides, and ending in "cirques," are probably formed by the intense action of the occasional cloud-bursts.

When water can be obtained and distributed over an arid region by irrigation, the surface as a rule becomes extremely productive. Natural springs give rise to oases at intervals and make the crossing of large deserts possible. Where a river crosses a desert at a level near that of the general surface, irrigation can be carried on with extremely profitable results, as has been done in the valley of the Nile and in parts of the Great Basin of North America; in cases, however, where the river has cut deeply and flows far below the general surface, irrigation is too expensive. Much has been done in parts of Australia by means of artesian wells.

For a general account of deserts see Professor Johannes Walther, Das Gesetz der Wstenbildung (Berlin, 1900), in which many references to other original authorities will be found. (H. N. D.)

DESERTION, the act of forsaking or abandoning; more particularly, the wilful abandonment of an employment or of duty, in violation of a legal or moral obligation.

The offence of naval or military desertion is constituted when a man absents himself with the intention either of not returning or of escaping some important service, such as embarkation for foreign service, or service in aid of the civil power. In the United Kingdom desertion has always been recognized by the civil law, and until 1827 (7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 28) was a felony punishable by death. It was subsequently dealt with by the various Mutiny Acts, which were replaced by the Army Act 1881, renewed annually by the Army (Annual) Act. By 12 of the act every person subject to military law who deserts or attempts to desert, or who persuades or procures any person to desert, shall, on conviction by court martial, if he committed the offence when on active service or under orders for active service, be liable to suffer death, or such less punishment as is mentioned in the act. When the offence is committed under any other circumstances, the punishment for the first offence is imprisonment, and for the second or any subsequent offence penal servitude or such less punishment as is mentioned in the act. 44 contains a scale of punishments, and 175-184 an enumeration of persons subject to military law. By 153 any person who persuades a soldier to desert or aids or assists him or conceals him is liable, on conviction, to be imprisoned, with or without hard labour, for not more than six months. 154 makes provision for the apprehension of deserters. 161 lays down that where a soldier has served continuously in an exemplary manner for not less than three years in any corps of regular forces he is not to be tried or punished for desertion which has occurred before the commencement of the three years. Desertion from the regular forces can only be tried by a military court, but in the case of the militia and reserve forces desertion can be tried by a civil court. The Army Act of 1881 made a welcome distinction between actual desertion, as defined at the commencement of this article, and the quitting one regiment in order to enlist in another. This offence is now separately dealt with as fraudulent enlistment; formerly, it was termed "desertion and fraudulent enlistment," and the statistics of desertion proper were consequently and erroneously magnified. The gross total of desertions in the British Army in an average year (1903-1904) was nearly 4000, or 1.4% of the average strength of the army, but owing to men rejoining from desertion, fraudulent enlistment, &c., the net loss was no more than 1286, i.e. less than .5%. The army of the United States suffers very severely from desertion, and very few deserters rejoin or are recaptured (see Journal of the Roy. United Service Inst., December 1905, p. 1469). In the year 1900-1901, 3110 men deserted (4.3% of average strength); in 1901-1902, 4667 (or 5.9%); in 1904-1905, 6553 (or 6.8%); and in 1905-1906, 6258 out of less than 60,000 men, or 7.4%.

In all armies desertion while on active service is punishable by death; on the continent of Europe, owing to the system of compulsory service, desertion is infrequent, and takes place usually when the deserter wishes to leave his country altogether. It was formerly the practice in the English army to punish a man convicted of desertion by tattooing on him the letter "D" to prevent his re-enlistment, but this has been long abandoned in deference to public opinion, which erroneously adopted the idea that the "marking" was effected by red-hot irons or in some other manner involving torture. The Navy Discipline Act 1866, and the Naval Deserters Act 1847, contain similar provisions to the Army Act of 1881 for dealing with desertions from the navy. In the United States navy the term "straggling" is applied to absence without leave, where the probability is that the person does not intend to desert. The United States government offers a monetary reward of between $20 and $30 for the arrest and delivery of deserters from the army and navy.

In the British merchant service the offence of desertion is defined as the abandonment of duty by quitting the ship before the termination of the engagement, without justification, and with the intention of not returning.

Desertion is also the term applied to the act by which a man abandons his wife and children, or either of them. Desertion of a wife is a matrimonial offence; under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857, a decree of judicial separation may be obtained in England by either husband or wife on the ground of desertion, without cause, for two years and upwards (see also DIVORCE).

For the desertion of children see CHILDREN, LAW RELATING TO; INFANT. (T. A. I.)

DES ESSARTS, EMMANUEL ADOLPHE (1839- ), French poet and man of letters, was born at Paris on the 5th of February 1839. His father, Alfred Stanislas Langlois des Essarts (d. 1893), was a poet and novelist of considerable reputation. The son was educated at the cole Normale Suprieure, and became a teacher of rhetoric and finally professor of literature at Dijon and at Clermont. His works are: Posies parisiennes (1862), a volume of light verse on trifling subjects; Les lvations (1864), philosophical poems; Origines de la posie lyrique en France au XVI^e sicle (1873); Du gnie de Chateaubriand (1876); Pomes de la Rvolution (1879); Pallas Athn (1887); Portraits de matres (1888), &c.

DESFONTAINES, REN LOUICHE (1750-1833), French botanist, was born at Tremblay (le-et-Vilaine) on the 14th of February 1750. After graduating in medicine at Paris, he was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences in 1783. In the same year he set out for North Africa, on a scientific exploring expedition, and on his return two years afterwards brought with him a large collection of plants, animals, &c., comprising, it is said, 1600 species of plants, of which about 300 were described for the first time. In 1786 he was nominated to the post of professor at the Jardin des Plantes, vacated in his favour by his friend, L. G. Lemonnier. His great work, Flora Atlantica sive historia plantarum quae in Atlante, agro Tunetano el Algeriensi crescunt, was published in 2 vols. 4to in 1798, and he produced in 1804 a Tableau de l'cole botanique du musum d'histoire naturelle de Paris, of which a third edition appeared in 1831, under the new title Catalogus plantarum horti regii Parisiensis. He was also the author of many memoirs on vegetable anatomy and physiology, descriptions of new genera and species, &c., one of the most important being a "Memoir on the Organization of the Monocotyledons." He died at Paris on the 16th of November 1833. His Barbary collection was bequeathed to the Musum d'Histoire Naturelle, and his general collection passed into the hands of the English botanist, Philip Barker Webb.

DESFORGES, PIERRE JEAN BAPTISTE CHOUDARD (1746-1806), French dramatist and man of letters, natural son of Dr Antoine Petit, was born in Paris on the 15th of September 1746. He was educated at the Collge Mazarin and the Collge de Beauvais, and at his father's desire began the study of medicine. Dr Petit's death left him dependent on his own resources, and after appearing on the stage of the Comdie Italienne in Paris he joined a troupe of wandering actors, whom he served in the capacity of playwright. He married an actress, and the two spent three years in St Petersburg, where they were well received. In 1782 he produced at the Comdie Italienne an adaptation of Fielding's novel with the title Tom Jones Londres. His first great success was achieved with L'preuve villageoise (1785) to the music of Grtry. La Femme jalouse, a five-act comedy in verse (1785), Joconde (1790) for the music of Louis Jaden, Les poux divorcs (1799), a comedy, and other pieces followed. Desforges was one of the first to avail himself of the new facilities afforded under the Revolution for divorce and re-marriage. The curious record of his own early indiscretions in Le Pote, ou mmoires d'un homme de lettres crits par lui-mme (4 vols., 1798) is said to have been undertaken at the request of Madame Desforges. He died in Paris on the 13th of August 1806.

DESGARCINS, MAGDELEINE MARIE [LOUISE] (1769-1797), French actress, was born at Mont Dauphin (Hautes Alpes). In her short career she became one of the greatest of French tragdiennes, the associate of Talma, with whom she nearly always played. Her dbut at the Comdie Franaise occurred on the 24th of May 1788, in Bajazet, with such success that she was at once made socitaire. She was one of the actresses who left the Comdie Franaise in 1791 for the house in the rue Richelieu, soon to become the Thtre de la Rpublique, and there her triumphs were no less—in King Lear, Othello, La Harpe's Mlanie et Virginie, &c. Her health, however, failed, and she died insane, in Paris, on the 27th of October 1797.

DESHAYES, GRARD PAUL (1795-1875), French geologist and conchologist, was born at Nancy on the 13th of May 1797, his father at that time being professor of experimental physics in the cole Centrale of the department of la Meurthe. He studied medicine at Strassburg, and afterwards took the degree of bachelier s lettres in Paris in 1821; but he abandoned the medical profession in order to devote himself to natural history. For some time he gave private lessons on geology, and subsequently became professor of natural history in the Musum d'Histoire Naturelle. He was distinguished for his researches on the fossil mollusca of the Paris Basin and of other Tertiary areas. His studies on the relations of the fossil to the recent species led him as early as 1829 to conclusions somewhat similar to those arrived at by Lyell, to whom Deshayes rendered much assistance in connexion with the classification of the Tertiary system into Eocene, Miocene and Pliocene. He was one of the founders of the Socit Gologique de France. In 1839 he began the publication of his Trait lmentaire de conchyliologie, the last part of which was not issued until 1858. In the same year (1839) he went to Algeria for the French Government, and spent three years in explorations in that country. His principal work, which resulted from the collections he made, Mollusques de l'Algrie, was issued (incomplete) in 1848. In 1870 the Wollaston medal of the Geological Society of London was awarded to him. He died at Boran on the 9th of June 1875. His publications included Description des coquilles fossiles des environs de Paris (2 vols. and atlas, 1824-1837); Description des animaux sans vertbres dcouverts dans le bassin de Paris (3 vols. and atlas, 1856-1866); Catalogue des mollusques de l'le la Runion (1863).

DESHOULIRES, ANTOINETTE DU LIGIER DE LA GARDE (1638-1694), French poet, was born in Paris on the 1st of January 1638. She was the daughter of Melchior du Ligier, sieur de la Garde, matre d'htel to the queens Marie de' Medici and Anne of Austria. She received a careful and very complete education, acquiring a knowledge of Latin, Spanish and Italian, and studying prosody under the direction of the poet Jean Hesnault. At the age of thirteen she married Guillaume de Boisguerin, seigneur Deshoulires, who followed the prince of Cond as lieutenant-colonel of one of his regiments to Flanders about a year after the marriage. Madame Deshoulires returned for a time to the house of her parents, where she gave herself to writing poetry and studying the philosophy of Gassendi. She rejoined her husband at Rocroi, near Brussels, where, being distinguished for her personal beauty, she became the object of embarrassing attentions on the part of the prince of Cond. Having made herself obnoxious to the government by her urgent demand for the arrears of her husband's pay, she was imprisoned in the chteau of Wilworden. After a few months she was freed by her husband, who attacked the chteau at the head of a small band of soldiers. An amnesty having been proclaimed, they returned to France, where Madame Deshoulires soon became a conspicuous personage at the court of Louis XIV. and in literary society. She won the friendship and admiration of the most eminent literary men of the age—some of her more zealous flatterers even going so far as to style her the tenth muse and the French Calliope. Her poems were very numerous, and included specimens of nearly all the minor forms, odes, eclogues, idylls, elegies, chansons, ballads, madrigals, &c. Of these the idylls alone, and only some of them, have stood the test of time, the others being entirely forgotten. She wrote several dramatic works, the best of which do not rise to mediocrity. Her friendship for Corneille made her take sides for the Phdre of Pradon against that of Racine. Voltaire pronounced her the best of women French poets; and her reputation with her contemporaries is indicated by her election as a member of the Academy of the Ricovrati of Padua and of the Academy of Arles. In 1688 a pension of 2000 livres was bestowed upon her by the king, and she was thus relieved from the poverty in which she had long lived. She died in Paris on the 17th February 1694. Complete editions of her works were published at Paris in 1695, 1747, &c. These include a few poems by her daughter, Antoine Thrse Deshoulires (1656-1718), who inherited her talent.

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