NOTES

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PROLOGUE

“Ye shall do”: Leviticus, 19:35–36, in The Holy Scriptures (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1955).

“[I]n France,” he complained, “the infinite”: Arthur Young, Travels During the Years 1787, 1788, and 1789 (Dublin: Gross, 1793), 2:43–44. For the number of measurement names, see ATPM, Aux citoyens rédacteurs de la Feuille du Cultivateur (Paris: Imprimerie de la République, III [1795]), 11. For the number of measurement units, see Ronald Zupko, French Weights and Measures Before the Revolution: A Dictionary of Provincial and Local Units (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978), 113.

“Conquests will”: KM, Delambre, Base du système métrique décimal, 1:title page.

John Quincy Adams: For the comparison with the printing press and the steam engine, see John Quincy Adams (Secretary of State), “Weights and Measures,” U.S. Senate, 22 February 1821; 16th Congress, 2nd Session, in Walter Lowrie and Walter S. Franklin, eds., American State Papers: Documents (Washington, DC: Gales and Seaton, 1834), no. 503, class 10, 2:656–750; see p. 688.

“It was not enough”: Napoléon, Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire de France sous Napoléon, écrits à Sainte-Hélène, Gaspard Gourgaud and Charles-Tristan Montholon, eds. (London: Bossagne, 1823–24), 4:211.

“without omission”: Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre, Rapport historique sur les progrès des sciences mathématiques depuis 1789 (Paris: Imprimerie Impériale, 1810), 68. Delambre, ed., Base du système métrique décimal, ou mesure de l’arc du méridien compris entre les parallèles de Dunkerque et Barcelone, exécutée en 1792 et années suivantes, par MM. Méchain et Delambre (Paris: Baudouin, 1806, 1807, 1810); cited hereafter as Delambre, Base. For prior histories of the metric system, see the Note on Sources.

“I deposit”: AOP E2-9, Delambre’s final comments in Méchain’s notebook, c. 1810.

“Though Méchain”: Delambre (c. 1810), marginal note on AOP E2-19, Méchain to Delambre, 7 brumaire VII [28 October 1798].

“Conquests will”: KM, Delambre, Base, 1:title page.

ONE: THE NORTH-GOING ASTRONOMER

“Fabrice showed”: Stendhal, La chartreuse de Parme (Paris: Garnier, 1962), 31.

“any unknown”: AML, Conseil Municipal, “Déliberations,” 21 August 1792. See also Georges Darney, Histoire de Lagny (Paris: Office d’Edition et Diffusion du Livre d’Histoire, 1994), 179. Jean Alexandre conversed with a gendarme near Lagny on 4 September 1792; see Pierre Caron, Les massacres de septembre (Paris: Maison du Livre Français, 1935), 160–61.

“share with their”: Pétion, mayor of Paris, read into the municipal records of Lagny, August 1792, in Darney, Lagny, 178.

a party of militiamen: For the actions of the Lagny militia, see AML, Conseil Municipal, “Déliberations,” August–September 1792; see also Darney, Lagny, 180. On Petit-Jean, see Delambre to Madame d’Assy, [August 1792], quoted in Guillaume Bigourdan, Le système métrique des poids et mesures (Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1901), 118–19; also Petit-Jean to Delambre, received on 12 August 1792, in AOP E2-6, Delambre, “Registre,” 12.

presented his passport: For Delambre’s passport, see Municipalité de Bruyères-Libre, “Certificat,” 17 prairial III [5 June 1795], cited in Bigourdan, Système métrique, 134.

Benjamin Bellet: On Bellet, see AAS Lavoisier 1967, Lavoisier, “Etat des ouvriers et coopérateurs . . . ,” [1792–93].

“There is no more ’Cademy”: Delambre to Mme. d’Assy, 5 September 1792, in Bigourdan, Système métrique, 119–22.

“exhausted every reserve”: AAS Fonds Lavoisier Nouvelle Ac. 30, Lavoisier to Delambre, 28 August 1792.

“They were armed”: Delambre to Mme. d’Assy, 5 September 1792, in Bigourdan, Système métrique, 119–22.

the militia’s “invitation” and “And as we marched”: Delambre to Mme. d’Assy, 5 September 1792, in Bigourdan, Système métrique, 119–22.

“odious king” and “perfidious proclamations”: Mayor Aublan in municipal council, 16 August 1792, in Darney, Lagny, 176.

“not to consider themselves”: Delambre to Mme. d’Assy, 5 September 1792, in Bigourdan, Système métrique, 119–22, emphasis in original. See AML, Conseil Municipal, “Déliberations,” 4 September 1792.

“That night we had nothing”: Delambre to Mme. d’Assy, 5 September 1792, in Bigourdan, Système métrique, 119–22.

“Consigned to”: AOP E2-6, Delambre, “Registre,” 4 September 1792, 49.

the “little trouble”: Delambre to Mme. d’Assy, 5 September 1792, in Bigourdan, Système métrique, 119–22.

“thanked the municipality”: AML, Conseil Municipal, “Déliberations,” 5 September 1792.

“And so ends the true”: Delambre to Mme. d’Assy, 5 September 1792, in Bigourdan, Système métrique, 119–22.

He was born: For Delambre’s autobiography, see BI MS2042 fols. 408–14, Delambre, “Delambre par lui-même,” [1821]; cited hereafter as Delambre, “Lui-même.” Delambre’s student Claude-Louis Mathieu drew on this unpublished autobiography for his biography in Mathieu, “Delambre,” Biographie universelle, Michaud, ed., new ed. (Paris: Desplaces, n.d.), 304–8. Vulfran Warmé, Eloge historique de M. Delambre (Amiens: Caron-Duquenne, 1824); ADSo 2E21/25, “Acte de mariage de Jean-Nicolas-Joseph Delambre et Marie-Elisabeth Devisme,” 27 January 1749; “Baptême de Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre,” 19 September 1749.

“To love riches”: BMA MS568(18), Delambre, “Règles ou méthode facile pour apprendre la langue anglaise,” n.d. On the literary club, see AAS Dossier Delambre, Résumé of letters from Delambre to Favart fils, sold by Cabinet Henri Saffroy in June 1943. See also AAS Col. Bertrand 9, Delambre to Favart fils, 20 October 1769.

Jean-Claude Geoffroy d’Assy: On the d’Assy family, see Jean-Pierre Babelon, “L’hôtel d’Assy, 58 bis, rue des Francs-Bourgeois au Marais,” Paris et Ile-de-France, Mémoires 14 (1964): 169–96; 16/17 (1965–66): 231–40.

“You’re wasting”: Delambre, “Lui-même.”

“the abbé de Lambre”: BVCS MS99, Lalande, “Journal,” 1783. Lalande first noticed Delambre on 10 December 1782; see Joseph-Jérôme Le Français de Lalande, Bibliographie astronomique; avec l’histoire de l’astronomie depuis 1781 jusqu’à 1802 (Paris: Imprimerie de la République, XI, 1803), 597.

“Don’t be a fool”: Delambre, “Lui-même.” On Delambre’s assistance for Lalande, see AOP Z151(4), Lalande to [Delambre], 17 December 1783. Also “Lalande au rédacteur,” Moniteur 2 (1 December 1789): 273.

his own private observatory: For Delambre’s observatory, see CUS, Delambre to Cagnoli, 3 September [1788] and 23 November 1789. Also Guillaume Bigourdan, Histoire de l’astronomie d’observation et des observatoires en France, seconde partie (Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1930), 155–65.

Any butcher: For Geoffroy d’Assy’s lawsuit to block a butcher from opening a shop in his territory in the 1780s, see AN AB XIX 322, d’Assy, 3, 13 September 1785.

“encompass nothing”: Talleyrand, AP 24 (26 March 1791): 397.

In April 1791: For the election of the first expedition team, see AAS, “Procès-verbaux de l’Académie” 109 (13 April 1791): 321.

“How’s that, Monsieur Cassini?”: BNRC Ge DD 2066 (3), Cassini IV, “2ème dialogue,” 43–45. Said by Cassini to be a “word-for-word” recitation of the exchange.

“illicit, usurping, seditious”: BNRC Ge DD 2066 (3), Cassini IV, “Mémoires,” 72–73; “2ème dialogue,” 25–26.

Roland threatened: For Roland’s threat, see AP 41 (3 April 1792): 110. Roland pressed the Academy again in May; see AN F12 1288, Roland to Comité d’Agriculture et Commerce, 19 May 1792. The academicians discussed their fear of Roland’s goals in AAS Chabrol 1/71, Borda to Condorcet, [May 1792].

unanimously elected: AAS, “Procès-verbaux de l’Académie” 110 (2, 5 May 1792): 138–39, 142. For Delambre’s account of this period, see Delambre, “Lui-même.” Also Delambre, Grandeur et figure de la terre (Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1912), 205. The division of sectors was provisional; see ENPC MS726, Delambre, “Mesure du méridien,” 19 messidor II [7 July 1794].

As soon as the king’s: For the arrival of the king’s proclamation on June 24, see Delambre, Grandeur, 203. For his start date of June 24, see AOP E2-6, Delambre, “Registre,” 2. Also see chapter 2 below.

the summit of Montmartre: On Montmartre, see Delambre, Base, 1:23.

learned that the Collégiale chapel: On the sale of the Collégiale, see ADSM 1Q1047/2, “Une église charpent . . . ,” 27 November, 11 December 1792. On the Saint-Martin-du-Tertre station, see AOP E2-6, Delambre, “Registre,” 51.

The uprising of August 10: For Delambre’s account of August 10, see AOP E2-6, Delambre, “Registre,” 38. Also Delambre, Base, 1:29–30. On Montmartre on August 10, see AN F7 4426, “Section du Faubourg-Montmartre,” 10 August 1792; F. Braesch, La commune de dix août 1792 (Paris: Hachette, 1911), 190–214, 335–46; Marcel Reinhard,Chute de la royauté, 10 août 1792 (Paris: Gallimard, 1969), 39, 388.

the residents of Montjai: On the local council and Petit-Jean, see Delambre to Madame d’Assy, [August 1792], in Bigourdan, Système métrique, 118–19.

The town council of Saint-Denis: On antiroyalism in Saint-Denis, see Anne Lombard-Jourdan, “Traque et abolition des marques de religion, de royauté et de féodalité à Saint-Denis après 1789”; Bruno Hacquemand, “F. A. Gautier, organiste de l’abbaye royale, et le vandalisme révolutionnaire à Saint-Denis”; and Philippe Weyl, “Destruction des tombeaux et l’exhumation des rois à Saint-Denis;” in Saint-Denis, ou, Le jugement dernier des rois, Roger Bourderon, ed. (Saint-Denis: PSD, 1993), 209–64.

“They sensed the mood”: Delambre, Base, 1:32. On the events of September 6, see Delambre to Mme. d’Assy, 8 September 1792, in Bigourdan, Système métrique, 122–24. On Epinay, see André Clipet, Epinay-sur-Seine: Son histoire (Paris: Boudin, 1970), 46, 165, 262–63, 268–69.

Where the main square: For the official record of the events of that day in Saint-Denis, see AMSD CT762, “M. Delambre, deux voitures . . . arrêtées,” 6 September 1792. For Delambre’s account, see Delambre, Base, 1:32–34. For the history of Saint-Denis during the Revolution, see the eyewitness reports in AHAP R4, Ferdinand-Albert Gautier, “Supplément à l’histoire de l’abbaye de Saint-Denis,” 1808; partially reprinted in J. Guiffrey, ed., “La ville de Saint-Denis pendant la Révolution,” Cabinet historique 20 (1874): 280–303; 21 (1875): 36–53, 118–34, especially 285, 293. On Saint-Denis and the town hall, see Michaël Wyss, Atlas historique de Saint-Denis: Des origines au XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 1996), 299–300.

“Long live the nation!”: Delambre to Mme. d’Assy, 8 September 1792, in Bigourdan, Système métrique, 122–24.

“Proclamation of the King”: Louis XVI, Proclamation du roi, concernant les observations et expériences à faire par les Commissaires de l’Académie des Sciences, pour l’exécution de la loi du 22 août 1790, 10 June 1792 (Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1792), 2–3.

to hoist a pinte of beer: The Saint-Denis pinte equaled 1.46 liters whereas a Paris pinte equaled 0.93 liters; see Alexis-Jean-Pierre Paucton, Métrologie, ou traité des mesures, poids et monnoies des anciens peuples et des modernes (Paris: Veuve Desaint, 1780), 808. For the Saint-Denis measures in the basilica, see Wyss, Saint-Denis, 62. For Amiens, see Léon Gaudefroy, Rapport des mesures anciennes en usage à Amiens (Paris: Camber, 1904), 7–8.

“They are the rule”: Paucton, Métrologie, 7. For the efforts of royal administrators, see Nicolas de La Mare, Traité de police (Paris: Brunet, 1719), 2:743. In 1321, 1510, 1576, and 1614, the Estates-General endorsed the king’s measures to little effect; see Georges Picot, ed., Histoire des Etats-généraux (Paris: Hachette, 1872), 2:256–57; 3:30, 204; 4:130.

“encumbrance” and “beyond remedy”: Anon., “Poids,” Encyclopédie, Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert, eds. (Paris: Briasson, 1751–72), 12:855; Jacques Necker, Compte rendu au roi (Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1781), 121.

Cahiers de doléances: For the Cahiers at the national level, see Beatrice Fry Hyslop, French Nationalism in 1789, According to the General Cahiers (New York: Columbia University Press, 1934), 56. At the local level, the demand for “one law, one king, one weight and one measure” figured in the complaints of eighteen of the surviving parishCahiers in the Forez region alone; see Etienne Fournial and Jean-Pierre Gutton, eds., Cahiers de doléances de la province de Forez (Saint-Etienne: Centre d’Etudes Foréziennes, 1974), 57, 106, 122, 127, 141, 149, 151, 160, 170, 179, 182, 217, 263, 311, 314, 319, 334, 353. Saint-Denis made its request as part of the Paris region; see Charles-Louis Chassin, Les cahiers de 1789 et les cahiers du Sénat (Paris: Suffrage Universel, 1875), 4:263–64. For Epinay, see “Epinay-sur-Seine,” AP 4:517.

“The instruments were spread”: Delambre, Base, 1:33–34.

Before the hecklers: For the evening of 6 September 1792, see Delambre to Mme. d’Assy, 8 September 1792, in Bigourdan, Système métrique, 122–24.

The national convention voted: For the proclamation of the National Convention, see Moniteur 13 (12 September 1792): 666. For the release of Delambre’s carriages, see AMSD 1D1-1, Registres municipales, 8 September 1792.

the volunteers of Saint-Denis: For the volunteers and subsequent history of Saint-Denis, see AHAP R4, Gautier, “Supplément à l’histoire de l’abbaye de Saint-Denis” (1808), 218.

“Well, I’m a soldier too!”: Alexandre Lenoir, “Notes historiques sur les exhumations faites en 1793 dans l’abbaye de Saint-Denis,” in Description historique et chronologique des monuments, 6th ed. (Paris: L’auteur, X [1802]), 338–56; see p. 241 for one version of this quotation. For another, see Weyl, “Destruction,” 245.

“great utility”: BMSD S10, David et al., “Rapport des Commissaires nommés par la Commission Temporaire des Arts pour conférer . . . ,” 3 ventôse III [21 February 1794].

TWO: THE SOUTH-GOING ASTRONOMER

“Welcome to [Barcelona]”: Miguel de Cervantes, The History and Adventures of the Renowned Don Quixote, Tobias Smollett, trans. (Chatham, England: Mackays, 1998), 862.

leaving Paris on June 10: For the official departure date, see Delambre, Base, 1:21. Needless to say, all accounts of this expedition have taken this date to be accurate. For the series of Méchain’s predicted dates of departure, see Méchain to Cotte, 28 January 1792, in Joseph Laissus, “Un astronome français en Espagne: Pierre-François-André Méchain (1744–1804),” Comptes rendues du 94e Congrès National des Sociétés Savantes, Pau, 1969 (Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale, 1970), 36–59, especially 48–50. AMNM Leg. 2294, J. Gonzales to A. Valdez, 4 July 1792. AOP MS1058III, Méchain to Flaugergues, 9 June 1792; KBD NKS1304, Méchain to Bugge, 23 June 1792.

“then being on the point”: AN M.C. Etude XXIII, “Procuration . . . , fait et passé à Paris en la demeure du Sr. Méchain,” signed by Méchain and the notaries François Brichard and [Antoine-Marie] Boulard, 28 June 1792.

the neat little house: On the Méchain family dwelling, see BL, “Registres,” 17 nivôse II [6 January 1794]; see also AAS Dossier Méchain, “Certificat de mariage,” 4 November 1777.

The Marjou family had also: On the Marjou family, see AN O1 682, “Marjou, valet de garde-robe de Monsieur,” 6 January 1780. For Méchain’s pay, see AAS Lavoisier 1042, “Quittances,” 10 March, 15 June 1792, 1 July 1793. The move of the king from Versailles to Paris cost Madame Méchain her “patrimoine”; see Méchain to Cotte, 7 January 1790, in Laissus, “Astronome,” 45–46. For Madame Méchain’s promise to conduct astronomical work, see AAS 1J4, Lalande, “Journal,” 28 April [1793], 63. See also KBD NKS1304, Mme. Méchain to Bugge, 19 March 1793; Guillaume Bigourdan, “Le Bureau des Longitudes, Son histoire et ses travaux, de l’origine (1795) à ce jour,” Annuaire du Bureau des Longitudes (1928): A1–72; (1929): C1–92; (1930): A1–110; (1931): A1–151; (1932): A1–117; see especially (1928): A34, and (1932): A26–27. For her duties as substitute concierge, see Charles Wolf, Histoire de l’Observatoire de Paris de sa fondation à 1793 (Paris, Gauthier-Villars, 1902), 326–28.

There he implied that his own: For Delambre’s subtle phrasing of his own departure date, and his assertion that he had been working “since” June 26, see Delambre, Base, 1:23. For his logbook account indicating a start date of June 24, see AOP E2-6, Delambre, “Registre,” 2.

may solve a mystery: I have carefully considered whether I am mistaken about the date of Méchain’s departure. In general, a notarized document is the most certain proof one can have as to the presence of a particular person at a particular time and place. This notarized document was entered into the bound register of the notary François Brichard on June 28, 1792. There are, however, a few possible grounds upon which one might challenge this proof—although none seems convincing. First, the handwriting of the place and date on the document does differ from the rest of the text and was almost certainly filled in after the rest of the document. The most plausible explanation for this, however, is that the power of attorney, which covers three long pages of dense legal boilerplate, was prepared in the notary’s office before he went to the home of Méchain for his signature, with blanks left to fill in the place and date on that occasion. So the question is whether the place, date, and Méchain’s signature were all affixed on that same occasion. Second, it is possible that Méchain signed the boilerplate in advance of his departure, allowing his wife to fill in the date and place at a time of her choosing. However, a signature must be witnessed by notaries to be valid, and the two notaries who signed the document attested to the date and place where they signed. Finally, Méchain may in fact have left Paris on June 25, only to return almost immediately, signing the power of attorney on June 28 and then proceeding on his mission. This would make Delambre’s claim (narrowly) truthful, while preserving the authenticity of the notarized document. A plausible scenario for this quick return is imaginable. Méchain had difficulty at a barricade at Essonne, one day’s ride out of Paris, and this may have led him to return to Paris to get some new passports. However, Delambre himself noted that this obstacle at Essonne did not cause Méchain to turn around and call a halt to his mission; see Delambre, Notice historique sur M. Méchain, lue, le 5 messidor XIII [24 June 1805], (Paris: Baudouin, January 1806), 13. Moreover, it seems farfetched to think Méchain would have chosen this occasion to sign a power of attorney. In sum, it would seem almost certain that Méchain did not leave Paris until sometime on or shortly after June 28. Moreover, I have not found any place where Méchain himself mentioned his departure date. In a private letter of 1793, Madame Méchain recollected that her husband left Paris on June 24, 1792, which was clearly mistaken, and was instead the date on which the king’s proclamation was finally delivered; see KBD NKS 1304, Mme. Méchain to Bugge, 19 March 1793. Lalande recorded in his journal that Méchain left for Barcelona on June 25; however, he intended to (and actually did) publish his journal as an official history of astronomy in his own time, so it too should be read as an official statement, and hence protective of Méchain’s precedence. AAS 1J4, Lalande, “Journal” (25 June 1792), 57; Lalande, Bibliographie astronomique, 717.

expecting to return in seven months: For the seven-month estimate, see KBD NKS1304, Méchain to Bugge, 23 June 1792. Méchain expected the entire operation to be completed in two years; see Méchain to Cotte, 28 January 1792, in Laissus, “Astronome,” 48–50.

“brusque alarms”: AOP MS1058III, Méchain to Flaugergues, 10 August 1789.

“Don Quixotes”: Cassini IV to Marquis de B***, in J.-F.-S. Devic, Histoire de la vie et des travaux scientifiques et littéraires de J.-D. Cassini IV (Clermont: Daix, 1851), 123. On the break-in at the Méchain home at the Observatory, see BML 26CA6, Méchain to Cotte, 21 July 1789. See also Wolf, Observatoire, 319–23; Bigourdan, “Bureau des Longitudes” (1928): A66.

“You can imagine”: AOP MS1058III, Méchain to Flaugergues, 22 October 1789.

buying some telescopic equipment: The main source for Méchain’s early career, presumably on the basis of Méchain’s own notes, is an article by his friend, F.-X. Zach, “Méchain,” MC 2 (1800): 96–117. For doubts about the story that Lalande purchased the instruments, see chapter 12, below.

and the editor of the: Méchain took over the Connaissance des temps in 1785. For Méchain’s sense of the importance of the journal, see “Avertissement,” CT pour 1793 (1791).

“due deference” and “very capable”: d’Angiviller to Cassini IV, 7 March 1783, in Wolf, Observatoire, 45–49.

Méchain was a short: For a physical description of Méchain, see Jacques-François-Laurent Devisme, “Méchain,” Histoire de la ville de Laon (Laon: Le Blan-Courtois, 1822), 360–67.

the Franco-British expedition: For this 1788 survey, see Jean-Dominique Cassini IV, Pierre-François-André Méchain, and Adrien-Marie Legendre, Exposé des opérations faites en France en 1787, pour la jonction des observatoires de Paris et de Greenwich (Paris: Institution des Sourds-Muets, 1790), 34–36, 59; also Sven Widmalm, “Accuracy, Rhetoric, and Technology, The Paris–Greenwich Triangulation, 1784–88,” in The Quantifying Spirit in the Eighteenth Century, Tore Frängsmyr, John L. Heilbron, and Robin E. Rider, eds. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 179–206. Suzanne Débarbat, “Coopération géodésique,” Echanges d’influences scientifiques et techniques entre pays européens de 1780 à 1830, Actes du 114e Congrès National des Sociétés Savantes, Paris, 3–9 April 1989 (Paris: CTHS, 1990), 47–76.

“I perceive, Sir”: AOP D5-7, William Roy to Cassini IV, 29 January 1789.

“Usually, in the arts”: Cassini IV, “Application du cercle,” MAS (1789; pub. II [1794]), 617.

Not the French: For their confidence in Méchain, see Cassini IV, Méchain, and Legendre, Opérations Paris et Greenwich, 58–62.

Méchain did get a chance: For Méchain’s work with the repeating circle, see Cassini IV, “Application du cercle,” MAS (1789; pub. II [1794]), 617–23.

“So you see”: Méchain to Cotte, 7 January 1790, in Laissus, “Astronome,” 45–46.

named Jean-Joseph Tranchot: For Tranchot’s assignment to the meridian project on 27 May 1792, see SHAT Xem 176, Tranchot, “Etat des services de feu Monsieur Tranchot,” 31 October 1815. For Méchain’s previous work with Tranchot, see Puissant, “Notice,” CT (1822): 293–97.

“natural and miserable road”: Young, Travels, 1:59. Also Henry Swindburne, Travels Through Spain in the Years 1775 and 1776 (London: Davis, 1787), 1:3–11.

banning the scientific: For the ban on the Journal de physique, see Richard Herr, The Eighteenth-Century Revolution in Spain (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958), 255. On this period in Barcelona, see Jaume Carrera i Pujal, La Barcelona del segle XVIII (Barcelona: Casa Editorial, 1951). For a contemporary witness, see Rafel d’Amat i de Cortada, baró de Maldà, Calaix de Sastre, 17921794 (Barcelona: Curial Edicions Catalanes, 1987–  ). Also Arthur Young, “Tour in Catalonia,” Annals of Agriculture 8 (1787): 235–41.

Yet the Spanish Crown: For the Franco-Spanish frontier survey, see Josef Konvitz, Cartography in France, 16601848: Science, Engineering, and Statecraft (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 37. On Spanish interest in French geodetic techniques, see Antonio Ten, “Scientifiques et Francisés, Dépendances intellectuelles des scientifiques espagnols à la fin du XVIIIe siècle et au début du XIXe,” Echanges d’influences scientifiques et techniques entre pays européens de 1780 à 1830, Actes du 114e Congrès National des Sociétés Savantes, Paris, 1989 (Paris: Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques, 1990), 27–28; Antonio Ten, Medir el metro: La historia de la prolongación del arco de meridiano Dunkerque–Barcelona, base del Sistema Métrico Decimal(Valencia: Universitat de València, 1996), 107–19.

Méchain was familiar: On Méchain’s prior acquaintance with Gonzales, see AOP MS1058III, Méchain to Flaugergues, 23 April 1791. For the advance Franco-Spanish coordination, see, on the French end: AMAE Corr. Pol. Espagne 632, B.-C. Cahier [Min. Int.] to Delessart [Min. Aff. Etr.], 9 March 1792; Borda to [Min. Aff. Etr.], 28 March 1792. On the Spanish end, see AMNM Leg. 2294/53, Gonzales to Valdez, 11 July 1792; Antonio Ten, “El sistema métrico decimal y España,” Arbor 134 (1989): 101–21.

Méchain had Barcelona’s artisans: For a description of the operations, see AOP E2-20, Méchain, “Détails des opérations faites en Catalogne,” April 1793; also AOP E2-19, Méchain to Delambre, 14 vendémiaire IV [4 October 1795]. See diagram of signal in ADPO L1128, Méchain to Lucia [sic], 6 October 1793. For rumors in Barcelona, see Barón de Maldà, in Enric Moreu-Rey, El naixement del metre (Palma de Mallorca: Moll, 1956), 70–71.

a zone of ambiguity: For a brilliant account of the ambiguities of national and geographic demarcations, see Peter Sahlins, Boundaries: The Making of France and Spain in the Pyrenees (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989).

To expedite their search: For Méchain’s account of their procedures, see AMNM Leg. 2294, Méchain, “Francisco Planez,” 7 February 1793.

“The peaks so closely”: Méchain, in Delambre, Base, 1:486.

the inns were wretched: On the local inns, see Joseph Townsend, A Journey Through Spain in the Years 1786 and 1787 (Bath: Longman, 1814), 1:78. A description of the Pyrénées in this area is in Young, Travels, 1:56–59, 626.

political tension was rising: On the effect of the border tensions on the mission, see AOP E2-19, Méchain to Lalande, 11 ventôse IV (1 March 1796).

“the roads of hell”: AOP B4-11, Méchain to Cassini IV, 8 September 1792.

Méchain was thoroughly frustrated: For Méchain’s complaints about the popular disregard for his mission, see Méchain to Admin. de Pyrénées-Orientales, 28 August 1792, in Pierre Vidal, Histoire de la Révolution dans le département des Pyrénées-Orientales (Perpignan: Indépendant, 1889), 2:373–74; AAS Fonds Lavoisier 1257, Méchain to Lavoisier, 4 September 1792; AOP B4-11, Méchain to Cassini IV, 8 September 1792.

“beyond any ever conceived”: CNAM C8, Jumelin to Bureau de Consultation, 12 September 1792.

“an observer of sufficient”: Jean-Charles de Borda, Description et usage du cercle de reflection (Paris: Didot, 1787), 5. On Borda, see Jean Mascart, La vie et les travaux du chevalier Jean-Charles de Borda, 17331799 (Lyon: Rey, 1919). On the relationship between Borda and Lenoir, see A. J. Turner, From Pleasure and Profit to Science and Security: Etienne Lenoir and the Transformation of Precision Instrument-Making in France, 17601830 (Cambridge, England: Whipple Museum, 1989).

He measured at Puig Rodos: On Puig Rodos, see AOP E2-19, Méchain to Lalande, 3 brumaire IV [25 October 1795]. On the lights in the city, see Barón de Maldà, in Moreu-Rey, Naixement del metre, 71–72. On the use of mirrors, see AMNM Leg. 2294/74, Gonzales to Alvarez, 27 October 1792.

at the more “arduous” stations: AOP E2-19, Méchain to Delambre, 14 vendémiaire IV [4 October 1795].

hunted for fossils: For fossils and tombstones, see Townsend, Journey Through Spain, 1:127–29.

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