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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Sidenote Death of Gay Lussac Gay Lussac


"The vastness of a plan which includes both a history and a criticism of society, an analysis of its evils, and a discussion of its principles, authorizes me, I think, in giving to my work the title 'The Human Comedy.' Is this too ambitious?"

[Sidenote: Balzac's Works]

Altogether, Balzac brought out more than a hundred prose romances. They contain the most graphic pictures of the life of the French people under Louis Philippe. Balzac said of himself that he described people as they were, while others described them as they should be. A few months before his death Balzac improved his circumstances by a marriage with the rich Countess Hanska. On his death Victor Hugo delivered the funeral oration, while Alexandre Dumas, his rival throughout life, erected a monument to him with his own means.

One week later Louis Philippe, the deposed King of France, died at Claremont in England, in his seventy-seventh year. His career, from the time that he followed the example of his father, Philippe Egalite, by fighting the battles of the Revolution, and through the vicissitudes of his exile until he became King in 1830, was replete with stirring episodes.

[Sidenote: Death of Gay-Lussac]

Gay-Lussac, the great French chemist and physicist, died during the same year. Born at Saint Leonard, Haut-Vienne, in 1788, Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac distinguished himself early in his career as a scientist by his aerial voyages in company with Biot for the observation of atmospheric phenomena at great heights. In 1816, he was appointed Professor of Chemistry at the Polytechnic School of Paris, a chair which he held until 1832. Promoted to a professorship at the Jardin des Plantes, Gay-Lussac labored there incessantly until his death. There is scarcely a branch of physical or chemical science to which Gay-Lussac did not contribute some important discovery. He is noted chiefly for his experiments with gases and for the discovery of the law of combination by volumes.

[Sidenote: Louis Napoleon's presidency]

Louis Napoleon, while administering affairs as President, began to let France feel his power. Early in the year he created his incapable uncle, Jerome Bonaparte, a marshal of France. On August 15, his Napoleonic aspirations were encouraged by a grand banquet tendered to him at Lyons. His government felt strong enough to enact new measures for the restriction of the liberty of the press.

[Sidenote: Prussian constitution]

[Sidenote: South German alliance]

[Sidenote: Denmark's integrity guaranteed]

[Sidenote: Hessians resist despotism]

In Germany, as well as in Austria and Russia, similar reactionary measures were enforced. Frederick William IV. of Prussia for a while appeared anxious to undo the effects of his narrow policy of the previous year. A constitution had been adopted in Prussia on the last day of January, and on February 6 the King took the constitutional oath. Austria now began to edge her way back into the management of German affairs. Under her influence Hanover withdrew from the alliance of the three North German powers, Hanover, Saxony and Prussia. Later Saxony also withdrew. On February 27, the Kings of Bavaria, Wurtemberg and Saxony signed a joint agreement for a restoration of the German Confederation and a maintenance of


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