, a chemist of considerable eminence, was born at Bayonne in 1761.
, a chemist of considerable eminence, was born at Bayonne in 1761. He acquired the rudiments of pharmacy in his father’s house, and afterwards studied the subject at Paris with such constant application, that at a very early age he was familiarly acquainted with chemical processes, and even with the exact state of the science. At the age of twenty-one he published a set of experiments on the arsenic acid, in which he explained the properties of Macquer’s neutral arsenical salt, and demonstrated the real nature of Macquer’s process. In these observations he had been anticipated by Scheele, by Bergman, by the Dijon academicians, and by Berthollet; but it was no inconsiderable merit in so young a man to have advanced as far in the subject as these masters of the science. Soon after, he published several observations on the crystallization of sulphur and cinnabar, on the distillation of phosphorus from bones, on deliquescent salts, on oxymuriatic acid, on the formation of ethers, and particularly on muriatic and acetic ethers. His success in these encouraged him to attempt the analysis of the zeolite, at that time a much more difficult task than at present, when the mode of analyzing minerals has been reduced to a regular system. In 1785 he undertook the analysis of plumbago, a labour in which he had been anticipated by Scheele, and which was completed the year following, in the course of the celebrated experiments made upon iron and its combinations, by Berthollet, Monge, and Vandertnonde. His next object was the combination of phosphorus with the metals; the existence of which had been merely pointed out by Margraff. To Pelletier we owe almost all the knowledge concerning the metallic phosphurets which we at present possess. The next object of his researches was aurum Musivum, a brownish yellow scaly powder sometimes used in painting. He demonstrated it to be a compound of sulphur and the oxide of tin, and pointed out several improvements in the method of preparing it.