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Andre Marie Ampère, the son of Jean Jacques Ampère and Jeanne Antoinette Sarcey de Sutières, was 
born at Lyons, in the parish of Saint-Nizier, on the 22d of January, 1775. 

Jean Jacques Ampère was well educated, and highly esteemed. His wife was also generally beloved 
for the uniform sweetness of her disposition and a beneficence, ever on the watch for occasion upon 
which to exercise itself. A short time after the birth of their son, M. Ampère abandoned commerce 
and retired with his wife to a small estate in Poleymieux-lès-Mont-d’Or, near Lyons, and here in 
an obscure village, without the assistance of a teacher, began to dawn, or, as I should say, to be 
developed that wonderful intellect, the brilliant phases of which I am about to unfold. 

The first talent shown by Ampère was that for arithmetic. Before even understanding figures, or 
knowing how to form them, he made long calculations with the aid of a limited number of pebbles or 
beans. It may be he had fallen upon the ingenious method of the Hindoos, or, perhaps, his pebbles 
were combined like the corn strung upon parallel lines by the Brahmin mathematicians of Pondichéry, 
Calcutta, and Benares, and handled by them with such rapidity, precision and accuracy. As we advance 
in the life of Ampère we shall find this supposition gradually losing its apparent improbability. 
To illustrate to what an extraordinary degree the love of calculation had seized upon the young 
student, being deprived, by the tenderness of his mother, during a serious illness, of his dear 
little pebbles, he supplied their places with pieces of biscuit which had been allowed him after 
three days strict diet. I shall not dwell longer on this illustration, as I am far from wishing to 
give it as an unanswerable or incontestable indication of the future vocation of Ampère. There are 
children, I know, whose apathy nothing seems able to arouse, and others, again, who take an interest 
in every thing, amuse themselves with even mathematical calculations without an object. You object 
to this assertion, charge it, perhaps, with exaggeration, and class numerical calculation with those 
distasteful tasks which duty and necessity alone can induce one to undertake. My answer is ready, 
and I will cite, not mere school-boys, but a distinguished savant, who, perceiving my astonishment 
at seeing him, during a public meeting of the academy, undertake the multiplication of two long 
lines of figures, said to me at once, “You forget the pleasure it will give me directly to prove 
this calculation by division.”  
Young Ampère soon learned to read, and devoured every book that fell into his hand. History, 
travels, poetry, romances and philosophy interested him almost equally. If he showed any preference, 
it was for Homer, Lucian, Tasso, Fénélon, Corneille, Voltaire, and for Thomas, 
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