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Cuvier's Memoirs of Buffon. [April 1, been elected a member in 1733. The animals, and of the grand phenomena of most important of these communications nature, belong to Buffon : the subordidetailed his experiments on the con vate co-operation of Daubenton was struction of a mirror like that of Ar limited to the anatomy and minute dechimedes, for the purpose of setting fire scription of natural bodies. to objects at a considerable distance; The nine following volumes, which and on the strength of tirnber, and on the appeared from 1770 to 1783, contained nieans of increasing it, chiefly by de. the History of Birds. Daubenton depriving the trees of their bark a consi- clined baving any further share in it, derable time before felling them. because Buffon had given permission to
Hitherto it was only a general love of Panckoucke, the bookseller, to print an the sciences an i literary renown that edition of the History of Quadrupeds, had animated Buffon in his labours : in which the whole of the anatomical his appointinent to the place of super- part was omitted. The work hereby intendant of the Royal Gardco, give a received another form: only short de. determina:e direction to his studies, and scriptions, in which the anatomical part introduced liim to the career in which he was almost wholly neglected, were incorhas acquired immortal glory. His friend porated with the historical sections, and predecessor Dufay had begun to raise which were partly composed by two of that institution from the decay into which Buffou's friends: at first G. M. Guéneau it had been suffered to fall by the king's de Montbeillard, who sometimes very chief physicians, who had long held it happily imitated his style; and aftere in uninterrupted succession as an ap wards by the Abbé Beron. pendage to their office. On his death. The five volumes on Mineralogy were bed, in 1739, he had recommended published by Buffon without any asBuffon as the only man capable of exe sistant, between 1783 and 1788. The cuting his plans. Being accordingly ap seven supplementary volumes, the last pointed Dufav’s successor, he imme- of which did not appear till after his diately began to calculate what could be death in 1789, consisted principally of effected by zeal and industry; and had dissertations relative to the three grand the prudence to secure to himself all the divisions of the work. support which he might need.
The great work on which Buffon had Before his time the writers on natural been employed without interruption history had been mere compilers, or dry during fifty years, forms, however, only systematists. There existed indeed a a division of his comprehensive plan : great number of excellent observations and although Lacépède bas successon single subjects: but Buffon formed fully pursued it in his History of the determmation to unite the extensive large Aquatic Animals, of Fishes, and plan and eloquence of Pliny with the of Reptiles; yet the History of the profoundness of Aristotle, and the minute Animals without Vertebræ, and the whole accuracy of modern naturalists. His of the Vegetable Kingdom yet remain to genius and imagination were equal to be completed. comprehensive views, and the lively On Bufon's literary character there delineation and colouring which the exists only one opinion : with respect to execution of such a plan required; but, sublimity of views, dignified majesty finding that he wanted patience and of images, noble energy of language, ability to observe and describe the no and equable harmony of style, while merous and very minute objects of treating of important subjects, few have natural bistory, he called in the assist. equalled him. A certain want of ance of his countryman, Daubenton, pliancy is objected to him: sometimes, in whom he had early discovered the however, detailed descriptions, replete qualifications in which himself was de with enchanting grace, have flowed from ficient. After ten years' persevering his pen. He frequently endeavours to Jabour and diligence, the two friends give variety to a dry subject, by excellent published the three first volumes of moral reflections; and in each of his Natural History. They continued, joint- pictures of the grand phenomena of ly, from 1749 to 1767, the fifteen first nature, we find a peculiar indelible chavolumes, containing the Theory of the racter combined with the strictest ada Earth, the General History of Animals, herence to truth. Accordingly the work the History of Man and of the Vivia was every where received with applause. parous Quadrupeds. All the shining parts In every country, men, the most distinof the work, the general theories, the guished for rank and talents, were una views of the manners and habits of the nimuus in paying lionnage to the author;
foreign princes emulated each other still, however, his eloquent sketch of the in confering upon him marks of their re- physical and moral developement of gard; and in his native country he en man, is an excellent production, which joyed, in a peculiarly high degree, the will bear a comparison with some of the favour of government, Louis XV. best passages in the writings of Locke. annexed the title of count to his estate He was wrong in endeavouring to of Buffon. M. d'Angevillers, surveyor- substitute for the instinct of animals a general of the royal buildings during the kind of mechanism, which, however, is reign of Louis XVI. erected to his much more intelligible than the Cartesian honour, while still living, at the entrance theory: but his idcas on the influence of the king's cabinet of riatural bistory, of the tenderness and degree of devea statue with this inscription, Majestati lopement of single organs, will claim nature par ingenium; and except a few the attention of the philosopher who obscure and already-forgotten critics, devotes his studies to natural history: scarcely a voice was heard to detract they have indeed done such essential from the praise with which he was service to systematic description, that honoured.
the author may, on that account, be With respect to his merit as a na- forgiven the invectives he poured forth turalist, opinions were more divided. against it. His ideas on the degeneration His countrymen, Voltaire, D'Alem- of animals, and the limits set by clibert, and Condorcet, severely censured mates, mountains, and seas,
to the his hypotheses, and his philosophical extension of species, may be reasonings, which are not founded upon sidered as real discoveries, which daily calculations or experiments, but deduced receive additional confirmation. from certain general views: and several The most perfect part of Buffon's foreign naturalists have noticed, with works is his. History of Quadrupeds, disapprobation, certain errors in the de- Before his time the knowledge of exotic tails of his history, and particularly his manimalia was very confused, and interrejection of a methodical nomenclature ; woven with numerous errors. . without, at the same time, doing justice thod introduced by him of describing to his merits on account of the various every species of animals singly and additions with which he had enriched separately, and to subject the history the science.
thereof to a strict criticism, has become Although in these censures many things a pattern for all important contributions are founded in truth; yet it must be towards natural history, and particularly owned that they are accompanied with
for the labours of Pallas. The considerable exaggeration. No one will
state in which Buffon found this class now undertake to defend Buffon's first of animals, inspired him with his dislike or second Theory of the Earth:--bis of methodicai nomenclatures: but he comet tearing fragments from the sun did not obstinately adhere to this prehis vitrified or red-hot planets, which judice, for we find that be silently subgradually cool, some sooner and others mitted to the necessity of arrangement laier--the organic creatures which gra
and classification in his Ornithology, dually appear on their surface as the which, though inferior in other respects temperature becomes milder---can only to the History of Quadrupeds, has bebe considered as ingenious sports of
the principal source whence imagination: It must, nevertheless, be subsequent writers on the subject have allowed, that he had the merit of ge derived; and making allowance for the nerally diffusing the conviction that the time in which it was written, no other present condition of our globe is the work on the subject exhibits so much result of several consecutive revolutions, critical accuracy. of which it is possible to find the traces:
The weakest part of his works is the that it was he who directed the atten. Iristory of Minerals. tion of observers to the phenomena, portunities he there met with of indulging which may be adduced as proofs of these his propensity for hypothesis, seduced great changes. His Theory of Genera our author; and he neglected to call in tion, and his Doctrine of Organic Mole- sufficiently the aid of chemistry, or to cules appear, without saying any thing follow the rapid progress of the science of their obscurity, and a certain contra- by the labours of Romé de Lisle, Bergdiction in terms, to have been com man, Saussure, and Hauy. pletely refuted by later observers, par
At the same time that Buffon was ticularly by Haller and Spallanzani; engaged on this great work, te was
The many op
Cuvier's Memoirs of Buffon.
[April 1, erecting another monument to his fame. bited an exclusive fondness for his own The cabinet and garden, which had been writings. committed to his care, were conside We must however own that he has rably enriched by his active superinten. never betrayed this excessive predilecdance, by every advantage derived from tiun in his own works, where he never the favour of the ministers, and by pre- forgets the dignified manner which a man sents from bis admirers in every part of addressing the public should always the world. He had the merit likewise maintain. of exciting a general inclination towards Of bis manner of composing, an idea the study of natural history; and the is presented in his Discourse on Style, zeal which princes and nobles have which he pronounced at his reception shewn for tlie promotion of the science. into the French Academy in 1753 : pre
Buffon resided alternately at the Royal cept and example are here found together; Garden and his country seat of Mont. and this discourse may be reckoned bar. From intense study be sought among the most excellent prose for recreation in amusements which says in the French language. He has he could easily procure. Homage and not, however, mentioned ihere the extrapraise he willingly received, but without ordinary care which be bestowed on the taking any other trouble to obtain them finishing of his writings, by which he except such as the perfecting of his gave them the admirable harmony by literary productions required. From which they are so peculiarly distinguishthe cabals of the political and literary ed. It is asserted that he had the world he kept himself alvof, and did not manuscript of the Epochs of Nature deign to reply to the criticisins on his copied eleven times before it was sent works. His tranquillity was further to the press. Indeed, in his familiar secured by an obliging politeness towards letters, we find scarcely a trace of the men of high rank and office; and ac- splendid style of his printed procordingly the peaceful tenor of his life ductions. was seldom disturbed, except perhaps Of Buffon's Natural History, two by his dispute with the Sorbonne, whose quarto editions issued from the royal zeal he was forced to soften by a kind press; one, published in 1749 to 1788, of recantation.
in thirty-six volumes, is held in the Continual pain from the stone in the highest estimation, and none of the bladder embittered his latter years, witte subsequent ones can supply its place to out however interrupting the progress of the naturalist: the second, which aphis labours. He died at Paris, on the peared ia 1774 and the following years, 16th of April, 1788, in the 81st year of in twenty-eight volumes, is little sought his age. In 1762 he had married Made- after, although the supplements are here moiselle de St. Belin, and left by her an incorporated with the body of the work: only son, who fell a sacrifice on the but it wants the anatomical contributions revolutionary scaffold, fourteen days be of Daubenton, and the impressions of fore the 8th of Thermidor, which put a the plates are inferior. With both edi. period to those scenes of mourning and tions are commonly bound Lacépède's horror.
Oviparous Quadrupeds and Serpents, Buffon possessed a noble and expres, which appeared in 1787 and 1789, in sive countenance; and his manly form two quarto volumes; his Fishes, pube and dignified deportment inspired reve lished in 1793 and 1803, in five quarto
In his private life he has been volumes; and his Cetaceous Animals, charged with a love of finery and an published in 1804, in four volumes, unseemly vanity, to which his studies The royal press likewise furnished a and literary eminence should have duodecimo edition of the Natural Hisa rendered him superior. It is said, tory, begun in 1753, and consisting of that, devoting the powers of his mind seventy-three volumes with, or of only wholly to the study of natural history, fifty-three without, the anatomical part: he neglected the arts of social inter- the continuations of Lacépède form se course, and used, in conversation, vulgar venteen volumes of this size. In the expressions, and a language extremely years 1766 and 1779, Allamand, prom different from the style of his books: fessor at the University of Leyden, res and it is likewise asserted, that he was published, at Amsterdam, all that remure pleased with the society of flatterers lated to General History of Nature and and admirers than of judicious critics; of Quadrupeds, in twelve volumes quarto; and that in his latter years he exhia adding many important observations of
his own, which were afterwards adopted Icalian translation of this abriligment of hy Buffon into his Supplements. The Buffon lately appeared at Placenza, in Deuxponts edition of 1785 and 1791, in sixteens. In 1801 P. Bernard published fifty-four volumes, is very carelessly in 11 octavo volumes, Histoire naturelle printed.
de Buffon, reduite à ce quelle contient de As soon as ten years after the author's plus instructif 8: de plus interessant. OF death had elapsed, the French booksel. the Naturalllistory of Birds there appeared lers emulated each other in nee editions. in 1771 & seq. a splendid edition fro: In 1798 and 1307 there appeared the royal press, in folio and quarto, with al Paris, in 127 octavo volumes, a 1008 coloured plates, executed under General and Particular Natural flislory, the inspection of the author, by M. Dauwith Notes, &c. a work forining a com BENTON, a younger brother of his first asa plete course of natural history, edited sociate. These plates are likewise sold by Sonnini, The sixty-four first vo
without the text. lumes of this extensive collection, con. The publications against Buffon's Natain Buffun's work, with notes and tural History were very numerous ; additions by the editor: eight are de- they were mostly ephemerous produc. voted to reptiles by Dandin; six to the cons, which sunk the sooner into obli. mollusca by Denys-Montfort; fourteen vion, because Buffon preserved an uliconto crustaceous animals and insects by querable silence respecting his censurers Latreille; thirteen to fishes by Sonnini; and adversaries. one to the large marine animals, like The Lettres d'un Americain, however, 'wise by Sonnini, but chiefly taken from which appeared in 9 vols. 12m0. at Hania Lacépède; and eighteen to the vege, burgli, in 1751, and the following years, table kingdom, by Brisseau, Mirbel, and attracted considerable attention. These others. The three last volumes contain letters were written, at the instigation of the index by Sue.
Reaumur, by the Abbé de Lianac, a CaSangrain, a bookseller, and Panquet, pucine friar, who had deserted from bis an engraver, set on foot in 1799, &c. á convent and order. We likewise find systematic edition of Buffon's Natural valuable remarks in Malesherbes's Obserlistory, in 56 vols. in sixteens, according mutions sur l'Histoire Naturelle de Buffon, to the plan of Lacépède, to whom it was wbich were published at Paris, in 1798, dedicated by the editor. All observa« in 2 vols. 4to. tions relative to synonyms are here omiin Buffon's Natural History, 11otwithstanda ted; but to the 14th volume of the ing its great extent, has been translated Mammalia, a systematic synopsis is adde into the English, Italian, Spanish, and ed of all quadrupeds and birds described German languages; and some of the tranby Buffon; in which they are classed ac. slations are accompanied with notes and cording to Lacépède's system, and to his additions, and Buffon's synonyms are added likewise In 1810, Bastien, a bookseller in Pa. those of Linneus. The 20 vols. of the edi. ris, began a new complete edition of his tion in sixteens, of Lacépède's above-men. works, in 36 volumes: above twenty of tioned works, on fishes, serpents, and ma which have already appeared. At the riae animals, are generally bound with this beginning of the first volume he has given edition. A number of the copies have several poems, &c. relative to the author. likewise appeared with Didot's name to The additions, supplements, and notes, the title page, and are considered as will be inserted in their proper places: forming part of his stereotype collec- which will constitute the sole merit of tion.
this edition. M. Castel printed in 1799 and 1802, in CONDORCET, as Secretary of the Acade. 18 vols, sixteens, a Complete Course of my of Sciences,and BROUSSONET,as SecreNatural History, in which an abridgment tary of the Parisian Society of Rural Ecoof Buffon's works, arranged according to nomy, read to these learned bodies his. the Linnean systein, fills 26 volumes. torical memoirs and eulogies of Buffon. Patrin has treated of the fishes in 10 VicQ-D'Azir, his successor in the French volumes, according to Bloch's Ichthyolo. Academy, has, in his inaugural discourse, gy; to which are added 4 volumes on expatiated on the merits and fame of the Reptiles, by Sonnini and Latreille; 10 deceased member; and LACEPEDE has paid 'volunies on Insects, by Tigny and him an eloquent tribute of praise in the Brongniart; 10 volumes on Crustaccous first volume of his History of Serpents. Animals and Vermes, by Bosc; and Two lives of him appeared nearly at * 15 volumes on Plants, by Lamarc the same time in 1788, one anonymous, and Mirbel. The commencement of an and the other by M. Aude. But the most 1
The Portfolio of a Man of Letters, (April 1, curious anecdotes respecting him are to details respecting his character, person, be found in * Héraulí de Séchelles' Voyage and writings, first published in the Mere à Montbar, containing very interesting cure, and afterwards as a separate work
* See a former number of the Monthly in 1801. Magazine.
Extracts from the Portfolio of a Man of Letters.
NIMBUS OR GLORY.
Peter, as the porter, or keeper of the VIIS ornament, in which much mys- gate of Paradise, is called by the Italians only the sun. This emblem, placed over ceived our English Johnny Dory: an the heads of saints and even of kings, exertion of etymological gening, not a was an initation of the custom of the whit behind that by which the Italian Romans, who meant by it merely to ex Girasolé, or Turnsol, is transformed into press the deification of their greai men. a Jerusalem artichoke. POEM ON GODFREY OF BOULOGNE.
FIRST PERSECUTION FOR HERESY. In the public library at Lyons,in France, Maximus, who commanded in Britain, exists a quarto manuscript poem of more after the death of Theodosius, made the than thirty thousand verses, entitled, support of the peculiar system of chrisGodefroi de Bouillon. It was composed tianity, then established in the empire, in the year 1469, or tran:c.ihed at least, a pretence for the exertion of his ty. by one Pierre Coudron), a poet patronized ranny and avarice. He put to death by the family of Saint-Priest, which pos. Priscillian, and some of his followers, sessed in the Lyonese the manor of St. convicted of holding heretical opinions; Chaumond. It may be suspected that that is, of exercising the rights of human Tasso owes something to this cpopea, beings, on inatters of the highest ime which terminates with the following lines: portance to themselves alone.
The Priscillianites had reposed such Si finit l'ystoire Godefroi de Bouillon, Qui l'a faite ecrire Dieu usse parlon;
confidence in the understanding and Ecrire la fit un inouit noble baron,
equity of the chief magistrate, as to apLeonard de Saint-Priest, seigneur de Chau- peal to him from the ecclesiastical senmon,
ience pronounced against them by an Par un nommé Pierre, qui fut né à Laon, assembly held in France, where MaxiDe Coudron s'appella en son propresurnom.
mus then was. It will ever be rememCe roman fut fini en icelle saison,
bered, to the honour of St. Martin of Ou on ne mange ni chair, ni venaison, Tours, that he laboured strenuously in L'an mil quatre cens soixante nent cenion the defence of the suppliant heretics, reEu mars, et neufs jours droit par devant les presenting to the tyrant the horror of brandon.
shedding innocent blood; that it was Dieu donne à l'ecrivain remission,
even more than sufficient, that such as Et à lecteurs des liants cieux le vray don.
had incurred the censure of the church, The poem is divided into short chapters, should be excluded from the public sero hut not into stanzas, or cantos: it proves vice of religion; but especially, that it the stabile popularity of the first crusade, would be a thing unheard of, for a secular which was formed to call forth some epic judge to interfere in the cause and conpoet of eminence.
cerns of the church. This, says the his
torian Zosiinus, was the first fatal inThe black spot on cach side of the stance of persons being put to death for neck of the baddock, is commonly as. heresy, by the sword of the magistrate. cribed to the pressure of St. Peter's thumb and finger, on the occasion of Father Menestrict compiled a great finding the tribute-money, or carach, in book on mottoes, which was published the mouth of the fish. It is, however, at Paris in 1686, under the title La doubted, whether the haddock he found Science, et l'Art des Devises. This book in the Mediterranean; but certainly it is should be new-made, and attached to unknown in the lake of Tiberius, The the works on heraldry. Our gentry some truth is, that a very different fish is sup- times forget in their mottoes the laws of posed in the Mediterranean to have been grammar, sometimes the precepts of honoured by the Apostle's touch. This, taste, and sometimes the duties of nain allusion to the employment of St. tionality, The French language, the