Buffon's Natural History Part IX

Georges-Louis Leclerc

ISBN: 9782251011684

Release: 01/1756

Buffon's Natural History Part IX by Georges-Louis Leclerc

Buffon's Natural History Volume 10

 

In 1739 he was appointed head of the Parisian Jardin du Roi with the help of Maurepas; he held this position to the end of his life. Buffon was instrumental in transforming the Jardin du Roi into a major research center and museum. He also enlarged it, arranging the purchase of adjoining plots of land and acquiring new botanical and zoological specimens from all over the world. Thanks to his talent as a writer, he was invited to join Paris's second great academy, the Académie française in 1753 and then in 1768 he was elected to the American Philosophical Society. In his Discours sur le style ("Discourse on Style"), pronounced before the Académie française, he said, "Writing well consists of thinking, feeling and expressing well, of clarity of mind, soul and taste ... The style is the man himself" ("Le style c'est l'homme même"). Unfortunately for him, Buffon's reputation as a literary stylist also gave ammunition to his detractors: The mathematician Jean le Rond D'Alembert, for example, called him "the great phrase-monger". In 1752 Buffon married Marie-Françoise de Saint-Belin-Malain, the daughter of an impoverished noble family from Burgundy, who had been enrolled in the convent school run by his sister. Madame de Buffon's second child, a son born in 1764, survived childhood; she herself died in 1769. When in 1772 Buffon became seriously ill and the promise that his son (then only 8) should succeed him as director of the Jardin became clearly impracticable and was withdrawn, the King raised Buffon's estates in Burgundy to the status of a county – and thus Buffon (and his son) became a count. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1782. Buffon died in Paris in 1788. He was buried in a chapel adjacent to the church of Sainte-Urse Montbard; during the French Revolution, his tomb was broken into and the lead that covered the coffin was ransacked to produce bullets. His heart was initially saved, as it was guarded by Suzanne Necker (wife of Jacques Necker), but was later lost. Today, only Buffon's cerebellum remains, as it is kept in the base of the statue by Pajou that Louis XVI had commissioned in his honor in 1776, located at the Museum of Natural History in Paris.

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