French Naturalist, Mathematician, Cosmologist, and Encyclopedic Author
Man thinks, and at once becomes the master of the beings that do not think.
Only well-written works will descend to posterity. Fulness of knowledge, interesting facts, even useful inventions, are no pledge of immortality, for they may be employed by more skilful hands; they are outside the man; the style is the man himself.
These things [subject matter] are external to the man; style is the man.
The discoveries that one can make with the microscope amount to very little, for one sees with the mind's eye and without the microscope the real existence of all these little beings.
As historians, we refuse to allow ourselves these vain speculations which turn on possibilities that, in order to be reduced to actuality, suppose an overturning of the Universe, in which our globe, like a speck of abandoned matter, escapes our vision and is no longer an object worthy of our regard. In order to fix our vision, it is necessary to take it such as it is, to observe well all parts of it, and by indications infer from the present to the past.
An Individual, whatever species it might be, is nothing in the Universe. A hundred, a thousand individuals are still nothing. The species are the only creatures of Nature, perpetual creatures, as old and as permanent as it. In order to judge it better, we no longer consider the species as a collection or as a series of similar individuals, but as a whole independent of number, independent of time, a whole always living, always the same, a whole which has been counted as one in the works of creation, and which, as a consequence, makes only a unity in Nature.
Although the works of the Creator may be in themselves all equally perfect, the animal is, as I see it, the most complete work of nature, and man is her masterpiece.
All the work of the crystallographers serves only to demonstrate that there is only variety everywhere where they suppose uniformity ... that in nature there is nothing absolute, nothing perfectly regular.
Let us gather facts in order to get ourselves thinking.
To write well is to think well, to feel well, and to render well; it is to possess at once intellect, soul, and taste.