"I became disgusted with the science of natural philosophy, although I still read Pliny and Buffon with delight"

    Pliny the Elder's 1st-century 'Natural History' is one of the largest ancient Roman works to have survived intact into the modern day.  Covering art, zoology, botany and minerology, it constitutes one of the earliest attempts at an encyclopedic catalogue of scientific knowledge.  Georges-Louis Leclerc (1707 – 1788), the Comte de Buffon, published his own Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière in thirty-six volumes over four decades.  Hugely influential for turn-of-the-nineteenth-century natural philosophy, his work highlighted areas, such as the divisions between species, and enormous age of the earth, which would go on to play an important role in the development of evolutionary theory. 

 

 

Online edition of Pliny's 'Naturalis Historia', translated by Philemon Holland (1601)

Online edition of Buffon's 'Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière', translated by William Smellie (1780)