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merit; it is clear and categorical. Je vous attends à l’escargot," (I shall wait to see you a 
modified snail.) 
Ampère entered, for a few moments very good naturedly into the gaiety provoked in all present by 
this sally; but he soon began to treat seriously the laughable question just proposed to him; his 
manner of handling it showed the most profound research, and the most comprehensive knowledge of 
anatomy and natural history, and where the first step seemed to lead to absurdities, he pointed out 
resemblances and analogies so ingenious that we were surprised to find ourselves not regretting that 
the term of comparison offered to Ampère had been selected so far down in the scale of animal life. 


The literary life of Ampère began by the study of the Encyclopedia of the Eighteenth Century, and 
was closed by the compilation of a plan for a new encyclopedia. The most essential feature of this 
vast scheme was a classification of all human knowledge, 
Molière formerly, through the medium of one of the characters of his immortal comedies, asked 
whether it were more correct to speak of the figure or the shape of a hat; which was equivalent to 
asking whether hats should be classed as to shapes or figures. 
The abuse of classification could not possibly be described at the same time more profoundly and 
more ludicrously. To go back to the time of Molière, or even to the early part of the eighteenth 
century, you will see the great poet was not attacking a vain phantom, and you will be struck with 
the strangest association of ideas; you will find the classifiers yielding to the most truly absurd 
analyses and comparisons; for example, in the Society of Arts, created by a prince of the blood, 
Comte de Clermont, a society embracing the sciences, belles-lettres, and the mechanical 
arts, the historian is classed, in all seriousness, with the embroiderer, the poet with the 
dyer, etc., etc. 
In all things abuse is not use. Let us see, then, whether Ampère paused at the use, in the work, 
still only partly published, which he composed at the close of his life, and entitled, Essay on 
the Philosophy of the Sciences; or Analytical Exposition of a Natural Classification of all Human 
Ampère proposed to undertake the vast and celebrated problem whose solution had already been 
attempted by Aristotle, Plato, Bacon, Leibnitz, Locke, D’Alembert, &c. 
The unsuccessful efforts of so many men of genius are a convincing proof of the difficulty of the 
question; do they also completely prove its utility? 
Aristotle claimed that all subjects could be included in ten categories. If I should recall the 
number of times they have been rearranged, the reply would very reasonably be, these were the 
necessary and foreseen consequences of the progress of the human mind, I should then, 
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