I, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, come to take part in a debate in which my name was cited, discussed and defended. I cannot agree with my witty defender. Buffon is more than just an eloquent compiler. Never mind the literary and subtle mistakes about things of nature lost in the rivalry and professional jealousy. Yet, my views are very much opposed to his and as Lamennais said: ‘No, the style is not the man’. I am an eloquent proof of that, me whose sensibility was entirely mental and who invented what others felt. Earthly things are analyzed without emotions from the other side of life. I do not deserve the literary reputation that was granted to me. Had Paul and Virginia been published today and it would be washed out by so many other delightful productions that go unnoticed. It is because progress of your time is big, bigger than you can assess. Everything evolves: Science, Literature, Social Arts; they all rise like the ocean tides that are not noticed by the seaman that is offshore. You are offshore.
I return to Mr. de Buffon whose talent I acknowledge and whose criticism I forget, and also to my witty defender that can uncover the spiritual meanings of all truths, giving them a paradoxical color. Hoping to have demonstrated to you that we the dead scholars do not keep any hard feelings, I thank you and remain available to help in any way I can be useful to you.
Bernardin de Saint-Pierre