THE THEORY OF THE EARTH
Georges Cuvier was born in 1769 in the town of Montbéliard, which was at that time the center of a small French-speaking Protestant territory belonging to the duchy of Württemberg.1 This in turn was one of the many separate states that were united in the following century to form what is now Germany. So when, as a young man, Cuvier arrived in Paris to make a career for himself in the sciences, he was doubly an outsider. He was not a Frenchman by birth, though he had found himself becoming one when Montbéliard was annexed by France during the Revolution; and his cultural affinities were with the small Protestant minority in France, rather than with the dominant Catholic culture that most of his Parisian colleagues--even if they were strongly anticlerical-- had in their bones.
On the other hand, his origins gave him one great advantage. His modest bourgeois family, and particularly his mother, had the ambition and respect for education that were common in that social class, and____________________