S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.
[An eminent French geometer and philosopher, born at Paris, Nov. 16, 1717; elected to the Academy of Sciences, 1741; to the French Academy 1754, of which he became secretary 1772; joint editor with Diderot of the Encyclopædia, and the friend of Voltaire; died Oct. 29, 1783.]
A philosopher is a fool who torments himself while he is alive, to be talked of after he is dead.
He declined in 1762 an urgent invitation from Catherine II., of Russia, to undertake at St. Petersburg the education of her son, at a salary of one hundred thousand francs, with the words, What I have learned from books is a little science and satisfaction, but not the harder art of fashioning princes.
He said of the French philosophers, They believe themselves profound, while they are only hollow (Ils se croient profonds, et ne sont que creux). Talleyrand said of Sieyès and his political day-dreams, in answer to some one who called him profound, Perhaps you mean hollow (Profond, hem! vous voulez dire, peut-être, creux). Victor Hugo appropriated the remark by saying, Sieyès, homme profund, qui était devenu creux.Quatre-Vingt-Treize, I. 3, 5.