"For some thirty centuries the power of man has been
He is a doer. He is literally one of the forces of nature. "For some thirty centuries 1 the power of man has been joined to that of nature and has extended over the greater part of the earth. By his intelligence the animals have been tamed, subjugated, broken in, and reduced to perpetual obedience. By his labours marshes have been drained, rivers embanked and provided with locks, forests cleared, moorlands cultivated . . . The entire face of the earth bears. to-day the imprint of man's power which, although subordinate to that of nature, has often done more than she, or, at least, has so marvellously seconded her that it is by our aid that she has developed to her full extent." And undoubtedly there is here no question of man's independence of natural conditions. In a sense he is more subject to them than any other living being by the very reason of his ubiquity. Is he not the only living being who lives anywhere and everywhere that life is possible? "He is the only living being· whose nature is strong enough, wide enough, flexible enough to be able to subsist and multiply, and to adapt himself to all the climates of the earth .... Most animals, far from being able to multiply everywhere, are bounded by and confined to certain climates, and even to particular countries; animals are, in many respects, productions of the earth; man is in every way the work of Heaven." 2 Leaving out the heaven (Buffon himself would not object), the modern idea, the idea of man as a natural agent, the idea which Vidal de la Blache has well stated in his articles on Genres de vie,3 is in Buffon and not in Montesquieuin Buffon who somewhere tries ingeniously to show how man can affect climate (and it matters little that the example was badly chosen). It is the idea that we are concerned with. That Buffon is not as a rule quoted when the "Church Fathers" of the theory of "environment" are' searched, is to be understood, after all. He is without its bounds. He marks the starting-point of another idea than theirs-the complete antithesis of their idea. The earth, fashioned, altered, adapted, humanized by man, without doubt reacts in turn on him. But it is he who first exerts on it his power of adaptation and transformation.