"Already nature is serving all those uses which science slowly derives on a much higher and grander scale to him that will be served by her. When the sunshine falls on the path of the poet, he enjoys all those pure benefits and pleasures which the arts slowly and partially realize from age to age. The winds which fan his cheek waft him the sum of that profit and happiness which their lagging inventions supply."
"It will be seen that we contemplate a time when man's will shall be law to the physical world, and he shall no longer be deterredby such abstractions as time and space, height and depth, weight and hardness, but shall indeed be the lord of creation."
"I exulted like "a pagan suckled in a creed" that had never been worn at all, but was brand-new, and adequate to the occasion. I let science slide, and rejoiced in that light as if it had been a fellow creature. I saw that it was excellent, and was very glad to know that it was so cheap. A scientific explanation, as it is called, would have been altogether out of place there. That is for pale daylight."
"Long enough I had heard of irrelevant things; now at length I was glad to make acquaintance with the light that dwells in rotten wood. Where is all your knowledge gone to? It evaporates completely, for it has no depth."
"The next day the Indian told me their name for this light,--artoosoq',--and on my inquiring concerning the will-o'-the-wisp, and the like phenomena, he said that his "folks" sometimes saw fires passing along at various heights, even as high as the trees, and making a noise. I was prepared after this to hear of the most startling and unimagined phenomena, witnessed by "his folks"; they are abroad at all hours and seasons in scenes so unfrequented by white men. Nature must have made a thousand revelations to them which are still secrets to us."
"Science with its retorts would have put me to sleep; it was the opportunity to be ignorant that I improved. It suggested to me that there was something to be seen if one had eyes. It made a believer of me more than before. I believed that the woods were not tenantless, but choke-full of honest spirits as good as myself any day,--not an empty chamber, in which chemistry was left to work alone, but an inhabited house,--and for a few moments I enjoyed fellowship with them."
"The science of Humboldt is one thing, poetry is another thing. The poet to-day, notwithstanding all the discoveries of science, and the accumulated learning of mankind, enjoys no advantage over Homer."
"These modern ingenious sciences and arts do not affect me as those more venerable arts of hunting and fishing, and even of husbandry in its primitive and simple form; as ancient and honorable trades as the sun and moon and winds pursue, coeval with the faculties of man, and invented when these were invented. We do not know their John Gutenberg, or Richard Arkwright, though the poets would fain make them to have been gradually learned and taught."
"After sitting in my chamber many days, reading the poets, I have been out early on a foggy morning and heard the cry of an owl ina neighboring wood as from a nature behind the common, unexplored by science or by literature."
"You can hardly convince a man of an error in a life-time, but must content yourself with the reflection that the progress of science is slow. If he is not convinced, his grandchildren may be. The geologists tell us that it took one hundred years to prove that fossils are organic, and one hundred and fifty more to prove that they are not to be referred to the Noachian deluge."
"Our books of science, as they improve in accuracy, are in danger of losing the freshness and vigor and readiness to appreciate thereal laws of Nature, which is a marked merit in the ofttimes false theories of the ancients."
"He is not a true man of science who does not bring some sympathy to his studies, and expect to learn something by behavior as wellas by application. It is childish to rest in the discovery of mere coincidences, or of partial and extraneous laws. The study of geometry is a petty and idle exercise of the mind, if it is applied to no larger system than the starry one."
"What do the botanists know? Our lives should go between the lichen and the bark. The eye may see for the hand, but not for the mind. We are still being born, and have as yet but a dim vision of sea and land, sun, moon, and stars, and shall not see clearly till after nine days at least."
"The wildest dreams of wild men, even, are not the less true, though they may not recommend themselves to the sense which is most common among Englishmen and Americans to-day. It is not every truth that recommends itself to the common sense. Nature has a place for the wild clematis as well as for the cabbage. Some expressions of truth are reminiscent,--others merely sensible, as the phrase is,--others prophetic."
"This unlettered man's speaking and writing are standard English. Some words and phrases deemed vulgarisms and Americanisms before,he has made standard American; such as "It will pay." It suggests that the one great rule of composition--and if I were a professor of rhetoric I should insist on this--is, to speak the truth. This first, this second, this third; pebbles in your mouth or not. This demands earnestness and manhood chiefly."