"My father was serious; he was all uniformity; he was systematical, and, like all systematick reasoners, he would move both heaven and earth, and twist and torture every thing in nature to support his hypothesis."
"While the scientist, on the one hand, is concerned with giving a faithful description of facts, on the other, he has the equally important task of construing them in relation to some explanatory conjecture. Similarly the historian has a double duty: both of reporting the past as nearly as possible as it passed or was lived through by men at the time (without doctoring up events to fit later developments or some more "enlightened reading" of them); and second, of interpreting their import in the light of a present hypothesis."
"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."