A Week On The Concord And Merrimack Rivers By Henry David Thoreau

 -   I am attracted by the slight pride and satisfaction,
the emphatic and even exaggerated style in which some of the - Page 390
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I Am Attracted By The Slight Pride And Satisfaction, The Emphatic And Even Exaggerated Style In Which Some Of The Older Naturalists Speak Of The Operations Of Nature, Though They Are Better Qualified To Appreciate Than To Discriminate The Facts.

Their assertions are not without value when disproved. If they are not facts, they are suggestions for Nature herself to act upon.

"The Greeks," says Gesner, "had a common proverb () a sleeping hare, for a dissembler or counterfeit; because the hare sees when she sleeps; for this is an admirable and rare work of Nature, that all the residue of her bodily parts take their rest, but the eye standeth continually sentinel."

Observation is so wide awake, and facts are being so rapidly added to the sum of human experience, that it appears as if the theorizer would always be in arrears, and were doomed forever to arrive at imperfect conclusions; but the power to perceive a law is equally rare in all ages of the world, and depends but little on the number of facts observed. The senses of the savage will furnish him with facts enough to set him up as a philosopher. The ancients can still speak to us with authority, even on the themes of geology and chemistry, though these studies are thought to have had their birth in modern times. Much is said about the progress of science in these centuries. I should say that the useful results of science had accumulated, but that there had been no accumulation of knowledge, strictly speaking, for posterity; for knowledge is to be acquired only by a corresponding experience.

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