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Who said: “The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it... That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”
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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index B > John Burroughs Quotes

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John Burroughs
(3 Apr 1837 - 29 Mar 1921)

American naturalist and author whose many writings and books, by celebrating nature in highly readable essays, significantly nurtured the conservation movement in the United States.


Science Quotes by John Burroughs (11 quotes)

In the printed page the only real things are the paper and the ink; the white spaces play the same part in aiding the eye to take in the meaning of the print as do the black letters.
— John Burroughs
From Under the Apple-Trees (1916), 302.
Science quotes on:  |  Black (6)  |  Eye (67)  |  Interpretation (38)  |  Letter (16)  |  Meaning (52)  |  Observation (264)  |  Page (9)  |  Part (55)  |  Play (22)  |  Print (4)  |  Space (68)  |  Thing (27)  |  Type (15)  |  White (12)

IT is reported of Margaret Fuller that she said she accepted the universe. “Gad, she'd better!” retorted Carlyle. Carlyle himself did not accept the universe in a very whole-hearted manner. Looking up at the midnight stars, he exclaimed: “A sad spectacle! If they be inhabited, what a scope for misery and folly; if they be na inhabited, what a waste of space!”
— John Burroughs
Opening paragraph of book of collected essays, Accepting the Universe (1920), 3. “‘I accept the universe’ is reported to have been a favorite utterance of our New England transcendentalist, Margaret Fuller…” was stated by William James in The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), 41. James continues, “and when some one repeated this phrase to Thomas Carlyle, his sardonic comment is said to have been: ‘Gad! she'd better!’” Note that James does not here merge Carlyle's remark about the universe. Burroughs’ attribution of the “sad spectacle” quote is, so far, the earliest found by the Webmaster, who has not located it in a printed work by Carlisle himself. If you know a primary source, or earlier attribution, please contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Acceptance (31)  |  Folly (10)  |  Margaret Fuller (3)  |  Inhabitant (7)  |  Midnight (2)  |  Misery (11)  |  Report (15)  |  Retort (2)  |  Sadness (7)  |  Space (68)  |  Spectacle (4)  |  Star (132)  |  Universe (291)  |  Waste (31)

Joy in the universe, and keen curiosity about it all—that has been my religion.
— John Burroughs
The Heart of Burroughs's Journals (1928), 257.
Science quotes on:  |  Interest (82)  |  Joy (25)  |  Religion (120)  |  Universe (291)

Natural history is a matter of observation; it is a harvest which you gather when and where you find it growing. Birds and squirrels and flowers are not always in season, but philosophy we have always with us. It is a crop which we can grow and reap at all times and in all places and it has its own value and brings its own satisfaction.
— John Burroughs
From Under the Apple-Trees (1916), Preface.
Science quotes on:  |  Bird (57)  |  Crop (10)  |  Flower (24)  |  Gather (7)  |  Growth (70)  |  Harvest (7)  |  Natural History (23)  |  Observation (264)  |  Philosophy (132)  |  Reap (2)  |  Satisfaction (31)  |  Season (8)  |  Squirrel (4)  |  Value (63)

One summer day, while I was walking along the country road on the farm where I was born, a section of the stone wall opposite me, and not more than three or four yards distant, suddenly fell down. Amid the general stillness and immobility about me the effect was quite startling. ... It was the sudden summing up of half a century or more of atomic changes in the material of the wall. A grain or two of sand yielded to the pressure of long years, and gravity did the rest.
— John Burroughs
Under the Apple-Trees (1916), 105.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (164)  |  Change (133)  |  Country (43)  |  Effect (72)  |  Entropy (25)  |  Fall (30)  |  Farm (4)  |  Grain (10)  |  Gravity (59)  |  Material (60)  |  Pressure (18)  |  Road (18)  |  Sand (9)  |  Section (2)  |  Startling (4)  |  Stillness (3)  |  Stone (20)  |  Suddenness (3)  |  Sum (18)  |  Summer (10)  |  Walk (24)  |  Wall (10)  |  Yielding (2)

Science sees the process of evolution from the outside, as one might a train of cars going by, and resolves it into the physical and mechanical elements, without getting any nearer the reason of its going by, or the point of its departure or destination.
— John Burroughs
From Under the Apple-Trees (1916), 212.
Science quotes on:  |  Departure (3)  |  Destination (3)  |  Evolution (342)  |  Mechanical (11)  |  Nearer (5)  |  Physical (28)  |  Process (97)  |  Reason (173)  |  Resolution (10)  |  Train (8)

The floating vapour is just as true an illustration of the law of gravity as the falling avalanche.
— John Burroughs
The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, May 1883 to October 1883 (1883), 26, 539.
Science quotes on:  |  Avalanche (3)  |  Fall (30)  |  Float (8)  |  Gravity (59)  |  Illustration (17)  |  Law (273)  |  Vapour (6)

The fuel in the earth will be exhausted in a thousand or more years, and its mineral wealth, but man will find substitutes for these in the winds, the waves, the sun's heat, and so forth. (1916)
— John Burroughs
From Under the Apple-Trees (1916), 308.
Science quotes on:  |  Earth (250)  |  Exhaustion (11)  |  Fuel (16)  |  Heat (48)  |  Mineral (24)  |  Renewable Energy (7)  |  Solar Energy (13)  |  Substitute (10)  |  Sun (115)  |  Thousand (32)  |  Tidal Power (2)  |  Wave (32)  |  Wealth (29)  |  Wind (28)  |  Wind Power (6)  |  Year (69)

The rocks are not so close akin to us as the soil; they are one more remove from us; but they lie back of all, and are the final source of all. ... Time, geologic time, looks out at us from the rocks as from no other objects in the landscape.
— John Burroughs
From Under the Apple-Trees (1916), Chap. 2, 'The Friendly Rocks', 40.
Science quotes on:  |  Close (11)  |  Final (13)  |  Geology (145)  |  Landscape (14)  |  Rock (54)  |  Soil (24)  |  Source (33)  |  Time (170)

The rocks have a history; gray and weatherworn, they are veterans of many battles; they have most of them marched in the ranks of vast stone brigades during the ice age; they have been torn from the hills, recruited from the mountaintops, and marshaled on the plains and in the valleys; and now the elemental war is over, there they lie waging a gentle but incessant warfare with time and slowly, oh, so slowly, yielding to its attacks!
— John Burroughs
Under the Apple-Trees (1916), 42.
Science quotes on:  |  Attack (13)  |  Battle (10)  |  Gentle (2)  |  Gray (2)  |  Hill (14)  |  Ice Age (4)  |  Incessant (3)  |  March (4)  |  Plain (11)  |  Rank (13)  |  Rock (54)  |  Stone (20)  |  Tear (11)  |  Time (170)  |  Valley (10)  |  Vast (20)  |  War (79)  |  Warfare (4)  |  Yielding (2)

[Theodore Roosevelt] was a naturalist on the broadest grounds, uniting much technical knowledge with knowledge of the daily lives and habits of all forms of wild life. He probably knew tenfold more natural history than all the presidents who had preceded him, and, I think one is safe in saying, more human history also.
— John Burroughs
In 'Theodore Roosevelt', Natural History (Jan 1919), 19, No.1, 5.
Science quotes on:  |  Daily (5)  |  Form (70)  |  Habit (42)  |  History (156)  |  Human (168)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Life (460)  |  Natural History (23)  |  Naturalist (27)  |  President (5)  |  Theodore Roosevelt (33)  |  Technical (6)


See also:
  • todayinsci icon 3 Apr - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Burroughs's birth.
  • todayinsci icon John Burroughs - The Friendly Rocks - an excerpt from Under the Apple-Trees (1916), giving a naturalist's view of rocks: “The rocks are not so close akin to us as the soil ... [but they] are the final source of all.”
  • todayinsci icon John Burroughs - Great Questions In Little: Astronomic Grandeur - an excerpt from Under the Apple-Trees (1916) - reflections on the Universe, the Why and How of science, the Limitations of Science, the Beginnings of Life, and Evolution.
  • todayinsci icon Theodore Roosevelt - naturalist - In Memoriam by John Burroughs in Natural History magazine (1913).

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton