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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index D > Erasmus Darwin Quotes > Nature

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Erasmus Darwin
(12 Dec 1731 - 18 Apr 1802)

English physician, poet, philosopher, botanist and naturalist.


Erasmus Darwin Quotes on Nature (8 quotes)

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By firm immutable immortal laws Impress’d on Nature by the GREAT FIRST CAUSE,
Say, MUSE! how rose from elemental strife
Organic forms, and kindled into life;
How Love and Sympathy with potent charm
Warm the cold heart, the lifted hand disarm;
Allure with pleasures, and alarm with pains,
And bind Society in golden chains.
— Erasmus Darwin
From 'Production of Life', The Temple of Nature; or, The Origin of Society: A Poem, with Philosophical Notes (1803), 3, Canto I, lines 1-8.
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Each pregnant Oak ten thousand acorns forms
Profusely scatter’d by autumnal storms;
Ten thousand seeds each pregnant poppy sheds
Profusely scatter’d from its waving heads;
The countless Aphides, prolific tribe,
With greedy trunks the honey’d sap imbibe;
Swarm on each leaf with eggs or embryons big,
And pendent nations tenant every twig ...
—All these, increasing by successive birth,
Would each o’erpeople ocean, air, and earth.
So human progenies, if unrestrain’d,
By climate friended, and by food sustain’d,
O’er seas and soils, prolific hordes! would spread
Erelong, and deluge their terraqueous bed;
But war, and pestilence, disease, and dearth,
Sweep the superfluous myriads from the earth...
The births and deaths contend with equal strife,
And every pore of Nature teems with Life;
Which buds or breathes from Indus to the Poles,
And Earth’s vast surface kindles, as it rolls!
— Erasmus Darwin
The Temple of Nature (1803), canto 4, lines 347-54, 367-74, 379-82, pages 156-60.
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From the sexual, or amatorial, generation of plants new varieties, or improvements, are frequently obtained; as many of the young plants from seeds are dissimilar to the parent, and some of them superior to the parent in the qualities we wish to possess... Sexual reproduction is the chef d'oeuvre, the master-piece of nature.
— Erasmus Darwin
Phytologia. (1800), 115, 103.
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Such is the condition of organic nature! whose first law might be expressed in the words 'Eat or be eaten!' and which would seem to be one great slaughter-house, one universal scene of rapacity and injustice!
— Erasmus Darwin
Phytologia (1800), 556.
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The colours of insects and many smaller animals contribute to conceal them from the larger ones which prey upon them. Caterpillars which feed on leaves are generally green; and earth-worms the colour of the earth which they inhabit; butter-flies, which frequent flowers, are coloured like them; small birds which frequent hedges have greenish backs like the leaves, and light-coloured bellies like the sky, and are hence less visible to the hawk who passes under them or over them.
— Erasmus Darwin
The Botanic Garden (1791), part 2, note to canto I, line 375, page 38.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (617)  |  Back (391)  |  Bird (150)  |  Butter (8)  |  Earth (998)  |  Flower (106)  |  Green (63)  |  Insect (79)  |  Light (609)  |  Nature (1928)  |  Sky (163)  |  Small (479)  |  Visible (84)  |  Worm (42)

The great CREATOR of all things has infinitely diversified the works of his hands, but has at the same time stamped a certain similitude on the features of nature, that demonstrates to us, that the whole is one family of one parent.
— Erasmus Darwin
Zoonomia (1794), Vol. 1, 1.
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This compassion, or sympathy with the pains of others, ought also to extend to the brute creation, as far as our necessities will admit; for we cannot exist long without the destruction of other animal or vegetable beings either in their mature or embryon state. Such is the condition of mortality, that the first law of nature is “eat, or be eaten.” Hence for the preservation of our existence we may be supposed to have a natural right to kill those brute creatures, which we want to eat, or which want to eat us; but to destroy even insects wantonly shows an unreflecting mind, or a depraved heart.
— Erasmus Darwin
In A Plan for the Conduct of Female Education in Boarding Schools (1797), 48.
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We hence acquire this sublime and interesting idea; that all the calcareous mountains in the world, and all the strata of clay, coal, marl, sand, and iron, which are incumbent on them, are MONUMENTS OF THE PAST FELICITY OF ORGANIZED NATURE!
— Erasmus Darwin
Phytologia (1800), 560.
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See also:
  • 12 Dec - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Darwin's birth.

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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