Sunday, March 7, 2010

Meandering in thought . . .

Today is the birthday of John Frederick William Herschel (March 7, 1792 – May 11, 1871), mathematician, astronomer, chemist, and experimental photographer/inventor.

"Self-respect is the cornerstone of all virtue." - John Herschel

"Music and dancing (the more the pity) have become so closely associated with ideas of riot and debauchery among the less cultivated classes, that a taste for them, for their own sakes, can hardly be said to exist, and before they can be recommended as innocent or safe amusements, a very great change of ideas must take place." - John Herschel

"A mind which has a taste for scientific inquiry, and has learned the habit of applying its principles readily to the cases which occur, has within itself an inexhaustible source of pure and exciting contemplations. One would think that Shakespeare had such a mind in view when he describes a contemplative man as finding—

'Tongues in trees, books in running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything,'

Accustomed to trace the operations of general causes and the exemplification of general laws, in circumstances where the uninformed and uninquiring eye, perceives neither novelty nor beauty, he walks in the midst of wonders ; every object which falls in his way elucidates some principle, affords some instruction and impresses him with a sense of harmony and order. Nor is it a mere passive pleasure which is thus communicated. A thousand questions are continually arising in his mind, a thousand objects of inquiry presenting themselves, which keep his faculties in constant exercise and his thoughts perpetually on the wing, so that lassitude is excluded from his life, and that craving after artificial excitement and dissipation of the mind which leads so many into frivolous, unworthy and destructive pursuits, is altogether eradicated from his bosom." - John Herschel

Herschel image source (1)

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