Out of the Past
Thoreau
March 5






and Other Natural History Essays



         

The secretary of the Association for the Advancement of Science requests me by a printed circular letter from Washington the other day, to fill the blank against certain questions, among which the most important one was
what branch of science I was specially interested in, using the term science in the most comprehensive sense possible.

Now, though I could state to a select few that department of human inquiry which engages me, and should be rejoiced at an opportunity to do so, I felt that it would be to make myself the laughing-stock of the scientific community to describe or attempt to describe to there that branch of science which specially interests me, inasmuch as they do not believe in a science which deals with the higher law. So I was obliged to speak to their condition and describe to them that poor part of me which alone they can understand.

The fact is I am a mystic, a transcendentalist, and a natural philosopher to boot. Now I think of it, I should have told them at once that I was a transcendentalist. That would have been the shortest way of telling them that they would not understand my explanations.

How absurd that, though I probably stand as near to nature as any of them, and am by constitution as good an observer as most, yet a true account of my relation to nature should excite their ridicule only!
1853
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