Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Go, My Sons

Go, my sons, sell your lands, your houses, your garments and your jewelry; burn up your books. On the other hand, buy yourselves stout shoes, get away to the mountains, search the valleys, the deserts, the shores of the sea, and the deepest recesses of the earth; mark well the distinctions between animals, the differences among plants, the various kinds of minerals, the properties and mode of origin of everything that exists. Be not ashamed to learn by heart the astronomy and terrestrial philosophy of the peasantry. Lastly, purchase coals, build furnaces, watch and experiment without wearying. In this way, and no other, will you arrive at a knowledge of things and of their properties.

Petrus Severinus, Idea Medecinae Philosophicae, 1571.

Petrus Severinus, here quoted in 'The Founders of Geology' by Sir Archibald Geikie, was a Danish professor of literature and poetry, of meteorology and of medecine.


Lesley said...

Sir Archibald Geikie was the author of The Founders of Geology. He was a really interesting character and an engaging writer. I read his "Types of Scenery and their Influence on Literature" years ago.

Jonathan Wonham said...

Hi Lesley,

thanks for that correction. I'll put the name and spelling error right in my original post. Incredibly, the error is not my own (apart from the incorrect spelling of Geikie). I have a Dover imprint of Founders of Geology published in 1962, and the name 'Andrew Geikie' is actually printed on the cover. It is correctly printed as Archibald inside.

You are correct that he is a very engaging writer. I'm really enjoying 'Founders of Geology', and this other book you mention sounds very interesting as well.

Anonymous said...

A fine example of the personal passion that must fire all endeavour, science no less than art.

Anonymous said...

That's a very inspiring quote. Though it feels odd to say that about something that encourages the burning of books!