Original autograph manuscript


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Item#: 127225 price:$3,800.00

Original autograph manuscript
Original autograph manuscript


BURROUGHS, John. Original autograph manuscript. No place, no date. Four octavo leaves and two quarto leaves, six leaves in total, writing in pencil on recto. $3800.

Original autograph manuscript by naturalist John Burroughs, apparently unpublished, with his penciled musings on astronomy and physics and the burdens and blessings of human consciousness.

The manuscript—possibly from two separate manuscripts, on two different sizes paper and with two different focuses—reads in part: "There can be no expenditure of force except at the expense of some other force. We say every body attracts every other body but it cannot be by the expenditure of force else this force would exhaust itself. The pull of gravitation… is as constant & as strong upon a body at rest as upon a body in motion & yet it begets no heat. Is the heat then which an arrested motion begets the equivalent of the force of gravity? Motion is the normal condition of matter outside of the earth & in molecules of matter upon the earth. The cosmos is in perpetual motion, though how there can be motion without something at rest is a puzzle beyond me. Can we conceive of currents in the air, in ocean, unless the main body of air & water are comparable… When your boat drifts with the tide on the river, you are in motion only with reference to the shore. The rivers flows because the banks do not, one can walk the deck of the moving steam boat only because the deck beneath him is fixed. He can hasten up a moving stairway that is going in his direction, but if it were going in the contrary direction he would have to double his speed, to make headway. When we talk of the whole cosmos we know not whereof we speak. When astronomers tell us that all the starry hosts of heaven appear to be moving toward some definite point—their words are confusing. They cannot mean the whole, as the whole of an infinite number is unthinkable, but only part. We cannot think of bounds to an infinite universe; when we reach the boundary we want to know what there is beyond. When there is no beyond we are lost…"

"When man emerged from the lower orders & became a reasoning thinking being—what new burdens were put upon him! He gained much but he lost much. He lost the innocency & the accuracy of instinct but he gained the freedom & the standards of reason. The joy of knowledge & progress. This is the meaning of the old myth of the tree of knowledge & the expulsion from Paradise from the state of primal innocency in Paradise. Man went forth a sadder but a wiser man…"

A bit of edgewear to some leaves, text quite readable. An intriguing holograph manuscript.

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