Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

William Beebe, fully Charles William Beebe

American Biological Explorer, Writer on Natural History

"Before I started on my trip around the world, someone gave me one of the most valuable hints I have ever had. It consists merely in shutting your eyes when you are in the midst of a great moment, or close to some marvel of time or space, and convincing yourself that you are at home again with the experience over and past; and what would you wish most to have examined or done if you could turn time and space back again."

"Earth has few secrets from the birds."

"I can only think of one experience which might exceed in interest a few hours spent under water, and that would be a journey to Mars."

"In the course of time I have learned to tramp about coral reefs, twenty to thirty feet under water, so unconcernedly that I can pay attention to particular definite things. But after all my silly fears have been allayed, even now, with eyes overflowing with surfeit of color, I am still almost inarticulate. We need a whole new vocabulary, new adjectives, adequately to describe the designs and colors of under sea."

"It seems you are not convinced of my sincere wish to help you as I can. And now it appears from your latest response that I'm actually doing more harm than good, which is not what I want to do."

"The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer, but when the last individual of a race of living things breathes no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again."

"The isness of things is well worth studying; but it is their whyness that makes life worth living."

"The longer we were in it, the smaller it seemed to get."

"The marsh, to him who enters it in a receptive mood, holds, besides mosquitoes and stagnation, melody, the mystery of unknown waters, and the sweetness of Nature undisturbed by man."

"The only other place comparable to these marvelous nether regions, must surely be naked space itself, out far beyond atmosphere, between the stars, where sunlight has no grip upon the dust and rubbish of planetary air, where the blackness of space, the shining planets, comets, suns, and stars must really be closely akin to the world of life as it appears to the eyes of an awed human being, in the open ocean, one half mile down."

"These descents of mine beneath the sea seemed to partake of a real cosmic character. First of all there was the complete and utter loneliness and isolation, a feeling wholly unlike the isolation felt when removed from fellow men by mere distance? It was a loneliness more akin to a first venture upon the moon or Venus than that from a plane in mid-ocean or a stance on Mount Everest: no whit more wonderful than these feats, but different."

"To be a Naturalist is better than to be a King."

"When... we realize the possibilities of deep sea life still unknown to us, every haul of the dredge should be welcomed by an expectant enthusiasm equaled in other fields only by the possible hope of communication with our sister planets."

"Work in the field has nothing to do with dignity or with anything except patience, concentration, and eternal vigilance"