All great men, whether they be poets or scientists or religious men
or philosophers, are not mere readers of books, but the perusers of
Nature. Men of erudition are often lexicons in flesh and blood, but
men of genius read between the lines in the pages of life. Kant, a
man of no great erudition, could accomplish in the theory of
knowledge what Copernicus did in astronomy. Newton found the law of
gravitation not in a written page, but in a falling apple.
Unlettered Jesus realized truth beyond the comprehension of many
learned doctors. Charles Darwin, whose theory changed the whole
current of the world's thought, was not a great reader of books, but
a careful observer of facts. Shakespeare, the greatest of poets, was
the greatest reader of Nature and life. He could hear the music even
of heavenly bodies, and said:
There's not the smallest orb which thou beholdest,
But in his motion like an angel sings.
Chwang Tsz (So-shi), the greatest of Chinese philosophers, says:
Thou knowest the music of men, but not the music of the earth. Thou
knowest the music of the earth, but not the music of the
heaven.[FN#132] Goethe, perceiving a profound meaning in Nature,
says: Flowers are the beautiful hieroglyphics of Nature with which
she indicates how much she loves us.
[FN#132] Chwang Tsz, vol. i., p. 10.
Son-toku[FN#133] (Ninomiya), a great economist, who, overcoming all
difficulties and hardships by which he was beset from his childhood,
educated himself, says: The earth and the heaven utter no word, but
they ceaselessly repeat the holy book unwritten.
[FN#133] One of the greatest self-made men in Japan, who lived