Landscapes and Natural Features
Conway, NH, July 6th 1832
Here among the mountains, the pinions of thought should be strong, and one should see the errors of men from a calmer height of love and wisdom. What is the message that is given me to communicate next Sunday? Religion in the mind is not credulity, and in the practice is not form. It is a life. It is the order and soundness of a man. It is not something else to be got, to be added, but is a new life of those faculties you have. It is to do right. It is to love, it is to serve, it is to think, it is to be humble.
White Mountains, July 14th 1832
The good of going into the mountains is that life is reconsidered; it is far from the slavery of your own modes of living, and you have opportunity of viewing the town at such a distance as may afford you a just view, nor can you have any such mistaken apprehension as might be expected from the place you occupy and the round of customs you run at home.
White Mountains, July 15th
The hour of decision. It seems not worth while for them who charge others with exalting forms above the moon to fear forms themselves with extravagant dislike. I am so placed that my aliquid ingenii may be brought into useful action. Let me not bury my talent in the earth in my indignation at this windmill. But though the thing may be useless and even pernicious, do not destroy what is good and useful in a high degree rather than comply with what is hurtful in a small degree. The Communicant celebrates on a foundation either of authority or of tradition an ordinance which has been the occasion to thousands, — I hope to thousands of thousands, — of contrition, of gratitude, of prayer, of faith, of love and of holy living. Far be it from any of my friends, — God forbid it be in my heart, — to interrupt any occasion thus blessed of God’s influences upon the human mind. I will not, because we may not all think alike of the means, fight so strenuously against the means, as to miss of the end which we all value alike. I think Jesus did not mean to institute a perpetual celebration, but that a commemoration of him would be useful. Others think that Jesus did establish this one. We are agreed that one is useful, and we are agreed I hope in the way in which it must be made useful, viz., by each one’s making it an original Commemoration.
I know very well that it is a bad sign in a man to be too conscientious, and stick at gnats. The most desperate scoundrels have been over-refiners. Without accommodation society is impracticable. But this ordinance is esteemed the most sacred of religious institutions, and I cannot go habitually to an institution which they esteem holiest with indifference and dislike.
July 23rd, 1857
Returned from Pigeon Cove, where we have made acquaintance with the sea, for seven days. ‘Tis a noble friendly power, and seemed to say to me, ‘Why so late and slow to come to me? Am I not here always thy proper summer home? Is not my voice thy needful music; my breath, thy healthful climate in the heats; my touch, thy cure? Was ever building like my terraces? Was ever couch so magnificent as mine? Lie down on my warm ledges and learn that a very little hut is all you need. I have made thy architecture superfluous, and it is paltry beside mine. Here are twenty Romes and Ninevehs and Karnacs in ruins together, obelisk and pyramid and giant’s causeway, — here they all are prostrate or half piled.’
And behold the sea, the opaline, plentiful and strong, yet beautiful as the rose or the rainbow, full of food, nourisher of men, purger of the world, creating a sweet climate, and, in its unchangeable ebb and flow, and in its beauty at a few furlongs, giving a hint of that which changes not, and is perfect. 
 See his poem “Sea-Shore”
May 21st, 1856
Yesterday to the Sawmill Brook with Henry. He was in search of yellow violet (pubescens) and menyanthes which he waded into the water for; and which he concluded, on examination, had been out five days. Having found his flowers, he drew out of his breast pocket his diary and read the names of all the plants that should bloom this day, May 20; whereof he keeps account as a banker when his notes fall due; Rubus triflora, Quercus, Vaccinium, etc. The Cypripedium not due till to-morrow. . . . He thinks he could tell by the flowers what day of the month it is, within two days.
Adirondac, August 2, 1858
Follansbee’s Pond. It should be called Stillman’s henceforward, from the good camp which this gallant artist has built, and the good party he has led and planted here for the present at bottom of the little bay which lies near the head of the lake . . .
Wednesday morn, Agassiz, Woodman, and I left the camp, each in a boat with his guide, for Big Tupper’s Lake; passed through the inlet into Raquette River, and down it fourteen miles to Tupper; then up the lake six miles to Jenkins’s, near the Falls of the Bog River.
from "Nature," Essays: Second Series
My house stands in low land, with limited outlook, and on the skirt of the village. But I go with my friend to the shore of our little river, and with one stroke of the paddle I leave the village politics and personalities, yes, and the world of villages and personalities behind, and pass into a delicate realm of sunset and moonlight, too bright almost for spotted man to enter without novitiate and probation. We penetrate bodily this incredible beauty; we dip our hands in this painted element; our eyes are bathed in these lights and forms. A holiday, a villeggiatura, a royal revel, the proudest, most heart-rejoicing festival that valor and beauty, power and taste, ever decked and enjoyed, establishes itself on the instant. These sunset clouds, these delicately emerging stars, with their private and ineffable glances, signify it and proffer it. I am taught the poorness of our invention, the ugliness of towns and palaces. Art and luxury have early learned that they must work as enhancement and sequel to this original beauty.