Where’d this come from?

Cimmaronsong (and anyone else who’s listening), please hear my pleas, I like this Elihu Burritt quote very much.

All that I have accomplished… has been by that plodding, patient, persevering process of accretion which builds the ant heap particle by particle, thought by thought, fact by fact.

and I’ve been chasing it unsuccessfully for too many hours. Mr. Burritt apparently wrote a lot, and much of it is likely to in the public domain….still, I’m stymed. I can’t find an original source for the quote. It’s apparently in a letter to Ms. Someone, but the contents of Mr. Burritt’s books, letters, and other documents (e.g., his newspaper articles) are not, as best I can find, accessible on the Internet. (There’s a catalogue of links on Pacifist Posse about Mr. Burritt; they are interesting in their own right.)

Being an academic, I want to be able to cite sources… I would like to gain access to the original Burritt document that contains this statement. It’s a marvelous encapsulation of the way that science works, so I’m looking for the reference that I can pass on to students in my classes.

Being a pacifist, I want to learn more about Mr. Burritt’s ideas.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Where’d this come from?

  1. cimmaronsong

    I’m sorry, I will start citing sources on my blog.
    I’m pretty sure that I found the above quote online, but doubt that a source was cited there. I have a book, The Learned Blacksmith: The Letters and Journals of Elihu Burritt by Merle Curti published in 1937. I will try to find it in there & send you the page number.

  2. cimmaronsong

    There is an article by Burritt online at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12000/12000.txt

    I’m still looking for the source of the quote. According to the book The Learned Blacksmith, Burritt gave a lecture called “Application and Genius.” I’d love to find a copy of this lecture too.

  3. Thanks! I stongly endorse Project Gutenburg, and it’s great to see Mr. Burritt’s account of his walk through England there. I found something else (though I failed to note the location) which led me to believe that the quote was from a letter to a Miss/Mrs. (probably not “Ms.” in that era) Oxxxxxxx. I’m going to book stores to search for titles.

    (Charlottesville, VA, has a superfluity of used bookstores. It’d be fun to find a way to compute a used-book-stores-per-1000-people statistic, so I could examine the hypothesis that it ranks high on such a metric.)

  4. cimmaronsong

    I found The Learned Blacksmith on abebooks.com

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