I cannot write at all, but if I could how could I make a little book, when I have seen enough to make a dozen large books?
Hunting, fishing, drawing, and music occupied my every moment; cares I knew not, and cared naught about them. I purchased excellent and beautiful horses, visited all such neighbors as I found congenial spirits, and was as happy as happy could be.
On his life at Mill Grove, in Pennsylvania in "Audubon's Story of His Youth" edited by Maria R. Audubon, in Scribner's Magazine Vol. XIII, No. 3, (March 1893), p. 278
I cannot write at all, but if I could how could I make a little book, when I have seen enough to make a dozen large books? I will not write at all.
Journal entry in Audubon and His Journals (1897), edited by Maria R. Audubon, Vol. I, "The European Journals 1826 - 1829", p. 184
The Life and Adventures of John James Audubon, the Naturalist (1868)
Nature indifferently copied is far superior to the best idealities.
Captain Hall expressed some doubts as to my views respecting the affection and love of pigeons, as if I made it human, and raised the possessors quite above the brutes. I presume the love of the mothers for their young is much the same as the love of woman for her offspring. There is but one kind of love; God is love, and all his creatures derive theirs from his; only it is modified by the different degrees of intelligence in different beings and creatures.
Ch. X, p. 139
I took down my portfolio, to select a drawing to copy in oil. He had never seen my works before, and appeared astonished as his eyes ranged over the sheets. He expressed the warmest admiration, and said, "How hopeless must be the task of my giving any instruction to one who can draw like this?" I pointed out to him that nature is the great study for the artist, and assured him that the reason why my works pleased him was because they are all exact copies of the works of God, — who is the great Architect and perfect Artist; and impressed on his mind this fact, that nature indifferently copied is far superior to the best idealities.
On a meeting with a young artist, Mr. J. B. Kidd, Ch. X, p. 140
Thank God it has rained all day. I say thank God, though rain is no rarity, because it is the duty of every man to be thankful for whatever happens by the will of the Omnipotent Creator; yet it was not so agreeable to any of my party as a fine day would have been.
A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.
Sometimes attributed to Audubon in recent years, there are no occurrences of this statement that have been located prior to 1997, and it is probably derived from the remarks of Wendell Berry:
I am speaking of the life of a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children; who has undertaken to cherish it and do it no damage, not because he is duty-bound, but because he loves the world and loves his children; whose work serves the earth he lives on and from and with, and is therefore pleasurable and meaningful and unending; whose rewards are not deferred until "retirement," but arrive daily and seasonally out of the details of the life of their place; whose goal is the continuance of the life of the world, which for a while animates and contains them, and which they know they can never compass with their understanding or desire.
The Unforeseen Wilderness : An Essay on Kentucky's Red River Gorge (1971), p. 33