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NOVEMBER 11, 1925 


Letters to a Friend 

Letters to a Friend 

Written to Mrs. Ezra S. Carr 
1866— 1879 

"John Muir 



ffbc AAUT^ iffott fambdDst 




MVUiU Ui ttZft 




Prefatory Note 

T7^7HEN John Muir was a student in the 
^ ^ University of Wisconsin he was a fre- 
quent caller at the house of Dr. Ezra S. Carr. 
The kindness shown him there, and especially 
the sympathy which Mrs. Carr, as a botanist 
and a lover of nature, felt in the young man's in- 
terests and aims, led to the formation of a lasting 
friendship. He regarded Mrs. Carr, indeed, as 
his "spiritual mother,'* and his letters to her in 
later years are the outpourings of a sensitive 
spirit to one who he felt thoroughly understood 
and sympathized with him. These letters are 
therefore peculiarly revealing of their writer's 
personality. Most of them were written from 
the Yosemite Valley, and they give a good no- 
tion of the life Muir led there, sheep-herding, 
guiding, and tending a sawmill at intervals to 
earn his daily bread, but devoting his real self 
to an ardent scientific study of glacial geology 
and a joyous and reverent communion with 


" The Hollow," January 21, 1866. 

Your last, written in the delicious quiet of a 
Sabbath in the country, has been received and 
read a good many times. I was interested with 
the description you draw of your seraion. You 
speak of such services like one who appreciated 
and relished them. But although the page of 
Nature is so replete with divine truth, it is 
silent concerning the fall of man and the won- 
ders of Redeeming Love. Might she not have 
been made to speak as clearly and eloquently 
of these things as she now does of the character 
and attributes of God ? It may be a bad symp- 
tom, but I will confess that I take more intense 
delight from reading the power and goodness of 
God from "the things which are made'* than 
from the Bible. The two books, however, har- 
monize beautifully, and contain enough of di- 
vine truth for the study of all eternity. It is so 

[ I ] 


Letters to a Friend 

much easier for us to employ our faculties upon 
these beautiful tangible forais than to exercise 
a simple, humble living faith such as you so well 
describe as enabling us to reach out joyfully 
into the future to expect what is promised as 
a thing of to-morrow. 

I wish, Mrs. Carr, that I could see your 
mosses and ferns and lichens. I am sure that 
you must be happier than anybody else. You 
have so much less of winter than others ; your 
parlor garden is verdant and in bloom all the 

I took your hint and procured ten or twelve 
species of moss all in fruit, also a club-moss, a 
fem, and some liverworts and lichens. I have 
also a box of thyme. I would go a long way to 
see your herbarium, more especially your fems 
and mosses. These two are by far the most 
interesting of all the natural orders to me. The 
shaded hills and glens of Canada are richly or- 
namented with these lovely plants. Aspidium 
spinulosum is common everywhere, so also is 
A. marginale. A. aculeatumy A. Lonchitis, and 


Letters to a Friend 

A. acrosticJioides are also abundant in many 
places. I found specimens of most of the other 
aspidiums, but those I have mentioned are more 
common. Cystopteris bulbifera grows in every 
arbor-vitae shade in company with the beau- 
tiful and fragrant Linruea borealis. Botrychium 
lunarioides is a common fem in many parts of 
Canada. Osmunda regalis is far less common 
here than in Wisconsin. I found it in only two 
localities. Six Claytoniana only in one place 
near the Niagara Falls. The delicate Adiantum 
trembles upon every hillside. Struthiopteris Ger" 
manica grows to a great height in open places 
in arbor-vitae and black ash swamps. Campto- 
sorus rhizophyllus and Scolopendrium officina- 
rum I found in but one place, amid the wet 
limestone rocks of Owen Sound. There are 
many species of sedge common here which I do 
not remember having seen in Wisconsin. Ca- 
lypso borealis is a lovely plant found in a few 
places in dark hemlock woods. But this is an 
endless thing; I may as well stop here. 
I have been very busy of late making prac- 



Letters to a Friend 

tical machinery. I like my work exceedingly 
y^ell, but would prefer inventions which would 
require some artistic as well as mechanical skill. 
I invented and put in operation a few days ago 
an attachment for a self-acting lathe, which has 
increased its capacity at least one third. We 
are now using it to turn broom-handles, and as 
these useful articles may now be made cheaper, 
and as cleanliness is one of the cardinal virtues, 
I congratulate myself in having done something 
like a true philanthropist for the real good of 
mankind in general. What say you? I have 
also invented a machine for making rake-teeth, 
and another for boring for them and driving 
them, and still another for making the bows, 
still another used in making the handles, still 
another for bending them, so that rakes may 
now be made nearly as fast again. Farmers will 
be able to produce grain at a lower rate, the 
poor get more bread to eat. Here is more phil- 
anthropy ; is it not ? I sometimes feel as though 
I was losing time here, but I am at least receiv- 
ing my first lessons in practical mechanics, and 


Letters to a Friend 

as one of the firm here is a millwright, and as 
I am permitted to make as many machines as 
I please and to remodel those now in use, the 
school is a pretty good one. 

I wish that Allie and Henry B. could come to 
see me every day, there are no children in our 
family here, and I miss them very much. They 
would like to see the machinery, and I could 
turn wooden balls and tops, rake-bows before 
being bent would make excellent canes, and if 
they should need crutches broom-handles and 
rake-handles would answer. I have not heard 
from Henry for a long time. I suppose that 
this evening finds you in your pleasant library 
amid books and plants and butterflies. Are 
you really successful in keeping happy, spor- 
tive "winged blossoms '* in such weather as 

One of the finest snowstorms is raging now; 
the roaring wind thick with snow rushes cruelly 
through the desolate trees. Our rapid stream 
that so short a time ago shone and twinkled in 
the hazy air bearing away the nuts and painted 


Letters to a Friend 

leaves of autumn is now making a doleful noise 
as it gropes its way doubtfully and sulkily amid 
heaps of snow and broken ice. 

The weather here is unusually cold. How do 
matters stand at the University? Can it be 
that the Doctor is really going to become prac- 
tical faraier? He will have time to compose 
excellent lectures while following the plow and 
harrow or when shearing his sheep. 

I thank you for your long, good letter. Those 
who are in a lonely place and far from home 
know how to appreciate a friendly letter. Re- 
member me to the Doctor and to all my friends 
and believe me 

Yours with gratitude, 

John Muir. 

[1866 or 1867.] 

[Beginning of letter missing.] 
I have not before sent these feelings and 
thoughts to anybody, but I know that I am 
speaking to one who by long and deep com- 
munion with Nature understands them, and 


Letters to a Friend 

can tell me what is true or false and unworthy 
in my experiences. 

The ease with which you have read my mind 
from hints taken from letters to my child friends 
gives me confidence to write. 

Thank you for the compliment of the great 
picture-frame. That is at least one invention 
that I should not have discovered, — but the 
picture is but an insect, an animalcule. I have 
stood by a majestic pine, witnessing its high 
branches waving "in sign of worship" or in con- 
verse with the spirit of the storms of autunm, 
till I forgot my very existence, and thought my- 
self unworthy to be made a leaf of such a tree. 

What work do you use in the study of the 
Fungi ? and where can I get a copy ? I think of 
your description of these " little children of the 
vegetable kingdom" whenever I meet any of 
them. I am busy with the mosses and liver- 
worts, but find difficulty in procuring a suitable 
lens. Here is a specimen of Climacium Amer-- 
icanumy a common moss here but seldom in fruit. 

I was sorry to hear of your loss at the Uni- 


Letters to a Friend 

versity of so valuable a man from such a cause. 
I hope that the wheels of your institution are 
again in motion. 

I have not yet, I am sony to say, found "The 
Stone Mason of Saint Point," though I have 
sought for it a great deal. By whom is it pub- 
lished ? 

Please remember me to my friends. I often 
wish myself near the Doctor with my difficul- 
ties in science. Tell AUie Mr. Muir does not 
forget him. 

Trout's Mills, near Meaford, 
September 13 th, [1866.] 

Your precious letter with its burden of cheer 
and good wishes has come to our hollow, and 
has done for me that work of sjnnpathy and 
encouragement which I know you kindly wished 
it to do. It came at a time when much needed, 
for I am subject to lonesomeness at times. Ac- 
cept, then, my heartfelt gratitude — would that 
I could make better return ! 

I am sorry over the loss of Professor Stirling's 

letter, for I waited and wearied for it a long 


Letters to a Friend 

time. I have been keeping up an irregular 
course of study since leaving Madison, but with 
no great success. I do not believe that study, 
especially of the Natural Sciences, is incom- 
patible with ordinary attention to business; 
still I seem to be able to do but one thing at a 
time. Since undertaking a month or two ago 
to invent new machinery for our mill, my mind 
seems to so bury itself in the work that I am 
fit for but little else; and then a lifetime is so 
little a time that we die ere we get ready to live. 
I would like to go to college, but then I have to 
say to myself, "You will die ere you can do 
anything else." I should like to invent useful 
machinery, but it comes, "You do not wish to 
spend your lifetime among machines and you 
will die ere you can do anything else.'* I should 
like to study medicine that I might do my part 
in helping human misery, but again it comes, 
"You will die ere you are ready or able to do 
so.'* How intensely I desire to be a Humboldt ! 
but again the chilling answer is reiterated ; but 
could we but live a million of years, then how 


Letters to a Friend 

delightful to spend in perfect contentment so 
many thousand years in quiet study in college, 
as many amid the grateful din of machines, as 
many among human pain, so many thousand 
in the sweet study of Nature among the dingles 
and dells of Scotlandy and all the other less im- 
portant parts of our world! Then perhaps mi^t 
we, with at least a show of reason, " shuffle off this 
mortal coil" and look back upon our star with 
something of satisfaction ; I should be ashamed 
— if shame might be in the other world — if 
any of the powers, virtues, essences, etc., should 
ask me for common knowledge conceming our 
world which I could not bestow. But away 
with this aged structure and we are back to our 
handful of hasty years half gone, all of course 
for the best did we but know all of the Crea- 
tor's plan conceming us. In our higher state 
of existence we shall have time and intellect 
for study. Etemity, with perhaps the whole un- 
limited creation of God as our field, should 
satisfy us, and make us patient and trustful, 
while we pray with the Psalmist, "Teach us to 

[ 10] 

Letters to a Friend 

number our days that we may apply our hearts 
unto wisdom/' 

I was struck with your remarks about our 
real home of stilbiess and peace. How little 
does the outer and noisy world in general know 
of that "real home** andVeal inner life! Happy 
indeed they who have a friend to whom they 
can unmask the workings of their real life, sure 
of sympathy and forbearance! 

I sent for the book which you recommend ; 
I have just been reading a short sketch of the 
life of the mother of Lamartine. 

You say about the humble life of our Sav- 
iour and about the trees gathering in the sun- 
shine. These are beautiful things. 

What you say respecting the littleness of the 
number who are called to " the pure and deep 
communion of the beautiful, all-loving Nature," 
is particularly true of the hardworking, hard- 
drinking, stolid Canadians. In vain is the glo- 
rious chart of God in Nature spread out for 
them. So many acres chopped is their motto, 
as they grub away amid the smoke of the mag- 

[II 1 

Letters to a Friend 

nificent forest trees, black as demons and mate- 
rial as the soil they move upon. I often think 
of the Doctor's lecture upon the condition of the 
different races of men as controlled by physical 
agencies. Canada, though abounding in the ele- 
ments of wealth, is too difficult to subdue to 
permit the first few generations to arrive at 
any great intellectual development. In my long 
rambles last summer I did not find a single 
person who knew anything of botany and but 
a few who knew the meaning of the word ; and 
wherein lay the charm that could conduct a man 
who might as weU be gathering mammon so 
many miles through these fastnesses to suffer 
hunger and exhaustion was with them never 
to be discovered. Do not these answer well to 
the person described by the poet in these lines? 

"A primrose by the river's brim, 
A yellow primrose was to him, 
And nothing more." 

I thank Dr. Carr for his kind remembrance 
of me, but still more for the good patience he 
had with so inept a scholar. 


Letters to a Friend 

We remember in a peculiar way those who 
first gave us the story of Redeeming LoveTrom ^ rf ( ! ^ 
the great book of Revelation, and I shall not 
forget the Doctor, who first laid before me the 
great book of Nature, and though I have taken 
so little from his hand he has at least shown 
me where those mines of priceless knowledge 
lie and how to reach them. O how frequently, 
Mrs. Carr, when lonely and wearied, have I 
wished that like some hungry worm I could 
creep into that delightful kemel of your house, 
your library, with its portraits of scientific men, 
and so bountiful a store of their sheaves amid 
the blossom and verdure of your little kingdom 
of plants, luxuriant and happy as though hold- 
ing their leaves to the open sky of the most 
flower-loving zone in the world ! 

That "sweet day" did as you wished reach 
our hollow, and another is with us now. The 
sky has the haze of autimin, and excepting the 
aspen not a tree has motion. Upon our enclos- 
ing wall of verdure new tints appear, the gor- 
geous dyes of autunm are to be plainly seen, and 

[ 13] 

c, . p 

Letters to a Friend 

the forest seems to have found out that again 
its leaf must fade. Our stream, too, has a less 
cheerful sound, and as it bears its foam-bells 
pensively away from the shallow rapids it seems 
to feel that summer is past. 

You propose, Mrs. Carr, an exchange of 
thoughts, for which I thank you very sincerely. 
This will be a means of pleasure and improve- 
ment which I could not have hoped ever to 
have been possessed of, but then here is the 
difficulty: I feel I am altogether incapable of 
properly conducting a correspondence with one 
so much above me. We are, indeed, as you 
say, students in the same life school, but in very 
different classes. I am but an alpha novice 
in those sciences which you have studied and 
loved so long. If, however, you are willing in 
this to adopt the plan that our Saviour endeav- 
ored to beat into the stingy Israelites, m., to 
"give, hoping for nothing again," all will be 
well; and as long as your letters resemble this 
one before me, which you have just written, 
in genus, order, cohort, class, province, or king- 

[ 14] 

Letters to a Friend 

dom, be assured that by way of reply you shall 
at least receive an honest "Thank you/* 

Tell Allie that Mr. Muir thanks him for his 
pretty flowers and would like to see him, also 
that I have a story for him which I shall tell 
some other time. 

Please remember me to my friends, and 
now, hoping to receive a letter from you ait 
least semi-occasionallyy I remain 

Yours with gratitude, 

John Muir. 

Address: — 
Meaford P. O., 
County Grey, 
Canada West. 

April 3rd, [1867.] 

You have, of course, heard of my calamity. 

The sunshine and the winds are working in 
all the gardens of God, but / — I am lost. 

I am shut in darkness. My hard, toil-tem- 
pered muscles have disappeared, and I am fee- 
ble and tremulous as an ever-sick woman. 

Please tell the Butlers that their precious 
sympathy has reached me. 

[ 15] 

Letters to a Friend 

I have read your "Stone Mason*' with a 
great deal of pleasure. I send it with this 
and will write my thoughts upon it when I 

My friends here are kind beyond what I can 
tell and do much to shorten my immense blank 

I send no apology for so doleful a note be- 
cause I feel, Mrs. Carr, that you will appreciate 
my feelings. 

Most cordially, 

J. MuiR. 

Sunday, April 6th, [1867.] 

Your precious letter of the isth reached me 
last night. By accident it was nearly lost. 

I cannot tell you, Mrs. Carr, how much I ap- 
preciate your sympathy and all of these kind 
thoughts of cheer and substantial consolation 
which you have stored for me in this letter. 

I am much better than when I wrote you; 

can now sit up about all day and in a room 

partly lighted. 



Letters to a Friend 

Your Doctor says, "The aqueous humor 
may be restored." How? By nature or by art? 

The position of my wound ^ — -^ N«t ^ ot 
will be seen in this figure. 

The eye is pierced just where V ^^^^ /Sj^'eji* ^ 
the cornea meets the sclerotic 
coating. I do not know the depth of the wound 
or its exact direction. Sight was completely 
gone from the injured eye for the first few days, 
and my physician said it would be ever gone, 
but I was surprised to find that on the fourth 
or fifth day I could see a little with it. Sight 
continued to increase for a few days, but for 
the last three weeks it has not perceptibly in- 
creased or diminished. 

I called in a Dr. Parvin lately, said to be 
a very skillful oculist and of large experience 
both here and in Europe. He said that he 
thought the iris permanently injured; that the 
crystalline lens was not injured ; that, of course, 
my two eyes would not work together; and 
that on the whole my chances of distinct vision 
were not good. But the bare possibility of any- 


Letters to a Friend 

thing like full sight is now my outstanding hope. 
When the wound was made about one third 
of a teaspoonful of fluid like the white of an 
egg flowed out upon my fingers, — aqueous 
fluid, I suppose. The eye has not yet lost its 
natural appearance. 

I can see sufficiently well with it to avoid the 
furniture, etc., in walking through a room. 
Can almost, in full light, recognize some of 
my friends but cannot distinguish one letter 
from another of common type. I would Kke to 
hear Dr. Carr's opinion of my case. 

When I received my blow I could not feel 
any pain or faintness because the tremendous 
thought glared full on me that my right eye was 
lost. I could gladly have died on the spot, be- 
cause I did not feel that I could have heart to 
look at any flower again. But this is not so, 
for I wish to try some cloudy day to walk to 
the woods, where I am sure some of spring's 
sweet fresh-bom are waiting. 

I believe with you that "nothing is with- 
out meaning and purpose that comes from a 

[ 18] 

Letters to a Friend 

Father's hand/* but during these dark weeks I 
could not feel this, and, as for courage and for- 
titude, scarce the shadows of these virtues were 
left me. The shock upon my nervous system 
made me weak in mind as a child. But enough 
of woe. 

When I can walk to where fruited specimens 
of Climacium are, I will send you as many as 
you wish. 

I must close. I thank you all again for your 
kindness. I cannot make sentences that will 
tell how much I feel indebted to you. 

Please remember me to all my friends. 

You will write soon. I can read my letters 

now. Please send them in care of Osgood & 




[April, 1867.] 

[Beginning of letter missing.] 
I have been groping among the flowers a good 
deal lately. Our trees are now in leaf, but the 

[ 19] 

Letters to a Friend 

leaves, as Mrs. Browning would say, are 
"scarce long enough for waving." The dear 
little conservative spring mosses have elevated 
their capsules on their smooth shining shafts, 
and stand side by side in full stature, and full 
fashion, every ornament and covering carefully 
numbered and painted and sculptured as were 
those of their Adams and Eves, every cowl prop- 
erly plaited, and drawn far enough down, every 
hood with the proper dainty slant, their fash- 
ions never changing because ever best. 

Tell AUie that I would be very glad to have 
him send me an Anemone nemorosa [?] and A. 
Nuttalliana. They do not grow here. I wish he 
and Henry could visit me on Saturdays as they 
used to do. 

The poor eye is much better. I could read a 
letter with it. I believe that sight is increas- 
ing. I have nearly an eye and a half left. 

I feel, if possible, more anxious to travel than 

I read a description of the Yosemite Valley 
last year and thought of it most every day 


Letters to a Friend 

since. You know my tastes better than any one 
else. I am, most gratefully, 

John Muir. 

Indianapolis, May 2nd, 1867. 

I am sorry and surprised to hear of the cruel 
fate of your plants. 

I have never seen so happy flowers in any 
other home. They lived with you so cheerfully 
and confidingly, and felt so sure of receiving 
from you sympathy and tenderness in all their 

How could they grow cold and colder and 
die without your knowing? They must have 
called you. Could any bedroom be so remote 
you could not hear? I am very sorry, Mrs. 
Carr, for you and them. Can your loss be re- 
paired ? Will not other flowers lose confidence 
in you and live like those of other people, sickly 
and mute, half in, half out of, the body? 

No snow fell here Easter evening, but a few 
wet flakes are falling here and there to-day. 

Thank you for sending the prophecy of that 

I 21 ] 


Letters to a Friend 

loving naturalist of yours. It is indeed a pleas- 
ant one, but my faith concerning its complete 
fulfillment is weak. I do not know who your 
other doctor is, but I am sure that when, in the 
Yosemite Valley and following the Pacific coast 
I would obtain a great deal of geology from 
Dr. Carr, and from yourself and that I should 
win the secret of many a weed's plain heart. 

I am overestimated by your friend. He 
places me in company far too honorable, but 
if we meet in the fields of the sunny South I 
shall certainly speak to him. 

Tell him, Mrs. Carr, in your next how thank- 
ful I am for his sympathy. He is one who can 
sympathize in full. I feel sorry for his like mis- 
fortune and am indebted to him through you 
for so many good and noble thoughts. 

A little messenger met me with your letter of 
April 8th when I was on my way to the woods 
for the first time. I read it upon a moss-clad 
fallen tree. You only of my friends congratu- 
lated me on my happiness in having avoided 
the misery and mud of March, but for the seri- 


Letters to a Friend 

ous part of your letter, the kind of life which 
our plant friends have, and their relation to us, 
I do not know what to think of it. I must write 
of this some other time. 

In this first walk I found Erigeniay which 
here is ever first, and sweet little violets, and 
Sanguinariaj and Isopyrum too, and Thalic^ 
trum anemonoides were almost ready to venture 
their faces to the sky. The red maple was in 
full flower glory; the leaves below and the 
mosses were bright with its fallen scarlet blos- 
soms. And the elm too was in flower and the 
earliest willows. All this when your fields had 
scarce the memory of a flower left in them. 

I will not try to tell you how much I enjoyed 
in this walk after four weeks in bed. You can 
feel it. 

Indianapolis, June 9th, 1867. 

I have been looking over your letters and am 
sorry that so many of them are unanswered. 
My debt to you has been increasing very rap- 
idly of late, and I don't think it can ever be 


Letters to a Friend 

I am not well enough to work, and I cannot 
sit still; I have been reading and botanizing 
for some weeks, and I find that for such work 
I am very much disabled. I leave this city 
for home to-morrow accompanied by Merrill 
Moores, a little friend of mine eleven years of 
age. We will go to Decatur, 111., thence north- 
ward through the wide prairies, botanizing a 
few weeks by the way. We hope to spend a few 
days in Madison, and I promise myself a great 
deal of pleasure. 

I hope to go South towards the end of sum- 
mer, and as this will be a journey that I know 
very little about, I hope to profit by your 
counsel before setting out. 

I am very happy with the thought of so soon 
seeing my Madison friends, and Madison, and 
the plants of Madison, and yours. \ 

I am thankful that this affliction has drawn 
me to the sweet fields rather than from them. 

Give my love to AUie and Henry and all my 
friends. Yours most cordially, 

John Muir. 

Letters to a Friend 

Roses with us are now in their grandest splen- 

My address for five or six weeks from this 
date will be Portage City, Wis. 

I am now with the loved of home. I received 
your kind letter on my arrival in Portage four 
weeks ago. I have delayed writing that I might 
be able to state when I could be in Madison. 
I have never seen Arethusa nor Aspidium 
fragranSy but I know many a meadow where 
Calopogon finds home. With us it is now in the 
plenitude of glory. Camptosorus is not here, 
but I can easily procure you a specimen from 
the rocks of Owen Sound, Canada. It is there 
very abundant, so also is Scolopendrium. Have 
you a living specimen of this last fern r Please 
tell me particularly about the sending or bring- 
ing Calopogon or any other of our plants you 
wish for. I have no skill whatever in the matter. 
I am enjoying myself exceedingly. The dear 
flowers of Wisconsin are incomparably more 



Letters to a Friend 

numerous than those of Canada or Indiana. 
With what fervid, unspeakable joy did I wel- 
come those flowers that I have loved so long! 
Hundreds grow in the full light of our opening 
that I have not seen since leaving home. In 
company with my little friend I visited Muir's 
Lake. We approached it by a ravine in the 
principal hills that belong to it. We emerged 
from the low leafy oaks, and it came in full view 
all unchanged, sparkling and clear, with its 
edging of rushes and lilies. And there, too, was 
the meadow, with its brook and willows, and all 
the well-known nooks of its winding border 
where many a moss and fern find home. I held 
these poor eyes to the dear scene and it reached 
me once more in its fullest glory. 

We visited my millpond, a very Lilliputian 
affair upon a branch creek from springs in the 
meadow. After leaving the dam my stream 
flows underground a few yards. The opening 
of this dark way is extremely beautiful. I wish 
you could see it. It is hung with a slender mea- 
dow sedge whose flowing tapered leaves have 


Letters to a Friend 

just sufficient stiffness to make them arch with 
inimitable beauty as they reach down to wel- 
come the water to the light. This, I think, is 
one of Nature's finest pieces most delicately 
finished and composed of just this quiet flowing 
water, sedge, and summer light. 

I wish you could see the ferns of this neigh- 
borhood. We have some of the finest assem- 
blies imaginable. There is a little grassy lake- 
let about half a mile from here, shaded and 
sheltered by a dense growth of small oaks. Just 
where those oaks meet the marginal sedges of 
the lake is a circle of ferns, a perfect brother- 
hood of the three osmundas, — regalisy Clayto- 
niaruiy and Cinnamomea. Of the three, Clayto^ 
niana is the most stately and luxuriant. I never 
saw such lordly, magnificent clumps before. 
Their average height is not less than 3^^ or 4 
feet. I measured several fronds that exceeded 
5, — one, 5 feet 9 inches. Their palace home 
gave no evidence of having ever been trampled 
upon. I do wish you could meet them. This is 
my favorite fern. I 'm sorry it does not grow in 



Letters to a Friend 

Scotland. Had Hugh Miller seen it there, he 
would not have called regalis the prince of Ba- 
lich ferns. I think that I have seen specimens 
of the ostrich fern in some places of Canada 
which might rival my Osmunda in height, but 
not in beauty and sublimity. 

I was anxious to see Illinois prairies on my 
way home ; so we went to Decatur, or near the 
centre of the State, thence north by Rockford 
and Janesville. I botanized one week on the 
prairie about seven miles southwest of Peca- 
tonica. I gathered the most beautiful bouquet 
there that I ever saw. I seldom make bouquets. 
I never saw but very few that I thought were 
at all beautiful. I was anxious to know the 
grasses and sedges of the Illinois prairies and 
also their comparative abundance ; so I walked 
one hundred yards in a straight line, gathering 
at each step that grass or sedge nearest my foot, 
placing them one by one in my left hand as I 
walked along, without looking at them or en- 
tertaining the remotest idea of making a bou- 
quet. At the end of this measured walk my 

[28 1 

Letters to a Friend 

handful, of course, consisted of one hundred 

plants arranged in Nature^ s own way as regards 

kind, comparative niunbers, and size. I looked 

at my grass bouquet by chance — was startled 

— held it at arms length in sight of its own near 

and distant scenery and companion flowers — 

my discovery was complete and I was delighted 

beyond measure with the new and extreme 
beauty. Here it is : — 

Of Kceleria cristata $$ 

" Agfostis scahra 29 

" Panicum clandestinum 7 

" " depauperaium I 
" Stipa spartea . 7 

" Poa alsodes 7 

" " praUnsis I 

" Carex panicea 4 

" " Nova-Anglug i 

The extremely fine and diffuse purple Agros- 
tis contrasted most divinely with the taller, 
strict, taper-finished Kceleria. The long-awned 
single Stipa too and P. clandestinuniy with their 
broad ovate leaves and purple muffy pistils, 
played an important part ; so also did the cylin- 
drical spikes of the sedges. All were just in 



Letters to a Friend 

placejevery leaf had its proper taper and tex- 
ture and exact measure of green. Only P. pra^ 
tensis seemed out of place, and as nndght be ex- 
pected it proved to be an intruder, belonging 
to a field or bouquet in Europe. Can it be that 
a single flower or weed or grass in all these 
prairies occupies a chance position ? Can it be 
that the folding or curvature of a single leaf is 
wrong or undetermined in these gardens that 
God is keeping? 

The most nndcroscopic portions of plants are 
beautiful in themselves, and these are beau- 
tiful combined into individuals, and undoubt- 
edly all are woven with equal care into one 
harmonious, beautiful whole. 

I have the analysis of two other handfuls of 
prairie plants which I will show you another 

We hope to be in Madison in about three 

To me all plants are more precious than be- 
fore. My poor eye is not better or worse. A 
cloud is over it, but in gazing over the widest 


Letters to a Friend 

landscapes I am not always sensible of its pres- 

My love to Allie and Henry Butler and all 
my friends, please tell the Butlers when we are 
conndng. Their invitation is prior to yours, but 
your houses are not widely separated. I mean 
to write again before leaving home. You will 
then have all my news and I will have only to 
listen. Most cordially, 

John Muir, 

Indianapolis, August 30th, 1867. 

We are safely in Indianapolis., I am not go- 
ing to write a letter, I only want to thank you 
and the Doctor and all of the boys for the en- 
joyments of the pleasant botanical week we 
spent with you. 

We saw, as the steam hurried us on, that 
the grand harvest of Composita would be no 
failure this year. It is rapidly receiving its 
purple and gold in generous measure from the 
precious light of these days. 

I could not but notice how well appearances 

[31 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

in the vicinity of Chicago agreed with Lesque- 
reux's theory of the formation of prairies. We 
spent about five hours in Chicago. I did not 
find many flowers in her tumultuous streets; 
only a few grassy plants of wheat and two or 
three species of weeds, — amaranth, purslane, 
carpet-weed, etc., — the weeds, I suppose, for 
man to walk upon, the wheat to feed him. I 
saw some new algae, but no mosses. I expected 
to see some of the latter on wet walls and in 
seams in the pavement, but I suppose that the 
manufacturers' smoke and the terrible noise is 
too great for the hardiest of them. 

I wish I knew where I was going. Doomed 
to be "carried of the spirit into the wilderness,'' 
I suppose. I wish I could be more moderate 
in my desires, but I cannot, and so there is no 
rest. Is not your experience the same as this ? 

I feel myself deeply indebted to you all for 
your great and varied kindness, — not any the 
less if from stupidity and sleepiness I forgot on 
leaving to express it. Farewell. 

J. MuiR. 

Letters to a Friend 

Among the Hills of Bear Creek, 

seven miles southeast of Burkesville, Kentucky, 

September 9th, [1867.] 

I left Indianapolis last Monday and have 
reached this point by a long, weary, round- 
about walk. I walked from Louisville a dis- 
tance of 170 miles, and my feet are sore, but I 
am paid for all my toil a thousand times over. 

The sun has been among the treetops for 
more than an hour, and the dew is nearly all 
taken back, and the shade in these hill basins 
is creeping away into the unbroken strongholds 
of the grand old forests. 

I have enjoyed the trees and scenery of 
Kentucky exceedingly. How shall I ever tell 
of the miles and miles of beauty that have 
been flowing into me in such measure ? These 
lofty curving ranks of bobbing, swelling hills, 
these concealed valleys of fathomless verdure, 
and these lordly trees with the nursing sun- 
light glancing in their leaves upon the outlines 
of the magnificent masses of shade embosomed 
among their wide branches, — these are cut 
into my memory to go with me forever. 


Letters to a Friend 

I often thought as I went along how dearly 
Mrs. Carr would appreciate all this. I have 
thought of many things I wished to ask you 
about when with you. I hope to see you all 
again some time when my tongue and memory 
are in better order. I have much to ask the 
Doctor about the geology of Kentucky. 

I have seen many caves, Mammoth among 
the rest. I found two [ ] fems at the last. 
My love to AUie and all. 

Very cordially yours, 

John Muir. 

I am in the woods on a hilltop with my back 
against a moss-clad log. I wish you could see 
my last evening's bedroom. 

My route will be through Kingston and Mad- 
isonville, Tenn., and through Blairsville and 
Gainesville, Georgia. Please write me at Gaines- 
ville. I am terribly hungry. I hardly dare to 
think of home and friends. 

I was a few miles south of Louisville when 
I planned my journey. I spread out my map 


Letters to a Friend 

under a tree and made up my mind to go 

through Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia to 

Florida, thence to Cuba, thence to some part 

of South America, but it will be only a hasty 

walk. I am thankful, however, for so much. 

I will be glad to receive any advice from you. 

I am very ignorant of all things pertaining to 

this journey. 

Again farewell. 

J. MuiR. 

My love to the Butlers. I am sorry I could 
not see John Spooner before leaving Madison. 

Cedar Keys, [Fla.] 

November 8th, [1867.] 

I am just creeping about getting plants and 
strength after my fever. I wrote you a long 
time ago, but retained the letter, hoping to be 
able soon to tell you where you might write. 
Your letter arrived in Gainesville just a few 
minutes before I did. Somehow your letters 
always come when most needed. I felt and en- 
joyed what you said of souls and solitudes, also 
that "All of Nature being yet found in man." 


Letters to a Friend 

I shall long for a letter from you. Will you 
please write me a long letter? Perhaps it will 
be safer to send it to New Orleans, La. I shall 
have to go there for a boat to South America. 
I do not yet know which point in South Amer- 
ica I had better go to. What do you say? My 
means being limited, I cannot stay long any- 
where. I would gladly do anything I could for 
Mr. Warren, but I fear my time will be too short 
to effect much. 

I did not see Miss Brooks, because I found 
she was 130 miles from Savannah. I passed the 
Bostwich plantation and could not conveniently 
go back. I am very sorry about the mistake. 

I have written little, but you will excuse me. 
I am wearied. 

My most cordial love to all. 

Near Snelling, Merced Co., 

California, July 26th, [1868.] 

I have had the pleasure of but one letter 
since leaving home from you. That I received 
at Gainesville, Georgia. 


Letters to a Friend 

I have not received a letter from any source 
since leaving Florida, and of course I am very 
lonesome and hunger terribly for the commun- 
ion of friends. I will remain here eight or nine 
months and hope to hear from all my friends. 

Fate and flowers have carried me to Califor- 
nia, and I have reveled and luxuriated amid 
its plants and mountains nearly four months. 
I am well again, I came to life in the cool winds 
and crystal waters of the mountains, and, were 
it not for a thought now and then of loneliness 
and isolation, the pleasure of my existence 
would be complete. 

I have forgotten whether I wrote you from 
Cuba or not. I spent four happy weeks there 
in January and February. 

I saw only a very little of the grandeur of 
Panama, for my health was still in wreck, and 
I did not venture to wait the arrival of another 
steamer. I had but half a day to collect speci- 
mens. The Isthmus train rushed on with camel 
speed through the gorgeous Eden of vines and 
palms, and I could only gaze from the car plat- 


Letters to a Friend 

form and weep and pray that the Lord would 
some day give me strength to see it better. 

After a delightful sail among the scenery of 
the sea I arrived in San Francisco in April and 
struck out at once into the country. I followed 
the Diablo foothills along the San Jose Valley 
to Gilroy, thence over the Diablo Mountains 
to valley of San Joaquin by the Pacific pass, 
thence down the valley opposite the mouth of 
the Merced River, thence across the San Joa- 
quin, and up into the Sierra Nevada to the 
mammoth trees of Mariposa and the glorious 
Yosemite, thence down the Merced to this 

The goodness of the weather as I journeyed 
towards Pacheco was beyond all praise and de- 
scription, fragrant and mellow and bright. The 
air was perfectly delicious, sweet enough for 
the breath of angels ; every draught of it gave 
a separate and distinct piece of pleasure. I do 
not believe that Adam and Eve ever tasted 
better in their balmiest nook. 

The last of the Coast Range foothills were 


Letters to a Friend 

in near view all the way to Gilroy . Their union 
with the valley is by curves and slopes of inimit- 
able beauty, and they were robed with the 
greenest grass and richest light I ever beheld, 
and colored and shaded with millions of flowers 
of every hue, chiefly of purple and golden yel- 
low; and hundreds of crystal rills joined songs 
with the larks, filling all the valley with music 
like a sea, making it an Eden from end to end. 
\, The scenery, too, and all of Nature in the 
pass is fairly enchanting, — strange and beau- 
tiful mountain ferns, low in the dark canons 
and high upon the rocky, sunlit peaks, banks 
of blooming shrubs, and sprinklings and gath- 
erings of [ ] flowers, precious and pure as 
ever enjoyed the sweets of a mountain home. 
And oh, what streams are there! beaming, 
glancing, each with music of its own, singing 
as they go in the shadow and light, onward upon 
their lovely changing pathways to the sea ; and 
hills rise over hills, and mountains over moun- 
tains, heaving, waving, swelling, in most glori- 
ous, overpowering, unreadable majesty; and 

[ 39 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

when at last, stricken with faint like a crushed 
insect, you hope to escape from all the terrible 
grandeur of these mountain powers, other foun- 
tains, other oceans break forth before you, for 
there, in clear view, over heaps and rows of foot- 
hills is laid a grand, smooth outspread plain, 
watered by a river, and another range of peaky 
snow-capped mountains a hundred miles in the 
distance. That plain is the valley of the San 
Joaquin, and those mountains are the great 
Sierra Nevadas. The valley of the San Joaquin 
is the floweriest piece of world I ever walked, 
one vast level, even flower-bed, a sheet of flow- 
ers, a smooth sea ruffled a little by the tree 
fringing of the river and here and there of small- 
er cross streams from the mountains. Florida 
is indeed a land of flowers, but for every flower 
creature that dwells in its most delightsome 
places more than a hundred are living here. 
Here, here is Florida. Here they are not sprin- 
kled apart with grass between, as in our prai- 
ries, but grasses are sprinkled in the flowers ; not, 
as in Cuba, flowers piled upon flowers heaped 


Letters to a Friend 

and gathered into deep, glowing masses, but 
side by side, flower to flower, petal to petal, 
touching but not entwined, branches weaving 
past and past each other, but free and separate, 
one smooth garment, mosses next the ground, 
grasses above, petaled flowers between. 

Before studying the flowers of this valley, 
and their sky and all of the furniture and sounds 
and adornments of their home, one can scarce 
believe that their vast assemblies are perma- 
nent, but rather that, actuated by some plant 
purpose, they had convened from every plain, 
and mountain, and meadow of their kingdom, 
and that the different coloring of patches, acres, 
and miles marked the bounds of the vario^is 
tribe and family encampments. And now ju^t 
stop and see what I gathered from a square 
yard opposite the Merced. I have no books 
and cannot give specific names : — 






2 yellow, 3305 heads 



2 purple and white 



I purple 



I yellow 



I purple 

[41 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

Orders Open fiotvers 


Rubiacese 40 

I white 


Natural order unknown 


Plants unflowcrcd 

Polemoniaceae 407 

2 purple 

Gramineae 29,830 

3 ; stems about 700; spikelets 


Musci 10,000,000 

2 purples, Dicranum, Tunar 

Total of open flowers, 165,912 

" " flowers in bud, 100,000 

" " withered, 40,000 

" " natural orders, 9-1 1 

" " species, 16-17 

The yellow of these ComposiUB is extremely 
deep and rich and bossy, as though the sun had 
filled their petals with a portion of his very self. 
It exceeds the purple of all the others in super- 
ficial quantity forty or fifty times their whole 
amount, but to an observer who first looks 
downward and then takes a more distant view, 
the yellow gradually fades and purple predomi- 
nates because nearly all of the purple flowers 
are higher. In depth the purple stratum is 
about ten or twelve inches, the yellow seven or 
eight, and second purple of mosses one. 

I 'm sorry my page is done. I have not told 
anything. I thought of you, Mrs. Carr, when 
I was in the glorious Yosemite and of the proph- 


Letters to a Friend 

ecy of "the Priests'' that you would see it and 
worship there with your Doctor and Priest and 
I. It is by far the grandest of all of the special 
temples of Nature I was ever permitted to en- 
ter. It must be the sanctum sanctorum of the 
Sierras, and I trust that you will all be led to it. 
Remember me to the Doctor. I hope he 
has the pleasure of sowing in good and honest 
hearts the glorious truth of science to which he 
has devoted his life. Give my love to all your 
boys and my little Butler. 


J. MuiR. 

Hopeton, Merced Co., Cala. 

At a sheep ranch between the 

Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers, 

November ist, [1868.] 

I was extremely glad to receive yet one more 
of your ever welcome letters. It found me two 
weeks ago. I rode over to Hopeton to seek for 
letters. I had to pass through a bed of Compos- 
itcB two or three miles in diameter. They were 
in the glow of full prime, foraiing a lake of the 


Letters to a Friend 

purest ComposiUB gold I ever beheld. Some 
single plants had upwards of three thousand 
heads. Their petal-surface exceeded their leaf- 
surface thirty or forty times. Because of the 
constancy of the winds all these flowers faced 
in one direction (southeast), and I thought, as 
I gazed upon myriads of joyous plant beings 
clothed in rosy golden light. What would old 
Linnaus or Mrs. Carr say to this ? 

I was sorry to think of the loss of your letters, 
but it is just what might be expected from the 
wretched mail arrangements of the South. 

I am not surprised to hear of your leaving 
Madison and am anxious to know where your 
lot will be cast. If you go to South America 
soon, I shall hope to meet you, and if you should 
decide to seek the shores of the Pacific in Cali- 
fornia before the end of the year, I shall find 
you and be glad to make another visit to the 
Yosemite with your Doctor and Priest, accord- 
ing to the old plan. I know the way up the 
rocks to the falls, and I know too the abode 
of many a precious mountain fem. I gathered 


Letters to a Friend 

plenty for you, but you must see them at home. 
Not an angel could tell a tithe of these glories. 

If you make your home in California, I know 
from experience how keenly you will feel the 
absence of the special flowers you love. No 
others can fill their places ; Heaven itself would 
not answer without Calypso and Linruea. 

I think that you will find in California just 
what you desire in climate and scenery, for 
both are so varied. March is the springtime 
of the plains, April the summer, and May the 
autunm. The other months are dry and wet 
winter, uniting with each other, and with the 
other seasons by splices and overlappings of 
very simple and very intricate kinds. I rode 
across the seasons in going to the Yosemite 
last spring. I started from the Joaquin in the 
last week of May. All the plain flowers, so 
lately fresh in the power of full beauty, were 
dead. Their parched leaves crisped and fell to 
powder beneath my feet, as though they had 
been "cast into the oven." And they had not, 
like the plants of our West, weeks and months 


Letters to a Friend 

to grow old in, but they died ere they could 
fade, standing together holding out their bran- 
ches erect and green as life. But they did not 
die too soon ; they lived a whole life and stored 
away abundance of future life-principle in the 

After riding for two days in this autumn I 
found summer again in the higher foothills. 
Flower petals were spread confidingly open, the 
grasses waved their branches all bright and 
gay in the colors of healthy prime, and the 
winds and streams were cool. Forty or fifty 
miles further into the mountains, I came to 
spring. The leaves on the oak were small and 
drooping, and they still retained their first 
tintings of crimson and purple, and the wrinkles 
of their bud folds were distinct as if newly 
opened, and all along the rims of cool brooks 
and mild sloping places thousands of gentle 
mountain flowers were tasting life for the first 

A few miles farther "onward and upward" 
I found the edge of winter. Scarce a grass 


Letters to a Friend 

could be seen. The last of the lilies and spring 
violets were left below ; the winter scales were 
still shut upon the buds of the dwarf oaks and 
alders ; the grand Nevada pines waved solemnly 
to cold, loud winds among rushing, changing 
stormclouds. Soon my horse was plunging in 
snow ten feet in depth, the sky became darker 
and more terrible, many-voiced mountain winds 
swept the pines, speaking the dread language 
of the cold north, snow began to fall, and in 
less than a week from the buming plains of the 
San Joaquin autmnn was lost in the blinding 
snows of mountain winter. 

Descending these higher mountains towards 
the Yosemite, the snow gradually disappeared 
from the pines and the sky, tender leaves un- 
folded less and less doubtfully, lilies and violets 
appeared again, and I once more found spring 
in the grand valley. Thus meet and blend the 
seasons of these mountains and plains, beauti- 
ful in their joinings as those of lake and land 
or of the bands of the rainbow. The room is 
full of talking men ; I cannot write, and I only 


Letters to a Friend 

attempt to scrawl this note to thank you for all 
the good news and good thoughts and friendly 
wishes and remembrances you send. 

My kindest wishes to the Doctor. I am sure 
you will be directed by Providence to the place 
where you will best serve the end of existence. 
My love to all your family. 

Ever yours most cordially, 

J. M. 

Near Snellings, Merced Co., [Cal.] 
February 24th, 1869. 

Your two California notes from San Francis- 
co and San Mateo reached me last evening, and 
I rejoice at the glad tidings they bring of your 
arrival in this magnificent land. I have thought 
of you hundreds of times in my seasons of deep- 
est joy, amid the flower purple and gold of the 
plains, the fern fields in gorge and cafion, the 
sacred waters, tree columns, and the eternal 
unnameable sublimities of the mountains. Of 
all my friends you are the only one that under- 
stands my motives and enjoyments. Only a 
few weeks ago a true and liberal-minded friend 


Letters to a Friend 

sent me a large sheetful of terrible blue-steel 
orthodoxy, calling me from clouds and flowers 
to the practical walks of politics and philan- 
thropy. Mrs. Carr, thought I, never lectured 
thus. I am glad, indeed, that you are here to 
read for yourself these glorious lessons of sky 
and plain and mountain, which no mortal 
power can ever speak. I thought when in the 
Yosemite Valley last spring that the Lord had 
written things there that you would be allowed 
to read some time. 

I have not made a single friend in Califomia, 
and you may be sure I strode home last evening 
from the post office feeling rich indeed. As soon 
as I hear of your finding a home, I shall begin 
a plan of visiting you. I have frequently seen 
favorable reports upon the silk-culture in Cali- 
fomia. The climate of Los Angeles is said to be 
as well tempered for the peculiar requirements 
of the business as any in the world. I think that 
you have brought your boys to the right field 
for planting. I doubt if in all the world man's 
comforts and necessities can be more easily 



Letters to a Friend 

and abundantly supplied than in California. 
I have often wished the Doctor near me in my 
rambles among the rocks. Pure science is a most 
unmarketable commodity in Califomia. Con- 
spicuous, energetic, unmixed materialism rules 
supreme in all classes. Prof. Whitney, as you 
are aware, was accused of heresy while conduct- 
ing the State survey, because in his reports he 
devoted some space to fossils and other equally 
dead and un-Califomian objects instead of col- 
umns of discovered and measured mines. 

I am engaged at present in the very impor- 
tant and patriarchal business of sheep. I am 
a gentle shepherd. The gray box in which I 
reside is distant about seven miles northwest 
from Hopeton, two miles north of Snellings. 
The Merced pours past me on the south from 
the Yosemite ; smooth, domey hills and the tree 
fringe of the Tuolumne bound me on the north ; 
the lordly Sierras join "sky and plain on the east ; 
and the far coast mountains on the west. My 
mutton family of eighteen hundred range over 
about ten square miles, and I have abundant 


Letters to a Friend 

opportunities for reading and botanizing. I 
shall be here for about two weeks, then I shall 
be engaged in shearing sheep between the Tuo- 
lunme and Stanislaus from the San Joaquin 
to the Sierra foothills for about two months. 
I will be in California until next November, 
when I mean to start for South America. 

I received your Castleton letter and wrote 
you in November. I suppose you left Vermont 
before my letter had time to reach you. You 
must prepare for your Yosemite baptism in June. 

Here is a sweet little flower that I have just 
found among the rocks of the brook that waters 
Twenty-Hill Hollow. Its anthers are curiously 
united in pairs and form stars upon its breast. 
The calyx seems to have been judged too plain 
and green to accompany the splendid corolla, 
and so is left behind among the leaves. I first 
met this plant among the Sierra Nevadas. 
There are five or six species. For beauty and 
simplicity they might be allowed to dwell with- 
in sight of Calypso. There are about twenty 
plants in flower in the gardens of my daily 

[51 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

walks. The first was bom in January. I give 
them more attention than I give the dirty mon- 
grel creatures of my flock, that are about half 
made by God and half by man. I have not yet 
discovered the poetical part of a shepherd's 

Spring will soon arrive to the plants of Madi- 
son, and surely they will miss you. In Yosemite 
you will find cassiopes and laurels and azaleas, 
and luxuriant mo,s« and ferns, but I know 
that even these can never take the place of the 
long-loved ones of your Vermont hills. 

Forgive me this long writing. I know that 
you are in a fever of joy from the beauty pour- 
ing upon you; nevertheless you seem so near 
I can hardly stop. 

My most cordial regards to the Doctor. Cali- 
fomians do not deserve such as he. 

A lawyer by the name of Wigonton or Wigle- 
ton, a graduate of Madison, resides in Snellings. 
I suppose you know him. 

I am your friend, 

John Muir. 

Letters to a Friend 

920 Valencia St., 
San Francisco, April 24th, 1869. 

I enclose at last the name of the big orange 
book. Either Paqot & Co. or Gregoire & Co. 
will import it for Mr. Carr at the price he named, 
— for less if intended for the library. 

I thought you would have been to make at 
least one of your small businesslike calls to see 
me ere this, but I suppose the office and con- 
ventions and your farm leave you precious little 
time. Your days all go by in little beats and 
bits, while you move so fast you are nearly 

Had a moment's talk with the Doctor. Am 
glad he is looking so much like himself again. 
The svunmer is coming. Don't know how it 
will be spent. 

Did you hear the Butlers the other day? 
Glassy leaves tilted at all angles. 

Cordially yours, 

John Muir. 


Letters to a Friend 

Seven miles north from Snellings, 
May i6th, 1869. 

The thoughts of again meeting with you and 
with the mountains make me scarce able to hold 
my pen. If you can let me know by the first 
of June when you will leave Stockton, I will 
meet you in the very valley itself. When the 
grass of the plains is dead, most owners of sheep 
drive their flocks to the pastures green of the 
mountains, and as my soul is athirst for moun- 
tain things, I have engaged to take charge of a 
flock all summer between the head waters of the 
Tuolumne and Yosemite, within a few hours' 
walk of the valley. For the next two weeks I 
will be at Hopeton. Some time in the first week 
of June, I will start from this place (Patrick 
Delaney's ranch) for the mountains. By the 
middle of June or a little later we will have our 
flock settled in the new home, and, having made 
special arrangements for a two weeks' ramble 
with you, I will then be ready and free. Any 
time, say between the 20th of June and the 
iSth of July, will suit me. I intended to enjoy 


Letters to a Friend 

another baptism in the sanctuaries of Yosem- 
ite, whether with companions of like passions 
or alone. Surely, then, my cup will be full 
when blessed with such company. 

Last May I made the trip on horseback, go- 
ing by Coulterville and retuming by Mariposa. 
A passable carriage-road reached about twelve 
miles beyond Coulterville ; the rest of the dis- 
tance to the valley was crossed only by a nar- 
row trail. On the Mariposa route a point is 
reached twelve or fourteen miles beyond Mari- 
posa by carriages ; the rest of the joumey, about 
forty miles, must be made on horseback. Tour- 
ists are generally advised to go one way and re- 
tum the other, that as much as possible may 
be seen, but I think that more is seen by going 
and retuming by the same route, because all 
of the magnitudes of the mountains are so great 
that unless seen and submitted to a good long 
time they are not seen or felt at all. 

I think that you had better take the Mari- 
posa route, for the grandest grove of sequoias 
ever discovered is upon it, and it is much the 

[ 55 ] 


Letters to a Friend 

best route in many respects. You can reach 
Mariposa direct from Stockton by stage. At 
Mariposa you can procure saddle-horses and all 
necessary supplies, — provisions, cooking uten- 
sils, etc. Provisions can also be obtained at 
"Clark's" and in the valley. Clark's Hotel is 
midway between the valley and Mariposa. It 
would be far more pleasant to camp out — to 
alight like birds in beautiful groves of your own 
choosing — than to travel by rule and make 
forced marches to fixed points of common resort 
and common confusion. 

You will require a light tent made of cotton 
sheeting, also a strong dress and strong pair of 
shoes for rock service. You will, of course, bring 
a good supply of paper for plants. I suppose, 
too, that you will all bring a supply of drawing- 
material, but I hardly think that drawing will 
be done. People admitted to heaven would 
most likely "wonder and adore'* for at least 
two weeks before sketching its scenery, and I 
don't think that you will sketch Yosemite any 


Letters to a Friend 

Here is, I think, a fair estimate of the cost 
of the round trip from Stockton, allowing, 
say, ten days from time of departure from 
Mariposa till arrival at same point. Stage fare 
and way expenses to and from Mariposa, say 
$40.00; saddle horse, $20.00; provisions, cook- 
ing utensils, etc., $15.00; total, direct expense 
for one person, $75.00. Each additional day 
spent in the valley would cost about $3 .00. If 
you and all the members of your company are 
good riders, and there are among you one or 
two men practical travelers, and you could pur- 
chase, or hire, horses at a reasonable rate in 
San Jose or Gilroy, you could cross the Coast 
Range via the Pacheco Pass or Livermore Val- 
ley, thence direct to the Yosemite across the 
Joaquin and up the Merced, passing through 
Hopeton and Snellings. This kind of a trip 
would be less costly, and you would enjoy it, 
but unless your company was all composed of 
the same kind of material it would not answer. 

I hope the Doctor will come too. I want to 
see him and ask him a great many questions. 


Letters to a Friend 

There is a kind of hotel in the valley, but it is 
incomparably better to choose your own camp 
among the rocks and waterfalls. The time of 
highest water in the valley varies very much 
in different seasons. Last year it was highest 
about the end of June. I think, perhaps, the 
falls would be seen to as good advantage to- 
wards the end of June as at another time, and 
at any rate there will be a thousand times more 
of grandeur than any person can absorb. 

Here, then, in a word is the plan which I pro- 
pose : That you take the stage at Stockton for 
Mariposa. At Mariposa you procure saddle- 
horses and one pack-animal for your tent, blan- 
kets, provisions, etc., (a guide will be furnished 
by the keeper of the livery -stable to take 
charge of the horses,) and that I meet you in the 
valley; which I can do without difficulty pro- 
vided you send me word by the first of June 
what day you will set out from Stockton. Ad- 
dress to Hopeton. 

When you arrive in the valley, please regis- 
ter your name at Mr. Hutchings' hotel. I will 


Letters to a Friend 

do the same. If you should wish to reach me 
by letter after I have started with the sheep to 
the mountains, you may perhaps do so by ad- 
dressing to Coulterville. 

When you write, state whether you will visit 
the big trees on your way to the valley or 
whether you will do so on your retum. 

I bid you good-bye, thanking the Lord for 
the hope of seeing you and for his goodness to 
you in turning your face towards his most holy 
mansion of the mountains. 

Hopeton, May 20th, 1869. 

I forgot to state in my last concerning the 
Yosemite that I did not receive yours until 
many days after its arrival, as I was shearing 
sheep a considerable distance from here in the 
foothills, and the postmaster, knowing where 
I was, could not forward it; but I will remain 
here until the ist of June, or possibly a few days 
later, and will receive any letters arriving for 
me at once either in Snelling or Hopeton. 

The grove of sequoias is only six miles from 


Letters to a Friend 

the Yosemite trail, about midway between 
Mariposa and the valley. The trail leading 
through the groves leaves the Yosemite trail 
at Mr. Clark's, where you can obtain all neces- 
sary directions, etc. It is not many years since 
this grove was discovered. The sequoias so 
often described and so well known throughout 
the world belong to the Calaveras grove. The 
Mariposa grove has a much larger number of 
trees than the Calaveras, and it is in all the 
majesty and grandeur of nature undisturbed. 

You will likely make the journey from Mari- 
posa to the valley in two days. No member of 
your company need be afraid of this mountain 
ride, as you will be provided with sure-footed 
horses accustomed to the journey and an ex- 
perienced guide. 

Most persons visiting the sequoia grove spend 

only a few hours in it and depart without seeing 

a single tree, for the chiefest glories of these 

mountain kings are wholly invisible to hasty 

or careless observers. I hope you may be able 

to spend a good long time in worship amid the 


Letters to a Friend 

glorious columns of this mountain temple. I 
fanqr they are aware of your coming and are 
waiting. I fondly hope that nothing will occur 
to prevent your coming. I will endeavor to 
reach the valley a day or so before you. The 
night air of the mountains is very cold. You 
will require plenty of warai blankets. 

I am sorry that the Doctor has been so sud- 
denly smothered up in business. If he and the 
priest were in the company according to the 
prophecy our joy would be full. 

I am in a perfect tingle with the memories of 
a year ago and with anticipation glowing bright 
with all that I love. 


John Muir. 

I received your letter containing "The Song 
of Nature'* by Emerson and derived a great 
deal of pleasure from it. 

J. M. 

[61 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

Five miles west of Yosemite, 
July II, [1869.] 

I need not try to tell you how sorely I am 
pained by this bitter disappointment. Your 
Mariposa note of June 22 did not reach Black's 
imtil July 3d, and I did not receive it until 
the 6th. 

I met a shepherd a few miles from here yes- 
terday who told me that a letter from Yosemite 
for me was at Harding's Mills. I have not yet 
received it. No dependence can be placed upon 
the motions of letters in the mountains, and 
I feared this result on my not receiving any- 
thing definite concerning your time of leaving 
Stockton before I left the plains. I wish now 
that I had not been entangled with sheep at 
all but that I had remained among post-offices 
and joined your party at Snellings. 

Thus far all of my deepest, purest enjoyments 
have been taken in solitude, and the fate seems 
hard that has hindered me from sharing Yo- 
semite with you. 

We are camped this evening among a bundle 


Letters to a Friend 

of the Merced's crystal arteries, which have just 
gone far enough from their silent fountain to be 
full of lakelets and lilies [?], and the bleating 
of our flock can neither confuse nor hush the 
thousand notes of their celestial song. The sun 
has set, and these glorious shafts of the spruce 
and pine shoot higher and higher as the dark- 
ness comes on. I must say good night while 
bonds of Nature's sweetest influences are about 
me in these sacred mountain halls, and I know 
that every chord of your being has throbbed and 
tingled with the same mysterious powers when 
you were here. Farewell. I am glad to know 
that you have been allowed to bathe your ex- 
istence in God's glorious Sierra Nevadas and 
sorry that I could not meet you. 

John Muir. 

A few miles north of Yosemite, 
July 13th, [1869.] 

We are camped this afternoon upon the bank 
of the stream that falls into the valley opposite 
Hutchings' hotel (Yosemite Falls). We are 
perhaps three miles from the valley. 

I 63] 


Letters to a Friend 

This Yosemite stream is flowing rapidly here 
in a small flowery meadow, not meandering like 
a meadow stream but going straight on with 
ripples and rapids. It derives its waters from 
a basin corresponding in every respect with its 
own sublimity and loneliness. 

July 17th. We are now camped in a splendid 
grove of spruce only one mile from the Yosemite 
wall. The stream that goes sprajdng past us 
in the rocks reaches the valley by that cafion 
between the Yosemite Falls and the North 
Dome. I left my companions in charge of the 
sheep for the last three days and have had a 
most heavenly piece of life among the domes 
and falls and rocks of the north side and upper 
end of the valley. 

Yesterday I found the stream that flows 
through Crystal Lake past the South Dome and 
followed it three miles among cascades and 
rapids to the dome. Were you at the top or bot- 
tom of the upper Yosemite Falls ? Were you 
at the top of the Nevada Falls ? Were you in 
that Adiantimi cave by the Vernal Falls ? Have 

I 64] 

Letters to a Friend 

you had any view of the valley excepting from 
the Mariposa Trail? How long were you in 
Sequoia Grove ? 

We will, perhaps, be here about two weeks ; 
then we will go to the "big meadows'' twelve 
miles towards the summit, where we will re- 
main until we start for the plains some time 
near the end of September. The kind of meet- 
ing you have had with Yosemite answers well 
enough for most people, but it will not do for 
you. When will you return to the mountains ? 

I had a letter from Professor Butler a short 
time ago, sajdng that he would probably visit 
California this month in company with a man 
of war. 

Remember me to the Doctor and to AUie and 
Ned. Please send me a letter by the middle 
of September to Snellings. I have no hope of 
hearing from you after we start for the Big 

I 65] 

Letters to a Friend 

Two miles below La Grange, 
October 3rd, 1869. 

My summer in the third heaven of the Sierras 
is past. I am again in the smooth open world 
of plains. I received three of your eight notes, 
which for mountain correspondence is about 
as might be expected. I learned by a San Fran- 
cisco newspaper that Dr. Carr had accepted 
a professorship in the University, and Eiof.- 
^utler^told me about a month ago that he had 
gone to Madison to fetch his cabinet, etc. There- 
fore I know that you are making a fixed home 
and that you will yet see the mountains and the 
Joaquin plains. We were camped within a mile 
or two of the Yosemite north wall for three 
weeks. I used to go to the North Dome or 
Yosemite Falls most every day to sketch and 
listen to the waters. One day I went down into 
the valley by the canon opposite Hutchings and 
found Prof. Butler near the bridge between the 
Vernal and Nevada falls. He was in company 
with Gen. Alvord. He was in the valley only 

a few hours, his time being controlled by the 


Letters to a Friend 

General's military clock, and I am pretty sure 
that he saw just about nothing. 

I am glad that the world does not miss me 
and that all of my days with the Lord and his 
works are uncounted and unmeasured. I found 
the guide who was with you. He said that you 
wished me to gather some cones for you. I 
hope to see you soon in San Francisco and will 
fetch you specimens of those which grow higher 
than you have been. I am sorry that you were 
so short a time in the valley, but you will go 
again and remain a month or two. I would like 
to spend a winter there to see the storms. We 
spent most of the summer on the south fork of 
the Tuoliunne near Castle and Cathedral peaks, 
and oh, how unspeakable the glories of these 
higher mountains. You have not yet caught a 
glimpse of the Sierra Nevadas. You must go 
to Mono by the Bloody Caiion pass. I will not 
try to write the grandeur I have seen all sum- 
mer but I will copy you the notes of one day 
from my journal. 

"Sept. 2nd. Amount of cloudiness .08. Sky 

I 67 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

red evening and morning, not usual crimson 
glow but separate clouds colored and anchored 
in dense massive mountain fomis. One red, 
bluffy cap is placed upon Castle Peak and its 
companion to the south, but the smooth cone 
tower of the castle is seen peering out over the 
top. Tiger Peak has a cloud cap also of the 
grandest proportion and colors, and the exten- 
sive field of clustered towers and peaks and 
domes where is stored the treasures of snow be- 
longing to the Merced and Tuoliunne and Joa- 
quin is embosomed in bossy clouds of white. 
The grand Sierra Cathedral is overshadowed 
like Sinai. Never before beheld such divine 
mingling of cloud and mountain. Had a delight- 
ful walk upon the north wall. Ascended by a 
deep narrow passage cut in the granite. Its 
borders are splendidly decorated with ferns 
and blooming shrubs. The most delicate of 
plantlets in the gush and ardor of full bloom in 
places called desolate and gloomy, where the 
dwarfed and crumpled pines are felled with hail 

and rocks and wintry snows ; but as frail flowers 


Letters to a Friend 

of human kind are protected by the hand of 
God, blooming joyfully through a long beauti- 
ful life in places and times that are strewn with 
the wrecks of the powerful and the great, so in 
these far mountains, where are the treasures of 
snow and storais, live in safety and innocence 
these sweet, tender children of the plants. 
Had looked long and well for Cassiope, but in 
all my long excursions failed to find its dwelling- 
places and began to fear that we would never 
meet, but had presentiment of finding it to- 
day, and as I passed a rock-shelf after reaching 
the great gathered heaps of everlasting snow, 
something seemed to whisper * Cassiope, Cas- 
siope/ That name was * driven in upon me,' 
as Calvinists say, and, looking around, behold 
the long-looked-for mountain child!'* 

Farewell! I do not care to write much be- 
cause you seem so near. I hope that you will 
all be very happy in your new home and not 
feel too sorely the separation from the loved 
places and people of Wisconsin. 


Letters to a Friend 

Remember me to the Doctor and to all of 
your boys. 

I am most cordially, 

Your friend, 

John Muir. 

La Grange, November 15, 1869. 

Dear friends Mrs. and Dr. Carr: — 

I thank you most heartily for the very kind 
invitation you send me. I could enjoy a blink 
of rest in your new home with a relish that only 
those can know who have suffered solitary ban- 
ishment for so many years, but I must return 
to the mountains, to Yosemite. I am told that 
the winter stomis there will not be easily borne, 
but I am bewitched, enchanted, and to-morrow 
I must start for the great temple to listen to the 
winter songs and sermons preached and sung 
only there. 

The plains here are green already and the 
upper mountains have the pearly whiteness of 
their first snows. 

Farewell. I will bring you some cones in 


Letters to a Friend 

the spring. I hope that you enjoy your labor 
in your new sphere. 
My love to all your family, and I am 

Yours most cordially, 

John Muir. 

Yosemite, December 6th, 1869. 

I am feasting in the Lord's mountain house, 
and what pen may write my blessings ? I am 
going to dwell here all winter magnificently 
" Snowbound *'? Just think of the grandeur of 
the mountain winter in the Yosemite ! Would 
that you could enjoy it also ! 

I read your word in pencil upon the bridge 
below the Nevada, and I thank you for it most 
devoutly. No one or all the Lord's blessings can 
enable me to exist without a friend indeed. 

There is no snow in the valley. The ground 
is covered with the brown and yellow leaves of 
the oak and maple, and their crisping and rust- 
ling makes one think of the groves of Madison. 
I have been wandering about among the falls 
and rapids, studying the grand instruments of 

[71 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

slopes and curves and echoing caves upon which 
those divine harmonies are played. Only a thin 
flossy veil sways and bends over Yosemite now, 
and Pohono is a web of waving mist. New 
songs are sung, fomiing parts of the one grand 
anthem composed and written " in the begin- 

Most of the flowers are dead. Only a few are 
blooming in summer nooks on the north side 
rocks. You remember that delightful fernery 
by the ladders. Well, I discovered a garden 
meeting of adiantimi far more delicate and lux- 
uriant than those of the ladders. They are in 
a cover or coverlet between the upper and lower 
Yosemite Falls. They are the most delicate and 
graceful plant creatures I ever beheld, waving 
themselves in lines of the most refined of heav- 
en's beauty to the music of the water. The men- 
tion of purple dulses in pools left by the tide on 
the sea-coast of Scotland was the only memory 
that was stirred by these spiritual fems. You 
speak of dying and going to the woods ; I am 
dead and gone to heaven. 


Letters to a Friend 

An Indian comes to the valley once a month 
upon snowshoes. He brings the mail, and so 
I shall hope to hear from you. Address to 
Yosemite, via Big Oak Flat, care of Mr. 

Yosemite, April 5, 1870. 

I wish you were here to-day, for our rocks are 
again decked with deep snow. Two days ago a 
big gray cloud collared Barometer Dome. The 
vast booming coliunn of the upper falls was 
swayed like a shred of loose mist by broken 
pieces of stomi that struck it suddenly, occa- 
sionally bending it backwards to the very top 
of the cliff, making it hang sometimes more 
than a minute like an inverted bow edged with 
comets. A cloud upon the dome and these ever 
varying rockings and bendings of the falls are 
sure storm signs, but yesterday morning's sky 
was clear, and the sun poured the usual quan- 
tity of the balmiest spring sunshine into the 
blue ether of our valley gulf, but ere long ragged 
lumps of cloud began to appear all along the 

I 73 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

vaUey-rim, coming gradually into closer ranks, 
and rising higher like rock additions to the 
walls. From the top of these cloud-banks fleecy 
fingers arched out from both sides and met 
over the middle of the meadows, gradually 
thickening and blackening, until at night big, 
confident snowflakes began to fall. We thought 
that the last snow-harvest had been withered 
and reaped long ago by the glowing sun, for 
the bluebirds and robins sang spring, and so also 
did the bland, unsteady winds, and the brown 
meadow opposite the house was spotted here 
and there with blue violets. Carex spikes were 
shooting up through the dead leaves, and the 
cherry and briar rose were unfolding their leaves, 
and besides these spring wrote many a sweet 
mark and word that I cannot tell ; but snow fell 
all the hours of to-day in cold winter earnest, 
and now at evening there rests upon rocks, 
trees, and weeds as full and ripe a harvest of 
snow flowers as I ever beheld in the stormiest, 
most opaque days of midwinter. 


Letters to a Friend 

April 13th. 

About twelve inches of snow fell in that last 
snowstorm. It disappeared as suddenly as it 
came, snatched away hastily almost before it 
had time to melt, as if a mistake had been made 
in allowing it to come here at all. 

A week of spring days bright in every hour, 
without a stain or thought of the storm, came 
in glorious colors, giving still greater pledges of 
happy life to every living creature of the spring, 
but a loud, energetic snowstorm possessed 
every hour of yesterday. Every tree and broken 
weed bloomed yet once more; all summer dis- 
tinctions were leveled off; all plants and the 
very rocks and streams were equally polypetal- 

This morning winter had everything in the 
valley. The snow drifted about in the frosty 
wind like meal, and the falls were muffled in 
thick sheets of frozen spray. Thus do winter 
and spring leap into the valley by turns, each 
remaining long enough to form a small season 
or climate of its own, or going and coming 


Letters to a Friend 

squarely in a single day. Whitney says that 
the bottom has fallen out of the rocks here 
(which I most devoutly disbelieve). Well, the 
bottom frequently falls out of these winter 
clouds and climates. It is seldom that any long 
transition slant exists between dark and bright 
days in this narrow worid of rocks. 

I know that you are enchanted with the April 
loveliness of your new home. You enjoy the 
most precious kind of sunshine, and by this 
time flower-patches cover the hills about Oak- 
land like colored clouds. I would like to visit 
these broad outspread blotches of social flowers 
that are so characteristic of your hills, but far 
rather would I see and feel the flowers that are 
now at Fountain Lake and the lakes of Madi- 

Mrs. Hutchings thought of sending you a 
bulb of the California lily by mail but found 
it too large. She wished to be remembered to 
you. Your Squirrel is very happy. She is a 
rare creature. 

I hope to see you and the Doctor soon in the 

I 76] 

Letters to a Friend 

valley. I have a great deal to say to you which 
I will not try to write. Remember me most cor- 
dially to the Doctor and to AUie and all the 
boys. I am much obliged to you for those bo- 
tanical notes, etc., and I am ever most 

Cordially yours, 

John Muir. 
Here is a moss with a globular capsule and a / 
squinted, cowl-shaped calyptra. Do you know 

Yosemite, May 17th, 1870. 

Our valley is just gushing, throbbing full of 
open, absorbable beauty, and I feel that I must 
tell you about it. I am lonely among my en- 
joyments; the valley is full of visitors, but I 
have no one to talk to. 

The season that is with us now is about what 
corresponds to full-fledged spring in Wisconsin. 
The oaks are in full leaf and have shoots long 
enough to bend over and move in the wind. 
The good old bracken is waist-high already, 
and almost all the rock fems have their outer- 


Letters to a Friend 

most fronds unroUed. Spring is in full power 
and is steadily reaching higher like a shadow 
and will soon reach the topmost horizon of rocks. 
The buds of the poplar opened on the 19th of 
last month, those of the oaks on the 24th. 

May 1st was a fine, hopeful, healthful, cool, 
bright day with plenty of the fragrance of new 
leaves and flowers and of the music of bugs and 
birds. From the sth to 14th was extremely 
warm, the thermometer averaging about 85 de- 
grees at noon in shade. Craggy banks of cumuli 
became common about Storm King and the 
Dome, ^lowers came in troops. The upper 
snows melted very fast, raising the falls to their 
highest pitch of glory. The waters of the Yose- 
mite Fall no longer float softly and downily like 
hanks of spent rockets but shoot at once to the 
bottom with tremendous energy. There is at 
least ten times the amount of water in the val- 
ley that there was when you were here. 

In crossing the valley we had to sail in the 
boat. The river paid but little attention to its 
banks, flowing over the meadow in great river- 


Letters to a Friend 

like sheets. But last Sunday, isth, was a dark 
day; the rich streams of heat and light were 
withheld; the thermometer fell suddenly to 
35 degrees, and down among the verdant banks 
of new leaves, and groves of half-open fems, 
and thick settlements of confident flowers, came 
heavy snow in big, blinding flakes, coming 
down with a steady gait and taking their places 
gracefully upon shrinking leaves and petals as 
if they were doing exactly right. The whole 
day was snowy and stormy like a piece of early 
winter. Snow fell also on the i6th. A good 
many of the fems and delicate flowers are 

There are about fifty visitors in the valley at 
present. When are you and the Doctor coming? 
Mr. Hutchings has not yet returned from Wash- 
ington, and so I will be here all siunmer. I have 
not heard from you since January. 

I had a letter the other day from Prof. Butler. 
He has been glancing and twinkling about 
among the towns of all the States at a most 
unsubstantial velocity. 

I 79] 

Letters to a Friend 

Did you see the gold of the Joaquin plains 
this spring? There is a later gold in October 
which you must see. 

Remember me warmly to Dr. Carr and all the 
boys, and I remain always 

Most cordially yours, 

John Muir. 

Yosemite via Big Oak Flat. 

Yosemite, Sunday, May 29th, 1870. 

I received your "apology" two days ago and 
ran my eyes hastily over it three or four lines 
at a time to find the place that would say you 
were coming, but you "/far" that you cannot 
come at all, and only "hope" that the Doctor 
may; but I shall continue to look for you never- 
theless. The Chicago party you speak of were 
here and away again before your letter arrived. 
All sorts of human stuff is being poured into our 
valley this year, and the blank, fleshly apathy 
with which most of it comes in contact with the 
rock and water spirits of the place is most amaz- 
ing. I do not wonder that the thought of such 


Letters to a Friend 

people being here, Mrs. Carr, makes you "mad/* 
but after all, Mrs. Carr, they are about harai- 
less. They climb sprawlingly to their saddles 
like overgrown frogs pulling themselves up a 
stream-bank through the bent sedges, ride up 
the valley with about as much emotion as the 
horses they ride upon, and comfortable when 
they have "done it all,'' and long for the safety 
and flatness of their proper homes. 

In your first letter to the valley you com- 
plain of the desecrating influences of the fashion- 
able hordes about to visit here, and say that 
you mean to come only once more and "into 
the beyond.'' I am pretty sure that you are 
wrong in saying and feeling so, for the tide of 
visitors will float slowly about the bottom of the 
valley as a harmless scum, collecting in hotel 
and saloon eddies, leaving the rocks and falls 
eloquent as ever and instinct with imperishable 
beauty and greatness. And recollect that the 
top of the valley is more than half way to real 
heaven, and the Lord has many mansions away 

in the Sierra equal in power and glory to Yo- 


Letters to a Friend 

Semite, though not quite so open, and I venture 
to say that you will yet see the valley many 
times both in and out of the body. 

I am glad you are going to the coast moun- 
tains to sleep on Diablo, — Angelo ere this. 
I am sure that you will be lifted above all the 
effects of your material work. There is a pre- 
cious natural charai in sleeping under the open 
starry sky. You will have a very perfect view 
of the Joaquin Valley and the snowy, pearly wall 
of the Sierra Nevada. I lay for weeks last sum- 
mer upon a bed of pine leaves at the edge of a 
[ ] gentian meadow in full view of Mt. Dana. 

Mrs. Hutchings says that the lily bulbs were 
so far advanced in their growth when she dug 
some to send you that they could not be packed 
without being broken, but I am going to .be 
here all simmier, and I know where the grand- 
est plantation of these lilies grow, and I will box 
up as many of them as you wish, together with 
as many other Yosemite things as you may ask 
for and send them out to you before the pack 
train makes its last trip. I know the Spiraa 


Letters to a Friend 

you speak of. It is abundant all around the top 
of the valley and on the rocks at Lake Tenaya 
and reaches almost to the very summit about 
Mt. Dana. There is also a purple one very abun- 
dant on the fringe meadows of Yosemite Creek, 
a mile or two back from the brink of the Falls. 
Of course it will be a source of keen pleasure to 
me to procure you anything you may desire. 
I should like to see that ground again. I saw 
some in Cuba but they did not exceed twenty- 
five or thirty feet in height. 

I have thought of a walk in the wild gardens 
of Honolulu, and now that you speak of my go- 
ing there it becomes very probable, as you seem 
to understand me better than I do myself. I 
have no square idea about the time I shall get 
n[iyself away from here. I shall at least stay till 
you come. I fear that the agave will be in the 
spirit world ere that time. You say that I ought 
to have such a place as you saw in the gardens 
of that mile and a half of climate. Well, I think 
those lemon and orange groves would do, per- 
haps, to make a living, but for a garden I should 


Letters to a Friend 



not have anything less than a piece of pure 
nature. I was reading Thoreau's "Maine 
Woods " a short time ago. As described by him, 
these woods are exactly like those of Canada 
West. How I long to meet Linnaea and Chiog- 
enes hispidula once more! I would rather see 
these two children of the evergreen woods than 
all the twenty-seven species of palm that Agas- 
siz met on the Amazons. 

These summer days "go on" calmly and 
evenly. Scarce a mark of the frost and snow 
of the isth is visible. The brackens are four or 
five feet high already. The earliest azaleas have 
opened, and the whole crop of bulbs is ready to 
burst. The river does not overflow its banks 
now, but it is exactly brim-full. The thermom- 
eter averages about 75 degrees at noon. We 
have sunshine every morning from a bright 
blue sky. Ranges of cumuli appear towards the 
summits with neat regularity every day about 
II o'clock, making a splendid background for 
the South Dome. In a few hours these clouds 
disappear and give up the sky to sunny evening. 


Letters to a Friend 

Mr. Hutchings arrived here from Washing- 
ton a week ago. There are sixty or seventy 
visitors here at present. 

I have received only two letters from you 
this winter and spring, dated Jan. 22nd and 
May 7th. 

I kissed your untamed one for you. She 
wishes that she knew the way to Oakland that 
she might come to you. 

Remember me to the Doctor and all your 
boys and to your little Allie. I remain ever 

Yours most cordially, 

J. MuiR. 


I am very, very blessed. The valley is full of 
people but they do not annoy me. I revolve 
in pathless places and in higher rocks than the 
world and his ribbony wife can reach. Had I 
not been blunted by hard work in the mill and 
crazed by Sabbath raids among the high places 
of this heajven, I would have written you long 
since. I hive spent every Sabbath for the last 


Letters to a Friend 

two months in the spirit world, screaming among 
the peaks and outside meadows like a negro 
Methodist in revival time, and every interven- 
ing clump of week-days in trying to fix down 
and assimilate my shapeless harvests of revealed 
glory into the spirit and into the common earth 
of my existence; and I arn rich, rich beyond 
measure, not in rectangular blocks of sifted 
knowledge or in thin sheets of beauty hung pic- 
ture-like about " the walls of memory," but in 
unselected atmospheres of terrestrial glory dif- 
fused evenly throughout my whole substance. 

Your Brooksian letters I have read with a 
great deal of interest, they are so full of the spice 
and poetry of unmingled nature, and in many 
places they express my own present feelings 
very fully. Quoting from your Forest Glen, 
"without anxiety and without expectation all 
my days come and go mixed with such sweet- 
ness to every sense," and again, " I 'don't know 
anything of time and but little of spjace." "My 
whole being seemed to open to the sun." All 
this I do most comprehensively appreciate and 



Letters to a Friend 

am just beginning to know how fully congenial 
you are. Would that you could share my moun- 
tain enjoyments ! In all my wanderings through 
Nature's beauty, whether it be among the fems 
at my cabin door or in the high meadows and 
peaks or amid the spray and music of water- 
falls, you are the first to meet me and I often 
speak to you as verily present in the flesh. 

Last Sabbath I was baptized in the irised 
foam of the Vemal and in the divine snow of 
Nevada, and you were there also and stood in 
real presence by the sheet of joyous rapids be- 
low the bridge. 

I am glad to know that McClure and Mc- 
Chesney have told you of our night with upper 
Yosemite. Oh, what a world is there I passed ! 
No, I had another night there two weeks ago, 
entering as far within the veil amid equal glory, 
together with Mr, Frank Shapleigh of Boston. 
Mr. Shapleigh is an artist and I like him. He 
has been here six weeks and has just left for 
home. I told him to see you and to show you 
his paintings. He is acquainted with Charles 



Letters to a Friend 

Sanderson and Mrs. Waterston. Mrs. Water- 
ston left the valley before your letter reached 
me, but one morning about sunrise an old lady 
came to the mill and asked me if I was the man 
who was so fond of flowers, and we had a very 
earnest, unceremonious chat about the valley 
and about "the beyond/' She is made of better 
stuff than most of the people of that heathen 
town of Boston, and so also is Shapleigh. 

Mrs. Yelverton is here and is going to stop 
a good while. Mrs. Waterston told her to find 
me, and we are pretty well acquainted now. 
She told me the other day she was going to 
write a Yosemite novel and that Squirrel and 
I were going into it. I was glad to find that she 
knew you. I have not seen Prof. Le Conte. 
Perhaps he is stopping at one of the other 

Has Mrs. Rapley or Mr. Colby told you 
about our camping in the spruce woods on the 
south rim of the valley and of our walk at day- 
break to the top of the Sentinel Dome to see 
the sun rise out of the crown peaks of beyond ? 


Letters to a Friend 

About a week ago at daybreak I started up 
the mountain near Glacier Point to see Pohono 
in its upper woods and to study the kind of life 
it lived up there. I had a glorious day and 
reached my cabin at daylight by walking all 
night. Oh, what a night among those moon 
shadows! It was seven o'clock a.m., when I 
reached the top of the Cathedral Rocks, — a 
most glorious twenty-two hours of life amid 
nameless peaks and meadows and the upper 
cataracts of Pohono. 

Mr. Hutchings told me next moming that 
I h&d done two or three days' climbing in one 
and that I was shortening my life, but I had a 
whole lifetime of enjoyment and I care but lit- 
tle for the arithmetical length of days. I can 
hardly realize that I have not yet seen you 

I thank you for sending me so many friends, 
but I am waiting for you. I am going up the 
mountain soon to see your lily garden at the top 
of Indian Canon. 

"Let the Pacific islands lie." 


Letters to a Friend 

My love to AUie and all your boys and to the 
Doctor. Tell him that I have been tracing 
glaciers in all the principal canons towards the 

Ever thine, 

J. MuiR. 

Yosemite, August 20th, [1870.] 

I have just returned from a ten days' ramble 
with Prof. Le Conte and his students in the be- 
yond, and oh, we have had a most glorious season 
of terrestrial grace. I do wish I could ramble 
ten days of equal size in very heaven, that I 
could compare its scenery with that of Bloody 
Canon and the Tuolumne meadows and Lake 
Tenaya and Mt. Dana. Our first camp after 
leaving the valley was at Eagle Point, overlook- 
ing the valley on the north side, from which a 
much better general view of the valley and the 
high crest of the Sierra beyond is obtained than 
from Inspiration Point. There we watched the 
long shadows of sunset upon the living map at 
our feet, and, in the later darkness half silvered 


Letters to a Friend 

by the moon, went far out of human cares and 
human civilization. Our next camp was at Lake 
Tenaya, one of the countless multitudes of 
starry gems that make this topmost mountain 
land to sparkle like a sky. After moonrise Le 
Conte and I walked to the lake-shore and 
climbed upon a big sofa-shaped rock that stood 
islet-like a little way out in the shallow water, 
and here we found another bounteous throne of 
earthly grace, and I doubt if John in Patmos 
saw grander visions than we. And you were 
remembered there and we cordially wished you 
with us. Our next sweet home was upon the vel- 
vet gentian meadows of the South Tuolumne. 
Here we feasted upon soda and bumt ashy 
cakes and stood an hour in a frigid rain with 
our limbs bent forward like Lombardy poplars 
in a gale, but ere sunset the black clouds de- 
parted, our shins were straightened at a glow- 
ing fire, we forgot the cold and all about half- 
raw mutton and alkaline cakes, the grossest 
of our earthly coils was shaken off, and ere the 
last slant sunbeams left the dripping meadow 

[91 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

and spiry mountain peaks we were again in the 
third alpine heaven and saw and heard things 
equal in glory to the purest and best of Yosem- 
ite itself. Our next camp was beneath a big 
gray rock at the foot of Mt. Dana. Here we had 
another rainstorm, which drove us beneath our 
rock, where we lay in complicated confusion, 
our forty limbs woven into a knotty piece of 
tissue compact as felt. 

Next day we worshiped upon high places on 
the brown cone of Dana and retumed to our 
rock. Next day walked among the flowers and 
cascades of Bloody Canon and camped at the 
lake. Rode next day to the volcanic cone near- 
est to the lake, and bade farewell to the party 
and climbed to the highest crater in the whole 
range south of the Mono Lake. Well, I shall not 
try to tell you anything, as it is unnecessary. 
Prof. Le Conte, whose company I enjoyed ex- 
ceedingly, will tell you all. Ask him in particu- 
lar to tell you about our camp-meeting on the 
Tenaya rock. I will send you a few choice moun- 
tain plant children by Mrs. Yelverton. If there 


Letters to a Friend 

is anything in particular that you want, let me 
know. Mrs. Yelverton will not leave the valley 
for some weeks, and you have time to write. I 

Ever your friend, 

J. MuiR. 

Tuolumne River, two miles below La Grange, 

November 4th, 1870. 

Yours of October 2nd reached me a few days 
since. The Amazon and Andes have been in all 
my thoughts for many years, and I am sure that 
I shall meet them some day ere I die, or become 
settled and civilized and useful. I am obliged to 
you for all this information. I have studied 
many paths and plans for the interior of South 
America, but none so easy and sure ever ap- 
peared as this of your letter. I thought of land- 
ing at Guayaquil and crossing the mountains to 
the Amazon, floating to Para, subsisting on ber- 
ries and quinine, but to steam along the palmy 
shores with company and comforts is perhaps 
more practical though not so pleasant. Haw- 


Letters to a Friend 

thome says that steam spiritualizes travel, but I 
think that it squarely degrades and materializes 
travel. However, flies and fevers have to be 
considered in this case. I am glad that Ned has 
gone. The woods of the Purus will be a grand 
place for the growth of men. It must be that 
I am going soon, for you have shown me the 
way. People say that my wanderings are^very 
mazy and methodless, but they are all known 
to you in some way before I think of them. You 
are a prophet in the concerns of my little out- 
side life, and pray, what says the spirit about 
my final escape from Yosemite ? You saw me 
at these rock altars years ago, and I think I 
shall remain among them until you take me 
away. I reached this place last month by fol- 
lowing the Merced out of the valley and through 
all its canons to the plains above Snelling, — a 
most glorious walk. 

I intended returning to the valley ere this, 
but Mr. Delaney, the man with whom I am 
stopping at present, would not allow me to 
leave before I had plowed his field, and so I will 


Letters to a Friend 

not be likely to see Yosemite again before Jan- 
uary, when I shall have a grand journey over 
the snow. 

Mrs. Yelverton told me before I started upon 
my river explorations that she would likely be 
in Oakland in two weeks, and so I made up a 
package for you of lily bulbs, cones, ferns, etc., 
but she wrote me a few days ago that she was 
still in the valley. 

I find that a portion of my specimens col- 
lected in the last two years and left at this place 
and Hopeton are not very well cared for, and 
I have concluded to send them to you. 

I will ship them in a few days by express, and 
I will be down myself perhaps in about a year. 
If there is anything in these specimens that the 
Doctor can make use of in his lectures, tell him 
to do so freely, of course. 

The purple of these plains and of this whole 
round sky is very impressively glorious after a 
year in the deep rocks. People all throughout 
this section are beginning to hear of Dr. Carr. 
He accomplishes a wonderful amount of work. 


Letters to a Friend 

My love to AUie and to the Doctor, and I am 
ever most 

Cordially yours, 

John Muir. 
Address to Snelling for the next few months. 

Yosemite, [1871.] 

"The Spirit '^ has again led me into the 
wilderness, in opposition to all counter attrac- 
tions, and I am once more in the glory of the 

Your very cordial invitation to your home 
reached me as I was preparing to ascend and 
my whole being was possessed with visions>of 
snowy forests of the pine and spruce, and of 
mountain spires beyond, pearly and half trans- 
parent, reaching into heavens blue not purer 
than themselves. 

In company with another young fellow whom 
I persuaded to walk, I left the plains just as the 
first gold sheets were being outspread. My first 
plan was to follow the Tuolunme upward as I 
had followed the Merced downward, and, after 



Letters to a Friend 

reaching the Hetch Hctchy Valley, which has 
about the same altitude as Yosemite, and spend- 
ing a week or so in sketching and examining its 
falls and rocks, to cross the high mountains 
past the west end of the Hoffman Range and 
go down into Yosemite by Indian Canon, pass- 
ing thus a glorious month with the mountains 
and all their snows and crystal brightness, and 
all the nameless glories of their magnificent 
winter; but my plan went agley. I lost a week's 
sleep by the pain of a sore hand, and I became 
unconfident in my strength when measured 
against weeks of wading in snow up to my neck. 
Therefore I reluctantly concluded to push 
directly for the valley and Tamarac. 

Our journey was just a week in length, in- 
cluding one day of rest in the Crane's Flat 
Cabin. Some of our nights were cold, and we 
were hungry once or twice. We crossed the 
snow-line on the flank of Pilot Peak Ridge six 
or eight miles below Crane's Flat. From Crane's 
Flat to brim of the valley the snow was about 
five feet in depth, and as it was not frozen or 

I 97] 

Letters to a Friend 

compacted in any way we of course had a 
splendid season of wading. 

I wish that you could have seen the edge of 
the snow-cloud which hovered, oh, so sooth- 
ingly, down to the grand Pilot Peak brows, dis- 
charging its heaven-begotten snows with such 
unmistakable gentleness and moving perhaps 
with conscious love from pine to pine as if be- 
stowing separate and independent blessings up- 
on each. In a few hours we climbed under and 
into this glorious storm-cloud. What a harvest 
of crystal flowers and what wind songs were 
gathered from the spiry firs and the long fringy 
arms of the Lambert pine ! We could not see far 
before us in the storm, which lasted until some 
time in the night, but as I was familiar with the 
general map of the mountain we had no diffi- 
culty in finding our way. 

Crane's Flat Cabin was buried, and we had 
to grope about for the door. After making a fire 
with some cedar rails, I went out to watch the 
coming-on of the darkness, which was most im- 
pressively sublime. Next moming was every 

I 98] 

Letters to a Friend 

way the purest creation I ever beheld. The 
Kttle flat, spot-like in the massive spiring woods, 
was in splendid vesture of universal white, up- 
on which the grand forest-edge was minutely 
repeated and covered with a close sheet of snow 

Some mosses grow luxuriantly upon the dead 
generations of their own species. The common 
snow flowers belong to the sky and in storms 
are blown about like ripe petals in an orchard. 
They settle on the ground, the bottom of the 
atmospheric sea, like mud or leaves in a lake, 
and upon this soil, this field of broken sky 
flowers, grows a luxuriant carpet of crystal veg- 
etation complete and ripe in a single night. 

I never before knew that these mountain 
snow plants were so variable and abundant, 
forming such bushy clumps and thickets and 
palmy, femy groves. Wading waist-deep, I had 
a fine opportunity for observing them, but they 
shrink from human breath, — not the only flow- 
ers which do so, — evidently not made for man, 
neither the flowers composing the snow which 


Letters to a Friend 

came drifting down to us broken and dead, nor 
the more beautiful crystals which vegetate 
upon them. A great many storms have come to 
these mountains since I passed them, and they 
can hardly be less than ten feet ; at the altitude 
of Tamarac still more. 

The weather here is balmy now, and the falls 
are glorious. Three weeks ago the thermometer 
at sunrise stood at 12 degrees. 

I have repaired the mill and dam, and the 
stream is in no danger of drying up and is more 
dammed than ever. 

To-day has been cloudy and rainy. Tissiack 
and Starr King are grandly dipped in white 

I sent you my plants by express. I am sorry 
that my Yosemite specimens are not with the 

I left a few notes with Mrs. Yelverton when 
I left the valley in the fall. I wish that you would 
ask her, if you should see her, where she left 
them, as Mrs. Hutchings does not know. 

I shall be happy to join Stoddard in anything 

[ 100 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

whatever. Mrs. H. had a letter from him lately, 
part of which she read to me. And now, Mrs. 
Can, you must see the upper mountains and 
meadows back of Yosemite. You have seen 
nothing as yet, and I will guide you a whole 
summer if you wish. I am very happy here and 
cannot break for the Andes just yet. 

Squirrel is at my knee. She says, " Tell Mrs. 
Carr to come here to-morrow and tell her to 
bring her little boy when she comes." If you 
will come, she says that she will guide you to 
the falls and give you lots of flowers. Mrs. H. 
tells me to say that she has received a very kind 
letter from you, which she will answer. Sends 
thus her kindest regards. If she can find a chance, 
she will send bulbs of lily by mail. 

I have been nearly blind since I crossed the 

Give my kindest regards to all your homeful 
and to my friends. 

I am always 

Yours most cordially, 

J. M. 
[ loi ] 

Letters to a Friend 

August 13th, [1871.] 

I was so stunned and dazed by your last that 
I have not been able to write anything. I was 
sure that you were coming, and you cannot 
come; and Mr. King, the artist, left me the 
other day and I am done with Hutchings, and 
I am lonely. Well it must be wait, for although 
there is no common human reason why I should 
not see you and civilization in Oakland, I can- 
not escape from the powers of the mountains. 
I shall tie some flour and a blanket behind my 
saddle and return to the Mono region and try 
to decide some questions that require undis- 
turbed thought. There I will stalk about on the 
summit slates of Dana and Gibbs and Lyell, 
reading new chapters of glacial manuscript and 
more if I can. Then, perhaps, I will follow the 
Tuolumne down to the Hetch Hetchy Yosemite ; 
then, perhaps, follow the Yosemite stream back 
to its smallest source in the mountains of the 
Lyell group and the Cathedral group and the 

Obelisk and Mt. Hoffman. This will, perhaps, 

[ 102 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

be my work until the coming of the winter 
snows, when I will probably find a sheltered 
lock nook where I can make a nest of leaves 
and mosses and doze until spring. 

I expect to be entirely alone in these moun- 
tain walks, and, notwithstanding the glorious 
portion of daily bread which my soul will re- 
ceive in these fields where only the footprints 
of God are seen, the gloamin' will be lonely, but 
I will cheerfully pay the price of friendship and 
all besides. 

I suppose that you have seen Mr. King, who 
kindly carried some flies for Mr. Edwards. I 
thought you would easily see him or let him 
know that you had his specimens. I collected 
most of them upon Mt. Hoffman, but was so 
busy in assisting Reilly that I could not do 
much in butterflies. Hereafter I shall be entire- 
ly free. 

The purples and yellows begin to come in 
the green of our groves, and the rocks have the 
autumn haze, and the water songs are at their 
lowest bushings ; young birds are big as old ones ; 

[ 103 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

and is it true that these are Bryant's Melan- 
choly Days? I don't know, I will not think, 
but I will go above these brooding days to the 
higher, brighter mountains. 


Cordially ever yours, 

John Muir. 
' I shall hope to hear from you soon. I will 
come down some of the valley canons occasion- 
ally for letters. 

I am sorry that you are so laden with Uni- 
versity cares. I think that you and the Doctor 
do more than your share. 

Do you know anything about this Liebig's 
extract of meat ? I would like to carry a year's 
provisions in the fomi of condensed bread and 
meat, and I have been thinking perhaps all that 
I want is in the market. 

September 8th, [1871.] 

^ I am sorry that King made you uneasy about 

me. He does not understand me as you do, and 

[ 104 ] 


Letters to a Friend 

you must not heed him so much. He thinks that 
I am melancholy and above all that I require 
polishing. I feel sure that if you were here to 
see how happy I am and how ardently I am 
seeking a knowledge of the rocks, you could not 
call me away but would gladly let me go with 
only God and his written rocks to guide me. 
You would not think of calling me to make 
machines or a home, or of rubbing me against 
other minds, or of setting me up for measure- 
ment. No, dear friend, you would say: "Keep 
your mind untrammelled and pure. Go unfric- 
tioned, unmeasured, and God give you the 
true meaning and interpretation of his moun- 

You know that for the last three years I have 
been ploddingly making observations about this 
valley and the high mountain region to the east 
of it, drifting broodingly about and taking in 
every natural lesson that I was fitted to absorb. 
In particular the great valley has always kept 
a place in my mind. What tools did he use? 
How did he apply them and when? I consid- 

l 105 1 

Letters to a Friend 

ered the sky above it and all of its opening 
canons, and studied the forces that came in by 
every door that I saw standing open, but I 
could get no light. Then I said: "You are at- 
tempting what is not possible for you to ac- 
complish. Yosemite is the end of a grand chap- 
ter; if you would learn to read it, go conunence 
at the beginning." Then I went above to the 
alphabet valleys of the sununits, comparing 
canon with canon, with all their varieties of 
rock-structure and cleavage and the compara- 
tive size and slope of the glaciers and waters 
which they contained; also the grand congre- 
gations of rock-creations was present to me, and 
I studied their forms and sculpture. I soon had 
a key to every Yosemite rock and perpendicular 
and sloping wall. The grandeur of these forces 
and their glorious results overpower me and 
inhabit my whole being. Waking or sleeping, 
I have no rest. In dreams I read blurred sheets 
of glacial writing, or follow lines of cleavage, 
or struggle with the difficulties of some extraor- 
dinary rock-form. Now it is clear that woe is 

[ 106 ] 



Letters to a Friend 

me if I do not drown this tendency towards ner- 
vous prostration by constant labor in working 
up the details of this whole question. I have 
been down from the upper rocks only three days 
and am hungry for exercise already. 

Prqif^ 1R\inklf*j presidfnt of thri^^gt^n Insti- 
tute^ Technology, was here last week, and 
I preached my glacial theory to him for five 
days, taking him into the canon of the valley 
and up among the grand glacier wombs and 
pathways of the summit. He was fully con- 
vinced of the truth of my readings and urged 
ine la_write out the glacial system of Yosemite 
and its tributaries for the Boston Academy of 
Science. I told him that I meant to write my 
thoughts for my own use and that I would send 
him the manuscript, and if he and his wise sci- 
entific brothers thought it of sufficient interest 
they might publish it. 

He is going to send me some instruments, 
and I mean to go over all the glacier basins 
carefully, working until driven down by the 
snow. In winter I can make my drawings and 

[ 107 ] 

\ ' 

Letters to a Friend 

maps and write out notes. So you see that for 
a year or two I will be very busy. I have settled 
with Hutchings and have no dealings with him 

I think that next spring I will have to guide 
a month or two for pocket money, although I 
do not like the work. I suppose I might live for 
one or two seasons without work. I have five 
hundred dollars here, and I have been sending 
home money to my sisters and brothers, — 
perhaps about twelve or fifteen hundred dol- 
lars, — and a man in Canada owes me three or 
four hundred dollars more, which I suppose I 
could get if I was in need, but you know that 
the Scotch do not like to spend their last dol- 
lar. Some of my friends are badgering me to 
write for some of the magazines, and I am al- 
most tempted to try it, only I am afraid that 
this would distract my mind from my work 
more than the distasteful and depressing labor 
of the mill or of guiding. What do you think 
about it \ 

,. Suppose I should give some of the joumals 

[ io8 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

my first thoughts about this glacier work as I 
go along and afterwards gather them and press 
them for the Boston wise; or will it be better 
to hold work and say it all at a breath ? You 
see how practical I have become and how 
fully I have burdened you with my little 

Perhaps you will ask, "What plan are you \ , , , /^ 
going to pursue in your work?" Well, here it is, \ T'^'V • '^ 
— the only book I ever have invented. First ■ '^ 
I will describe each glacier with its tributaries \ 
separately, then describe the rocks and hills 
and mountains over which they have flowed or 
past which they have flowed, endeavoring to 
prove t hat all of the various forms which those 
rocks now have are the necessary result of the 
ice action in connection with their structure 
and cleavage, etc. Also the different kinds of 
cafions and lake-basins and meadows which 
they have made. Then, armed with this data, 
I will come down to the Yosemite, where all 
my ice has come, and prove that each dome and 
brow and wall and every grace and spire and 

[ 109 ] 

^ c 

Letters to a Friend 

brother is the necessary result of the delicately 
balanced blows of well-directed and combined 
glaciers against the parent rocks which con- 
tained them, only thinly carved and moulded 
in some instances by the subsequent action of 
water, etc. 

Libby sent me Tjndairs new book, and I 
have looked hastily over it. It is an Alpine 
mixture of very pleasant taste, and I wish I 
could enjoy reading and talking it with you. 
I expect Mrs. H. will accompany her husband 
to the East this winter, and there will not be 
one left with whom I can exchange a thought. 
Mrs. H. is going to leave me out all the books 
I want, and Runkle is going to send me Dar- 
win. These, with my notes and maps, will fill 
my winter hours, if my eyes do not fail, and, 
now that you see my whole position, I think 
that you would not call me to the excitements 
and distracting novelties of civilization. 

The bread question is very troublesome. I 
will eat anything you think will suit me. Send 
up either by express to Big Oak Flat or by any 

[ no] 

Letters to a Friend 

other chance, and I will remit the money re- 
quired in any way you like. 

My love to all and more thanks than I can 
write for your constant kindness. 

Yosemite Valley, February 13, 1872. 

Your latest letter is dated December 31st. 
I see that some of our letters are missing. I re- 
ceived the box and ate the berries and Liebig's 
extract long ago and told you all about it, but 
Mrs. Yelverton's book and magazine articles 
I have not yet seen. Perhaps they may come 
next mail. How did you send them ? I sympa- 
thize with your face and your great sorrows, 
but you will bathe in the fountain of light, life, 
and love of our mountains and be healed. And 
here I wish to say that when you and Al and 
the Doctor come, I wish to be completely free. 
Therefore let me know that you will certainly 
come and when. I will gladly cut off a slice of 
my season's time however thick — the thicker 
the better — and lay it aside for you. I am in 
the habit of asking so many to comCy come^ come 

[ III ] 

Letters to a Friend 

to the mountain baptisms that there is danger 
of having others on my hands when you come, 
which must not be. I will mark off one or two 
or three months of bare, dutiless time for our 
blessed selves or the few good and loyal ones 
that you may choose. Therefore, at the ex- 
pense even of breaking a dozen of civilization's 
laws and fences, I want you to come. For the 
high Sierra the months of July, August, and 
September are best. 

As for your Asiatic sayings, I would gladly 
creep into the Vale of Cashmere or any other 
grove upon our blessed star. I feel my poverty 
in general knowledge and will travel some day. 
You need not think that I feel Yosemite to be 
all in all, but more of this when you come. 

I am going to send you with this a few 
facts and thoughts that I gathered concerning 
Twenty Hill Hollow, which I want to publish, 
if you think you can mend them and make 
them into a lawful article fit for outsiders. Plant 
gold is fading from Califomia faster than did 
her placer gold, and I wanted to save the 

[ 112] 

Letters to a Friend 

memory of that which is laid upon Twenty 

Also I will send you some thoughts that I 
happened to get for poor persecuted, twice- 
damned Coyote. If you think anybody will 
believe them, have them published. Last mail 
I sent you some manuscript about bears and 
storms, which you will believe if no one else will. 
An account of my preliminary rambles among 
the glacier beds was published in the "Daily^ 
Tnbune'V.of _New York, Dec. 9th. Have you 
seen it? If you have, call old Mr. Stebbins's 
attention to it. He will read with pleasure. 
Where is the old friend ? I have not heard from 
him for a long time. Remember me to the Doc- 
tor and the boys and all my old friends. 

Yours, etc., 

John Muir. 

New Sentinel Hotel, 
Yosemite Valley, April 23, 1872. 

Yours of Apr. 9th and 15 th containing Ned's 
canoe and colonization adventure came to- 
night. I feel that you are coming and I will not 

[ 113] 

Letters to a Friend 

hear any words of preparatory consolation for 
the unsupposable case of your non-appearance. 
Come by way of Clark's and spend a whole day 
or two in the sequoias, thence to Sentinel Dome 
and Glacier Point. From thence swoop to our 
meadows and groves direct by a trail now in 
course of construction which will be completed 
by the time the snow melts. This new trail will 
be best in scenery and safety of five which enter 
the valley. It leads from Glacier Point down the 
face of the mountain by an easy grade to a point 
back of Leidig's Hotel and has over half a 
dozen inspiration points. 

I hear that Mr. Peregoy intends building a 
hotel at Glacier Point. If he does, you should 
halt there for the night after leaving Clark's. 
If not, then stop at the present " Peregoy's,*' 
five or six miles south of the valley at the West- 
fall Meadows — built since your visit. You 
might then easily ride from Clark's to the valley 
in a day, but a day among the silver firs and 
another about the glories of the valley-rim and 
settings is a "sma' request.** 

[ 114] 

Letters to a Friend 

The snow is deep this year, and the regular 
Mariposa Trail leading to Glacier Point, etc., 
will not be open before June. The Mariposa 
travel of May and perhaps a week or so of 
June will enter the valley from Clark's by a 
sort of sneaking trail along the river canon 
below the snow, but you must not come that 

You may also enter the valley via Little Yo- 
semite and Nevada and Vernal Falls by a trail 
constructed last season; also by Indian Falls 
on the north side of the valley by a trail now 
nearly completed. This last is a noble entrance 
but perhaps not equal to the first. Whatever 
way you come, we will travel all those up and 
down, and bear in mind that you must go 
among the sununits in July or August. Bring 
no friends that will not go to these fountains 
beyond or are uncastoffable. Calm thinkers 
like your Doctor, who first led me with science, 
and Le Conte are the kinds of souls fit for the 
formation of human clouds adapted to this 
mountain sky. Nevertheless, I will rejoice be- 

[ 115] 

Letters to a Friend 

yond measure though you come as a comet 
tailed with a whole misty town. 

Ned is a brave fellow. God bless him un- 
speakably and feed him with his own South 
American self. 

I shall be most happy to know your Doggetts 
or anjrthing that you call dear. 

Good-night and love to all. 

I have not seen any of my " Tribune *' letters, 

though I have written five or six. Send copy if 

you can. t m ^ 

J. MuiR. 

[Beginning of letter missing.] 
Farewell. I 'm glad you are to get your Ned 
again. The fever will soon cool out from his 
veins in the breath of California. 

The valley is full of sun, but glorious Sierras 
are piled above the South Dome and Starr 
King. I mean the bossy cumuli that are daily 
upheaved at this season, making a cloud period 
yet grander than the rock-sculpturing, Yosem- 
ite-making, forest-planting glacial period. 

[ 116] 

Letters to a Friend 

Yesterday we had our first midday shower. 
The pines waved gloriously at its approach, the 
woodpeckers beat about as if alarmed, but the 
hummingbird moths thought the cloud shadows 
belonged to evening and came down to eat 
among the mints. All the fire and rocks of 
Starr Kang were bathily dripped before. 


[Beginning of letter missing.] 
they will go on Monoward for Tahoe. I mean 
to set some stakes in a dozen glaciers and gather 
some arithmetic for clothing my thoughts. 

I hope you will not allow old H. or his picture 
agent, Houseworth, to so gobble and bewool 
poor Agassiz that I will not see him. 

Remember me always to the Doctor and the 
boys and to Mrs. Moore, and I am ever yours, 

John Muir. 

I will return to the valley in about a week, if 
I don't get over-deep in a crevass. 

Later. Yours of Monday evening has just 
come. I am glad your boy is so soon to feel 

[ 117 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

mother home and its blessings. I hope to meet 

Torrey, although I will push iceward as before, 

but may get back in time. I will enjoy Agassiz, 

and Tyndall even more. I'm sorry for poor 

Stoddard. Tell him to come. 

rU see Mrs. H., perhaps, this evening and 

deliver your message. 

New Sentinel Hotel, 
Yosemite Valley, May 31, 1872. 

Yours announcing the Joaquin and the Dog- 
getts and more is here. I care not when you 
come, so that you come calm and timeful. I 
will try to compel myself down to you in Au- 
gust, but these years and ages among snows 
and rocks have made me far more unfit for the 
usages of civilization than you appreciate. My 
nerves' strings shrink at the prospect, even at 
this distance. But if by diving to that slimy 
town sea-bottom I can touch Huxley and Tyn- 
dall and mount again with you to calm months 
in the Sierras, I will draw a long breath and 
splash into your fearful muds. 

[ 118] 

Letters to a Friend 

I would rather have you in September and 
October than at any other time, but a few 
weeks of this white water would be very glori- 
ous. Merrill Moores, who was with me in 
Wisconsin and at your Madison home, will 
be here soon to spend a good big block of a 
while with me. Why can't you let AUie join 

For the last week our valley has been a lake 
and my shanty is in flood. But the walls about 
us are white this morning with snow, which 
has checked the free life of our torrents, and 
the meadows will soon be walkable again. The 
snow fell last night and this morning. The falls 
will sing loud and long this year, and the moun- 
tains are fat in thick snow that the sun will 
find hard to fry. 


O Mrs. Carr, that you could be here to min- 
gle in this night moon glory! I am in the Upper 
Yosemite Falls and can hardly calm to write, 
but, from my thick baptism an hour ago, you 

[ 119] 

Letters to a Friend 

have been so present that I must try to fix 
you a written thought. 

In the afternoon I came up the moimtain 
here with a blanket and a piece of bread to 
spend the night in prayer among the spouts of 
the fall. But now what can I say more than 
wish again that you might expose your soul to 
the rays of this heaven ? 

Silver from the moon illmnines this glorious 
creation which we term falls and has laid a mag- 
nificent double prismatic bow at its base. The 
tissue of the falls is delicately filmed on the out- 
side like the substance of spent clouds, and the 
stars shine dimly through it. In the solid shafted 
body of the falls is a vast number of passing 
caves, black and deep, with close white convolv- 
ing spray for sills and shooting comet shoots 
above and down their sides like lime crystals in 
a cave, and every atom of the magnificent being, 
from the thin silvery crest that does not dim 
the stars to the inner arrowy hardened shafts 
that strike onward like thunderbolts in sound 
and energy, all is life and spirit, every bolt and 

[ 120 1 

Letters to a Friend 

spray feels the hand of God. O the music that 
is blessing me now! The sun of last week has 
given the grandest notes of all the yearly an- 
them and they echo in every fibre of me. 

I said that I was going to stop here until 
morning and pray a whole blessed night with 
the falls and the moon, but I am too wet and 
must go down. An hour or two ago I went out 
somehow on a little seam that extends along 
the wall behind the falls. I suppose I was in 
a trance, but I can positively say that I was 
in the body for it is sorely battered and wetted. 
As I was gazing past the thin edge of the fall 
and away through beneath the column to the 
brow of the rock, some heavy splashes of water 
struck me, driven hard against the wall. Sud- 
denly I was darkened ; down came a section of 
the outside tissue composed of spent comets. 
I crouched low, holding my breath, and, an- 
chored to some angular flakes of rocks, took 
my baptism with moderately good faith. When 
I dared to look up after the swaying column 
admitted light, I pounced behind a piece of ice 

[ 121 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

which was wedged tight in the wall, and I no 
longer feared being washed off, and steady 
moonbeams slanting past the arching meteors 
gave me confidence to escape to this snug place 
where McChesney and I slept one night, where 
I had a fire to dry my socks. This rock shelf 
extending behind the falls is about five hundred 
feet above the base of the fall on the perpendic- 
ular rock-face. 

How little do we know of ourselves, of our 
profoundest attractions and repulsions, of our 
spiritual affinities! How interesting does man 
become, considered in his relations to the spirit 
\^ of this rock and water! How significant does 

every atom of our world become an^iid the influ- 
ences of those beings unseen, spiritual, angelic 
mountaineers that so throng these pure man- 
sions of crystal foam and purple granite ! 

I cannot refrain from speaking to this little 
bush at my side and to the spray-drops that 
come to my paper and to the individual sands of 
the slope I am sitting upon. Ruskin says that 
the idea of foulness is essentially connected with 

[ 122 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

what he calls dead unorganized matter. How 
cordially I disbelieve him to-night! and were 
he to dwell awhile among the powers of these 
mountains, he would forget all dictionary dif- 
ferences between the clean and the unclean and 
he would lose all memory and meaning of the 
diabolical, sin-begotten term, foulness. 

Well, I must go down. I am disregarding all 
of the Doctor's physiology in sitting here in 
this universal moisture. 

Farewell to you and to all the beings about 
us ! I shall have a glorious walk down the moun- 
tains in this thin white light, over the open 
brows grayed with Selaginella and through the 
thick black shadow caves in the live oaks all 
stuck full of snowy lances of moonlight. 

New Sentinel Hotel, Yosemite Valley, 
July 6th, 1872. 

Yours of Tuesday evening telling of our Dog- 

getts and Ned and Merrill Moores has come, 

and so has the lamp and book. I have not yet 

tried the lamp, but it is splendid in shape and 

[ 123 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

shines grand as gold. The Lyell is just what 
I wanted. 

I think that your measure of the Doggetts is 
exactly right — as good as civilized people can 
be. They have grown to the top of town culture 
and have sent out some shoots half gropingly 
into the spirit sky. 

I am very glad to know that Ned is growing 
strong. Perhaps we may see South America 
together yet. I hope to see you come to your 
own of mountain fountains soon. Perhaps Mrs. 
Hutchings may go with us. You live so fully 
in my own life that I cannot realizfe that I have 
not yet seen you here ; a year or two of waiting 
seems nothing. 

Possibly I may be down on your coast this 
fall or next, for I want to see what relations the 
coast and coast mountains have to the Sierras. 
Also I want to go north and south along this 
range and then among the basins and ranges 
eastward. My subject is expanding at a most 
unfoUowable pace. I could write something with 
data already harvested, but I am not satisfied. 

[ 124 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

I have just returned from Hetch Hetchy with 
Mrs. Moore. Of course we had a glory and a 
fun — the two articles in about parallel col- 
umns of equal size. Meadows grassed and lilies 
head-high, spangled river-reaches and current- 
less pools, cascades countless and unpaintable 
in form and whiteness, groves that heaven all 
the valley. You were with us in all our joy and 
you will come again. 

I am a little weary and half inclined to tru- 
antism from mobs however blessed, in some 
unfindable grove. I start in a few minutes for 
Cloud's Rest with Mr. and Mrs. Moore. I like 
Mrs. Moore and Mr. first-rate. 

My love to the Doctor and all the boys. I 

hope for Merrill daily. 

I am 

Ever your friend, 

J. MuiR. 

New Sentinel Hotel, Yosemite, 
July 14th, 1872. 

Yours announcing Dr. Gray is received. I 
have great longing for Gray, whom I feel to 

[ 125] 

N \ 

Letters to a Friend 

be a great, progressive, unlimited m an like Par- 
win and Huxley and Tyndall. I will be most 
g^d to meet him. You are unweariable in your 
kindness to me, and you helm my fate more 
than all the world beside. 

I am approaching a kind of fruiting-time in 
this mountain work and I want very much to 
see you. ^11 say wriiey but I don't know how or 
what, and besides I want to see North and South 
and the midland basins and the seacoast and 
all the lake-basins and the canons, also the alps 
of every country and the continental glaciers 
of Greenland, before I write the book we have 
been speaking of; and all this will require a doz- 
en years or twenty, and money. The question 
is what will I write now, etc. I have learned the 
alphabet of ice and mountain structure here, 
and I think I can read fast in other countries. 
I would let others write what I have read here, 
but that they make so damnable a hash of it 
and ruin so glorious a unit. 

I miss the Moores because they were so cor- 
dial and kind to me. Mrs. Moore believes in ice 

[ 126] 

Letters to a Friend 

and can preach it too. I wish you could bring 
Whitney and her together and tell me the 
fight. Mrs. M. made the most sensible visit to 
our mountains of all the comers I have known. 
Mr. Moore is a man who thinks, and he took 
to this mountain structure like a pointer to 

I am glad your Ned is growing strong; then 
we will yet meet this siunmer in Yosemite 
places. Talk to Mrs. Moore about Hetch 
Hetchy, etc. She knows it all from Hog Ranch 
to highest sea-wave cascades, and higher, yet 

I ought not to fun away letter space in speak- 
ing to you. I am weary and impractical and fit 
for nothing serious until I am tuned and toned 
by a few weeks of calm. 

Farewell. I will see you and we will plan 
work and ease and days of holy mountain rest. 
Remember me to Ned and all the boys and to 
the Doctor, who ought to come hither with you. 

Ever your friend, 

John Muir. 
[ 127 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

Yosemite Valley, 

July 27tli, 1872. 

I want to see you. I want to speak about my 
studies, which are growing broader and broader 
and spreading away to all countries without 
any clear horizon anywhere. 

I will go over all this Yosemite region this 
faU and write it up in some fomi or other. Will 
you be here to accompany me in my easier 
excursions ? 

I have a good horse for you and will get a tub 
and plenty of meal and tea, and you will keep 
house in very old style and you can bring whom 
you please. 

I Ve had a very noble time with Gray, who, 
though brooded and breaded by Hutchings, 
gave most of his time to me. I was sorry that 
his time was so meanly measured and bounded. 
He is a most cordial lover of purity and truth, 
but the angular factiness of his pursuits has 
kept him at too cold a distance from the spirit 

I know that Mrs. Moore has given you ice in 

[ 128] 

Letters to a Friend 

abundance, though even Yosemite glaciers 
might melt in the wamith of her laughter and 
sunshine. She handles glacier periods like an 
Agassiz and has discovered a Hetch Hetchy 
period that is her own. Don't you believe all 
she tells you about the walk and the dark and 
the dust of Indian Canon. 

I want to get Doggett's address. 

I will begin my long mountain excursion 
soon, for the snow is mostly gone from the high 

I have been guiding a few parties and will 
take a few more if they are of the right kind, 
but I want my mind kept free and sensitive to 
all influences excepting hirnian business. 

I need a talk with you more than ever before. 
Mrs. Hutchings is always kind to me, and the 
clearness of her views on all spiritual things is 
very extraordinary. She appreciates your friend- 
ship very keenly, and I am glad to think you 
will soon know each other better. Her little 
Casie (Gertrude) is as pure a piece of sunbeam 

as ever was condensed to human form. 

[ 129 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

Hoping that Ned will be able to come here 
to the mountain waters for perfect healing and 
that you will also find leisure for the satisf)Hing 
of your thirst for beauty, I remain ever 

Your friend, 

John Muir. 
My love to Doctor and all the boys. 

Yosemite Valley, 

August 5th, 1872. 

Your letter telling me to catch my best gla- 
cier birds and come to you and the coast moun- 
tains only makes me the more anxious to see 
you, and if you cannot come up, I will have to 
come down, if only for a talk. My birds are 
fl)ring everywhere, — into all mountains and 
plains, of all climes and times, — and some are 
ducks in the sea, and I scarce know what to do 
about it. I must see the coast ranges and the 
coast, but I was thinking that a month or so 
might answer for the present, and then, instead 
of spending the winter in town, I would hide in 
Yosemite and write ; or I thought I would pack 

[ 130 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

up some meal and dried plums to some deep 
wind-sheltered cafion back among the glaciers 
of the sunmiits, and write there, and be ready 
to catch any whisper of ice and snow in these 
highest storms. 

You anticipate all the bends and falls and 
rapids and cascades of my mountain life, and 
I know that you say truly about my compan- 
ions being those who live with me in the same 
sky, whether in reach of hand or only of spir- 
itual contact, which is the most real contact 

I am learning to live close to the lives of my 
friends without ever seeing them. No miles of 
any measurement can separate your soul from 

[Part of letter missing.] 
the valley was vouchsafed a single drop. 

After the splendid blessing, the afternoon 
was veiled in calm clouds, and one of intensely 
beautiful pattern and gorgeously irised was sta- 
tioned over Eagle Rock at the sunset. 

Farewell. I '11 see you with my conmion eyes, 

[ 131 ] 


Letters to a Friend 

and touch you with these very writing fingers 
ere long. 

Remember me cordially to Mrs. Moore and 
Mr. and all your family, and I am as ever 

Your friend, 

John Muir. 

Yosemite Valley, 

September 13, 1872. 

Yours of Aug. 23rd is received. Le Conte 
writes me that Agassiz will' not come to the 

I just got down last evening from a fifteen- 
day ramble in the basins of lUilouette and Po- 
hono, and start again in an hour for the summit 
glaciers to see some canons and to examine the 
stakes I planted in the ice a month ago. 

I would like to come down to see Agassiz, 
but now is my harvest of rocks and I cannot 
spare the time. 

I shall work in the outer mountains inces- 
santly until the coming of the snow [rest of 

letter missing]. 

[ 132 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

Yosemite Valley, 

October 8th, 1872. 

Here we are again, and here is your letter of 
Sept. 24th. I got down last evening, and boo ! 
was I not weary after pushing through the rough 
upper half of the great Tuolumne Canon? I 
have climbed more than twenty-four thousand 
feet in these ten days, three times to the top of 
the glacieret of Mt. Hoffman, and once to Mts. 
Lyell and McClure. I have bagged a quantity 
of Tuolumne rocks sufficient to build a dozen 
Yosemites ; stripes of cascades longer than ever, 
lacy or smooth and white as pressed snow; a 
glacier basin with ten glassy lakes set all near 
together like eggs in a nest; then El Capitan 
and a couple of Tissiacks, canons glorious with 
yellows and reds of mountain maple and aspen 
and honeysuckle and ash and new indescribable 
music immeasurable from strange waters and 
winds, and glaciers, too, flowing and grinding, 
alive as any on earth. Shall I pull you out some ? 
Here is a clean, white-skinned glacier from the 
back of McClure with glassy emerald flesh and 

[ 133 1 

Letters to a Friend 

singing crystal blood all bright and pure as a 
sky, yet handling mud and stone like a navvy, 
building moraines like a plodding Irishman. 
Here is a cascade two hundred feet wide, half 
a mile long, glancing this way and that, filled 
with bounce and dance and joyous hurrah, yet 
earnest as tempest, and singing like angels 
loose on a frolic from heaven ; and here are more 
cascades and more, broad and flat like clouds 
and fringed like flowing hair, with occasional 
falls erect as pines, and lakes like glowing eyes ; 
and here are visions and dreams, and a splendid 
set of ghosts, too many for ink and narrow 

I have not heard anything concerning Le 
Conte's glacier lecture, but he seems to have 
drawn all he knows of Sierra glaciers and new 
theories concerning them so directly from here 
that I cannot think that he will claim discovery, 
etc. If he does, I will not be made poorer. 

Professor Kneeland, Secretary Boston Insti- 
tute of Technology, gathered some letters I 
sent to Runkle and that "Tribune** letter, and 

[ 134] 

Letters to a Friend 

hashed them into a compost called a paper for 
the Boston Historical Society, and gave me 
credit for all of the smaller sayings and doings 
and stole the broadest truth to himself. I have 
the proof-sheets of "The Paper'' and will show 
them to you some time. But all of such mean- 
ness can work no permanent evil to any one 
except the dealer. 

As for the living "glaciers of the Sierras/' 
here is what I have learned conceming them. 
You will have the first chance to steal, for I 
have just concluded my experiments on them 
for the season and have not yet cast them at 
any of the great professors, or presidents. 

One of the yellow days of last October, when 
I was among the mountains of the "Merced 
Group," following the footprints of the ancient 
glaciers that once flowed grandly from their 
ample fountains, reading what I could of their 
history as written in moraines and canons and 
lakes and carved rocks, I came upon a small 
stream that was carrying mud I had not before 
seen. In a calm place where the stream widened 

[ 135 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

I collected some of this mud and observed that 
it was entirely mineral in composition and fine 
as flour, like the mud from a fine-grit grind- 
stone. Before I had time to reason I said, Gla- 
cier mud, mountain meal. 

Then I observed that this muddy stream is- 
sued from a bank of fresh quarried stones and 
dirt that was sixty or seventy feet in height. 
This I at once took to be a moraine. In climb- 
ing to the top of it I was struck with the steep- 
ness of its slope and with its raw, unsettled, 
plantless, newborn appearance. The slightest 
touch started blocks of red and black slate, fol- 
lowed by a rattling train of smaller stones and 
sand and a cloud of the dry dust of mud, the 
whole moraine being as free from lichens and 
weather stains as if dug from the mountain that 
very day. 

When I had scrambled to the top of the mo- 
raine, I saw what seemed a huge snow-bank 
four or five hundred yards in length by half a 
mile in width. Imbedded in its stained and fur- 
rowed surface were stones and dirt like that of 

[ 136 1 

Letters to a Friend 

which the moraine was built. Dirt-stained lines ] 


curved across the snow-bank from side to side, 
and when I observed that these curved lines 
coincided with the curved moraine and that the / ^ ^ -^ ' 
stonesand dirtwere most abundant nearthe bot- 
tom of the bank, I shouted, "A living glacier/' 
These bent dirt lines show that the ice is flowing 
in its different parts with unequal velocity, and 
these embedded stones are joumeying down to 
be built into the moraine, and they gradually 
become more abundant as they approach the 
moraine because there the motion is slower. 

On traversing my new-found glacier, I came 
to a crevass, down a wide and jagged portion of 
which I succeeded in making my way, and dis- 
covered that my so-called snowbank was clear 
green ice, and, comparing the form of the basin 
which it occupied with similar adjacent basins 
that were empty, I was led to the opinion that 
this glacier was several hundred feet in depth. 

Then I went to the "snow-banks'' of Mts. 
Lyell and McClure and believed that they also 
were true glaciers and that a dozen other snow- 

[ 137 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

banks seen from the summit of Mt. Lyell crouch- 
ing in shadow were glaciers, living as any in the 
world and busily engaged in completing that 
vast work of mountain-making, accomplished 
by their giant relatives now dead, which, united 
and continuous, covered all the range from sum- 
mit to sea like a sky. 

I 'm going to take your painter boys with me 
into one of my best sanctums on your recom- 
mendation for holiness. 


; I Emerson has sent me a profound little book 
of Istyled "The Growth of the Mind,'' by Reed. 
I Do you know it ? It is full of the fountain truth. 

I 'm glad your boys are safely back. Perhaps 
Ned and I may try that Andes field together. 

I would write to Mrs. Moore but will wait 
until she is better. Tell her the cascades and 
mountains of upper Hetch Hetchy [ ]. 

I hope I may see you a few days soon. I had 

a pretty letter from old Dr. Torrey, and from 

Gray I have heard three or four times. I am 



[ 138] 

Letters to a Friend 

Yosemite, October 14th, [1872.] 

I cannot hear from you. There are some 
souls, perhaps, that are never tired, that ever 
go steadily glad, always tuneful and songful like 
mountain water. Not so, weary, hungry me. 
This second time I come from the rocks for 
fresh supplies of the two breads, but I find but 
one. I cannot hear from you. My last weeks 
were spent among the canons of the Hoffman 
range and the Cathedral Peak group east of 
Lake Tenaya. All gloriously rich in the written 
truths which I am seeking. I will now go to the 
wide, ragged tributaries of lUilouette and to 
Pohono, after which I will mope about among 
the rim cafions and rock forms of the valley as 
the weather permits. 

Perhaps I have not yet answered all of your 
last long pages. Here is a quotation from Tyn- 
dall conceming the nature and origin of his 
intense mountain enjoyments. He reaches far 
and near for a theory of his delight in the moun- 
tains, going among the accidents of his own 
boyhood and those of his remotest fathers, but 

[ 139 1 


Letters to a Friend 

surely this must be all wrong, and, instead of 
groping away backwards among the various 
grades of grandfathers, he should explore the 
most primary properties df man. Perhaps we 
owe "the pleasurable emotions which fine 
landscape makes in us" to a cause as radical as 
that which makes a magnet pulse to the two 
poles. I think that one of the properties of that 
compound which we call man is that when ex- 
posed to the rays of mountain beauty it glows 
with joy. I don't know who of all my ancestry 
are to blame, but my attractions and repulsions 
are badly balanced to-night and I will not try 
to say any more, excepting farewell and love to 

you all. 

John Muir. 

[1872 or 1873.] 

[Beginning of letter missing.] 
although I was myself fully satisfied concern- 
ing the real nature of these ice-masses. I found 
that my friends regarded my deductions and 
statements with distrust, therefore I determined 

[ 140 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

to collect proofs of the common measured arith- 
metical kind. 

On the 2 1 St of Aug. last I planted five stakes 
in the glacier of Mt. McClure, which is situated 
east of Yosemite Valley, near the summit of 
the range. Four of these stakes were extended 
across the middle of the glacier. The first 
stake was planted about 25 yds. from the east 
bank of the glacier. The second 94 yards, 
the third 152, and the fourth 223 yards. The 
positions of these stakes were determined by 
sighting across from bank to bank past a 
plumbline made of a stone and a black horse- 

On observing my stakes on the 6th of Oct., 
or in 46 days after being planted, I found that 
stake No. i had been carried down stream 1 1 
inches; No. 2, 18 inches; No. 3, 34; No. 4, 47 
inches. As stake No. 4 was near the middle of 
the glacier, perhaps it was not far from the 
point of maximum velocity, 47 inches in 46 
days, or i inch per day. Stake No. 5 was 
planted about midway between the head of 

[ 141 ] 




'JL-*- ■ ^it' 


u * ; 


Letters to a Friend 

the glacier and stake No. [ ]. Its motion I 
found to be in 46 days 40 inches. 

Thus these ice-masses are seen to possess the 
true glacial motion. Their surfaces are striped 
with bent dirt bands. Their surfaces are bulged 
and undulated by inequalities in the bottom of 
their basins, causing an upward and downward 
swedging corresponding to the horizontal swedg- 
ing as indicated by the curved dirt bands. 

The McClure Glacier is about half a mile in 
length and about the same in width at the 
broadest place. It is crevassed on the south- 
east comer. The crevass runs about southwest 
and northeast and is several hundred yards in 
length. Its width is nowhere more than one 

The Mt. Lyell Glacier, separated from that 
of McClure by a narrow crest, is about a mile 
in width by a mile in length. 

I have planted stakes in the glacier of Red 
Mountains also but have not yet observed 

[ 142 1 

Letters to a Friend 

[No date.] 

[Beginning of letter missing.] 
In going up any of the principal Yosemite 
streams, lakes in all stages of decay are found 
in great abundance, regularly becoming younger 
until we reach the almost countless gems of the 
smnmits with scarce an inch of carex upon 
their shallow, sandy borders and with their bot- 
toms still bright with the polish of ice. Upon 
the Nevada and its branches there are not 
fewer than a hundred of these glacial lakes from 
a mile to a hundred yards in diameter with 
countless glistening pondlets not much larger 
than moons. 

All of the grand fir forests about the valley 
are planted upon moraines, and from any of 
the mountain-tops the shape and extent of the 
neighboring moraines may always be surely 
determined by the firs growing upon them. 
Some pines will grow upon shallow sand and 
crumbling granite, but those luxuriant forests 
of the silver firs are always upon a generous bed 
of glacial drift. I discovered a moraine with 

[ 143 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

smooch pdihks apcm a ahoiilder of liie South 
Dome, and apcm every part of the Yosemite 
upper and lower walls. 

I am surprised to find tiiat wdtr has had so 
Iktk to do with mountain structure here. Whit- 
ney says tiiat there is no procf diat ^ders 
ever flowed in tius valley^ yet its walls have 
not beoi eroded to the depdi of an inch since 
the ice I^ it^ and ^bdal actkxi is ^aringly 
apparent many miks below the valley. 

The bottom pcmicMi of the fwegoing section, 
with perpendicular ades^ is here about two 
feet in depdi and was cut by the water. The 
Nevada here yiener w€ls more tiian four or five 
feet deep, and all of die bank records of all the 
upper streams say die same thing c^ the absence 
of great floods. 

The entire region above Yosemite and as far 
down as the bottoms d[ Yosemite has scarcely 
been touched by any odier inundation than 
that of ice. Periiaps all of the past glacial in- 
undation of every kind would not average an 
inch in depth for the whole region. 

[ 144 1 

Letters to a Friend 

Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy are lake-basins 
filled with sand and the matter of moraines 
washed from the upper canons. The Yosemite 
ice, in escaping from the Yosemite basin, was 
compelled to flow upward a considerable height 
on both sides of the bottom walls of the valley. 
The canon below the valley is very crooked 
and very narrow, and the Yosemite glacier 
flowed across all of its crooks and high above 
its walls without paying any compliance to it, 
thus: [drawing here]. The light lines show the 
direction of the ice-current. 

Yosemite Valley, 

March 30, 1873. 

Your two last are received. The package of 
letters was picked up by a man in the valley. 
There was none for thee. I have Hetch Hetchy 
about ready. I did not intend that Tenaya ram- 
ble for publication, but you know what is better. 

I mean to write and send all kinds of game to 
you with hides and feathers on, for if I wait 
until all become one, it may be too long. 

[ 145 ] 




Letters to a Friend 

As for Le Conte's Glaciers, they will not hurt 
mine, but hereafter I will say my thoughts to 
tlie'public in any kind of words I chance to com- 
mand, for I am sure that they will be better 
expressed in this way than in any second-hand 
hash, however able. Oftentimes when I am 
free in the wilds I discover some rare beauty 
in lake or cataract or mountain forai and in- 
stantly seek to sketch it with my pencil, but 
the drawing is always enoraiously unlike the 
reality. So also in word sketches of the same 
beauties that are so livings so lovi^^sQ filled 
with warai God, there is the same infinite 
shortcoming. The few hard words make but 
a skeleton, fleshless, heartless, and when you 
read, the dead, bony words rattle in one's 
teeth. Yet I will not the less endeavor to do my 
poor best, believing that even these dead bone- 
heaps called articles will occasionally contain 
hints to some living souls who know how to 
find them. 

I have not received Dr. Stebbins' letter. Give 
him and all my friends love from me. I sent 

[ 146] 

Letters to a Friend 

Harry Edwards the butterflies I had lost. Did 
he get them? Farewell, dear, dear spiritual 
mother! Heaven repay your everlasting love. 

John Muir. 

April I St, 1873. 

Yours containing Dr. Stebbins' was received 
to-day. Some of our letters come in by Mari- 
posa, some by Coulterville, and some by Oak 
Flat, causing large delays. 

I expect to be able to send this out next 
Sunday, and with it Hetch Hetchy, which is 
about ready and from this time you will receive 
about one article a month. 

This letter of yours is a very delightful one. 
I shall look eagerly for the rural homes. 

When I know Dr. Stebbins' summer address 
I will write to him. He is a dear young soul, 
though an old man. 

I am "not to write'' therefore. 

Farewell with love. 

I will some time send you "Big Tuolumne 
Canon,'' Ascent of Mt. Ritter, Foraiation of 

[ 147] 

, A 

p. \,' 


1 J 


Letters to a Friend 

Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Lake, Other Yo- 
semite Valleys (one, two, three, four, or more), 
The Lake District, Transformation of Lakes to 
Meadows Wet, to Meadows Dry, to Sandy 
Flats Treeless, or to Sandy Flats Forested, The 
Glacial Period, Formation of Simple Canons, 
of Compound Canons, Description of each 
Glacier of Region, Origin of Sierra Forest, Dis- 
tribution of Sierra Forests ; a description of each 
of the Yosemite falls and of the basins from 
whence derived ; Yosemite Shadows, as related 
to groves, meadows, and bends of the river; 
Avalanches, Earthquakes, Birds, Bear, etc., 
and "monymair/' 

Yosemite Valley, 

April 13th, 1873. 

Indian Tom goes out of the valley to-morrow. 
With this I send you "Hetch Hetchy." 

Last year I wrote a description of Hetchy 
and sent it to Prof. Runkle. Not having heard 
of it since, I thought it lost in some waste- 
basket, but to-day I received a Boston letter 

[ 148] 

Letters to a Friend 

stating that a Hetch from my pen appeared in 
the "Boston Transcript "of about March 12th, 
1873, which may possibly be the article in ques- 
tion. If so, this present H. H. will be found to 
contain a page or two of the same, but this is 
about three times as large and all rewritten, 
etc. That Tuolunme song of five cantos "Na- 
ture loves the Number Five'' may perhaps be 
better out. If you think it unfit for the public, 
keep it to thyself. I never can keep my pen 
perfectly sober when it gets into the bounce and 
hurrah of cascades, but it never has broken into 
rhyme before. 
Love to all and "Fare ye well, my ain Jean.'' 
The kerchiefs have come from Bentons and 
a package of books from Doggetts. 

Yosemite Valley, 

April 19th, 1873. 

The bearer of this is my friend Mr. Black, 
proprietor of Black's Hotel, Yosemite. He will 
give you tidings of all our valley affairs. 

I sent off a letter and article for you a week 

[ 149 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

ago. I find this Kterary business very irksome, 
yet I will try to learn it. 

The falls respond gloriously to the ripe sun- 
shine of these days ; so do the flowers. 

I hope that you will be able to send me word 
when you will come^ so that I may arrange ac- 
cordingly. Mr. Black will give all particulars 
of trails, times, etc. If Moores have not gone 
ranching, send Mr. Black over to their house. 
It wiU do her good. I fondly hope she is growing 

Love to all. 

John Muir. 

Yosemite Valley, 

May isth, 1873. 

The robins have eaten too much breakfast 
this moming, and there is a grossness in their 
throats that will require a good deal of sunshine 
for its cure. The leaves of many of the plants 
are badly disarranged, showing that they have 
had a poor night's sleep. The reason of all this 
trouble is a snowstorm that overloaded the 

[ 150] 

Letters to a Friend 

flowers and benumbed the butterflies, upon 
which the birds have breakfasted too heartily. 

The grand Upper Yosemite Fail is at this 
moment (7 a.m.) coming with all its glorious 
array of fleecy comets out of a cloud that is laid 
along the top of the cliff, and going into a cloud 
that is drawn along the face of the wall about 
halfway up. These clouds are shot through and 
through with sunshine, forming, with the snowy 
waters and fresh-washed walls, one of the most 
openly glorious scenes I ever beheld. A lady on 
Black's piazza is quietly looking at it, sitting 
with arms folded in her chair. A gentleman is 
pointing at it with his cane, while another gen- 
tleman is speaking loudly and businessly about 
his "baggage.'' "Eyes have they but they see 

Looking up the valley, the cloud effects are 
yet more lavishly glorious. Tissiack is mantled 
with silvery buming mists, her gray rocks ap- 
pearing dimly where thinly veiled. Over the 
top of Washington Column the clouds are de- 
scending in a continuous stream and rising 

[ 151 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

again SDddoily fhDm dM: bottom like spray fiom 
a watdfalL O dear! I widi yoa were here. I 
nunf" miite this doud g^oiy foieveiiiiore but 
never be abk to jNctuie it for you. 
Dcxtor and Priest in Yoscmite. Emerson 

prophesies in similar dialect that I will <me day 
go to bra and '^heSUr moT in New England, 
or somctiiii^ to diat effect. I fed like objecting 
in popular slang that I can't see it. I shall in- 
deed go gladly to the '^ Atlantic Coast/' as 
he pic^hesies, but onfy^ to see him and the 
Glacier Ghosts oH the noidi. Runkle wants 
to make a teacher o^ me, but I have been too 
long wild, too befogged and befogged to bum 
well in their patent hi^i-heated educational 

[A portion missing.] 
I had a good letter frcnn I^ Conte^He evi- 
dently does n't know what to think of the huge 
lumps of ice that I sent him. I don't wonder at 
his cautious withholding of judgment. When 
my mountain mother first told me the tale, I 
could hardly dare to believe either, and kept 


Letters to a Friend 

saying " What ?" like a child half awake. Fare- 
well. My love to the Doctor and the boys. I 
hope the Doctor will run away from his enor- 
mous bundles of duty and rest a summer with 
the mountains. I have a great deal to ask him. 
I have begun to build my cabin. You will have 
a hxyme in Yosemite. 

Ever thine, 

J. MuiR. 


My horse and bread, etc., are ready for up- 
ward. I retumed three days ago from Mts. 
Lyell, McClure, and Hoffman. I spent three 
days on a glacier up there, planting stakes, etc. 
This time I go to the Merced group, one of 
whose mountains shelters a glacier. I will go 
over all the lakes and moraines, etc., there. 
Will be gone a week or two or so. 

Hutchings wants to go with me to "help me,'' 
but I will, etc., etc. 

Ink cannot tell the glow that lights me at this 
moment in turning to the mountains. I feel 

[ 153 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

strong to leap Yosemite walls at a bound. 
Hotels and human impurity will be far below. 
I will fuse in spirit skies. 

Farewell, or come meet in ghost between Red 
Mountain and Black on the star-sparkled ice. 

Love to all thine and to Moores and Stod- 

Yosemite Valley, 

June 7th, 1873. 

I came down last night from the Lyell Gla- 
cier, weary with walking in the snow, but I for- 
got my weariness and the pain of my sun-blis- 
tered face in the news of your coming. 

I would like you to bring me a pair or two of 
green spectacles to save my eyes, as I have some 
weeks of hard work and exposure among the 
glaciers this fall. They are sore with my last 
journey. All of the upper mountains are yet 
deeply snow-clad, and the view from the top 
of Lyell was infinitely glorious. 

Thanking God for thee, I say a short farewell. 

Kellogg has not yet appeared, nor any of the 
other friends you speak of. 

[ 154] 

Letters to a Friend 

Sq)tember 17, [1873.] 

I am again at the bottom meadow of Yosem- 
ite after a most intensely interesting bath 
among the outer mountains. I have been ex- 
ploring the upper tributaries of the Cascade 
and Tamarac streams. And in particular all 
of the basin of the Yosemite Creek. The pres- 
ent basin of every stream which enters the val- 
ley on the north side was formerly filled with 
ice, which also flowed into the valley, although 
the ancient ice basins did not always correspond 
with the present water basins because glaciers 
can flow up hill. The whole of the north wall 
of the valley was covered with an unbroken 
flow of ice, with perhaps the single exception 
of the crest of Eagle Cliff, and though the book 
of glaciers gradually dims as we go lower on 
the range, yet I fully believe that future inves- 
tigation will show that, in the earlier ages of 
Sierra Nevada ice, vast glaciers flowed to the 
foot of the range east of Yosemite and also 
north and south at an elevation of 9000 feet. 

[ 155 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

The glacier basins are almost unchanged, and 
I believe that ice was the agent by which all of 
the present rocks receive their special fomis. 
More of this some other day. Would that I 
could have you here or in any wild place where 
I can think and speak I Would you not be thor- 
oughly iced ? You would not find in me one un- 
glacial thought. Come, and I will tell you how 
El Capitan and Tissiack were fashioned. I will 
most likely live at Black's Hotel this winter in 
charge of the premises, and before next spring 
I will have an independent cabin built, with a 
special Carr comer where you and the Doctor 
can come and stay all sunmier; also I will have 
a tent so that we can camp and receive night 
blessings when we choose, and then I will have 
horses enough so that we can go to the upper 
temples also. I wish you could see Lake Ten- 
aya. It is one of the most perfectly and richly 
spiritual places in the mountains, and I would 
like to preempt there. Somehow I should feel 
like leaving home in going to Hetch Hetchy. 
Besides, there is room there for many other 

[ 156] 

Letters to a Friend 

claims, and it soon will fill with coarse home- 
steads, but as the winter is so severe at Lake 
Tenaya, very few will care to live there. Hetch 
Hetchy is about four thousand feet above sea, 
while Lake Tenaya is eight. I have been living 
in these mountains in so haunting, soaring, 
floating a way that it seems strange to cast any 
kind of an anchor. All is so equal in glory, so 
ocean-like, that to choose one place above an- 
other is like drawing dividing lines in the sky. 
I think I answered your last with respect to re- 
maining here in the winter. I can do much of 
this ice work in the quiet, and the whole sub- 
ject is purely physical, so that I can get but 
little from books. All depends upon the good- 
ness of one's eyes. No scientific book in the 
world can tell me how this Yosemite granite is 
put together or how it has been taken down. 
Patient observation and constant brooding 
above the rocks, l3ang upon them for years as 
the ice did, is the way to arrive at the truths 
which are graven so lavishly upon them. 
Would that I knew what good prayers I could 

[ 157] 


Letters to a Friend 

say or good deeds I could do, so that ravens 
would bring me bread and venison for the next 
two years ! Then would I get some tough gray 
clothes the color of granite, so no one could see 
or find me [words missing] would I reproduce 
the ancient ice-rivers and [words missingi and 
dwell with them, I go again to my lessons to- 
morrow morning. Some snow feU, and bye-and- 
bye I must tell you about it. 

If poor good Melancholia Cowper had been 
here yesterday moming, here is just what he 
would have sung: — 

The rocks have been washed, just washed in a 

Which winds in their faces conveyed. 
The plentiful cloudlets bemuffled their brows 
Or lay on their beautiful heads. 

But cold sighed the winds in the fir trees above 

And down on the pine trees below, 

For the rain that came laving and washing in 

Was followed, alas, by a snow. 

Which, being unmetaphored and prosed into 
sense, means that yesterday moming a strong 

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Letters to a Friend 

southeast wind, cooled among the highest snows 
of the Sierra, drove back the warm northwest 
winds from the hot San Joaquin plains and 
burning foothill woods, and piled up a jagged 
cloud addition to our valley walls. Soon those 
white clouds began to darken and to reach out 
long filmy edges which, uniting over the valley, 
made a close, dark ceiling. Then came rain, 
unsteady at first, now a heavy gush, then a 
sprinkling halt, as if the clouds so long out of 
practice had forgotten something, but after 
half an hour of experimental pouring and 
sprinkling there came an earnest, steady, well- 
controlled rain. 

On the mountain the rain soon tumed to 
snow and some half-melted flakes reached the 
bottom of the valley. This moming Starr King 
and Tissiack and all the upper valley are white. 

[Beginning of letter missing.] 
I had a grand ramble in the deep snow out- 
side the valley and discovered one beautiful 

[ 159 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

truth concerning snow-structure and three con- 
cerning the forms of forest trees. 

These earthquakes have made me immensely 
rich. I had long been aware of the life and gentle 
tenderness of the rocks, and, instead of walk- 
ing upon them as unfeeling surfaces, began to 
regard them as a transparent sky. Now they 
have spoken with audible voice and pulsed with 
common motion. This very instant, just as my 
pen reached "and'' on the third line above, my 
cabin creaked with a sharp shock and the oil 
waved in my lamp. 

We had several shocks last night. I would 
like to go somewhere on the west South Ameri- 
can coast to study earthquakes. I think I could 
invent some experimental apparatus whereby 
their complicated phenomena could be sepa- 
rated and read, but I have some years of ice 
on hand. T is most ennobling to find and feel 
that we are constructed with reference to these 
noble storms, so as to draw unspeakable enjoy- 
ment from them. Are we not rich when our 
six-foot column of substance sponges up heaven 

[ i6o] 

Letters to a Friend 

above and earth beneath into its pores? Aye, 
we have chambers in us the right shape for 
earthquakes. Churches and the schools lisp 
limpingly, painfully, of man's capabilities, pos- 
sibilities, and fussy developing nostrums of 
duties, but if the hiunan flock, together with 
their Rev/s and double L-D shepherds, would 
go wild themselves, they would discover with- 
out Euclid that the solid contents of a human 
soul is the whole world. 

Our streams are fast obtaining their highest 
power; warai nights and days are making the 
high mountain snow into snow avalanches and 
snow-falls; violets, blue, white, and yellow, 
abound ; butterflies [flit] through the meadows ; 
and mirror shadows reveal new heavens and 
new earths everywhere. 

Remember me to the Doctor and all the boys 
and to McChesney and the brotherhood. 


J. MuiR. 

[ i6i ] 

Letters to a Friend 

October i6th, 1873. 

All of my season's mountain work is d6ne. 
I have just come down from Mt. Whitney and 
the newly discovered mountain five miles north- 
west of Whitney, and now our journey is a 
simple saunter along the base of the range to 
Tahoe, where we will arrive about the end of 
the month or a few days earlier. 

I have seen a good deal more of the high 
mountain region about the head of Kings and 
Kern rivers than I expected to do in so short 
and so late a time. 

Two weeks ago I left the Doctor and Billie 
in the Kings River Yosemite, and set out for 
Mt. Tyndall and adjacent mountains and 
canons. I ascended Tyndall and ran down into 
the Kem River Canon and climbed some name- 
less mountains between Tyndall and Whitney, 
and thus gained a pretty good general idea 
of the region. After crossing the range by the 
Kearsarge Pass, I again left the Doctor and 
Bill and pushed southward along the range and 

[ 162] 

Letters to a Friend 

northward and up Cottonwood Creek to Mt. 
Whitney, then over to the Kern Caftons again 
and up to the new ^^highest^^ peak, which 1 did 
not ascend, as there was no one to attend to my 
horse. Thus you see I have rambled this high- 
est portion of the Sierra pretty thoroughly, 
though hastily. I spent a night without fire 
or food in a very icy wind-storm on one of the 
spires of the new highest peak by some called 
Fisherman's Peak. That I am already quite 
recovered from the tremendous exposure proves 
that I cannot be killed in any such manner. On 
the day previous I climbed two mountains, mak- 
ing over 10,000 feet of altitude. 

I saw no mountains in all this grand region 
that appeared at all inaccessible to a moun- 
taineer. Give me a sunmier and a bunch of 
matches and a sack of meal, and I will climb 
every mountain in the region. 

I have passed through the Lone Pine and noted 
the Yosemite and local subsidences accomplished 
by the earthquakes. The bunchy bush Com" 
fositcB of Owen's Valley are intensely glorious. 

[ 163] 

Letters to a Friend 

I got back from Whitney this p.m. How 
I shall sleep! My life rose wavelike with 
those lofty granite waves; now it may wearily 
float for a time along the smooth, floweiy 

It seems that this new Fishennan's Peak is 
causing some stir in the newspapers. If I feel 
writeful, I will send you a sketch of the region 
for the "Overland." 

Love to all my friends. 

Ever cordially yours, 

John Muir. 

AfterCIaric's departure a week ago we climbed 
the divide between the south fork of the San 
Joaquin and Kings River. I scanned the vast 
landscape on which the ice had written won- 
drous things. After a short scientific feast I 
decided to attempt entering the valley of the 
west branch of the north fork, which we did, 
following the bottom of the valley for about 
10 miles. Then we were compelled |g^^^end ^ 
[164 I 

compelled |g^^end 

Letters to a Friend 

the west side of the canon into the forest. About 
6 miles farther down we made out to reenter 
the canon, where there is a Yosemite valley, 
and by hard efforts succeeded in getting out on 
the opposite side and reaching the divide be- 
tween the east fork and the middle fork. We 
then followed the top of the divide nearly to 
the confluence of the east fork with the trunk 
and crossed the main river yesterday, and are 
now in the pines again, over all the wildest and 
most impracticable portions of our joumey. In 
descending the divide of the main Kings River 
we made a descent of near 7000 feet down, 
clear down with a vengeance, to the hot pineless 
foot-hills. We rose again, and it was a most 
grateful resurrection. Last night I watched the 
writing of the spirey pines on the sky gray with 
stars, and if you had been here I would have said. 
Look, etc. 

Last night, when the Doctor and I were bed- \ 
building, discussing as usual the goodnesses 
and badnesses of boughy mountain beds, we 
were astounded by the appearance of two pros- 



Letters to a Friend 

I got back from Whitney this p.m. How 
I shall sleep! My life rose wavelike with 
those lofty granite waves ; now it may wearily 
float for a time along the smooth, flowery 

It seems that this new Fisheraian's Peak is 
causing some stir in the newspapers. If I feel 
writeful, I will send you a sketch of the region 
for the "Overland-'^ ' 

Love to all my friends. 

Ever cordially yours, 

John Muir. 


After Clark's departure a week ago we climbed 
the divide between the south fork of the San 
Joaquin and Kings River. I scanned the vast 
landscape on which the ice had written won- 
drous things. After a short scientific feast I 
decided to attempt entering the valley of the 
west branch of the north fork, which we did, 
following the bottom of the valley for about 
10 miles. Then we were compelled to ascend 

[ 164 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

the west side of the canon into the forest. About 
6 miles farther down we made out to reenter 
the canon, where there is a Yosemite valley, 
and by hard efforts succeeded in getting out on 
the opposite side and reaching the divide be- 
tween the east fork and the middle fork. We 
then followed the top of the divide nearly to 
the confluence of the east fork with the trunk 
and crossed the main river yesterday, and are 
now in the pines again, over all the wildest and 
most impracticable portions of our journey. In 
descending the divide of the main Eangs River 
we made a descent of near 7000 feet down, 
clear down with a vengeance, to the hot pineless 
foot-hills. We rose again, and it was a most 
grateful resurrection. Last night I watched the 
writing of the spirey pines on the sky gray with 
stars, and if you had been here I would have said, 
Look, etc. 

Last night, when the Doctor and I were bed- 
building, discussing as usual the goodnesses 
and badnesses of boughy mountain beds, we 
were astounded by the appearance of two pros- 

[ 165] 

Letters to a Friend 

pectors coming through the mountain rye. By 
them I send this note. 

To-day we will reach some of the sequoias 
near Thomas' Mill {pide map of Geological 
Survey), and in two or three more days will be 
in the canon of the south fork of Kings River. 
If the weather appears tranquil when we reach 
the summit of the range, I may set out among 
the glaciers for a few days, but if otherwise I 
shall push hastily for the Owen's River plains 
and thence up to Tahoe, etc. I am working 
hard and shall not feel easy until I am on the 
other side beyond the reach of early snow- 
storms. Not that I fear snowstorms for myself, 
but the poor animals would die or suffer. 

The Doctor's duster and fly-net are safe, and 
therefore he. Billy is in good spirits, apt to 
teach drawing in and out of season. 

Remember me to the Doctor and the boys 
and Morris and Keith, etc. 

Ever yours truly, 

John Muir. 

[ 166] 

Letters to a Friend 

Tahoe City, 
November 3rd, [1873.] 

My dear Friends Dr. and Mrs. Carr, — 
I received the news of your terrible bereave- 
ment a few moments ago, and can only say 
that you have my heart sympathy and prayer 
that our Father may sustain and soothe you. 

Dr^JKjellogg and Billy Simms left me a week 
ago at Mono, going directly to Yosemite. I 
reached this queen of lakes, two days ago and 
rode down around the shore on the east side. 
Will continue on around up the west coast home- 
ward through Lake and Hope valleys and over 
the Sierra to Yosemite by the Virginia Creek 
trail, or Sonora road if much snow should fall. 
Will reach Yosemite in about a week. 

Somehow I had no hopes of meeting you 
here. I could not hear you or see you, yet you 
shared all of my highest pleasures, as I saun- 
tered through the piney woods, pausing count- 
less times to absorb the blue glimpses of the 
lake, all so heavenly clean, so terrestrial yet so 
openly spiritual. I wish, my dear, dear friends, 

[ 167] 

Letters to a Friend 

that you could share this divine day with me 
here. The soul of Indian summer is brooding 
this blue water, and it enters one's being as 
nothing else does. Tahoe is surely not one but 
many. As I curve around its heads and bays 
and look far out on its level sky fairly tinted 
and fading in pensive air, I am reminded of all 
the mountain lakes I ever knew, as if this were 
a kind of water heaven to which they all had 

Yosemite Valley, 

October 7th, 1874. 

I expected to have been among the foot-hill 

drift long ago, but the mountains fairly seized 

me, and, ere I knew, I was up the Merced 

Canon, where we were last year, past Shadow 

and Merced lakes and our soda springs, etc. 

I returned last night. Had a glorious storm and 

a thousand sacred beauties that seemed yet 

more and more divine. I camped four nights 

at Shadow Lake, at the old place in the pine 

thickets. I have ousel tales to tell. I was 

alone, and during the whole excursion, or 

[ 168 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

period rather, was in a kind of calm, uncurable 
ecstasy. I am hopelessly and forever a moun- 

How glorious my studies seem, and how sim- 
ple ! I found out a noble truth concerning the 
Merced moraines that escaped me hitherto. 
Civilization and fever and all the morbidness 
that has been hooted at me has not dimmed my 
glacial eyes, and I care to live only to entice 
people to look at Nature's loveliness. My own 
special self is nothing. My feet have recovered 
their cunning. I feel myself again. Tell Keith 
the colors are coming to the groves. 

I leave Yosemite for over the mountains to 
Mono [?] and Lake Tahoe in a week, thence 
anywhere, — Shastaward, etc. I think I may 
be at Brownsville, Yuba County, where I may 
get a letter from you. I promised to call on 
Emily Pelton there. 


John Muir. 

[ 169] 

Letters to a Friend 

Sissons Station, 

November ist, 1874. 

Here is icy Shasta fifteen miles away yet at 
the very iooi. It is all close wrapt in clean 
young snow down to the very base, one mass of 
white from the dense black forest girdle at an 
elevation of five or six thousand feet to the very 
summit. The extent of its individuality is per- 
fectly wonderful. 

When I first caught sight of it over the 
braided folds of the Sacramento valley, I was 
fifty miles away and afoot, alone, and weary, 
yet all my blood turned to wine and I have not 
been weary since. Stone was to have accom- 
panied me, but has failed of course. The last 
storm was severe, and all the mountains shake 
their heads and say impossible, etc., but you 
know I will meet all its icy snows lovingly. 

I set out in a few minutes for the edge of the 
timber-line. Then upwards, if unstomiy, in the 
early morning. If the snow proves to be mealy 
and loose, it is barely possible that I may be 
unable to urge my way through so many up- 

[ 170 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

ward miles, as there is no intermediate camp- 
ing-ground. Yet I am feverless and strong now 
and can spend two days with their intermediate 
nights in one deliberate, unstrained effort. 

I am the more eager to ascend to study the 
mechanical conditions of the fresh snow at so 
great an elevation; also to obtain clear views ,' 
of the comparative quantities of lava inunda- \ 
tion northward and southward; also general ; 
views of the channels of the ancient Shasta gla- I 
ciers, etc. ; many other lesser problems, besides ' 
the fountains of the rivers here and the living 
glaciers. I would like to remain a week or two 
and may have to return next year in sunmier. 

I wrote a short letter a few days ago which 
was printed in the "Evening Bulletin,*' which 
I suppose you have seen. 

I wonder how you all are faring in your wilder- \ 
ness educational departmental institutional, etc. / 
Write me a line here in care of Sisson. I think 
it will reach me on my return from icy Shasta. 

Farewell. Ever cordially yours, 

John Muir. 
[ 171 ] 


Letters to a Friend 

Love to all, — Keith and the boys and 
McChesney, etc. 

Don't forward any letters from the Oakland 
office. I want only mountains until my return 
to civilization. 

Sissons Station, 

December 9th, 1874. 

Coming in for a sleep and rest, I was glad to 
receive your card. I seem to be more than mar- 
ried to icy Shasta. 

One yellow, mellow morning six days ago, 
when Shasta snows were looming and blooming, 
I slept outside the bar-room door to gaze and 
was instantly drawn up over the meadows, over 
the forests, to the main Shasta glacier in one 
rushing cometic whizz, then, swooping to Shasta 
valley, whirled off around the base like a satel- 
lite of the grand icy sun. I have just completed 
my first revolution. Length of orbit, 100 miles ; 
time, one Shasta day. 

For two days and a half I had nothing in the 
way of food, yet suffered nothing and was finely 

[ 172 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

nerved for the most delicate work of mountain- 
eering both among crevasses and lava cliffs. 
Now I am sleeping and eating, I found some 
geological facts that are perfectly glorious, and 
botanical ones too. 

I wish I could make the public be kind to 
Keith and his paint. 

And so you contemplate vines and oranges 
among the warm California angels. I wish you 
would all go a-granging among oranges and 
bananas and all such blazing, red-hot fruits, 
for you are a species of Hindoo sun fruit your- 

For me, I like better the huckleberries of 
cool glacial bogs and acid currants and benevo- 
lent, rosy, beaming apples and common Indian- 
sunmier pumpkins. 

I wish you could see the holy morning's Al- 
pen glow of Shasta. 

Farewell. I'll be down into gray Oakland 
some time. 

I am glad you are so essentially independent 
of those conmionplace plotters that have so 

[ 173 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

marred your peace, eat oranges and hear the 
larks and wait on the sun. 

Ever cordially, 

John Muir. 
Love to all. 

The letter you sent here is also received. 
Emily's I will get bye and bye. Love to color 

Sissons Station, 

December 2 1st, 1874. 

I have just retumed from a fourth Shasta 
excursion and find yours of the 17th. I wish 
you could have been with me on Shasta's 
shoulder last evening in the sun glow. I was 
over on the head waters of the McCloud ; and 
what a head ! Think of a spring giving rise to a 
river! I fairly quiver with joyous exultation 
when I think of it. The infinity of Nature's 
glory in rock, cloud, and water! As soon as I 
beheld the McCloud upon its lower course, I 
knew that there must be something extraordi- 
nary in its Alpine fountains, and I shouted, "O 

[ 174] 

Letters to u Friend 

where, my glorious river, do you come from ? '' 
Think of a spring fifty yards wide at the mouth 
issuing from the base of a lava bluff with wild 
songs, not gloomily from a dark cavy mouth, 
but from a world of fems and mosses, gold and 

I broke my way through chaparral tangle 
in eager vigor utterly unweariable. The dark 
blue stream sang solenmly with a deep voice, 
pooling and bowlder-dashing and an a-a-aing 
in white flashing rapids, when suddenly I heard 
water notes I never had heard before. They 
came from that mysterious spring. And then 
the Elk forest and the Alpine glow and the 
sunset, — poor pen cannot tell it. 

The sun this morning is at work with its 
blessings as if it had never blessed before. He 
never wearies of revealing himself on Shasta. 
But in a few hours I leave this altar and all 

Well, to my Father I say "Thank you'' and 
go willingly. 

I go by stage and rail to Brownsville to see 

[ 175] 

Letters to a Friend 

Emily and the rocks there and Yuba. Then, 
perhaps, a few days among auriferous drifts 
on the Tuolumne, and then to Oakland and 
that book, walking across the Coast Range on 
the way, either through one of the passes or 
over Mt. Diablo. I feel a sort of nervous fear 
of another period of town dark, but I don't 
want to be silly about it. The sun glow will all 
fade out of me and I will be deathly as Shasta 
in the dark, but mornings will come, dawnings 
of some kind, and if not, I have lived more than 
a common eternity already. 

Farewell, don't overwork; that is not the work 
your Father wants. I wish you could come 
a-beeing in the Shasta honey lands. Love to the 

Brownsville, Yuba Co., [Cal.,] 
January 19th, 1875. 

My dear Mrs. Mother Carr, here are some 
of the dearest and bonniest of our Father's 
bairns, — the little ones that so few care to see. 
I never saw such enthusiasm in the care and 

[ 176] 

Letters to a Friend 

breeding of mosses as Nature manifests among 
these northern Sierras. 

I have studied a big fruitful week among the 
cafions and ridges of the Feather, and another 
along the Yuba River living and dead. 

/ have seen a dead river, a sight worth going | 
around the world to see. The dead rivers and \ 
dead gravels wherein lie the gold form magnif. 
icent problems, and I feel wild and unmanage- 
able with the intense interest they excite, but 
I zvill choke myself off and finish my glacial 
work and that little book of studies. I have 
been spending a few fine social days with Emily, 
but now work. 

How gloriously it storms! The pines are in 
ecstasy, and I feel it and must go out to them. 
I must borrow a big coat and mingle in the 
storm and make some studies. 

Farewell Love to all. Emily and Mrs. Knox 
send love. 

How are Ned and Keith ? I wish Keith had 
been with us these Shasta and Feather River 
days. I have gained a thousandfold more than 

[ 177 1 

Letters to a Friend 

I hoped. Heaven send him light and the good 
blessing of wildness. How the rains [ ?] splash 
and roar! and how the pines wave and pray! 

1419 Taylor St., 

May 4th, 1875. 

Here I am, safe in the amis of Daddy Swett, 
home again from icy Shasta and richer than 
ever in dead-river gravel and in snowstorms 
and snow. The upper end of the main Sacra- 
mento Valley is entirely covered with ancient 
river drift, and I wandered over many square 
miles of it. In every pebble I could hear the 
sound of running water. The whole deposit is 
a poem whose many books and chapters form 
the geological Vedas of our glorious State. 

I discovered a new species of hail on the sum- 
mit of Shasta and experienced one of the most 
beautiful and most violent snowstomis imagin- 

I would have been with you ere this to tell 
you about it and to give you some lilies and pine 
tassels that I brought for you and Mrs. Mc- 

[ 178 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

Chesney and Ina Coolbrith, but alack! I am 
battered and scarred like a log that has come 
down the Tuolumne in flood-time, and I am 
also lame with frost-nipping. Nothing serious, 
however, and I will be well and better than 
before in a few da}^. 

I was caught in a violent snowstorm and 
held up on the siunmit of the mountain all 
night in my shirt-sleeves. The intense cold and 
the want of food and sleep made the fire of life 
smoulder and bum low. Nevertheless, in com- 
pany with another strong mountaineer I broke 
through six miles of frosty snow down into the 
timber and reached fire and food and sleep and 
am better than ever with all the valuable ex- 
periences. Altogether I have had a very instruc- 
tive and delightful trip. 

The bryanthus you wanted was snow-buried, 
and I was too lame to dig it out for you, but 
I will probably be back ere long. 

I '11 be over in a few days or so. 

[ 179 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

Old Yosemite Home, 

November 3d, 1875. 

Tm delighted, in coming out of the woods, 
to le^am that the Doctor is elected to do the 
work he is so well fitted for. 

IVe had a glorious season of forest grace, 
notwithstanding the hundred canons IVe 
crossed, and the innumerable gorges, gulches, 
and avalanchal corrugations. 

A day or two of resting and lingering in my 
dear old haunts, and then down-town work. 

I'm sorry about Keith's stocks. Though of 
scarce any real consequence, they yet serve to 
perturb and spoil his best moods and works. 

It seems a whole round season since I saw 
you, but have I not seen the King Sequoia in 
forest glory? 

Love to all. John Muir. 

141 8 Taylor St., San Francisco, 
April 3, 1876. 

We will all be glad to see you. We all heard 

of the outrage committed on Johnnie and hope 

it might not be so serious as made to appear in 

[ 180] 

Letters to a Friend 

the press. Mr. Swett told me the other day 
that he met a friend down town who was ac- 
quainted with the Whites intimately, who gave 
it as his opinion that Mr. White was insane, 
had a brother in the asylum, and he was as 
jealous of a half-dozen other persons as of 

If I knew Ned's boarding-house, I would visit 
him, for I know he must feel terribly agitated. 
The last time I saw him, he was rejoicing over 
Johnnie's steady manly development, like an 
old fond father over some reforaied son. 

As for the stranded sapless condition of polit- 
ical geology, I care only for the fruitless work 
expended upon it by friends. The glaciers are 
not affected thereby, neither am I nor Cassiope. 

The first meeting I had with Mr. Mppre was 
at the lecture the other night. He seemed im- 
measurably astonished to find me in so anti- 
sequestered a condition, but in the meanwhile 
he is more changed than I, for he seems semi- 
crazy on literature, as Mrs. M. is wholly, 
doubly so on paint. 

[ i8i ] 

Letters to a Friend 

I will show your letters to Mr. Swett when 
he comes in, who will doubtless be able to deci- 
pher the meaning of heads and tails of your 
bodyless sentences. 

I 'm sorry most of all for the destruction of 
the "Teachers/* thus cutting off the only ade- 
quate outlet for your own thought ; but hang 
it ! let them decapitate and hang, they cannot 
hang Cassiope. 

Ever yours cordially, 

John Muir. 

1419 Taylor St., San Francisco, 
January 12th, [1877.] 

John Swett told me how heavy a burden you 
were carrying of work and sickness. I hope ere 
this that the Doctor has recovered from his 
severe attack of rheiunatism and that you have 
had sleep and rest. 

Your description of the orange lands makes 
me more than ever eager to see them, — in par- 
ticular the phenomenon of a real lover of Na- 
ture such as you mention, for one does feel so 

[ 182] 

Letters to a Friend 

wholly alone in the midst of this metallic, 
money-clinking crowd. And so you are going 
to dwell down there, and how rosily you will 
write about it ! Well, I hope you may realize 
it all. Independence in quiet life must be de- 
lightful indeed, after the battles and the bur- 
dens of these heavy years. In any case it is a 
fine thing for old people who have worked and 
fought through all kinds of strenuous experi- 
ences to have thoughts and schemes so fresh 
and young as yours. We all hope to see you 

Cordially yours, 

John Muir. 

July 23rd, [1877.] 

I made only a short dash into the dear old 
Highlands above Yosemite, but all was so full 
of everything I love, every day seemed a meas- 
ureless period. I never enjoyed the Tuolunme 
cataracts so much. Coming out of the sun land, 
the gray salt deserts of Utah, these wild ice 
waters sang themselves into my soul more 


Letters to a Friend 

enthusiastically than ever, and the forests' 
breath was sweeter, and Cassiope fairer than 
in all my first fresh contacts. But I 'm not go- 
ing to tell here. I only write now to say that 
next Saturday I will sail to Los Angeles and 
spend a few weeks in getting some general 
views of the adjacent region, then work north- 
ward and begin a careful study of the redwoods. 
I will at least have time this season for the 
lower portion of the belt ; that is, for all south 
of here. If you have any messages, you have 
time to write me. I sail at lo a.m., or if not 
you may direct to Los Angeles. 

I hope to see Congar, and also the spot you 
have selected for home. I wish you could be 
there in your grown fruitful groves, all rooted 
and grounded in the fine garden nook that I 
know you will make. It must be a great conso- 
lation in the midst of the fires you are com- 
passed with to look forward to a tranquil seclu- 
sion in the South of which you are so fond. 

John says he may not move to Berkeley, and 
if not I may be here this winter, though I still 

[ 184 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

feel some tendency towards another winter in 
some mountain ice. It is long indeed since I 
had anything like a quiet talk with you. You 
have been going like an avalanche for many a 
year, and I sometimes fear you will not be able 
to settle into rest even in the orange groves. 

I 'm glad to know that the Doctor is so well. 
You must be pained by the shameful attacks 
made upon your tried friend La Grange. Fare- 
well. Ever cordially yours, 

John Muir. 

Los Angeles, Cal., August xixk^ 1877. 
Pico House. 

IVe seen your sunny Pasadena and the 
patch called yours. Everything about here 
pleases me, and I felt sorely tempted to take 
Dr. Cougar's advice and invest in an orange- 
patch myself. I feel sure you will be happy 
here with the Doctor and AUie among so rich 
a luxuriance of sunny vegetation. How you 
will dig and dibble in that mellow loam ! I can- 
not think of you standing erect for a single 

[ 185 1 

Letters to a Friend 

moment, unless it be in looking away out into 
the dreamy west. I made a fine shaggy little 
five days' excursion back in the heart of the 
San Gabriel Mountains, and then a week of 
real pleasure with Congar, resurrecting the past 
about Madison. He has a fine little fami, fine 
little family, and fine cosy home. 

I felt at home with Congar and at once took 
possession of his premises and all that in them 
is. We drove down through the settlements 
eastward and saw the best orange groves and 
vineyards, but the mountains I as usual met 
alone. Although so gray and silent and unprom- 
ising they are full of wild gardens and fern- 
eries, and lilyries, — some specimens ten feet 
high with twenty lilies big enough for bonnets. 
The main results I will tell you some other 
time, should you ever have an hour's leisure. 
I go north to-day, by rail to Newhall, thence 
by stage to Soledad, and on to Monterey, 
where I will take to the woods and feel my way 
in free study to San Francisco. May reach the 

city about the middle of next month. 

[ 186] 

Letters to a Friend 

Heard through your factor here that Miss 
Powell is worse and that you would not be down 
soon. I received your letter and postal, also the 
letters you thought I had lost, via one from 
Salt Lake for which I sent and one from Yo- 
semite which Black forwarded. 
With love to all I am ever 

Yours cordially, 

J. M. 

1 419 Taylor St., San Francisco, 
September 3d, [1877.] 

I have just been over at Alameda with poor 
dear old Gibbons. You have seen him, and I 
need give no particulars. "The only thing Fm 
afraid of, John," he said, looking up with his 
old child face, " is that I shall never be able to 
climb the Oakland hills again." But he is so 
healthy and so well cared for we will be strong 
and hope that he will. 

He spoke for an hour with characteristic un- 
selfishness on the injustice done Dr. Kellogg in 
failing to recognize his long-continued devotion 

[ 187 1 

Letters to a Friend 

to science, at the botanical love-feast held here 
the other night. He threatens to write up the 
whole discreditable affair, and is very anxious 
to obtain from you a copy of that Gray letter 
to Kellogg which was not delivered. 

I had a glorious ramble in the Santa Cruz 
woods and have found out one very interesting 
and picturesque fact conceming the growth of 
this sequoia. I mean to devote many a long 
week to its study. What the upshot may be, I 
cannot guess, but you know I am never sent 
away empty. I made an excursion to the sum- 
mit of Mt. Hamilton in extraordinary style, 
accompanied by Allen, Norton, Brawley, and 
all the lady professors and their friends. A 
curious contrast to my ordinary still-hunting. 
Spent a week at San Jos6; enjoyed my visit 
with Allen very much. Lectured to the faculty 
on Methods of Study without undergoing any 
very great scare. 

I believe I wrote you from Los Angeles about 

my Pasadena week. Have sent a couple of letters 

to the " Bulletin " from there, not yet published. 

[ 188 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

I have no inflexible plans as yet for the re- 
maining months of the season, but Yosemite 
seems to place itself as a most persistent candi- 
date for my winter. I shall soon be in flight to 
the Sierras or Oregon. 

I seem to give up hope of ever seeing you calm 
again. Don't grind too hard at those Sacra- 
mento mills. Remember me to the Doctor and 


Ever yours cordially, 

John Muir. 

1419 Taylor St., 

June sth, 1878. 

I 'm sorry I did not see you when last in the 
city. I went over to Oakland, thence to Ala- 
meda to spend a week and finish an ''article'* 
with our good old Gibbons ; but the house was 
full; then I went to Dr. StrentzeFs, where I 
remained a week, working a little, resting a 
good deal and eating many fine cherries. I en- 
joyed most the white bed in which first I rested 
after rocking so long in the rushes of the Stock- 

[ 189 1 

Letters to a Friend 

ton slough. They all were as kind as ever they 
could possibly be, and wanted me to stop 
longer, but I could not find a conscientious 
excuse for so doing and came away somewhat 
sore with obligations for stopping so long. Met 
Mr. and Mrs. Allen there. 

Smith has gone this morning to Shasta, tak- 
ing Helen, and I 'm terribly lonesome and home- 
sick and will not try to stand it. Will go to the 
woods to-morrow. How great are your trials ! 
I wish I could help you. May the Doctor be 
speedily restored to health. 

Cordially yours, 

John Muir. 

920 Valencia St., 

April 9thy 1879. 

I did not send the pine book to you, because 

I was using it in rewriting a portion of the Cali- 

fomia forest article, which will appear in Scrib- 

ner's. May or June, and because, before it could 

have reached you, you were, according to your 

letter, to be in San Francisco and could then 

I 190 ] 

Letters to a Friend 

take it with you. It is entitled "Gordon's 
Pinetum/' published by Henry G. Bohn, Hen- 
rietta St., Covent Garden; Simpkin, Marshall 
& Co., Stationers, Hall Court; 1875; second 
edition. It is an "exhaustive" work, very ex- 
hausting anyhow, and contains a fine big much 
of little. 

The sununit pine of our Sierra is P. albicaulis 
of Engelmaim, and the P. flexilis Torrey, given 
in this work as a synonym, is a very different 
tree, growing sparsely on the eastem flank of 
the Sierra, from Bloody Cafion southward, but 
very abundant on all the higher basin ranges, 
and on the Wahsatch and Rocky Mountains. 

The orange book is, it seems, another exhaus- 
tive work. There is something admirable in 
the scientific nerve and aplomb manifested in 
the titles of these swollen volxmies. How a tree 
book can be exhaustive when every species is 
ever on the wing from one form to another 
with infinite variety, it is not easy to see. 

I have n't the least idea who Mr. Rexford 
is, but, if coimected with the ''Bulletin," I can 

[191 1 

Letters to a Friend 

probably get the title of his citrus book through 
Mr. Williams. Will probably see him next Sun- 

The Sunday convention manager offered me 
a hundred dollars for two lectures on the Yo- 
semite rocks in June. I have not yet agreed to 
do so, though I probably shall, as I am not 
going into Colorado this summer. 

Excepting a day at San Jose with Allen, I 
have hardly been out of my room for weeks, 
pegging away with my quill and accomplishing 
little. My last efforts were on the preservation 
of the Sierra forests, and the wild and trampled 
conditions of our flora from a bee's point of 

I want to spend the greater portion of the 
season up the Coast, observing ice, and may 
possibly find my way home in the fall to see 
my mother. 

I wonder if you will really go quietly away 
South when your office term expires, and rest 
in the aftemoon of your life among your kin 
and orange leaves, or, unable to get full abso- 

[ 192 1 

Letters to a Friend 

lution from official woman's rights' unrest, you 
will fight and squinn till sundown. IVe seen 
nothing of you all these fighting years. 

I suppose nothing less than an Exhaustive 
miniature of all the leafy creatures of the globe 
will satisfy your Pasadena aspirations. You 
know how little real sympathy I can give in 
such play-garden schemes. Still, if so inappre- 
ciative and unavailable a man as I may be of 
use at all, let me know. 

Ever cordially yours, 

John Muir. 

San Francisco, 

June 19th, 1879. 

Good-bye. I am going home, going to my 
summer in the snow and ice and forests of the 
north coast. Will sail to-morrow at noon on 
the Dakota for Victoria and Olympia. Will 
then push inland and along land. May visit 

I hope you and the Doctor may not suffer 
yourselves to be drawn away into the stream 

[ 193 1 

Letters to a Friend 

of politics again. You will be far happier on 
your land. 

I was at the valley. How beautiful it was ! 
fresh and full of cool crystal streams and blooms. 
Was not scared in my lectures after the first 

With kind regards to the Doctor and the 
boys. Farewell. 

John Muir. 


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