Letters to a Friend
Letters to a Friend
Written to Mrs. Ezra S. Carr
Houghton Mifflin Company
Boston and New York
Copyright, 1915, by Wanda Muir Hanna
All Rights Reserved
Muir, John, 1838-1914.
Letters to a friend; written to Mrs. Ezra S. Carr, 1866-1879.
Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1915.
Subjects: Jeanne C. Smith Carr, and John Muir.
When John Muir was a student in the University of Wisconsin he was a frequent
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 manes interests 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 notion 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 Nature.
Letters to a Friend
"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 sermon. 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 wonders 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 symptom, 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, harmonize beautifully, and contain enough of divine truth for
the study of all eternity. It is so
much easier for us to employ our faculties upon these beautiful tangible
forms 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 year.
I took your hint and procured ten or twelve species of moss all in fruit,
also a club-moss, a fern, 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 ferns 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
ornamented with these lovely plants. Aspidium spinulosum is common
everywhere, so also is A. marginale. A. aculeatum, A. Lonchitis,
A. acrostichoides 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 beautiful and fragrant Linnaea borealis. Botrychium
lunarioides is a common fern 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 even hillside. Struthiopteris Germanica
grows to a great height in open places in arbor-vitae and black ash swamps.
Camptosorus rhizophyllus and Scolopendrium officinarum 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. Calypso borealis is a lovely plant found in a few
places in dark hemlock woods. But this is an endless thing; I may as well
I have been very busy of late making practical
machinery. I like
my work exceedingly well, 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 philanthropy; is it not? I sometimes feel as though I was
losing time here, but I am at least receiving my first lessons in practical
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, sportive "winged blossoms" in such weather as this?
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
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 practical farmer? 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. Remember me
to the Doctor and to all my friends and believe me
Yours with gratitude,
[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 communion with Nature
understands them, and
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 converse with the spirit
of the storms of autumn, till I forgot my very existence, and thought myself
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 liverworts, but find difficulty in procuring a suitable lens.
Here is a specimen of Climacium Americanum, a common moss here but
seldom in fruit. I was sorry to hear of your loss at the University
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 sorry to say, found "The Stone Mason of Saint Point,"
though I have sought for it a great deal. By whom is it published?
Please remember me to my friends. I often wish myself near the Doctor
with my difficulties in science. Tell Allie Mr. Muir does not forget him.
Trout's Mills, near Meaford,
September 13th, [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 sympathy 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. Accept, 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
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 incompatible
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,
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 Scotland, and all the other less
important parts of our world! Then perhaps might 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 concerning 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 Creator's plan concerning us. In our higher state of existence we
shall have time and intellect for study. Eternity, with perhaps the whole
unlimited creation of God as our field, should satisfy us, and make us
patient and trustful, while we pray with the Psalmist, "Teach us to
number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
I was struck with your remarks about our real home of stillness and
peace. How little does the outer and noisy world in general know of that
"real home" and real inner life! Happy indeed they who have a friend to
whom they can unmask the workings of their real life, sure of sympathy
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 Saviour and about the trees gathering
in the sunshine. 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, harddrinking, stolid Canadians. In
vain is the glorious 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 magnificent
forest trees, black as demons and material 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 elements 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 well 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.
We remember in a peculiar way those who first gave us the story of Redeeming
Love from 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 kernel 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
holding their leaves to the open sky of the most flower-loving zone in
That "sweet day" did as you wished reach our hollow, and another is
with us now. The sky has the haze of autumn, and excepting the aspen not
a tree has motion. Upon our enclosing wall of verdure new tints appear,
the gorgeous dyes of autumn are to be plainly seen, and
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 improvement 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
endeavored to beat into the stingy Israelites, viz., 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 kingdom,
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
Please remember me to my friends, and now, hoping to receive a letter
from you at least semi-occasionally, I remain
Yours with gratitude,
Meaford P. O.,
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--I am lost.
I am shut in darkness. My hard, toil-tempered muscles have disappeared,
and I am feeble and tremulous as an ever-sick woman.
Please tell the Butlers that their precious sympathy has reached me.
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 can.
My friends here are kind beyond what I can tell and do much to shorten
my immense blank days.
I send no apology for so doleful a note because I feel, Mrs. Carr, that
you will appreciate my feelings.
Sunday, April 6th, [1867.]
Your precious letter of the 15th reached me last night. By accident it
was nearly lost.
I cannot tell you, Mrs. Carr, how much I appreciate 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.
Your Doctor says, "The aqueous humor
may be restored." How? By nature or by art?
The position of my wound will be seen in this figure.
The eye is pierced just where 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 increased
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
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 like 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, because 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-born are waiting.
I believe with you that "nothing is without meaning and purpose that
comes from a
Father's hand," but during these dark weeks I could not
feel this, and, as for courage and fortitude, 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 & Smith.
[Beginning of letter missing.]
I have been groping among the flowers a good deal lately. Our
trees are now in leaf, but the
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 properly plaited, and drawn far enough
down, every hood with the proper dainty slant, their fashions never changing
because ever best.
Tell Allie 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 increasing. I have nearly an eye and a half left.
I feel, if possible, more anxious to travel than ever.
I read a description of the Yosemite Valley last year and thought of
it most every day
since. You know my tastes better than any one else. I am, most
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 sorrows.
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 repaired?
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
loving naturalist of yours. It is indeed a pleasant 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
Tell him, Mrs. Carr, in your next how thankful I am for his sympathy.
He is one who can sympathize in full. I feel sorry for his like misfortune
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 congratulated me on my happiness in having
avoided the misery and mud of March, but for the serious
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
In this first walk I found Erigenia, which here is ever first,
and sweet little violets, and Sanguinaria, and Isopyrum too,
and Thalictrum 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 blossoms. 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 rapidly of late,
and I don't think it can ever be paid.
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, Ill., thence northward 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 summer, 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 Allie and Henry and all my friends.
Yours most cordially,
Roses with us are now in their grandest splendor.
My address for five or six weeks from this date will be Portage City,
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 fragrans, 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? Please tell me particularly
about the sending or bringing 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
numerous than those of Canada or Indiana. With what
fervid, unspeakable joy did I welcome 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
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 meadow sedge whose flowing
tapered leaves have
just sufficient stiffness to make them arch with
inimitable beauty as they reach down to welcome 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 neighborhood. We have some of
the finest assemblies imaginable. There is a little grassy lakelet 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 brotherhood of the three osmundas,--regalis, Claytoniana,
and Cinnamomea. Of the three, Claytoniana is the most stately
and luxuriant. I never saw such lordly, magnificent clumps before. Their
average height is not less than 3 ½ 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
Had Hugh Miller seen it there, he would not have called regalis
the prince of Balich 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 Pecatonica. 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 entertaining the remotest idea of making a bouquet.
At the end of this measured walk my
handful, of course, consisted of one hundred plants arranged
in Nature's own way as regards kind, comparative numbers, 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:--
The extremely fine and diffuse purple Agrostis contrasted most
divinely with the taller, strict, taper-finished Koeleria. The long-awned
single Stipa too and P. clandestinum, with their broad ovate
leaves and purple muffy pistils, played an important part; so also did
the cylindrical spikes of the sedges. All were just in
leaf had its proper taper and texture and exact measure of green. Only
P. pratensis seemed out of place, and as might be expected 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 microscopic portions of plants are beautiful in themselves,
and these are beautiful combined into individuals, and undoubtedly 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 time.
We hope to be in Madison in about three weeks.
To me all plants are more precious than before. My poor eye is not better
or worse. A cloud is over it, but in gazing over the widest
I am not always sensible of its presence.
My love to Allie and Henry Butler and all my friends, please tell the
Butlers when we are coming. 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.
Indianapolis, August 30th, 1867.
We are safely in Indianapolis. I am not going to write a letter, I only
want to thank you and the Doctor and all of the boys for the enjoyments
of the pleasant botanical week we spent with you.
We saw, as the steam hurried us on, that the grand harvest of Compositae
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
in the vicinity of
Chicago agreed with Lesquereux'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 alga, 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
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, roundabout walk. I walked from Louisville a distance 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 sunlight 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.
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
I have seen many caves, Mammoth among the rest. I found two [ ] ferns
at the last. My love to Allie and all.
Very cordially yours,
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 Madisonville, Tenn., and through
Blairsville and Gainesville, Georgia. Please write me at Gainesville. 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
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.
My love to the Butlers. I am sorry I could not see John Spooner before
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 enjoyed what you said of souls and solitudes, also that
"All of Nature being yet found in man."
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 America I had better go
to. What do you say? My means being limited, I cannot stay long anywhere.
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.
I have not received a letter from any source since leaving Florida,
and of course I am very lonesome and hunger terribly for the communion
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 California, 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 specimens. The Isthmus train rushed on
with camel speed through the gorgeous Eden of vines and palms, and I could
only gaze from the car platform
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 José 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 Joaquin, and up into the Sierra Nevada to the mammoth trees of
Mariposa and the glorious Yosemite, thence down the Merced to this place.
The goodness of the weather as I journeyed towards Pacheco was beyond
all praise and description, fragrant end 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
in near view all the
way to Gilroy. Their union with the valley is by curves and slopes of inimitable
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 yellow; 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 beautiful mountain ferns, low in the dark cañons and
high upon the rocky, sunlit peaks, banks of blooming shrubs, and sprinklings
and gatherings 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 mountains, heaving, waving, swelling, in most
glorious, overpowering, unreadable majesty; and
when at last, stricken
with faint like a crushed insect, you hope to escape from all the terrible
grandeur of these mountain powers, other fountains, 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 flowers,
a smooth sea ruffled a little by the tree fringing of the river and here
and there of smaller 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 sprinkled apart with grass between, as in our prairies,
but grasses are sprinkled in the flowers; not, as in Cuba, flowers piled
upon flowers heaped
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 permanent, 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 various tribe and family encampments.
And now just 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
|Natural order unknown
|3; stems about700; spikelets 10,700
|2 purples, Dicranum, Tunar
||open flowers, 165,912
||flowers in bud, 100,000
||natural orders, 9-11
The yellow of these Compositae 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 superficial 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 predominates 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 prophecy
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 enter. It must be the sanctum
sanctorum of the Sierras, and I trust that you will all be led to
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.
Hopeton, Merced Co., Cala.
At a sheep ranch between the
Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers,
November 1st, [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 Compositae two or three miles in
diameter. They were in the glow of full prime, forming a lake of the
purest Compositae 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 Linnaeus 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 California 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, according
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 fern. I gathered
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 Linnaea.
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 autumn. 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
grow old in, but they died ere they could fade, standing together holding
out their branches 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 seed.
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 time.
A few miles farther "onward and upward" I found the edge of winter.
Scarce a grass
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 burning plains
of the San Joaquin autumn 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 unfolded 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, beautiful 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
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,
Near Snellings, Merced Co., [Cal.]
February 24th, 1869.
Your two California notes from San Francisco 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 deepest joy, amid the flower purple and gold of the plains, the fern
fields in gorge and cañon, the sacred waters, tree columns, and
the eternal unnameable sublimities of the mountains. Of all my friends
you are the only one that understands my motives and enjoyments. Only a
few weeks ago a true and liberal-minded friend
sent me a large sheetful
of terrible blue-steel orthodoxy, calling me from clouds and flowers to
the practical walks of politics and philanthropy. 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
I have not made a single friend in California, 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 California.
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
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 California. Conspicuous, energetic, unmixed materialism rules supreme
in all classes. Prof. Whitney, as you are aware, was accused of heresy
while conducting the State survey, because in his reports he devoted some
space to fossils and other equally dead and un-Californian objects instead
of columns of discovered and measured mines.
I am engaged at present in the very important 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
opportunities for reading and botanizing.
I shall be here for about two weeks, then I shall be engaged in shearing
sheep between the Tuolumne 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 within sight of Calypso. There are about twenty
plants in flower in the gardens of my daily
walks. The first was born
in January. I give them more attention than I give the dirty mongrel 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 duties.
Spring will soon arrive to the plants of Madison, and surely they will
miss you. In Yosemite you will find cassiopes and laurels and azaleas,
and luxuriant mosses 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 pouring upon you; nevertheless you seem so near I can hardly
My most cordial regards to the Doctor. Californians do not deserve such
A lawyer by the name of Wigonton or Wigleton, a graduate of Madison,
resides in Snellings. I suppose you know him.
I am your friend,
920 Valencia St.,
San Francisco, April 24th, 1869.
I enclose at last the name of the big orange book. Either Paqot & Co.
or Grégoire & 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 conventions 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 invisible.
Had a moment's talk with the Doctor. Am glad he is looking so much like
himself again. The summer is coming. Don't know how it will be spent.
Did you hear the Butlers the other day? Glassy leaves tilted at all
Seven miles north from Snellings,
May 16th, 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 mountain
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 15th of July, will suit me. I intended
another baptism in the sanctuaries of Yosemite, 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, going by Coulterville and returning
by Mariposa. A passable carriage-road reached about twelve miles beyond
Coulterville; the rest of the distance to the valley was crossed only by
a narrow trail. On the Mariposa route a point is reached twelve or fourteen
miles beyond Mariposa by carriages; the rest of the journey, about forty
miles, must be made on horseback. Tourists are generally advised to go
one way and return the other, that as much as possible may be seen, but
I think that more is seen by going and returning 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 Mariposa route, for the grandest
grove of sequoias ever discovered is upon it, and it is much the
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 utensils, 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 sooner.
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, cooking 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, end you could purchase, or hire, horses at a reasonable rate
in San José or Gilroy, you could cross the Coast Range via the Pacheco
Pass or Livermore Valley, 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
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 towards the end of June as at another time, and
at any rate there will be a thousand times more of grandeur than any person
Here, then, in a word is the plan which I propose: That you take the
stage at Stockton for Mariposa. At Mariposa you procure saddle-horses and
one pack-animal for your tent, blankets, 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 provided
you send me word by the first of June what day you will set out from Stockton.
Address to Hopeton.
When you arrive in the valley, please register your name at Mr. Hutchings'
hotel. I will
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 addressing 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 return.
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 1st 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
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 necessary 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 Mariposa 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 experienced 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
columns of this mountain temple. I fancy 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 warm
I am sorry that the Doctor has been so suddenly 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.
I received your letter containing "The Song of Nature" by Emerson and derived
a great deal of pleasure from it.
Five miles west of Yosemite,
July 11, [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 until July ad, and
I did not receive it until the 6th.
I met a shepherd a few miles from here yesterday 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 anything 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 Yosemite with
We are camped this evening among a bundle
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 darkness 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 existence in God's glorious Sierra
Nevadas and sorry that I could not meet you.
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.
This Yosemite stream is flowing rapidly here in a small flowery meadow,
not meandering tilde 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 spraying past us in the
rocks reaches the valley by that cañon 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 bottom of the upper Yosemite Falls? Were you
at the top of the Nevada Falls? Were you in that Adiantum cave by the Vernal
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 remain until we start for the plains some time near
the end of September. The kind of meeting 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, saying that he
would probably visit California this month in company with a man of war.
Remember me to the Doctor and to Allie 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 Meadows.
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 Francisco newspaper that Dr. Carr had accepted a professorship in
the University, and Prof. Butler told me about a month ago that he had
gone to Madison to fetch his cabinet, etc. Therefore 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 cañon 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
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 Tuolumne 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 Cañon pass. I will not try to write the grandeur I
have seen all summer but I will copy you the notes of one day from my journal.
"Sept. 2nd. Amount of cloudiness .08. Sky
red evening and morning,
not usual crimson glow but separate clouds colored and anchored in dense
massive mountain forms. 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 extensive field of clustered towers
and peaks and domes where is stored the treasures of snow be longing to
the Merced and Tuolumne and Joaquin 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 delightful 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
of human kind
are protected by the hand of God, blooming joyfully through a long beautiful
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 storms, 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 today, and as I passed a rock-shelf
after reaching the great gathered heaps of everlasting snow, something
seemed to whisper 'Cassiope, Cassiope.' That name was 'driver in upon me,'
as Calvinists say, and, looking around, behold the long-looked-for mountain
Farewell! I do not care to write much because 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.
Remember me to the Doctor and to all of your boys.
I am most cordially,
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 banishment for so many years,
but I must return to the mountains, to Yosemite. I am told that the winter
storms 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
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,
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 rustling
makes one think of the groves of Madison. I have been wandering about among
the falls and rapids, studying the grand instruments of
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, forming parts of the one grand
anthem composed and written "in the beginning."
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 adiantum far more delicate and luxuriant
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 heaven's beauty to the music of the water. The motion 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 ferns. You speak of dying and going
to the woods; I am dead and gone to heaven.
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. Hutchings.
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
column of the upper falls was swayed like a shred of loose mist by broken
pieces of storm that struck it suddenly, occasionally 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 quantity
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
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 end 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.
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 distinctions were leveled off; all plants
and the very rocks and streams were equally polypetalous.
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
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 world 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 Oakland 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 Madison.
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
valley. I have a great
deal to say to you which I will not try to write. Remember me most cordially
to the Doctor and to Allie and all the boys. I am much obliged to you for
those botanical notes, etc., and I am ever most
Here is a moss with a globular capsule and a squinted, cowl-shaped calyptra.
Do you know it?
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 enjoyments;
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 ferns have their outer
most fronds unrolled.
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 5th to 14th was extremely warm, the thermometer averaging
about 85 degrees at noon in shade. Craggy banks of cumuli became common
about Storm King and the Dome. Flowers came in troops. The upper snows
melted very fast, raising the falls to their highest pitch of glory. The
waters of the Yosemite 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 valley 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-like
sheets. But last Sunday, 15th, 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
ferns, 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 16th. A good many of the ferns and delicate flowers
There are about fifty visitors in the valley at present. When are you
and the Doctor coming? Mr. Hutchings has not yet returned from Washington,
and so I will be here all summer. 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
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,
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 "fear" that you cannot come at all, and only "hope"
that the Doctor may; but I shall continue to look for you nevertheless.
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 amazing. I do not
wonder that the thought of such
people being here, Mrs. Carr, makes
you "mad," but after all, Mrs. Carr, they are about harmless. 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 complain of the desecrating influences
of the fashionable 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 Yosemite,
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 mountains 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 precious natural charm 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 summer
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 summer, and I know where the
grandest 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 Spiraea
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 abundant
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
I have thought of a walk in the wild gardens of Honolulu, and now that
you speak of my going 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 myself 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,
perhaps, to make a living, but for a garden I should
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 Chiogenes hispidula
once more! I would rather see these two children of the evergreen woods
than all the twenty-seven species of palm that Agassiz met on the Amazons.
These summer days "go on" calmly and evenly. Scarce a mark of the frost
and snow of the 15th 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 thermometer 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 11 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.
Mr. Hutchings arrived here from Washington 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 Allies
I remain ever
Yours most cordially,
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 heaven,
I would have written you long since. I have spent every Sabbath for the
two months in the spirit world, screaming among the peaks and
outside meadows like a negro Methodist in revival time, and every intervening
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 am rich, rich beyond measure, not in rectangular blocks of sifted
knowledge or in thin sheets of beauty hung picture-like about "the walls
of memory," but in unselected atmospheres of terrestrial glory diffused
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 sweetness to every sense," and again, "I don't know
anything of time and but little of space." "My whole being seemed to open
to the sun." All this I do most comprehensively appreciate and
just beginning to know how fully congenial you are. Would that you could
share my mountain enjoyments! In all my wanderings through Nature's beauty,
whether it be among the ferns at my cabin door or in the high meadows and
peaks or amid the spray and music of waterfalls, 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 Vernal and in
the divine snow of Nevada, and you were there also and stood in real presence
by the sheet of joyous rapids below the bridge.
I am glad to know that McClure and McChesney 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
Sanderson and Mrs. Waterston. Mrs. Waterston 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 hotels.
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 daybreak to the
top of the Sentinel Dome to see the sun rise out of the crown peaks of
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
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 morning that I had 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 little for the arithmetical length of days.
I can hardly realize that I have not yet seen you here.
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
"Let the Pacific islands lie."
My love to Allie and all your boys and to the Doctor. Tell him that
I have been tracing glaciers in all the principal cañons towards
Yosemite, August 20th, [1870.]
I have just returned from a ten days' ramble with Prof. Le Conte and his
students in the beyond, 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 Cañon and the
Tuolumne meadows and Lake Tenaya and Mt. Dana. Our first camp after leaving
the valley was at Eagle Point, overlooking 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
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 velvet gentian meadows of the South
Tuolumne. Here we feasted upon soda and burnt 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 departed, our shins were straightened
at a glowing 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
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 Yosemite 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
Next day we worshiped upon high places on the brown cone of Dana and
returned to our rock. Next day walked among the flowers and cascades of
Bloody Cañon and camped at the lake. Rode next day to the volcanic
cone nearest 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 exceedingly, will tell you all. Ask him in particular
to tell you about our camp-meeting on the Tenaya rock. I will send you
a few choice mountain plant children by Mrs. Yelverton. If there
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 am
Ever your friend,
Tuolumne River, two miles below La Grange,
November 4th, 1870.
Yours of October and 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 appeared as this of your letter. I thought of landing at Guayaquil
and crossing the mountains to the Amazon, floating to Para, subsisting
on berries and quinine, but to steam along the palmy shores with company
and comforts is perhaps more practical though not so pleasant. Hawthorne
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
Purús 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
outside 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 following the Merced out of the valley and through all its cañons
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
not be likely to see Yosemite
again before January, 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 collected 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
My love to Allie and to the Doctor, and I am ever most
Address to Snelling
for the next few months.
"The Spirit" has again led me into the wilderness, in opposition to all
counter attractions, and I am once more in the glory of the Yosemite.
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
transparent, 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 Tuolumne upward as I had followed the Merced downward,
reaching the Hetch Hetchy Valley, which has about the same
altitude as Yosemite, and spending 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 Cañon, passing
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, including 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
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 soothingly, down to the grand Pilot Peak brows, discharging its
heaven-begotten snows with such unmistakable gentleness and moving perhaps
with conscious love from pine to pine as if bestowing separate and independent
blessings upon 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 difficulty 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 impressively sublime. Next morning was
way the purest creation I ever beheld. The little flat, spot-like
in the massive spiring woods, was in splendid vesture of universal white,
upon which the grand forest-edge was minutely repeated and covered with
a close sheet of snow flowers.
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 vegetation
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, ferny groves.
Wading waist-deep, I had a fine opportunity for observing them, but they
shrink from human breath, not the only flowers which do so, evidently not
made for man, neither the flowers composing the snow which
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
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 cloud.
I sent you my plants by express. I am sorry that my Yosemite specimens
are not with the others.
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
whatever. Mrs. H.
had a letter from him lately, part of which she read to me. And now, Mrs.
Carr, 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 snow.
Give my kindest regards to all your homeful and to my friends.
I am always
Yours most cordially,
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 cannot 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 undisturbed 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,
work until the coming of the winter snows, when I will probably find a
sheltered rock nook where I can make a nest of leaves and mosses and doze
I expect to be entirely alone in these mountain walks, and, notwithstanding
the glorious portion of daily bread which my soul will receive 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
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 entirely 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;
and is it true that these
are Bryant's Melancholy 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,
I shall hope to hear from you soon. I will come down some of the valley
cañons occasionally for letters.
I am sorry that you are so laden with University 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 form 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
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 measurement. No, dear friend, you would say: "Keep
your mind untrammelled and pure. Go unfrictioned, unmeasured, and God give
you the true meaning and interpretation of his mountains."
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?
the sky above it and all of its opening cañons,
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 accomplish. Yosemite is the end of a grand chapter;
if you would learn to read it, go commence at the beginning." Then I went
above to the alphabet valleys of the summits, comparing cañon with
cañon, with all their varieties of rock-structure and cleavage and
the comparative size and slope of the glaciers and waters which they contained;
also the grand congregations 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 extraordinary
rock-form. Now it is clear that woe is
me if I do not drown this
tendency towards nervous 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.
Prof. Runkle, president of the Boston Institute of Technology, was here
last week, and I preached my glacial theory to him for five days, taking
him into the cañon of the valley and up among the grand glacier
wombs and pathways of the summit. He was fully convinced of the truth of
my readings and urged me to 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 scientific 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
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 now.
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 dollars,--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 dollar. Some of
my friends are badgering me to write for some of the magazines, and I am
almost 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 journals
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 affairs.
Perhaps you will ask, "What plan are you going to pursue in your work?"
Well, here it is,--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 that 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 cañons
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
brother is the necessary result of the delicately balanced blows of well-directed
and combined glaciers against the parent rocks which contained them, only
thinly carved and moulded in some instances by the subsequent action of
Libby sent me Tyndall's 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 Darwin. 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
other chance, and I will remit the money required 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 received 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 sympathize 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 come, come, come
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 expense 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 California faster than did her placer gold, and
I wanted to save the
memory of that which is laid upon Twenty Hills.
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 Tribune" 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 Doctor and
the boys and all my old friends.
New Sentinel Hotel,
Yosemite Valley, April 23, 1872.
Yours of Apr. 8th and 15th containing Ned's canoe and colonization adventure
came to-night. I feel that you are coming and I will not
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 Westfall 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'
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 cañon below the snow,
but you must not come that way.
You may also enter the valley via Little Yosemite 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 summits 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 beyond
measure though you come as a comet tailed with
a whole misty town.
Ned is a brave fellow. God bless him unspeakably and feed him with his
own South American self.
I shall be most happy to know your Doggetts or anything that you call
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.
[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,
Yosemite-making, forest-planting glacial period.
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 King 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,
I will return to the valley in about a week, if I don't get over-deep in
Later. Yours of Monday evening has just come. I am glad your
boy is so soon to feel
mother home and its blessings. I hope to meet
Torrey, although I will push leeward 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.
I'll see Mrs. H., perhaps, this evening and deliver your message.
New Sentinel Hotel,
Yosemite Valley, May 31, 1872.
Yours announcing the Joaquin and the Doggetts 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 August, 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 Tyndall and mount again with you to calm months in the Sierras,
I will draw a long breath and splash into your fearful muds.
rather have you in September and October than at any other time, but a
few weeks of this white water would be very glorious. 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 Allie 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 mountains are fat in thick snow that the sun will
find hard to fry.
O Mrs. Carr, that you could be here to mingle 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
have been so present that I must
try to fix you a written thought.
In the afternoon I came up the mountain 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 illumines this glorious creation which we term
falls and has laid a magnificent double prismatic bow at its base. The
tissue of the falls is delicately filmed on the outside 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 convolving 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
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 anthem 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. Suddenly I was darkened; down came a
section of the outside tissue composed of spent comets. I crouched low,
holding my breath, and, anchored 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
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 perpendicular
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 amid the influences of those beings
unseen, spiritual, angelic mountaineers that so throng these pure mansions
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
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 differences 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 mountains 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 Doggetts 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
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 realize 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 unfollowable pace.
I could write something with data already harvested, but I am not satisfied.
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 columns of equal
size. Meadows grassed and lilies head-high, spangled river-reaches and
currentless 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 truantism 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.
Ever your friend,
New Sentinel Hotel, Yosemite,
July 14th, 1872.
Yours announcing Dr. Gray is received. I have great longing for Gray, whom
I feel to
be a great, progressive, unlimited man like Darwin and
Huxley and Tyndall. I will be most glad 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. All say write, 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 cañons, 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
dozen 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 cordial and kind to me. Mrs.
Moore believes in ice
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 partridges.
I am glad your Ned is growing strong; then we will yet meet this summer
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 higher.
I ought not to fun away letter space in speaking 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,
July 27th, 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
I will go over all this Yosemite region this fall and write it up in
some form 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
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 world.
I know that Mrs. Moore has given you ice in
even Yosemite glaciers might melt in the warmth 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 Cañon.
I want to get Doggett's address.
I will begin my long mountain excursion soon, for the snow is mostly
gone from the high meadows.
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 human 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 friendship 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.
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 satisfying of your
thirst for beauty, I remain ever
My love to Doctor and all the boys.
August 5th, 1872.
Your letter telling me to catch my best glacier birds and come to you and
the coast mountains 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 flying 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
up some meal and dried plums to some deep wind-sheltered
cañon back among the glaciers of the summits, 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 companions being
those who live with me in the same sky, whether in reach of hand or only
of spiritual contact, which is the most real contact of all.
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 mine.
[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
stationed over Eagle Rock at the sunset.
Farewell. I'll see you with my common eyes,
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
September 13, 1872.
Yours of Aug. 23rd is received. Le Conte writes me that Agassiz will not
come to the valley.
I just got down last evening from a fifteen-day ramble in the basins
of Illilouette and Pohono, and start again in an hour for the summit glaciers
to see some cañons 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 incessantly until the coming of
the snow [rest of letter missing].
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 Cañon? 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, cañons
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
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 paper.
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 Institute of Technology, gathered
some letters I sent to Runkle and that "Tribune" letter, and
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 meanness 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
concerning 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 cañons 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
some of this mud and observed that it was entirely mineral in composition
and fine as flour, like the mud from a fine-grit grindstone. Before I had
time to reason I said, Glacier mud, mountain meal.
Then I observed that this muddy stream issued 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 climbing to the top of it I was struck with the
steepness of its slope and with its raw, unsettled, plantless, newborn
appearance. The slightest touch started blocks of red and black slate,
followed 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 moraine, 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 furrowed surface were stones and dirt like
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 stones and dirt were
most abundant near the bottom 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 journeying 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 discovered
that my so-called snow-bank 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
seen from the summit of Mt. Lyell crouching 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 summit to sea like a
I'm going to take your painter boys with me into one of my best sanctums
on your recommendation for holiness.
Emerson has sent me a profound little book styled "The Growth of the
Mind," by Reed. 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
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 ever
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 cañons 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 Illilouette and to Pohono, after which I will mope about among the rim
cañons 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 Tyndall concerning the nature and origin of his intense
mountain enjoyments. He reaches far and near for a theory of his delight
in the mountains, going among the accidents of his own boyhood and those
of his remotest fathers, but
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 of 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 exposed
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.
[1872 or 1873.]
[Beginning of letter missing.]
although I was myself fully satisfied concerning the real nature of
these ice-masses. I found that my friends regarded my deductions and statements
with distrust, therefore I determined
to collect proofs of the common
measured arithmetical kind.
On the 21st 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 horsehair.
On observing my stakes on the 6th of Oct., or in 46 days after being
planted, I found that stake No. 1 had been carried down stream 11 inches;
No. 2, 8 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 1 inch per day. Stake No. 5 was planted
about midway between the head of
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 swedging 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 southeast corner.
The crevass runs about southwest and northeast and is several hundred yards
in length. Its width is nowhere more than one foot.
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 them.
[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 summits with scarce an inch of
carex upon their shallow, sandy borders and with their bottoms 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
smooth pebbles upon a
shoulder of the South Dome, and upon every part of the Yosemite upper and
I am surprised to find that water has had so little to do with
mountain structure here. Whitney says that there is no proof that glaciers
ever flowed in this valley, yet its walls have not been eroded to the depth
of an inch since the ice left it, and glacial action is glaringly apparent
many miles below the valley.
The bottom portion of the foregoing section, with perpendicular sides,
is here about two feet in depth and was cut by the water. The Nevada here
never was more than four or five feet deep, and all of the bank
records of all the upper streams say the same thing of the absence of great
The entire region above Yosemite and as far down as the bottoms of Yosemite
has scarcely been touched by any other inundation than that of ice. Perhaps
all of the past glacial inundation of every kind would not average an inch
in depth for the whole region.
Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy are lake-basins filled with sand and the matter
of moraines washed from the upper cañons. 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 cañon 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
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 ramble 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.
As for Le Conte's Glaciers, they will not hurt mine, but hereafter I
will say my thoughts to the public in any kind of words I chance to command,
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 form and instantly
seek to sketch it with my pencil, but the drawing is always enormously
unlike the reality. So also in word sketches of the same beauties that
are so living, so loving, so filled with warm 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
Harry Edwards the butterflies I had lost. Did
he get them? Farewell, dear, dear spiritual mother! Heaven repay your everlasting
April 1st, 1873.
Yours containing Dr. Stebbins' was received to-day. Some of our letters
come in by Mariposa, some by Coulterville, and some by Oak Flat, causing
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 Cañon," Ascent of Mt.
Ritter, Formation of
Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Lake, Other Yosemite
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 Cañons,
of Compound Cañons, Description of each Glacier of Region, Origin
of Sierra Forest, Distribution 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 "mony mair"
April 13th, 1873.
Indian Tom goes out of the valley tomorrow. With this I send you "Hetch
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 wastebasket, but
to-day I received a Boston letter
stating that a Hetch from my pen
appeared in the "Boston Transcript" of about March 12th, 1873, which may
possibly be the article in question. 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 Tuolumne song of five cantos "Nature
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.
April l9th, 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
ago. I find this
literary business very irksome, yet I will try to learn it.
The falls respond gloriously to the ripe sunshine 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 accordingly. Mr. Black will give all particulars
of trails, times, etc. If Moores have not gone ranching, send Mr. Black
over to their house. It will do her good. I fondly hope she is growing
Love to all.
May 15th, 1873.
The robins have eaten too much breakfast this morning, 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
flowers and benumbed the butterflies, upon which
the birds have breakfasted too heartily.
The grand Upper Yosemite Fall 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 half way 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 gentleman is speaking loudly
and businessly about his "baggage." "Eyes have they but they see not."
Looking up the valley, the cloud effects are yet more lavishly glorious.
Tissiack is mantled with silvery burning mists, her gray rocks appearing
dimly where thinly veiled. Over the top of Washington Column the clouds
are descending in a continuous stream and rising
again suddenly from
the bottom like spray from a waterfall. O dear! I wish you were here. I
may write this cloud glory forevermore but never be able to picture it
Doctor and Priest in Yosemite. Emerson prophesies in similar dialect
that I will one day go to him and "better men" in New England, or
something to that effect. I feel like objecting in popular slang that I
can't see it. I shall indeed go gladly to the "Atlantic Coast," as he prophesies,
but only to see him and the Glacier Ghosts of the north. Runkle wants to
make a teacher of me, but I have been too long wild, too befogged and befogged
to burn well in their patent high-heated educational furnaces.
[A portion missing.]
I had a good letter from Le Conte. He evidently 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
saying "What?" like
a child half awake. Farewell. My love to the Doctor and the boys. I hope
the Doctor will run away from his enormous 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 home in Yosemite.
My horse and bread, etc., are ready for upward. I returned 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
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
Love to all shine and to Moores and Stoddard.
June 7th, 1873.
I came down last night from the Lyell Glacier, weary with walking in the
snow, but I forgot my weariness and the pain of my sun-blistered 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
Thanking God for thee, I say a short farewell.
Kellogg has not yet appeared, nor any of the other friends you speak
September 17, [1873.]
I am again at the bottom meadow of Yosemite after a most intensely interesting
bath among the outer mountains. I have been exploring the upper tributaries
of the Cascade and Tamarac streams. And in particular all of the basin
of the Yosemite Creek. The present basin of every stream which enters the
valley 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 investigation 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.
The glacier basins are almost unchanged, and I believe that ice was
the agent by which all of the present rocks receive their special forms.
More of this some other day. Would that I could have you here or in any
wild place where I can think and speak! Would you not be thoroughly iced?
You would not find in me one unglacial 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 corner where
you and the Doctor can come and stay all summer; 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 Tenaya. It is one of the most perfectly and richly
spiritual places in the mountains, and I would like to preëmpt there.
Somehow I should feel like leaving home in going to Hetch Hetchy. Besides,
there is room there for many other
claims, and it soon will fill
with coarse homesteads, 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 another is like drawing dividing lines in the sky. I think
I answered your last with respect to remaining here in the winter. I can
do much of this ice work in the quiet, and the whole subject is purely
physical, so that I can get but little from books. All depends upon the
goodness 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, lying 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
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 missing] and dwell with them. I go again to my lessons
tomorrow morning. Some snow fell, and bye-and-bye I must tell you about
If poor good Melancholia Cowper had been here yesterday morning, here
is just what he would have sung:--
The rocks have been washed, just washed in a shower
Which winds in their faces conveyed.
The plentiful cloudless 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 love
Was followed, alas, by a snow.
Which, being unmetaphored and prosed into sense, means that yesterday morning
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 turned to snow and some half-melted flakes
reached the bottom of the valley. This morning Starr King and Tissiack
and all the upper valley are white.
[Beginning of letter missing.]
I had a grand ramble in the deep snow outside the valley and discovered
truth concerning snow-structure and three concerning
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 walking
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 American coast to study earthquakes. I think I could invent
some experimental apparatus whereby their complicated phenomena could be
separated 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 enjoyment from them. Are we not rich
when our six-foot column of substance sponges up heaven
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, possibilities, and fussy developing nostrums of duties,
but if the human flock, together with their Rev.'s and double L-D shepherds,
would go wild themselves, they would discover without Euclid that the solid
contents of a human soul is the whole world.
Our streams are fast obtaining their highest power; warm 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
October 16th, 1873.
All of my season's mountain work is done. I have just come down from Mt.
Whitney and the newly discovered mountain five miles northwest 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
Two weeks ago I left the Doctor and Billie in the Kings River Yosemite,
and set out for Mt. Tyndall and adjacent mountains and cañons. I
ascended Tyndall and ran down into the Kern River Cañon and climbed
some nameless 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
northward and up Cottonwood Creek to Mt. Whitney, then
over to the Kern Cañons again and up to the new "highest"
peak, which I did not ascend, as there was no one to attend to my horse.
Thus you see I have rambled this highest 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, making over 10,000 feet of altitude.
I saw no mountains in all this grand region that appeared at all inaccessible
to a mountaineer. Give me a summer 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 Compositae
of Owen's Valley are intensely glorious.
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 plain.
It seems that this new Fisherman'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,
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 wondrous 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
the west side of the cañon
into the forest. About 6 miles farther down we made out to reënter
the cañon, where there is a Yosemite valley, and by hard efforts
succeeded in getting out on the opposite side and reaching the divide between
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 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 bedbuilding, discussing as usual
the goodnesses and badnesses of boughy mountain beds, we were astounded
by the appearance of two prospectors
coming through the mountain
rye. By them I send this note.
To-day we will reach some of the sequoias near Thomas' Mill (vide
map of Geological Survey), and in two or three more days will be in the
cañon 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 snowstorms.
Not that I fear snowstorms for myself, but the poor animals would die or
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,
November 3rd, [1873.]
My dear Friends Dr. and Mrs. Carr,--
I received the news of your terrible bereavement 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. Kellogg 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 homeward 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 sauntered through
the piney woods, pausing countless 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,
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 come.
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 Cañon, 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
period rather, was in a
kind of calm, uncurable ecstasy. I am hopelessly and forever a mountaineer.
How glorious my studies seem, and how simple! 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
November 1st, 1874.
Here is icy Shasta fifteen miles away yet at the very door. 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 perfectly 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
accompanied 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 unstormy, 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
miles, as there is no intermediate camping-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 inundation northward and southward;
also general views of the channels of the ancient Shasta glaciers, 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 summer.
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 wilderness 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.
Ever cordially yours,
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.
December 9th, 1874.
Coming in for a sleep and rest, I was glad to receive your card. I seem
to be more than married 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 satellite of the grand icy sun. I have just
completed my first revolution. Length of orbit, 100 miles; time, one Shasta
For two days and a half I had nothing in the way of food, yet suffered
nothing and was finely
nerved for the most delicate work of mountaineering
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 yourself.
For me, I like better the huckleberries of cool glacial bogs and acid
currants and benevolent, rosy, beaming apples and common Indian-summer
pumpkins. I wish you could see the holy morning's Alpen glow of Shasta.
Farewell. I'll be down into gray Oakland some time.
I am glad you are so essentially independent of those commonplace plotters
that have so
marred your peace, eat oranges and hear the larks and
wait on the sun.
Love to all.
The letter you sent here is also received. Emily's I will get bye and
bye. Love to color Keith.
December 21st, 1874.
I have just returned 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 extraordinary in its Alpine
fountains, and I shouted, "O
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 ferns and mosses, gold and green.
I broke my way through chaparral tangle in eager vigor utterly unweariable.
The dark blue stream sang solemnly 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
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 its----
Well, to my Father I say "Thank you" and go willingly.
I go by stage and rail to Brownsville to see
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 boys.
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
breeding of mosses as Nature
manifests among these northern Sierras.
I have studied a big fruitful week among the cañons and ridges
of the Feather, and another along the Yuba River living and dead.
I 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 magnificent
problems, and I feel wild and unmanageable with the intense interest they
excite, but I will 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
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 arms 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 Sacramento 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 summit of Shasta and experienced
one of the most beautiful and most violent snowstorms imaginable.
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. McChesney
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 days.
I was caught in a violent snowstorm and held up on the summit 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 burn low. Nevertheless,
in company 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 experiences. Altogether I have
had a very instructive 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'll be over in a few days or so.
Old Yosemite Home,
November 3d, 1875.
I'm delighted, in coming out of the woods, to learn that the Doctor
is elected to do the work he is so well fitted for.
I've had a glorious season of forest grace, notwithstanding the hundred
cañons I've crossed, and the innumerable gorges, gulches, and avalanchal
A day or two of resting and lingering in my dear old haunts, and then
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.
1418 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
the press. Mr. Swett told me the other day that he met a friend down town
who was acquainted 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 Johnnie.
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 reformed
As for the stranded sapless condition of political 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. Moore was at the lecture the other
night. He seemed immeasurably 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.
I will show your letters to Mr. Swett when he comes in, who will doubtless
be able to decipher 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 adequate outlet for your own thought; but hang it! let them
decapitate and hang, they cannot hang Cassiope.
Ever yours cordially,
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 rheumatism and that you have had sleep and rest.
Your description of the orange lands makes me more than ever eager to
see them,--in particular the phenomenon of a real lover of Nature such as
you mention, for one does feel so
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 delightful indeed, after the battles
and the burdens 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 experiences
to have thoughts and schemes so fresh and young as yours. We all hope to
see you soon.
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 measureless
period. I never enjoyed the Tuolumne 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
enthusiastically than ever, and the forests' breath
was sweeter, and Cassiope fairer than in all my first fresh contacts. But
I'm not going 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 northward 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 10 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 consolation in the midst of the fires you are compassed with to
look forward to a tranquil seclusion 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
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
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. Farewell.
Ever cordially yours,
Los Angeles, Cal., August 12th, 1877.
I've seen your sunny Pasadena and the patch called yours. Everything
about here pleases me, and I felt sorely tempted to take Dr. Congar's advice
and invest in an orange-patch myself. I feel sure you will be happy here
with the Doctor and Allie among so rich a luxuriance of sunny vegetation.
How you will dig and dibble in that mellow loam! I cannot think of you
standing erect for a single
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 farm, 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 unpromising they are full of
wild gardens and ferneries, 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.
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 Yosemite which Black forwarded.
With love to all I am ever
1419 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 I 'm 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 unselfishness on the injustice
done Dr. Kellogg in failing to recognize his long-continued devotion
to science, at the botanical love-feast held here the other night. He threatens
to write up the whole discreditable affair, and is veer 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 concerning 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 summit 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 José
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.
I have no inflexible plans as yet for the remaining months of the season,
but Yosemite seems to place itself as a most persistent candidate 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 Sacramento mills. Remember me to the Doctor and Allie.
Ever yours cordially,
1419 Taylor St.,
June 5th, 1878.
I'm sorry I did not see you when last in the city. I went over to Oakland,
thence to Alameda to spend a week and finish an "article" with our good
old Gibbons; but the house was full; then I went to Dr. Strentzel's, where
I remained a week, working a little, resting a good deal and eating many
fine cherries. I enjoyed most the white bed in which first I rested
after rocking so long in the rushes of the Stockton
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, taking Helen, and I'm terribly
lonesome and homesick and will not try to stand it. Will go to the woods
tomorrow. How great are your trials! I wish I could help you. May the Doctor
be speedily restored to health.
920 Valencia St.,
April 9th, 1879.
I did not send the pine book to you, because I was using it in rewriting
a portion of the California forest article, which will appear in Scribner'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
take it with
you. It is entitled "Gordon's Pinetum," published by Henry G. Bohn, Henrietta
St., Covent Garden; Simpkin, Marshall & Co., Stationers, Hall Court;
1875; second edition. It is an "exhaustive" work, very exhausting anyhow,
and contains a fine big much of little.
The summit pine of our Sierra is P. albicaulis of Engelmann,
and the P. flexilis Torrey, given in this work as a synonym, is
a very different tree, growing sparsely on the eastern flank of the Sierra,
from Bloody Cañon southward, but very abundant on all the higher
basin ranges, and on the Wahsatch and Rocky Mountains.
The orange book is, it seems, another exhaustive work. There is something
admirable in the scientific nerve and aplomb manifested in the titles of
these swollen volumes. 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 connected with
the "Bulletin," I can
probably get the title of his citrus book through
Mr. Williams. Will probably see him next Sunday.
The Sunday convention manager offered me a hundred dollars for two lectures
on the Yosemite 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 José 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 view.
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 afternoon of your life among your kin and orange
leaves, or, unable to get full absolution
from official woman's rights'
unrest, you will fight and squirm till sundown. I've 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 inappreciative and unavailable a man as I may be of use at all, let
Ever cordially yours,
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 Alaska.
I hope you and the Doctor may not suffer yourselves to be drawn away
into the stream
of politics again. You will be far happier on your
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 one.
With kind regards to the Doctor and the boys. Farewell.
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