John Muir



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Kimes Entry Number


Original Date


William and Maymie Kimes Annotation

In John Muir's own List of the Published Writings ... as well as in Cornelius B. Bradley's Reference List ... , the above entry is entitled ""Yosemite in Winter, N.Y. Tribune, Jan. 1, 1872."" Biographers Linnie Marsh Wolfe and Frederic William Bade both refer to the article as ""Yosemite in Winter"" the latter indicating that It was to be found ""in red scrap book with binder title 'Newspaper scrap book.'"" In 1980 two red scrapbooks were deposited at the University of the Pacific by grandson John Muir Hanna in which was found the article entitled as entry above. With the correct title available we finally located it, not in the New York Daily Tribune where numerous scholars had searched, but in the New York Weekly Tribune. We believe this to be the only publication of the article. Muir opens his long ""letter"" saying: ""Winter has taken Yo-Semite, and we are snowbound. The latest leaves are shaken from the oaks and alders, the snowladen pines, with drooping boughs, look like barbed arrows aimed at the sky, and the fern-tangles and meadows are spread with a smooth cloth of snow."" After the last visitor had departed, the bears came in. Muir writes: ""These bears are our grandest game, noblest expressions of mountain power. They deserve a Yo-Semite home, and the Sierras require them to companion their rocks and domes .... "" Interspersed with his detailed poetic descriptions of rain, clouds, snow, and floods, Muir lists the few residents remaining in the valley, depicts their Christmas celebration m amusing fashion, then gives a humorous account of their social life, which consists chiefly of quarrels, gossip, and ""whisky soirees."" In a serious mood, Muir observes: ""More shingle houses are being built, one of which is to be a saloon. At the present rate of progress flimsy buildings will soon bedraggle the valley from end to end, making it appear like the raw pine towns of a new railroad. Also, the meadows are being fenced up; trees, living and dead, chopped down, and the divine banks and thickets of the briar rose and azalia are being trampled and cleared away under the name of d----d chaparral, and all destroyable, natural beauty in general is fast fading before the cruel presence of vulgar, mercenary, 'improvement.' But happily, by far the greater portion of Yo-Semite is unimprovable. Her trees and flowers will melt like snow but her domes and falls are everlasting."" (The last two sentences were quoted by Samuel Kneeland in no. 3.) Muir closes his lengthy report of winter in Yosemite by describing ""one of the most picturesque snowstorms he had ever seen. He writes: ""Every peak and dome, every niche and tablet had their share of snow. And blessed are the eyes that beheld morning open the glory of the one dead storm. In vain did I search for some special separate mass of beauty on which to rest my gaze. No island appeared throughout the whole gulf of beauty. The glorious crystal sentiment was everywhere. From wall to wall of our beautiful temple, from meadow to sky was one finished unit of beauty, one star of equal ray, one glowing sun, weighed in the celestial balances and found perfect.""


New York Weekly Tribune


p. 3, cols. 4-5 [Scrapbook II, pp. 56-58.]



IN THE YO-SEMITE. Holidays Among the Rocks. Wild Weather-A Picturesque Christmas Dinner-Idyllic Amusements-Poetic Storms-A Paradise of Clouds. Yo-Semite Valley, Jan. 1.

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