[John Muir]


Mrs.[Jeanne C.] Carr


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To Mrs. Ezra S. CarrYosemite, Dec.11th [1871]Dear Mrs. Carr,We are snowbound and your letter of Nov. 1st came two days ago. I sympathize with you for the loss of your brown Japanese, but I am glad to know that you found so much of pure human goodness in the life of your scholar. The whole world is enriched, beautified by a stratum - an atmosphere-of Godlike souls, and it is ignorance alone that banks human love into narrow gutter channels and stagnant pools, making it selfish and impure when it should be boundless as air and light, blending with all the world, keeping sight of our impartial Father who is the fountain sun of all the love that is rayed down to earth.But glaciers, dear friends-ice is only another form of terrestrial love. I am astonished to hear you speak so unbelievingly of God's glorious crystal glaciers. 'They are only pests', and you think them wrong in temperature, and they lived in 'horrible times' and you don't care to hear about them 'only that they made instruments of Yosemite music. You speak heresy for once, and deserve a dip in Methodist Tophet, or Vesuvius at least.I have just been sending ice to LeConte, and snow to McChesney and I have nothing left but hailstones for you, but 1 don't know how to send them -- to speak them. You confuse me. You have taught me here and encouraged me to read the mountains. Nov you will not listen, next summer you will be converted -- you will be iced then.I have been up Nevada to the top of Lyell and found a living glacier, but you don't want that; and I have been in Hetch Hetchy and the cañon above, and I was going to tell you the beauty there; but it is all ice-born beauty, and too cold for you; and I was going to tell about the making of the South Dome, but ice did that too; and about the hundred lakes that I found, but the ice made them every one; and I had some groves to speak about -- groves of surpassing loveliness in new pathless Yosemites, but they all grew upon glacial drift, -- and I have nothing to send but what is frozen or freezable.You like the music instruments that glaciers made, but no songs were so grand as those of the glaciers themselves, no falls so lofty as those which poured from brows, and chasmed mountains of pure dark ice. Glaciers made the mountains and ground corn for all the flowers, and the forests of silver fir, made smooth paths for human feet until the sacred Sierras have become the most approachable of mountains. Glaciers came down from heaven, and they are angels with folded wings, white wings of snowy bloom, Locked hand in hand the little spirits did nobly; the primary mountain waves, unvital granite, were soon carved to beauty. They bared the lordly domes and fashioned the clustering spires; smoothed godlike mountain brows, and shaped lake cups for crystal waters; wove myriads of mazy canons, and spread them out like lace. They remembered the loud-songed rivers and every tinkling rill. The busy snowflakes saw all the coming flowers, and the grand predestined forests. They said, 'We will crack this rock for Cassiope where she may sway her tiny urns. Here we'll smooth a plat for green mosses, and round a bank for bryanthus bells'. Thus labored the willing flake-souls linked in close congregations of ice, breaking rock food for the pines, as a bird crumbles bread for her young, spiced with dust of garnets and zircons and many a nameless gem; and when food was gathered for the forests and all their elected life, when every rock form was finished, every monument raised, the willing messengers, unwearied, unwasted, heard God's 'Well done’ from heaven calling them hack to their homes in the sky.[John Muir][The following was written on the same sheet]January 8th, 1872.Dear Friend,We are gloriously snowbound. One storm has filled half of last month, and it is snowing again. Would that you could behold its beauty! I half expected another glacial period, but I will not say any- thing about ice until you become wiser, though I send you a cascade jubilee which you will relish more than anybody else. I have tried to put it in form for publication, and if you can rasp off the rougher angles and wedge in a few slippery words between bad splices perhaps it may be sufficiently civilized for Overland or Atlantic. But I always felt a chill come over my fingers when a calm place in the storm allowed me to think of it. Also I have been sorry for one of our bears and I think you will



Date Original

[1871] Dec 11


Original letter dimensions: 25.5 x 39.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 02, Image 0613

Copyright Statement

The unpublished works of John Muir are copyrighted by the Muir-Hanna Trust. To purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish or exhibit them, see

Owning Institution

University of the Pacific Library Holt-Atherton Special Collections. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.

Copyright Holder

Muir-Hanna Trust

Copyright Date


Page Number

Page 4


John Muir, correspondence, letters, author, writing, naturalist, California, correspondent, mail, message, post, exchange of letters, missive, notes, epistle