John Muir


[Ralph Waldo] Emerson


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Signal smokes to call attention, little more, No amount of engraving on language or wood will ever make a single soul to know there mountains, As well try to warm the naked & frost bitten by lectures on Calorie, or painted fires, One days exposure will do more than Cartloads of books. No photographers plate is so sensitive as those of the human soul provided only that they are pure. A little time ago a friend sent Tyndalls Hours of Ex' in Alps, wherein he speaks doubtfully gropingly of mountain structure. It is astonishing to see how little the greatest know in this field. If Tyndall would leave his lectures & books & dwell with the Alps he would finally make a speech or book of everlasting worth, but he does not allow himself time to fill I wish you could bring him with you. Do you know him? There is a glorious feast here for him. He would emerge from our fountains a new Creature, So also would Agazziz & Gray notwithstanding all they have enjoyed. Prof Runkle was here last fall. I beckoned him back among the wombs of Yo Semite glaciers. We saw hosts of icy ghosts & believed our glacial theory of mtn' structure etc I only made gestures & pointed to rock forms & canons, & spoke a few broken words about Yo sem' formation. He soon laid "It is true". receiving knowledge by absorption past all his flinty mathematics quite forgetful of his ghaunt raw boned Euclidal "Wherefors" He thinks that if the damp mosses & lichens were scraped off I might make a teacher - A professor faggot to burn beneath their Technological furnaces, All in kindness but I'd rather grown green in the sky. Thanks for the books & for your generous words. Your time is precious, & all the world wants it. My letters look for but little answer, only an electric tap or two of your busy pen to make [in margin: Mrs [illegible] that we see each other. Let me hear soon concerning your coming. Most cordially yrs John Muir]


Yosemite Valley

Date Original

1872 Mar 18


Original letter dimensions unknown.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 02, Image 0731

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The unpublished works of John Muir are copyrighted by the Muir-Hanna Trust.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

The Houghton Library, Harvard University. 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