John Muir


[J. B.] Mc Chesney


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[1] Yosemite Valley January 9th 1873 Dear McChesney I have just finished a ramble through the handsome Ruskin you have me Ruskin is great but not a great man, only a great ready-to-burst bud of a man, He is fettered & bounded though his chain is [longer?] His tether seems at times to break all together & he roams over all this world & what he takes to be the next, but after all, one never can feel that he is free-, his widest world, his highest sky is inclosed by a hard definite shell, making us think of a mouse beneath a huge bell glass so huge that it scarce feels its bounds There are writers of far lesser in- tellectual growth who nevertheless[in margin: The very hope & longings of Ruskin are clearest & regular in form as bricks & could be made to order by a machine]00195 [4]when taken into the stomach so would silver & gold. So would sunshine but I have lived with & loved with Kalmia many a day & slept with my cheek upon her bonnie purple flowers & glossy leaves & I know that she is only love directly spoken from the lips of God, & I know something about "the blasted trunk, & the barren rock, the moaning of the bleak winds, the solemn solitudes of moors & seas, the roar of the black, perilous merciless whirlpools of the mountain streams" & they [underlined: have] a language for me but declare nothing of wrath or of Hell Only Love plain as was ever spoken All that he says about near approach to mtn beauty & familiarity with Nature in general is very com- pletely false This my friend is the true infidelity a disbelief in the con- stancy & sufficiency & everlastingness of God's Love as written in Nature We should use beauty every moment as we use breath Christianity & Mountainanity are streams from the same fountain When I read such heresy as Ruskins Mtn loom & Mtn evil & Mtn devil & the unwholesome- ness of Mtn beauty as everyday bread I wish [in margin: I were a preacher. Ever cordially yrs John Muir]


Yosemite Valley

Date Original

1873 Jan 9


Original letter dimensions: 21 x 26 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 02, Image 1051

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The unpublished works of John Muir are copyrighted by the Muir-Hanna Trust.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 1


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