John Muir


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are continents in appearance and in effect from any view to be had of them save only on the map; but by far the greater number are small and appearable as such; hundreds of them less than a mile long, dotting the glassy levels in charming combinations and compositions, their direction of extension complying with the main waving lines of the coast, especially those farthest away from the coast; those near the coast having been in great part eroded and shaped by the ice descending from the mountains of the mainland, and therefore extend in a diagonal direction or at right angles to the coast line. In this generalization a most delicate harmony is everywhere apparent. The channels, passages, canals, straits, sounds, etc., are subject of course to the same law. Many are like rivers, not only in separate reaches, but continuously so for hundreds of miles. The tide currents, the floating driftwood, fresh and leafy, the luxuriant, over-leaning foliage of the banks, make this resemblance all the more complete. In the midst of the thickest island clusters, the impression is that derived from wide lakes, however much fretted by the island abundance; and in the thickest sown archipelagoes the water seems always and everywhere deep, never fretted away into shallow, dabbled pools. And however bewildering any attempt to describe the whole sheet of this ravishingly lovely landscape, the eye easily takes in and dwells with ever fresh delight on the smaller of the individual islands. Though in their relations to each other the members of a group are evidently derived from the same source, one rock-mass hewn from one stone, yet they never seem broken or abridged as to their individual lines of contour, whether plunging at once abrupt and sheer with round, projecting brows, or in calm hollow lines sweeping out in low points tipped with sedge. Viewed one by one they seem detached beauties, like extracts from a fine poem; while from the way that the lines sweep over from side to side and the way that the trees are put on, each seems in itself a finished stanza. {Sketch: no title}

Date Original



Original journal dimensions: 8.5 x 13.5 cm.

Resource Identifier



Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist