John Muir


image preview

Circa Date

circa 1887



[called forth opinions on sheep-nature expressed in bad English] sheep nature, foolish & unchangeable as gravitation. Pass with his pipes sounds have had no better luck & I fear [with this flock] We were now pretty well baffled. The silly creatures would suffer [sheep seemed determined to die] any sort of death [offered] rather than cross that stream. Calling an council [of war] the dripping Don declared that starvation was the only likely [to be the only way] scheme left to try [us] & that we might as well camp [again] here in comfort & let the besieged flock grow hungry & cool [ruminate & cool down] & come to their senses if they have any [while they remained jammed & cross the creek to tempting pastures when & how they pleased. This was wisdom I guess for suddenly][But] In a few minutes after being thus left alone some adventure in the foremost ranks [suddenly] plunged in[to the dreadful flood] & swam [away] bravely to the farther shore [the current causing him/her to take an oblique course] then suddenly [as if the stubborn crowd had been moved with dynamite] all rushed in[to the water] together trampling one another under water [each other down] while we vainly tried to hold them back [lest they should all be drowned.] The Don jumped into the thickest of the gasping drowning mass & shoved them [scattered them by shoving] right & left as if each


sheep was a piece of floating timber. The current also served to drift them apart, a long, bent column was soon formed & in a few minutes all were over & began ba-a-ing & feeding & [baaing] as if nothing out of the common [course of things] had happened [there]. That none was drowned [no lives were lost] seems wonderful [remarkable since they piled on top of each other & pressed each other under water with perfectly ungovernable haste impetuously] I fully expected that hundreds would gain the romantic fate of being swept into Yosemite [carried] over the highest waterfall [falls] in the world.

As the day was thus far spent we camped a little way back from the ford & let the dripping flock scatter & feed until sundown. [All] The wool is dry now & [deep] bland cud chewing peace has fallen on all the comfortable band [flock] leaving no trace of their watery battle. [passed through violent as it was.] I have seen fish driven out of the water with less ado than was made in driving [to drive] these animals into it. Sheep brain [intellect] must surely be poor stuff. [Just to] compare todays exhibition with the performances of our swimming quietly across broad & rapid rivers or from island to island in the seas & lakes [or with those of the wild sheep ] or with dogs or even with the squirrels that as the story goes [in] cross[ing] the Mississippi

Date Occurred


Resource Identifier

MuirReel31 Notebook07 Img025.jpg

Contributing Institution

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

Rights Management

To view additional information on copyright and related rights of this item, such as to purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish them, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.