John Muir


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Circa Date

circa 1887



[be regarded with real awe & reverence almost worshipped indeed like pagan fetishes painted glass dim religious light, priestly chants & talks all for satisfaction of religious sympathy [appetite] which at the root must I suppose be sound [true] enough. But if God cannot be seen here how can He be seen inside of walls however painted & consecrated? This deadness [of soul condition] to the penetrating burning spiritual influences as are [these] about us [in this wilderness] is most wonderful. In dull indifference, apathy to these sermons in stone trees [cliffs etc.] [Billy does not seem to feel at all any invisible influence here, he is] whatever Billy seems like a dead man (in a dead world) Were I to put a snowball into a fire & find that [it would not melt however long exposed to the heat, I should/would not be more surprised the snow that refused to melt in the fire would hardly be more wonderful than unchanging dullness in soul in exposure to] the rays of God’s beauty. I have been trying to get him [Billy] to walk to the brink of Yosemite for a view [& look down over the walls] offering to watch [herd] the sheep for a day while he should enjoy what [so many] tourists come from all the world to see. [from a great distance] But though within a mile of the famous valley [or two of this great world’s wonder] he will not go [to see] to it even out of mere curiosity.


“What,” says he, “is Yosemite but a [d__d deep] canyon, a lot of rocks, a hole in the ground, a place dangerous about falling into. A d__d good place to keep away from.” But think of the waterfalls Billy, just think of that big stream [creek] we crossed the other day falling [sheer down] half a mile through the air. Think of that [all beaten into white spray just think of that Billy] & the sound it makes. You can hear it now like the roar of the sea. [Surely now that you are so near you will take the trouble to walk a mile to see it all when it does not cost you a cent”] Thus I pressed Yosemite upon him like a missionary [zealous preacher] offering the Gospel but he would [have] none of it. “I [should] be afraid to look over so high a wall, he said, it would make my head swim & [then] there’s nothing [to] worth seeing anyway, only rocks & I see plenty of them here. [The visitors] Tourists that spend[ing] their money & time to see rocks & falls are fools, that’s all [&] You can’t humbug me. I’ve been in this country too long for that” Such souls I suppose are asleep or smothered & befogged beneath mean pleasures & cares. [But you have not seen it & how do you know so much about it as you]

Date Occurred


Resource Identifier

MuirReel31 Notebook07 Img059.jpg

Contributing Institution

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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