John Muir


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Compound of strength & weakness, laziness & wide-awake endeavor adventure. Confronted it last with peril as fearful as ever tried a man. Man the case different to see God making landscapes in worth enduring any storm hunger

He could look on common everyday dangers steadily but this view broke him up. Now he was daunted with marvelous sagacity the extreme peril of his position was seen clear to him & the hitherto dull imperturbable stoic broke forth in a perfect flame of consuming fear every hair of him

But as the Scotch say “You canna tell by the look of a frog how far he can jump” & back of this little bundle of black hair lay a burning enthusiasm in a world of human emotion which only the presence of death could bring into plain view – could make manifest

Could look steadily on [common] dangers but where was his intrepidity now here is something grand- a storm & out I must go what a morning – glacier or no glacier such storms are not to be enjoyed send from the wave tops of the nearby sea & [from] the everyday jets & geyser like columns of spray from the jagged black rocks of the beaten shore were carried inland on the blast salting all the air blending the briny odors of the ocean with the rising fragrance of the thrashing bending black groaning woods on the mountains & dashing against the rugged ice wall front of the glacier & plains of mudflats thrashing salting washing all the landscape a sublimely wild roaring morning inspiring to the adventurous mountaineer but surely offering nothing to dull dogs

A majestic contribution of storm-thrashed ice fields mountains & roaring floods smothered in gray gloom

Fine variegated lot of [inconsistencies] Pg 40 [Conspiring] of Pont Vol 1 [F[]ness] of his agony. Small & smooth not in the least effeminate plunger into waves streams, etc. Go on glaciers sore feet. Immutable child of the wilderness. Had puny peg legs & silent tail, an obstinate democrat.


Cascade [sketch] make sketch

Went up the right bank to look as far back towards the [fntns] [fountains] as possible when rounding a huge buttress we came suddenly on another mouth of the glacier where in the form of a huge cataract cascade a mile wide on the brow the ice was pouring in a majestic flood to the westward this surface covered with innumerable thin blades of ice leaning forward like the plashing jetting waves of a surging flood of water of volume of 100 Niagaras but motionless – silent as a star. Petrified flood. White between banks of black spruce. Stick gazed with me as if trying to see what I was looking at. Perhaps [ ] . Then turned away nosing among the crushed trees on the bank.

Now Stick what think you of this. He nosed about for mice weasels & snuffled about for traces of wolves & bears.

It behooved the adventurer on these icy plains to be [observe] vigilant & cautions even to the verge of cowardice if he would last long. But he will gain power of action & perception for beyond what guessed himself possessed of. He learns to read the wilderness like a book & finds greatest safety in daring.

I suppose the wilderness must have produced many Sticks in camps of Inds [Indians] with their innumerable hunts & adventures for from the Esq [Eskimo] of frozen ocean north to fringes of civilization on the south from where glaciers have vanished everybody has dogs but I never knew these & their history has not been written recorded

Would dare cold hunger pitiless storms. At mealtimes he came meekly forward to get scraps of bread bacon & what he liked best bits of salmon or venison or bones of ducks on which he smacked his lips. While keenly alive to danger hushed & ventured. No hero could do more – crossed the sunless depths looked only on the narrow way could endure hunger like Indians. Hate restraint like Ind [Indians].

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MuirReel33 Notebook01 Img046.Jpeg

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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