John Muir


John Muir


[Jeanne C.] Carr



of this neighborhood. We have some of the finest assemblies inarguable. There is a little grassy lakelet about half a mile from here, shaded & sheltered by a dense growth of small oaks just when those oaks meet the marginal sedges of the lake, is a circle of ferns, a perfect brother- hood of the three [illegible] - [illegible] [illegible], & [illegible]. Of the three Claytoniana is the most stalely & luxuriant. I never saw such lordly magnificent clumps before. There average height is not less than 3 1/2 or 4 feet. I measured several [illegible] that exceeded 5 - one 5 feet 9 inches, their palace hor[illegible] gave no evidence of having ever been trampled upon; I do wish you could meet them this is my favorite fern I'm sorry it does not grow in Scotland


[Aug, 1867]


Dear friend Mrs Carr

I am now with the loved of home. I rec'd your kind letter on my arrival in Portage. Four weeks ago, I have delayed writing that I might be able to state when I could be in Madison. I have never seen Arethosa nor Aspidimn fragrons, but I know many a meadow where Calopogon finds home - with us it is now in the plenitude of glory, C[illegible] is not here, but I can easily procure you a specimen from the rocks of Owen Sound [illegible] It is there very abundant, so also is s[illegible]. Have you a living specimen of this last fern Please tell me particularly about sending or bringing Calopogon or


any other of our plants you wish for. I have no skill whatever in the matter - I am enjoying myself exceed- ingly - the dear flowers of Wis are incomparably more numerous then those of [illegible] or Indiana, with what [illegible] unspeakable joy did I welcome those flowers that I have loved so long - hundreds grow in the full light of our openings that I had not seen since leaving home. In company with my little friend I visited Mu[illegible] lake we approached it by a ravine in the principal hills that belong to it, we emerged from the low leafy oaks and it came in full view all unchanged, sparkling & clear with its edging of rushes & lilies, - and there too was the meadow with its brook, & willows, and all the well known [nooks?] of its winding



border where many a moss & fern find home, I held these poor eyes to the dear dear scene and it reached me once more in its full glory. We visited my mill pond a [very?] Li[illegible]pation affair upon a branch creek from springs in the meadow, after leaving the [illegible], my stream flows underground a few yards, the opening of this dark way is extremely beautiful I wish you could see it, it is hung with a slender meadow [illegible] whose flowing t[illegible] leaves have just sufficient stiffness to make them [illegible] with [illegible]table beauty as they reach down to welcome the water to the light. This [illegible] one of Natures finest pieces most del- [illegible]ately finished, & composed of just this quiet flowing water, green sedge & summer light. I wish you could see the ferns


Can it be that a single flower or wee, or grass, in all these prairies occupies a [chance position?] Can it be that the folding or curvature of a single leaf is wrong or undetermined in these gardens that God is keeping - The most microscopic portions of plants are beautiful in themselves, and these are beautiful combined into [individuals?] & undoubtably all are woven with equal care into one harmonious beautiful whole - I have the analyses of two other handfuls of [illegible] [plants?] which I will show you at another time We hope to be in Madison in about three weeks. To me all plants are more precious than before, my poor eye is not better or worst A cloud is over it but in [going?] over the [wildest?] landscapes I am not always sensible

[in margin: My love to Allie & [illegible] Butler and all my friends Please tell the Butlers [when?] [illegible] are [coming?] Their invitation is prior yours but your homes are not widely separated. I [promise?] to write again before leaving [illegible] You will [illegible] have all my [illegible] & I will have [illegible] to listen. Most cordially John Muir]


had Hugh Miller seen it then he would not have called regalis the finest of British ferns. I think that I have seen specimens of the ostrich fern in some places of [illegible] which might rival my [Osmunda?] in height, but not in beauty & sub[illegible]. I was anxious to see Illinois prairies on my way home, So we went to Decat- ur near the centre of the state thense north by Rockford & Jan[illegible]ville, I botanized one week on the [illegible] about seven miles southwest of [illegible]. I gathered the most beautiful bouquet there that I ever saw I seldom make bouquets I never saw but very few that I thought were at all beautiful I was anxious to know the grasses & sedges of the [illegible] [illegible] and also their comparative abundance so


I walked one hundred yds' in a straight line, gathering at each step that grass or sedge nearest my foot placing them one by one in my left hand as I walked along without looking at them or entertaining the remotest idea of making a bouquet. At the end of this measured walk my handful of course consisted of one hundred plants arranged in Natures own [illegible] as regards kind comparative numbers & size. I looked at my grass bouquet by chance - was startled - held it at arms length in sight of its own sear & distant scenery and companion flowers. My discovery was complete & I was de- lighted beyond measure with the new & extreme beauty - Here it is



[in margin: Gram [Cyh?]]

of K[illegible] crista[illegible] 55 " Agrosits scabra 29 " P[illegible] 7 " P " - [illegible[ 7 " Stipa spartea 7 " Poa alsordes 7 " P" - pratensis [1?] " Caux pamiea 4 " C Noa[illegible] [1?]

The extremely fair & diffuse purple agsost[illegible], contrasted most divi[illegible] with the taller str[illegible] [illegible] Koel[illegible] the lo[illegible] single stipla too & P' Clan[illegible] and their broad [illegible] leaves & purple muffy pishils played an important part, so also did the Cy[illegible] spikes of the edges all were just in place - every leaf had its [illegible] taper, and texture, & exact measure of green - Only its p[illegible] seemed out of place, & as might be expected it proved to be an intruder belonging to a field or bouquet in Europe


[Portage, Wisc.]

Circa Date

[1867 Aug 1-12]


Original letter dimensions: 20.5 x 25.0 cm

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 01, Image 1096

Collection Identifier

Online finding aid for the microform version of the John Muir Correspondence

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, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.

Owning Institution

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library. 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



4 pages


Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters



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