[Jeanne C.] Carr
Near Snelling Merced Co California July 26th 68
Dear friend Mrs Carr,
I have had the pleasure of but one letter since leaving home from you, that I rec'd at Gainesville, Ga' - I have not rec'd a letter from any source since leaving Florida, & of course I am very lonesome, & hunger terribly for the communion of friends, I will remain here eight or nine months & hope to hear from all my friends. Fate & flowers have carried me to California, & I have reveled & luxuriated amid its plants & mountains nearly four months, I am well again, I came to life in the cool winds & crystal waters of the mountains, & were it not for a thought now & then of loneliness & isolation, the pleasure of my existence would be complete. I have forgotten whether I wrote you from Cuba or not, I spent four happy weeks there in January & February I saw only a very little of the grandeur of Panama, for my health was still in wreck, & I did not venture to await the ar- rival of another steamer, I had but half a day to collect specimens - the isthmus train rushed on with cruel speed through the gorgeous Eden of vines & palms, & I could only gaze from the car platform, & weep, & pray that the Lord would someday give me strength to see it better. After a delightful sail [deleted] [deleted] I arrived in San Fran'
[in margin: Remember me to the [illegible] I hope he has the pleasure of sowing in good & honest [illegible] the glorious truth of science to which he has devoted his life. Give my love to all your boys and my little Butler. Adieu JMuir Address Hopeton Merced Co Cala]
in April, and struck out at once into the country I followed the Diabolo foothills along the San Jose valley to Gilroy - thence over the Diabolo Mountains to Valley of San Joaquin by the Pacheco pass, thence down the valley opposite the mouth of the Merced river, thence across the San Joaquin, & up into the Sierra Nevadas to the mammoth trees of Mariposa, & the glorious Yo-Semite - thence down the Merced to this place. The goodness of the weather as I journey- ed towards Pacheco was beyond all praise & description & fragrant, & mellow, & bright, the sky was perfectly delicious, sweet enough for the breath of angels, every draught of it gave a separate & distinct piece of pleasure I do not believe that Adam & Eve ever tasted better in their balmiest nook. The last of the coast range foot hills were in near view all the way to Gilroy; their union with the valley is by curves and slopes of inimitable beauty, & they were robed with the greatest grass & richest light I ever beheld, & colored & shaded with myriads of flowers of every hue, chiefly of purple & golden yellow, & hundreds of crystal rills joined song with the larks, filling all the valley with music like a sea, making it Eden from end to end - The scenery too & all the Nature in the pass is fairly enchanting - strange & beautiful mountain ferns, low in the dark canyons, & high upon the rocky sunlit peaks, banks of blooming shrubs, & sprinklings, & gatherings of garment flowers, precious & pure as ever enjoyed the sweets of a mountain home [and deleted] Oh what streams are there beaming, glancing, each with music of its own
singing as they go in shadow & light, onward upon their lovely changing pathways to the sea & hills rise over hills, & mountains over mount- ains, heaving, waving, swelling, in most glorious overpowering unreadable majesty - & when at last stricken & faint like a crushed insect, you hope to escape from all the terrible grandeur of these mountain powers, other fountains, other [illegible] break forth before you, for there, in clear view, over heaps & rows of foothills is laid a grand, smooth out spread plain, watered by a river, & another range of peaky, snow capped mount- ains a hundred miles in the distance - that plain is the valley of the San Joaquin, & those mts' are the great Sierra Nevadas, The valley of San Joaquin is the flowriest piece of world I ever walked - one vast, level, even flowerbed- a sheet of flowers - a smooth sea, ruffled a little in the middle by the tree fringing of the river, there & there of smaller cross streams from the mountains, Florida is indeed a land of flowers, but for every flower creature that dwells in its most delightsome places, more than a hundred is living here, Here, Here is Florida. Here they are not sprinkled apart with grass between as in our prairies, but grasses are sprinkled in the flowers, not as in Cuba, flowers piled upon flowers heaped, & gathered into deep glowing masses, but side by side, flower to flower, petal to petal, touching but not entwined, branches weaving past & past each other, but free & separate one smooth garment, mosses next the ground grasses above, petaled flowers between - Before studying the flowers of this valley & their sky, & all of the furniture, & sounds, and adornments of their home, one can scarce believe that their vast assembles are permanent, but rather that actuated
by some great plant purpose they had co[illegible] from every plain, & mountain, & meadows of their kingdom, & that the different coloring of patches, acres & miles, marked the bounds of the various tribe & family encampments, and now just stop & see what I gathered from one square yard opposite the Merced, I have no books & so cannot give specific names -
Ords' Open fls' Species Comp' 132125 2 Yellow 3305 heads Leg 2620 2 Purple & White Scroph 169 7 Purple Umb' 620 1 Yellow Geran' 22 1 Purple Rub' 40 1 White ----- 85 Nat ord unknown ------ 60 Plants unflowred Polenion' 407 2 Purple Grara' 29830 3 Stems about 700, spikelets 10700
Total of open fls 165912 " " fls in bud say 100,000 The yellow of these Comps' " " withered " 40000 is extremely deep & rich & bossy " Nat ords' 9-11 as though the sun had filled " Species 16-17 their petals with a portion of " Mosses 1000000 his very self - it exceeds the purple of all the others in superficial quantity forty or fifty times their whole amount, but to an observer who first looks downward & then takes a more & more distant view, the yellow gradually fades & purple flowers are higher. In depth the purple stratum is about ten or twelve inches, the yellow, seven or eight & second purple of mosses, one - I'm sorry my page is done I have not told anything
[in margin: I thought of you Mrs. Carr, when I was in glorious Yosemite & of the prophecy of the Priest: [that?] you would see it & worship there in company with your Doctor Priest & I. It is by far the grandest of all of His special temples of Nature I was even permitted to enter. It must be the sanctum sanctorum of the Sierras & I trust that you you will all be led to it.]
Near Snelling, Merced Co. Calif.
1868 Jul 26
Original letter dimensions: 21.0 x 40.0 cm
Muir, John, "Letter from John Muir to Jeanne C. Carr, 1868 Jul 26" (1868). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 1278.
Reel 01, Image 1226
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