Jeanne C. Carr


Jeanne [C.] Carr


John Muir


Oakland, May 28th. [1870]

Dear John Muir,

I have answered all thy letters, and some of them have been quite long and though hurriedly written were too full of what I find no one else wants, to be lost. I am longing, yea, pining for the pines, for the sweet house of life in which you live, and not less to see what manner of man you are becoming, left entirely to Nature's teaching and discipline. Mr. Carlton, who writes the enclosed, and is a friend worth knowing, ought to go to the Valley this year, but fears he cannot. Mr. McChesney, one of the teachers in Oakland, is going up soon with a camping out party of gentlemen. I like him very much. Mr. Stone of his party, a teacher also, is something of a mineralogist, perhaps geologist, but as dry as a chip or California dust. I could spend eternity in a field of wild oats more delightfully than in a world full of such men, however virtuous and useful. Will I get to you this summer? Not unless my beloved should take a sudden inspiration, or be drawn into some of the eastern parties soon to be here. I may as well say I will not do this unless God palpably sends me. I wait for His voice. So much of the life I lead is not mine -- in no sense mine. I am ground over and over in these mills of society, and so made a sharer in some divine purpose of use! It is so easy to work, to give, to spend, and be spent, I look up o' nights ere I sleep to the distant wondrous world we shall explore together, with hardly a wish for Ole's music, or your dear wildernesses, or the sympathy of kindred eyes which see and ears which hear. It all seems so sure, so near, at times I am a part of the soul of things. It is easy in these moods to defer my soul's appropriate joys. At other times I hunger and thirst for the harmonies of sound, color, motion, which are your daily food, for the society of the elect, as I never did for any worldly good.
I have had a great pleasure lately in a visit with George B. Emerson, who is one of the oldest Massachusetts teachers, and the author of an excellent work on the trees of Massachusetts, published more than forty years ago. He came to this coast with Dr. Jacob Bigelow, one of the oldest doctors in the country and author of Bigelow's botany, an excellent work long gone out of print. Mrs. Bigelow was along; the three, all over eighty years of age, went up to Calaveras, but were dissuaded from entering the Valley. I tried to make Mr. Emerson reconsider his resolution not to attempt the longer journey by telling him that when he appeared at the Heavenly gates the angels would send him back to visit the Yosemite -- no admission there for a tree lover who had not been true to the end. The enthusiasm of the old men was charming. I wanted them to go to the Valley so that you could see them. Mr. Lapham of Wisconsin has been out here, and we had a day together among the plants. An Agave Americana in one of the gardens here is sending up a blossom stem, now about thirty feet in height. The plant is very magnificent. There is much to enjoy in the garden botany of this region. My friend Mrs. Daggett is travelling with her husband in Northern Africa. [She] says she found near Algiers a botanic garden far surpassing any in Europe. I want to send you her letters, but fear they would be lost. I am truly glad you are to stay with Mr. Hutchings. I think you might be of great use and congenial to one another. Did I ever tell you how in secret I hope he may substantiate his claim, though it seems a pity that any ownership of that spot should exist. I should like to have Mr. H. stay there during his and my life time -- but I would have no roads made. Everyone should earn the right to enter it. Write as often as you can. Your letters keep up my faith that I shall lead just such a life sometime. The boys are all at home just now and send their regards; the Dr. also.

Your friend,
Jeanne Carr

[Year 1870 supplied because of reference to McChesney's visit to Valley, to which Muir also refers in letter of July 29 (1870)].

[This letter undoubtedly answered by Muir's letter dated May 29, hence Mrs. Carr's letter is evidently incorrectly dated by her].



Oakland, [California]


Original letter dimensions: 33 x 21.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 02, Image 0285

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Owning Institution

University of the Pacific Library Holt-Atherton Special Collections. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.


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