John Muir


[John Muir]


[Jeanne C.] Carr


[4]upper rocks only three days & am hungry for exercise already Prof' Runkle, President of the Boston Institute of Technology was here last week & I preached my glacial theory to him for five days taking him into the canons of the valley & up among the grand glacier wombs & pathways of the summit. He was fully con- vinced of the truth of my readings & urged me to write out the glacial system of Yosemite & its tributaries for the Boston Academy of science I told him that I meant to write my thoughts for my own use & that I would send him the manuscript & if he & his wise scientific brothers thought it of sufficient interest they might publish it He is going to send me some instruments & I mean to go over all the glacier basins carefully working untill driven down by the snow [1] #74 [1871] Yosemite Sep 8thDearest friend Mrs Carr I am sorry that King made you uneasy about me He does not understand me as you do & you must not heed him so much He thinks that I am melancholy & above all that I require polishing. I feel sure that if you were here to see how happy I am & how ardently I am seeking a knowledge of the rocks you could not call me away but would gladly let me go with only God & his written rocks to guide me You would not think of calling me to make machines or a home, or of rubbing me against other minds, or of setting me up for measurement No dear friend you would say 'Keep your mind untramelled & pure go unfrictioned - unmeasured & God give you the true meaning & interpretation of his mountains"00612

[2]You know that for the last three years I have been ploddingly making observations about this valley & the high mountain region to the East of it drifting broodingly about & taking in every natural lesson that I was fitted to absorb In par- ticular the great valley has always kept a place in my mind How did the Lord make it? What tools did he use? How did he apply them & when? I considered the sky above it & all of its opening canons, & studied the flowers that came in by every door that I saw standing open, but I could get no light Then I said "Your are attempting what is not possible for you to accomplish Yosemite is the end of a grand chap- ter - if you would learn to read it go commence at the beginning" Then I went above to the alphabet valleys of the summits comparing canon with [3]canon with all their varieties of rock structure & cleavage & the comparative size & slope of the glaciers & waters wh they contained Also the grand congregations of rock creations was present to me & I studied their forms & sculpture. I soon had a key to every Yosemite rock & perpendicular & sloping wall. The grandeur of these forces & their glorious results overpower me & inhabit my whole being, waking or sleeping I have no rest in dreams I was blurred sheets of glacial writing or follow lines of cleavage or struggle with the difficulties of some extraordinary rock form. Now it is clear that woe is me if I do not drown this tendency towards nervous prostration by constant labor in working up the details of this whole question I have been down from the

[8]Libby sent me Tyndalls new book & have looked hastily over it. It is an Alpine minature of very pleasant taste & I wish I could enjoy reading & talking at with you. I expect Mrs H will accompany her husband to the East this winter & there will not be one left with whom I can exchange a thought. Mrs H is going to leave me out all the books & want & Runkle is going to send me Darwin, these with my notes & maps will fill my winter hours if my eyes do not fail & now that you see my whole position I think that you would not call me to the excitements & distracting novelties of civilization This bread question is very troublesome. I will eat anything you think will suit me send up either by express to [Oak deleted] Big Oak Flat or by any other chance & I will remit the money required in any way you like [in margin: My love to all & more thanks than I can write for your constant kindness] 00612 [5]In winter I can make my drawings & maps & write out notes. So you see that for a year or two I will be very busy I have settled with Hutchings & have no dealings with him now I think that next spring I will have to guide a month or two for pocket money although I do not like the work. I suppose I might live for one or two seasons without work I have five hundred dollars here & I have been sending home money to my sisters & brothers perhaps about twelve or fifteen hundred & a man in Canada owes me three or four hundred dollars more Wh I suppose I could get if I was in need but you know that the scotch do not like to spend their cash dollar some of my friends are badgering me to write

[6]for some of the Magazines & I am almost tempted to try it, only I am afraid that this would distract my mind from my main work more than the distasteful & depressing labor of the mill or of guiding. What do you think about it? Suppose I should give some of the journals my first thoughts about this glacier work as I go along & afterwards gather them & press them for the Boston wise Or will it be better to hold my whee[illegible] & say it all at a breath You see how practical I have become & how fully I have burdened you with my little affairs Perhaps you will ask "What plan are you going to pursue in your work well here it is - the only book I ever have invented. First I will describe [7]each glacier with its brututaries separately, then describe the rocks & hills & mountains over wh they have flowed or past wh they have flowed. endeavoring to prove that all of the various forms wh these rocks now have is the necessary result of the ice action in connection with their structure & cleavage etc Also the different kinds of canons & lake basins & meadows wh they have made. Then armed with this data I will come down to Yosemite where all of my ice has come & prove that each dome & brow & wall, & every grace & spire & brother is the necessary result of the delicately balanced blows of well directed & combined glaciers against the parent rocks wh contained them, only thinly covered & moulded in some instance by the subsequent action of water etc




Original letter dimensions: 20.5 x 26 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 02, Image 0507

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, see

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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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Muir-Hanna Trust

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4 pages



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