John Muir


John Muir


[J. B.] Mc Chesney


[illegible] [Original letter returned to Mrs.J. B. McChesney].

Yosemite, Sep.19th,0 [1871].

Dear McChesney,

I thank you most cordially for the botanical favor you have done me, and my confidence in your kindness will very likely be shown by sending you more work of the same kind. If it be possible for me to reciprocate in any way I trust that you will not fail to let me know it.
I don't agree with you in saying that in all human minds there is poetry. Man as he came from the hand of his Maker was poetic in both mind and body, but the gross heathenism of civilization has generally destroyed nature, and poetry, and all that is spiritual.
I am tempted at times to adopt the Calvinic doctrine of total depravity and in my opinion no partitioned body of men more clearly and emphatically prove the leading doctrines of their own sect in their own lives. But all have not bowed the knee to the earthly gold of Baal. The Lord has a natural Elect, people whose affinities unite them to the rest of nature, and I think that you are one.
I think that you are right in your estimate of the Valley falls.Yosemite is crowned with surpassing glory. Only Nevada approaches it in the attributes of grandeur and power. The Yosemite and Nevada belong to the same natural genus in the kingdom of blooming vocal waters, and they are comparable. Pohono, Pyweack, the Illilouette belong to another genus which is well marked; The Ribbon, Royal Arch falls, and the countless snowy threads,that come to all the rocks in the glorious days of storm, to still another, and the joyous cascades that sing unseen in the canons of Tenaya and Dome Creek to a fourth well defined genus. The cheap adjectives - charming, lovely, pretty, etc. are bestowed upon Pohono and the Vernal with abundance of proper squeaking emphasis by "visitors" because these falls are more easily approached and their beauty, at least that which is external, is more easily observed by the useful bat-eyes of accomplished tourists.In the snowy fall there is the most sudden and overwhelming development of grandeur, but at the same time it is the most fathomable of all the falls. The grandeur of Yosemite comes as an endless revelation, mysterious, unreadable, immeasurable, whose forms and voices will live in me throughout eternity.
This is a glorious subject, and I could write upon it forever, but my letter is full, and I must stop ere l have begun.

Cordially yours,

John Muir

[Year 1871 supplied because of reference to "botanical favor" which seems to refer to letter of Sept. 8 (1871)].




Original letter dimensions: 33 x 21.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 02, Image 0525

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

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.

Copyright Holder

Muir-Hanna Trust

Copyright Date



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