John Muir


John Muir


Emily [O. Pelton]


To Emily Putton

Yosemite Valley,
April 2, 1872.

Dear friend Emily:

Your broad pages are received. You must never waste letter time in apologies for size. The more vast and prairie-like the better. But now for the business part of your coming. Be sure you let me know within a few days the time of your setting out so that I may be able to keep myself in a findable, discoverable place. I am, as, perhaps, I told you, engaged in the study of glaciers and mountain structure, etc., and I am often out alone for weeks where you couldn't find me. Moreover I have a good many friends of every grade who will be here, all of whom have greater or lesser claims on my attention. With Prof. LeConte I have made arrangements for a long scientific ramble hack of the summits; also with Mrs. Carr. You will readily understand from these engagements and numerous other probabilities of visits, especially from scientific friends who almost always take me out of Yosemite, how important it is that I should know very nearly the time of your coming. I would like to have a week of naked, un-occupied time to spend with you, and nothing but unavoidable, un-escapable engagements will prevent me from having such a week.
If Mr. Knox would bring his team you could camp out, and the expense would be nothing, hardly, and you could make your headquarters at a cabin I am building. This would be much the best mode of traveling and of seeing the Valley. Independence is nowhere sweeter than in Yosemite. People who come to hue ought to abandon and forget all that is called business and duty, etc.; they should forget their individual existences, should forget they are born. They should as nearly as possible live the life of a particle of dust in the wind, or of a withered leaf in a whirlpool. They should come like thirsty sponges to imbibe without rule. It is blessed to lean fully and trustingly on

Nature, to experience, by taking to her a pure heart and unartificial mind, the infinite tenderness and power of her love. You mentioned the refining influences of society. Compared with the intense purity and cordiality and beauty of Nature, the most delicate refinements and cultures of civilization are gross barbarisms. As for the rough animals called men, who occur in and on these mountains like sticks of condensed filth, I am not in contact with them; I do not live with them. I live alone, or, rather, with the rocks and flowers and snows and blessed storms; I live in blessed mountain Light, and love nothing less pure. You'll find me rough as the rocks and about the same color-granite. But as for loss of pure- mindedness that you seem to fear, come and see my teachers; come, see my Mountain Mother and you will be at rest on that point. We have had a glorious storm of the kind called earth- quake. I've just been writing an account of it for the N. Y. Tribune.1 It would seem strange that any portion of our perpendicular walls are left unshattered. it is delightful to be trotted and dumpled on our Mother's mountain knee. I hope we will be blessed with some more. The first shock of the morning of [March] 26th, at half past two o'clock, was the most sublime storm I every experienced. Most cordially yours, JOHN MUIR.

1 Issue of May 7, 1872.


Yosemite Valley

Date Original

1872 Apr 2


Original letter dimensions: 32.5 x 21.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 02, Image 0759

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



2 pages



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