Melville B[est] Anderson
25 June, 1895
My dear Mr. Muir:
I have thought and spoken of you often since my delightful visit with you, and am now somewhat ashamed that I should have delayed my intended letter until after the receipt of your polite acknowledgement of my article. I have all along desired to tell you how much pleasure the visit gave me, and to say a word or two about the remainder of our outing. My excuse is--too many business and other unpostponable letters to write.
We reached Napa at noon that Sunday, after a warm run. Green returned toward San Francisco the same afternoon. Monday morning
Farman and I ran up to Calistoga, where we took the stage as far as the famous Toll-house, which is a manner of summer hotel. Leaving our wheels there, and each taking a fifteen-cent lunch in a paper and a bottle of water, we started up Mt. St. Helena. An old miner, part owner of the Silverado Mine, who is "waiting for free coinage" before reopening the mine, accompanied us as far as Silverado and showed us the haunts of Robert Louis Stevenson, who, I found, under the name of Stevens or under the guarded description "a noted Eastern writer," is one of the traditions of the neighborhood. Unfortunately, our old miner came here a year or so after Stevenson, and, so far as I could learn from him, the several characters
that figure in Stevenson's book have disappeared. He showed us the lower floor of Stevenson's house; the rest has been torn away. I should like to go back there again alone, in order to have a chance to sit and meditate upon Stevenson's platform.
We climbed to the nearer summit and there ate our slender lunch. Then we went two miles farther to the highest point, said to be at an altitude of 4600 ft. Here Farman proposed to build "a memorable bonfire." So at it we went with enthusiasm, tugging enormous roots up the side of the mountain to the signal station, which, of course, we had entirely to ourselves. The sun had gone
down and the air was cool. We got such a tremendous blaze agoing that altho' we had nothing with us but our thin bicycle suits (my sweater I had left in my basket on the train at Valley Junction), we decided to pass the night there. Indeed, Farman found we could not find our way down by moonlight. So there we stayed and waited for morning. We tried to make beds of madrano bushes, but the sharp angles in them would not let us sleep. So we kept up our fire and enjoyed the silence, the moonset, and the clear heavens. By and by came the first faint pearling of dawn over the sharp black line of the Sierras and then the bald dome of Shasta began to loom
majestic,--238 miles in an airline to the North. We had seen it white at sunset, now we saw it black.--At sunrise we descended to the toll-house, tied each a small tree to his wheel; and so descended, dragging the road to the valley. At Calistoga we took a delightful plunge in the warm sulphur swimming bath, and at seven we we ready for breakfast, having had next to nothing to eat for 18 hours.
From Calistoga we slipped leisurely down the valley. Farman was pretty badly done up and I could hardly drag him along, altho' he is a strapping fellow and has fiftten years less on his back than I. It was hot & we had a head wind; so we did not get to Napa until one o'clock. There Farman disappeared (went
to bed!) and I saw him no more. At 4 P.M. I left by train for San Francisco, arriving there at 7:30. At 9.30 I started home by moonlight. It was a glorious run after I had extricated myself and wheel from the vile purlieus of the City. According to my cyclometer it is 37 miles from the foot of Market St. to my house, which I reached about one o'clock A.M.
This is the bare outline of my trip. I am afraid it is not very interesting, for I am obliged to omit all the details and the coloring that give the real interest to such a story.
I start (in a day or two for Coronado. I shall certainly visit you again, probably before the summer is over. I want to bring
Flugel [diacritic]; my bringing Green was not intended beforehand, but almost all our men are good fellows and presentable enough. You see I have such faith in you that I take you at your word.
Please give my cordial regards to Mrs. Muir and express to her my gratitude for her kind hospitality. I should like also to be remembered to Mrs. Strentzel. Thanks you again for your kind words about my article; it is an ungrateful task to be so
severe upon any book or man. But if one criticise at all, one must be true and thorough.
Goodbye, dear Mr. Muir, and believe me to be
Melville B. Anderson
PS. I want to tell you that I read your Century article with deep pleasr. It reminds me of your talk; that is the best compliment I can pay it. I have given it to my boys to read
1895 Jun 25
Original letter dimensions: 22 x 14 cm.
Anderson, Melville Best, "Letter from Melville B[est] Anderson to John Muir, 1895 Jun 25." (1895). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 3112.
Reel 08, Image 1059
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