Mrs. Irvine L. Lenroot
May 16th 1905
Mrs Irvine L. Lenroot
It is wonderful how plain stories are mixed & confounded & made false leaving not a single fact in any of them but only the ghost of a fact.
T original story abt T dis of Linnaea yu will fd in T art Linnaeus in "A Library of T World's Bst Lit." edited by Chas. Dudly Warner, wch I supp you will easily find. Here are T outlines of T story. A hun yrs aft Lin died Asa Gray, Sir Jos. Hooker & I were [illegible] on Mt Shasta our camp was in a grnd forest of silver
firs. Aft sup I built a bg fire, & T flowers & T trees illumined by T firelight seemed to be look__ in & listen__ as we talked. Gray told many a story of his life & so did Hooker. Of course we talked of trees, bt it was not wht was said in prs of our grnd [illegible] cedars firs & pines TT was not mem TT night - It was wht was sd of T lowly fragrant namesake of Lin - Linnaeaborealis. Aft a pause in T flow of our conversat__, Gray suddenly sd "Muir, why hv yu not fd Linnaea in Cal? It must be
here or hereabts for specs hv been st me from Wash & Oregon & I thk yu shd hv fd it hr or a little way north of hr." I replied "Linneae has always been a fav of mine ever since I began to wonder in T wilderness. I hv fd many of its coms in T High Sierra woods & arround T glacier mead bt Lin itself I hv not yt ft." "Nevertheless" sd Gray "T blessed little yellow mst be no grt dis off here." Then we wrapped ourselves in our blans & fell
asleep with our mds full of Linnaea. Next a.m. Gray con'ed his wrk on T mt., while Hooker & I md an excursion 8 or 10 mls T wstward. Abt noon, aft ford - one of T branches of T upper Sac. we noticed a grn carpet on T bank md of someth__ we did not at fst rec for it was not in bloom. Hooker look keen/ at it sd "whts TT?" Then we bth dismnt from our ponies & pluck__ specimens Hooker sd "Isnt TT Linnaea? its awfully like it. Then find__ some of T [illegible] flowrs he exclmd "It is
Linnaea" This was T 1st tm T blessd plant ws fd within T bounds of Cal, & it wld almost seem TT Gray had felt its pres T ngt before at T campfire 10 mls away.
When Linnaaus was 25 years of age he md T mst noteable of his lng lonely lot excurs's. Sett__ out in Uppsala he wond'd afoot or on horseback thru endless pine & birtch wds, meads & tundras into Lapland beyond T Artic Circle. He brought bck huns of spes of plants [then?] [illegible] among wch was a
lit frag evergreen TT he liked T bst of all. Hand__ a spec of it > his friend Gronovius he pointed out its characters & requested him > describe it & name it for him say__: "TT somehow he felt TT this lit plant was related > him & like himself. So it was named Linnaea borealis.
In T wilder, parts of T Rocky Mts, & far north along T Pacific, I hv fd Linnaea bloom__ & spread__ in glorious ex far & wd over mossy ground cover_ logs &
boulders beneath spruce & pine, T wild & T gentlest of all T plant people of T northern wilderness, among T mst charm__ of its coms are Chiogenes, Clintonia, Orchids, Heathwerts & hosts of [illegible] mosses wear__ golden crowns. Where Linnaea dwells T air & T scenery are always good enough for Gods or men, and I always feel will__ to encamp there forever.
Hop__ TT you will fd T above abt wht yu
want, & of wch yu may print wht yu like in yr local paper, I am, with best wishes -
1905 May 16
Original letter dimensions: 20.5 x 13 cm.
Muir, John, "Letter from [John Muir] to Mrs. Irvine L. Lenroot, 1905 May 16." (1905). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 3331.
Reel 15, Image 0457
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