Abba G. Woolson


Abba G. Woolson


John Muir



I saw from Glacier Point. and which I have often seen in fancy [illegible] But my day is coming; and it is a comfort to know that Yosemite and the Sierras “will keep”. I enclose a picture which you may not recognize as a good likeness of the toppling individual who came pitching down behind you, from crag to boulder, on her return from that immortal glimpse of the desolate Sierras. it [underlined: is] a good likeness, nevertheless. I long, also, to behold Mt. Shasta. I have a steroscopic? picture of it; but I shall never attempt such a heroic ascent of his snow-clad slope as you appear to have made. I can understand, though, that it would be glorious. Perhaps strong minded women do get [illegible] stormy seas, but that has not been my lot. To live in eternal and external calm, feeling that Nature had a special care for me, and that I had a special love for her, has been the happy existence granted me from the beginning. If I see a storm



Concord, N.H. Feb. 28. 1876.

My dear Mr. Muir,

I was much surprised and pleased on receiving a letter from you; for I had supposed that you were too busy in studying the grand formations of your beloved Sierras to have time for thinking of puny mortals a whole continents width off, much more for writing them generous letters. But it seems I was mistaken; and that your good memory will not let you ignore those who have been permitted to worship, - if only for a few days, - in your sacred temples, with you for attendant priest. The letter reached me yesterday, and also, its accompanying letters printed at an earlier date. I have read them all with great interest; for anything

[in margin: 5]
brewing anywhere on the waters, I steer away, before the leaping [illegible] become enticing and dangerous; unless I feel that duty calls me to sail in and do battle, when I am ready to stand my chances in the tempest. But duty seems mostly to dwell in the still, serene places; so I don’t ever find myself near the [illegible]akers in her service. We, two Woolsons live a very quiet happy life, caring little for the persons about us, though having many pleasant acquaintances in our immediate world; but living more really in the world of books, newspaper, and the letters of absent and beloved friends. I go to Boston often; and breathe mental ozone while there. I work less in Reforms than I did, - though as “strong minded” and radical as ever, - because I have seen that no reforms are so good


[Page 2]

thus dated and signed is always welcome to me. Your descriptions are fresh and graphic; and I am not a bit surprised that you kept the Sacramento people still before you for two hours. I wish I could have been in that audience. But no description, however fine, is as good as the reality. I never lose my home sickness for the Sierras; and I am reconciled to no future that does not promise me weeks and weeks of sunny weather, with a touch of storm, in their crystal heights. Why I do not start at once for that Valley, and spend the livelong summer there, dreaming and gazing beside its dreaming river, I cannot tell; except that nobody else here understands my rememembrance or my longing for that far-off splendor, no one contemplates the possibility of my pulling up stakes for such a romantic crusade, and nothing helps me to it. So the [illegible] around me forces


me to seem equally so; and I have not heroism enough to laugh at barriers of straw, and to start. A friend wrote me the other day, asking me what sort of dress she needed for camping out six months in Ca.! near Mt. Shasta and in the Yosemite. “The shining robes of the righteous”, I was tempted to reply; but, instead, I specified what sort of cloth and leather she should encase her bodily frame in, saying never a word about the garb of her mind. Yet she had one; for it was Mary F. Eastman, who is invited by Dr. Dio Lewis and wife to accompany them this spring on this enticing quaint. I count the Lewis’es as old friends, and had not my evil fate had, somehow, the upper hand just then in the management of my concerns, it would have entered with the hearts of the Lewis’es to invite me also. Then should I have seen that blanched granite world again, which


as right formation to start with. Consequently, I am most interested than ever in the best education for all, - in bending the twigs, not the gnarled and crooked old trees. And – I am more content to do as you do, - leave the Lord to take care of his own world; only I am sure he needs me to help him do it, or he would not have made me, and given me so strong a desire to have a hand in these society-repairs. In your eternal, unchangeable rock- world, you can ignore humanity, and forget its sins and dwarfishness; but it crowds and oppresses you her con- tinually, and the rocks are not visible behind it. I long to forget the human part of the world, and to see more of the divine; this is why, for one reason, that I long to sit down for months [in margin: 69] between Washington Column & the [illegible] Dome, with Nevada thundering in my [illegible]. Be good enough to write me when you can. With kindest remembrances, Truly Yrs. Abba G. Woolson


Concord, N[ew] H[ampshire]

Date Original

1876 Feb 28


Original letter dimensions: 20.5 x 25.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 03, Image 0399

Copyright Statement

Some letters written to John Muir may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

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.


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