[Annie Kennedy] Bidwell
1419 [illegible] St. San Francisco, Cal [ Feb. 1st, 1878?]
My dear Mrs Bidwell
I was delighted with your fine long sparkling letter of Jan’ 21, which reached me just after posting a short note to you. Your account of your scientific [ discussions?] with Gunning is very amusing & I could not help being pleased to know that he had caught a truth-loving Tartar, the only kind of which such so- called scientists are afraid. You ask my opinion of this gentleman. I know very little about him nor will I be likely to know much more, because I fear he belongs to a clan of “Profs” who are animated less by love of truth than by a vulgar appetite for notricty & money. The word “humbug” is very telling in descriptions of such characters, though I am loath to apply so perfectly damming a term to anyone not well known to me. Still I have seen reports of some of his lectures, & have looked through a book that he wrote some years ago so that I can hardly be mistaken in his size & genus. On the contrary my friends Prof Norton of San Jose & John Swett who have met him & heard his lectures were pleased with him, although the latter confessed that in a portion of one of his lectures he had tried to humbing the people. He met another friend of mine lately on the Sacramento coast, & sent me word that there was no one in California he was so anxious to meet as myself.
Probably this statement is not very [strictly?] true. At any rate I am not at all eager to see [underlined: him]. When I was at San [illegible] last summer I met his wife, who’ was teaching drawing in the Normal school. My friend Prof Allen the principal asked my opinion of Prof Gunning much in the same spirit as you have done & in a lecture that Allen prevailed on me to give before the teachers, Mrs Gunning was present, & I could not help looking her way & [illegible] against scientific humbug. The questions you ask concerning evolution are far too extensive to be touched in a mere letter. The subject is very interesting to every intelligent person in the world. Gray has written a remarkably l[illegible] & charming pamphlet on the subject that you must ask him for. It is entitled, “A free examination of Darwin on the Origin of Species”. & was first published in the form of articles in the Atlantic Monthly. I wish too that you would read some of Darwins writings if for no other purpose than to learn how pure & good a man he is. His noble character has suffered from s[illegible] & unbelieving men who say much about D[illegible] without really knowing anything about it. A more devout & [illegible]able seeker after truth than Darwin never lived. But Gary & Hooker are warm personal friends of his. If you do not care or have not time to examine his heavy plodding scientific works, at least read his “Voyage of a Naturalist round the word,” published by Harper. The heathy plant on wh we pitched our camp at the foot of L[illegible], or rather on wh we slept is Bryanthus. I have no photograph to send you but will procure one. I can well understand your enthusiasm over the Tahoe water. I had a glorious week there after your visit. Have not yet heard from Hooker. Remember me to the [in margin: General & believe me ever cordially your friend John Muir]
1419 Taylor St., San Francisco
1878 Feb 1
Original letter dimensions unknown.
Muir, John, "Letter from John Muir to [Annie Kennedy] Bidwell, 1878 Feb 1." (1878). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 397.
Reel 03, Image 0688
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, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.
The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.