Occupied the stand. Apropriately too on either quarter are the spaces occupied by the four advanced nations of the world. England, France, United States and Prussia each with the best exhibits at the corner. The Prussian works of art and utility in Mexico is considerably the precious metal, and porcelain and poor in comparison with the others. I have no sympathy for Prussia. The American a New York firm exhibits a large case of beautiful artistic silverware but the Americans do not get very far away from utility. The French are squarely into art their exhibit of Bronze statues and statuettes are far the most numerous and best on exhibition. But to me at last and others too the point of greatest attraction was the copies of ancient modern works of art in gold and silver from the South Kensington Museum.
Peterboro Oct 29 1876
Dear Friend John
I have been to the Great Centennial and as it is by far the most noteworthy incident of this dull year of my existence you will excuse me for making it so prominent. If your devotion to science has allowed you to read the papers you must have read much about the Centennial but the papers do not give my impressions any more than the exact impressions of any other individual except the writer’s. It something like the Great Book of books and the Great book of nature. This Great Book of human progress is so copius and varied that we may well be excused for obtaining
Only partial views and arriving at onesided conclusions. When my companion went first into the eastern entrance of the main building we ascended the first stair landed in the gallery of the Massachusetts Inst. Of Technology from this point we look down the full length of the building or at least as far as the vision could carry the immensity of the concern was the first impression. The grandeur of the display was the second and then the conclusion that after all it was only a huge combined advertising concern and except in the government departments of the different nations and in some parts of the Art gallery where prices are not affixed to the pictures that impression never leaves you. The great number of cases like so many shop windows with merchantable
Goods is what makes this feature so prominent. When we get down to the centre of the main building and fully take in the scene our admiration rises here a magnificent transverse arch crosses the main longitudinal of the building very noticeable above in large letters are the names of the four grand divisions of the earth with characteristic artistic representation and a few names of their great men. On the floor the main aisle was crossed by one equally large at the centre was a fountain and an elevated place for an orchestra. The middle space of each of those great aisles was occupied by a close row of long seats where weary ones like could rest and enjoy the music such music as I never heard before. A crack band from Boston occupied"
and other departments but Machinery Hall was my home. We did it pretty thoroughly aisle after aisle. I spent more than half the time there and I was in 12 days altogether. It is no use for me to try to describe it. Our Canadian Exhibit in Machinery Hall was decidedly poor & main building it was reckoned good & in Agricultural hall it was excellent and in the stock and horses particularly the latter we nearly swept the stakes. Canada surprised herself and her neighbors as well.Our people were visitors to a large extent. I went on a Masonic Excursion which numbered about 1200. The Oddfellows had one the same day which numbered
about 1000 and there has been many others since besides. Those who travel at the ordinary reduced fare which is now only $10.00 the round trip. I spent two day specially to Phildelphia, one day in N. York, 1 ½ days in Buffalo two days in Toronto then to Hamilton where our Provintial fair was held where also I was a judge of Engines Water wheels Machinists tools. We remained there three days to Toronto again and up to Meaford for about 10 days. Mrs T being ahead of me. She had been visiting her people while I was at the Centennial. Coming back to Toronto we found brother John considerably worse he had been ill for two years or more and was then we considered past recovery. I remained four days with him and went home expecting to return before"
The fatal day would come but was home only two days when he died. At his funeral we had a pretty complete but solemn reunion of relatives and friends. John seemed to be a success in every respect. He amassed wealth had a reputation without a blot and a sound hope of glory. The great cause of regret was that he was taken from us all in the height of his usefulness he was in his fortieth year. Consumption was the final trouble.
I hung around that large case like a lovesick youth around the home of his devoted (this illustration you unfortunately cannot understand). I admire mechanical skill but I feel in the presence of art like uncovering the head. This exhibit was thoroughly English. English History and Biography might almost be studied in it. A glassware exhibit from London was close by I thought I might surely be able to buy a bit of glass as I could not touch other art exhibits. The least thing in the shape of an inkstand was only $5.00 it was so clear and brilliant but I did without a Centennial inkstand. But I must not particularize of I shall never write anything but Centennial. I was a visitor to the Main Building Art Gallery
1876 Oct 29
Original letter dimensions: 18 x 23 cm.
Trout, William, "1876 Oct 29 To Friend John p 4 and 1" (1876). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 4830.
MSS 2 M953t Trout
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