Alice Morse Earle


John Muir


[1]FromAlice Morse Earle.[letterhead]My dear Mr Muir-I am deeply touched and much gratified at receiving your book "Our National Parks" - which you have sent me. Gratified am I not only because the book stirs and stimulates my fancy, but because I am proud to know, through this gift of yours, that you have not forgotten me. And I do so hate to be forgotten - The sting of death to me rests solely in the dread that no one may remember me. Since I first knew your Mountains of California, I have read every word of yours which I could find - among these words [some?] of the papers which now form this book. You have revealed to me through your writings, a new out-doors, on so entirely [illegible] my New England woods and fields that it might04378 [2]be in another planet. Your wild gardens are so strange so beautiful, they seem remote from my life - They are not unreal & they are living places, but they seem so far away. What can a forest or meadow be with these strange wild flowers, [ivesia?] [thocarpus?], draperia, collumia, [Tanscheneria?], allmostoma, manzanita, [acanthus?], [chamaebatia?] - what can they be- Even the lilies seem so strange to me. I have read every word of the chapter Wild Gardens of the Yosemite twenty or thirty times. I cannot comprehend it. The Alpine gardens, the meadow gardens - I partly comprehend - but these gardens whose soil is crystal, mica tormaline all with tiny spangling growing flowers it isnt a real place is it? I am a true lover of larkspur, and though the tint of larkspur is not a pure turquoise then a turquoise always reminds me of larkspur it symbolizes larkspur to me. I never in my entire life bought a jewel, an ornament a trinket for myself- I said a year or two ago to myself I [3]would try myself a jewel with some of the money that has come to me from my books - But I have two daughters, and everything has gone to them. Both girls are to be married in a few weeks - and after that - I am going to buy me a turquoise. I want one clear of color [fine?] of size, and I shall have it set in a ring because then I can see it myself— set just in plain gold. My book Oldtime Gardens is selling well- and I will buy this turquoise with some of the money- and when I look at the turqoise I shall always think of these wonderful California gardens- It will be to me a symbol, an emblem of the color and glory of these gardens.I have an excellent picture of you - I believe it to be good though I never saw you. Tis cut from a magazine, perhaps the Book h[illegible] you have on an overcoat and cloth peaked cap, and hold up a branch of pine cones against the wall. Do you know who Appleseed Johnny was? He furnished apple [4]trees for half a century to all the [pioneer?] settlers of Indiana & Iowa He deemed himself sent by God to furnish apple seeds and young seedling trees to these settlers. He once killed a rattlesnake, and throughout his life he never [cursed?] his self-reproach for his wantonness. I bethought myself of him as I read your pages. I have such a dread, an [immutable?] loathing of a snake that I will not touch a picture of one; I will not even glance at a picture of one in the Dictionary - And one time when someone handed me a pocketbook of snake skin and I was told what the skin was - I vomited so continuously that I had to go to bed and have a nurse - I [abhor?] anyone who would touch a snake - And even your meadow gardens would not allure me if snakes were therein. The question of their malignancy has no bearing upon my attitude towards reptiles.I have spoken [with?] of your fine book of what I believe it will do, namely: make [illegible] [heedless?] people to visit and love and preserve our forest reservations. I wish I could review it for some publication - I will write and see if I cannot I have written a book called Oldtime Gardens- and I am sending a copy to you[in margin: Alice Morse Earle] Mtns of California [5]Review by Alice Morse Earle.Perhaps the most marked characteristic of the book is the intense love shown by the author for all forms & aspects of nature the trees are his brother; he knows their forms, their voices, the different sounds of their rustling leaves, he reads their soul; the birds & beasts are his friends - how he delineates their features! the flowers are his sweethearts; he can never cease telling their endearing traits.The book is wholly self forgetful; in that respect a keen contrast to the self conscious nature-studies of Thoreau. It is almost man-forgetful - though occasional bits of description appears - like this humerous acct of the furred Mono [illegible].The picture of the old miners in their exaggerated dotage shows deep human sympathy. I do not like to end the reviewing of this book any more than like to close its pages, over wh I linger longing to quote the fine thoughts, the fair & symmetrical sentences I ever find, to give the noble expression of the sublimity & power of the winds told in that fairly passionate chapter A wind Storm in the Forest; to tell the revealed meaning of the gestures of the trees; to recount the wonderful almost incredible story of the beautiful brave wild sheep, the analytical study & history of the giant sequoias, the picture of the hanging gardens with larkspurs 8 ft high & that final revel in sweetness, the chapter on the Bee Pastures, those flowery wildernesses whose gladsome praise in melodious phrase makes a picture sweeter than that of honied Hybla, rosier than that of heathery Hymettus.Alice Morse Earle04378


Brooklyn, N. Y.

Circa Date



Original letter dimensions: 22.5 x 35 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 18, Image 1003

Collection Identifier

Online finding aid for the microform version of the John Muir Correspondence

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

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.


5 pages


Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters



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