Louie [Strentzel Muir]
Boston, Mass. June 12 1893
Dear Louie – I have been so crowded & overladen with enjoyments lately that I have lost trace of time & have so much to tell you I scarce know where & how to begin. When I reached New York I called on Johnson & told him I meant to shut myself up in a room & finish my articles & then go with Keith to Europe. But he paid no attention to either my hurry or Keiths & [quietly?] ordered me around & took possession of me. First I was introduced to all the Century people – [with?] New York. June [14.13?] Dear Louie, I was suddenly interrupted by a whole lot of new people visits dinners champagne etc & have just got back to New York by a night boat by way of Fall River – so I begin again Perhaps this is the 15th [13?] Tuesday for I lose all track of time [their?] friends also as they came in. Dined
with Johnson first. Mrs J. is a bright keen accomplished woman. They have two children, a girl 15 a great musician, & a boy of 14, like his father a great reader & promising as a literary man in the near future. S[illegible] B[illegible]roughs the second day. He had been at a [Walt?] Whitman club the night before & had made a speech, eaten a big dinner & had headache. So he seemed tired & gave no sign to speak of of his [fine qualities?]. I chatted an hour with him & tried to make him go to Europe with me. The Century men offered him $500. for some articles on our tripe as an inducement, but he answered today by letter that he could not go, He must be free when he went- that he would above all things like to go with me etc but circumstances would not allow it. The “circumstances” barring the way are it seems his wife. I can hardly say I have seen him at all. Dined another day with [Gilder?]. He is charming every way & has a charming home & family wife boy & girl about the age of Johnsons They all say the Century portrait is not half good enough & that I must sit for another to their photographer. They also say that Helen is exactly like me, the very image etc –
I also dined in grand style at Mr Pinehots whose son is studying forestry The house is at Gramercy Park N.Y. Here & at many other places I had to tell the story of the ministers dog. Everybody seems to think it wonderful for the [views?] it gives of the terrible crevasses of the glaciers as well as for the recognition of danger & the fear & joy of the dog. I must have told it at least 12 times at the request of Johnson or others who had previously heard it. I told Johnson I meant to write it out for St Nickolas, but he says it is too good for St Nick, & he wants it for the Century as a separate article. When I am telling it at the dinner tables it is curious to see how eagerly the l[illegible]ied servants listen from behind [screens?] half closed doors etc. Almost every day in town here I have been called out to lunch & dinner at the clubs & soon have a crowd of notables about me. I had no idea that I was so well known considering how little I have written
The trip up the Hudson was delightful Went as far as West Point to Castle [Crags?] the residence of the Osborns – charming [drives?] in the green flowery woods & strange to say all the views are familiar for the landscapes are all freshly glacial Not a line in any of the scenery that is not a glacial line, The same is true of all the region hereabouts. I found glacial [scoring?] on the rocks of Central Park even. Last Wednesday evening Johnson & I started for Boston, & we got back this morning making the trip both ways in the night to economize time. After looking at the famous buildings, parks monuments etc we took the train for Concord, wandered through the famous Emerson Village, dined with Emersons son. Visited the concord bridge where the first blood of the revolution was shed & where “the shot was fired heard round the world” Went through lovely ferny flowery woods & meadows to the hill cemetery & laid flowers on Thoreaus & Emersons graves. I think
it is the most beautiful graveyard I ever saw it is on a hill perhaps 150 feet high in the woods of pine oak beech maple etc. & all the ground is flowery Thoreau lies with his father mother & brother not far from Emerson & Hawthorne. Emerson lies between two white pine trees one at his head the other at feet & instead of a mere tombstone or monument there is a mass of white quartz rugged & angular wholly uncut - just as it was blasted from the ledge. I dont know where it was obtained. There is not a single letter or word on this grand natural monument It seems to have been [swept?] there by a glacier, & the soil he sleeps in is glacial drift almost wholly unchanged since first this country saw the light at the close of the glacial period. There are many other graves here though it is not one of the old cemeteries. Not one of them is raised above ground. Sweet Kindly mother Earth
has taken them back to her bosom whence they came. I did not imagine I would be so moved at sight of the resting places of these grand men as I found I was. & I could not help thinking how glad I would be to feel sure that I would also rest here. But I suppose it cannot be – for mother will be in Portage You spoke in your last letter about grandpas tomb & asked advice. I feel that the question should be decided by grandma. My opinion & feelings on the subject you know already & I will be perfectly satisfied with whatever she does assisted by yourself. As to burying grandpa with Johnnie & the little girl & your uncle I think it is far better than burying at Martinez on account of the steep hill, & in case it should become desirable the bodies could be removed at any time Not for many generations at least would there be any change required – but the Creek bank would have to be attended to by planting willows & other trees –
After leaving Thoreau & Emerson we walked through the woods to Walden pond. It is a beautiful lake about half a mile long fairly embosomed like a bright dark eye in wooded hills of smooth moraine gravel & sand & with a rich leafy under growth of huckleberry willow & young oak bushes etc & grass & flowers in rich variety. No wonder Thoreau lived here two years. I could have enjoyed living here 200 years or 2000. It is only about 1 ½ or 2 miles from Concord. A mere saunter, and how people should regard Thoreau as a hermit on account of his little delightful stay here I cannot guess. We visited also Emersons home, & were shown through the house. It is just as he left it, his study, books, chair, bed etc. & all the paintings & engravings etc gathered in his foreign travels. Also San Thoreaus Village residence & Hathornes old manse & other houses
near Emersons At six o’clock we got back from Walden to Young Emersons fatherinlaws place in Concord & dined with the family & Emerson. Emersons son is very like his father rather tall, slender & with his fathers sweet perennial smile. Nothing could be more cordial & loving than this reception of me. When we called at the house one of the interesting old colonial ones, he was not in - & we were received by his fatherinlaw a college mate of Thoreau who knew Thoreau all his life – The old man was sitting on the porch when we called, Johnson introduced himself & asked if this was Judge [Kyhe?] etc The old gentleman kept his seat & seemed I thought a little cold & careless in his manner. But when Johnson said “This is Mr Muir” he jumped up & said excitedly “John Muir! is this
John Muir” and seized me as if I were a long lost son. He declared he had known me always & that my name was a household now. Then he took us into the house, gave us refreshments – cider etc introduced us to his wife – a charming old fashioned lady who also took me for a son Then we were guided about the town & shown all the famous homes & places. But I must hurry on or I will be making a book of it. We went back to Boston that night on a late train though they wanted to keep us - & next day went to Prof Sargents grand place, Where we had a perfectly wonderful time several days. This is the finest mansion & grounds I ever saw. The house is about 200 feet long with immense verandas trimmed with huge flowers & vines, standing in the midst of fifty acres of lawns groves, wild woods of pine hemlock
maple beech hickory etc etc & all kinds of underbrush & wild flowers & cultivated flowers acres of rhododendrons, & a pond covered with lilies. etc – All the ground waving hill & dale & clad in the full summer dress of the region trimmed with exquisite taste. The servants are in livery & everything is fine about the house & in it but Mr & Mrs Sargent are the most cordial & unaffected people imaginable & in a few minutes I was at my ease & at home. Sauntering when I like, doing what I liked & making the house my own Here we had grand dinners formal & informal & here I told my dog story I dont know how often. & described glaciers
& their works etc. Here, the last day I dined with Dana of the N.Y. Sun & Styles of the Forest & Stream, Parsons, the Superintendent of Central park & Mathews Mayor of Boston. Yesterday the Mayor came with carriages & drove us through the parks & the most interesting streets of Boston. & he & Mr & Mrs Sargent drove to the station & saw us off. While making Sargents our headquarters Mr Johnson took me to Cambridge where we saw the classic [illegible] shades of learning etc. found Royce who guided us, San Porter, & the historian Parkman – etc etc – We called at Elliot’s house but he was away. We also went to the seaside at Manchester 40 miles or so from Boston to visit old Mrs Fields a charming old lady & how good a time
Sarah Orne Jewett was there, & all was delightful. Here of course Johnson made me tell that dog story as if that were the main result of glacial action & all my studies but I got in a good deal of ice-work better than this & never had better listeners. Judge Howland whom I met in Yosemite with a party who has a sp[illegible] car came in since I began this letter to invite me to a dinner tomorrow evening with a lot of his friends. I must get that article done & set the day of sailing for Europe or I wont get away at all. This makes three dinners ahead already. I fear the tail of my article will be of another color from the body. Johnson has been most devoted to me ever since I arrived & I cant make him stop. I think I told you the Century wants to publish my book. They also want me to write articles from Europe. Must stop. Love to all. How glad I was to get Wandas long good
[in margin: letter this morning dated June 2. All letters in Johnsons care will find me wherever I go here or in Europe]
1893 Jun 12/13
Original letter dimensions: 23.5 x 15.5 cm.
Muir, John, "Letter from [John Muir] to Louie [Strentzel Muir], 1893 Jun 12/13." (1893). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 924.
Reel 07, Image 1054
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Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters