BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian


The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller


Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman


Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


Letters to a friend

by John Muir

Excerpt:

Cordially ever yours,

John Muir.

I shall hope to hear from you soon. I will come down some of the valley canons occasionally for letters.

I am sorry that you are so laden with University cares. I think that you and the Doctor do more than your share.

Do you know anything about this Liebig's extract of meat? I would like to carry a year's provisions in the form of condensed bread and meat, and I have been thinking perhaps all that I want is in the market.

Yosemite, September 8th, [1871.]

I I am sorry that King made you uneasy about

me. He does not understand me as you do, and you must not heed him so much. He thinks that I am melancholy and above all that I require polishing. I feel sure that if you were here to see how happy I am and how ardently I am seeking a knowledge of the rocks, you could not call me away but would gladly let me go with only God and his written rocks to guide me. You would not think of calling me to make machines or a home, or of rubbing me against other minds, or of setting me up for measurement. No, dear friend, you would say: "Keep your mind untrammelled and pure. Go unfrictioned, unmeasured, and God give you the true meaning and interpretation of his mountains."

You know that for the last three years I have been ploddingly making observations about this valley and the high mountain region to the east of it, drifting broodingly about and taking in every natural lesson that I was fitted to absorb. In particular the great valley has always kept a place in my mind. What tools did he use? How did he apply them and when? I considered the sky above it and all of its opening canons, and studied the forces that came in by every door that I saw standing open, but I could get no light. Then I said: "You are attempting what is not possible for you to accomplish. Yosemite is the end of a grand chapter; if you would learn to read it, go commence at the beginning." Then I went above to the alphabet valleys of the summits, comparing canon with canon, with all their varieties of rock-structure and cleavage and the comparative size and slope of the glaciers and waters which they contained; also the grand congregations of rock-creations was present to me, and I studied their forms and sculpture. I soon had a key to every Yosemite rock and perpendicular and sloping wall. The grandeur of these forces and their glorious results overpower me and inhabit my whole being. Waking or sleeping, I have no rest. In dreams I read blurred sheets of glacial writing, or follow lines of cleavage, or struggle with the difficulties of some extraordinary rock-form. Now it is clear that woe is me if I do not drown this tendency towards nervous prostration by constant labor in working up the details of this whole question. I have been down from the upper rocks only three days and am hungry for exercise already.

Prof. Runkle, president of the Boston Institute of Technology, was here last week, and I preached my glacial theory to him for five days, taking him into the canon of the valley and up among the grand glacier wombs and pathways of the summit. He was fully convinced of the truth of my readings and urged nie to write out the glacial system of Yosemite and its tributaries for the Boston Academy of Science. I told him that I meant to write my thoughts for my own use and that I would send him the manuscript, and if he and his wise scientific brothers thought it of sufficient interest they might publish it.

He is going to send me some instruments,

and I mean to go over all the glacier basins

carefully, working until driven down by the

snow. In winter I can make my drawings and maps and write out notes. So you see that for a year or two I will be very busy. I have settled with Hutchings and have no dealings with him now.


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