April 21, 1838: Birth of John Muir

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.

muir bAwakening from the stupefying effects of the vice of over-industry and the deadly apathy of luxury, they are trying as best they can to mix and enrich their own little ongoings with those of Nature, and to get rid of rust and disease. Briskly venturing and roaming, some are washing off sins and cobweb cares of the devil’s spinning in all-day storms on mountains; sauntering in rosiny pinewoods or in gentian meadows, brushing through chaparral, bending down and parting sweet, flowery sprays; tracing rivers to their sources, getting in touch with the nerves of Mother Earth; jumping from rock to rock, feeling the life of them, learning the songs of them, panting in whole-souled exercise, and rejoicing in deep, long-drawn breaths of pure wildness.

This is fine and natural and full of promise. So also is the growing interest in the care and preservation of forests and wild places in general, and in the half wild parks and gardens of towns. Even the scenery habit in its most artificial forms, mixed with spectacles, silliness, and kodaks; its devotees arrayed more gorgeously than scarlet tanagers, frightening the wild game with red umbrellas,—even this is encouraging, and may well be regarded as a hopeful sign of the times.”

February 20, 1872: John Muir Invites Charles Warren Stoddard to visit Yosemite

Dear Stoddard,
I have been claiming you for a friend for a long time although a few miles of air has separated us. Mrs. Carr has john-muir1mirrored you up here many times and our mutual friend, Mrs. Hutchings has said many a loving word for you and last spring Mr. Emerson asked me many questions concerning you and spoke of verses you had sent him, in a way that made me hope that you had a song to sing grander than any you have yet conceived. In this way I have learned to know you, and I am cordially glad to feel that you are coming nearer.

You hope that you will not disappoint me. The danger of being disappointed is all on your own side. Don’t believe one half that Mrs. Carr says. I am only a piece of jagged human mist drifting about these rocks and waters, Heaven only knows how or wherefor.

Hitherto I have walked alone. I shall rejoice in you as companion but remember that in that case “A vagabond shalt thou be.” Moreover you must not hope that I can teach you, I am only a baby slowly learning my mountain alphabet. But I can freely promise that Nature will do great things for you. I know little of men. Yet I venture to say that half of our best teachers are manufactured, – so ground and pressed in the mills of culture that God cannot play a single tune upon them.

I am glad to learn my friend that you have not yet submitted yourself to any of the mouldy laws of literature – that your spiritual affinities are still alive and unsatisfied. Come then to the mountains and bathe in fountain Love. Stand upon our Domes and let spirit winds blow through you and you will sing effortless as any Eolian harp.

You will enjoy the ocean. There is but little difference between land and sea. Heavens! What glorious storm nights you will have among phosphorescent foam.

May God be good to you. Lave your existence in the Beauty and Love of those Isles of the sea. Keep your heart pure, and it shall be like a silvered plate printed with God in a thousand forms.Muira

Ever your friend


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