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Camping with Burroughs and Muir

by Clara Barrus

Excerpted from Our Friend John Burroughs by Clara Barrus (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1914),


In February, 1909, I was one of a small party which set out with Mr. Burroughs for the Pacific Coast and the Hawaiian Islands. The lure held out to him by the friend who arranged his trip was that John Muir would start from his home at Martinez, California, and await him at the Petrified Forests in Arizona; conduct him through, that weirdly picturesque region, and in and around the Grand Cañon of the Colorado; camp and tramp with him in the Mojave Desert; tarry awhile in Southern California; then visit Yosemite before embarking on the Pacific preparatory to lotus-eating in Hawaii. The lure held out to the more obscure members of the party was all that has been enumerated, plus that of having these two great, simple men for traveling companions. To see the wonders of the Southwest is in itself great good fortune, but to see them in company with these two students of nature, and to study the students while the students were studying the wonders, was an incalculable privilege.

It frightens me now when I think on what a slight chance hung our opportunity for this unique Journey; for Mr. Burroughs, though at first deciding to go, had later given it up, declaring himself to be too much of a tenderfoot to go so far from home alone at his age.

"Why should I go gadding about to see the strange and the extraordinary?" he wrote me, when trying to argue himself into abandoning the trip. "The whole gospel of my books (if they have any gospel) is 'Stay at home; see the wonderful and the beautiful in the simple things all about you; make the most of the common and the near at hand.' When I have gone abroad, I have carried this spirit with me, and have tested what I have seen by the nature revealed to me at my own doorstep. Well, I am glad I have triumphed at last; I feel much better and like writing again, now that this incubus is off my shoulders." But the incubus soon rested on him again, for the next mail carried a letter begging him to reconsider and let two of his women friends accompany him. So it all came about in a few days, and we were off.

We wondered how Mr. Muir would relish two women being in the party, but assured Mr. Burroughs we should not hamper them, and should be ready to do whatever they were.

"Have no fears on that score," he said; "Muir will be friendly if you are good listeners; and he is well worth listening to. He is very entertaining, but he sometimes talks when I want to be let alone; at least he did up in Alaska."

"But you won't be crusty to him, will you?"

"Oh, no, I shan't dare to be--he is too likely to get the best of one; he is a born tease."

The long journey across the Western States (by the Santa Fe route) was full of interest at every point. Even the monotony of the Middle West was not wearisome, while the scenery and scenes in New Mexico and Arizona were fascinating in the extreme.

Mr. Burroughs had been to the Far West by a northern route, but this was all fresh territory to him, and he brought to it his usual keen appetite for new phases of nature, made still keener by a recently awakened interest in geological subjects. It enhanced the pleasure and profit of the trip a hundredfold to get his first impressions of the moving panorama, as I did when he dictated notes to me from his diary, or descriptive letters to his wife and son. The impression one gets out there of earth sculpture in process is one of the chief attractions of the region, and Mr. Burroughs never tired of studying the physiognomy of the land, and the overwhelming evidences of time and change, and of contrasting these with our still older, maturer landscapes in the East.

In passing through Kansas he commented on the monotonous level expanse of country as being unbearable from any point of view except as good farm land. Used to hills and mountains, inviting brooks and winding roads, he turned away from this unpicturesque land, saying if it was a good place to make money, it was also a place to lose one's own soul--he was already homesick for the beauty and diversity of our more winsome country.

Two days' journey from Chicago and we reached the desert town of Adamana. As the train stopped near the little inn, a voice called out in the darkness, "Hello, Johnnie, is that you?"

"Yes, John Muir"; and there under the big dipper, on the great Arizona desert, the two friends met after a lapse of ten years.

"Muir, aren't you surprised to find me with two women in my wake?" asked Mr. Burroughs, introducing us.

"Yes; surprised that there are only two, Johnnie." Then to us, "Up in Alaska there were a dozen or two following him around, tucking him up in steamer rugs, putting pillows to his head, running to him with a flower, or a description of a bird--Oh, two is a very moderate number, Johnnie, but we'll manage to worry through with them, somehow." And picking up part of our luggage, the tall, grizzly Scot led the way to the inn.

The next day we drove nine miles over the rolling desert to visit one of the petrified forests, of which there are five in that vicinity. Blended with the unwonted scenes--the gray sands dotted with sagebrush and greasewood, the leaping jack rabbits, the frightened bands of half-wild horses, the distant buttes and mesas, and the brilliant blue of the Arizona sky--is the memory of that talk of Mr. Muir's during the long drive, a talk which for range and raciness I have never heard equaled. He often uses the broad dialect of the Scot, translating as he goes along. His forte is in monologue. He is a most engaging talker,--discursive, grave and gay,--mingling thrilling adventures, side-splitting anecdotes, choice quotations, apt characterizations, scientific data, enthusiastic descriptions, sarcastic comments, scornful denunciations, inimitable mimicry.

Mr. Burroughs, on the contrary, is not a ready talker; he gives of his best in his books. He establishes intimate relations with his reader, Mr. Muir with his listener. He is more fond of an interchange of ideas than is Mr. Muir; is not the least inclined to banter or to get the better of one; is so averse to witnessing discomfiture that even when forced into an argument, he is loath to push it to the bitter end. Yet when he does engage in argument, he drives things home with very telling force, especially when writing on debatable points.

As we drove along the desert, Mr. Muir pointed to a lofty plateau toward which we were tending,--"Robbers' Roost,"--where sheep-stealers hie themselves, commanding the view for hundreds of miles in every direction. I wish I could make vivid the panorama we saw from this vantage-ground--the desert in the foreground, and far away against the sky the curiously carved pink and purple and lilac mountains, while immediately below us lay the dry river-bed over which a gaunt raven flew and croaked ominously, and a little beyond rose the various buttes, mauve and terra-cotta colored, from whose sides and at whose bases projected the petrified trees. There lay the giant trees, straight and tapering--no branching as in our trees of to-day. The trunks are often flattened, as though they had been under great pressure, often the very bark seemed to be on them (though it was petrified bark), and on some we saw marks of insect tracery like those made by the borers of to-day. Some of the trunks were more than one hundred and fifty feet long, and five to seven feet in diameter, prostrate but intact, looking as though uprooted where they lay. Others were broken at regular intervals, as though sawed into stove lengths. In places the ground looks like a chip-yard, the chips dry and white as though bleached by the sun. The eye is deceived; chips these surely are, you think, but the ear corrects this impression, for as your feet strike the fragments, the clinking sound proves that they are stone. In some of the other forests, visited later, the chips and larger fragments, and the interior of the trunks, are gorgeously colored, so that we walked on a natural mosaic of jasper, chalcedony, onyx, and agate. In many fragments the cell-structure of the wood is still visible, but in others nature has carried the process further, and crystallization has transformed the wood of these old, old trees into the brilliant fragments we can have for the carrying--"beautiful wood replaced by beautiful stone," as Mr. Muir was fond of saying.

With what wonder and incredulity we roamed about witnessing the strange spectacle!--the prostrate monarchs with hearts of jasper and chalcedony, now silent and rigid in this desolate region where they basked in the sunlight and swayed in the winds millions of years ago. Only a small part of the old forest is as yet exposed; these trees, buried for ages beneath the early seas, becoming petrified as they lay, are, after ages more, gradually being unearthed as the softer parts of the soil covering them wears away.

The scenic aspects of the place, the powerful appeal it made to the imagination, the evidences of infinite time, the wonderful metamorphosis from vegetable life to these petrified remains which copy so faithfully the form and structure of the living trees, were powerfully enhanced by the sight of these two men wandering amid these ruins of Carboniferous time, sometimes in earnest conversation, oftener in silence; again in serious question from the one and perhaps bantering answer from the other; for although Mr. Burroughs was intensely interested in this spectacle, and full of cogitations and questions as to the cause and explanation of it all, Mr. Muir was not disposed to treat questions seriously.

"Oh, get a primer of geology, Johnnie," he would say when the earnest Eastern student would ask for a solution of some of the puzzles arising in his mind--a perversity that was especially annoying, since the Scot had carefully explored these regions, and was doubtless well equipped to adduce reasonable explanations had he been so minded. That very forest to which we went on that first day, and where we ate our luncheon from the trunk of a great petrified Sigillaria, had been discovered by Mr. Muir and his daughter a few years before as they were riding over the sandy plateau. He told us how excited he was that night--he could not sleep, but lay awake trying to restore the living forest in imagination, for, from the petrified remains, he could tell to what order these giants belonged.

When others congregate to eat, the Scot seems specially impelled to talk. With a fine disregard for food, he sat and crumbled dry bread, occasionally putting a bit in his mouth, talking while the eating was going on. He is likewise independent of sleep. "Sleep!" he would exclaim, when the rest of us, after a long day of sight-seeing, would have to yield to our sense of fatigue, "why, you can sleep when you get back home, or, at least, in the grave."

Mr. Burroughs, on the contrary, is specially dependent upon sleep and food in order to do his work or to enjoy anything. On our arrival at the Grand Cañon in the morning, after a night of travel and fasting, all the rest of us felt the need of refreshing ourselves and taking breakfast before we would even take a peep at the great rose-purple abyss out there a few steps from the hotel, but the teasing Scot jeered at us for thinking of eating when there was that sublime spectacle to be seen. When we did go out to the rim, Mr. Muir preceded us, and, as we approached, waved toward the great abyss and said: "There! Empty your heads of all vanity, and look!" And we did look, overwhelmed by what must be the most truly sublime spectacle this earth has to offer--a veritable terrestrial Book of Revelation, as Mr. Burroughs said.

We followed a little path along the rim, led by Mr. Muir, to where we could escape from the other sight-seers, and there we sat on the rocks, though the snow lay in patches on the ground that bright February day. Mr. Burroughs made a fire of Juniper brush, and as the fragrant incense rose on the air, with that wondrous spectacle before our eyes, we listened to Mr. Muir reciting some lines from Milton--almost the only poet one would think of quoting in the presence of such solemn, awful beauty.

Mr. Muir tried to dissuade us the next day from going down into the Cañon: "Don't straddle a mule and poke your noses down to the ground, and plunge down that dangerous icy trail, imagining, because you get a few shivers down your backs, you are seeing the glories of the Cañon, or getting any conception of the noble river that made it. You must climb, climb, to see the glories, always." But when Mr. Burroughs would ask him where we could climb to, to see the Cañon, since under his guidance we had been brought to the very edge on the top, he did not deign to explain, but continued to deride the project of the descent into the depths--a way the dear man has of meeting an argument that is a bit annoying at times.

We did go down into the Cañon on mule-back,--down, down, over four thousand feet,--and the jeering Scot went with us, sitting his mule uncompromisingly, and indulging in many a jest at the expense of the terrified women who felt, when too late to retreat, that it would have been better to heed his advice. Still, after the descent, and then the ascent, were safely accomplished, we were glad we had not let him dissuade us. None of us can ever forget that day, with its rich and varied experiences, the mingled fear and awe and exultation, the overpowering emotions felt at each new revelation of the stupendous spectacle, often relieved by the lively sallies of Mr. Muir. We ate our luncheon on the old Cambrian plateau, the mighty Colorado, still a thousand feet below us, looking entirely inadequate to have accomplished the tremendous results we were witnessing.

One day at the Cañon, feeling acutely aware of our incalculable privilege, I said, "To think of having the Grand Cañon, and John Burroughs and John Muir thrown in!"

"I wish Muir /was/ thrown in, sometimes," retorted Mr. Burroughs, with a twinkle in his eye, "when he gets between me and the Cañon."

In contrast to Mr. Muir, the Wanderer, is Mr. Burroughs, the Home-lover, one who is under the spell of the near and the familiar. The scenes of his boyhood in the Catskills, the woods he wandered in about Washington during the years he dwelt there, his later tramping-ground along the Hudson--these are the scenes he has made his readers love because he has loved them so much himself; and however we may enjoy his journeyings in "Mellow England," in "Green Alaska," in Jamaica, or his philosophical or speculative essays, we find his stay-at-home things the best. And he likes the familiar scenes and things the best, much as he enjoyed the wonders that the great West offered. The robins in Yosemite Valley and the skylarks in the Hawaiian Islands, because these were a part of his earlier associations, did more to endear these places to him than did the wonders themselves. On Hawaii, where we saw the world's greatest active volcano throwing up its fountains of molten lava sixty or more feet high, the masses falling with a roar like that of the "husky-voiced sea," Mr. Burroughs found it difficult to understand why some of us were so fascinated that we wanted to stay all night, willing to endure the discomforts of a resting-place on lava rocks, occasional stifling gusts of sulphur fumes, dripping rain, and heat that scorched our veiled faces, so long as we could gaze on that boiling, tumbling, heaving, ever-changing lake of fire. Such wild, terrible, unfamiliar beauty could not long hold him under its spell.

[Illustration: John Muir and John Burroughs, Pasadena, California. From a photograph by George R. King]

A veritable homesickness came over him amid unfamiliar scenes. One day in early March, after journeying all day over the strange region of the California desert, with its giant cacti, its lava-beds, its volcanic cones, its rugged, barren mountains, its deep gorges and Cañons, its snow-capped peaks, on reaching San Bernardino, so green and fresh and smiling in the late afternoon sun, and riding through miles and miles of orange groves to Riverside, this return to a winsome nature (though unlike his own), after so much of the forbidding aspect had been before us, was to Mr. Burroughs like water brooks to the thirsty hart.

His abiding love for early friends, too, crops out on all occasions. Twice while away on this trip be received the proffer of honorary degrees from two of our American universities. Loath to accept such honors at any time, he was especially so now, and declined, defending himself by saying that the acceptance would have necessitated his hurrying straight home across the States to have the degrees conferred upon him, when he was planning to tarry in Iowa and see an old schoolmate.

"I didn't want to do it," he said petulantly; "I wanted to stop and see Sandy Smith"--his tone being not unlike what he would have used when as a boy he doubtless coaxed to "go out and play with Sandy."

Mr. Burroughs is too much a follower of the genuinely simple life to be long contented in hotels, however genial the hospitality. He declared the elegant suite at the Mission Inn at Riverside, which was tendered to him and his party in the most cordial, unobtrusive way, was too luxurious for a "Slabsider" like him. It was positively painful to him to be asked, as he was frequently on the Western and Hawaiian tour, to address audiences, or "just to come and meet the students" at various schools and colleges. Such meetings usually meant being "roped in" to making a speech, often in spite of assurances to the contrary. I have known him to slip away from a men's club early in the evening, before dinner was announced, and return to our little cottage in Pasadena, where he would munch contentedly an uncooked wafer, drink a cup of hot water, read a little geology, and go to bed at the seasonable hour of nine, the next morning awakening with a keen appetite for the new day, for his breakfast, and for his forenoon of work, whereas, had he stayed out till eleven or twelve, eaten a hearty dinner, and been stimulated and excited by much talk, he would have awakened without the joy in the morning which he has managed to carry through his seventy-six years, and which his readers, who rejoice in the freshness and tranquillity of his pages, hope he will keep till he reaches the end of the Long Road.

Mr. Muir is as averse to speaking in public as is Mr. Burroughs, much as he likes to talk. They both dislike the noise and confusion of cities, and what we ordinarily mean by social life. Mr. Burroughs is less an alien in cities than is Mr. Muir, yet, on the whole, he is more of a solitaire, more of a recluse. He avoids men where the other seeks them. He cannot deal or dicker with men, but the canny Scot can do this, if need be, and even enjoy it. Circumstances seem to have made Mr. Muir spend most of his years apart from his fellows, although by nature he is decidedly gregarious; circumstances seem to have decreed that Mr. Burroughs spend the greater part of his life among his fellow-men, though there is much of the hermit in his make-up.

Mr. Muir gets lost in cities--this man who can find his way on the trackless desert, the untrodden glaciers, and in the most remote and inaccessible mountain heights. He will never admit that his wanderings were lonely: "You can always have the best part of your friends with you," he said; "it is only when people cease to love that they are separated."

One Sunday in Pasadena we had planned to have a picnic up one of the Cañons, but the rain decreed otherwise. So, discarding tables and other appurtenances of life within doors, we picnicked on the floor of our sitting-room, making merry there with the luncheon we had prepared for the jaunt. While passing back and forth through the room in our preparations, we heard the men of the party talk in fragments, and amusing fragments they were. Once when Mr. Browne, the editor of the "Dial," was discussing some point in connection with the Spanish-American War, I heard Mr. Muir say, with a sigh of relief, "I was getting flowers up on the Tuolumne meadows then, and didn't have to bother about those questions." When another friend was criticizing Mr. Roosevelt for the reputed slaughter of so many animals in Africa, and Mr. Burroughs declared he did not credit half the things the papers said the hunter was doing, Mr. Muir said, half chidingly, half tolerantly, "Roosevelt, the muggins, I am afraid he is having a good time putting bullets through those friends of his." Now I had heard him call Mr. Burroughs "You muggins" in the same winning, endearing way he said "Johnnie"; I had heard him speak of a petrified tree in the Sigillaria forest as a "muggins"; of a bear that trespassed on his flowery domains in the Sierra meadows as a "muggins" that he tried to look out of countenance and failed; of a "comical little muggins of a daisy" that some one had named after him; and one day he had rejoiced my heart by dubbing me "You muggins, you"; and behold! here he was now applying the elastic term to our many-sided (I did not say "strenuous") ex-President! Later I heard him apply it to a Yosemite waterfall, and by then should not have been surprised to hear him speak of a mighty glacier, or a giant sequoia, as a "muggins."

"Stickeen," Mr. Muir's incomparable dog story, came out in book form while we were in Pasadena. I sent a copy to my brother, who wrote later asking me to inquire of Mr. Muir why he did not keep Stickeen after their perilous adventures together. So I put the question to him one day. "Keep him!" he ejaculated, as he straightened his back, and the derisive wrinkles appeared on one side of his nose; "keep him! he wasn't mine--I'm Scotch, I never steal." Then he explained that Stickeen's real master was attached to him; that he could not take him from him; and besides, the dog was accustomed to a cold climate, and would have been very unhappy in California. "Oh, no, I couldn't keep Stickeen," he said wistfully, but one felt that he /had/ kept Stickeen, the best part of him, by immortalizing him in that story.

While we were housekeeping in Pasadena, Mr. Burroughs began writing on the Grand Cañon. One morning, after having disposed of several untimely callers, he had finally settled down to work. We sat around the big table writing or reading. Mr. Burroughs was there in the body, but in spirit we could see he was at the "Divine Abyss," as he called the Cañon. Once he read us a few sentences which were so good that I resolved we must try harder to prevent interruptions, that he might keep all his writing up to that standard. But while engaged in letter-writing, some point arose, and, forgetting my laudable resolution, I put a question to him. Answering me abstractedly, he went on with his writing. Then I realized how inexcusable it was to intrude my trivialities at such a time. Castigating myself and resolving anew, I wrote on in contrite silence. After a little Mr. Burroughs paused and lifted his head; his expression was puzzled, as though wrestling with some profound thought, or weighing some nicety of expression; I saw he was about to speak--perhaps to utter his latest impression concerning the glories of the Cañon. As he opened his lips this is what we heard: "/Couldn't we warm up those Saratoga chips for luncheon?/" Whereupon it will be seen that the abyss he was then cogitating about was in the epigastric region, instead of in Arizona.

Mr. Muir likes a laugh at his own expense. He told us of a school-teacher in the vicinity of his home instructing her pupils about Alaska and the glaciers; and on telling them that the great Muir Glacier was named after their neighbor, who discovered it, one little boy piped up with, "What, not that old man that drives around in a buggy!"

I may as well offset this with one of our Hawaiian experiences. When we were in Honolulu, we heard that one of the teachers there, thinking to make a special impression upon her pupils, told them the main facts about Mr. Burroughs's writings, their scope and influence, what he stood for as a nature writer, his place in literature, and then described his appearance, and said, "And this noted man, this great nature lover, is right here--a guest in our city!" A little lad broke in with, "I know--I saw him yesterday--he was in our yard stealing mangoes."

One day, while still in Pasadena, I told Mr. Muir that on April 3d a few of us wished to celebrate Mr. Burroughs's birthday, his seventy-second, by a picnic up one of the Mount Lowe Cañons. He said it would be impossible for him to be with us on that day, as he had to go up to San Francisco. On my expressing keen disappointment he teasingly said:--"Why, you will have Johnnie, and Mr. Browne, and the mountains--what more do you want?"

"But we want /you/ ," I protested, assuring him that this was not a case where one could say,--

"How happy could I be with either, Were t'other dear Johnnie away!"

"Well, then, why can't you have it some other day?"

"Because he wasn't born some other day."

"But why must you be tied to the calendar? Can't you celebrate Johnnie's birthday a few days later just as well? Such a stickler for the exact date as you are, I never saw."

Thus he bantered, but when he had to leave us, we knew he was as disappointed as we all were that he could not be with us on that "exact date."

How he did enjoy hectoring us for our absurd mistake in not reading our long tickets through, consequently getting on the Santa Fe train to go up to San Francisco when a little coupon stated that the ticket took us by the Coast line. We were bound to let the Scot know of our mistake, and our necessary transfer to the other road (as we had arranged to meet him at a certain point on the Santa Fe), else, I suppose, we never should have given him that chance to jeer at us. He made us tell him all about it when we met, and shaking with laughter at all the complications the mistake entailed, he declared, "Oh, but that's a bully story!"

"It'll put an inch of fat on Muir's ribs," retorted "Oom John," who was not without chagrin at the fiasco.

"Johnnie, when you sail for Honolulu, I expect, unless you're narrowly watched, you'll get on the wrong ship and go off to Vancouver," teased the fun-loving Scot.

In Yosemite, Mr. Muir told us about the great trees he used to saw into timber during his early years in the valley, showing us the site of his old mill, and bragging that he built it and kept it in repair at a cost of less than twenty-five cents a year. It seemed strange that he, a tree-lover, could have cut down those noble spruces and firs, and I whispered this to Mr. Burroughs.

"Ask him about it," said the latter, "ask him." So I did.

"Bless you, I never cut down the trees--I only sawed those the Lord had felled."

The storms that swept down the mountains had laid these monarchs low, and the thrifty Scot had merely taken advantage of the ill winds, at the same time helping nature to get rid of the debris.

"How does this compare with Esopus Valley, Johnnie?" Mr. Muir was fond of asking Mr. Burroughs, when he saw the latter gazing in admiration at mighty El Capitan, or the thundering Yosemite Falls. Or he would say, "How is that for a piece of glacial work, Johnnie?" as he pointed to Half Dome and told how the glacier had worn off at least half a mile from its top, and then had sawed right down through the valley.

"O Lord! that's too much, Muir," answered Mr. Burroughs. He declared that it stuck in his crop--this theory that ice alone accounts for this great valley cut out of the solid rocks. When the Scot would get to riding his ice-hobby too hard, Mr. Burroughs would query, "But, Muir, the million years before the ice age--what was going on here then?'

"Oh, God knows," said Mr. Muir, but vouchsafed no further explanation.

[Illustration: John Burroughs and John Muir in the Yosemite. From a photograph by F. P. Clatworthy]

"With my itch for geology," said Mr. Burroughs, "I want it scratched all the time, and Muir doesn't want to scratch it." So he dropped his questions, which elicited only bantering answers from the mountaineer, and gave himself up to sheer admiration of the glories and beauties of the region, declaring that of all the elemental scenes he had beheld, Yosemite beat them all--"The perpetual thunder peal of the waters dashing like mad over gigantic cliffs, the elemental granite rocks--it is a veritable 'wreck of matter and crush of worlds' that we see here."

Mr. Burroughs urged Mr. Muir again and again to reclaim his early studies in the Sierra which were printed in the "Overland Monthly" years ago, and give them to the public now with the digested information which he alone can supply, and which is as yet inaccessible in his voluminous notes and sketches of the region. At Mr. Muir's home we saw literally barrels of these notes. He admitted that he had always been dilatory about writing, but not about studying or note-taking; often making notes at night when fatigued from climbing and from two and three days' fasting; but the putting of them into literature is irksome to him. Yet, much as he dislikes the labor of writing, he will shut himself away from the air and sunshine for weeks at a time, if need arises, and write vigorously in behalf of the preservation of our forests. He did this back in the late seventies, and in more recent years has been tireless in his efforts to secure protection to our noble forests when danger has threatened them.

Mr. Muir's knowledge of the physiognomy and botany of most of the countries of the globe is extensive, and he has recently added South America and South Africa to his list; there is probably no man living, and but few who have lived, so thoroughly conversant with the effects of glaciation as is he; yet, unless he puts his observations into writing, much of his intimate knowledge of these things must be lost when he passes on. And, as Mr. Burroughs says, "The world wants this knowledge seasoned with John Muir, not his mere facts. He could accumulate enough notes to fill Yosemite, yet that would be worth little. He has spent years studying and sketching the rocks, and noting facts about them, but you can't reconstruct beauty and sublimity out of mere notes and sketches. He must work his harvest into bread." But concerning this writing Mr. Muir confesses he feels the hopelessness of giving his readers anything but crumbs from the great table God has spread: "I can write only hints to incite good wanderers to come to the feast."

Here we see the marked contrast between these two nature students: Mr. Muir talks because he can't help it, and his talk is good literature; he writes only because he has to, on occasion; while Mr. Burroughs writes because he can't help it, and talks when he can't get out of it. Mr. Muir, the Wanderer, needs a continent to roam in; while Mr. Burroughs, the Saunterer, needs only a neighborhood or a farm. The Wanderer is content to scale mountains; the Saunterer really climbs the mountain after he gets home, as he makes it truly his own only by dreaming over it and writing about it. The Wanderer finds writing irksome; the Saunterer is never so well or so happy as when he can write; his food nourishes him better, the atmosphere is sweeter, the days are brighter. The Wanderer has gathered his harvest from wide fields, just for the gathering; he has not threshed it out and put it into the bread of literature--only a few loaves; the Saunterer has gathered his harvest from a rather circumscribed field, but has threshed it out to the last sheaf; has made many loaves; and it is because he himself so enjoys writing that his readers find such joy and morning freshness in his books, his own joy being communicated to his reader, as Mr. Muir's own enthusiasm is communicated to his hearer. With Mr. Burroughs, if his field of observation is closely gleaned, he turns aside into subjective fields and philosophizes--a thing which Mr. Muir never does.

One of the striking things about Mr. Muir is his generosity; and though so poor in his youth and early adult life, he has now the wherewithal to be generous. His years of frugality have, strange to say, made him feel a certain contempt for money. At El Tovar he asked, "What boy brought up my bags?" Whereupon a string of bell-boys promptly appeared for their fees, and Mr. Muir handed out tips to all the waiting lads, saying in a droll way, "I didn't know I had so many bags." When we tried to reimburse him for the Yosemite trip, he would have none of it, saying, almost peevishly, "Now don't annoy me about that." Yet, if he thinks one is trying to get the best of him, he can look after the shekels as well as any one. One day in Yosemite when we were to go for an all day's tramp and wished a luncheon prepared at the hotel, on learning of the price they were to charge, he turned his back on the landlord and dispatched one of us to the little store, where, for little more than the hotel would have charged for one person, a luncheon for five was procured, and then he really chuckled that he had been able to snap his fingers at mine host, who had thought he had us at his mercy.

I see I have kept Mr. Muir close to the footlights most of the time, allowing Mr. Burroughs to hover in the background where he blends with the neutral tones; but so it was in all the thrilling scenes in the Western drama--Mr. Muir and the desert, Mr. Muir and the petrified trees, Mr. Muir and the Cañon, Mr. Muir and Yosemite; while with "Oom John," it was a blending with the scene, a quiet, brooding absorption that made him seem a part of them--the desert, the petrified trees, the Grand Cañon, Yosemite, and Mr. Burroughs inseparably linked with them, but seldom standing out in sharp contrast to them, as the "Beloved Egotist" stood out on all occasions.

Perhaps the most idyllic of all our days of camping and tramping with John of Birds and John of Mountains was the day in Yosemite when we tramped to Nevada and Vernal Falls, a distance of fourteen miles, returning to Camp Ahwahnee at night, weary almost to exhaustion, but strangely uplifted by the beauty and sublimity n which we had lived and moved and had our being. Our brown tents stood hospitably open, and out in the great open space in front we sat around the campfire under the noble spruces and firs, the Merced flowing softly on our right, mighty Yosemite Falls thundering away in the distance, while the moon rose over Sentinel Rock, lending a touch of ineffable beauty to the scene, and a voice, that is now forever silenced, lent to the rhymes of the poets its richness of varied emotion, as it chanted choicest selections from the Golden Poems of all time. We lingered long after the other campers had gone to rest, loath to bring to its close a day so replete with sublimity and beauty. Mr. Burroughs summed it up as he said good-night: "A day with the gods of eld--a holy day in the temple of the gods."


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