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February 03 , 2009

Travels in Alaska


The events recorded in this volume end in the middle of the trip of 1890. Muir’s notes on the remainder of the journey have not been found, and it is idle to speculate how he would have concluded the volume if he had lived to complete it. But no one will read the fascinating description of the Northern Lights without feeling a poetical appropriateness in the fact that his last work ends with a portrayal of the auroras—one of those phenomena which else where he described as “the most glorious of all the terrestrial manifestations of God.” For a number of months just prior to his death he had the friendly assistance of Mrs. Marion Randall Parsons. Her familiarity with the manuscript, and with Mr. Muir’s expressed and penciled intentions of revision and arrangement, made her the logical person to prepare it in final form for publication. It was a task to which she brought devotion as well as ability. The labor involved was the greater in order that the finished work might exhibit the last touches of Muir’s master-hand, and yet contain nothing that did not flow from his pen. All readers of this book will feel grateful for her labor of love. I add these prefatory lines to the work of my departed friend with pensive misgiving, knowing that he would have deprecated any discharge of musketry over his grave. His daughters, Mrs. Thomas Rea Hanna and Mrs. Buel Alvin Funk, have honored me with the request to transmit the manuscript for publication, and later to consider with them what salvage may be made from among their father’s unpublished writings. William Frederic Bade
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