Clarence King: A Biography

Clarence King: A Biography

Clarence King: A Biography

Clarence King: A Biography

Excerpt

"King ought to have written his own life," Henry Adams once remarked to S. F. Emmons, the geologist, who had finished a memoir of their mutual friend, "and the world has lost a book of capital interest in losing it; but the world may go hang, for all it can get now. We know what it has lost, and I am glad you have made a memorandum of it, to complete the record. Yet it makes me wonder at geology when I think that this is all that remains of the most remarkable man of our time. One of Walcott's Siberian trilobites has left about as much. King himself would have put it all easily into one short Hic jacet Echinognathus Rex, and would have stuffed it into your Survey rocks for fun. Only he would not have felt sore about it, as we do." Certainly the friends of Clarence King had a right to feel "sore about it"; what they had seen in King's young manhood had promised to leave a deep impression on American civilization. Yet King's destiny, as they had also seen, had led only to tragic frustrations.

We agree with Adams--King should have told his story himself. He would have told it debonairly, as he did in his narratives of youthful adventure in California. His Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada gives us absorbing accounts of climbs in the Range of Light, climbs which helped to fill wide blanks on the map of California; of his role in the saga of Mount Whitney, apex of the range and of the country; of his finding fossils that determined the age of the mother lode's gold-bearing slates; of the survey he ran of the first official boundaries of Yosemite; and of his subsequent sighting of actual glaciers on the flanks of Mount Shasta. The book had interest for both America and Europe, and it prompted Howells to prophesy . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.