John Muir


Clinton L. Merriam


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3and labor could crush or outweary me. I should like to collect plants or minerals or insects or to prepare a work upon the trees of this coast, or to take part in any exploring expedition in which there was work that I was capable of doing.You request a sketch of my life. Well, here are the outlines.I was born thirty-two years ago at Dunbar Scotland where the romantic Forth dies in the sea.Twenty-one years ago my father emigrated to America with his family, landing at N. York. He groped his way westward to Wisconsin and settled upon the edge of a rushy, lily lake where no bird or plant was trodden or disturbed, in one of the dearest and most adorned of all the earthly mansions of the Lord. Here I lived eleven years reading Nature in the fields, and books by the winter fireside.At the age of twenty-two I left the old homestead with all of its ferny meadows and broidered hills and entered the State University at Madison where I remained four years pursuing a select course mostly in mathematics and Natural Science. Since that time I have lived a life of free unmeasured terrestrial glory in God's gardens of unconfused beauty and grandeur, and my glorious existence was discharmed only when the want of bread and clothing compelled me to creep doubtfully forth into the mixed glare and clang of this uneasy Anglo-Saxon civilization.I walked alone through the high cold swamps of Canada West, and the dark level forests of Arbor Vitae which enclose them where dwells sweet Linnea and Calypso and Calopogon; also the sunny orchard woods of Wisconsin, and the waving flowery


Yosemite Valley

Date Original

1871 Aug 20


Original letter dimensions: 26.5 x 20.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 02, Image 0499

Copyright Statement

The unpublished works of John Muir are copyrighted by the Muir-Hanna Trust. To purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish or exhibit them, see

Owning Institution

University of the Pacific Library Holt-Atherton Special Collections. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.

Copyright Holder

Muir-Hanna Trust

Copyright Date


Page Number

Page 3


John Muir, correspondence, letters, author, writing, naturalist, California, correspondent, mail, message, post, exchange of letters, missive, notes, epistle