John Muir


David [Gilrye Muir]


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[Original letter in possession of David Gilrye Muir]YoSemite, March 20, [1870]Dear Brother David G[ilrye]:Your last of Jan. 6th reached me here in the rocks two weeks ago. I am very heartily glad to learn that your dear wife and wee ones have escaped from sickness to health. "Ten weeks of fever" -- mercy, what intense significance these four words have for me after my Florida experiences. We were taught to believe that Providence has special designs to accomplish by the agency of such afflictions. I cannot say that I have the requisite amount of faith to feel the truth of this, but one invariable result of suffering in a love-knit family is to quicken all the powers that develop compact units from clusters of human souls.I am sitting here in a little shanty made of sugar-pine shingles this Sabbath evening. I have not been at church a single time since leaving home. Yet this glorious valley might well be called a church, for every lover of the great Creator who comes within the broad overwhelming influences of the place fail[illegible]not to worship as he never did before.The glory of the Lord is upon all his works; it is written plainly upon all the fields of every clime, and upon every sky, but here in this place of surpassing glory the Lord [has] (his) written in capitals. I hope that one day you will see and read with your own eyes.The only sounds that strike me tonight are the ticking of the clock, the flickering of the fire and the love songs of a host of peaceful frogs that sing out in the meadow up to their throats in slush, and the deep waving roar of the falls like breakers on a rocky coast.Your description of the sad quiet and deserted loneliness of home made me sorry, and I felt like returning to the old farm to take care of father and mother myself in their old days, but a little reflection served to show that of all the family, my views and habits and disposition made me the most incapable for the task.You stirred a happy budget of memories in speaking of my work-shop and laboratory. The happiest days and scrap portions of my life were in that old slant-walled garret and among the smooth creeks that trickled among the sedges of Fountain Lake meadow.In recalling the mechanical achievements of those early days I remember with satisfaction that the least successful one was that horrid guillotine of a thing slicing off gophers' heads.Those money receipts are all right. You say that business is dull, but that you expect to live through it all. Certainly you will,--as a family we are pretty firmly united, and you know that no one tree of a close clump can very well fall. In my walks through the forests of humanity I find no family clump more inwoven in root and branch than our own. I have completed the sawmill here. It works extremely well. If not a " Kirk & a mill" I have at least made a house and a mill here. I am glad to hear of Maggie's and Sarah's health, and of the welfare of the twins and Joanna.My love to all.J. M. [John Muir]March 24. Yours of Feb. 8th rec'd.[Year 1870 supplied as Muir refers to completion of sawmill, which he commenced in Dec. 1869, probably]



Date Original

[1870?] Mar 20


Original letter dimensions: 20.5 x 25.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 02, Image 0223

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