John Muir


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men, most of whom showed considerable force of character in their heavy faces, and about the same number of women that seemed inferior in every way, and a crowd of wondering boys and girls. Mr. Young sang, prayed, and preached a mixed mission sermon. At the close the Chief arose and said he would now like to hear the other chief’s message, etc. Then I made a speech, dwelling on the brotherhood of all races of people, assuring them that God loved them, and that some of their white brethren were beginning to know them and take interest in their welfare, that I seemed to be among old friends ere I had been half an hour in the house, that I would remember them and their kind reception; advised them to heed the instruction of good men who wanted nothing from them but only wished to give good. Told them of some Indians who killed and ate the missionaries, hoped they would find a better use for them and put them in their hearts instead of in their stomachs, etc., etc. They seemed interested, looking into each others’ faces with nods and ughs and smiles. The Chief replied with telling gestures how glad he was to see us, that he felt as if his heart had had a good meal, that we were the first to come humbly to his out-of-the-way village to tell them about God, that they were all little children in the dark, but eager for light, wanted a missionary, that he could believe that whites and Indians were the children of one father, that they differed little and resembled each other, much calling attention to the similarity of form, hands, eyes, legs, making gestures, holding out his hand for inspection, etc. in the most nature style of eloquence and dignified composure. He repeated apologies for the poverty of his hospitality, and his expressions of hear delight and his sense of pride in having us under his humble roof were worthy a French diplomat. The most striking characteristic of these people is their easy dignity under the most novel circumstances, and their willingness to abandon their usages of every kind for those of the whites. Even the little children behave well, come to the strange whites even called, restrain laughter at the novel hymn-singing, etc., and when an old woman of the assembly fell asleep and began to snore, both old and young were shaken with suppressed mirth as if appreciating the want of manners and ridiculousness of the position as fully as whites would. It is curious how fully at home one feels in the company of these so-called savages. They are not savages in the ordinary sense of the term. I have never seen Europeans or Americans of the poorer classes who would compare favorably with them in good breeding, intelligence, and skill in accomplishing whatever they try to do with tools in building, carving, planning, etc., or in their conceptions of a spiritual kind, moral sense, government, political, judicial, or domestic. I have never seen a child ill-used even to the extent of an angry word. Scolding, so common a curse of the degraded of Christian countries, is not known here at all. But on the contrary the young are fondled and indulged without being spoiled. Crying is very rarely heard. [Drawing] “Top of Merten Spruce developed side dacing the Channel. Kiku” In the house of this chief there is a pet marmot (Parry’s) which is a great favorite with old and young. If is delightfully confiding and playful and human. Cats are often petted and the confidence with which they met even strangers shows that they are kindly handled.

Date Original



Original journal dimensions: 11.5 x 18 cm.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist