John Muir


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this place of graves as one of the most favored abodes of light and life. On no subject are our ideas more warped and pitiable than on death. Instead of the friendly sympathy, the union of life and death so apparent in Nature, we are taught that death is an accident – a deplorable punishment for the oldest sin, the “archenemy” of life, etc. And upon these primary, never-to-be questioned dogmas, these time-honored bones of doctrine, our experiences are founded, tissue after tissue in hideous development, until they form the grimmest body to be found in the whole catalogue of civilized Christian manufactures. Teach a town child this morbid death orthodoxy. The natural beauties of death are seldom seen or taught in towns. Of death among the families of the insect world it sees only the proper slaughter of flies for purposes of domestic health and comfort. Among birds it witnesses only murders by machinery for purposes of economy. Among beasts perhaps he may hear the gurgling of the useless ones of a family of superfluous kittens or puppies tied up in a sack, or he may learn the death groans of pigs and cattle amid the filth and blood of a slaughter house. Of death among his own species, to say nothing of the thousand styles and modes of murder To be found in a civilized swarm of Christians so-called his best memories even among the “happy deaths” yield only groans and tears mingled

Date Original

July 1867


Original journal dimensions: 10 x 16.5 cm.

Resource Identifier



Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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