supper. I ventured forward to the radiant presence of the black pair, and after being stared at with the frightful fixedness that is said to subdue the lion, I was handed water from somewhere out of the darkness. I stood for a moment at the big fire looking at the unsurpassable simplicity of the establishment and asking questions about the road to Gainesville, etc. when my attention was called to a black lump of something lying in the sand and ashes. It seemed to be made of rubber or some kind of waterproof stuff, but ere I had time for much speculation the black woman went to the black object, bent wooingly over it, and said with motherly suasion, “Come honey, eat you hominy.” At the sound of hominy the rubber bag gave strong manifestations of vitality and proved to be a burly little negro boy, rising from the earth ‘naked as the earth he came.’ Had he emerged from black muck of a marsh we might easily have believed that the Lord had manufactured him, like Adam, direct from the earth. and we should forever have settled the great ethnological question respecting the different races of men and the one primary Eden pair. Well, thought I as I set out for Gainesville, surely I am coming to the tropics now when the inhabitants wear nothing but vellum. Sufficiently simple – no ‘troublesome disguises’ as Milton calls clothing, but surely not in harmony with Nature. Birds make nests and most all beasts make some kind of bed for their young, but these negroes allow their youngling to lie nestles and naked in the dust.
Original journal dimensions: 10 x 16.5 cm.
Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist