John Muir


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About noon came to a hut and being weary and hungry asked if I could have dinner. After serious consultation I was told to wait and dinner would soon be ready. I saw only the man and his wife, if they had children they might have been hidden in the weeds on account nakedness. They were very dirty and of course were suffering from fever, but they did not appear to have any realizing sense of discomfort from either the one or the other. The dirt which encircled the countenances of these people did not, like the common dirt of the North, stick on the skin in bold union like plaster or paint, but it appeared to stand out a little from contact like a hazy misty half aerial envelope of mud, the most diseased and incurable dirt that I ever saw, chronic and hereditary. It appears impossible that children from such parents could ever be clean. Dirt and disease are dreadful enough when separated, but combined are inconceivably horrible. The neat cottage with fragrant circumference of thyme and honeysuckle is nearly unknown here. The careful analysis of the various dirts absorbed and accumulated pertaining to and compounded in an upon the unclean of these regions would give a history of about their whole life. I have seen on garments that was regularly stratified, the various strata no doubt indicating different periods of life, some of them, perhaps, annual layers like those of trees, furnishing a means of determining age.

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