John Muir


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Circa Date

circa 1887


Persuaders too, exhorters, orators, of no mean rank have chosen thee, old schoolhouse [as] a nest in which to lay their [precious] doctrines, [that] where they [may] might hatch and grow in wholesome air, and like young eagles from a nest of sticks Fly far and [near] wide on every wind of heaven, and upward into light beyond the kin of mortal vision, the time of incubation long perhaps and reaching to other ages.

Each seemed to feel the weight of all the world upon his shoulders, all is weal or woe depending on his efforts through the trails of these fertile moments, when his precious words came forth to light of day in tones of thunder, like bumping, rumbling boulders onward swept through narrow, choking gorges on the mountains in time of thaw and flood.

And thou has heard the tiny piping tones - strange contrast of children “speaking pieces”, “Mary’s lamb”, and “Modest violet blue”, and “Crags and Peaks”, and young Demosthenes with peebles [pebbles] in his mouth. Or, stranger still, class-meeting converts speeches, low, tearful, sobbing promises to walk the narrow way henceforward, and prayers for light and strength;

Conscious of weakness and they know not what. Not so the brawny fighting backwoods brother. With jaw advanced, and bulging muscles rigid, he shouts and stamps and makes thy old logs rattle with rough defiance. Calling, “hither come ye men or devils, come all together, ye who would bar [my] the narrow way to heaven. Armed for the fight with Christ my Captain leading I fear no foe earthborn or from the pit. Come on! Come on!, as though he were addressing some foe in sight, yet maybe semi-conscious – the foe was far away, and like to stay far.

Every ism and doxy hath been sounded on every key within thy patient walls old schoolhouse; blasts of strong revival, Enough to blow thy dovetailed logs asunder, while souls were being saved, and pulled, and twisted all out of shape, till they no longer fitted the frightened bodies that to each belonged. Playing at judgement day in lightsome humor, calling, “Ho! All ye saints that love the Lord, Rise up now quickly and take these benches on the right side there. And now ye sinners cross over to the left, and stand in row, and be ye separate as sheep and goats

Date Occurred

1856; 1860

Contributing Institution

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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