[A.] Bradley [Brown]
18 yrs old:
Letter to a friend, Hickory Hill Wis, 1856.
Dear Bradley, I wrote you a long letter a day or two ago, with a supplement; but it was till too short; I shall endeavor to finish it now You remember I mentioned your belief in Jesus Christ as our Saviour. Now what should follow from so great a belief, and what does it signify? Just suppose Bradley, that you are a traveler; You have long been wandering here and there in rough thorny places homeless and friendless; your father is dead, and your mother is dead; you have not one friend to help you or take pity on you; you are an outcast, poor, hopeless, forsaken. It has been a bitter stormy day; since morning you have been urging your toilsome way against the sleety beast. Now the darkness thickens. It is night, and such a night. Hark how the storm shrieks and wails through the gloomy wood as the [illegible] wind blows through the bending branches, its voice rising & falling in long-drawn dismal cadence
The storm seems to be seeking you out as if aimed at you alone of all the wretches out that night. Your life's blood is chilled. How strangely the tales of perished travelers fasten on your sinking heart. Shall you out live the fearful night? A light! A light! Ah see how it blazes from long rows of windows tier above tier through the storm-laden darkness. You will not perish, Hope returns. Your almost motionless heart beats hard again sending thin watery blood through your benumbed limbs. Struggle on Bradley you shall yet be warmed & fed and sheltered. You approach feeble, and bent, and dripping; the big lighted front of the mansion seems forbiddingly grand. Hark how the joyous melody of the gay warm company within contracts with the howling of the pitiless storm. You have at length found the door but how woeful your appearance as the light falls on you. Dare you knock in such a plight at such a house. You are ragged and mud splashed and slouched
and abject with the consciousness of poverty as well as with hunger and cold. But life is sweet and you knock. The lord of the princely mansion listens. You knock again, he opens the door, he sees you are wretched, he speaks kindly to you and leads you in. For a time he forgets his gay company as he gets you dry clothing and food and all the comforts and cordials his fine mansion affords He watches over you too as you begin to revive as tenderly as the fond mother over her sick child; And when at length you have recovered under his kind care, he sends you on your way with a glad heart. Ah Bradley would you ever forget that man? Would after joy or grief, hope or fear, bright prosperity or gloomy adversity, friends old or new, or time itself ever push him or blot him out of your heart? No Bradley though you should live long afterwards, and travel far, and meet many a stormy change of fortune, through all the tossings and beatings to & fro on lifes changeful sea, up and down, back & forward, among those who might hat you, or those
who love you, in pagan lands or christian lands - I had almost said, in heaven or hell- that man would sit in the best place in the warmest end of your heart. Ah would'nt he Bradley. I know he would. Where then should you put Jesus Where have you put him? Is he not too often pushed aside among the dear, airy nothings in the most confused corner of your heart? Ah how truly it may be said of thousands who say, Jesus is mine, "I know not where they have laid him". The good man who left his company for awhile to lead you to his fireside and lovingly tended you, him you will remember with steady deep love while memory lasts; but Jesus who came away from his home in heaven, as happy a home as God was able to make, him you do not love so much, nor even as much as you would love me were I to walk down to your place some fine day and ask you how you did. How ungrateful and unreasonable. The benevolent man who blessed you with so many kindnesses was only a sinful fellow mortal some gold and some friends; perhaps attracted by that gold and some other things soon to
perish and pass away made the only sig- nificent difference between you, But Jesus is the son of God. "By him the worlds were made". By him all things consist "He it is who seeks you and suffers for you to save you.' Again, you begged the good man to have pity on you, besides you never did him any harm. But it was long ere you ever begged Jesus to help you that he came away here to bless you. So far from humbly begging assistance in time of need, You said, "I desire not the knowledge of thy ways", "I need nothing from you". Do not these things make mighty odds in favor of Jesus in the claim for gratitude and love. The good man came only to the door when it stormed; that was not much of a deed. But Christ came far from his home, and out into the storm - a far greater and more bitter storm than we are able to conceive of and remains out in it all his life on earth - going about doing good drinking deep of every sorrow, with no place to lay his head at night, loving all of us, meekly suffering every kind of wrong and abuse, his kindest words and deeds misjudged
and misunderstood yet ever returning Good for evil, blessing for cursing. And at the last after being reviled, scoffed at, spit upon, whipped, he meekly suffered himself to be cruelly put to death praying for his tormentors with his last breath. O dear friend let us give our hearts to Christ our Saviour and love him and follow in his footsteps forever then however far we may be separated while we each follow our destiny here, we shall meet again above the region of storms in that bright mansion of the blessed the home of our Saviour & Father to part again no more forever.
Hickory Hill, Wisc.
Original letter dimensions: 24.0 x 19.5 cm
Muir, John, "Letter from John Muir to A. Bradley Brown, 1856" (1856). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 1034.
Reel 01, Image 0019
Online finding aid for the microform version of the John Muir Correspondence http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt0w1031nc
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Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters