John Muir


John Muir


[Frances N.] Pelton


[Fall, 1861?] Dear Mrs. Pelton I was real glad to hear from you I had been thinking it was so long a time since I had heard how you all were You speak of my tiring of the world and seeking the woods again this Mrs Pelton will not be while I have strength to study by, or so long as I can be now useful where I am. I am alone again, my brother never was accustomed to study and confinement so that though he promised himself much useful happy case when he for the time being bade farm blessings goodbye he found university toils far more severe than farm ones, his health suffered a little, so after a few com- plaints he suddenly threw his books aside and set out the other morning for the healing pill of a weeks ploughing on the prairie. He is going to teach a district school this winter and as am I my schoolhouse is one of those yankee log edifices which often give mournful signs of having been hardly dealt with by the weather I was a little surprised on finding "Byron, and Mr. Dwight" one day in the camp. they appeared healthy and pleased with their exercises Edward Dwight seemed to blow his fife with great glee in the midst of the tireless army of chattering drums. Byron visited us in our room and went up town to church with us one Sunday. You would hardlyknow him in his great blue coat I went down to the camp and spent an hour or two in their tent the night before they left for Missouri and Oh dear

such conversation. You have no idea how abominable it was and yes when I expressed my abhorrence such language Byron laughingly said "Why John this is not a beginning to what you would hear in other tents. This is one of the best in the regiment" ! After lecturing them a few minutes upon the necessity of having the character formed and being possessed of tightly clinched principles before being put to such a trial as a three year soaking in so horrible a mix[ture] Byron growing grave dropped his camp language and declared with some emphasis that there was no danger of him. that his principles were "firm as the ada- -mantine hills" I frankly expressed my opinion tha[t] -principles which permited what had passed in the tent tonight had better be anything but fixed Now don't for any sake let Byron's and Dwight's moth[er] know what I have written for this would only make them sorrowful and the boys angry but I do anxiously wish you would tell them to write often to them all the the time, for O it is so good to get letters from home and then to think that scarce one good influence reaches the poor boys, how much they need the holy influence of home, as they unfold the pages folded by a mothers or sister's hand they will forget where they are and as they anxiously read the pure thoughts and advices in the tent corner and those not half expressed sympathy -ies which sisters and mothers only have, tears will flow and when he next joins his companions vice will not

seem as before Now wont you be sure and tell them I heard they had already seen the enemy The whole seemed anxious for fight I ws down the morning they left Madison and helped Byron to buckle on his knap -sack Dwight with his fife seemed uncommonly happy but O how terrible a work is assigned them How strange that many possessed of such tender emotions: whose hearts beat for others sorrows with the best sympathies of our nature; how strange that such can do completely compose themselves for such work and even march to the bloody fray on a half dance with a smile on their faces and perhaps a loud laugh Were all the secession soldiers safely arranged in rows side by side on long tables where the soldiers whose patriotism would enable them calmly or otherwise at such an hour to cut their throats for the common weal after having asked the married among them how many children they had and if they cried when their pa left them to go to camp. The mere mention of such a thing would shock any human feelings, but the gallant charge, the well directed grape shot, the exploded mine rending hundreds limb from limb in a moment, the dreadful shell thrown precisely into the thickest crowd rending righteous and wicked to shreds perhaps while asleep as they felt the soft hand of a mother on their fevered brow Ah this this is noble becoming all rogues or pastors who loves his country, well may the poor mother mourn that she is not a man and the unfortunate maid who would faint and make a poem on the untimely end of a mouse Well may she pine away

since she may not put her white hands to the good employment Don't you think Mrs Pelton that of all this be indeed necessary the slaughter should be conducted solemnly, when the judge sheds tears on [pronouncing?] the doom of the atrocious murderer How strangely it seems to me I should feel if in heaven one praising with the white robe should for a little cease his praises and tell me that I had beheaded him that sunshiney day at Bull Run May peace's blessings soon be ours again May the time be near when the spirit of the Prince of Peace shall be in all hearts------------------------------------------------------------------- --------------------------------------------------------------------------- O, Mrs Goodrich Mrs Goodrich! What shall I say, Cannot play Maggie certainly no, I had thought that Chaps arrows were as so many pine spinks from a pop gun on her shield. Well done Cupid my lad! I do hope he'll take very glad care of her, and I feel sure he will for Good-rich, is no misnomer or she would not have said, "Yea" I wish her happiness with all my might ----------------------------------------------------------------- How much things are changed since you wrote last The happy childrens voices that used to ring with the merry birds as they got posies on our lovely hill are not heard now The then verdant sod is brown and dead and the living leaves now sear and wrinkled are borne about on every wind A melancholy pleasure steals over the mind now "We all do fade as a leaf" As the leaf or the ripples on the lake generation follows generation We are passing away How great the need for energy to spend our little while to purpose How good to obey and love God who gave his Son to redeem us and fit us to live forever. Ah that vacuum I need not speak But "Safe from temptation safe from sins pollution She lives whom we call dead" I wish to be kindly remembered That God may always bless to the rest Goodbye you is the felt prayer of your sympathizing friend J Muir


[place unknown]

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 01, Image 0297

Copyright Statement

The unpublished works of John Muir are copyrighted by the Muir-Hanna Trust. To purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish or exhibit them, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.

Owning Institution

Wisconsin Historical Society. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.

Copyright Holder

Muir-Hanna Trust

Copyright Date



8 pages



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