Old Fountain Lake Dec 20th /63
I was really glad to hear from you uncle Dan (as they call you here), but was sorry to hear that you were about to leave school. but again I am glad that you [evince?] [illegible] sufficient to shift for yourself by [melodizing?] the daughters & sons of the queens Canada. Still I almost wish that this might reach you before you could sing a single ral, I can easily afford to send you a few Yankee greenbacks as I have but few expences and can maul cord wood from gnarly trees at the time of a pair of dimes per diem. You say that you would like a chatty visit with me well Dan I would not begrudge a gowpen O'grozzets for a chat with you. I am living with M my brother in Carr - and we have often said "I wonder how Dan is getting along. I hope he has Canada shillings enough to continue at school" but your letter told of a dearth of dimes which as I remembered was the very disease which instead of making me sing pruned every sprig of music "clean off me". I hope however it may prove a bow speculation if not just go right back to school till you see a better chance and let me know when your treasury [illegible]
is light, and now uncle Dan please hold your sack for a half days "dried [illegible]adint", for I feel full like Jobs comforter. You shall first receive a dish of history well spiced with capital ego's then a generous dessert of heterodox ingredients with a quantum of advisement sufficient for a three score then a short time after I recd your 1st letter, I, with two companions, set out upon a geological & botanical excursion, after many a long counsel and much preparation we capered arround [sic] a room in full harness all ready, and eager for the tramp, as long confined colts for a canter We looked green enough as we turned our backs on the good university, with tent, blankets, hatchet, spoons, books, portable [ presses?] & plant-papers with many et ceteras but my [illegible] our [ certe?] faces were relaxed to the full length many a time before we all got home. We first steered for the Blue mounds not following roads but going "through moor and mire over gude and guide".
We often proved with the philosophic shepherd that the properly of rain was to wet, yet we never caught cold.
We then steered fro the Wis. river valley which we followed to the Mississippi, here crossing the river we spent a few days in Iowa. When one of the company was called home by a letter, and as we could not proceed very well without him, we severally made for home as we might, we intended to have continued on through Iowa & Minn to the St Anthony falls thence north to lake Superior, thence along its south[ern?] shore
and home by Green bay, As it was I travelled about three hundred miles and was absent about three weeks, we learned lessons of human nature 'collected more specimens than we expected and had a proper good time notwithstanding the bickerings and perplexities caused by our talk [ative?] stomach I shall give you here a specimen dug we [illegible] about [illegible] from our little cotton sheet tent, our bed being the ground, we shake ourselves full hungry and ascertain that every prominent bone is [illegible] - harnessing our riches and furniture to their places by leather straps, we make for the nearest hill to search for a house where we might find bread & milk for our carnal half, perhaps the hill is high, and the prospect enchanting, and we forget our breakfast as we analyze some new [plant?] or gaze in ecstasy over miles and miles of beauty all aglow with the morning sunlight, perhaps our eyes rest upon the outcrops of a neighboring hill and we think of the earth's long history - how were the rugged valleys worn among the hills - what waters have deposited these naked str[illegible] - what strange animals peopled those [illegible] seas which once flowed in calm or storm above the peak on which we stand, as we thus gaze down long encession of other ages endeavoring to sp[illegible.] the worlds history by these magnificent "[illegible]- ies of the Eternal", importunate [illegible] stomach [makes?]
himself heard ? tears us from all of beauty and sublimity and in a twinkling we find ourselves climbing a stump fence and wading a [dooryard?] dressed in all kinds of filth and endeavoring to reach a door flanked with ash- barrel and hog pen, in [lieu?] of honeysuckled vestibule ? opposed all the way by a coarse- voiced [ cur?] noisier them ever before in his life If the visit be successful we may be seen seeking the woods, frequently looking over our shoulders at the bristly cur, and all for a little dutch gray bread and dutch gray butter. We soon realized the magnitude of the promise ?your bread shall be given you and your water shall be s[illegible]e? ? This meal is perhaps finished at noon and we wonder on winding through tangled glens-over rocky m[illegible] or following the course of a meadow brook gazing at all times intently on either side for new plants Perhaps before night we find another meal then tent holes are set up a fire built and after much fun, we prepare for bed. One day we has but one meal which was at night but this was fully atoned for next day as we had five. When at Pr du Chin one fine morning looking upon the majestic Mississippi which moved smoothly on as the clear sun gilded its waters we thought how [illegible]ing pleasant it would be to place our burdens in a boat and sail merrily to Portage City up the Wisconsin, [ so?] we purchased a boat and rowed merrily to the mouth of the Wis
but after a long struggle in the rapid current we were fairly beaten and our dream of water travelling at an end. We disembarked on the sandy shore took our gear from their [illegible] places under the [illegible], then uncovering our heads we made a speech in turn to his boatship then directed it to a friend in Dubuque, and after placing two postage stamps upon it to make it go, pushed it into the current and marched slowly away through the tall grass for the hills. Dogo always saluted us with more than ordinary energy, and frightened children, when they caught a glimpse of the queer looking strangers, darted for the house whose windows were lined with faces, we once alarmed a whole village - but I must halt, I was at Davids Wedding - he evidenitly thought that his [illegible] was the most perfect piece of mortality "this side of the new Jerusalem" We of course wished him happiness I dined at his house in Portage a few days ago, but Dan you & I must not on any account permit our- selves to think of marriage for five or six years yet, and I give this as a very grave hint, for if your permit your self to fall in love [illegible] [illegible]. When you write next tell me particulary about your health and studies and what you expect father to do for you as respects giving you education, or money, or farm I have worked hard in harvest this summer and built John Reids house over the hill from fathers, also I plowed for John about two weeks, I am splitting cordwood and rails for stove this winter and studying French Latin and Anatomy also Scottish history and [manners?], as I intend if not
drafted to go to Scotland in the spring, I would have gone last fall but gold was fifty per cent, How much is gold in Canada payable in greenbacks. If I can get British currency cheaper by going to Canada and taking ship there I may see you I wish Dan that you & I had money enough to go together. I did not go to Michigan because I thought it would cost a good deal to get a start there and I might be drafted almost as soon as I went. You speak of home. I know exactly how you feel Dan, but if you were here you would soon wish yourself away again even though there was no war. You are much better where you are if you can only make out to go to school most of the time. Father and I cannot agree at all I could not live at Hickory Hill a single week hardly My advise is to rest as contentedly as possible where you are & prepare yourself for future usefulness by the culture and discipline of your mind, and rest assured of the hearty sympathy and love of all your friends. You have not a brother or sister who does not cherish your memory and earnestly desire your success You [illegible] a good place in our hearts I have confidence in you that you will one day grow to the full stature of a man as well in soul & heart as in body Set your mark high Dan - no person who was contented to live in ignorance has ever accomplished much in the work of Christian benevolence. To what and do we receive life and health from God if not to do good and to be good Be careful of your health Dan - guard it as a thing from Gods own hand. Study habits of economy and tidiness. Think no task too insignificant or [illegible] to claim your attention if it may increase your power of usefulness. Wherever your lost is cast "There's a friend that's' ever near" and I am glad that your [illegible] his presence. War is now casting its terrible harvest through all this unhappy land Drafting is becoming more & more severe & we sometimes wish that we could all be with you. I have not money enough to stay long in Scotland I hardly know what to do War seems to spread everywhere. it seems difficult for a peaceable man to find a place to rest Sarah sends her picture. You shall have mine soon [illegible] I heard little Ann asking her mother how long it would [illegible] would see uncle Dan. My very best heart wishes to you Dan may God always bless you and make you useful Your Brother J
Fountain Lake, [Wisc]
1863 Dec 20
Muir, John, "Letter from John Muir to Daniel Muir, 1863 Dec 20" (1863). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 1152.
Reel 01, Image 0606
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