John Muir


John Muir


[Mary E. Newton ?]


Original in possession of Mr. Wm. [William] Newton, Omaha, Neb. [Nebraska] [No place or date] [Fountain Lake in December 1863] [To Mrs. John A. Newton, Prairie du Chien, Wis.] And is little Elmer really dead? Seemingly so well and happy upon my knee, and so soon away to the tomb. I sent you a picture, my boy, just a few weeks ago. I thought of you as the same gleeful little fellow in the parlor with Willie, or receiving your fond Mother's kisses. Ah, little did I think that the chill winds were then heaping the frozen snows upon your grave. Yes, your little boy is dead, Mrs. Newton- the silver cord is loosed, but, as you say, "All is well". He is plucked away in the very morning of his life but he is pure and unsoiled. There are streams which but spring from the fountains and are at once lost in the sea; they meander gayly in the summer fields but a little while when they return to their great first source, pure as when springing from the pebbles. So soon and so pure did your little boy return to God. The fond mother as she bends over her darling boy sees him become a man useful and good and everyone loves him, but God who sees the end from the beginning wills otherwise and takes him to himself ere he has learned to lisp His holy name. But who can say that you have lost your boy? The disconsolate mother who knows nothing of the Redeemer who says “Let the little ones come unto me", may well sink under the unmitigated anguish of a bleeding heart as she sees the cold clods laid over her dear one; but you, in all the fervency of a mother’s love, may still give your child away feeling that he will be happy, and that you will go to him. But nature's grief is nevertheless hard to bear. Many trifles as you move about will echo the voice of your dear one - for a moment he will return you will fold him in fond imagination to your bosom while you bestow again the purest of all earthly things, a mother's kiss. I have often wished that children so guileless and happy might never grow old and never die; yet surely it is well that the little blossoms be given to God ere they be blighted by sin. But, Mrs. Newton, my pen feels lame indeed. How gladly would I do anything that might serve you in your calamity. I am glad to perceive so much of Christian resignation in your letter. I trust that your husband has the same resignation and the same support. You must not give way to corroding grief, but rejoice inasmuch as your boy is alive - he lives in your memory and in the memory of many to whom he was endeared by his gentle and confiding nature [nature] - but above all, he lives in heaven in the home of the Redeemer where a parent's tears are never shed. Heaven will now seem nearer and the grave cannot be dreadful when it contains so much of innocence. I deeply sympathize with you. May you always be comforted and sustained by the God of all consolation. You are known and loved by the blessed Saviour who is "acquainted with grief". May you always be enabled to lean upon him. I beg pardon for not writing sooner. After reaching home I worked all day in the field and analyzed plants every evening until past midnight, so that time hasted away unobserved. I received the newspaper but thought it was from Mr. Abbot, and in cursorily glancing over its contents did not notice the sad announcement which it contained. I shall always receive letters addressed to Midland wherever I may be. The lines which were to have been forwarded to Pr[airie] du Chien were so well hidden by the thief that she could not find them herself till too late. I shall leave home in the spring but can hardly tell what would most profitably engage my attention in so doubtful a time. Remember me to all my friends, especially to Mr. Newton as a sympathizer with him in his affliction. Tell Willie that I often think of him and that he will see Elmer again. Truly a friend, J[ohn] Muir.


[Fountain Lake, Wisc.]

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 01, Image 0622

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

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library. 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



1 page


Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters


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