John Muir


John Muir


[Jeanne C.] Carr[



possibly '66.

Trouts Mills Near Meaford Sept '13th [1865]

"_______" Mrs Carr

Your precious letter with its burden of cheer and good wishes has come to our hollow, and has done for me that work of sympathy and encouragement which I know you kindly wished it to do. It came at a time when much needed, for I am subject to lonesomeness at times. Accept then my heartfelt gratitude - would that I could make a better return. E# I am sorry over the loss of Prof Sterlings letter, for I waited and wearied for it a long time. I have been keeping up an ir- regular course of study since leaving Madison, but with no great success. I do not believe that study, especially of the natural sciences, is incompatable with ordinary attention to business, still I seem to be able to do but one thing at a time. Since undertaking a month or two ago to invent new machinery for our mill, my mind seems to so bury itself in the work that I am fit for but little else, and then a lifetime is so little a time that we die ere we get ready to live. I would like to go to college, but then I have to say to myself "You will die ere you ccan do anything else". I should like to invent useful machinery, but it comes, "You do not wish to spend your lifetime among machines and you will die ere you can do anything else", I should like to study medicine that I might do my part in lessening human misery, but again it comes, "You will die ere you are ready or able to do so, how intensely I desire to be a Humboldt


but again the chilling answer is reiterated, but could we but live a million of years, then how delightful to spend in perfect content- ment so many thousand years in quiet study in college, so many amid the grateful dim of machines, so many among human pain, so many thousands in the sweet study of nature among the dingles and and dells of Scotland, and all the other less important parts of our world. Then perhaps might we, with at least a show of reason, "shuffle off this mortal coil and look back upon our star with something of satisfaction; I should be ashamed if shame might be in the other world, if any of the powers, virtues, essences etc should ask one for common knowledge concerning our world which I could not bestow -, But away with this aged structure and we are back to our hand- ful of hasty years half gone, all of course for the best did we but know all of the Creators plan concerning us, In our higher state of existence we shall have time & intellect for study - Eternity - with perhaps the whole unlimited creation of God as our field should satisfy us, and make us patient & trustful, while we pray with the Psalmist "Teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" I was struck with your remarks about our real home as being a thing of stillness and peace - how little does the outer & noisy world in general know of that "real home" & real inner life, happy indeed they who have a friend to whom they can unmask the workings of their real life, sure of sympathy & forbearance. I sent for the book which you recom- mend. I have just been reading a short sketch of the



life of the Mother of Lamartine. These are beautiful things you say about the humble life of our Saviour and about the trees gathering in the sunshine What you say respecting the littleness of the number who are called to "the pure & deep communion of the beautiful all loving nature", is particularly true of the hard working, hard drinking, stolid Canadians in vain is the glorious chart of God in spread out for them - so many acres chopped is their motto, so they grub away amid the smoke of magnificent forest trees black as demons & material as the sod they move upon - I often think of the Doctors lecture upon the condition of the different races of men as controlled by physical agencies-, Canada though abounding in the elements of wealth is too difficult to subdue to permit the first few generations to arrive at any great intellect- ual development, In my long rambles last summer I did not find a single person who knew anything of botany and but a few who knew the meaning of the word; and wherein lay the charm that could conduct a man who might as well be gathering mammon, so many miles through these fastnesses to suffer hunger and exhaustion was with them never to be discovered. Do not these answer well to the person described by the poet in these lines. " A primrose by the river's brim, A yellow primrose was to him, And nothing more" - I thank Dr. Carr for his kind remembrance of me, but still more for the good patience he had with so inapt a scholar. We remember in a peculiar way those who first give us the story of Redeeming Love from the good-book of revelation, and I shall not forget the Doctor who first laid before me the great book of Nature, and though I have taken so little from his hand he has at least shown me where those mines of priceless knowledge lie and how to reach them.


O how frequently, Mrs Carr, when lonely & wearied, have I wished that like some hungry worm I could creep into that delightful kernel of your house - your library, with its portraits of scientific men, and so bountiful a store of their sheaves amid the blossom and verdure of your little kingdom of plants, luxuriant & happy as though holding their leaves to the open sky of the most flower-lov- ing zone in the world. That "sweet day" did as you wished reach our hollow, and another is with us now, the sky has the haze of Autumn and excepting the aspen not a tree has motion upon our enclosing wall of verdure new tints appear, the gorgeous dyes of Autumn are too plainly seem, and the forest seems to have found out that again its leaf must fade, our stream too has a less cheerful sound and as it bears its foam-bells pensively away from the shallow rapids in the rocks seems to feel that summer is past. You propose Mrs Carr an exchange of thoughts for which I thank you very sincerely-, this will be a means of pleasure and improvement which I could not have hoped ever to have been possessed of but then her is difficulty-, I feel that I am altogether incapable of properly conducting a correspondence with one so much above me. We are indeed, so you say, students in the same life school, but in very different classes, I am but an alpha novice in those sciences which you have studies & loved so long. If however you are willing in this to adopt the plan that our Saviour endeavored to beat into the stingy Israelites, viz. to "give hoping for nothing again" all will be well, and as long as your letters resemble this one before me, which you have just written, in genus, order, cohort, class, province, or kingdom, be assured that by way of reply you shall at least receive an honest "Thank you" Tell Allie that Mr Muir thanks him for his pretty flowers and would like to see him, also that I have a story for him which I shall tell some other time - Please remember me to my friends, and now hoping to receive a letter from you at least semi-occasionally I remain yours with gratitude John Muir

address Meaford, P.O. County Grey Canada West 00359


Trouts Mill, [Canada]

Circa Date

[1865] Sep 13


Original letter dimensions: 31.5 x 39.0 cm

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 01, Image 0708

Collection Identifier

Online finding aid for the microform version of the John Muir Correspondence

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



6 pages


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



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