John Muir


John Muir


Daniel [H. Muir]



Nov 19th

My dear Brother Daniel This is Monday forenoon I thought I would have a talk with you today mostly as to the course I think you had better pursue if you mean to be a machinest or inventor But just as I sat down I looked out the window and couldnt think what that long [illegible] carriages m[illegible] so solemly till Joan that they [illegible] preceded by a hearse. For any sake Dan remember that you must die But a very little while and you will be buried. You are very ambitious you wish to be as high up as any body if not head and shoulders higher I do not mean by this to dampen your energies but rather to instill new life into them God has a work for you and he has given you a life to do it and though it may well be salled a anbor life God sits mighty consequences to the end of it [illegible] then Daniel but Oh be sure God has you by the hand Spend your life as you may, it will soon be spent Commit your ways to God do all as in his sight to his glory and all shall be everlastingly well


I am still comparatively speaking in the waves but from what little I have seen and gathered from others I think unless you have to work very hard you may do as well at home as anywhere else for a year or two I do not now at all regret having stayed at home so long principally on account of eternal things but I don't know but my success in worldly things is quite as probable now as it would be had I been among machines for six years When a person is among machines all his life he seldom thinks of wanting anything and when he does his mind is so accustomed to old fashioned ways that he seldom accomplishes anything very original It has been said by some of the principal writers on machines and engineering that hardly any very great or valuable invention had ever been the work of any person who had long had to do with anything relating it, but to be a practice workmen the sooner in a worldly point of view you learn your trade the better but this I would not advise you to be. It is certainly a dreary thing to file in a great smoky shop among devilish men on two piece of iron for two or three days to make them fit closely and then



to get two new pieces the same number of inches in hight and the same number of inches in length and the same number of inches in breath and the same color on both the upper and under sides And on both ends and on the other sides and file them exactly the same way and so on for days and days and weeks and weeks and months and months and years and years, and even supposing you got far as manufacturing engine (steam ones I mean) and made a hundred a day every bolt and bar and rod and screw in each would be alike likely and soon there would be but precious little more fun in the business or romance either than there would in the wonderful manufacture of everduring fencing material from the mighty and majestic ever young everlalsting and God made oaks. This you call "splitting rails" well the [illegible] black machines as he trys to cough up the [illegible] and brassy and irony and I don't know all wha[illegible] mixture had just such a name for his business If however you could get a practical knowledge so that you would know how machines and machine material acts you would know better how to make new ones. Ill now tell at one breath what I think you had better do (((turn over)))



[illegible] all get acquainted with God and yourself get two or three books (the latest) on philosophy and engineering Read the [illegible] and whittle out as many new notions as you have time for and dont hurry yourself All I have said I suppose you to understand as joined to fathers will You asked me what kind of a shop I had got into well it is a brick boarding shop I may say I hav'nt been in any shop unless I call the steamboats shops. And with their two [illegible] engines they are not [illegible] unlike machine shops I can go if I please into that shop of [illegible] where he keeps his ice boat or into his room in the hotel there where he keeps his books and drafting tools I am trying turn my attention more to books than machines I am beginning to like geometry you ought to study it You asked me about artesian wells Here is the way Lillaman and Wells say they get their power

strata of hard clay strata of hard clay

And [illegible] the pipe the diggers put in strikes through the clay into the sand the water spouts up if it is as high or higher at [illegib.e] then

[in margin: Up here the upper strata would be sand so the water could look [illegible] than graduall turn clay so the water would be fine, same as being [illegible] a [illegible]]


I dont think I shall ever have anything like as good an opportunity as I had at home for quiet reading and reflection I thank my God for all that his befallen me I have been very thouroughly homesick good folk would often say to me "I hope you will not be homesick I didnt know what they meant I always thought myself [illegible] of sufficient resolution and strength of mind to carry me quite above all this which I thought was only girlish and sentimental I have been sorely mistaken however O how I have wished and wished for a letter for the last three weeks If you folk only had known how often and anxiously


I have bugged the post m for a letter you would have sent me four or five I was largely glad to see the papers or anything else from home I know you are not likely to have any news but do for any sake write some you all the time I am as comfortable and happy as I could possibly expect to be and far more so everybody in the house seem more and more desirous of my welfare all are kind to me I dont in the least regret any step I have taken, but you do not know how [illegible] earnestly I have wished to see you Dan and all Father Mother Maggie Sarah David Mary Anna Joanna Goodnight, have mercy on me God bless you all and bring us all together at last



[Indianapolis, Ind.]

Circa Date

[1866] Nov 19

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 01, Image 0884

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

The Huntington 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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