David [Gilrye Muir]
at the wild and novel business of sheep shearing, & had very funny, lawless, exciting times. There was about thirty men in the first gang I worked in, composed of Spanish, Indian, Irish, English, Scottish, & mixed mongrel unanal- yzable elements of Californian society "too numerous to mention" All of this pied regiment in driving the sheep into the shearing pens would hoot and yell like demons the sheep, wild as antelopes, would become ungovernable, & a sort of wholesale sheep hunt would commence in which deeds of romantic daring might be witnessed in the heaving, surging masses of men & mutton equal to those of the knights of old in [illegible] tournament These sheep are not like those of Palestine - dumb before there shearer's for many of them keep up wild & obstreperous warfare with kick & bleat, from the first snip at ears to the last at tail
[in margin: My love to [Allie?] & My little ones. Please write very soon & advise Maggie & [J Reid?] & all the [rest?] to write affectionately JM M[illegible] not dated. Praising the country. Sheep Shearing [JC?]]
On Merced River near Snelling, Merced Co Cal' July 14th .
Dear Bro' David I have lived under the sunny sky of California nearly 3 1/2 months, but have not yet rec'd a single letter from any source - perhaps a few went to the dead letter off' while I was in the mountains, but I am settled now with a ranchman for eight or nine months, & hope to enjoy a full share of the comfort of letters during my long isolation. I traveled along the San Jose valley from San Fran' to Gilroy & crossed the Diabolo Mountains by the Pecheco pass, crossed the plains & river of San Joaquin, & traveled on into the Sierra Nevada's to the mammoth trees & magnificent Yo Semite Valley, thence down the Merced to this place.
[in margin: Send my letters to Hopeton, It is nearer than Snelling. Address [illegible] [deleted] Merced Co California]
my health which suffered such wreck in the south has been thouroughly patched & mended in the mountains of California. I had a week or two of fever before leaving the plains for YoSemite, but it was not severe & I was only laid up three or four days, & a month in the Sierras cooled with mountain winds & delicious crystal water has effected a complete cure, and now Davie this is a splendid country, & one might truthfully make use of more than half of the Methodist hymn 'Land of pure delight' in describing it, & it flows with more of milk & more of honey than ever did old Canaan in its happiest prime, Of all the bright shining ranks of happy days that God has given me since I left Wisconsin these of California are
the happiest This place is ten or a dozen miles from the lowest foot hills of the great Sierra range & opposite & parallel to it at the distance of 40 or 50 ms is the Diabolo range, both of which with their gorges, & valleys, & snow clad peaks, are in full clear view like a picture in a room . They form together with the purple plains & pure sky a source of exhaustless & unmeasurable happiness from all the fields when I work. I have been in the harvest field, but harvest work is easy here where headers are used Many farmers in this valley raise from 10 to 20 thousand bushels of grain. I never had so easy times in harvest field before. I worked for sometime here
…Merced River Near Snelling, Merced Co., Cal.
Original letter dimensions: 22.0 x 26.5 cm
Muir, John, "Letter from John Muir to David Gilrye Muir, 1868 Jul 14" (1868). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 1276.
Reel 01, Image 1216
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Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters