John Muir


[John Muir]


Georgie [Galloway]


feel skippy & gay & they run in bands around a clay bank dancing as if they were daft sometimes a gray eagle catches one & flies away with it You must write to me. Ive never forgotten your little dog Dash 00492Dear Georgie I think I write to you before but Ill write another little letter just for fun. It came on snow just a few minutes this winter most of that day there was cold rain & high wind, & a great many lambs

died if you had been here you would have had a terrible job carrying in the lambs that were cold into the house the floor was just covered with them but more than three hundred of themdied that day & two hundred old sheep they were so wet & cold. More than twenty thousand died within ten or twelve miles, wasn't that terrible, but it is fine warm days now & the lambs

[Following notes written on margins cut from newspapers--originals in possession of Mrs. Sarah Muir Galloway].East bank of Lily valley, 00467Feb. 27th, '69.Dear Sister S:I thought I was free from all epistolary obligation, but along comes your November dare speaking of long silence, though I lately mailed an office full of letters. But never mind. My sheep are lying down and with my pencil and newspaper scraps I will soon satisfy your letter appetite.This is a bright warm cloudless day. Nature is in deep close green again, and about twenty of her spring flowers are enjoying perfect life in the sweet nursing sunshine. The banks of the valley before me are peopled with countless multitudes of lilies, so it [is] called Lily Valley. I gathered a little coiled boragewort a few minutes ago whose sweet fragrance stirred the long silent memories of summer in our old Dunbar garden. It must have something in common with the pansies and dusty millers of our little plots. Strange, is it not, that so gentle and unmaterial a thing as the fragrance of a flower should live with memory so bright and fresh from youth to age safely anchored in the soul among all the tides and currents of life, and linked for our enjoyment with others so widely separated.But goodbye, I must not bore you with too long a letter. Alas, how little a letter contains. Please write soon,Cordially,J. MuirI forgot to take paper to the field, and did not wish to lose the moment of inspiration.North end of Twenty-Hill-Hollow, 00488Feb. 27, ['69]Dear Sis. S:The time goes swiftly by and I have not heard from you since the last time, nevertheless I write yet again. I was sitting upon one of the dome hills at the south end of this hollow a few hours ago looking at my sheep that were feeding over the creek below me, when I was startled by a sudden swish and the hasty troubled outcry of my dog who was at my side. Our fright was caused by the grey eagle that dwells here. I suppose it mistook Fannie for a long eared hare, as she lay partly concealed by the brow of the hill. The hare is [a] beautiful animal and exceedingly swift. No dog can compel them to enter a hole, but as soon as they hear the beat of the eagle's wing they dash for the nearest burrow for life. I have seen an eagle standing within four feet of a hare watching it at the mouth of its burrow like a cat watching a mouse, the hare looking full in the eagle's face, calm in his safety. The eagle strikes them down with his pinion.This Hollow is one of the most beautiful places of my range, which is about 10 sq. miles. It is surrounded by 20 hills, and "there simmer first unfaulds her robes." But alas, how little a letter contains. Please write soon[John Muir]Cascade Creek, Feb. 27, '69, 00489Dear Sis. Sarah:I'm with you once again near one of the loveliest, leaping, singing streams that ever sparkled on these plains. The slant rays of the sun are purpling the mountains and the banks and cross valleys on Rock river are in deep shadow. This is a land of banks and braes, and oh, how grandly they are lighted. In no one thing does California differ from Wis. in natural beauty [more] than in the color and quality of her light.I must gather and corral my sheep for this glorious day is done.I rec'd a paper from Dave and two from mother. But alas, once more my sheet is full.[John Muir]Bank of Castle Creek near Rock river, 00490Feb. 27, ['69].Old King David called herding "following the sheep," and so it is called here. In good weather they travel a certain round, arriving at night about the same time. I am within sight of my gray box of a shanty, and will reach it in about an hour. I wish you could look on the loveliness

2[Letters of John Muir to his sister Sarah. Feb. 27, 1869, continued]before me. The rich mellow light is laid on plain and mountain without a tinge of haze. The south domo rock of the Yo Semite is in view, clad in pearly white and so extremely distinct that you would imagine you could read type half an inch long upon it and see the movements of squirrels and mice, though 100 miles distant.But I will not trouble you with too long a communication. Alas, how little is contained in a letter.West Bank of Castle Creek, 00491Feb. 27 ['69].D.S.S. [Dear Sister Sarah];The time grows longer and longer since I heard from you. My sheep stole a march while I was compiling the long pages of 20 Hill Hollow, and now here they are "ower the hills and far away" by the pebbly banks of Castle Creek, so called from a lonely rock standing in the centre of a valley where the stream takes its rise. At a distance this rock looks like an old castle.Sheep-herding has been extolled by philosophers and poets, but I think that both philosophy and poetry are dimly seen in the business, if seen at all. Milton bewailed his inability to see "flocks and herds" but I don't care if I should never see any more of these dirty mongrel mutton assemblies. The native mountain sheep is a happy animal and handsome as a deer, but these misshapen mixed "improved" creatures are "fearfully demoralized" and are not the work of either God or man. I mean to herd here about two weeks longer. But alas, how little a letter contains after all. Write soon,Cordially,John Muir[Feb. 27, '69] 00492Dear Georgie;I think I wrote to you before, but I'll write another little letter just for fun. It came on snow just a few minutes this winter, most of that day there was cold rain and high wind and a great many lambs died. If you had been here you would have had a terrible job carrying(in)the lambs that were cold into the house. The floor was just covered with them, but more than three hundred of them died that day, and two hundred old sheep. They were so wet and cold. More than twenty thousand died within ten or twelve miles. Wasn't that terrible, But it is fine warm days now, and the lambs feel skippy and gay, and they run in bands around a clay bank, dancing as if they were daft. Sometimes a gray eagle catches one and flies away with it.You must write to me. I've never forgotten your little dog Dash.[John Muir]


[place unknown]

Circa Date

[1869 Feb 27]


Original letter dimensions: 2.5 x 20.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 02, Image 0053

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, see

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



4 pages


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



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