John Muir


John Muir


Ratchel [ ? ]


Yosemite Sep' 13th 1870

Dear friend Rat[illegible] I was really glad to hear from you, I enjoyed all your letter except- ing the first half page which was wasted upon apology & I don't think it strange at all that you should write to me because I know that yours is a nature that requires sympathy always, just as you require daily bread, & now that the old home at the lake is lost, & so many of your family scattered, & above all that your beloved mother the great earthly fountain of all unfailing sympathy for all your family has left you of course you are lonely & sad & the thirst of sympathy is a thousand fold increased, I assure you that you have my most cordial sympathy & I only grieve to think that I can do so little in your sorrow. I pray that our Father in heaven may sustain you all in your terrible bereavement & knit you all still closer in the bonds of both human & heavenly love. O it is all so sad [illegible] I can't think to write of anything else, I wish I could go to you. How near you all seem, I can scarce believe that I am not with you all in this night silence in my little cottage, Yet what thousands of mile are betwixt us with only a written sheet to go between

It is a blessed reflection that the Lord always knows the exact measure of our grief, & will always provide strength not only to hear it but to make it food for our souls, making us stronger, purer, more spiritual In my many lonely wanderings I have derived a great deal of comfort from the contemplation of the Lords care over all his creatures; wherever he has made them a home they have his protection & supplies for all their wants. I remember one day when walking along the coral shore of Cuba to gather shells I found a tiny fragile purple flower with its circlet of petals confidingly cast open to the bright tropic sun, it lived in the coral rocks that were washed by the tremendous white capped waves of every [illegible] storm. In the terrible Northers the dread of seamen in the Gulf of Mexico, wave after wave rolled over it tons in weight & with a settled irresistible force sufficient to crush a ship at a single blow, but the purple flower tended by its maker closed fast its petals, scrouched low in its [illegible] of a home & enjoyed the storm in perfect safety. On time I was very lonely in Tennessee. I had been walking most all day without coming to a house but on crossing a [illegible] shaded stream in a forest that almost closed over it with a leafy sky, I found the first Dicksonia fern that I had long been looking for & the first Magnolia too that I had ever met growing on the bank. I sat down among the ferns & moss & reveled in the glory of my discoveries, the enclosing forest was the most deeply solitary that I had ever felt though the stream sang Natures songs upon every ripple feelings of isolation soon caught me again but one of the Lords smallest birds came out to me from some dense branches of saxifrage that grow by moss covered rock It had a wonderful- ly expressive eye & in one moment that cheerful confiding bird preached me the most impressive sermon upon heavenly trust that I ever heard in all my life before & I went on not half so heart sick nor half so weary

[in margin: I have only room to add that I hop you will all continue to feel me a friend wherever I may wander to. Farewell, John Muir]




Original letter dimensions unknown.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 02, Image 0341

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

The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley. 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



2 pages



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