John Muir


John Muir


[Robert Underwood] Johnson



Dec. 6th 1889

My dear Johnson

I have your letter with the Yosemite letters, good advice, good wishes & all. Yours on Yosemite would be unfinitely moderate if addressed to clean & clear eyed lovers of God's fountain beauti, but to the commercial heathen in his blindness not too moderate at all. The other laters are good also, & together make a telling statement of valley affairs & I am glad to see that my awkward word on the subject will not be missed though it makes me feel silly that Mackensie turbid with smoke & alcohol should be able to do so well in an hour what I have been unable to do on a theme I love so well [illegible] whole month of effort.


I am not yet done with that Picturesque affair of the Dewings but I will begin that Yosemite article in a few days & will in all probability send you the M.S. about the first of Feb. though I am to be depended upon [illegible] to time. A kind of respectable hash of my recent description of the valley would not take long but a brand new one will I fear be slow. I never can tell how anything I begin of a literary kind will end. Sometimes my descriptions are contemptible mean & lean & scrawny, without any color or atmosphere about them, again they are all fluffily sentimentous drifting about unguided & foundationless as mist, to thin for any terrestrial use


"So how this valley theme may gang let time & chance determine perhaps it may turn out a song perhaps turn out a sermon" If you are particular about the size of the thing let me know & whether you want a second article on the other Sierra Yosemites or to have all treated in one. etc etc. Mr Robinson has been giving descriptions of the Kings River Canon in the Sunday Chronicle. I have seen only one of them. I suppose Shinn has sent you copies. I also saw the negatives made by Tyler but non of the proofs I would gladly do anything in my power to preserve natures sayings & doings here or elsewhere but have no genius for managing societies

Ever your friend John Muir


We are still here at mothers, waiting for Walter to accomplish his R.R. and Trust Co. work at Philadelphia, He has had many discouragements and many unforeseen difficulties to contend with but he remains undaunted and says he must and will succeed, He made a flying trip to K.C. last week, arriving there in the morning and returning to Phila. in the evening of the same day, He went to the house which is still closed and reports everything undisturbed.


Portage Wis

Dec. 8, 1889

Dearest brother John:-

Your long letter to Annie which came this moring, and which I have had the pleasure and pain of reading gives us too clear an idea of the much work physical and mental and no play, which is yours at present. Over work of one


kind or another and overtaxed nerves has been and is such a common complaint in our family, and for so long a time we considered you the grand exception to the curse, standing as you do on a higher plane, cooling your brow in the pure mountain air and feasting your soul on the absorbing study of sweet soothing nature, untrameled by either the love, or the fear of society and its folly; that it makes our hearts ache to think of you as


tired or worried by the vexatious botherations of ordinary mortals. But it seems that they who comfort others do sometimes themselves need comforting, and how I wish I had the power. We can at least assure you of much true sisterly love and appreciation of your work. (I wish I could see more of your writing) and we can also pray the good Father to be with you and bless you with His peace, and rest of soul.



I do not yet know when we shall leave here but think all will be settled satisfactorily before very long. Now I am going to tell you about our little baby Bernice. She is now three months old, and over, and is as sweet and healthy a blue eyed girl as any one could wish. We had hoped for a brown eyed boy like the one who left us but now we think we could not have been better suited


Grandma holds her for an hour at a time talking to here and smiling at her sweet baby ways. They all think they cannot do without her now. I send a picture of Jessie which was taken in the summer, Please tell Louie it is for her with my love and kindest wishes, I think Louie's life and mine must be much the same for the little girlies take our minds and our hearts and our time.


Dear John I received your very kind letter of last summer but was not at the time well enough to reply. I shall not look for any letter from you at present for you have enough other writing to do and we have news of you now from Annie's letter but I will try to write again before very long. Love to your sweet little Wanda and Helen.





Martinez, [Calif]

Date Original

1889 Dec 6


Original letter dimensions unknown.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 06, Image 0287

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

American Academy of Arts and Letters. 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



7 pages


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



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