Mabel Colf, [et al.]
Martinez, July 17, 1904.
Dear scholars four,
Mabel Colf, Lilian Sexton, Marie Watron & Harmon O. Parsons, I was far away in Australia beneath the Southern Cross when your kind good letters to me were written, & when I got home I read them. non of the big pile on my desk pleased me more.
It was very kind of you to write these letters, & I thank you & your teacher & others for the honors you report, especially the dedication of your Arbor Day Redwood.
The Redwood grows taller than any other tree in the world. One that I measured was 340 feet high, & some may be 50 or 60 feet higher, while the tallest Australian Eucalyptus as far as known does not exceed 300 feet in height,
though many of the stories about them are much taller.
The fine new schoolhouse you so well describe - set on a hill, in sight of the mountains, nearer the sea than any other in the city brings to mind the two I attended when a boy in Scotland. They were one-room buildings, & both stood much nearer the sea than yours, one of them so near that at high tide the waves seemed to be playing tag on our play ground stone wall, running up the sandy shore & perhaps just touching the base of the wall & hurrying back. But sometimes in wild storms the tops of the waves came surging over the wall into the play ground, while the finer spray flying on the roaring gale drenched & washed the school house itself - These great gray roaring booming storms were glorious sights, but we were taught to pity the poor sailors, for many good ships were wrecked & driven ashore by them
From the high side of our play ground we saw the ships sailing past & amused ourselves guessing whence they came, whither bound, & what they carried etc.
In Scotland children are sent to school at a very early age. I was so young my first days of school life are beyond recall. We had to study hard & were thrashed hard. Our teachers said that thrashing & irritating the skin excited the memory; & I suppose it did, for by the time we were ten or eleven years old we had committed whole books to memory -, English, French, & Latin grammars, the New Testament etc. & besides had learned like Indian boys to endure pain with fortitude & take our sorest memory-lessons in silence without flinching or making faces. But in spite of a' that & a' that we were wildly happy & healthy, enjoyed the scenery of the sea & the Lammermoor Hills, had many fine merry games, & on Saturdays often ran 20 or 30 miles without stopping or getting out of breath.
I wish I could tell you stories of my long trip, but a big book would not hold half of them - the parks & gardens & picture galleries of Europe; the towns & fields, forests & rivers of Russia - the beautiful shores of the Black Sea-, the great mountains & glaciers & forests of the Caucasus,- the broad billowy densely forested ridges & spurs of the Ural Mountains-, the vast fertile plains & rivers of Siberia,- the charming hills & dales forested mountains & broad rich plains of beautiful Manchuria- picturesque Japan,- the mountainous island-dotted coast of China . The snowy Himalaya loftiest of earth's mountains, with their glaciers great rivers & Deodar forest-, wonderful old Egypt with its life giving river, green fields & tawny deserts & innumerable sublime monuments of auld lang syne of humanity.- Balmy palmy Ceylon - The endless wonders & beauties of Australia & New Zealand - The strangest people, the strangest animals, the strangest plants. The Philippine Islands too & etc This I fear you will find hard reading but what can a body do with such a job at the end of a letter? Anyhow I am
Sincerely your friend John Muir.
1904 Jul 17
Original letter dimensions unknown.
Muir, John, "Letter from John Muir to Mabel Colf, [et al.], 1904 Jul 17." (1904). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 2832.
Reel 14, Image 0384