15. Oct 1913
Dear John Muir,
We were delighted to hear from you, and my husband James, although ninety years old in December, is still able to be deeply interested to hear from you and last week Maggie Lunam send us on your book "Boyhood and Youth" to read before she lent it to anyone else and father has been reading it -even twice- he takes longer to read now his eyesight is not so good. He doesn't use glasses as they dont help him but he has a big hand glass which he uses - not to look through but to cast a focused light on the page or line! He is much exercised because you do not give the date of your birth and he cannot find out from our family bible when yr mother was married. He even spoke of going to Edinb to the registrar general office to find out- although he never goes inside a train now! I couldn't stop when I began to read yr book it so fascinated me and I would dearly love
to have a copy to lend to my children to read for I must return Maggie's as soon as father has finished. The style is very graphic and charming in its simplicity. It will do some of our young people who have such marvellous advantages in education almost thrust upon them, to read how you struggled & surmounted every obstacle to attain the knowledge you thirsted after. It reminds me of William or Robert Chambers I forget which, who used to go to a bakehouse every morning at 5 and sitting in the windowsil read to the bakers The reward being the use of their tallow candle and a halfpenny bap! "Where there is a will there is a way" as I notice in most things connected with life. It is a nice question whether it would have been better for you ultimately if things had been made easier for you. At any rate I dont think being down that well did you any good. One also speculates how much your father's creed his ideas about God & Hell &c could have been responsible for the sterness of his methods. The pendulum has swung back and we are now at the other extreme as instance the [blank] where the idea is to put no obstacles in the way of children developing from within - not to do things for them let them do things for themselves - play their own way &c. Although I dont believe in original sin Children do behave sometimes as if there were such a thing.
It is a great blessing that dear Maggie has got such a kind companionable woman as "Lady Help" for she will have many a lonely hour now dear Auntie Lunam is gone for they were never parted in their lives. I trust she may keep free from bronchitis this winter.
I believe she contemplates selling the house she lives in for it is too large and it would make things easier for her financially - but property at present brings very little & I advised her not to be in a hurry but put it into some ones hands to take a good chance when it comes.
Our Children are all away from us excepting Maria-Isobel our eldest daughter who has not chosen to marry. She has now recovered from three years of great suffering from neuritis. John our eldest born is a consulting doctor in L.pool and is a true scientist and Hearts & lungs especially are his study. He has just got a wonderful instrument or machine or apparatus called "An Electro Cardiograph" - perhaps you have seen one - I am sure it would interest you - it is for registering the heart beats or something. There are only six in England so far. He has a nice wife and four charming bairns. I have just rung him up to ask if he has a photo of father I could have to send to you. He took some in Aug. so they are quite recent. He says he will send one on tonight.
James our next son is an Artist now lives in London he was married for three years & then his wife died & he left Cheshire and went to London. he is much appreciated by his brother Artists but he doesn't make much money. "Margaret Hardie "our youngest daughter is married to a Congregational Minister in London - a man of amazing christlikeness and they are very happy but have no children. There I have told you a little about all of us_ I may have done so before But I forget to. yes, we often wish you would come to see us again - people dont seem to think anything of going & coming nowadays. Have I written too long a letter I wonder - you are a busy man.
Father and Isobel join with me in kindest love.
Your affectionate Cousin
1913 Oct 15
Original letter dimensions: 26 x 20 cm.
Hay, Annie, "Letter from Annie Hay to John Muir, 1913 Oct 15." (1913). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 4126.
Reel 21, Image 0882
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