John Muir


John Muir


William Trout


[Page 1a]

1419 Taylor St

San Francisco Cal

April 22 1877

William Trout,

Dear friend I read your last so full of the exposition at Philadelphia with a great deal of interest. The impressions that a fresh mind like yours receives are always infinitely more valuable than those of the regular skilled reporter, at least to me who always values realities alone. I feel sad at times when I think of the repression and sequestration of a life like yours, so much real power and originality held down far below the possibilities of perfect development, by force of repressive circumstances. There are many who appear as leaders in science and mechanic arts who have far

"[Page 1b]

less native talent than you. & the same is true of a good many others, especially among old country people. There is not one American in a thousand who could ever be of any account, nourish and educate them as you may, but in the obscure loves and byways of life, back among the cold shadows, there are many good, strong, pure souls who seem defrauded of the conditions of development, like seed upon poor ground. Yet, nevertheless, when I think of the real happiness of those who are blessed with contentment back in the solitudes, who have no artificial wants to provide for; and how little is often contained in what is called a successful life. I am the more reconciled to the fact that men like you remain unknown to the great noisy world and then you are at least a leader in"

"[page 2a]

your neighborhood, and have access to the sunshine and the sky and your labors, though too exacting to leave sufficient room for the improvement of your mental and general spiritual nature, are still far less so than those of many others. I have often thought of advising you to come here where so much new machinery is being made for this rapidly developing country, especially mining machinery, in which you would be sure to succeed. But then many a year might pass ere you could get yourself established in the place you are fitted for, and living is high, rents, etc, and you have a family that would have to suffer a great deal of distracting inconvenience to say the least, ere you were fairly rooted and grounded in your new place. So that if you are at all comfortable and if your life is not too much of a struggle, I should say, remain where you are"

"[page 2b]

and take comfort in the fact that your life with all its limitations if infinitely richer than that of most people whose advantages are far greater. It needs that a man be very wise and very strong in every way to maintain a keen fresh appreciation of all that is really good in this fine world of ours, in connection with fame or wealth. Contentment in California is the very rarest of the virtues and as wealth increases, the capacity for the enjoyment of God’s best gifts diminishes. Well, I had no intention of reading you so somber a lecture, especially now, since I’m in a great hurry. I leave the city for the mountains of Utah and Nevada tomorrow to do government work on the great geodetic survey. My first book is finished and gone to New York. "

"[Page 3]

I will probably be in print in the fall. I made all the illustrations myself and have been exceedingly busy all winter.

I send you our old account. You will see by the date that your ten years is up, However I am not so greatly in need of money as to wish to put you to inconvenience in paying it. I only feel poor when I think of marrying, which does sometimes enter even my wild contented happy life. When you get ready send through Wells Fargo Express.

I shall return here to write another book next fall, and my address remains the same. Any letter you may send will be kept for me. With cordial regards for the welfare of yourself and family and all old friends I remain. John Muir."


San Francisco, Calif.

Date Original

1877 Apr 22


Original letter dimensions: 18 x 23 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

MSS 2 M953t Trout

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

University of the Pacific Library Holt-Atherton Special Collections. 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



5 pages



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.