S. M. Brown
Wiarton, OntarioMar 8th '10Der Mr. MuirStickeen is one of my dearest dog friends. now, and forever, and I have quite a number of them, that, like him. I have never seen. "The wee hairy sleekit beastie": The little herd: and yet he was not heroic until the moment when, while still in deadly fear, he decided to face the peril, and deliberately slid his little feet over the edge of the ice diver. That moment should make him immortal. But the manner of manifesting his joy in being saved, exceeds any thin I have ever read of being shown by any creature below the human.Perhaps Browning was right when he said "God made all the creatures, and gave them our love and our fearTo give sign we and they are His children, one family here"But the little book that your kind thought prompted you to send me has given me much more than the story of little Strickeen. It has given me not a glimpse merely, but a wide open gaze into the heart of John Muir, and I [illegible] that I have formed another friend, and not alone for the brief end of time that may remain to us here, but, for all the eternal years of God that lie beyond. Yet I reverently thank God for giving me the privilege of beginning the friendship while here. for it is so much the more gained, besides being an added joy to life04725
2I have kept step by step with you and little Stickeen from the moment you started out in the early morning called by the luring yet imperative verse of the storm - Had I been there I think I would have insisted upon the cup of coffee and a breakfast as a wise preparation for a day's tramp over a glacier in the company of so fine a storm - I watched with you the flying clouds and the driven rain, and listened to that most thrilling of all wood land music, the whispering of the leaves, and the long, deep sighing, half-moaning voice of the wind among the top most branches of the trees. How well I know that sound, it catches my heart as few things can. Then I saw the trees - my special friends - being torn and crushed and ground in the cold, pitiless grasp of the beautiful ice.Then as you pushed out for the western shore of the great "prairie of ice", I note your remark that "Nature can make us do any thing she likes". [illegible]e[illegible]e, and yet what tricks she often plays upon her devot[illegible] met with during the early part of the day. But when the return journey began, and "the flowers of the mountain clouds" came down upon the swift wings of the wind, wrapping all in a gray gloom, my heart began to be faint with fear for the two wanderers, seemingly alone with the tempest and the night. For, after all, you see I was only looking on, and that is the most nerve-trying thing any one can do in a time of danger. But [now?], when worn and spent by the fatigue of the day, the awful chasm yawned at your feet, little the fate of death, and with no alternative! Ah, dear friend, I am glad that time has spread her04725
3softening haze over that soul-testing experience, and that now, you know, of a surety, that "common skill and fortitude" were "replaced of power" that has its source only in the Almighty hand of God. "whose wisdom [illegible] wa[illegible]th". and - "whose sight is never dim" In closing the little book my great regret was that you were afterwards parted from little Stickeen. He should have spent the remainder of his too brief dog life with you- By the way- the missionary Mr. Young- must surely be the author of "My dogs of the Northland", a book that I read with much [interest?] for I have ever been a lover of dogs, as well as of all "the kindred of the wild"You spoke of "wandering Peter" Trout having visited you. He visited me also, later, yes, he has evidently wandered, or drifted thro life, and will do so [illegible] the end I fear. He spoke of three or four projects that he had in mind, by means of any of which he could make a fortune, and added that he "might not do any of them", [illegible]y he [unconsciously?] told me the story of his life. It is a pity for nature endowed him with the capability of being a man The biographical sketch enclosed in your letter tells me that you are only two years my senior. as I have just passed the limit of the years all[illegible] to human life - a fact that I find it hard to realize. But we are learning that age is not a matter of years, but of the mind. I note that the story of Stickeen is dedicated to Helen Muir - William Trout wrote me giving a minute account of the doings and festivities at the marriage of his daughter Luceretia04725
4and incidentally mentioned that your daughter Helen had been married about the same time. But her mother's name might also be Helen.May I ask to know some thing of your family. I know nothing? But I noted - in the article by H. T. F[illegible], in Feb. Scribner's - that you were living alone at the time the party visited you, but that might only means that your family were absent for a time. I venture to hope that you will know that these [enquires?] are not prompted by curiosity I had read some time ago of the danger that threatened, of Hetch-Hetchy being stolen from the people. But the pamphlet you sent me gives a much clearer and more concise view of the whole matter, than anything I had seen before. No worthier monument of your life's work could be desired or imagined that to avert such a wrong being done to p[illegible]y, and I most sincerely hope, and believe that you will succeed in preventing such a crim. -for [illegible] be that - - It was must generous of you to say. "Write again", and I will endeavour not to abuse your generosity by trespassing upon your time. I have not seen your other two books, but must get them. I presume they are published only on your side of "the [illegible]" I wish you could know with what pleasure, and pride too, I received the little book, and the inscription adds to its value a hundred fold. You will be familiar with the Scottish use of the word lifted — for, a good Scot never forgets — That is my state of mind since receiving your letter, and the other [illegible] of your regard, for all of which please accept the thanks ofyour sincere friendS. M. Brown04725
Wiarton, Ontario, Canada
1910 Mar 8
Original letter dimensions: 26 x 20.5 cm.
Brown, S. M., "Letter from S. M. Brown to John Muir, 1910 Mar 8." (1910). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 4967.
Reel 19, Image 0223
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Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters