J. E. Calkins
[Enclosed in a. H. Sellers "letter of March 25, 1908]2252 West 30th street, Los Angeles,
March 23, 1908.
My Dear Col Sellers:-
Your second letter came to hand today, and I am reproached that I have not yet answered your first.
I very much appreciate your kindness in taking up the matter with our afflicted friend, Mr. Muir. I am sure you did it in the best possible manner. Perhaps I should not have asked such a thing of you, but as things were it seemed to me to be a proper thing to do, since, from all the light I could get on the situation, Mr. Muir was alone, actually in need of company and perhaps attendance, and doubtless in need of various services; and we felt ready to do whatever might be required to set him right.
I have recently had a letter, however, in answer to one of mine, in which I tried to delicately propose that he make arrangements that would render it possible for us to render this aid, in which the matter is all set right. He is ill and unfit, and will be so for months. I wrote to him tliat I should proceed with my arrangements for engaging in business, but that none: of this should make any difference in our friendship, and that if it should be possible in the future for us to take up some of his work together we would attend to that when the time came. Of course, as you must realize, once I am embarked in the serious business of winning a livelihood again I may not be so situated as to be able to drop my affairs in order to serve him as stenographer and handy man, but I do not think that Mr. Muir gets that conception of the situation. In accord with your suggestion that day, I did not conclude with any definite deal as to stipend, etc., but he came to se if he could get me to do a certain thing for him, and after that delightful day under your roof we told him, my wife and I, as we rode over to Los Angeles in the Hooker automobile with him, that we would come to him, and do whatever was to be done, and that he was to send for us as soon as he had got things in shape, with all of which he clearly agreed. So I thought there was a sufficiently definite arrangement. However, illness and death alter all arrangement a that men make, and, as I06246 2
wrote you, I do not consider him in any manner bound. It is for me to go on with my duty of providing for my family, and this, of course, I shall do. If things should so fall out as to make it possible for me to do something toward inducing and aiding Mr. Muir to get out some more of that immortal "stuff" of his I should be more than glad, for my regard for him, and my estimate of him as a man of letters, are unchanged. There is none but the warmest feelings toward him on the part of myself and wife and we are deeply distressed that he should have fallen victim to this pestilent grippe. But, as you can well understand, I cannot hold myself in readiness to drop everything, at any uncertain time in the future, in order to take up the work we outlined that day we were with you. Things will have to take their course and work out.
I am very fearful, however, that we shall never have much more writing by John Muir. It is a loss to letters, that I do not like to think of. My whole stock of enthusiasm was set fairly ablaze by the thought that I was to be the one to push him along in this work, and to give up such a prospect as that is not pleasing after one has come to solidly set his heart upon it; but I have no regrets. I think things will work out for the best in the end. I shall always do all I can to forward any plan that can result in giving the world more of John Muir' work, for there is none like unto him. He possesses a gift of genuine inspiration, and there is no one upon whom his mantle may fall. When he goes from us he takes all that precious stuff with him, and the thought of the loss thus entailed makes me melancholy, but not with grief that any of my own Insignificant affairs went awry. I only hope that Mr. Muir may be able to work, and work with great effectiveness, whether I am concerned with that work or not. It would be delightful to be able to aid him, but if that is not to be my fortune I still hope that the work may be done; but I am afraid that it Will not be. We can only wait and hope.
I hope to be in Pasadena one of these day s before long, and I shall try to see you and have a bit of talk with you. I am hopeful that we may occasionally meet, and be good friends, and possibly, in some way, be able to save some of the best of Muir's unapproachable literature before the night falls, and he makes his last camp, and crosses the Great Range. If your auto' should happen to whirl you out our way we shall be delighted to be honored with a call, at any time. Our house is small, but its welcome will always be warm for you and Mrs. Sellers.
1908 Mar 23
Original letter dimensions: 21.5 x 18.5 cm.
Calkins, J. E., "Letter from J. E. Calkins to Col. Sellers, 1908 Mar 23." (1908). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 5334.
Reel 17, Image 0363
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