John Muir


John Muir


[Louie Muir]


00939 [1]

Off Cape Hattery, Monday, August 2d 1880, 10 – A.M.

My dear wife.

All goes well. For a few hours we will be in Victoria. The voyage thus far has been singularly calm & uneventful. Leaving you is the only event that has marked the trip & it is marked sorely but I shall make haste to you & reach [you ere?] you have the time to grieve & weary. If you will only be calm & cherry all will be better for my short spell of ice work. The sea has been very smooth, nevertheless Mr Magee has been very sick now he is better as for me I have made no sign though I have had some heartache & heartache. We are now past the Flatting rocks where we were so roughly storm tossed last winter & [reach Bay?]. Where we [sheltered?] 36 hrs. How [placid?] it seems now, the water black & gray with reflections from the cloudy sky, fur seals popping their heads up here & there, ducks & gulls dotting the small waves, & Indian fishing-boats towards the shore, each with a small glaring red flag flying from the masthead. Behind the gr[illegible] of white houses nestled in the deepest bend of the bay


& the small waves are tipped with white mild white caps, almost the only ones we have seen since leaving San Francisco. The Captain & first officer have been very attentive to us, giving us the [illegible] of their rooms & books etc besides answering all our questions [about?] the sea & ships. We will reach Victoria about 2 or 3 o’clock. The California will not sail before tomorrow sometime so that we shall have plenty time to get the charts & odds & ends we need before leaving. Mr Magee will undoubtedly go on to Wrangel but will not be likely to stop over 10 minutes past 2 in your clock. We are just rounding the [Esqusmall?] light house & in a few minutes more will be tied up at the wharf. quite a lovely breeze is blowing from the island, & the strait is ruffled with small shining wavelets glowing in the distance like silver. Hereabouts many lofty moutoneed rock bosses rise above the forests bare of trees, but brown looking from the mosses that cover them. Since entering the strait, the heavy swell up & down, up & down has vanished



of honest green woods jagged toothed wolves & wild cats harmonize smoothly enough but engines for the distruction of human beings are only devilish though they carry preachers & prayers & open up views of sad [illegible] tears, Now we are making fast “Make fast that line [there?] make fast” let go then”, “give away”. We will go on to Victoria this afternoon taking our baggage with us & stay there until setting out on the Cal. The ride of [3 hrs?] through the woods & round the glacial bosses is very fine, this you would enjoy. I shall look for the [roses?] Will mail this at once, & write again before leaving this grand old ice rubbed island, & now my dear

[Page 2]


rise rounded ice-swept hills with mountains beyond them folding in & in in beautiful braids & all densely forested. We are so near the show that with the mates glasses I can readily make out some of the species of trees. The [forest?] is in the main [illegible] at all different from those of the Alaska Coast Now the Cape Light house is out of sight & we are fairly in the strait, Vancouver Island on our left in fine clear view with forests densely packed in every hollow & over every hill & mtn How beautiful it is How deep & shadowy its Canons, how eloquently it tells the story of its sculpture during the age of ice. How perfectly virgin it is. Ships loaded with N[illegible] Coal & Puget Sound Coal & lumber, a half dozen of them are about us beating their way down the strait & here & there a [illegible] boat to represent Civilization but not [one scare?] on the virgin shore nor the smoke of a hut or camp. I have just been speaking with a man who has spent a good deal of time on the island He says that so unpenetrable is the underbrush his party could seldom make more than two miles a day though assisted by eight Indians. Only the shores are known. Now the wind is beginning to [freshen?]


& all the sick have got well & are out in full force gazing at the harbor with the excitement one always feels after a voyage whether the future offers much brightness or no. The new Capt’ of the California is said to be good & careful, & the pilot & p[illegible]ser I know well, so that we will feel at home during the rest of our trip as we have thus far, & as for the main objects all Nature is unchangeable – loves us all & grants gracious welcome to every honest [illegible] I hope you do not feel that I am away at all any real separation is not possible. I have been alone, as far as the isolation that distance makes, so much of my lifetime that separation seems more natural than absolute contact which seems too good & indulgent to be true. Her Majesty ironclad Triumph is lying close along-side. How huge she seems & [illegible] strong & defiant with a background


Louie keep a good heart & do the bits of work I requested you to do & the days in Alaska will go away fast enough & I will be with you again as If I had been gone but one day. Ever your affectionate husband John Muir.

[in margin: in circle: 4]



Off Cape Flattery

Date Original

1880 Aug 2


Original letter dimensions: 22 x 10 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 04, Image 0261

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, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.

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



2 pages



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