Mrs. Lydia Muir Johnson
time and talents, to the world, thereby benefitting mankind in many ways, sacrificing, perhaps, countless hours of ease & comfort, undergoing dangers, appalling to think of, with no other thought than to enlarge the scope of the world's knowledge & literature; while this John Muir, spends his life, in personal enjoyment spending his money (of which he and his brother James, have a large portion) solely for his own pleasure, denying himself nothing that can add to his ease and comfort, the brotherhood of Humanity, being to him, an unknown quantity. I am too old a woman, (nearly 60) to send a photograph of myself to any one, but as a souvenir, I will send the pictures of my son J. Russell Johnson, aged 19. and my daughter Ella Muir Johnson (called [Tudie?]) who will be twenty two October 1st 1894.
920 N st, n.w. Sept 9th 94
Washington City, D. C.
Professor John Muir. Dear Sir,
Accept my sincere thanks for your prompt reply to my letter and excuse me if I say, I feel disappointed that a certain consanguinity, cannot be found to exist between us. As I told you in my letter of introduction, " an irresistible impulse" impelled me to write to ask "if you belong to the Muirs of Ayr, or a branch of that family? and I loved my father so well, and miss him so greatly, that I think now I must have indulged a latent hope, that you might be "one of us."
My father, were he living, would have been proud to learn that
and as many think my daughter resembles me, you can fancy what I am like, with the addition that 40 years generally bring.
My son is studying medicine, at Columbia College, in this city, he is a good boy, not very robust, and has, I am afraid; been too much indulged, to make a successful venture of his future. I have, like many other mother's learned my lesson too late, and must bear the bitter fruition of disappointment. Boys should be taught self-reliance, this only, will carry a man to the top round of life's ladder. If my boy only could have had my daughter's strength of character, there would have been no such word as "fail" in his vocabulary, for without maternal bias, in her favor, I must say, that Tudie Muir Johnson, has inherited from
any one bearing his name, had, in so short a life, given so much to the literature of the world, for my father was a man of great literary attainments, and numbered among his personal friends and correspondents, names, now historical. Henry Clay, Clement Vallandingham of Ohio, a man known to the people, probably before you opened your eyes upon this sublunary sphere.
The people of Alex., Va. made my father mayor of the city & although, that was no great honor it was the highest office in their gift, and they gave it gladly.
My Husband also, served the same people, in the same capacity, and as a physician of high standing for 35 years, he gave much to the public in his literary efforts, some of which, I will sometime, mail you. When
I read the article sent, I in fancy wandered with you, through what had heretofore seemed to me a pathless region, similar to nothing I could fancy, except Iceland or Greenland; contries, where the southern sun shines, but never renders desirable as a home.
I regret, more than I can tell, that I did not write to you, when I first felt impelled to do so, for then you would, perhaps, have called to see us, when you visited our city last year. But, regrets are vain, looking back is useless, for we all know, only too well, that "last years nests contain no birds." I have a cousin, whose name is yours, and when I think how different his life has been from yours, I ask myself the question, "which has enjoyed life the more? You, giving your
some ancestor, perhaps her father, one of the rarest natures, I have ever known. With her, there is no parleying with "what will the world say"? but she asks "is it right"? and there must be an incontrovertible "yes" before she will even consent to consider a question. If you have time to spare, to reply to this, perhaps, tiresome epistle, I hope you will itnroduce me to your family, and thus enable me to bring before my mind's eye, your surroundings. and daily life. Your life must be full of pleasant hardships, if you will allow the expression, and your literary efforts, go to prove how little vacation you allow yourself. I have read many articles from your pen, and congratulate you, upon, yours, being the pen of a ready writer."
Hoping sometime to welcome you to our city and home, I am etc
Mrs. Lydia Muir Johnson
Washington, D. C.
Original letter dimensions: 21.5 x 25 cm.
Johnson, Lydia Muir, "Letter from Mrs. Lydia Muir Johnson to John Muir, 1894 Sep 9." (1894). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 6884.
Reel 08, Image 0389
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