J. E. Mathewson
October 20th / 94.
My dear friend Muir
Your letter of the 14th Sept. has been forwarded to me here, having been unable to complete the arrangements for the proposed business trip to the States. The letter afforded me the greatest pleasure & satisfaction. I thought perhaps you might have long since forgotten me. My memory often fails me in matters not fixed by some sticking event,but I never lost sight, in the minds eye, of my old schoolfellow Muir. In fact I have mentioned you & the woollen works to friends hundreds of times--to my family in particular. I recognized the portrait in the Century Magazine at first sight. Was that from a recent photograph? If yes, you have not changed at all. I am often told, when I go back to the States, that I do not change, but look as young as ever. Temperance in living has done something for both of us in that direction. I have always remained a teetotaller & a non user of tobacco in any form, and for the past five years have not allowed myself to be classed with the flesh eating animals.--lions, tigers, panthers, bears, hyenas & wild cats, but rather with the animals who live on the fruits of the earth--the cow, horse, sheep & for instance. From what I have gleaned from your writings, I imagine that you must be somewhat inclined the same way. Scotsmen I believe live mainly upon "Parritch" & milk. My family are with me in this matter, otherwise it would have been a difficult scheme to carry out.
I came across another article the other day in the Century written by you entitled "A rival to the Yosemite" or words to that effect which we read with great interest. We are all anxious to see & read your next book. No doubt we shall be able to get it through one of the Booksellers here.
I can remember but two or three of the students whom you mention & only by name at that. The Professors I remember distinctly. One of the present Professors roomed with me for one term. He was a German and his name was pronounced [Vebou?] I cannot remember how it was spelled. This I heard from a friend of ours, from Wisconsin, who came abroad & lived with us here two or three years, but is now married & lives in San francisco. I do not remember her husbands name, but he is a Journalist. Her name was Medora Clark & writes poetry etc. Will let you know her name & address in my next. I remember the old janitor very well. I used to keep on the right side of him in order to have the liberty to go down in the Basement occasionally & make indian meal pudding. We lived low as you say, but we were without doubt the gainers by it in health as well as in pocket.
Am very sorry indeed that I did not notice the sketch of your life in the Century Magazine when it first appeared. Am sure you would have been interested in Smokey Sheffield & in Derbyshire in which county part of Sheffield lies. There are no real glaciers here but their tracks are numerous & well defined. It would have been a great pleasure to have heard you explain how the country appeared during the Glacial period. I well remember of attending a course of lectures on Geology by Prof. Denton given in a hall in Madison--not at the University. Did you & I attend them together?
I cannot say now when I shall be able to start on my trip to the States--perhaps not until next Spring. However it will be impossible for me to spare the time to go out to California, this time. But nothing would give me greater pleasure than to do so, when there is an opportunity.
My family join me in sending kind regards to yourself & family. Hoping to hear from you soon again, I remain,
Hope you will be able to read my bad writing. Yours Sincerely
J. E. Matthewson
Original letter dimensions: 25.5 x 20 cm.
Mathewson, J. E., "Letter from J. E. Mathewson to John Muir, 1894 Oct 20." (1894). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 6901.
Reel 08, Image 0453
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