James D[avie] Butler
Strasburg, May 25, '91.
John Muir, Esq.,
Afar and yet near. More and more am I grieved that I did not see you last August. On my way west I caught the worst cold I ever had, and rushed aboard a steamer, having great faith in the ocean cure. Nor was I disappointed.
But at my landing in Japan cholera was seizing 200 victims a day in Tokio. I feld with some missionary friends to Nikko. The R.R. was washed away, and I had much wandering by Jin-rikisha in unbeaten paths. I was also in Chu-sen-ze, Yu-moto, Nagoya, Kioto, Kobe, Kamacura and Nagasaki. The two days on the Inland Sea were a voyage nowhere surpassable. From Shanghai I penetrated into the bowels of the land celestial, 1400 miles on the Yank-tse, in Wa-hu, Kiu-Kiang, Chin-Kiang, Hankow, U-chang, Hu-nan, etc.
The Canton Consul was an early friend and for two weeks gave me inside views. After calls in Macao and Hong-Kong I voyaged as far as from N.Y. to Liverpool-to Columbo- with some stop at Sancapore and Penang. In Ceylon I rode for 70 miles of the true garden of the world to Kandy and Sevendenia. Nobody ventured with me to southernmost India. All alone I went over to Luticorin, visited Madura, Trichinopoly, Tangore, Kumbi, Konam and Madras.
There I had a sort of sun-stroke. Hurried to Calcutta and up among Himalayan snows. There I soon became myself again, and betook myself to the cities of the Grand Moghul. These outwent all my imaginings. Benares, Lucknow, Agra, Jettipore, Delhi, Jeypore, Amber, Ahmadabad - each has its own wonder, Agra the most and the most delectable.
From Bombay to Ismailia was another voyage of 3000 miles. As I was in Egypt in '68 I had there finished my great circle, and put Puck's girdle round the globe. I went up the Nile with as much zest as before, repeated some of my hardest adventures, as up the pyramid and into Pharaoh's coffin in its very core. Few have twice lain down there and cried out with me, "0 Pharaoh! Never did you enjoy this sarcophagus as I do !"
My first bad weather was in Greece, yet in its lucid intervals I darted out from Athens to Sunium, Salamis, Eleusin, Marathon, Pentelicus, Olympia, Nauplia, Tiryns, Mycaene, Acro-Corinth, Pyrgos, Patras, etc., Delphi, I had seen of old. Then I was through Sicily and Malta. Have come hither from Naples, Rome, Florence, Milan, Lucerne and Balse. How great the world is!
My children know everything save how to get married. They are too fond of each other for that! My wife has spent three summers in Superior, Wis., where both my boys live. Her health was thus improved. Last Nov. the girls took her to Thomasville, Ga. Climate did for her what doctors could not. She also found kindred south who had long vanished from her knowledge.
I should hurry home were any of my household ready to live in my Madison house, but I am now in doubt what to do. I am here to visit a young man with whom I saw India - but who hurried on two months faster than I. Do write my wife in Superior, Wis. She will be there with Henry, who thanks to your early training, has become a really superior man.
For myself - I fear nobody has ever seen so much and learned so little. I have a golden chance - I know not why, for my cup is small and the stream flowing by me is vast.
If I ever take another journey it shall be to visit you and yours. Heaven have us in its grace!
James D. Butler
1891 May 25
Original letter dimensions: 21.5 x 27.5 cm.
Butler, James Davie, "Letter from James D[avie] Butler to John Muir, 1891 May 25." (1891). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 78.
Reel 07, Image 0159
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