Last Quote

21st April, 2013, the 175th anniversary of John Muir’s birthOn 15 March 1913, John Muir’s ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’ was published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston and New York.  It has constantly been available in the 100 years since. It tells of his early years in Dunbar and then, from ages 11 to 22, of growing up in the wonderful Wisconsin countryside.  His love of nature, awakened in East Lothian, was nurtured in Marquette County and inspired him to change the world’s view of wild places.
Last quote
Although I was four years at the University, I did not take the regular course of studies, but instead picked out what I thought would be most useful to me, particularly chemistry, which opened a new world, and mathematics and physics, a little Greek and Latin, botany and geology. I was far from satisfied with what I had learned, and should have stayed longer. Anyhow I wandered away on a glorious botanical and geological excursion, which has lasted nearly fifty years and is not yet completed, always happy and free, poor and rich, without thought of a diploma or of making a name, urged on and on through endless, inspiring, Godful beauty. From the top of a hill on the north side of Lake Mendota I gained a last wistful, lingering view of the beautiful University grounds and buildings where I had spent so many hungry and happy and hopeful days. There, with streaming eyes, I bade my blessed Alma Mater farewell.  But I was only leaving one University for another, the Wisconsin University for the University of the Wilderness.
The world gives grateful thanks that John left the University of Wisconsin for the University of the Wilderness
JM1 JM2
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Additional Two

My thanks to Will Collin who put together the extracts from ‘My Boyhood and Youth’ that we have enjoyed over the past weeks. Will gave 40 extracts although only 38 were required. The additional two are shown below.

I did not vary more than five minutes from one o’clock all winter, nor did I feel any bad effects whatever, nor did I think at all about the subject as to whether so little sleep might be in any way injurious; it was a grand triumph of will-power over cold and common comfort and work-weariness in abruptly cutting down my ten hours’ allowance of sleep to five. I simply felt that I was rich beyond anything I could have dreamed of or hoped for. I was far more than happy. Like Tam O Shanter I was glorious, “O’er a’ the ills o’ life victorious.”

I received my first lesson in botany from a student by the name of Griswold, who is now County Judge of the County of Waukesha, Wisconsin… This fine lesson charmed me and sent me flying to the woods and meadows in wild enthusiasm.  Like everybody else I was always fond of flowers, attracted by their external beauty and purity.  Now my eyes were opened to their inner beauty, all alike revealing glorious traces of the thoughts of God, and leading on and on into the infinite cosmos.  I wandered away at every opportunity, making long excursions round the lakes, gathering specimens and keeping them fresh in a bucket in my room to study at night after my regular class tasks were learned; for my eyes never closed on the plant glory I had seen.

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Quote 37

On 15 March 1913, John Muir’s ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’ was published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston and New York.  It has constantly been available in the 100 years since. It tells of his early years in Dunbar and then, from ages 11 to 22, of growing up in the wonderful Wisconsin countryside.  His love of nature, awakened in East Lothian, was nurtured in Marquette County and inspired him to change the world’s view of wild places.

Today’s quote

One evening when I was reading Church history father was particularly irritable, and called out with hope-killing emphasis, “John, go to bed! … Then, as an afterthought, as if judging that his words and tone of voice were too severe for so pardonable an offense as reading a religious book, he unwarily added: “If you will read, get up in the morning and read.  You may get up in the morning as early as you like.” … that frosty morning I sprang out of bed as if called by a trumpet blast, rushed downstairs, scarce feeling my chilblains, enormously eager to see how much time I had won; and when I held up my candle to a little clock that stood on a bracket in the kitchen I found that it was only one o’clock.  I had gained five hours, almost half a day!  “Five hours to myself!” I said, “five huge, solid hours!”  I can hardly think of any other event in my life, any discovery I ever made that gave birth to joy so transportingly glorious as the possession of these five frosty hours.

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Quote 36

On 15 March 1913, John Muir’s ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’ was published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston and New York.  It has constantly been available in the 100 years since. It tells of his early years in Dunbar and then, from ages 11 to 22, of growing up in the wonderful Wisconsin countryside.  His love of nature, awakened in East Lothian, was nurtured in Marquette County and inspired him to change the world’s view of wild places.

Today’s quote

Father’s strict rule was, straight to bed immediately after family worship, which in winter was usually over by eight o’clock.  I was in the habit of lingering in the kitchen with a book and candle after the rest of the family had retired, and considered myself fortunate if I got five minutes’ reading before father noticed the light and ordered me to bed; an order that of course I immediately obeyed.  But night after night I tried to steal minutes in the same lingering way, and how keenly precious those minutes were, few nowadays can know.  Father failed perhaps two or three times in a whole winter to notice my light for nearly ten minutes, magnificent golden blocks of time, long to be remembered like holidays or geological periods…

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Quote 35

On 15 March 1913, John Muir’s ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’ was published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston and New York.  It has constantly been available in the 100 years since. It tells of his early years in Dunbar and then, from ages 11 to 22, of growing up in the wonderful Wisconsin countryside.  His love of nature, awakened in East Lothian, was nurtured in Marquette County and inspired him to change the world’s view of wild places.

Today’s quote

I was fond of reading, but father had brought only a few religious books from Scotland.  Fortunately, several of our neighbors had brought a dozen or two of all sorts of books, which I borrowed and read, keeping all of them except the religious ones carefully hidden from father’s eye.  Among these were Scott’s novels, which, like all other novels, were strictly forbidden, but devoured with glorious pleasure in secret.

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Quote 34

On 15 March 1913, John Muir’s ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’ was published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston and New York.  It has constantly been available in the 100 years since. It tells of his early years in Dunbar and then, from ages 11 to 22, of growing up in the wonderful Wisconsin countryside.  His love of nature, awakened in East Lothian, was nurtured in Marquette County and inspired him to change the world’s view of wild places.

Today’s quote

After eight years of this dreary work of clearing the Fountain Lake farm, fencing it and getting it in perfect order, building a frame house and the necessary outbuildings for the cattle and horses, – after all this had been victoriously accomplished, and we had made out to escape with life, – father bought a half-section of wild land about four or five miles to the eastward and began all over again to clear and fence and break up other fields for a new farm doubling all the stunting, heartbreaking chopping, grubbing, stump-digging, rail-splitting, fence-building, barn-building, house-building, and so forth.

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Quote 33

On 15 March 1913, John Muir’s ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’ was published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston and New York.  It has constantly been available in the 100 years since. It tells of his early years in Dunbar and then, from ages 11 to 22, of growing up in the wonderful Wisconsin countryside.  His love of nature, awakened in East Lothian, was nurtured in Marquette County and inspired him to change the world’s view of wild places.

Today’s quote

… Never a warning word was spoken of the dangers of over-work.  On the contrary, even when sick we were held to our tasks as long as we could stand.  Once in harvest-time I had the mumps and was unable to swallow any food except milk, but this was not allowed to make any difference, while I staggered with weakness and sometimes fell headlong among the sheaves.  Only once was I allowed to leave the harvest-field – when I was stricken down with pneumonia.  I lay gasping for weeks, but the Scotch are hard to kill and I pulled through.   No physician was called, for father was an enthusiast, and always said and believed that God and hard work were by far the best doctors.

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Quote 32

On 15 March 1913, John Muir’s ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’ was published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston and New York.  It has constantly been available in the 100 years since. It tells of his early years in Dunbar and then, from ages 11 to 22, of growing up in the wonderful Wisconsin countryside.  His love of nature, awakened in East Lothian, was nurtured in Marquette County and inspired him to change the world’s view of wild places.

Today’s quote

In those early days, long before the great labor-saving machines came to our help, almost everything connected with wheat-raising abounded in trying work, – cradling in the long, sweaty dog-days, raking and binding, stacking, thrashing, – and it often seemed to me that our fierce, over-industrious way of getting the grain from the ground was too closely connected with grave-digging.  The staff of life, naturally beautiful, oftentimes suggested the gravedigger’s spade. Men and boys, and in those days even women and girls, were cut down while cutting the wheat.  The fat folk grew lean and the lean leaner, while the rosy cheeks brought from Scotland and other cool countries across the sea faded to yellow like the wheat.  We were all made slaves through the vice of over-industry…

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Quote 31

On 15 March 1913, John Muir’s ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’ was published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston and New York.  It has constantly been available in the 100 years since. It tells of his early years in Dunbar and then, from ages 11 to 22, of growing up in the wonderful Wisconsin countryside.  His love of nature, awakened in East Lothian, was nurtured in Marquette County and inspired him to change the world’s view of wild places.

Today’s quote

I was put to the plough at the age of twelve, when my head reached but little above the handles, and for many years I had to do the greater part of the ploughing.  It was hard work for so small a boy; nevertheless, as good ploughing was exacted from me as if I were a man, and very soon I had to become a good ploughman, or rather ploughboy.  None could draw a straighter furrow.  For the first few years the work was particularly hard on account of the tree-stumps that had to be dodged.  Later the stumps were all dug and chopped out to make way for the McCormick reaper, and because I proved to be the best chopper and stump-digger I had nearly all of it to myself.  It was dull, hard work leaning over on my knees all day, chopping out those tough oak and hickory stumps, deep down below the crowns of the big roots.  Some, though fortunately not many, were two feet or more in diameter.

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Birthplace to be digitalised

The following is from the Glasgow Herald, 8th April

A PROJECT has been launched to document in three-dimensional digital format Scottish conservationist John Muir’s homes.

A PROJECT has been launched to document in three-dimensional digital format Scottish conservationist John Muir’s homes.
 The Scottish Government is marking the 175th anniversary of the environmentalist’s birth this year by capturing Muir’s birthplace in the East Lothian town of Dunbar with his home in Martinez, California.

Muir is thought to be the founder of the US national parks, after campaigning to save Yosemite and Sierra from agricultural development and founding the renowned Sierra Club conservation body.

The initiative plans use scanning technology to capture the properties in virtual form in a new partnership to help promote his life and work in Scotland’s Year of Natural Scotland.

It is a partnership between Scottish Natural Heritage, Historic Scotland, the US National Park Service and the CyArk Foundation and will be used to deepen the existing links between the historic sites.

Visitors will be able to log on to the sites for a virtual tour of the homes.

Announcing the project in the US, First Minister Alex Salmond said apprentices from Historic Scotland will create two special carvings to be placed at each location to symbolise the enduring link that Muir provides to both countries.

He added: “John Muir continues to be held in incredibly high regard by people on both sides of the Atlantic and it is entirely fitting that in 2013 we mark the 175th anniversary of his birth by strengthening the links between the country in which he was born, and the country he chose to make his home.”

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