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Title: In the Footprints of the Padres
Author: Stoddard, Charles Warren, 1843-1909
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In the Footprints of the Padres" ***

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[Illustration: Life at the Mission of Dolores, 1855]

             IN THE
           THE PADRES




        A.M. Robertson

         TO MY FATHER



Since the first and second editions of "In the Footprints of the Padres"
appeared, many things have transpired. San Francisco has been destroyed
and rebuilt, and in its holocaust most of the old landmarks mentioned in
the pages that follow as then existing, have been obliterated. Since
then, too, the gentle heart, much of whose story is told herein, has
been hushed in death. Charles Warren Stoddard has followed on in the
footprints of the Padres he loved so well. He abides with us no longer,
save in the sweetest of memories, memories which are kept ever new by
the unforgettable writings which he left behind him. He passed away
April 23, 1909, and lies sleeping now under the cypresses of his beloved

Charles Warren Stoddard was possessed of unique literary gifts that were
all his own. These gifts shine out in the pages of this book. Here we
find that mustang humor of his forever kicking its silver heels with the
most upsetting suddenness into the honeyed sweetness of his flowing
poetry. Here, too, we find that gift of word-painting which makes all
his writings a brilliant gallery of rich-hued and soft-lighted wonder.
Of the green thickets of the redwood forests he says, in "Primeval
California": "A dense undergrowth of light green foliage caught and held
the sunlight like so much spray." So do Stoddard's pages catch and hold
the lights and shadows of a world which is the more beautiful because he
beheld it and sang of it--for sing he did. His prose is the essence of

In my autograph copy of "The Footprints of the Padres" Stoddard wrote:
"A new memory of Old Monterey is the richer for our meeting here for the
first time in the flesh. We have often met in spirit ere this." Whenever
we would go walking together, he and I, through the streets of that old
Monterey, old no longer save in memory, he would invariably take me to a
certain high board fence, and looking through an opening show me the
ruins of an adobe house--nothing but a broken fireplace left, moss-grown
and crumbling away. "That is my old California," he would say, while his
sweet voice was shaken with tears. That desolated hearth seemed to him
the symbol of the California which he had known and loved.... But no,
the old California that Stoddard loved lives on, and will, because he
caught and preserved its spirit and its coloring, its light and life and
music. As the redwood thicket holds the sunlight, so do Stoddard's words
keep bright and living, though viewed through a mist of tears, the
California of other days.

In this new edition of "The Footprints" some changes will be found,
changes which all will agree make an improvement over the original
volume. "Primeval California," first published in October, 1881, in the
old Scribner's (now The Century) Magazine, when James G. Holland was its
editor, is at times Stoddard at his best. "In Yosemite Shadows" shows us
the young Stoddard full of boyish enthusiasm--he could not have been
more than twenty when it was written and published, in the old Overland,
then edited by Bret Harte. It is more than a gloriously poetic
description of Yosemite, when Yosemite still dreamed in its virgin
beauty; it is the revelation of a poet's beginnings, for it gives us in
the rough, just finding their way to the light, all those gifts which
later won Stoddard his fame.

The third addition to this volume is "An Affair of the Misty City," a
valuable chapter, since it is wholly autobiographical, and at the same
time embodies pen portraits of all the celebrities of California's first
literary days, that famous group of which Stoddard was one. Of all the
group, Ina Coolbrith was closest and dearest to Stoddard's heart. The
beautiful abiding friendship which bound the souls of these two poets
together has not been surpassed in all the poetry and romance of the
world. These last added chapters are taken from "In the Pleasure of His
Company," which is out of print and may never be republished.

The "Mysterious History," included in the original editions of "The
Footprints" has wisely been left out. It had no proper place in the
book: Stoddard himself felt that. The additions which have been supplied
by Mr. Robertson, who was for years Stoddard's publisher, and in whom
the author reposed the utmost confidence, make a real improvement on the
original book.

"We have often met in spirit ere this," Stoddard wrote me. We had; and
we meet again and again. I feel him very near me as I write these words;
and I feel, too, that his gentle soul will visit everyone who reads the
chronicles he has here set down, so that even though no shaft rise in
marble glory to mark his last resting place, still in unnumbered hearts
his memory will be enshrined. With his poet friend, Thomas Walsh, well
may we say:

    "Vain the laudation!--What are crowns and praise
      To thee whom Youth anointed on the eyes?
        We have but known the lesser heart of thee
    Whose spirit bloomed in lilies down the ways
      Of Padua; whose voice perpetual sighs
        On Molokai in tides of melody."


    San Francisco,
      September first,
        Nineteen hundred and eleven.


    Old Days in El Dorado--
          I. "Strange Countries for to See"
         II. Crossing the Isthmus
        III. Along the Pacific Shore
         IV. In the Wake of Drake
          V. Atop o' Telegraph Hill
         VI. Pavement Pictures
        VII. A Boy's Outing
       VIII. The Mission Dolores
         IX. Social San Francisco
          X. Happy Valley
         XI. The Vigilance Committee
        XII. The Survivor's Story

    A Bit of Old China

    With the Egg-Pickers of the Farallones

    A Memory of Monterey

    In a Californian Bungalow

    Primeval California

    Inland Yachting

    In Yosemite Shadows

    An Affair of the Misty City--
         I. What the Moon Shone on
        II. What the Sun Shone on
       III. Balm of Hurt Wounds
        IV. By the World Forgot


    Life at the Mission of Dolores, 1855
    View of Montgomery, Post and Market Streets, San Francisco, 1858
    Fort Point at the Golden Gate
    The Outer Signal Station at the Golden Gate
    City of Oakland in 1856
    Interior of the El Dorado
    Warner's at Meigg's Wharf
    The Old Flume at Black Point, 1856
    Lone Mountain, 1856
    Russ Gardens, 1856
    Certificate of Membership, Vigilance Committee, 1856
    West from Black Point, 1856
    "China is Not More Chinese than this Section of Our Christian City."
    "Rag Alley" in Old Chinatown
    The Farallones
    Murre on their Nests, Farallone Islands
    Monterey, 1850
    San Carlos de Carmelo
    "The Huge Court of that Luxurious Caravansary."
    "The Gallery Among the Huge Vases of Palms and Creepers."
    Meigg's Wharf in 1856
    Telegraph Hill, 1855
    Sentinel Hotel, Yosemite, in 1869
    San Francisco in 1856


    Thine was the corn and the wine,
      The blood of the grape that nourished;
    The blossom and fruit of the vine
      That was heralded far away.
    These were thy gifts; and thine,
      When the vine and the fig-tree flourished,
    The promise of peace and of glad increase
      Forever and ever and aye.
    What then wert thou, and what art now?
      Answer me, O, I pray!

        And every note of every bell
        Sang Gabriel! Rang Gabriel!
        In the tower that is left the tale to tell
          Of Gabriel, the Archangel.

    Oil of the olive was thine;
      Flood of the wine-press flowing;
    Blood o' the Christ was the wine--
      Blood o' the Lamb that was slain.
    Thy gifts were fat o' the kine
      Forever coming and going
    Far over the hills, the thousand hills--
      Their lowing a soft refrain.
    What then wert thou, and what art now?
      Answer me, once again!

        And every note of every bell
        Sang Gabriel! Rang Gabriel!
        In the tower that is left the tale to tell
          Of Gabriel, the Archangel.

    Seed o' the corn was thine--
      Body of Him thus broken
    And mingled with blood o' the vine--
      The bread and the wine of life;
    Out of the good sunshine
      They were given to thee as a token--
    The body of Him, and the blood of Him,
      When the gifts of God were rife.
    What then wert thou, and what art now,
      After the weary strife?

        And every note of every bell
        Sang Gabriel! Rang Gabriel!
        In the tower that is left the tale to tell
          Of Gabriel, the Archangel.

    Where are they now, O, bells?
      Where are the fruits o' the mission?
    Garnered, where no one dwells,
      Shepherd and flock are fled.
    O'er the Lord's vineyard swells
      The tide that with fell perdition
    Sounded their doom and fashioned their tomb
      And buried them with the dead.
    What then wert thou, and what art now?--
      The answer is still unsaid.

        And every note of every bell
        Sang Gabriel! Rang Gabriel!
        In the tower that is left the tale to tell
          Of Gabriel, the Archangel.

    Where are they now, O tower!
      The locusts and wild honey?
    Where is the sacred dower
      That the bride of Christ was given?
    Gone to the wielders of power,
      The misers and minters of money;
    Gone for the greed that is their creed--
      And these in the land have thriven.
    What then wer't thou, and what art now,
      And wherefore hast thou striven?

        And every note of every bell
        Sang Gabriel! Rang Gabriel!
        In the tower that is left the tale to tell
          Of Gabriel, the Archangel.



[Illustration: View of Montgomery, Post and Market Streets, San
Francisco, 1858]




Now, the very first book was called "Infancy"; and, having finished it,
I closed it with a bang! I was just twelve. 'Tis thus the
twelve-year-old is apt to close most books. Within those pages--perhaps
some day to be opened to the kindly inquiring eye--lie the records of a
quiet life, stirred at intervals by spasms of infantile intensity. There
are more days than one in a life that can be written of, and when the
clock strikes twelve the day is but half over.

The clock struck twelve! We children had been watching and waiting for
it. The house had been stripped bare; many cases of goods were awaiting
shipment around Cape Horn to California. California! A land of fable! We
knew well enough that our father was there, and had been for two years
or more; and that we were at last to go to him, and dwell there with the
fabulous in a new home more or less fabulous,--yet we felt that it must
be altogether lovely. We said good-bye to everybody,--getting friends
and fellow-citizens more or less mixed as the hour of departure from our
native city drew near. We were very much hugged and very much kissed and
not a little cried over; and then at last, in a half, dazed condition,
we left Rochester, New York, for New York city, on our way to San
Francisco by the Nicaragua route. This was away back in 1855, when San
Francisco, it may be said, was only six years old.

It seemed a supreme condescension on the part of our maternal
grandfather that he, who did not and could not for a moment countenance
the theatre, should voluntarily take us, one and all, to see an alleged
dramatic representation at Barnum's Museum--at that time one of the
features of New York city, and perhaps the most famous place of
amusement in the land. Four years later, when I was sixteen, very far
from home and under that good gentleman's watchful supervision, I asked
leave to witness a dramatic version of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," enacted by a
small company of strolling players in a canvas tent. There were no
blood-hounds in the cast, and mighty little scenery, or anything else
alluring; but I was led to believe that I had been trembling upon the
verge of something direful, and I was not allowed to go. What would that
pious man have said could he have seen me, a few years later, strutting
and fretting my hour upon the stage?

Well, we all saw "Damon and Pythias" in Barnum's "Lecture Room," with
real scenery that split up the middle and slid apart over a carpet of
green baize. And 'twas a real play, played by real players,--at least
they were once real players, but that was long before. It may be their
antiquated and failing art rendered them harmless. And, then, those
beguiling words "Lecture Room" have such a soothing sound! They seemed
in those days to hallow the whole function, which was, of course, the
wily wish of the great moral entertainer; and his great moral
entertainment was even as "the cups that cheer but not inebriate." It
came near it in our case, however. It was our first matinee at the
theatre, and, oh, the joy we took of it! Years afterward did we children
in our playroom, clad in "the trailing garments of the night" in lieu of
togas, sink our identity for the moment and out-rant Damon and his
Pythias. Thrice happy days so long ago in California!

There is no change like a sea change, no matter who suffers it; and
one's first sea voyage is a revelation. The mystery of it is usually not
unmixed with misery. Five and forty years ago it was a very serious
undertaking to uproot one's self, say good-bye to all that was nearest
and dearest, and go down beyond the horizon in an ill-smelling,
overcrowded, side-wheeled tub. Not a soul on the dock that day but fully
realized this. The dock and the deck ran rivers of tears, it seemed to
me; and when, after the lingering agony of farewells had reached the
climax, and the shore-lines were cast off, and the Star of the West
swung out into the stream, with great side-wheels fitfully revolving, a
shriek rent the air and froze my young blood. Some mother parting from a
son who was on board our vessel, no longer able to restrain her emotion,
was borne away, frantically raving in the delirium of grief. I have
never forgotten that agonizing scene, or the despairing wail that was
enough to pierce the hardest heart. I imagined my heart was about to
break; and when we put out to sea in a damp and dreary drizzle, and the
shore-line dissolved away, while on board there was overcrowding, and
confusion worse confounded in evidence everywhere,--perhaps it did
break, that overwrought heart of mine and has been a patched thing ever

We were a miserable lot that night, pitched to and fro and rolled from
side to side as if we were so much baggage. And there was a special
horror in the darkness, as well as in the wind that hissed through the
rigging, and in the waves that rushed past us, sheeted with foam that
faded ghostlike as we watched it,--faded ghostlike, leaving the
blackness of darkness to enfold us and swallow us up.

Day after day for a dozen days we ploughed that restless sea. There were
days into which the sun shone not; when everybody and everything was
sticky with salty distillations; when half the passengers were sea-sick
and the other half sick of the sea. The decks were slimy, the cabins
stuffy and foul. The hours hung heavily, and the horizon line closed in
about us a gray wall of mist.

Then I used to bury myself in my books and try to forget the world, now
lost to sight, and, as I sometimes feared, never to be found again. I
had brought my private library with me; it was complete in two volumes.
There was "Rollo Crossing the Atlantic," by dear old Jacob Abbot; and
this book of juvenile travel and adventure I read on the spot, as it
were,--read it carefully, critically; flattering myself that I was a lad
of experience, capable of detecting any nautical error which Jacob, one
of the most prolific authors of his day, might perchance have made. The
other volume was a pocket copy of "Robinson Crusoe," upon the fly-leaf
of which was scrawled, in an untutored hand, "Charley from
Freddy,"--this Freddy was my juvenile chum. I still have that little
treasure, with its inscription undimmed by time.

Frequently I have thought that the reading of this charming book may
have been the predominating influence in the development of my taste and
temper; for it was while I was absorbed in the exquisitely pathetic
story of Robinson Crusoe that the first island I ever saw dawned upon my
enchanted vision. We had weathered Cape Sable and the Florida Keys. No
sky was ever more marvellously blue than the sea beneath us. The density
and the darkness that prevail in Northern waters had gone out of it; the
sun gilded it, the moon silvered it, and the great stars dropped their
pearl-plummets into it in the vain search for soundings.

Sea gardens were there,--floating gardens adrift in the tropic gale;
pale green gardens of berry and leaf and long meandering vine, rocking
upon the waves that lapped the shores of the Antilles, feeding the
current of the warm Gulf Stream; and, forsooth, some of them to find
their way at last into the mazes of that mysterious, mighty, menacing
sargasso sea. Strange sea-monsters, more beautiful than monstrous,
sported in the foam about our prow, and at intervals dashed it with
color like animated rainbows. From wave to wave the flying fish skimmed
like winged arrows of silver. Sometimes a land-bird was blown across the
sky--the sea-birds we had always with us,--and ever the air was spicy
and the breeze like a breath of balm.

One day a little cloud dawned upon our horizon. It was at first pale
and pearly, then pink like the hollow of a sea-shell, then misty
blue,--a darker blue, a deep blue dissolving into green, and the green
outlining itself in emerald, with many a shade of lighter or darker
green fretting its surface, throwing cliff and crest into high relief,
and hinting at misty and mysterious vales, as fair as fathomless. It
floated up like a cloud from the nether world, and was at first without
form and void, even as its fellows were; but as we drew nearer--for we
were steaming toward it across a sea of sapphire,--it brooded upon the
face of the water, while the clouds that had hung about it were
scattered and wafted away.

Thus was an island born to us of sea and sky,--an island whose peak was
sky-kissed, whose vales were overshadowed by festoons of vapor, whose
heights were tipped with sunshine, and along whose shore the sea sang
softly, and the creaming breakers wreathed themselves, flashed like
snow-drifts, vanished and flashed again. The sea danced and sparkled;
the air quivered with vibrant light. Along the border of that island the
palm-trees towered and reeled, and all its gardens breathed perfume such
as I had never known or dreamed of.

For a few hours only we basked in its beauty, rejoiced in it, gloried in
it; and then we passed it by. Even as it had risen from the sea it
returned into its bosom and was seen no more. Twilight stole in between
us, and the night blotted it out forever. Forever?

I wonder what island it was? A pearl of the Antilles, surely; but its
name and fame, its history and mystery are lost to me. Its memory lives
and is as green as ever. No wintry blasts visit it; even the rich dyes
of autumn do not discolor it. It is perennial in its rare beauty,
unfading, unforgotten, unforgettable; a thing immutable, immemorial--I
had almost said immortal.

Whence it came and whither it has gone I know not. It had its rising and
its setting; its day from dawn to dusk was perfect. Doubtless there are
those whose lives have been passed within its tranquil shade: from
generation to generation it has known all that they have known of joy or
sorrow. All the world that they have knowledge of has been compassed by
the far blue rim of the horizon. That sky-piercing peak was ever the
centre of their universe, and the wandering sea-bird has outflown their

All this came to me as a child, when the first island "swam into my
ken." It was a great discovery--a revelation. Of it were born all the
islands that have been so much to me in later life. And even then I
seemed to comprehend the singular life that all islanders are forced to
live: the independence of that life--for a man's island is his fortress,
girded about with the fathomless moat of the sea; and the dependence of
it--for what is that island but an atom dotting watery space and so
easily cut off from communication with the world at large? Drought may
visit the islander, and he may be starved; the tornado may desolate his
shore; fever and famine and thirst may lie in wait for him; sickness and
sorrow and death abide with him. Thus is he dependent in his

And he is insecluded in his seclusion, for he can not escape from the
intruder. He should have no wish that may not be satisfied, provided he
be native born; what can he wish for that is beyond the knowledge he has
gained from the objects within his reach? The world is his, so far as he
knows it; yet if he have one wish that calls for aught beyond his
limited horizon he rests unsatisfied.

All that was lovely in that tropic isle appealed to me and filled me
with a great longing. I wanted to sing with the Beloved Bard:

    Oh, had we some bright little isle of our own,
    In the blue summer ocean, far off and alone!

And yet even then I felt its unutterable loneliness, as I have felt it a
thousand times since; the loneliness that starves the heart, tortures
the brain, and leaves the mind diseased; the loneliness that is
exemplified in the solitude of Alexander Selkirk.

Robinson Crusoe lived in very truth for me the moment I saw and
comprehended that summer isle. He also is immortal. From that hour we
scoured the sea for islands: from dawn to dark we were on the watch. The
Caribbean Sea is well stocked with them. We were threading our way among
them, and might any day hear the glad cry of "Land ho!" But we heard it
not until the morning of the eleventh day out from New York. The sea
seemed more lonesome than ever when we lost our, island; the monotony of
our life was almost unbroken. We began to feel as prisoners must feel
whose _time_ is near out. Oh, how the hours lagged!--but deliverance was
at hand. At last we gave a glad shout, for the land was ours again; we
were to disembark in the course of a few hours, and all was bustle and
confusion until we dropped anchor off the Mosquito Shore.



We approached the Mosquito Shore timidly. The shallowing sea was of the
color of amber; the land so low and level that the foliage which covered
it seemed to be rooted in the water. We dropped anchor in the mouth of
the San Juan River. On our right lay the little Spanish village of San
Juan del Norte; its five hundred inhabitants may have been wading
through its one street at that moment, for aught we know; the place
seemed to be knee-deep in water. On our left was a long strip of
land--the depot and coaling station of the Vanderbilt Steamship Company.

It did not appear to be much, that sandspit known as Punta Arenas, with
its row of sheds at the water's edge, and its scattering shrubs tossing
in the wind; but sovereignty over this very point was claimed by three
petty powers: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and "Mosquito." Great Britain
backed the "Mosquito" claim; and, in virtue of certain privileges
granted by the "Mosquito" King, the authorities of San Juan del
Norte--the port better known in those days as Graytown, albeit 'twas as
green as grass--threatened to seize Punta Arenas for public use.
Thereupon Graytown was bombarded; but immediately rose, Phoenix-like,
from its ashes, and was flourishing when we arrived. The current number
of _Harper's Monthly_, a copy of which we brought on board when we
embarked at New York, contained an illustrated account of the
bombardment of Graytown, which added not a little to the interest of the

While we were speculating as to the nature of our next experience,
suddenly a stern-wheel, flat-bottom boat backed up alongside of the Star
of the West. She was of the pattern of the small freight-boats that
still ply the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. If the Star of the West was
small, this stern-wheel scow was infinitely smaller. There was but one
cabin, and it was rendered insufferably hot by the boilers that were set
in the middle of it. There was one flush deck, with an awning stretched
above it that extended nearly to the prow of the boat. It was said our
passenger list numbered fourteen hundred. The gold boom in California
was still at fever heat. Every craft that set sail for the Isthmus by
the Nicaragua or Panama route, or by the weary route around Cape Horn,
was packed full of gold-seekers. It was the Golden Age of the Argonauts;
and, if my memory serves me well, there were no reserved seats worth the
price thereof.

The first river boat at our disposal was for the exclusive accommodation
of the cabin passengers, or as many of them as could be crowded upon
her--and we were among them. Other steamers were to follow as soon as
practicable. Hours, even days, passed by, and the passengers on the
ocean steamers were sometimes kept waiting the arrival of the river
boats that were aground or had been belated up the stream.

About two hundred of us boarded the first boat. Our luggage of the
larger sort was stowed away in barges and towed after us. The decks were
strewn with hand-bags, camp-stools, bundles, and rolls of rugs. The
lower deck was two feet above the water. As we looked back upon the Star
of the West, waving a glad farewell to the ship that had brought us more
than two thousand miles across the sea, she loomed like a Noah's Ark
above the flood, and we were quite proud of her--but not sorry to say

And now away, into the very heart of a Central American forest! And hail
to the new life that lay all before us in El Dorado! The river was as
yellow as saffron; its shores were hidden in a dense growth of
underbrush that trailed its boughs in the water, and rose, a wall of
verdure, far above our smokestacks. As we ascended the stream the forest
deepened; the trees grew taller and taller; wide-spreading branches
hung over us; gigantic vines clambered everywhere and made huge hammocks
of themselves; they bridged the bayous, and made dark leafy caverns
wherein the shadows were forbidding; for the sunshine seemed never to
have penetrated them, and they were the haunts of weirdness and mystery

Sometimes a tree that had fallen into the water and lay at a convenient
angle by the shore afforded the alligator a comfortable couch for his
sun-bath. Shall I ever forget the excitement occasioned by the discovery
of our first alligator! Not the ancient and honorable crocodile of the
Nile was ever greeted with greater enthusiasm; yet our sportsmen had
very little respect for him, and his sleep was disturbed by a shower of
bullets that spattered upon his hoary scales as harmlessly as rain.

Though the alligator punctuated every adventurous hour of that memorable
voyage in Nicaragua, we children were more interested in our Darwinian
friends, the monkeys. They were of all shades and shapes and sizes; they
descended in troops among the trees by the river side; they called to us
and beckoned us shoreward; they cried to us, they laughed at us; they
reached out their bony arms, and stretched wide their slim, cold hands
to us, as if they would pluck us as we passed. We exchanged compliments
and clubs in a sham-battle that was immensely diverting; we returned
the missiles they threw at us as long as the ammunition held out, but
captured none of the enemy, nor did the slightest damage--as far as we
could ascertain.

Often the parrots squalled at us, but their vocabulary was limited; for
they were untaught of men. Sometimes the magnificent macaw flew over us,
with its scarlet plumage flickering like flame. Oh, but those gorgeous
birds were splashes of splendid color in the intense green of that
tropical background!

There were islands in this river,--islands that seemed to have no
shores, but lay half submerged in mid-stream, like huge water-logged
bouquets. There were sand-bars in the river, and upon these we sometimes
ran, and were brought to a sudden stand-still that startled us not a
little; then we backed off with what dignity we might, and gave the
unwelcome obstructions a wide berth.

Perhaps the most interesting event of the voyage was "wooding up." A few
hours after we had entered the river our steamer made for the shore.
More than once in her course she had rounded points that seemed to block
the way; and occasionally there were bends so abrupt that we found
ourselves apparently land-locked in the depths of a wilderness which
might well be called prodigious. Now it was evident that we were heading
for the shore, and with a purpose, too. As we drew nearer, we saw among
the deep tangle of leaves and vines a primitive landing. It was a little
dock with a thatched lodge in the rear of it and a few cords of wood
stacked upon its end. There were some natives here--Indians
probably,--with dark skins bared from head to foot; they wore only the
breech-clout, and this of the briefest. Evidently they were children of

Having made fast to this dock, these woodmen speedily shouldered the
fuel and hurried it on board, while they chanted a rhythmical chant that
lent a charm to the scene. We were never weary of "wooding up," and were
always wondering where these gentle savages lived and how they escaped
with their lives from the thousand and one pests that haunted the forest
and lay in wait for them. Every biting and stinging thing was there. The
mosquitoes nearly devoured us, especially at night; while serpents,
scorpions, centipedes, possessed the jungle. There also was the lair of
larger game. It is said that sharks will pick a white man out of a crowd
of dark ones in the sea; not that he is a more tempting and toothsome
morsel--drenched with nicotine, he may indeed be less appetizing than
his dark-skinned, fruit-fed fellow,--but his silvery skin is a good
sea-mark, as the shark has often confirmed. So these dark ones in the
semi-darkness of the wood may, perhaps, pass with impunity where a
pale-face would fall an easy prey.

At the Rapids of Machuca we debarked. Here was a miry portage about a
mile in length, through which we waded right merrily; for it seemed an
age since last we had set foot to earth. Our freight was pulled up the
Rapids in _bongas_ (row-boats), manned by natives; but our steamer could
not pass, and so returned to the Star of the West for another load of

There was mire at Machuca, and steaming heat; but the path along the
river-bank was shaded by wondrous trees, and we were overwhelmed with
the offer of all the edible luxuries of the season at the most alarming
prices. There was no coin in circulation smaller than a dime. Everything
salable was worth a dime, or two or three, to the seller. It didn't seem
to make much difference what price was asked by the merchant: he got it,
or you went without refreshments. It was evident there was no market
between meals at Machuca Rapids, and steamer traffic enlivened it but
twice in the month.

What oranges were there!--such as one seldom sees outside the tropics:
great globes of delicious dew shut in a pulpy crust half an inch in
thickness, of a pale green tinge, and oozing syrup and an oily spray
when they are broken. Bananas, mangoes, guavas, sugar-cane,--on these we
fed; and drank the cream of the young cocoanut, goat's milk, and the
juices of various luscious fruits served in carven gourds,--delectable
indeed, but the nature of which was past our speculation. It was enough
to eat and to drink and to wallow a muddy mile for the very joy of it,
after having been toeing the mark on a ship's deck for a dozen days or
less, and feeding on ship's fodder.

Our second transport was scarcely an improvement on the first. Again we
threaded the river, which seemed to grow broader and deeper as we drew
near its fountain-head, Lake Nicaragua. Upon a height above the river
stood a military post, El Castillo, much fallen to decay. Here were
other rapids, and here we were transferred to a lake boat on which we
were to conclude our voyage. Those stern-wheel scows could never weather
the lake waters.

We had passed a night on the river boat,--a night of picturesque
horrors. The cabin was impossible: nobody braved its heat. The deck was
littered with luggage and crowded with recumbent forms. A few fortunate
voyagers--men of wisdom and experience--were provided with comfortable
hammocks; and while most of us were squirming beneath them, they swung
in mid-air, under a breadth of mosquito netting, slumbering sonorously
and obviously oblivious of all our woes.

If I forget not, I cared not to sleep. We were very soon to leave the
river and enter the lake. From the boughs of overarching trees swept
beards of dark gray moss some yards in length, that waved to and fro in
the gathering twilight like folds of funereal crape. There were
camp-fires at the wooding stations, the flames of which painted the
foliage extraordinary colors and spangled it with sparks. Great flocks
of unfamiliar birds flew over us, their brilliant plumage taking a
deeper dye as they flashed their wings in the firelight. The chattering
monkeys skirmished among the branches; sometimes a dull splash in the
water reminded us that the alligator was still our neighbor; and ever
there was the piping of wild birds whose notes we had never heard
before, and whose outlines were as fantastic as those of the bright
objects that glorify an antique Japanese screen.

Once from the shore, a canoe shot out of the shadow and approached us.
It was a log hollowed out--only the shell remained. Within it sat two
Indians,--not the dark creatures we had grown familiar with down the
river; these also were nearly nude, but with the picturesque nudeness
that served only to set off the ornaments with which they had adorned
themselves--necklaces of shells, wristlets and armlets of bright metal,
wreaths of gorgeous flowers and the gaudy plumage of the flamingo. They
drew near us for a moment, only to greet us and turn away; and very
soon, with splash of dipping paddles, they vanished in the dusk.

These were the flowers of the forest. All the winding way from the sea
the river walls had been decked with floral splendor. Gigantic blossoms
that might shame a rainbow starred the green spaces of the wood; but of
all we had seen or heard or felt or dreamed of, none has left an
impression so vivid, so inspiring, so instinct with the beauty and the
poetry and the music of the tropics, as those twilight mysteries that
smiled upon us for a moment and vanished, even as the great fire-flies
that paled like golden rockets in the dark.



All night we tossed on the bosom of the lake between San Carlos, at the
source of the San Juan river, and Virgin Bay, on the opposite shore. The
lake is on a table-land a hundred feet or more above the sea; it is a
hundred miles in length and forty-five in width. Our track lay
diagonally across it, a stretch of eighty miles; and when the morning
broke upon us we were upon the point of dropping anchor under the cool
shadow of cloud-capped mountains and in a most refreshing temperature.

Oh, the purple light of dawn that flooded the Bay of the Blessed Virgin!
Of course the night was a horror, and it was our second in transit; but
we were nearing the end of the journey across the Isthmus and were
shortly to embark for San Francisco. I fear we children regretted the
fact. Our life for three days had been like a veritable "Jungle Book."
It almost out-Kiplinged Kipling. We might never again float through
Monkey Land, with clouds of parrots hovering over us and a whole
menagerie of extraordinary creatures making side-shows of themselves on
every hand.

At Virgin Bay we were crowded like sheep into lighters, that were
speedily overladen. Very serious accidents have happened in consequence.
A year before our journey an overcrowded barge was swamped at Virgin Bay
and four and twenty passengers were drowned. The "Transit Company,"
supposed to be responsible for the life and safety of each one of us,
seemed to trouble itself very little concerning our fate. The truth was
they had been paid in full before we boarded the Star of the West at
Pier No. 2, North River.

Having landed in safety, in spite of the negligence of the "Transit
Company," our next move was to secure some means of transportation over
the mountain and down to San Juan del Sur. We were each provided with a
ticket calling for a seat in the saddle or on a bench in a springless
wagon. Naturally, the women and children were relegated to the wagons,
and were there huddled together like so much live stock destined for the
market. The men scrambled and even fought for the diminutive donkeys
that were to bear them over the mountain pass. A circus knows no comedy
like ours on that occasion. It is true we had but twelve miles to
traverse, and some of these were level; but by and by the road dipped
and climbed and swerved and plunged into the depths, only to soar again
along the giddy verge of some precipice that overhung a fathomless
abyss. That is how it seemed to us as we clung to the hard benches of
our wagon with its four-mule attachment.

Once a wagon just ahead of us, having refused to answer to its brakes,
went rushing down a fearful grade and was hurled into a tangle of
underbrush,--which is doubtless what saved the lives of its occupants,
for they landed as lightly as if on feather-beds. From that hour our
hearts were in our throats. Even the thatched lodges of the natives,
swarming with bare brown babies, and often having tame monkeys and
parrots in the doorways, could not beguile us; nor all the fruits, were
they never so tempting; nor the flowers, though they were past belief
for size and shape and color and perfume.

Over the shining heights the wind scudded, behatting many a head that
went bare thereafter. Out of the gorges ascended the voice of the
waters, dashing noisily but invisibly on their joyous way to the sea.
From one of those heights, looking westward over groves of bread-fruit
trees and fixed fountains of feathery bamboo, over palms that towered
like plumes in space and made silhouettes against the sky, we saw a
long, level line of blue--as blue and bluer than the sky itself,--and we
knew it was the Pacific! We were little fellows in those days, we
children; yet I fancy that we felt not unlike Balboa when we knelt upon
that peak in Darien and thanked God that he had the glory of discovering
a new and unnamed ocean.

Why, I wonder, did Keats, in his famous sonnet "On First Looking into
Chapman's Homer," make his historical mistake when he sang--

    Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
      When a new planet swims into his ken;
    Or like stout _Cortez_ when with eagle eyes,
      He stared at the Pacific,--and all his men
    Looked at each other with a wild surmise--
      Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

It mattered not to us whether our name was Cortez or Balboa. With any
other name we would have been just as jolly; for we were looking for the
first time upon a sea that was to us as good as undiscovered, and we
were shortly to brave it in a vessel bound for the Golden Gate. At our
time of life that smacked a little of circumnavigation.

San Juan del Sur! It was scarcely to be called a village,--a mere
handful of huts scattered upon the shore of a small bay and almost
surrounded by mountains. It had no street, unless the sea sands it
fronted upon could be called such. It had no church, no school, no
public buildings. Its hotels were barns where the gold-seekers were fed
without ceremony on beans and hardtack. Fruits were plentiful, and that
was fortunate.

There, as in every settlement in Central America, the eaves of the
dwellings were lined with Turkey buzzards. These huge birds are regarded
with something akin to veneration. They are never molested; indeed, like
the pariah dogs of the Orient, they have the right of way; and they are
evidently conscious of the fact, for they are tamer than barnyard fowls.
They are the scavengers of the tropics. They sit upon the housetop and
among the branches of the trees, awaiting the hour when the refuse of
the domestic meal is thrown into the street. There is no drainage in
those villages; strange to say, even in the larger cities there is none.
Offal of every description is cast forth into the highways and byways;
and at that moment, with one accord, down sweep the grim sentinels to
devour it. They feast upon carrion and every form of filth. They are
polution personified, and yet they are the salvation of the indolent
people, who would, but for the timely service of these ravenous birds,
soon be wallowing in fetid refuse and putrefaction under the fierce rays
of their merciless sun.

In the twilight we wandered by a crescent shore that was thickly strewn
with shells. They were not the tribute of northern waters: they were as
delicately fashioned and as variously tinted as flowers. All that they
lacked was fragrance; and this we realized as we stored them carefully
away, resolving that they should become the nucleus of a museum of
natural history as soon as we got settled in our California home.

We had crossed the Isthmus in safety. Yonder, in the offing, the ship
that was to carry us northward to San Francisco lay at anchor. For three
days we had suffered the joys of travel and adventure. On the San Juan
river we had again and again touched points along the varying routes
proposed, by the Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua and the Walker
Commission, as being practical for the construction of a great ship
canal that shall join the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. We had passed
from sea to sea, a distance of about two hundred miles.

The San Juan river, one hundred and twenty miles in length, has a fall
of one foot to the mile. This will necessitate the introduction of at
least six massive locks between the Atlantic and the lake. Sometimes the
river can be utilized, but not without dredging; for it is shallow from
beginning to end, and near its mouth is ribbed with sand-bars. For
seventy miles the lake is navigable for vessels of the heaviest draught.
Beyond the lake there must be a clean-cut over or through the mountains
to the Pacific, and here six locks are reckoned sufficient. Cross-cuts
from one bend in the river to another can be constructed at the rate of
two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, or less, per mile. The canal
must be sunk or raised at intervals; there will, therefore, at various
points be the need of a wall of great strength and durability, from one
hundred and thirty to three hundred feet in height or depth.

The annual rain-fall in the river region between Lake Nicaragua and the
Caribbean Sea is twenty feet; annual evaporation, three feet. These
points must be considered in the construction and feeding of the canal,
even though it is to vary in width. The dimensions of the proposed
canal, as recommended by the Walker Government Commission, are as
follows: total length, one hundred and eighty-nine miles; minimum depth
of water at all stages, thirty feet; width, one hundred feet in
rock-cuts, elsewhere varying from one hundred and fifty to three hundred
feet--except in Lake Nicaragua, where one end of the channel will be
made six hundred feet wide.

Nearly fifty years ago, when a canal was projected, the Childs survey
set the cost at thirty-seven million dollars. Now the commissioners
differ on the question of total cost, the several estimates ranging from
one hundred and eighteen million to one hundred and thirty-five million
dollars. The United States Congress at its last session authorized the
expenditure of one million by a new commission "to investigate the
merits of all suggested locations and develop a project for an Isthmus

And so we left the land of the lizard. What wonders they are! From an
inch to two feet in length, slim, slippery, and of many and changeful
colors, they literally inhabit the land, and are as much at home in a
house as out of it; indeed, the houses are never free of them. They
sailed up the river with us, and crossed the lake in our company, and
sat by the mountain wayside awaiting our arrival; for they are curious
and sociable little beasts. As for the San Juan river, 'tis like the
Ocklawaha of Florida many times multiplied, and with all its original
attractions in a state of perfect preservation.

All the way up the coast we literally hugged the shore; only during the
hours when we were crossing the yawning mouth of the Gulf of California
were we for a single moment out of sight of land. I know not if this was
a saving in time and distance, and therefore a saving in fuel and
provender; or if our ship, the John L. Stevens, was thought to be
overloaded and unsafe, and was kept within easy reach of shore for fear
of accident. We steamed for two weeks between a landscape and a seascape
that afforded constant diversion. At night we sometimes saw flame-tipped
volcanoes; there was ever the undulating outline of the Sierra Nevada
Mountains through Central America, Mexico, and California.

Just once did we pause on the way. One evening our ship turned in its
course and made directly for the land. It seemed that we must be dashed
upon the headlands we were approaching, but as we drew nearer they
parted, and we entered the land-locked harbor of Acapulco, the chief
Mexican port on the Pacific. It was an amphitheatre dotted with
twinkling lights. Our ship was speedily surrounded by small boats of all
descriptions, wherein sat merchants noisily calling upon us to purchase
their wares. They had abundant fruits, shells, corals, curios. They
flashed them in the light of their torches; they baited us to bargain
with them. It was a Venetian _fete_ with a vengeance; for the hawkers
were sometimes more impertinent than polite. It was a feast of lanterns,
and not without the accompaniment of guitars and castanets, and rich,
soft voices.

After that we were eager for the end of it all. There was Santa
Catalina, off the California coast, then an uninhabited island given
over to sunshine and wild goats, now one of the most popular and
populous of California summer and winter resorts--for 'tis all the same
on the Pacific coast; one season is damper than the other, that is the
only difference. The coast grew bare and bleak; the wind freshened and
we were glad to put on our wraps. And then at last, after a journey of
nearly five thousand miles, we slowed up in a fog so dense it dripped
from the scuppers of the ship; we heard the boom of the surf pounding
upon the invisible shore, and the hoarse bark of a chorus of sea-lions,
and were told we were at the threshold of the Golden Gate, and should
enter it as soon as the fog lifted and made room for us.

[Illustration: Fort Point at the Golden Gate]



We were buried alive in fathomless depths of fog. We were a fixture
until that fog lifted. It was an impenetrable barrier. Upon the point of
entering one of the most wonderful harbors in the world, the glory of
the newest of new lands, we found ourselves prisoners, and for a time at
least involved in the mazes of ancient history.

In 1535 Cortez coasted both sides of the Gulf of California--first
called the Sea of Cortez; or the Vermilion Sea, perhaps from its
resemblance to the Red Sea between Arabia and Egypt; or possibly from
the discoloration of its waters near the mouth of the Rio Colorado, or
Red River.

In 1577 Captain Drake, even then distinguished as a navigator, fitted
out a buccaneering expedition against the Spaniards; it was a wild-goose
chase and led him round the globe. In those days the wealth of the
Philippines was shipped annually in a galleon from Manila to Acapulco,
Mexico, on its way to Europe. Drake hoped to intercept one of these
richly laden galleons, and he therefore threaded the Straits of
Magellan, and, sailing northward, found himself, in 1579, within sight
of the coast of California. All along the Pacific shore from Patagonia
to California he was busily occupied in capturing and plundering Spanish
settlements and Spanish ships. Wishing to turn home with his treasure,
and fearing he might be waylaid by his enemies if he were again to
thread the Straits of Magellan, he thought to reach England by the Cape
of Good Hope. This was in the autumn of 1579. To quote the language of
an old chronicler of the voyage:

"He was obliged to sail toward the north; in which course having
continued six hundred leagues, and being got into forty-three degrees
north latitude, they found it intolerably cold; upon which they steered
southward till they got into thirty-eight degrees north latitude, where
they discovered a country which, from its white cliffs, they called Nova
Albion, though it is now known by the name of California.

"They here discovered a bay, which entering with a favorable gale, they
found several huts by the waterside, well defended from the severity of
the weather. Going on shore, they found a fire in the middle of each
house, and the people lying around it upon rushes. The men go quite
naked, but the women have a deerskin over their shoulders, and round
their waist a covering of bulrushes after the manner of hemp.

"These people bringing the Admiral [Captain Drake] a present of feathers
and cauls of network, he entertained them so kindly and generously that
they were extremely pleased; and afterward they sent him a present of
feathers and bags of tobacco. A number of them coming to deliver it,
gathered themselves together at the top of a small hill, from the
highest point of which one of them harangued the Admiral, whose tent was
placed at the bottom. When the speech was ended they laid down their
arms and came down, offering their presents; at the same time returning
what the Admiral had given them. The women remaining on the hill,
tearing their hair and making dreadful howlings, the Admiral supposed
they were engaged in making sacrifices, and thereupon ordered divine
service to be performed at his tent, at which these people attended with

"The arrival of the English in California being soon known through the
country, two persons in the character of ambassadors came to the Admiral
and informed him, in the best manner they were able, that the king would
visit him, if he might be assured of coming in safety. Being satisfied
on this point, a numerous company soon appeared, in front of which was a
very comely person bearing a kind of sceptre, on which hung two crowns,
and three chains of great length. The chains were of bones, and the
crowns of network, curiously wrought with feathers of many colors.

"Next to sceptre-bearer came the king, a handsome, majestic person,
surrounded by a number of tall men dressed in skins, who were followed
by the common people, who, to make the grander appearance, had painted
their faces of various colors; and all of them, even the children, being
loaded with presents.

"The men being drawn up in line of battle, the Admiral stood ready to
receive the king within the fences of his tent. The company halted at a
distance, and the sceptre-bearer made a speech half an hour long; at the
end of which he began singing and dancing, in which he was followed by
the king and all the people; who, continuing to sing and dance, came
quite up to the tent; when, sitting down, the king took off his crown of
feathers, placed it on the Admiral's head, and put on him the other
ensigns of royalty; and it is said he made him a solemn tender of his
whole kingdom; all which the Admiral accepted in the name of the Queen
his sovereign, in hope that these proceedings might, one time or other,
contribute to the advantage of England.

"The people, dispersing themselves among the Admiral's tents, professed
the utmost admiration and esteem for the English, whom they looked upon
as more than mortal; and accordingly prepared to offer sacrifices to
them, which the English rejected with abhorrence; directing them, by
various signs, that their religious worship was alone due to the supreme
Maker and Preserver of all things....

"The Admiral, at his departure, set up a pillar with a large plate on
it, on which were engraved her Majesty's name, picture, arms, and title
to the country; together with the Admiral's name and the time of his
arrival there."

Pinkerton says in his description of Drake's voyage: "The land is so
rich in gold and silver that upon the slightest turning it up with a
spade these rich materials plainly appear mixed with the mould." It is
not strange, if this were the case, that the natives--who, though
apparently gentle and well disposed, were barbarians--should naturally
have possessed the taste so characteristic of a barbarous people, and
have loved to decorate themselves even lavishly with ornaments rudely
fashioned in this rare metal. Yet they seemed to know little of its
value, and to care less for it than for fuss and feathers. Either they
were a singularly stupid race, simpler even than the child of ordinary
intelligence, or they scorned the allurements of a metal that so few are
able to resist.

Drake was not the first navigator to touch upon those shores. The
explorer Juan Cabrillo, in 1542-43, visited the coast of Upper
California. A number of landings were made at different points along the
coast and on the islands near Santa Barbara. Cabrillo died during the
expedition; but his successor, Ferralo, continued the voyage as far
north as latitude 42°. Probably Drake had no knowledge of the discovery
of California by the Spaniards six and thirty years before he dropped
anchor in the bay that now bears his name, and for many years he was
looked upon as the first discoverer of the Golden State. Even to this
day there are those who give him all the credit. Queen Elizabeth
knighted him for his services in this and his previous expeditions;
telling him, as his chronicler records, "that his actions did him more
honor than his title." Her Majesty seems not to have been much impressed
by his tales of the riches of the New World--if, indeed, they ever came
to the royal ear,--for she made no effort to develop the resources of
her territory. No adventurous argonauts set sail for the Pacific coast
in search of gold till two hundred and seventy years later.

There seems to have been a spell cast over the land and the sea. We are
sure that Sir Francis Drake did not enter the Bay of San Francisco, and
that he had no knowledge of its existence, though he was almost within
sight of it. In one of the records of his voyage we read of the chilly
air and of the dense fogs that prevailed in that region; of the "white
banks and cliffs which lie toward the sea"; and of islands which are
known as the Farallones, and which lie about thirty miles off the coast
and opposite the Golden Gate.

In 1587 Captain Thomas Cavendish, afterward knighted by Queen Elizabeth,
touched upon Cape St. Lucas, at the extremity of Lower California. He
was a privateer lying in wait for the galleon laden with the wealth of
the Philippines and bound for Acapulco. When she hove in sight there was
a chase, a hot engagement, and a capture by the English Admiral. "This
prize," says the historian of the voyage, "contained one hundred and
twenty-two thousand _pesos_ of gold, besides great quantities of rich
silks, satins, damasks, and musk, with a good stock of provisions." In
those romantic and adventurous days piracy was legalized by formal
license; the spoils were supposed to consist of gold and silver only, or
of light movable goods.

The next English filibuster to visit the California coast was Captain
Woodes Rogers--arriving in November, 1709. He described the natives of
the California peninsula as being "quite naked, and strangers to the
European manner of trafficking. They lived in huts made of boughs and
leaves, erected in the form of bowers; with a fire before the door,
round which they lay and slept. Some of the women wore pearls about
their necks, which they fastened with a string of silk grass, having
first notched them round." Captain Rogers imagined that the wearers of
the pearls did not know how to bore them, and it is more than likely
that they did not. Neither did they know the value of these pearls; for
"they were mixed with sticks, bits of shells, and berries, which they
thought so great an ornament that they would not accept glass beads of
various colors, which the English offered them."

The narrator says: "The men are straight and well built, having long
black hair, and are of a dark brown complexion. They live by hunting and
fishing. They use bows and arrows and are excellent marksmen. The women,
whose features are rather disagreeable, are employed in making
fishing-lines, or in gathering grain, which they grind upon a stone. The
people were willing to assist the English in filling water, and would
supply them with whatever they could get; they were a very honest
people, and would not take the least thing without permission."

Such were the aborigines of California. Captain Woodes Rogers did not
hesitate to take whatever he could lay his hands on. He captured the
"great Manila ship," as the chronicle records. "The prize was called
Nuestra Señora de la Incarnacion, commanded by Sir John Pichberty, a
gallant Frenchman. The prisoners said that the cargo in India amounted
to two millions of dollars. She carried one hundred and ninety-three
men, and mounted twenty guns."

The exact locality of Drake's Bay was for years a vexed question. So
able an authority as Alexander von Humboldt says: "The port of San
Francisco is frequently confounded by geographers with the Port of
Drake, farther north, under 38° 10' of latitude, called by the Spaniards
the Puerto de Bodega."

The truth is, Bodega Bay lies some miles north of Drake's Bay--or Jack's
Harbor, as the sailors call it; the latter, according to the log of the
Admiral, may be found in latitude 37° 59' 5"; longitude 122° 57-1/2'.
The cliffs about Drake's Bay resemble in height and color, those of
Great Britain in the English Channel at Brighton and Dover; therefore it
seems quite natural that Sir Francis should have called the land New
Albion. As for the origin of the name California, some etymologists
contend that it is derived from two Latin words: _calida fornax_; or, as
the Spanish put it, _caliente fornalla_,--a hot furnace. Certainly it is
hot enough in the interior, though the coast is ever cool. The name
seems to have been applied to Lower California between 1535 and 1539.
Mr. Edward Everett Hale rediscovered in 1862 an old printed romance in
which the name California was, before the year 1520, applied to a
fabulous island that lay near the Indus and likewise "very near the
Terrestrial Paradise." The colonists under Cortez were perhaps the first
to apply it to Lower California, which was long thought to be an island.

The name San Francisco was given to a port on the California coast for
the first time by Cermeñon, who ran ashore near Point Reyes, or in
Drake's Bay, when voyaging from the Philippines in 1595. At any rate,
the name was not given to the famous bay that now bears it before 1769,
and until that date it was unknown to the world. It is not true, as some
have conjectured, that the name San Francisco was given to any port in
memory of Sir Francis Drake. Spanish Catholics gave the name in honor of
St. Francis of Assisi. Drake was an Englishman and a freebooter, who had
no love for the saints.

That the Bay of San Francisco should have so long remained undiscovered
is the more remarkable inasmuch as many efforts were made to survey and
settle the coast. California was looked upon as the El Dorado of New
Spain. It was believed that it abounded in pearls, gold, silver, and
other metals; and even in diamonds and precious stones. Fruitless
expeditions, private or royal, set forth in 1615, 1633 and 1634; 1640,
1642 and 1648; 1665 and 1668. But nothing came of these. A hundred years
later the Spanish friars established their peaceful missions, and in
1776 the mission church of San Francisco was dedicated.

[Illustration: The Outer Signal Station at the Golden Gate]

       *       *       *       *       *

At last the fog began to show signs of life and motion. Huge masses of
opaque mist, that had shut us in like walls of alabaster, were rent
asunder and noiselessly rolled away. The change was magical. In a few
moments we found ourselves under a cloudless sky, upon a sparkling sea,
flooded with sunshine, and the Golden Gate wide open to give us welcome.



Perhaps it is a mile wide, that Golden Gate; and it is more bronze than
golden. A fort was on our right hand; one of those dear old brick
blockhouses that were formidable in their day, but now are as houses of
cards. Drop one shell within its hollow, and there will be nothing and
no one left to tell the tale.

Down the misty coast, beyond the fort, was Point Lobos--a place where
wolves did once inhabit; farther south lie the semi-tropics and the
fragrant orange lands; while on our left, to the north, is Point
Bonita--pretty enough in the sunshine,--and thereabout is Drake's Bay.
Behind us, dimly outlined on the horizon, the Farallones lie faintly
blue, like exquisite cloud-islands. The north shore of the entrance to
the Bay was rather forbidding,--it always is. The whole California shore
line is bare, bleak, and unbeautiful. It is six miles from the Golden
Gate to the sea-wall of San Francisco. There was no sea-wall in those

We were steaming directly east, with the Pacific dead astern. Beyond the
fort were scantily furnished hill-slopes. That quadrangle, with a long
row of low white houses on three sides of it, is the _presidio_--the
barracks; a lorner or lonelier spot it were impossible to picture. There
were no trees there, no shrubs; nothing but grass, that was green enough
in the rainy winter season but as yellow as straw in the drouth of the
long summer. Beyond the _presidio_ were the Lagoon and Washerwoman's
Bay. Black Point was the extremest suburb in the early days; and beyond
it Meigg's Wharf ran far into the North Bay, and was washed by the
swift-flowing tide.

San Francisco has as many hills as Rome. The most conspicuous of these
stands at the northeast corner of the town; it is Telegraph Hill, upon
whose brawny shoulder stood the first home we knew in the young
Metropolis. After rounding Telegraph Hill, we saw all the city front,
and it was not much to see: a few wooden wharves crowded with shipping
and backed by a row of one or two-story frame buildings perched upon
piles. The harbor in front of the city--more like an open roadstead than
a harbor, for it was nearly a dozen miles to the opposite shore--was
dotted with sailing-vessels of almost every description, swinging at
anchor, and making it a pretty piece of navigation to pick one's way
amongst them in safety.

As the John L. Stevens approached her dock we saw that an immense crowd
had gathered to give us welcome. The excitement on ship and shore was
very great. After a separation of perhaps years, husbands and wives and
families were about to be reunited. Our joy was boundless; for we soon
recognized our father in the waiting, welcoming throng. But there were
many whose disappointment was bitter indeed when they learned that their
loved ones were not on board. Often a ship brought letters instead of
the expected wife and family; for at the last moment some unforeseen
circumstance may have prevented the departure of the one so looked for
and so longed for. In the confusion of landing we nearly lost our wits,
and did not fully recover them until we found ourselves in our own new
home in the then youngest State in the Union.

How well I remember it all! We were housed on Union Street, between
Montgomery and Kearny Streets, and directly opposite the public
school--a pretentious building for that period, inasmuch as it was built
of brick that was probably shipped around Cape Horn. California houses,
such as they were, used to come from very distant parts of the globe in
the early Fifties; some of them were portable, and had been sent across
the sea to be set up at the purchaser's convenience. They could be
pitched like tents on the shortest possible notice, and the fact was
evident in many cases.

Our house--a double one of modest proportions--was of brick, and I
think the only one on our side of the street for a considerable
distance. There was a brick house over the way, on the corner of
Montgomery Street, with a balcony in front of it and a grocery on the
ground-floor. That grocery was like a country store: one could get
anything there; and from the balcony above there was a wonderful view.
Indeed that was one of the jumping-off places; for a steep stairway led
down the hill to the dock two hundred feet below. As for our neighbors,
they dwelt in frame houses, one or two stories in height; and his was
the happier house that had a little strip of flowery-land in front of
it, and a breathing space in the rear.

The school--our first school in California--backed into the hill across
the street from us. The girls and the boys had each an inclosed space
for recreation. It could not be called a playground, for there was no
ground visible. It was a platform of wood heavily timbered beneath and
fenced in; from the front of it one might have cast one's self to the
street below, at the cost of a broken bone or two. In those days more
than one leg was fractured by an accidental fall from a soaring

Above and beyond the school-house Telegraph Hill rose a hundred feet or
more. Our street marked the snow-line, as it were; beyond it the Hill
was not inhabited save by flocks of goats that browsed there all the
year round, and the herds of boys that gave them chase, especially of a
holiday. The Hill was crowned by a shanty that had seen its best days.
It had been the lookout from the time when the Forty-Niners began to
watch for fresh arrivals. From the observatory on its roof--a primitive
affair--all ships were sighted as they neared the Golden Gate, and the
glad news was telegraphed by a system of signals to the citizens below.
Not a day, not an hour, but watchful eyes sought that signal in the hope
of reading there the glad tidings that their ship had come.

The Hill sloped suddenly, from the signal station, on every side. On the
north and east it terminated abruptly in artificial cliffs of a dizzy
height. The rocks had been blasted from their bases to make room for a
steadily increasing commerce, and the débris was shipped away as ballast
in the vessels that were chartered to bring passengers and provision to
the coast, and found nothing in the line of freight to carry from it.

Upon those northern and eastern slopes of the Hill a few venturesome
cottagers had built their nests. The cottages were indeed nestlike: they
were so small, so compact, so cosy, so overrun with vines and flowering
foliage. Usually of one story, or of a story and a half at most, they
clung to the hillside facing the water, and looking out upon its noble
expanse from tiny balconies as delicate and dainty as toys. Their
garden-plots were set on end; they must needs adapt themselves to the
angle of demarkation; they loomed above their front-yards while their
back-yards lorded it over their roofs. Indeed they were usually
approached by ascending or descending stairways, or perchance by airy
bridges that spanned little gullies where ran rivulets in the winter
season; and they were a trifle dangerous to encounter after dark. There
were parrots on perches at the doorways of those cottages; and
song-birds in cages that were hidden away in vines. There were pet
poodles there. I think there were more lap-dogs than watch-dogs in that
early California.

And there were pleasant people within those hanging gardens,--people who
seemed to have drifted there and were living their lyrical if lonely
lives in semi-solitude on islands in the air. I always envied them. I
was sorry that we were housed like other folk, and fronted on a street
than which nothing could have been more commonplace or less interesting.
Its one redeeming feature in my eyes was its uncompromising steepness;
nothing that ran on wheels ever ran that way, but toiled painfully to
the top, tacking from side to side, forever and forever, all the way

Weary were the beasts of burden that ascended that hill of difficulty.
There was the itinerant marketer, with his overladen cart, and his white
horse, very much winded. He was a Yorkshire man, and he cried with a
loud voice his appetizing wares: "Cabbage, taters, onions, wild duck,
wild goose!" Well do I remember the refrain. Probably there were few
domestic fowls in the market then; moreover, even our drinking water was
peddled about the streets and sold to us by the huge pailful.

The goats knew Saturday and Sunday by heart. Every Saturday we lads were
busier than bees. We had at intervals during the week collected what
empty tin cans we might have chanced upon, and you may be sure they were
not a few. The markets of California, in early times, were stocked with
canned goods. Flour came to us in large cans; probably the barrel would
not have been proof against mould during the long voyage around the
Horn. Everything eatable--I had almost said and drinkable--we had in
cans; and these cans when emptied were cast into the rubbish heap and
finally consigned to the dump-cart.

We boys all became smelters, and for a very good reason. There was a
market for soft solder; we could dispose of it without difficulty; we
could in this way put money in our purse and experience the glorious
emotion awakened by the spirit of independence. With our own money,
earned in the sweat of our brows--it was pretty hot work melting the
solder out of the old cans and moulding it in little pig-leads of our
own invention,--we could do as we pleased and no questions asked. Oh, it
was a joy past words,--the kindling of the furnace fires, the adjusting
of the cans, the watching for the first movement of the melting solder!
It trickled down into the ashes like quicksilver, and there we let it
cool in shapeless masses; then we remelted it in skillets (usually
smuggled from the kitchen for that purpose), and ran the fused metal
into the moulds; and when it had cooled we were away in haste to dispose
of it.

Some of us became expert amateur metallists, and made what we looked
upon as snug little fortunes; yet they did not go far or last us long.
The smallest coin in circulation was a dime. No one would accept a
five-cent piece. As for coppers, they are scarcely yet in vogue. Money
was made so easily and spent so carelessly in the early days the wonder
is that any one ever grew rich.

A quarter of a dollar we called two "bits." If we wished to buy anything
the price of which was one bit and we had a dime in our pocket, we gave
the dime for the article, and the bargain was considered perfectly
satisfactory. If we had no dime, we gave a quarter of a dollar and
received in change a dime; we thus paid fifty per cent more for the
article than we should have done if we had given a dime for it. But that
made no difference: a quarter called for two bits' worth of anything on
sale. A dime was one bit, but two dimes were not two bits; and it was
only a very mean person--in our estimation--who would change his half
dollar into five dimes and get five bits' worth of goods for four bits'
worth of silver.

[Illustration: City of Oakland in 1856]

Sunday is ever the people's day, and a San Francisco Sunday used to be
as lively as the Lord's Day at any of the capitals of Europe. How the
town used to flock to Telegraph Hill on a Sunday in the olden time! They
were mostly quiet folk who went there, and they went to feast their eyes
upon one of the loveliest of landscapes or waterscapes. They probably
took their lunch with them, and their families--if they had them; though
families were infrequent in the Fifties. They wandered about until they
had chosen their point of view, and then they took possession of an
unclaimed portion of the Hill. They "squatted," as was the custom of the
time. The "squatter" claimed the right of sovereignty, and exercised it
so long as he was left unmolested.

One man seemed to have as much right as another on Telegraph Hill. And
one right was always his: no one disputed him the right of vision; he
shared it with his neighbor, and was willing to share it with the whole
world. For generations he has held it, and he will probably continue to
hold it so long as the old Hill stands. From the heights his eye sweeps
a scene of beauty. There is the Golden Gate, bathed in sunset glories;
and there the northern shore line that climbs skyward where Mount
Tamalpais takes on his mantle of mist. There is Saucelito, with its
green terraces resting upon the tree-tops; and there the bit of
sheltered water that seems always steeped in sunshine,--now the haunt of
house boats, then the haven of a colony of Neapolitan fishermen; and
Angel Island, with its military post; and Fort Alcatraz, a rocky bubble
afloat in mid-channel and one mass of fortifications.

What an inland sea it is--the Bay of San. Francisco, seventy miles in
length, from ten to twelve in width; dotted with islands, and capable of
harboring all the fleets of all the civilized or uncivilized worlds! The
northern part of it, beyond the narrows, is known as the Bay of San
Pablo; the Straits of Carquinez connect it with Suisun Bay, which is a
sleepy sheet of water fed by the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.

To the east is Yerba-Buena, vulgarly known as Goat Island; and beyond it
the Contra Costa, with its Alameda, Oakland, and Fruit Vale; then the
Coast Range; and atop of all and beyond all Mount Diablo, with its three
thousand eight hundred feet of perpendicularity, beyond whose summit
the sun rises, and from whose peaks almost half the State is visible and
almost half the sea,--or at least it seems so--but that's another



We had been but a few days in San Francisco when a new-found friend,
scarcely my senior, but who was a comparatively old settler, took me by
the hand and led me forth to view the town. He was my neighbor, and a
right good fellow, with the surprising composure--for one of his
years--that is so early, so easily, and so naturally acquired by those
living in camps and border-lands.

We descended Telegraph Hill by Dupont Street as far as Pacific Street.
So steep was the way that, at intervals, the modern fire-escape would
have been a welcome aid to our progress. Sidewalks, always of plank and
often not broader than two boards placed longitudinally, led on to steps
that plunged headlong from one terrace to another. From the veranda of
one house one might have leaped to the roof of the house just below--if
so disposed,--for the houses seemed to be set one upon another, so acute
was the angle of their base-line. The town stood on end just there, and
at the foot of it was a foreign quarter.

In those days there were at least four foreign quarters--Spanish,
French, Italian, and Chinese. We knew the Spanish Quarter at the foot of
the hill by the human types that inhabited it; by the balconies like
hanging gardens, clamorous with parrots; and by the dark-eyed senoritas,
with lace mantillas drawn over their blue-black hair; by the shop
windows filled with Mexican pottery; the long strings of cardinal-red
peppers that swung under the awnings over the doors of the sellers of
spicy things; and also by the delicious odors that were wafted to us
from the tables where Mexicans, Spaniards, Chilians, Peruvians, and
Hispano-Americans were discussing the steaming _tamal_, the fragrant
_frijol_, and other fiery dishes that might put to the blush the
ineffectual pepper-pot.

Everywhere we heard the most mellifluous of languages--the "lovely
lingo," we used to call it; everywhere we saw the people of the quarter
lounging in doorways or windows or on galleries, dressed as if they were
about to appear in a rendition of the opera of "The Barber of Seville,"
or at a fancy-dress ball. Figaros were on every hand, and Rosinas and
Dons of all degrees. At times a magnificent Caballero dashed by on a
half-tamed bronco. He rode in the shade of a sombrero a yard wide,
crusted with silver embroidery. His Mexican saddle was embossed with
huge Mexican dollars; his jacket as gaily ornamented as a
bull-fighter's; his trousers open from the hip, and with a chain of
silver buttons down their flapping hems; his spurs, huge wheels with
murderous spikes, were fringed with little bells that jangled as he
rode,--and this to the accompaniment of much strumming of guitars and
the incense of cigarros.

Near the Spanish Quarter ran the Barbary Coast. There were the dives
beneath the pavement, where it was not wise to enter; blood was on those
thresholds, and within hovered the shadow of death. Beyond, we entered
Chinatown, as rare a bit of old China as is to be found without the
Great Wall itself. Chinatown has grown amazingly within the last forty
years, but it has in reality gained little in interest. There is more of
it: that is the only difference; and what there is of it is more
difficult of approach. The Joss House, the theatre, with its great
original "continuous performance"--its tragedy half a year in
length,--flourished there. The glittering, spectacular restaurant was
wide open to the public, and so was everything else. That fact made all
the difference between Chinatown in the Fifties and Chinatown forty
years later.

My companion and I tarried long on Dupont Street, between Pacific and
Sacramento Streets. The shops were like peep shows on a larger scale.
How bright they were! how gay with color! how rich with carvings and
curios. Each was like a set-scene on the stage. The shopkeepers and
their aids were like actors in a play. They seemed really to be playing
and not trying to engage in any serious business. Surely it would have
been quite beneath the dignity of such distinguished gentlemen to take
the smallest interest in the affairs of trade. They were clad in silks
and satins and furs of great value; they had a little finger-nail as
long as a slice of quill pen; they had tea on tables of carved teak; and
they had impossible pipes that breathed unspeakable odors. They wore
bracelets of priceless jade. They had private boxes, which hung from the
ceiling and looked like cages for some unclassified bird; and they could
go up into those boxes when life at the tea-table became tiresome, and
get quite another point of view. There they could look down upon the
world of traffic that never did anything in their shops, as far as we
could see; and, still murmuring to themselves in a tongue that sounds
untranslatable and a voice that was never known to rise above a stage
whisper, they could at one and the same moment regard with scorn the
Christian, keep an eye on the cash-boy, and make perfect pictures of

[Illustration: Interior of the El Dorado]

In some parts of that strange street, where everybody was very busy but
apparently never accomplished anything, there were no fronts to the
rooms on the groundfloor. If those rooms were ever closed--it seemed to
me they never were,--some one kindly put up a long row of shutters, and
that end was accomplished. When the shutters were down the whole place
was wide open, and anybody, everybody, could enter and depart at his own
sweet will. This is exactly what he did; we did it ourselves, but we
didn't know why we did it. The others seemed to know all about it.

There was a long table in the centre of each room; it was always
surrounded by swarms of Chinamen. Not a few foreigners of various
nationalities were there. They were all intensely interested in some
game that was being played upon that table. We heard the "chink" of
money; and as the players came and went some were glad and some were sad
and some were mad. These were the gambling halls of Chinatown. They were
not at all beautiful or alluring to the eye, but they cast a spell over
the minds and the pockets of men that was irresistible. Nowadays the
place is kept under lock and key, and you must give the countersign or
you will be turned away from the door thereof by a Chinaman whose face
is the image of injured innocence.

The authors of the annals of San Francisco, 1854, say:

"During 1853, most of the moral, intellectual, and social
characteristics of the inhabitants of San Francisco were nearly as
already described in the reviews of previous years. There was still the
old reckless energy, the old love of pleasure, the fast making and fast
spending of money; the old hard labor and wild delights; jobberies,
official and political corruption; thefts, robberies, and violent
assaults; murders, duels and suicides; gambling, drinking, and general
extravagance and dissipation.... The people had wealth at command, and
all the passions of youth were burning within them; and they often,
therefore, outraged public decency. Yet somehow the oldest residenters
and the very family-men loved the place, with all its brave wickedness
and splendid folly."

I can testify that the town knew little or no change in the two years
that followed. The "El Dorado" on the plaza, and the "Arcade" and
"Polka" on Commercial Street, were still in full blast. How came I aware
of that fact? I was a child; my guide, philosopher and friend was a
child, and we were both as innocent as children should be. It is
written, "Children and fools speak the truth." I may add, "Children and
'fools rush in where angels fear to tread.'" The doors of "El Dorado,"
of the "Arcade," and the "Polka" were ever open to the public. We saw
from the sidewalk gaily-decorated interiors; we heard enchanting music,
and there seemed to be a vast deal of jollity within. No one tried to
prevent our entering; we merely followed the others; and, indeed, it was
all a mystery to us. Cards were being dealt at the faro tables, and
dealt by beautiful women in bewildering attire. They also turned the
wheels of fortune or misfortune, and threw dice, and were skilled in all
the arts that beguile and betray the innocent. The town was filled with
such resorts; some were devoted to the patronage of the more exclusive
set; many were traps into which the miner from the mountain gulches fell
and where he soon lost his bag of "dust,"--his whole fortune, for which
he had been so long and so wearily toiling. There he was shoulder to
shoulder with the greaser and the lascar, the "shoulder-striker" and the
hoodlum; and they were all busy with monte, faro, rondo, and

There was no limit to the gambling in those days. There was no question
of age or color or sex: opportunity lay in wait for inclination at the
street corners and in the highways and the byways. The wonder is that
there were not more victims driven to madness or suicide.

The pictures were not all so gloomy. Six times San Francisco was
devastated by fire, and all within two years--or, to speak accurately,
within eighteen months. Many millions were lost; many enterprising and
successful citizens were in a few hours rendered penniless. Some were
again and again "burned out"; but they seemed to spring like the famed
bird, who shall for once be nameless, from their own ashes.

It became evident that an efficient fire department was an immediate and
imperative necessity. The best men of the city--men prominent in every
trade, calling and profession--volunteered their services, and headed a
subscription list that swelled at once into the thousands. Perhaps there
never was a finer volunteer fire department than that which was for many
years the pride and glory of San Francisco. On the Fourth of July it was
the star feature of the procession; and it paraded most of the streets
that were level enough for wheels to run on--and when the mud was
navigable, for they turned out even in the rainy season on days of civic
festivity. Their engines and hose carts and hook and ladder trucks were
so lavishly ornamented with flowers, banners, streamers, and even pet
eagles, dogs, and other mascots, that they might without hesitation have
engaged in any floral battle on any Riviera and been sure of victory.

The magnificence of the silver trumpets and the quantity and splendor of
the silver trappings of those fire companies pass all belief. It begins
to seem to me now, as I write, that I must have dreamed it,--it was all
so much too fine for any ordinary use. But I know that I did not dream
it; that there was never anything truer or better or more efficient
anywhere under the sun than the San Francisco fire department in the
brave days of old. Representatives of almost every nation on earth could
testify to this, and did repeatedly testify to it in almost every
language known to the human tongue; for there never was a more cosmical
commonwealth than sprang out of chaos on that Pacific coast; and there
never was a city less given to following in the footsteps of its elder
and more experienced sisters. Nor was there ever a more spontaneous
outburst of happy-go-luckiness than that which made of young San
Francisco a very Babel and a bouncing baby Babylon.

[Illustration: Warner's at Meigg's Wharf]



There was joy in the heart, luncheon in the knapsack, and a sparkle in
the eye of each of us as we set forth on our exploring expedition, all
of a sunny Saturday. Outside of California there never were such
Saturdays as those. We were perfectly sure for eight months in the year
that it wouldn't rain a drop; and as for the other four months--well,
perhaps it wouldn't. It is true that Longfellow had sung, even in those

    Unto each life some rain must fall,
    Some days must be dark and dreary.

Our days were not dark or dreary,--indeed, they could not possibly be in
the two-thirds-of-the-year-dry season. It did not rain so very much even
in the rainy season, when it had a perfect right to; therefore there was
joy in the heart and no umbrella anywhere about when we prepared to set
forth on our day of discovery.

We began our adventure at Meigg's Wharf. We didn't go out to the end of
it, because there was nothing but crabs there, being hauled up at
frequent intervals by industrious crabbers, whose nets fairly fringed
the wharf. They lay on their backs by scores and hundreds, and waved
numberless legs in the air--I mean the crabs, not the crabbers. We used
to go crabbing ourselves when we felt like it, with a net made of a bit
of mosquito-bar stretched over an iron hoop, and with a piece of meat
tied securely in the middle of it. When we hauled up those home-made
hoop-nets--most everything seems to have been home-made in those
days--we used to find one, two, perhaps three huge crabs revolving
clumsily about the centre of attraction in the hollow of the net; and
then we shouted in glee and went almost wild with excitement.

Just at the beginning of Meigg's Wharf there was a house of
entertainment that no doubt had a history and a mystery even in those
young days. We never quite comprehended it: we were too young for that,
and too shy and too well-bred to make curious or impertinent inquiry. We
sometimes stood at the wide doorway--it was forever invitingly open,
--and looked with awe and amazement at paintings richly framed and hung
so close together that no bit of the wall was visible. There was a bar
at the farther end of the long room,--there was always a bar somewhere
in those days; and there were cages filled with strange birds and
beasts,--as any one might know with his eyes shut, for the odor of it
all was repelling.

The strangest feature of that most strange hostelry was the amazing
wealth of cobwebs that mantled it. Cobwebs as dense as crape waved in
dusty rags from the ceiling; they veiled the pictures and festooned the
picture-frames, that shone dimly through them. Not one of these cobwebs
was ever molested--or had been from the beginning of time, as it seemed
to us. A velvet carpet on the floor was worn smooth and almost no trace
of its rich flowery pattern was left; but there were many square boxes
filled with sand or sawdust and reeking with cigar stumps and tobacco
juice. Need I add that some of those pictures were such as our young and
innocent eyes ought never to have been laid on? Nor were they fit for
the eyes of others.

There was something uncanny about that house. We never knew just what it
was, but we had a faint idea that the proprietor's wife or daughter was
a witch; and that she, being as cobwebby as the rest of its furnishings,
was never visible. The wharf in front of the house was a free menagerie.
There were bears and other beasts behind prison bars, a very populous
monkey cage, and the customary "happy family" looking as dreadfully
bored as usual. Then again there were whole rows of parrots and
cockatoos and macaws as splendid as rainbow tints could make them, and
with tails a yard long at least.

From this bewildering pageant it was but a step to the beach below.
Indeed the water at high tide flowed under that house with much foam and
fury; for it was a house founded upon the sand, and it long since
toppled to its fall, as all such houses must. We followed the beach,
that rounded in a curve toward Black Point. Just before reaching the
Point there was a sandhill of no mean proportions; this, of course, we
climbed with pain, only to slide down with perspiration. It was our Alp,
and we ascended and descended it with a flood of emotion not unmixed
with sand.

Near by was a wreck,--a veritable wreck; for a ship had been driven
ashore in the fog and she was left to her fate--and our mercy. Probably
it would not have paid to float her again; for of ships there were more
than enough. Everything worth while was coming into the harbor, and
almost nothing going out of it. We looked upon that old hulk as our
private and personal property. At low tide we could board her dry-shod;
at high tide we could wade out to her. We knew her intimately from stem
to stern, her several decks, her cabins, lockers, holds; we had counted
all her ribs over and over again, and paced her quarter-deck, and gazed
up at her stumpy masts--she had been well-nigh dismantled,--and given
sailing orders to our fellows amidships in the very ecstasy of
circumnavigation. She has gone, gone to her grave in the sea that
lapped her timbers as they lay a-rotting under the rocks; and now
pestiferous factories make hideous the landscape we found so fair.

[Illustration: The Old Flume at Black Point, 1856]

As for Black Point, it was a wilderness of beauty in our eyes; a very
paradise of live-oak and scrub-oak, and of oak that had gone mad in the
whirlwinds and sandstorms that revelled there. Beyond Black Point we
climbed a trestle and mounted a flume that was our highway to the sea.
Through this flume the city was supplied with water. The flume was a
square trough, open at the top and several miles in length. It was cased
in a heavy frame; and along the timbers that crossed over it lay planks,
one after another, wherever the flume was uncovered. This narrow path,
intended for the convenience of the workmen who kept the flume in
repair, was our delight. We followed it in the full assurance that we
were running a great risk. Beneath us was the open trough, where the
water, two or three feet in depth, was rushing as in a mill-race. Had we
fallen, we must have been swept along with it, and perhaps to our doom.
Sometimes we were many feet in the air, crossing a cove where the sea
broke at high tide; sometimes we were in a cut among the rocks on a
jutting point; and sometimes the sand from the desert above us drifted
down and buried the flume, now roofed over, quite out of sight.

So we came to Fort Point and the Golden Gate; and beyond the Fort there
was more flume and such a stretch of sea and shore and sunshine as
caused us to leap with gladness. We could follow the beach for miles; it
was like a pavement of varnished sand, cool to the foot and burnished to
the eye. And what sea-treasure lay strewn there! Mollusks, not so
delicate or so decorative as the shells we had brought with us from the
Southern Seas, but still delightful. Such starfish and cloudy,
starch-like jelly-fish, and all the livelier creeping and crawling
creatures that populate the shore! Brown sea-kelp and sea-green
sea-grass and the sea-anemone that are the floating gardens of the
sea-gods and sea-goddesses; sea-birds, soft-bosomed as doves and crying
with their ceaseless and sorrowful cry; and all they that are sea-borne
along the sea-board,--these were there in their glory.

We hid in caverns and there dreamed our sea-dreams. We ate our lunches
and played at being smugglers; then we built fires of drift-wood to warn
the passing ships that we were castaways on a desert island; but when
they took no heed of our signals of distress we were not too sorry nor
in the least distressful.

At the seal rocks we tarried long; for there are few spots within the
reach of the usual sight-seer where an enormous family of sea-lions can
be seen at home, sporting in their native element, and at liberty to
come and go in the wide Pacific at their own sweet wills. There they had
lived for numberless generations unmolested; there they still live, for
they are under the protection of the law.

The famous Cliff House is built upon the cliff above them, and above it
is a garden bristling with statues. Thousands upon thousands of curious
idlers stare the sea-folks out of countenance--or try to; but they, the
sons of the salt sea and the daughters of the deep, climb into the
crevices of the rocks to sun themselves, unheeding; or leap into the
waves that girdle them and sport like the fabled monsters of marine
mythology. Seal, sea-leopard, or sea-lion--whatever they may be--they
cry with one voice night and day; and it is not a pleasant cry either,
though a far one, they mouth so horribly. Long ago it inspired a wit to
madness and he made a joke; the same old joke has been made by those who
followed after him. It will continue to be made with impertinent
impunity until the sea gives up its seals; for the temptation is there
daily and hourly, and the humorist is but human--he can not long resist
it; so he will buttonhole you on the veranda of the Cliff House and
whisper in your astonished ear as if he were imparting a state secret:
"Their bark is on the sea!"

The way home was sometimes a weary one. After leaving the bluff above
the shore, we struck into an almost interminable succession of
sand-dunes. There was neither track nor trail there; there was no oasis
to gladden us with its vision of beauty. The pale poet of destiny and
despair has written:

    In the desert a fountain is springing,
      In the wide waste there still is a tree;
    And a bird in the solitude singing,
      Which speaks to my spirit of thee.

There was no fountain in our desert, and we knew it well enough; for we
had often braved its sands. In that wide waste there was not even the
solitary tree that moved the poet to song; nor a bird in our solitude,
save a sea-gull cutting across-lots from the ocean to the bay in search
of a dinner. There were some straggling vines on the edge of our desert,
thick-leaved and juicy; and these were doing their best to keep from
getting buried alive. The sand was always shifting out yonder, and there
was a square mile or two of it. We could easily have been lost in it but
for our two everlasting landmarks--Mount Tamalpais across the water to
the north, and in the south Lone Mountain. Lone Mountain was our
Calvary--a green hill that loomed above the graves where slept so many
who were dear to us. The cross upon its summit we had often visited in
our holiday pilgrimages. They were _holydays_, when our childish feet
toiled hopefully up that steep height; for that cross was the beacon
that lighted the world-weary to everlasting rest.

And so we crossed the desert, over our shoetops in sand; climbing one
hill after another, only to slide or glide or ride down the yielding
slope on the farther side. Meanwhile the fog came in like a wet blanket.
It swathed all the landscape in impalpable snow; it chilled us and it
thrilled us, for there was danger of our going quite astray in it; but
by and by we got into the edge of the town, and what a very ragged edge
it was in the dim long ago! Once in the edge of the town, we were
masters of the situation: you couldn't lose us even in the dark. And so
ended the outing of our merry crew,--merry though weary and worn; yet
not so worn and weary but we could raise at parting a glad "Hoorah for
Health, Happiness, and the Hills of Home!"



I have read somewhere in the pages of a veracious author how, five or
six years before my day, he had ridden through chaparral from Yerba
Buena to the Mission Dolores with the howl of the wolf for
accompaniment. Yerba Buena is now San Francisco, and the mission is a
part of the city; it is not even a suburb.

In 1855 there were two plank-roads leading from the city to the Mission
Dolores; on each of these omnibuses ran every half hour. The plank-road
was a straight and narrow way, cut through acres of chaparral--thickets
of low evergreen oaks,--and leading over forbidding wastes of sand. To
stretch a figure, it was as if the sea-of-sand had been divided in the
midst, so that the children of Israel might have passed dry-shod, and
the Egyptians pursuing them might have been swallowed up in the billows
of sand that flowed over them at intervals.

Somewhere among those treacherous dunes--of them it might indeed be said
that "the mountains skipped like rams and the little hills like
lambs,"--somewhere thereabout was located the once famous but now
fabulous Pipesville, the country-seat of my old friend, "Jeems Pipes of
Pipesville." He was longer and better known to the world as Stephen C.
Massett, composer of the words and music of that once most popular of
songs, "When the Moon on the Lake is Beaming," as well as many another
charming ballad.

Stephen C. Massett, a most delightful companion and a famous diner-out,
give a concert of vocal music interspersed with recitations and
imitations, in the school-house that stood at the northwest corner of
the plaza. This was on Monday evening, June 22, 1849; and it was the
first public entertainment, the first regular amusement, ever given in
San Francisco. The only piano in the country was engaged for the
occasion; the tickets were three dollars each, and the proceeds yielded
over five hundred dollars; although it cost sixteen dollars to have the
piano used on the occasion moved from one side of the plaza, or
Portsmouth Square, to the other. On a copy of the programme which now
lies before me I find this line: "N.B.--Front seats reserved for
ladies!" History records that there were but four ladies
present--probably the only four in the town at the time. Massett died in
New York city a few months ago,--a man who had friends in every country
under the sun, and, I believe, no enemy.

I remember the Mission Dolores as a detached settlement with a
pronounced Spanish flavor. There was one street worth mentioning, and
only one. It was lined with low-walled adobe houses, roofed with the red
curved tiles which add so much to the adobe houses that otherwise would
be far from picturesque. The adobe is a sun-baked brick; it is
mud-color; its walls look as if they were moulded of mud. The adobes
were the native California habitations. We spoke of them as adobes;
although it would probably be as correct, etymologically, to refer to
brick houses as bricks.

There were a few ramshackle hotels at the mission; for in the early days
it seemed as if everybody either boarded or took in boarders, and many
families lived for years in hotels rather than attempt to keep house in
the wilds of San Francisco. The mission was about one house deep each
side of the main street. You might have turned a corner and found
yourself face to face with the cattle in the meadow. As for the goats,
they met you at the doorway and followed you down the street like dogs.

At the top of this street stood the mission church and what few mission
buildings were left for the use of the Fathers. The church and the
grounds were the most interesting features of the place, and it was a
favorite resort of the citizens of San Francisco; yet it most likely
would not have been were the church the sole attraction. Here, in
appropriate enclosures, there were bull-fighting, bear-baiting, and
horse-racing. Many duels were fought here, and some of them were so well
advertised that they drew almost as well as a cock-fight. Cock-fighting
was a special Sunday diversion. Through the mission ran the highway to
the pleasant city of San José; it ran through a country unsurpassed in
beauty and fertility. Above the mission towered the mission peaks, and
about it the hillslopes were mantled with myriads of wild flowers, the
splendor and variety of which have added to the fame of California.

The mission church was never handsome; but the facade with the old bells
hanging in their niches, and the almost naive simplicity of its
architectural adornment, are extremely pleasing. It is a long, narrow,
dingy nave one enters. Its walls of adobe do not retain their coats of
whitewash for any length of time; in the rainy season they are damp and
almost clammy. The floor is of beaten earth; the Stations upon the walls
of the rudest description; the narrow windows but dimly light the
interior, and rather add to than dispel the gloom that has been
gathering there for ages. The high altar is, of course, in striking
contrast with all that dark interior: it is over-decorated in the
Mexican manner--flowers, feathers, tinsel ornaments, tall candlesticks
elaborately gilded; all the statues examples of the primitive art that
appealed strongly to the uncultivated eye; and all the adornments gay,
gaudy, if not garish. Do you wonder at this? When you enter the old
church at the Mission Dolores you should recall its history, and picture
in your imagination the people for whom the mission was established.

The Franciscans founded their first mission in California at San Diego
in 1769. The Mission Dolores was founded on St. Francis' Day, 1776. To
found a mission was a serious matter; yet one and twenty missions were
in the full tide of success before the good work was abandoned. The
friars were the first fathers of the land: they did whatever was done
for it and for the people who originally inhabited it. They explored the
country lying between the coast range and the sea. They set apart large
tracts of land for cultivation and for the pasturing of flocks and
herds. For a long time Old and New Spain contributed liberally to what
was known as the Pious Fund of California. The fund was managed by the
Convent of San Fernando and certain trustees in Mexico, and the proceeds
transmitted from the city of Mexico to the friars in California.

The mission church was situated, as a rule, in the centre of the mission
lands, or reservations. The latter comprised several thousand acres of
land. With the money furnished by the Pious Fund of California the
church was erected, and surrounded by the various buildings occupied by
the Fathers, the retainers, and the employees who had been trained to
agriculture and the simple branches of mechanics. The presbytery, or the
rectory, was the chief guest-house in the land. There were no hotels in
the California of that day, but the traveller, the prospector, the
speculator, was ever welcome at the mission board; and it was a
bountiful board until the rapacity of the Federal Government laid it
waste. Alexander Forbes, in his "History of Upper and Lower California"
(London, 1839), states that the population of Upper California in 1831
was a little over 23,000; of these 18,683 were Indians. It was for the
conversion of these Indians that the missions were first established;
for the bettering of their condition--mental, moral and physical--that
they were trained in the useful and industrial arts. That they labored
not in vain is evident. In less than fifty years from the day of its
foundation the Mission of San Francisco Dolores--that is in 1825--is
said to have possessed 76,000 head of cattle; 950 tame horses; 2,000
breeding mares; 84 stud of choice breed; 820 mules; 79,000 sheep; 2,000
hogs; 456 yoke of working oxen; 18,000 bushels of wheat and barley;
besides $35,000 in merchandise and $25,000 in specie.

That was, indeed, the golden age of the California missions; everybody
was prosperous and proportionately happy. In 1826 the Mission of Soledad
owned more than 36,000 head of cattle, and a larger number of horses and
mares than any other mission in the country. These animals increased so
rapidly that they were given away in order to preserve the pasturage for
cattle and sheep. In 1822 the Spanish power in Mexico was overthrown; in
1824 a republican constitution was established. California, not then
having a population sufficient to admit it as one of the Federal States,
was made a territory, and as such had a representative in the Mexican
Congress; but he was not allowed a vote on any question, though he sat
in the assembly and shared in the debates.

In 1826 the Federal Government began to meddle with the affairs of the
friars. The Indians "who had good characters, and were considered able
to maintain themselves, from having been taught the art of agriculture
or some trade," were manumitted; portions of land were allotted to them,
and the whole country was divided into parishes, under the
superintendence of curates. The zealous missionaries were no longer to
receive a salary--four hundred dollars a year had formerly been paid
them out of the national exchequer for developing the resources of the
State. Everybody and everything was now supposed to be self-sustaining,
and was left to take care of itself. It was a dream--and a bad one!

[Illustration: Lone Mountain, 1856]

Within one year the Indians went to the dogs. They were cheated out of
their small possessions and were driven to beggary or plunder. The
Fathers were implored to take charge again of their helpless flock.
Meanwhile the Pious Fund of California had run dry, as its revenues had
been diverted into alien channels. The good friars resumed their
offices. Once more the missions were prosperous, but for a time only. It
was the beginning of the end. Year after year acts were passed in the
Mexican Congress so hampering the friars in their labors that they were
at last crippled and helpless. The year 1840 was specially disastrous;
and in 1845 the Franciscans the pioneer settlers and civilizers of
California, were completely denuded of both power and property.

In that year a number of the missions were sold by public auction. The
Indian converts, formerly attached to some of the missions, but now
demoralized and wandering idly and miserably over the country, were
ordered to return within a month to the few remaining missions, _or
those also would be sold_. The Indians, having had enough of legislation
and knowing the white man pretty well by this time, no doubt having had
enough of him, returned not, and their missions were disposed of. Then
the remaining missions were rented and the remnants divided into three
parts: one kindly bestowed upon the missionaries, who were the founders
and rightful owners of the missions; one upon the converted Indians, who
seem to have vanished into thin air; one, the last, was supposed to be
converted into a new Pious Fund of California for the further education
and evangelization of the masses--whoever they might be. The general
government had long been in financial distress, and had often
borrowed--to put it mildly--from the friars in their more prosperous
days. In 1831 the Mexican Congress owed the missions of California
$450,000 of borrowed money; and in 1845 it left those missionaries
absolutely penniless.

Let me not harp longer upon this theme, but end with a quotation from
the pages of a non-Catholic historian. Referring to the Franciscans and
their mission work on the Pacific coast, Josiah Joyce, assistant
professor of philosophy in Harvard College, says:[1]

"No one can question their motives, nor may one doubt that their
intentions were not only formally pious but truly humane. For the more
fatal diseases that so-called civilization introduced among the Indians,
only the soldiers and colonists of the presidios and pueblos were to
blame; and the Fathers, well knowing the evil results of a mixed
population, did their best to prevent these consequences, but in vain;
since the neighborhood of a presidio was often necessary for the safety
of a mission, and the introduction of a white colonist was an important
part of the intentions of the home government. But, after all, upon this
whole toil of the missions, considered in itself, one looks back with
regret, as upon one of the most devout and praiseworthy of mortal
efforts; and, in view of its avowed intentions, one of the most complete
and fruitless of human failures. The missions have meant, for modern
American California, little more than a memory, which now indeed is
lighted up by poetical legends of many sorts. But the chief significance
of the missions is simply that they first began the colonization of

The old mission church as I knew it four and forty years ago is still
standing and still an object of pious interest. The first families of
the faithful lie under its eaves in their long and peaceful sleep,
happily unmindful of the great changes that have come over the spirit of
all our dreams. The old adobes have returned to dust, even as the hands
of those who fashioned them more than a century ago. Very modern houses
have crowded upon the old church and churchyard, and they seem to have
become the merest shadows of their former selves; while the roof-tree
of the new church soars into space, and its wide walls--out of all
proportion with the Dolores of departed days--are but emblematic of the
new spirit of the age.


[Footnote 1: In "California," 1886,--one of the admirable American
Commonwealths Series.]



Social San Francisco during the early Fifties seems to have been a
conglomeration of unexpected externals and surprising interiors. It was
heterogeneous to the last degree. It was hail-fellow-well-met, with a
reservation; it asked no questions for conscience's sake; it would not
have been safe to do so. There were too many pasts in the first families
and too many possible futures to permit one to cast a shadow upon the
other. And after all is said, if sins may be forgiven and atoned for,
why should the memory of a shady past imperil the happiness and
prosperity of the future? All futures should be hopeful; they were
"promise-crammed" in that healthy and hearty city by the sea.

It was impossible, not to say impolite, to inquire into your neighbors'
antecedents. It was currently believed that the mines were filled with
broken-down "divines," as if it were but a step from the pulpit to the
pickaxe. As for one's family, it was far better off in the old home so
long as the salary of a servant was seventy dollars a month, fresh eggs
a dollar and a quarter a dozen, turkeys ten dollars apiece, and coal
fifty dollars a ton.

In 1854 and 1855 San Francisco had a monthly magazine that any city or
state might have been proud of; this was _The Pioneer_, edited by the
Rev. Ferdinand C. Ewer. In 1851, a lady, the wife of a physician, went
with her husband into the mines and settled at Rich Bar and Indian Bar,
two neighboring camps on the north fork of the Feather River. There were
but three or four other women in that part of the country, and one of
these died. This lady wrote frequent and lengthy descriptive letters to
a sister in New England, and these letters were afterward published
serially in _The Pioneer_. They picture life as a highly-accomplished
woman knew it in the camps and among the people whom Bret Harte has
immortalized. She called herself "Dame Shirley," and the "Shirley
Letters" in _The Pioneer_ are the most picturesque, vivid, and valuable
record of life in a California mining camp that I know of. The wonder is
that they have never been collected and published in book form; for they
have become a part of the history of the development of the State.

The life of a later period in San Francisco and Monterey has been
faithfully depicted by another hand. The life that was a mixture of
Gringo and diluted Castilian--a life that smacked of the presidio and
the hacienda,--that was a tale worth telling; and no one has told it so
freely, so fully or so well as Gertrude Franklin Atherton.

"Dame Shirley" was Mrs. L.A.C. Clapp. When her husband died she went to
San Francisco and became a teacher in the Union Street public school. It
was this admirable lady who made literature my first love; and to her
tender mercies I confided my maiden efforts in the art of composition.
She readily forgave me then, and was the very first to offer me
encouragement; and from that hour to this she has been my faithful
friend and unfailing correspondent.

South Park and Rincon Hill! Do the native sons of the golden West ever
recall those names and think what dignity they once conferred upon the
favored few who basked in the sunshine of their prosperity? South Park,
with its line of omnibuses running across the city to North Beach; its
long, narrow oval, filled with dusty foliage and offering a very weak
apology for a park; its two rows of houses with, a formal air, all
looking very much alike, and all evidently feeling their importance.
There were young people's "parties" in those days, and the height of
felicity was to be invited to them. As a height o'ertops a hollow, so
Rincon Hill looked down upon South Park. There was more elbow-room on
the breezy height; not that the height was so high or so broad, but it
_was_ breezy; and there was room for the breeze to blow over gardens
that spread about the detached houses their wealth of color and perfume.

How are the mighty fallen! The Hill, of course, had the farthest to
fall. South Parkites merely moved out: they went to another and a better
place. There was a decline in respectability and the rent-roll, and no
one thinks of South Park now,--at least no one speaks of it above a
whisper. As for the Hill, the Hillites hung on through everything; the
waves of commerce washed all about it and began gnawing at its base; a
deep gully was cut through it, and there a great tide of traffic ebbed
and flowed all day. At night it was dangerous to pass that way without a
revolver in one's hand; for that city is not a city in the barbarous
South Seas, whither preachers of the Gospel of peace are sent; but is a
civilized city and proportionately unsafe.

A cross-street was lowered a little, and it leaped the chasm in an agony
of wood and iron, the most unlovely object in a city that is made up of
all unloveliness. The gutting of this Hill cost the city the fortunes of
several contractors, and it ruined the Hill forever. There is nothing
left to be done now but to cast it into the midst of the sea. I had
sported on the green with the goats of goatland ere ever the stately
mansion had been dreamed of; and it was my fate to set up my tabernacle
one day in the ruins of a house that even then stood upon the order of
its going,--it did go impulsively down into that "most unkindest cut,"
the Second Street chasm. Even the place that once knew it has followed

The ruin I lived in had been a banker's Gothic home. When Rincon Hill
was spoiled by bloodless speculators, he abandoned it and took up his
abode in another city. A tenant was left to mourn there. Every summer
the wild winds shook that forlorn ruin to its foundations. Every winter
the rains beat upon it and drove through and through it, and undermined
it, and made a mush of the rock and soil about it; and later portions of
that real estate deposited themselves, pudding-fashion, in the yawning
abyss below.

I sat within, patiently awaiting the day of doom; for well I knew that
my hour must come. I could not remain suspended in midair for any length
of time: the fall of the house at the northwest corner of Harrison and
Second Streets must mark my fall. While I was biding my time, there came
to me a lean, lithe stranger. I knew him for a poet by his unshorn locks
and his luminous eyes, the pallor of his face and his exquisitely
sensitive hands. As he looked about my eyrie with aesthetic glance,
almost his first words were: "What a background for a novel!" He seemed
to relish it all--the impending crag that might topple any day or hour;
the modest side door that had become my front door because the rest of
the building was gone; the ivy-roofed, geranium-walled conservatory
wherein I slept like a Babe in the Wood, but in densest solitude and
with never a robin to cover me.

He liked the crumbling estate, and even as much of it as had gone down
into the depths forever. He liked the sagging and sighing cypresses,
with their roots in the air, that hung upon and clung upon the rugged
edge of the remainder. He liked the shaky stairway that led to it (when
it was not out of gear), and all that was irrelative and irrelevant;
what might have been irritating to another was to him singularly
appealing and engaging; for he was a poet and a romancer, and his name
was Robert Louis Stevenson. He used to come to that eyrie on Rincon Hill
to chat and to dream; he called it "the most San Francisco-ey part of
San Francisco," and so it was. It was the beginning and the end of the
first period of social development on the Pacific coast. There is a
picture of it, or of the South Park part of it, in Gertrude Atherton's
story, "The Californians." The little glimpse that Louis Stevenson had
of it in its decay gave him a few realistic pages for _The Wrecker_.

I have referred to the surprising interiors of the city in the Fifties.
What I meant was this: there was not an alley so miserable and so muddy
but somewhere in it there was pretty sure to be a cottage as demure in
outward appearance as modesty itself. Nothing could be more unassuming:
it had not even the air of genteel poverty. I think such an air was not
to be thought of in those days: gentility kept very much to itself. As
for poverty, it was a game that any one might play at any moment, and
most had played at it.

This cottage stood there--I think I will say _sat_ there, it looked so
perfectly resigned,--and no doubt commanded a rent quite out of
proportion to its size. It had its shaky veranda and its French windows,
and was lined with canvas; for there was not a trowel full of plaster in
it. The ceiling bellied and flapped like an awning when the wind soughed
through the clapboards; and the walls sometimes visibly heaved a sigh;
but they were covered with panelled paper quite palatial in texture and
design, and that is one thing that made those interiors surprising.

At the windows the voluminous lace draperies were almost overpowering.
Satin lambrequins were festooned with colossal cord and tassels of
bullion. A plate-glass mirror as wide as the mantel reflected the
Florentine gilt carving of its own elaborate frame. There were bronzes
on the mantel, and tall vases of Sévres, and statuettes of bisque
brilliantly tinted. At the two sides of the mantel stood pedestals of
Italian marble surmounted by urns of the most graceful and elegant
proportions, and profusely ornamented with sculptured fruits and
flowers. There was the old-fashioned square piano in its carven case,
and cabinets from China or East India; also a lacquered Japanese screen,
marble-topped tables of filigreed teek, brackets of inlaid ebony. Curios
there were galore. Some paintings there were, and these rocked softly
upon the gently-heaving walls. As for the velvet carpet, it was a bed of
gigantic roses that might easily put to the blush the prime of summer in
a queen's garden.

I well remember another home in San Francisco, one that possessed for me
the strongest attraction. It was bosomed in the sandhills south of
Market Street,--I know not between what streets, for they had all been
blurred or quite obliterated by drifts of sifting sand. It was a small
house fenced about; but the fence was for the most part buried under
sand, and looked as if it were a rampart erected for the defense of this
isolated cot. Some few hardy flowers had been planted there, but they
were knee-deep in sand, and their petals were full of grit. One usually
blew into that house with a pinch of sand, but how good it was to be

Within those walls there was the unmistakable evidence of the feminine
touch, the aesthetic influence that refines and beautifies everything.
It was not difficult to idealize in that atmosphere. It was the home of
a lady who chose to conceal her identity, though her pen-name was a
household word from one end of the coast to the other. She was a star
contributor to the weekly columns of the _Golden Era,_ a periodical we
all subscribed for and were immensely proud of. It was unique in its
way. Of late years I have found no literary journal to compare with it
at its best. It introduced Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Prentice Mulford,
Joaquin Miller, Ina Coolbrith, and many others, to their first circle of
admirers. In the large mail-box at its threshold--a threshold I dared
not cross for awe of it--I dropped my earliest efforts in verse, and
then ran for fear of being caught in the act.

Imagine the joy of a lad whose ambition was to write something worth
printing, and whose wildest dream was to be named some day with those
who had won their laurels in the field of letters,--imagine his joy at
being petted in the sanctum of one who was in his worshipful eyes the
greatest lady in the land! About her were the trophies of her triumph,
though she was personally known to few. Each post brought her tribute
from the grateful hearts of her readers afar off in the mountain mining
camps, and perhaps from beyond the Rockies; or, it may have been, from
the unsuspecting admirer who lived just beyond the first sandhill. This
was another surprising interior. There was plain living and high
thinking in the midst of a wilderness that was, to say the least,
uninviting; the windows rattled and the sand peppered them. Without was
the abomination of desolation; but within the desert blossomed as the

There were other homes as homely as the one I preferred--for there was
sand enough to go round. It went round and round, as God probably
intended it should, until a city sat upon it and kept it quiet. Some of
these homes were perched upon solitary hilltops, and were lost to sight
when the fog came in from the sea; and some were crowded into the thick
of the town, with all sorts of queer people for neighbors. You could,
had you chosen to, look out of a back window into a hollow square full
of cats and rats and tin cans; and upon the three sides of the
quadrangle which you were facing, you might have seen, unblushingly
revealed, all the mysteries and miseries of Europe, Asia, Africa, and
Oceanica; for they were all of them represented by delegates.

Of course there were handsome residences (not so very many of them as
yet), where there was fine art--some of the finest. But often this art
was to be found in the saloons, and the subjects chosen would hardly
find entertainment elsewhere. The furnishing of the houses was within
the bounds of good taste. Monumental marbles were not erected by the
hearth-side; the window drapery was diaphanous rather than dense and
dowdy. The markets of San Francisco were much to blame for the
flashiness of the domestic interior: they were stocked with the gaudiest
fixtures and textures, and in the inspection of them the eye was
bewildered and the taste demoralized.

Harmony survived the inharmonious, and it prevailed in the homes of the
better classes, as it was bound to do; for refinement had set its seal
there, and you can not counterfeit the seal of refinement. But I am
inclined to think that in the Fifties there was a natural tendency to
overdress, to over-decorate, to overdo almost everything. Indeed the day
was demonstrative; if the now celebrated climate had not yet been
elaborately advertised, no doubt there was something hi it singularly
bracing. The elixir of it got into the blood and the brain, and perhaps
the bones as well. The old felt younger than they did when they left
"the States,"--the territory from the Rockies to the Atlantic Ocean was
commonly known as "the States." The middle-aged renewed their youth, and
youth was wild with an exuberance of health and hope and happiness that
seemed to give promise of immortality.

No wonder that it was thought an honor to be known as the first white
child born in San Francisco--I'd think it such myself,--and I'm proud to
state that all three claimants are my personal friends.



How well I remember it--the Happy Valley of the days of old! It lay
between California Street and Rincon Point; was bounded on the east by
the Harbor of San Francisco, and on the west by the mission peaks. I
never knew just why it was called _happy_; I never saw any wildly-happy
inhabitants singing or dancing for joy on its sometimes rather
indefinite street corners. If there is happiness in sand, then, happily,
it was sandy. You might have climbed knee-deep up some parts of it and
slid down on the other side; you could have played at "hide-and-seek"
among its shifting undulations. From what is now known as Nob Hill you
could have looked across it to the heights of Rincon Point--and,
perchance, have looked in vain for happiness. Yet who or what is
happiness? A flying nymph whose airy steps even the sand can not stay
for long.

Down through this Happy Valley ran Market Street, a bias cut across the
city that was to be. Market Street is about all that saved that city
from making a checker-board of its ground-plan. Market Street flew off
at a tangent and set all the south portion of the town at an angle that
is rather a relief than anything else that I know of. Who wants to go on
forever up one street and down another, and then across town at right
angles, as if life were a treadmill and there were no hope of change
until the great change comes?

Happy Valley! I remember one cool twilight when a "prairie schooner,"
that was time-worn and weather-beaten, drifted down Montgomery Street
from Market Street, and rounded the corner of Sutter Street, where it
hove to. You know the "prairie schooner" was the old-time emigrant wagon
that was forever crossing the plains in Forty-nine and the early
Fifties. It was scow-built, hooded from end to end, freighted with goods
and chattels; and therein the whole family lived and moved and had its
being during the long voyage to the Pacific Coast.

On this twilight evening the captain of the schooner, assisted by a
portion of his crew, deliberately took down part of the fence which
enclosed a sand-lot bounded by Montgomery, Sutter and Post Streets;
driving into the centre of the lot; the horses--four jaded beasts--were
turned loose, and soon a camp-fire was lighted and the entire emigrant
family gathered about it to partake of the evening meal. On this lot now
stands the Lick House and the Masonic Hall--undreamed of in those days.
No one seemed in the least surprised to find in the very heart of the
city a scene such as one might naturally look for in the heart of the
Rocky Mountains and the wilds of the great desert, or the heights of the
Humboldt. No doubt they thought it a Happy Valley; and well they might,
for they had reached their journey's end.

A stone's throw from that twilight camp, on the south side of Market
Street, stood old St. Patrick's Church. It was a most unpretending
structure, and was quite overshadowed by the R.C. Orphan Asylum close at
hand. Both were backed by sandhills; and both, together with the sand,
have been spirited away. The Palace and Grand Hotels now stand on the
spot. The original St. Patrick's still exists; and, after one or two
transportations, has come to a final halt near the Catholic cemetery
under the shadow of Lone Mountain. It must be ever dear to me, for
within its modest rectory I met the first Catholic clergyman I ever
became acquainted with; and within it I grew familiar with the offices
of the Church; though I was instructed by the Rev. Father Accolti, S.J.,
at old St. Ignatius', on Market Street; and by him baptized at the St.
Mary's Cathedral, on the corner of California and Dupont Streets, now
the church of the Paulist Fathers. I have referred to dear old St.
Patrick's--which was dedicated on the first Sunday in September,
1851--in the story of my conversion, a little bit of autobiography
entitled "A Troubled Heart, and How It was Comforted at Last." The late
Peter H. Burnett, first Governor of California, was my godfather.

In 1855 St. Mary's Cathedral was the handsomest house of worship in the
city. For the most part, the churches of all denominations were of the
plainest, not to say cheapest, order of architecture. As a youth, I sat
in the family pew in the First Presbyterian Church, situated on Stockton
Street, near Broadway. Well I remember my father, with others of the
congregation--all members of the Vigilance Committee,--at the sound of
the alarm-bell, rising in the midst of the sermon and striding out of
the house to take arms in defence of law and order.

Perhaps the saddest sights in those early days were the neglected
cemeteries. There was one at North Beach, where before 1850 there were
eight hundred and forty interments. It was on the slope of Telegraph
Hill. The place was neglected; a street had been cut through it, and on
the banks of this street we could, at intervals, see the ends of coffins
protruding. Some were broken and falling apart; some were still sound.
It was a gruesome sight.

There were a few Russian graves on Russian Hill, a forlorn spot in those
days; but perhaps the forlornest of all was Yerba Buena cemetery, where
previous to 1854 four thousand and five hundred bodies had been buried.
It was half-way between Happy Valley and the Mission Dolores. The sand
there was tossed in hillocks like the waves of a sandy sea. There the
chaparral grew thickest; and there the scrub-oaks shrugged their
shoulders and turned their backs to the wind, and grew all lopsided,
with leafage as dense as moss.

No fence enclosed this weird spot. The sand sifted into it and through
it and out on the other, side; it made graves and uncovered them; it had
ever a new surprise for us. We boys haunted it in ghoulish pairs, and
whispered to each other as we found one more coffin coming to the
surface, or searched in vain for the one we had seen the week before; it
had been mercifully reburied by the winds. There were rude headboards,
painted in fading colors; and beneath them lay the dead of all nations,
soon to be nameless. By and by they were all carried hence; and those
that were far away, watching and waiting for the loved and absent
adventurers, watched and waited in vain. A change come o'er the spirit
of the place. The site is now marked by the New City Hall--in all
probability the most costly architectural monstrosity on this continent.

"From grave to gay" is but a step; "from lively to severe," another,--I
know not which of the two is longer. It was literally from grave to gay
when the old San Franciscans used to wade through the sandy margin of
Yerba Buena cemetery in search of pleasure at Russ' Garden on the
mission road. It flourished in the early Fifties--this very German
garden, the pride and property of Mr. Christian Russ. It was a little
bit of the Fatherland, transported as if by magic and set down among the
hillocks toward the Mission Dolores. Well I remember being taken there
at intervals, to find little tables in artificial bowers, where sat
whole families as sedate, or merry, and as much at ease as if they were
in their own homes. They would spend Sunday there, after Mass. There was
always something to be seen, to be listened to, to be done. Meals were
served at all hours, and beer at all minutes; and the program contained
a long list of attractions,--enough to keep one interested till ten or
eleven o'clock at night.

I can remember how scanty the foliage was--it resembled a little the
toy-villages that are made in the Tyrol, having each of them a handful
of impossible trees that breathe not balsam, but paint. I remember the
high wind that blew in bravely from the sea; the pavilion that was a
wonder-world of never-failing attractiveness; and how on a certain
occasion I watched with breathless anxiety and dumb amazement a man,
who seemed to have discarded every garment common to the race, wheel a
wheelbarrow with a grooved wheel up a tight rope stretched from the
ground to the outer peak of the pavilion; and all the time there was a
man in the wheelbarrow who seemed paralyzed with fright,--as no doubt he
was. The man who wheeled the barrow was the world-famous Blondin.

[Illustration: Russ Gardens, 1856]

Another sylvan retreat was known as "The Willows." There were some
willows there, but I fear they were numbered; and there was an _al
fresco_ theatre such as one sees in the Champs-Elysées; indeed, the
place had quite a Frenchy atmosphere, and was not at all German, as was
Russ' Garden. French singers sang French songs upon the stage--it was
not much larger than a sounding-board.

An air of gaiety prevailed; for I imagine the majority of the _habitués_
were from the French Quarter of the city. Of course there were birds and
beasts, and cages populous with monkeys; and there was an emeu--the
weird bird that can not fly, the Australian cassowary. This bird
inspired Bret Harte to song, and in his early days he wrote "The Ballad
of the Emeu";

    O say, have you seen at the willows so green,
      So charming and rurally true,
    A singular bird, with the manner absurd,
      Which they call the Australian emeu?
                                        Have you
      Ever seen this Australian emeu?

I fear the poet was moved to sarcasm when he sang of "the willows so
green, so charming and rurally true." Surely they were greener than any
other trees we had in town; for we had almost none, save a few dark
evergreens. Well, the place was charming in its way, and as rurally true
as anything could be expected to be on that peninsula in its native
wilderness. The Willows and Russ' Garden had their day, and it was a
jolly day. They were good for the people--those rural resorts; they were
rest for the weary, refreshment for the hungry and thirsty--and they
have gone; even their very sites are now obliterated, and the new
generation has perhaps never even heard of them.

How we wondered at and gloried in the Oriental Hotel! It was the queen
of Western hostelries, and stood at the corner of Battery and Bush
Streets. And the Tehama House, so famous in its day! It was Lieutenant
G.H. Derby, better known in letters as John Phoenix, and Squibob--names
delightfully associated with the early history of California,--it was
this Lieutenant Derby, one of the first and best of Western humorists,
who added interest to the hotel by writing "A Legend of the Tehama
House." It begins, chapter first:

"It was evening at the Tehama. The apothecary, whose shop formed the
southeastern corner of that edifice, had lighted his lamps, which,
shining through those large glass bottles in the window, filled with
red and blue liquors--once supposed by this author, when young and
innocent, to be medicines of the most potent description,--lit up the
faces of the passers-by with an unearthly glare, and exaggerated the
general redness and blueness of their noses."

The third and last chapter concludes with these words: "The Tehama House
is still there." The laughter-making and laughter-loving Phoenix has
long since gone to his reward. Of the Oriental Hotel scarcely a
tradition remains. The Tehama House--what there is left of it--has been
spirited to the north side of Broadway within a stone's-throw of the
city and county jail. The cliffs of Telegraph Hill browbeat it. It is,
one might say, the last of its race.

Another hospice--if it _was_ a hospice--I remember. It stood on the
corner of Clay and Sansome Streets, and was a very ordinary building,
erected over the hulk of a ship that had been stranded there in the days
of Forty-nine. I saw the building torn down and the bones of the hulk
disinterred years after the water lots that had been filled in for
several squares, between it and the old harbor, were covered with
substantial buildings. When that bark was buoyant it had weathered Cape
Horn with a small army of argonauts. They had gone their way to dusty
death; she had buried her nose on the water-front and had been
smothered to death in the mire. Docks, streets, grew up around her; a
building had snuffed her out of sight and mind. The old building gave
place to a new one; the bark was resurrected in order to lay a solid
foundation for the new block that was to be. In the hold of this
forgotten bark was discovered a forgotten case of champagne. It had been
sunk in mud and ooze for years. When the bottles were opened the corks
refused to pop, and nobody dared to touch the "bilge" that was within.
All this was on the happy hem of Happy Valley--and still I was not



It was May 14, 1856. I chanced to be standing at the northwest corner of
Washington and Montgomery Streets, watching the world go by. It was a
queer world: very much mixed, not a little fantastic in manner and
costume; just the kind of world to delight a boy, and no doubt I was

"Bang!" It was a pistol-shot, and very near me--not thirty feet away. I
turned and saw a man stagger and fall to the pavement. Then the streets
began to grow dark with people hurrying toward the scene of the tragedy.
I fled in fright; I had had my fill of horrors. The pistol-shot was
familiar enough: it punctuated the hours of day and night out yonder.
But I had never witnessed a murder, and this was evidently one.

When I reached home I was dazed. On the witness stand, under oath, I
could have told nothing; but very shortly the whole town was aware that
James King--known as James King of William (i.e., William King was his
father)--the editor of the _Evening Bulletin_ had been shot in cold
blood by James Casey, a supervisor, the editor of a local journal, an
unprincipled politician, an ex-convict, and a man whose past had been
exposed and his present publicly denounced in the editorial columns of
the _Bulletin_.

This climax precipitated a general movement toward social and political
reform in San Francisco. It was James P. Casey, a graduate of the New
York state-prison at Sing Sing, who stuffed a ballot-box with tickets
bearing his own name upon them as candidate for supervisor, and as a
result of this stuffing declared himself elected. Casey was hurried off
to jail by his friends, lest the outraged populace should lynch him on
the spot. A mob gathered at the jail. The mayor of the city harangued
the people in favor of law and order. They jeered him and remained there
most of the night. One leading spirit might have roused the masses to
riot; but the hour was not yet ripe.

In 1851 a Vigilance Committee had endeavored to purge the politics of
the town and rid it of the criminals who had foisted themselves into
office. Some ex-members of this committee became active members of the
committee of 1856. Chief among them was William T. Coleman, a name
deservedly honored in the annals of San Francisco.

James King of William was shot on Tuesday, the 14th of May. He died on
the following Monday. That fatal shot was the turning-point in the
history of the metropolis of the Pacific. A meeting of the citizens was
immediately called; an executive committee was appointed; the work of
organization was distributed among the sub-committees. With amazing
rapidity three thousand citizens were armed, drilled, and established in
temporary armories; ample means were subscribed to cover all expenses.
Several companies of militia disbanded rather than run the risk of being
called into service against the Vigilantis; they then joined the
committee, armed with their own muskets. Arms were obtained from every
quarter, and soon there was an ample supply. A building on Sacramento
Street, below Battery, was secured and made headquarters of the
committee. A kind of fortification built of potato sacks filled with
sand was erected in front of it. It was known as Fort Gunny Bags. This
secured an open space before the building. The fort was patrolled by
sentinels night and day; military rule was strictly observed.

All things having been arranged silently, secretly, decently and in
order--the members of the committee were under oath as well as under
arms--they decided to take matters into their own hands; and in order to
do this Casey must be removed from jail--peaceably if possible, forcibly
if necessary--and given a lodging and a trial at Fort Gunny Bags.

On Sunday morning, the 19th of May, chancing be under the weather, and
consequently at home sitting by a window, I saw people flocking past the
house and hastening toward the jail. We were then living on Broadway,
below Montgomery Street; the jail was on Broadway, a square or two
farther up the street; between us was a shoulder of Telegraph Hill not
yet cut away, though it had been blasted out of shape and an attempt had
been made to tunnel it. The young Californian of that day was
keen-scented and lost no opportunity of seeing whatever was to be seen.
Forgetting my distemper, I grabbed my cap and joined the expectant
throngs. We went over the heights of the hill like a flock of goats: we
were used to climbing. On the other edge of the cliff, where we seemed
almost to overhang the jail and the street in front of it, we paused and
caught our breath. What a sight it was! It seems that on Saturday
twenty-four companies of Vigilantis were ordered to meet at their
respective armories, in various parts of the city, at nine o'clock on
Sunday morning. Orders were given to each captain to take up a certain
position near the jail. The jail was surrounded: no one could approach
it, no one escape from it, without leave of the commanders of the

The streets glistened with bayonets. It was as if the city were in a
state of siege; so indeed it was. The companies marched silently,
ominously, without music or murmur, to their respective stations.
Citizens--non-combatants but all sympathizers--flocked in and covered
the housetops and the heights in the vicinity. A hollow square was
formed before the jail; an artillery company with a huge brass cannon
halted near it; the cannon was placed directly in front of the jail and
trained upon the gates. I remember how impressive the scene was: the
grim files of infantry; the gleaming brass of the cannon; one closed
carriage within the hollow square; the awful stillness that brooded over

[Illustration: Certificate of Membership, Vigilance Committee, 1856]

Two Vigilance officials went to the door of the jail and informed
Sheriff Scannell that they had come to take Casey with them. Resistance
was now useless; the door of the jail was thrown open to them and they
entered. At their approach Casey begged leave to speak for ten minutes
in his own defense,--he evidently expected to be executed on the
instant. He was assured that he should have a fair trial, and that his
testimony should be deliberately weighed in the balance. This act of an
outraged and disgusted people was one of the calmest, coolest, wisest,
most deliberate on record. Law, order, and justice were at bay. Casey,
under guard, walked quietly to the carriage and entered it. In the jail
at the time was Charles Cora, a man who had murdered United States
Marshal Richardson. He had been tried once; but then the jury
disagreed--as they nearly always agreed to in those barbarous days.
Hanging was almost out of the question. Cora was invited to enter the
carriage with Casey, and the two were driven under military escort to
Fort Gunny Bags.

On the day following, Monday, James King of William died. On Tuesday
Casey was tried by the executive committee. John S. Hittell, the
historian of San Francisco, says:

"No person was present at the trial save the accused, the members of the
Vigilance Committee, and witnesses. The testimony was given under oath,
though there was no lawful authority for its administration. Hearsay
testimony was excluded; the general rules of evidence observed in the
courts were adopted: the accused heard all the witnesses, cross-examined
those against him, summoned such as he wanted in his favor, had an
attorney to assist him, and was permitted to make an argument by himself
or his attorney, in his own defence."

Casey and Cora were both convicted: their guilt was beyond the shadow of
a doubt.

On Wednesday James King of William was laid to rest at Lone Mountain.
The whole city was draped in mourning; all business was suspended; the
citizens lined the streets through which the feral cortége proceeded, or
followed it until it seemed interminable.

As that procession passed up Montgomery Street and crossed Sacramento
Street, those who were walking or driving in it looked down the latter
street and saw, two squares below, the lifeless bodies of James P. Casey
and Charles Cora dangling by the neck from two second-story windows of
the headquarters of the Vigilance Committee. Justice was enthroned at

"The Vigilance Committees of San Francisco in 1851 and 1856," as Hittell
says, "were in many important respects unlike any other extra-judicial
movement to administer justice. They were not common mobs: they were
organized for weeks or months of labor, deliberate in their movements,
careful to keep records of their proceedings, strictly attentive to the
rules of evidence and the penalties for crime accepted by civilized
nations; confident of their power, and of their justification by public
opinion; and not afraid of taking the public responsibility of their

The committee of 1856 was never formally dissolved. The reformation it
had accomplished rendered it inactive. Some of the worst criminals in
California had been officials. A thousand homicides had been committed
in the city between 1849 and 1856, and there were but seven executions
in seven years.

Richard Henry Dana, Jr., the author of "Two Years before the Mast," who
spent the greater portion of two years--1834-35--on the coast of
California, and who revisited the Pacific coast in 1859, observes:

"And now the most quiet and well-governed city in the United States is
San Francisco. But it has been through its seasons of heaven-defying
crime and violence and blood; from which it was rescued and handed back
to soberness and morality and good government by that peculiar invention
of Anglo-Saxon republican America--the solemn, awe-inspiring Vigilance
Committee of the most grave and respectable citizens; the last resort of
the thinking and the good, taken only when vice, fraud, and ruffianism
had entrenched themselves behind the forms of law, suffrage, and

San Francisco was undoubtedly the most disreputable city in the Union.
It is now one of the most reputable. As I think of it to-day there is no
shudder in the thought. And yet I saw James King of William shot; I saw
Casey and Cora transferred from the jail to the headquarters of the
Vigilance Committee; and I saw them hanging as the body of James King of
William was being borne by a whole city, bowed in grief, to his last
resting-place. And my venerated father was a member of that
never-to-be-forgotten Vigilance Committee of San Francisco in the year
of Our Lord eighteen hundred and fifty-six.



It is not much of a story. It is only the mild adventure of a boy at
sea; and of a small, sad boy at that. This boy had an elder brother who
was ill; and the physicians in consultation had decided that a long
sea-voyage was his only hope, and that even in this case the hope was a
very faint one.

There was a ship at anchor in the harbor of San Francisco,--a very
famous clipper, one of those sailors of the sea known as Ocean
Greyhounds. She was built for speed, and her record was a brilliant one;
under the guidance of her daring captain, she had again and again proved
herself worthy of her name. She was called the _Flying Cloud_. Her
cabins were luxuriously furnished; for in those days seafarers were
oftener blown about the world by the four winds of heaven than propelled
by steam. Yet when the _Flying Cloud_, one January day, tripped anchor
and set sail, there were but three strangers on the quarter-deck--a
middle-aged gentleman in search of health, the invalid brother, in his
eighteenth year, and the small, sad boy.

[Illustration: West from Black Point, 1856]

The captain's wife, a lady of Salem who had followed him from sea to
sea for many a year, was the joy and salvation of that forlorn little
company. How forlorn it was only the survivor knows, and he knows well
enough. Forty years have scarcely dimmed the memory of it. Through all
the wear and tear of time the remembrance of that voyage has at
intervals haunted him: the length of it, the weariness of it, and the
almost unbroken monotony stretching through the ninety odd days that
dawned and darkened between San Francisco and New York; the solitary
sail that was blown on and on, and becalmed and buffeted between the
blue waste of waters and the blue waste of sky; the lonesomeness of it
all--no land, no lights flashing across the sea in glad assurance; no
passing ships to hail us with faint-voiced "Ahoy!"--only the
ever-tossing waves, the trailing sea-gardens, the tireless birds of the
air and the monsters of the deep.

Ah, well-a-day! There was a solemn and hushed circle listening to family
prayers that morning,--the morning of the 4th of January. The father's
voice trembled as he opened the Bible and read from that beautiful

"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great
waters, these see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep. For
He commandeth and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves
thereof. They mount up to the heaven; they go down again to the depths;
their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro and
stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end. Then they cry
unto the Lord in their trouble, and He bringeth them out of their
distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are
still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so He bringeth them
unto their desired haven. Oh, that men would praise the Lord for His
goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men!"

The small, sad boy looked smaller and sadder than ever as he stood on
the deck of the _Flying Cloud_ and waved his last farewell. He tried his
best to be manly and to swallow the heart that was leaping in his
throat, and at the earliest possible moment he flew to his journal and
made his first entry there. He was going to keep a journal because his
brother kept one, and because it was the proper thing to keep a journal
at sea--no ship is complete without its log, you know; and, moreover, I
think it was a custom in that family to keep a journal; for it was, more
or less, a journalistic family.

Now we are nearing the anniversary of that boy's journal: it runs
through January, February and March; it is more than forty years old
this minute. And because it is a boy's journal, and the boy was small
and sad, I'm going to peep into it and fish out a line or two. With an
effort he made this entry:

  "January 4, 1857.

"I watched them till we were out of sight of them, and then began to
look about to see what I could see. It begins to get rough. I tried to
see home, but I could not. The pilot says he will take a letter ashore
for us. Now I will go to bed."

Then he cried unto the Lord in his trouble with a heart as heavy as

"JAN. 5.--The day rather rough, with little squalls of rain. We are
passing the Farallone Islands, but I feel too bad to sketch them. I get
homesick when I think of the dear ones I left behind me. I hope I may
see them all in this world again."

That was the gray beginning of a voyage that had very little color in
it. The coast-line sank apace; the gray rocks--the Farallones, the haunt
of the crying gull--dissolved in the gray mist. The hours were all
alike: all dismal and slow-footed.

"I don't feel very well to-day," said the small, sad boy, quite
plaintively. On the 6th he brightens and begins to take notice. History
would have less to fasten on were there not some such entries as this:

"A list of our live-stock: 17 pigs; 12 dozen hens and roosters; 3
turkeys; 1 gobbler; a cockatoo and a wild-cat. We have a fair breeze,
and carry 26 sails.

"JAN. 7.--The day is calm. I began to read 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' I like
it. The captain's wife was going to train the wild-cat when it bit
her--but not very hard.

"8.--There was not much wind to-day. We fished for sea-gulls and caught
four. I caught one and let it go again. Two hens flew overboard. The
sailors in a boat got one of them; the gulls killed one.

"9.--The day has been rather gloomy. I caught another sea-gull but let
him go again. On deck nearly all day.

"10.--The cockatoo sits on deck and talks and talks.

"11.--It makes me feel bad when I think of home. I want to be there."

The long, long weary days dragged on. It is thought worth while to note
that there were fresh eggs for breakfast, fresh pork for dinner, fresh
chicken for supper; that a porpoise had been captured, and that his
carcass yielded "three gallons of oil as good as sperm oil"; that no
ship had been seen--"no sail from day to day"; that they were in the
latitude of Panama; that it was squally or not squally, as the case
might be; that on one occasion they captured "four barrels of oil," the
flotsam of some ill-fated whaler, and that it all proved "very
exciting"; that a dolphin was captured, and that he died in splendor,
passing through the whole gamut of the rainbow--that the words of
tradition might be fulfilled; that the hens had suffered no sea-change,
but had contributed from a dozen to two dozen eggs per day. Still
stretched the immeasurable waste of waters to the horizon line on every
hand. Day by day the small boy made his entries; but he seemed to be
running down, like a clock, and needed winding up. This is how his
record dwindled:

"JAN. 20.--The day is very pleasant, with some wind. We crossed the
equator. I sat up in one of the boats a long time. I wish my little
brothers were here to play with me.

"21.--The day is very pleasant, with a good breeze. We are going ten or
eleven knots an hour.

"22.--The day is very pleasant. A nine-knot breeze. Nothing new happened

"23.--The day is pleasant. Six-knot breeze."

It came to pass that the small, sad boy, wearying of "Uncle Tom" and his
"cabin," was driven to extremes; and, having obtained leave of the
captain--who was autocrat of all his part of the world,--he climbed into
one of the ship's boats, as it hung in the davits over the side of the
vessel. It was an airy voyage he took there, sailing between sea and
sky, soaring up and down with the rolling vessel, like a bird upon the

He rigged a tiny mast there--it was a walking-stick that ably served
this purpose; the captain's wife provided sails no larger than
handkerchiefs. With thread-like ropes and pencil spars he set his sails
for dreamland. One day the wind bothered him; he could not trim his
canvas, and in desperation he set it dead against the wind, and then the
sails were filled almost to bursting. But his navigation was at fault;
for he was heading in a direction quite opposite to the _Flying Cloud_.

Then came a facetious sailor and whispered to him: "Do you want ever to
get to New York?"--"Yes, I do," said the little captain of the midair
craft.--"Well, then, you'd better haul in sail; for you're set dead agin
us now." The sails were struck on the instant and never unfurled again.

I wonder why some people are so very inconsiderate when they speak to
children, especially to simple or sensitive children? The small, sad boy
took it greatly to heart, and was cast down because he feared that he
might have delayed the bark that bore him all too slowly toward the
far-distant port. This was indeed simplicity of the deepest dye, and
something of that simplicity the boy was never to escape unto the end
of time. We are as God made us, and we must in all cases put up with

What a lonely voyage was that across the vast and vacant sea! Now and
then a distant sail glimmered upon the horizon, but disappeared like a
vanishing snowflake. The equator was crossed; the air grew colder; storm
and calm followed each other; the daily entry now becomes monotonous.

"FEBRUARY 2.--To-day for the first time we saw an albatross.

"7.--Rather rough and cold; I have spent all day in the cabin. It makes
me homesick to have such weather.

"14.--I rose at five o'clock and went on deck, and before long saw land.
It was Terra del Fuego; it was a beautiful sight. Here lay a pretty
island, there a towering precipice, and over yonder a mountain covered
with snow. We made the fatal Cape Horn at two o'clock, and passed it at
four o'clock. Now we are in the Atlantic Ocean.

"WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY.--Rough weather: a sixteen-knot breeze. To-day we
got our one thousandth egg, and the hens are doing well. At
twelve--eight bells--we saw a sail on our weather-bow: she was going the
same way as we were. At two, we overtook and spoke her. She was the
whaler _Scotland_ from New Zealand, bound for New Bedford, with
thirty-five hundred barrels of oil. We soon passed her. I wish her good

I will no longer stretch the small, sad boy upon the rack of his dull
journal. He had a glimpse at Juan Fernandez, but the island of his
dreams was so far off that he had to climb to the maintop in order to
get a sight of its shadowy outline. When it had faded away like the
clouds, the lonely little fellow cried himself to sleep for love of his
Robinson Crusoe.

One night the moon--a large, mellow tropical one,--rose from a bank of
cloud so like a mountain's chain that the small one clapped his hands in
glee and cried: "Land ho!" But, alas! it was only cloud-land; and his
eyes, that were starving for a sight of God's green earth, were again
bedewed. Indeed he was bound for a distant shore, a voyage of ninety-one
days; and during all that voyage he was in sight of land for five days
only. It may be said that the port he was bound for, and where he was
destined to pass two years at school, four thousand miles from his own
people, may be called "The Vale of Tears."

Off the Brazilian coast a head-wind forced the ship to tack repeatedly;
she was sometimes so near the land that people could be seen moving,
like black dots, along the shore. Native fishermen, mounted upon the
high seats of their catamarans--the frailest rafts,--drifted within
hailing distance; and over night the brave ship was within almost
speaking distance of Pernambuco. The lights of the city were like a bed
of glowworms,--but the small, sad boy was blown off into the sea again,
for his hour had not yet come.

Here is the last entry I shall weary you with, for I would not abuse
your patience:

"APRIL 5, 1857.--I was _awoke_ this morning by the noise the pilot made
in getting on board. At ten o'clock the steam-tug Hercules took us in
tow. We had beautiful views of the shore [God knows how beautiful they
were in his eyes!], and at three o'clock we were at the Astor House,
with Captain and Mrs. Cresey, Mr. Connor, and the Stoddard boys--all of
the _Flying Cloud_,--where we retired to soft beds to spend the night."

There is a plaintive touch in that reference to _soft beds_ after three
months in the straight and narrow bunk of a ship. And there is more
pathos in all those childish pages than you wot of; for, alas and alas!
I am the sole survivor,--I was that small, sad boy; and I alone am left
to tell the tale.


"It is but a step from Confucius to confusion," said I, in a brief
discussion of the Chinese question. "Then let us take it by all means,"
replied the artist, who had been an indulgent listener for at least ten
minutes. We were strolling upon the verge of the Chinese Quarter in San
Francisco, and, turning aside from one of the chief thoroughfares of the
city, we plunged into the busiest portion of Chinatown. From our
standpoint--the corner of Kearny and Sacramento Streets--we got the most
favorable view of our Mongolian neighbors. Here is a goodly number of
merchant gentlemen of wealth and station, comfortably, if not elegantly,
housed on two sides of a street that climbs a low hill quite in the
manner of a tea-box landscape.

A few of these gentlemen lodge on the upper floors of their business
houses, with Chinese wives, and quaint, old-fashioned children gaudily
dressed, looking like little idols, chatting glibly with one another,
and gracefully gesticulating with hands of exquisite slenderness.
Confucius, in his infancy, may have been like one of the least of these.
There are white draymen and porters in the employ of these shrewd and
civil merchants, and the outward appearance of traffic, as conducted in
the immediate vicinity, is rather American than otherwise.

Farther up the hill, on Dupont Street, from California to Pacific
Streets, the five blocks are almost monopolized by the Chinese. There
is, at first, a sprinkling of small shops in the hands of Jews and
Gentiles, and a mingling of Chinese bazaars of the half-caste type,
where American and English goods are exposed in the show windows; but as
we pass on the Asiatic element increases, and finally every trace of
alien produce is withdrawn from the shelves and counters.

Here little China flaunts her scarlet streamers overhead, and flanks her
doors with legends in saffron and gold; even its window panes have a
foreign look, and within is a glimmering of tinsel, a subdued light, and
china lamps flickering before graven images of barbaric hideousness. The
air is laden with the fumes of smoking sandal-wood and strange odors of
the East; and the streets, swarming with coolies, resound with the
echoes of an unknown tongue. There is hardly room for us to pass; we
pick our way, and are sometimes curiously regarded by slant-eyed pagans,
who bear us no good-will, if that shadow of scorn in the face has been
rightly interpreted. China is not more Chinese than this section of our
Christian city, nor the heart of Tartary less American.

Turn which way we choose, within two blocks, on either hand we find
nothing but the infinitely small and astonishingly numerous forms of
traffic on which the hordes around us thrive. No corner is too cramped
for the squatting street cobbler; and as for the pipe cleaners, the
cigarette rollers, the venders of sweetmeats and conserves, they gather
on the curb or crouch under overhanging windows, and await custom with
the philosophical resignation of the Oriental.

On Dupont Street, between Clay and Sacramento Streets--a single
block,--there are no less than five basement apartments devoted
exclusively to barbers. There are hosts of this profession in the
quarter. Look down the steep steps leading into the basement and see, at
any hour of the day, with what deft fingers the tonsorial operators
manipulate the devoted pagan head.

There is no waste space in the quarter. In apartments not more than
fifteen feet square three or four different professions are often
represented, and these afford employment to ten or a dozen men. Here is
a druggist and herb-seller, with huge spectacles on his nose, at the
left of the main entrance; a butcher displays his meats in a show-window
on the right, serving his customers over the sill; a clothier is in the
rear of the shop, while a balcony filled with tailors or cigar-makers
hangs half-way to the ceiling.

[Illustration: "China is Not More Chinese than this Section of Our
Christian City."]

Close about us there are over one hundred and fifty mercantile
establishments and numerous mechanical industries. The seventy-five
cigar factories employ eight thousand coolies, and these are huddled
into the closest quarters. In a single room, measuring twenty feet by
thirty feet, sixty men and boys have been discovered industriously
rolling _real_ Havanas.

The traffic which itinerant fish and vegetable venders drive in every
part of the city must be great, being as it is an extreme convenience
for lazy or thrifty housewives. A few of these basket men cultivate
gardens in the suburbs, but the majority seek their supplies in the city
markets. Wash-houses have been established in every part of the city,
and are supplied with two sets of laborers, who spend watch and watch on
duty, so that the establishment is never closed.

One frequently meets a travelling bazaar--a coolie with his bundle of
fans and bric-a-brac, wandering from house to house, even in the
suburbs; and the old fellows, with a handful of sliced bamboos and
chairs swinging from the poles over their shoulders, are becoming quite
numerous; chair mending and reseating must be profitable. These little
rivulets, growing larger and more varied day by day, all spring from
that great fountain of Asiatic vitality--the Chinese Quarter. This
surface-skimming beguiles for an hour or two; but the stranger who
strolls through the streets of Chinatown, and retires dazed with the
thousand eccentricities of an unfamiliar people, knows little of the
mysterious life that surrounds him.

Let us descend. We are piloted by a special policeman, one who is well
acquainted with the geography of the quarter. Provided with tapers, we
plunge into one of the several dark recesses at hand. Back of the highly
respectable brick buildings in Sacramento Street--the dwellings and
business places of the first-class Chinese merchants--there are pits and
deadfalls innumerable, and over all is the blackness of darkness; for
these human moles can work in the earth faster than the shade of the
murdered Dane. Here, from the noisome vats three stories underground to
the hanging gardens of the fish-dryers on the roofs, there is neither
nook nor corner but is populous with Mongolians of the lowest caste. The
better class have their reserved quarters; with them there is at least
room to stretch one's legs without barking the shins of one's neighbor;
but from this comparative comfort to the condensed discomfort of the
impoverished coolie, how sudden and great the change!

Between brick walls we thread our way, and begin descending into the
abysmal darkness; the tapers, without which it were impossible to
proceed with safety, burn feebly in the double night of the
subterranean tenements. Most of the habitable quarters under the ground
are like so many pigeon-houses indiscriminately heaped together. If
there were only sunshine enough to drink up the slime that glosses every
plank, and fresh air enough to sweeten the mildewed kennels, this highly
eccentric style of architecture might charm for a time, by reason of its
novelty; there is, moreover, a suspicion of the picturesque lurking
about the place--but, heaven save us, how it smells!

[Illustration: "Rag Alley" in Old Chinatown]

We pass from one black hole to another. In the first there is a kind of
bin for ashes and coals, and there are pots and grills lying about--it
is the kitchen. A heap of fire kindling wood in one corner, a bench or
stool as black as soot can paint it, a few bowls, a few bits of rags, a
few fragments of food, and a coolie squatting over a struggling
fire,--coolie who rises out of the dim smoke like the evil _genii_ in
the Arabian tale. There is no chimney, there is no window, there is no
drainage. We are in a cubic sink, where we can scarcely stand erect.
From the small door pours a dense volume of smoke, some of it stale
smoke, which our entry has forced out of the corners; the kitchen will
only hold so much smoke, and we have made havoc among the cubic inches.
Underfoot, the thin planks sag into standing pools, and there is a
glimmer of poisonous blue just along the base of the blackened walls;
thousands feed daily in troughs like these!

The next apartment, smaller yet, and blacker and bluer, and more
slippery and slimy, is an uncovered cesspool, from which a sickening
stench exales continually. All about it are chambers--very small
ones,--state-rooms let me call them, opening upon narrow galleries that
run in various directions, sometimes bridging one another in a marvelous
and exceedingly ingenious economy of space. The majority of these
state-rooms are just long enough to lie down in, and just broad enough
to allow a narrow door to swing inward between two single beds, with two
sleepers in each bed. The doors are closed and bolted; there is often no
window, and always no ventilation.

Our "special," by the authority vested in him, tries one door and
demands admittance. There is no response from within. A group of
coolies, who live in the vicinity and have followed close upon our heels
even since our descent into the under world, assure us in soothing tones
that the place is vacant. We are suspicious and persist in our
investigation; still no response. The door is then forced by the
"special," and behold four of the "seven sleepers" packed into this
air-tight compartment, and insensible even to the hearty greeting we
offer them!

The air is absolutely overpowering. We hasten from the spot, but are
arrested in our flight by the "special," who leads us to the gate of the
catacombs, and bids us follow him. I know not to what extent the earth
has been riddled under the Chinese Quarter; probably no man knows save
he who has burrowed, like a gopher, from one living grave to another,
fleeing from taxation or the detective. I know that we thread dark
passages, so narrow that two of us may not cross tracks, so low that we
often crouch at the doorways that intercept pursuit at unexpected
intervals. Here the thief and the assassin seek sanctuary; it is a city
of refuge for lost souls.

The numerous gambling houses are so cautiously guarded that only the
private police can ferret them out. Door upon door is shut against you;
or some ingenious panel is slid across your path, and you are
unconsciously spirited away through other avenues. The secret signals
that gave warning of your approach caused a sudden transformation in the
ground-plan of the establishment.

Gambling and opium smoking are here the ruling passions. A coolie will
pawn anything and everything to obtain the means with which to indulge
these fascinations. There are many games played publicly at restaurants
and in the retiring rooms of mercantile establishments. Not only are
cards, dice, and dominos common, but sticks, straws, brass rings, etc.,
are thrown in heaps upon the table, and the fate of the gamester hangs
literally upon a breath.

These haunts are seldom visited by the officers of justice, for it is
almost impossible to storm the barriers in season to catch the criminals
in the very act. To-day you approach a gambling hell by this door,
to-morrow the inner passages of the house are mysteriously changed, and
it is impossible to track them without being frequently misled;
meanwhile the alarm is sounded throughout the building, and very
speedily every trace of guilt has disappeared. The lottery is another
popular temptation in the quarter. Most of the very numerous wash-houses
are said to be private agencies for the sale of lottery tickets. Put
your money, no matter how little it is, on certain of the characters
that cover a small sheet of paper, and your fate is soon decided; for
there is a drawing twice a day.

Enter any one of the pawn-shops licensed by the city authorities, and
cast your eye over the motley collection of unredeemed articles. There
are pistols of every pattern and almost of every age, the majority of
them loaded. There are daggers in infinite variety, including the
ingenious fan stiletto, which, when sheathed, may be carried in the hand
without arousing suspicion; for the sheath and handle bear; an exact
resemblance to a closed fan. There are entire suits of clothes, beds and
bedding, tea, sugar, clocks--multitudes of them, a clock being one of
the Chinese hobbies, and no room is completely furnished without at
least a pair of them,--ornaments in profusion; everything, in fact, save
only the precious _queue_, without which no Chinaman may hope for honor
in this life or salvation in the next.

The throngs of customers that keep the pawn-shops crowded with pledges
are probably most of them victims of the gambling table or the opium
den. They come from every house that employs them; your domestic is
impatient of delay, and hastens through his daily task in order that he
may nightly indulge his darling sin.

The opium habit prevails to an alarming extent throughout the country,
but no race is so dependent on this seductive and fatal stimulant as the
Chinese. There are several hundred dens in San Francisco where, for a
very moderate sum, the coolie may repair, and revel in dreams that end
in a deathlike sleep.

Let us pause at the entrance of one of these pleasure-houses. Through
devious ways we follow the leader, and come at last to a cavernous
retreat. The odors that salute us are offensive; on every hand there is
an accumulation of filth that should naturally, if it does not, breed
fever and death. Forms press about us in the darkness,--forms that
hasten like shadows toward that den of shades. We enter by a small door
that is open for a moment only, and find ourselves in an apartment
about fifteen feet square. We can touch the ceiling on tiptoe, yet there
are three tiers of bunks placed with head boards to the wall, and each
bunk just broad enough for two occupants. It is like the steerage in an
emigrant vessel, eminently shipshape. Every bunk is filled; some of the
smokers have had their dream and lie in grotesque attitudes, insensible,
ashen-pale, having the look of plague-stricken corpses.

Some are dreaming; you see it in the vacant eye, the listless face, the
expression that betrays hopeless intoxication. Some are preparing the
enchanting pipe,--a laborious process, that reminds one of an
incantation. See those two votaries lying face to face, chatting in low
voices, each loading his pipe with a look of delicious expectation in
every feature. They recline at full-length; their heads rest upon blocks
of wood or some improvised pillow; a small oil lamp flickers between
them. Their pipes resemble flutes, with an inverted ink-bottle on the
side near the lower end. They are most of them of bamboo, and very often
are beautifully colored with the mellowest and richest tints of a wisely
smoked meerschaum. A small jar of prepared opium--a thick black paste
resembling tar--stands near the lamp.

The smoker leisurely dips a wire into the paste; a few drops adhere to
it, and he twirls the wire in the flame of the lamp, where they fry and
bubble; he then draws them upon the rim of the clay pipe-bowl, and at
once inhales three or four mouthfuls of whitish smoke. This empties the
pipe, and the slow process of feeding the bowl is lazily repeated. It is
a labor of love; the eyes gloat upon the bubbling drug which shall anon
witch the soul of those emaciated toilers. They renew the pipe again and
again; their talk grows less frequent and dwindles to a whispered

We address them, and are smiled at by delirious eyes; but the ravenous
lips are sealed to that magic tube, from which they draw the breath of a
life we know not of. Their fingers relax; their heads sink upon the
pillows; they no longer respond, even by a glance, when we now appeal to
them. Here is the famous Malay, the fearful enemy of De Quincy, who
nightly drugged his master into Asiatic seas; and now himself is basking
in the tropical heats and vertical sunlight of Hindostan. Egypt and her
gods are his; for him the secret chambers of Cheops are unlocked; he
also is transfixed at the summit of pagodas; he is the idol, the priest,
the worshipped, the sacrificed. The wrath of Brahma pursues him through
the forests of Asia; he is the hated of Vishnu; Siva lies in wait for
him; Isis and Osiris confront him.

What is this key which seems for a time to unlock the gates of heaven
and of hell? It is the most complicated drug in the pharmacopoeia.
Though apparently nothing more than a simple black, slimy paste,
analysis reveals the fact that it contains no less than five-and-twenty
elements, each one of them a compound by itself, and many of them among
the most complex compounds known to modern chemistry. This "dread agent
of unimaginable pleasure and pain," this author of an "Iliad of woes,"
lies within reach of every creature in the commonwealth. As the most
enlightened and communicative of the opium eaters has observed:
"Happiness may be bought for a penny, and carried in the waistcoat
pocket; portable ecstasy may be had corked up in a pint bottle; peace of
mind may be set down in gallons by the mail-coach."

This is the chief, the inevitable dissipation of our coolie tribes; this
is one of the evils with which we have to battle, and in comparison with
which the excessive indulgence in intoxicating liquors is no more than
what a bad dream is to hopeless insanity. See the hundred forms on opium
pillows already under the Circean spell; swarms are without the chambers
awaiting their turn to enter and enjoy the fictitious delights of this

While the opium habit is one that should be treated at once with wisdom
and severity, there is another point which seriously involves the
Chinese question, and, unhappily, it must be handled with gloves.
Nineteen-twentieths of the Chinese women in San Francisco are depraved!

Not far from one of the pleasure-houses we intruded upon a domestic
hearth smelling of punk and pestilence. A child fled with a shrill
scream at our approach. This was the hospital of the quarter. Nine cases
of small-pox were once found within its narrow walls, and with no one to
care for them. As we explored its cramped wards our path was obstructed
by a body stretched upon a bench. The face was of that peculiar
smoke-color which we are obliged to accept as Chinese pallor; the trunk
was swathed like a mummy in folds of filthy rags; it was motionless as
stone, apparently insensible. Thus did an opium victim await his

In the next room a rough deal burial case stood upon two stools; tapers
were flickering upon the floor; the fumes of burning punk freighted the
air and clouded the vision; the place was clean enough, for it was
perfectly bare, but it was eminently uninteresting. Close at hand stood
a second burial case, an empty one, with the cover standing against the
wall; a few hours more and it would find a tenant--he who was dying in
rags and filth in the room adjoining. This was the native hospital of
the quarter, and the mother of the child was the matron of the

I will cast but one more shadow on the coolie quarter, and then we will
search for sunshine. It is folly to attempt to ignore the fact that the
seeds of leprosy are sown among the Chinese. If you would have proof,
follow me. It is a dreary drive over the hills to the pest-house.
Imagine that we have dropped in upon the health officer at his city
office. Our proposed visitation has been telephoned to the resident
physician, who is a kind of prisoner with his leprous patients on the
lonesome slope of a suburban hill. As we get into the rugged edge of the
city, among half-graded streets, strips of marshland, and a semi-rustic
population, we ask our way to the pest-house. Yonder it lies, surrounded
by that high white fence on the hill-top, above a marsh once clouded
with clamorous water-fowl, but now all, all under the spell of the
quarantine, and desolate beyond description. Our road winds up the
hill-slope, sown thick with stones, and stops short at the great solid
gate in the high rabbit fence that walls in the devil's acre, if I may
so call it. We ring the dreadful bell--the passing-bell, that is seldom
rung save to announce the arrival of another fateful body clothed in
living death.

The doctor welcomes us to an enclosure that is utterly whitewashed; the
detached houses within it are kept sweet and clean. Everything connected
with the lazaret is of the cheapest description; there is a primitive
simplicity, a modest nakedness, an insulated air about the place that
reminds one of a chill December in a desert island. Cheap as it is and
unhandsome, the hospital is sufficient to meet all the requirements of
the plague in its present stage of development. The doctor has weeded
out the enclosure, planted it, hedged it about with the fever-dispelling
eucalyptus, and has already a little plot of flowers by the office
window,--but this is not what we have come to see. One ward in the
pest-house is set apart for the exclusive use of the Chinese lepers, who
have but recently been isolated. We are introduced to the poor creatures
one after another, and then we take them all in at a glance, or group
them according to their various stages of decomposition, or the peculiar
character of their physical hideousness.

They are not all alike; with some the flesh has begun to wither and to
slough off, yet they are comparatively cheerful; as fatalists, it makes
very little difference to them how soon or in what fashion they are
translated to the other life. There is one youth who doubtless suffers
some inconveniences from the clumsy development of his case. This lad,
about eighteen years of age, has a face that is swollen like a sponge
saturated with corruption; he can not raise his bloated eyelids, but,
with his head thrown back, looks downward over his cheeks. Two of these
lepers are as astonishing specimens as any that have ever come under my
observation, yet I have morbidly sought them from Palestine to Molokai.
In these cases the muscles are knotted, the blood curdled; masses of
unwholesome flesh cover them, lying fold upon fold; the lobes of their
ears hang almost to the shoulder; the eyes when visible have an inhuman
glance that transfixes you with horror. Their hands are shapeless stumps
that have lost all natural form or expression.

Of old there was a law for the leprosy of a garment and of a house; yet,
in spite of the stringency of that Mosaic law, the isolation, the
purging with hyssop, and the cleansing by fire, St. Luke records: "There
met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off; and they lifted up
their voices and cried, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" And to-day,
more than eighteen hundred years later, lepers gather on the slopes of
Mount Zion, and hover at the gates of Jerusalem, and crouch in the
shadow of the tomb of David, crying for the bread of mercy. Leprosy once
thoroughly engrafted on our nation, and nor cedar-wood, nor scarlet, nor
hyssop, nor clean birds, nor ewes of the first year, nor measures of
fine flour, nor offerings of any sort, shall cleanse us for evermore.

Let us turn to pleasanter prospects--the Joss House, for instance, one
of the several temples whither the Chinese frequently repair to
propitiate the reposeful gods. It is an unpretentious building, with
nothing external to distinguish its facade from those adjoining, save
only a Chinese legend above the door. There are many crooks and turns
within it; shrines in a perpetual state of fumigation adorn its nooks
and corners; overhead swing shelves of images rehearsing historical
tableaux; there is much carving and gilding, and red and green paint. It
is the scene of a perennial feast of lanterns, and the worshipful enter
silently with burn-offerings and meat-offerings and drink-offerings,
which they spread before the altar under the feet of some colossal god;
then, with repeated genuflections, they retire. The thundering gong or
the screaming pipes startle us at intervals, and white-robed priests
pass in and out, droning their litanies.

At this point the artist suggests refreshments; arm in arm we pass down
the street, surfeited with sight-seeing, weary of the multitudinous
bazaars, the swarming coolies, the boom of beehive industry. Swamped in
a surging crowd, we are cast upon the catafalque of the celestial dead.
The coffin lies under a canopy, surrounded by flambeaux, grave
offerings, guards and musicians.

Chinatown has become sufficiently acclimatized to begin to put forth its
natural buds again as freely as if this were indeed the Flowery Land.
The funeral pageant moves,--a dozen carriages preceded by mourners on
foot, clad in white, their heads covered, their feet bare, their grief
insupportable, so that an attendant is at hand to sustain each mourner
howling at the wheels of the hearse. An orchestra heads the procession;
the air is flooded with paper prayers that are cast hither at you to
appease the troubled spirit. They are on their way to the cemetery among
the hills toward the sea, where the funeral rites are observed as
rigorously as they are on Asian soil.

We are still unrefreshed and sorely in need of rest. Overhead swing huge
balloon lanterns and tufts of gold flecked scarlet streamers,--a sight
that maketh the palate of the hungry Asiatic to water; for within this
house may be had all the delicacies of the season, ranging from the
confections of the fond suckling to funeral bake-meats. Legends wrought
in tinsel decorate the walls. Here is a shrine with a vermilion-faced
god and a native lamp, and stalks of such hopelessly artificial flowers
as fortunately are unknown in nature. Saffron silks flutter their
fringes in the steams of nameless cookery--for all this is but the
kitchen, and the beginning of the end we aim at.

A spiral staircase winds like a corkscrew from floor to floor; we ascend
by easy stages, through various grades of hunger, from the economic
appetite on the first floor, where the plebian stomach is stayed with
tea and lentils, even to the very house-top, where are administered
comforting syrups and a _menu_ that is sweetened throughout its length
with the twang of lutes, the clash of cymbals, and the throb of the
shark-skin drum.

Servants slip to and fro in sandals, offering edible birds'-nests,
sharks' fins, and _beche de mer_,--or are these unfamiliar dishes
snatched from some other kingdom? At any rate, they are native to the
strange people who have a little world of their own in our midst, and
who could, if they chose, declare their independence to-morrow.

We see everywhere the component parts of a civilization separate and
distinct from our own. They have their exits and their entrances; their
religious life and burial; their imports, exports, diversions,
tribunals, punishments. They are all under the surveillance of the six
companies, the great six-headed supreme authority. They have laws within
our laws that to us are sealed volumes. Why should they not? Fifty years
ago there were scarcely a dozen Chinese in America. In 1851, inclusive,
not more than 4,000 had arrived; but the next year brought 18,000,
seized with the lust of gold. The incoming tide fluctuated, running as
low as 4,000 and as high as 15,000 per annum. Since, 1868 we have
received from 10,000 to 15,000 yearly.

After supper we leaned from the high balcony, among flowers and
lanterns, and looked down upon the street below; it was midnight, yet
the pavements were not deserted, and there arose to our ears a murmur
as of a myriad humming bees shut in clustering hives; close about us
were housed near twenty thousand souls; shops were open; discordant
orchestras resounded from the theatres; in a dark passage we saw the
flames playing upon the thresholds of infamy to expel the evil shades.

Away off in the Bay in the moonlight, glimmered the ribbed sail of a
fishing junk, and the air was heavy with an indefinable odor which to
this hour puzzles me; but it must be attributed either to sink or
sandal-wood--perchance to both!

"It is a little bit of old China, this quarter of ours," said the
artist, rising to go. And so it is, saving only a noticeable lack of
dwarfed trees and pale pagodas and sprays of willowy bamboo; of clumsy
boats adrift on tideless streams; of toy-like tea gardens hanging among
artificial rocks, and of troops of flat-faced but complaisant people
posing grotesquely in ridiculous perspective.

[Illustration: The Farallones]


Those who have visited the markets of San Francisco during the egg
season may have noticed the abundance of large and singularly marked
eggs, that are offered for sale by the bushel. The shells of these eggs
are pear-shaped, parti-colored, and very thick. They range in color from
a light green to grey or brown, and are all of them profusely spotted,
or blotted, I might say spattered, with clots of black or brown. Some
are beautiful, with soft tints blended in a delicate lace-like pattern.
Some are very ugly, and look unclean. All are a trifle stale, with a
meat of coarse texture and gamy flavor. But the Italians and the Coolies
are fond of them, and doubtless many a gross finds its way into the
kitchens of the popular cheap restaurants, where, disguised in omelets
and puddings, the quantity compensates for the lack of quality, and the
palate of the rapid eater has not time to analyze the latter. These are
the eggs of the sea-gull, the gull that cries all day among the shipping
in the harbor, follows the river boats until meal-time, and feeds on the
bread that is cast upon the water.[2] How true it is that this bread
returns to us after many days!

The gulls, during incubation, seek the solitude of the Farallones, a
group of desolate and weather-beaten rocks that tower out of the fog
about thirty miles distant from the mouth of the harbor of San
Francisco. Nothing can be more magnificently desolate than the aspect of
these islands. Scarcely a green blade finds root there. They are haunted
by sea-fowl of all feathers, and the boom of the breakers mingles with
the bark of the seals that have colonized on one of the most
inaccessible islands of the group. It is here that myriads of sea-birds
rear their young, here where the very cliffs tremble in the tempestuous
sea and are drenched with bitter spray, and where ships have been cast
into the frightful jaws of caverns and speedily ground into splinters.

The profit on sea-eggs has increased from year to year, and of late
speculators have grown so venturesome that competition among
egg-gatherers has resulted in an annual naval engagement, known to the
press and the public as the egg-war. If two companies of egg-pickers
met, as was not unlikely, the contending factions fell upon one another
with their ill-gotten spoils--the islands are under the rule of the
United States, and no one has legal right to take from them so much as
one egg without license--and the defeated party was sure to retire from
the field under a heavy shower of shells, the contents of which, though
not fatal, were at least effective.

I have before me the notes of a retired egg-picker; they record the
brief experience of one who was interested in the last campaign, which,
as it terminated the career of the egg-pirates, is not without
historical interest. I will at once introduce the historian, and let him
tell his own tale.

"On Board the Schooner 'Sierra.'--
  "Off the City Front.
    "May 4, 1881.

"5 p.m.--There are ten of us all told; most of us strangers to one
another, but Tom and Jim, and Fred, that's me, are pals, and have been
these many months. So we conclude to hang together, and make the most of
an adventure perfectly new to each. At our feet lie our traps; blankets,
woolen shirts, heavy boots, with huge nails in the soles of them,
tobacco in bulk, a few novels, a pack of cards, and a pocket flask, for
the stomach's sake. A jolly crew, to be sure, and jollily we bade adieu
to the fellows who had gathered in the dock to wish us God-speed.
Casting loose we swung into the stream, and then slowly and clumsily
made sail. The town never looked prettier; it is always the way and
always will be; towns, like blessings, brighten just as they get out of
reach. Drifting into the west we began to grow thoughtful; what had at
first seemed a lark may possibly prove to be a very serious matter. We
have to feed on rough rations, work in a rough locality, among rough
people, and our profits, or our share of the profits, will depend
entirely upon the fruitfulness of the egg-orchard, and the number of
hundred gross that we are able to get safely into the market. No news
from the town, save by the schooner that comes over at intervals to take
away our harvest. No society, save our own, good enough always, provided
we are not forcibly confined to it. No amusements beyond a novel, a
pipe, and a pack of cards. Ah well! it is only an experience after all,
and here goes!

"Sea pretty high, as we get outside the Heads, and feel the long roll of
the Pacific. Wind, fresh and cold; we are to be out all night and
looking about for bunks, we find the schooner accommodations are
limited, and that the captain and his crew monopolize them. We sleep
anywhere, grateful that we are able to sleep at all.

"10 p.m.--A blustering head wind, and sea increasing. What little supper
we were able to get on board was worse than none at all, for it did not
stay with us--anything but fun, this going to sea in a bowl, to rob
gull's nests, and smuggle eggs into market.

"May 5th.

"Woke in the early dawn, everything moist and sticky, clammy is the
better word, and that embraces the whole case; stiff and sore in every
joint; bacon for dinner last night, more bacon for breakfast this
morning, and only half-cooked at that. Our delicate town-bred stomachs
rebel, and we conclude to fast until we reach the island. Have sighted
the Farallones, but are too miserable to express our gratitude; wind and
sea still rising; schooner on beam ends about once in forty seconds,
between times standing either on her head or her tail, and shaking
herself 'like a thing of life.'

"At noon off the landing, a buoy bobbing in the billows, to which we are
expected to make fast the schooner, and get to shore in the exceedingly
small boat; captain fears to tarry on account of heavy weather;
concludes to return to the coast and bide his time; consequently makes
for Bolinas Bay, which we reach about 9 p.m., and drop anchor in
comparatively smooth water; glad enough to sleep on an even keel at
last; it seems at least six months since we left the shining shores of
San Francisco, yet it is scarce thirty hours--but such hours, ugh!

"Bolinas Bay, May 6th.

"Wind blowing a perfect gale; we are lying under a long hill, and the
narrow bay is scarcely rippled by the blast that rushes over us, thick
with flying-scud. Captain resolves to await better weather; some of the
boys go on shore, and wander out to a kind of reef at the mouth of the
bay, where in a short time they succeed in gathering a fine mess of
mussels; the rest of us, the stay-on-boards, rig up a net and catch
fifteen large fat crabs; with these we cook a delicious dinner, which we
devour ravenously, like half-starved men; begin to realize how
storm-tossed mariners feel, and have been recounting hair-breadth
escapes, over our pipes on deck; there will be much to tell the fellows
on shore, if we are ever so fortunate as to get home again.

"May 7th.

"Though the weather is still bad enough to discourage us landsmen, we
put to sea, and once more head for the Farallones. They are hidden in
mist, but we beat bravely about, and by-and-by distinguish the faint
outlines of the islands looming through the fog! We try to secure the
buoy, tacking to and fro; just at the wrong moment our main halyards
part, and the sail comes crashing to the deck. To avoid being cast on
the inhospitable shore, we put to sea under jib and foresail, and are
five miles away before damages are repaired and we dare venture to
return; head about, and make fast this time. Hurrah! After several trips
of the small boat, succeed in landing luggage and provisions above
high-water mark on the Farallones; each trip of the boat is an event,
for it comes in on a big breaker, and grounds in a torrent of foam and

"We find two cabins at our disposal; the larger one containing
dining-room and kitchen, and chambers above; seven of our boys store
their blankets in the rude bunks that are drawn by lot. Tom, Jim, and I
secure the smaller cabin, a single room, with bunks on three sides, a
door on the fourth.

"9 p.m.--We have dined and smoked and withdrawn to our respective
lodges; the wind moans without, a thin, cold fog envelopes us; the sea
breaking furiously, the night gloomy beyond conception, but the captain
and his crew on the little schooner are not so comfortable as the
egg-pickers whom they have left behind.

"May 8th.

"We all rose much refreshed, and after a hearty breakfast, such as would
have done credit to a mining-camp in pioneer days, set forth on a rabbit
chase. The islands abound in rabbits. Where do they come from, and on
what do they feed? These are questions that puzzle us.

"We resolve to attack them. Having armed ourselves with clubs about two
feet in length, we proceed in a body until a rabbit is sighted, then,
separating, we surround him and gradually close him in, pelt him with
stones or sticks until the poor fellow is secured; sometimes three or
four are run down together; it is cruel sport, but this is our only hope
of fresh meat during the sojourn on the islands; a fine stew for dinner,
and some speculation on the prospect of our egg-hunt to-morrow.

"May 9th.

"We did the first work of the season to-day. At the west end of the
islands is a chasm, through which the wind whistles; the waves, rushing
in from both sides, meet at the centre and leap wildly into the air.
Across this chasm we threw a light suspension bridge about forty feet in
length and two in width; one crosses it by the aid of a life-line. On
the further rock the birds are nesting in large numbers, and to-morrow
we begin the wholesale robbery of their nests.

"When the bridge was completed, being pretty well fagged and quite
famished, we returned to the cabin, lunched heartily, and spent the
afternoon in highly successful rabbit chasing. Plenty of stew for all of
us. If Robinson Crusoe had been cast ashore on this island, I wonder how
he would have lived? As it is, the rabbits sometimes succeed in escaping
us, and without powder and shot it would be quite impossible for one or
two persons to bag them. We are beginning to lose faith in the
delightful romances of our youth, and to realize what a desert island

"May 10th.

"In front of us we each carry a large sack in which to deposit eggs; our
boots are clumsy, and the heavy nails that fill their soles make them
heavy and difficult to walk in. We also carry a strong staff to aid us
in climbing the rugged slopes. About us is nothing but grey,
weather-stained rocks; there are few paths, and these we cannot follow,
for the sea-birds, though so unused to the presence of man, are wary and
shy of his tracks; the day's work has not proved profitable. Few of us
gathered any eggs; one who was more successful, and had secured enough
to make it extremely difficult for him to scale the rocks, slipped, fell
on his face, and scrambled all his store. His plight was laughable, but
he was scarcely in the mood to relish it, as he washed his sack and
blouse in cold water, while we indulged in cards.

[Illustration: Murre on their Nests, Farallone Islands]

"May 11th.

"Built another bridge over a gap where the sea rushes, and which we call
the _Jordan_. If the real Jordan is as hard to cross, heaven help us.
Eggs not very plentiful as yet; we are rather early in the season, or
the crop is late this year. More rabbits in the p.m.; more wind, more
fog; and at night, pipes, cards, and a few choruses that sound strange
and weird in the fire lights on this lonely island.

"May 12th.

"Eggs are so very scarce. The foreman advises our resting for a day. We
lounge about, looking off upon the sea; sometimes a sail blows by us,
but our islands are in such ill-repute with mariners, they usually give
us a wide berth, as they call it. A little homesick towards dusk; wonder
how the boys in San Francisco are killing time; it is time that is
killing us, out here in the wind and fog.

"May 13th.

"Have been hunting abalones all day, and found but a baker's dozen;
their large, shallow shells are glued to the rock at the first approach
of danger, and unless we can steal upon these queer fish unawares, and
thrust something under their shells before they have shut down upon the
rock, it is almost impossible to pry them open. Some of the boys are
searching in the sea up to their waists--hard work when one considers
how tough the abalone is, and how tasteless.

"May 14th.

"This morning all our egg-pickers were at work; took in the west end,
only the high rock beyond the first bridge; gathered about forty dozen
eggs, and got them safely back to camp; in some nests there were three
eggs, and these we did not gather, fearing they were stale. In the p.m.
tried to collect dry grass enough to make a thin mattress for my bunk;
barely succeeded; am more than ever convinced that desert islands are

"May 15th.

"It being Sunday, we rest from our labors; by way of varying the
monotony of island life, we climb up to the lighthouse, 300 feet above
sea level. The path is zig-zag across the cliff, and is extremely
fatiguing. While ascending, a large stone rolled under my foot, and
went thundering down the cliff. Jim, who was in the rear, heard it
coming, and dodged; it missed his head by about six inches. Had it
struck him, he would have been hurled into the sea that boiled below; we
were both faint with horror, after realizing the fate he had escaped.
Were cordially welcomed by the lighthouse keeper, his wife, and her
companion, a young woman who had come to share this banishment. The
keeper and his wife visit the mainland but twice a year. Everywhere we
saw evidence of the influence of these charming people. The house was
tidy--the paint snow-white. The brass-work shone like gold; the place
seemed a kind of Paradise to us; even the machinery of the revolving
light, the multitude of reflectors, etc., was enchanting. We dreaded to
return to our miserable cabins, but were soon compelled to, and the
afternoon was spent in the customary rabbit chase, ending with a stew of
no mean proportions.

"May 16th.

"More eggs, and afterwards a fishing excursion, which furnished us
material for an excellent chowder. We are beginning to look for the
return of the schooner, and have been longing for news from shore.

"May 17th.

"A great haul of abalones this p.m. We filled our baskets, slung them
on poles over our shoulders Coolie fashion, and slowly made our way back
to camp. The baskets weighed a ton each before we at last emptied them
by the cabin door. Built a huge fire under a cauldron, and left a mess
of fish to boil until morning. The abalones are as large as steaks, and
a great deal tougher. Smoke, cards, and to bed; used up.

"May 18th.

"Same program as yesterday, only the novelty quite worn off, and this
kind of life becoming almost unendurable.

"May 19th.

"More eggs, more abalones, more rabbits. No signs of schooner yet.
Wonder, had Crusoe kept a diary, how many days he would have kept it
before closing it with chagrin.

"May 20th.

"Spent the p.m. in getting the abalone shells down to the egg-house at
the landing. We have cleaned them, and are hoping to find this
speculation profitable; for the shells, when polished and cut, are much
used in the market for inlaying and setting in cheap jewelry. We loaded
a small tram, pushed it to the top of an incline, and let it roll down
the other side to the landing, which it reached in safety. This is the
only labor-saving machine at our command.

"May 21st.

"We seem to be going all to pieces. The day commenced badly. Two of the
boys inaugurated it by a violent set-to before breakfast--an old grudge
broke out afresh, or perhaps the life here has demoralized them. I have
lamed my foot. Tide too high for abalone fishing. Eggs growing scarce,
and the rabbits seem to have deserted the accessible parts of the
island. Everybody is disgusted. We are forgetting our table-manners, it
is 'first come first served' now-a-days. I wonder if Robinson--oh, no!
he had no one but his man Friday to contend against. No schooner; no
change in the weather; tobacco giving out, and not a grain of good humor
to be had in the market. To bed, very cross.

"May 22d.

"No one felt like going to work this morning. Affairs began to look
mutinous. We have searched in vain for the schooner, now considerably
overdue, and are dreading the thought of having to fulfill a contract
which calls for six weeks' labor on these islands. Some of the other
islands are to be visited, and are accessible only in small boats over a
sea that is never even tolerably smooth. This expedition we all dread a
little--at least, I judge so from my own case--but we say nothing of it.
While thus gloomily brooding over our plight, smoke was sighted on the
horizon; we ascended the hill to watch it. A steamer, doubtless, bound
for a sunnier clime, for no clime can be less sunny than ours of the
past fortnight.... It was a steamer, a small Government steamer, making
directly for our island. We became greatly excited, for nothing of any
moment had occurred since our arrival. She drew in near shore and cast
anchor. We gathered at the landing-cove to give her welcome. A boat was
beached in safety. An officer of the law said, cheerfully, as if he were
playing a part in a nautical comedy, 'I must beg you, gentlemen, to step
on board the revenue cutter, and return to San Francisco.' We were so
surprised we could not speak; or were we all speechless with joy, I
wonder? He added, this very civil sheriff, 'If you do not care to
accompany me, I shall be obliged to order the marines on shore. You will
pardon me, but as these islands are Government property, you are
requested to immediately withdraw from them.' We withdrew. We steamed
away from the windy rocks, the howling caverns, the seething waves, the
frightful chasms, the seabirds, the abalones, the rabbits, the gloomy
cabins, and the pleasant people at the top of the cliff within the white
walls of the lighthouse. Joyfully we bounded over the glassy waves, that
grew beautiful as the Farallones faded in the misty distance, and,
having been courteously escorted to the city dock, we were bidden
farewell, and left to the diversions of the hour. Thus ended the last
siege of the Farallones by the egg-pickers of San Francisco. (Profits

And thus I fear, inasmuch as the Government proposes to guard the
sea-birds until a suitable license is secured by legitimate egg-pickers,
the price of gulls' eggs will go up in proportion, and hereafter we
shall have to look upon them as luxuries, and content ourselves with the
more modest and milder-flavored but undecorated products of the less
romantic barn-yard fowl.


[Footnote 2: NOTE: The author has confused the murre with the sea-gull.
It was the egg of the murre that was marketed.]



"Old Monterey"? Yes, old Monterey; yet not so very old. Old, however,
inasmuch as she has been hopelessly modernized; the ancient virtue has
gone out of her; she is but a monument and a memory. It is the Monterey
of a dozen or fifteen years ago I write of; and of a brief sojourn after
the briefer voyage thither. The voyage is the same; yesterday, to-day
and forever it remains unchanged. The voyager may judge if I am right
when I say that the Pacific coast, or the coast of California, Oregon
and Washington, is the selvage side of the American continent. I believe
this is evidenced in the well-rounded lines of the shore; the smooth
meadow-lands that not infrequently lie next the sea, and the
comparatively few island-fragments that are discoverable between Alaska
and Mexico.

I made that statement, in the presence of a select few, on the promenade
deck of a small coaster then plying between San Francisco and Monterey;
and proved it during the eight-hour passage, to the seeming edification
of my shipmates. Even the bluffs that occasionally jutted into the sea
did the picturesque in a half-theatrical fashion. Time and the elements
seemed to have toyed with them, and not fought with them, as is the
annual custom on the eastern coast of the United States. Flocks of sheep
fed in the salt pastures by the water's edge; ranch-houses were perched
on miniature cliffs, in the midst of summer-gardens that even through a
powerful field-glass showed few traces of wear and tear.

And the climate? Well, the sunshine was like sunshine warmed over; and
there was a lurking chill in the air that made our quarters in the lee
of the smoke-stack preferable to the circular settee in the
stern-sheets. Yes, it was midsummer at heart, and the comfortable
midsummer ulster advertised the fact.

What a long, lonesome coast it is! Erase the few evidences of life that
relieve the monotonous landscape at infrequent intervals, and you shall
see California exactly as Drake saw it more than four centuries ago, or
the Argonaut Friars saw it a century later, and as the improved races
will see it ages hence--a little bleak and utterly uninteresting.

California secretes her treasures. As you approach her from the sea, you
would scarcely suspect her wealth; her lines, though fine and flowing,
are not voluptuous, and she certainly lacks color. This was also a part
of our steamer-talk under the lee of the smoke-stack; and while we were
talking we turned a sharp corner, ran into the Bay of Monterey, and
came suddenly face to face with Santa Cruz.

Ah, there was richness! Perennial groves, dazzling white cottages
snow-flaking them with beauty; a beach with afternoon bathers; and two
straggling piers that had waded out into deep water and stuck fast in
the mud. A stroll through Santa Cruz does not dissipate the enchantment
usually borrowed from usurious distance; and the two-hours'-roll in the
deep furrows of the Bay, that the pilgrim to Monterey must suffer, is
apt to make him regret he left that pleasant port in the hope of finding
something pleasanter on the dim opposite shore.

We re-embarked for Monterey at dusk, when the distant horn of the Bay
was totally obscured. It is seldom more than a half-imagined point,
jutting out into a haze between two shades of blue. Stars watched over
us,--sharp, clear stars, such as flare a little when the wind blows. But
the wind was not blowing for us. Showers of sparks spangled the
crape-like folds of smoke that trailed after us; the engine labored in
the hold, and the sea heaved as it is always heaving in that wide-open

In an hour we steamed into a fog-bank, so dense that even the head-light
of our ship was as a glowworm; and from that moment until we had come
within sound of voices on the undiscovered shore, it was all like a
voyage in the clouds. Whistles blew, bells rang, men shouted, and then
we listened with hungry ears. A whistle answered us from shore--a
piercing human whistle. Dim lights burned through the fog. We advanced
with fearful caution; and while voices out of the air were greeting us,
almost before we had got our reckoning, we drifted up under a dark pier,
on which ghastly figures seemed to be floating to and fro, bidding us
all-hail. And then and there the freedom of the city was extended to us,
saturated with salt-sea mist. Probably six times in ten the voyager
approaches Monterey in precisely this fashion. 'Tis true! 'Tis pity!

Having been hoisted up out of our ship--the tide was exceeding low and
the dock high; having been embraced in turn by friends who had soaked
for an hour and a half on that desolate pier-head--for our ship was
belated, groping her way in the fog,--we were taken by the hand and led
cautiously into the sand-fields that lie between the city and the sea.

Of course our plans had all miscarried. Our Bachelors' Hall fell with a
dull thud when we heard that the chief bachelor had turned benedict
three days before. But he was present with his bride, and he knew of a
haunt that would compensate us for all loss or disappointment. We
crossed the desert nursing a faint hope. We threaded one or two wide,
weedy, silent streets; not a soul was visible, though it was but nine
in the evening,--which was not to be wondered at, since the town was
divided against itself: the one half slept, the other half still sat
upon the pier, making a night of it; for old Monterey had but one shock
that betrayed it into some show of human weakness. The cause was the
Steam Navigation Co. The effect was a fatal fondness for tendering a
public reception to all steamers arriving from foreign ports, after
their sometimes tempestuous passages of from eight to ten hours. This
insured the inhabitants a more or less festive night about once every
week or ten days.

With rioutous laughter, which sounded harsh, yea, sacrilegious, in the
sublime silence of that exceptional town, we were piloted into an
abysmal nook sacred to a cluster of rookeries haggard in the extreme. We
approached it by an improvised bridge two spans in breadth. The place
was buried under layers of mystery. It was silent, it was dark with the
blackness of darkness; it was like an unholy sepulchre that gave forth
no sound, though we beat upon its sodden door with its rusted knocker
until a dog howled dismally on the hillside afar off.

Some one admitted us at the last moment, and left us standing in the
pitch-dark entrance while he went in search of candles, that apparently
fled at his approach. The great room was thrown open in due season and
with solemnity. It may have been the star-chamber in the days when
Monterey was the capital of the youngest and most promising State in the
Union; but it was somewhat out of date when we were ushered into it. A
bargain was hastily struck, and we repaired to damp chambers, where
every sound was shared in common, and nothing whatever was in the least
degree private or confidential. We slept at intervals, but in turn; so
that at least one good night's rest was shared by our company.

[Illustration: Monterey, 1850]

At nine o' the clock next morning we were still enveloped in mist, but
the sun was struggling with it; and from my window I inspected Spanish
or Mexican, or Spanish-Mexican, California interiors, sprinkled with
empty tin cans, but redeemed by the more picturesque _débris_ of the
early California settlement--dingy tiles, forlorn cypresses, and a
rosebush of gigantic body and prolific bloom.

We breakfasted at Simoneau's, in the inner room, with its frescos done
in beer and shoeblacking by a brace of hungry Bohemians, who used to
frequent the place and thus settle their bill. Five of us sat at that
uninviting board and awaited our turn, while Simoneau hovered over a
stove that was by no means equal to the occasion. It was a breakfast
such as one is reduced to in a mountain camp, but which spoils the
moment it is removed from the charmed circle of ravenous foresters. We
paid three prices for it, but that was no consolation; and it was long
before we again entered the doors of one of the chief restaurants of old

Before the thick fog lifted that morning we had scoured the town in
quest of lodgings. The hotels were uninviting. At the Washington the
rooms were not so large as the demands of the landlord. At the St.
Charles'--a summer-house without windows, save the one set in the door
of each chamber--we located for a brief season, and exchanged the
liveliest compliments with the lodgers at the extreme ends of the
building. A sneeze in the dead of night aroused the house; and during
one of the panics which were likely to follow, I peremptorily departed,
and found shelter at last in the large square chamber of an adobe
dwelling, the hospitable abode of one of the first families of Monterey.
Broad verandas surrounded us on four sides; the windows sunk in the
thick walls had seats deep enough to hold me and my lap tablet full in
the sunshine--whenever it leaked through the fog.

Two of these windows opened upon a sandy street, beyond which was a
tangled garden of cacti and hollyhock and sunflowers, with a great wall
about it; but I could look over the wall and enjoy the privacy of that
sweet haunt. In that cloistered garden grew the obese roses of the far
West, that fairly burst upon their stem. Often did I exclaim: "O, for a
delicate blossom, whose exquisite breath savors not of the mold, and
whose sensitive petals are wafted down the invisible currents of the
wind like a fairy flotilla!" Beyond that garden, beyond the roofs of
this town, stretched the yellow sand-dunes; and in the distance towered
the mountains, painted with changeful lights. My other window looked
down the long, lonesome street to the blue Bay and the faint outline of
the coast range beyond it.

Here I began to live; here I heard the harp-like tinkle of the first
piano brought to the California coast; here also the guitar was touched
skillfully by her grace the august lady of the house, who scorned the
English tongue--the more eloquent and rhythmical Spanish prevailed under
her roof. One of the members of the household was proud to recount the
history of the once brilliant capital of the State, and I listened by
the hour to a narrative that now reads to me like a fable.

In the year of Our Lord 1602, when Don Sebastian Viscaino--dispatched by
the Viceroy of Mexico, acting under instructions from Philip III. of
Spain--touched these shores, Mass was celebrated, the country taken
possession of in the name of the Spanish King, and the spot christened
Monterey in honor of Gaspar de Zuniga, Count of Monterey, Viceroy of
Mexico. In eighteen days Viscaino again set sail, and the silence of the
forest and the sea fell upon that lonely shore. That silence was
unbroken by the voice of the stranger for one hundred and sixty-six
years. Then Gaspar de Portola, Governor of Lower California,
re-discovered Monterey, erected a cross upon the shore, and went his

In May, 1770, the final settlement took place. The packet _San Antonio_,
commanded by Don Juan Perez, came to anchor in the port, "which"--wrote
the leader of the expedition to Padre Francisco Palou--"is unadulterated
in any degree from what it was when visited by the expedition of Don
Sebastian Viscaino in 1602. After this"--the celebration of the Mass,
the _Salve_ to Our Lady, and a _Te Deum,_--"the officers took possession
of the country in the name of the King (Charles III.) our lord, whom God
preserve. We all dined together in a shady place on the beach; the whole
ceremony being accompanied by many volleys and salutes by the troops and

When the _San Antonio_ returned to Mexico, it left at Monterey Padre
Junipero Serra and five other priests, Lieutenant Pedro Fages and thirty
soldiers. The settlement was at once made capital of Alta California,
and Portola appointed the first governor. The Presidio (an enclosure
about three hundred yards square, containing a chapel, store-houses,
offices, residences, and a barracks) was the nucleus of the city; but
the mission was soon removed to a beautiful valley about six miles
distant, where there was more room, better shelter from the cold west
winds, and an unrivalled prospect. The valley is now known as Carmelo.

A fort was built upon a little hill commanding the settlement, and life
began in good earnest. What followed? Mexico threw off the Spanish yoke;
California was hence forth subject to Mexico alone. The news spread;
vessels gathered in the harbor, and enormous profits were realized on
the sale and shipment of the hides of wild cattle lately roaming upon a
thousand hills.

Then came gradual changes in the government; they culminated in 1846
when Captain Mervin, at the head of two hundred and fifty men, raised
the Stars and Stripes over Monterey, and a proclamation was read
declaring California a portion of the United States.

The Rev. Walter Colton, once chaplain of the United States frigate
_Congress_, was appointed first alcalde; and the result was the erection
of a stone courthouse, which was long the chief ornament of the town;
and, somewhat later, the publication of Alcalde Colton's highly
interesting volume, entitled "Three Years in California."


In 1829 Captain Robinson, the author of "Life in California" in the good
old mission days, wrote thus of his first sight of Monterey: "The sun
had just risen, and, glittering through the lofty pines that crowned the
summit of the eastern hills, threw its light upon the lawn beneath. On
our left was the Presidio, with its chapel dome and towering flag-staff
in conspicuous elevation. On the right, upon a rising ground, was seen
the _castillo_, or fort, surmounted by some ten or a dozen cannon. The
intervening space between these two points was enlivened by the hundred
scattered dwellings that form the town, and here and there groups of
cattle grazing.

"After breakfast G. and myself went on shore, on a visit to the
Commandant, Don Marian Estrada, whose residence stood in the central
part of the town, in the usual route from the beach to the Presidio. In
external appearance, notwithstanding it was built of adobe--brick made
by the mixture of soft mud and straw, moulded and dried in the sun,--it
was not displeasing; for the outer walls had been plastered and
whitewashed, giving it a cheerful and inviting aspect. Like all
dwellings in the warm countries of America, it was but one story in
height, covered with tiles, and occupied, in its entire premises, an
extensive square.

"Our Don was standing at his door; and as we approached, he sallied
forth to meet us with true Castilian courtesy; embraced G., shook me
cordially by the hand, then bowed us ceremoniously into the _sala_. Here
we seated ourselves upon a sofa at his right. During conversation
_cigarritos_ passed freely; and, although thus early in the day, a
proffer was made of refreshments."

In 1835 R.H. Dana, Jr., the author of "Two Years before the Mast," found
Monterey but little changed; some of the cannon were unmounted, but the
Presidio was still the centre of life on the Pacific coast, and the town
was apparently thriving. Day after day the small boats plied between
ship and shore, and the population gave themselves up to the delights of
shopping. Shopping was done on shipboard; each ship was a storehouse of
attractive and desirable merchandise, and the little boats were kept
busy all day long bearing customers to and fro.

In 1846 prices were ruinously high, as the alcalde was free to
confess--he being a citizen of the United States and a clergyman into
the bargain. Unbleached cottons, worth 6 cents per yard in New York,
brought 50 cents, 60 cents, 75 cents in old Monterey. Cowhide shoes were
$10 per pair; the most ordinary knives and forks, $10 per dozen; poor
tea, $3 per pound; truck-wheels, $75 per pair. The revenue of these
enormous imposts passed into the hands of private individuals, who had
placed themselves by violence or fraud at the head of the Government.

In those days a "blooded" horse and a pack of cards were thought to be
among the necessaries of life. One of the luxuries was a _rancho_ sixty
miles in length, owned by Captain Sutter in the valley of the
Sacramento. Native prisoners, arrested for robbery and confined in the
adobe jail at Monterey, clamored for their guitars, and the nights were
filled with music until the rascals swung at half-mast.

In August, 1846, _The Californian_, the first newspaper established on
the coast, was issued by Colton & Semple. The type and press were once
the property of the Franciscan friars, and used by them; and in the
absence of the English _w_, the compositors on _The Californian_ doubled
the Spanish _v_. The journal was printed half in English and half in
Spanish, on cigarette paper about the size of a sheet of fools-cap.
Terms, $3 per year in advance; single copies, 12-1/2 cents each. Semple
was a man just suited to the newspaper office he occupied; he stood six
feet eight inches in moccasins, was dressed in buckskin, and wore a
foxskin cap.

The first jury of the alcaldean court was empanelled in September,
1846. Justice flourished for about three years. In 1849 Bayard Taylor
wrote: "Monterey has the appearance of a deserted town: few people in
the streets, business suspended," etc. Rumors of gold had excited the
cupidity of the inhabitants, and the capital was deserted; elsewhere was
metal more attractive. The town never recovered from that shock. It
gradually declined until few, save Bohemian artists and Italian and
Chinese fishermen, took note of it. The settlement was obsolete in my
day; the survivors seemed to have lost their memories and their interest
in everything. Thrice in my early pilgrimages I asked where the Presidio
had stood; on these occasions did the oldest inhabitant and his
immediate juniors vaguely point me to three several quarters of the
town. I believe in my heart that the pasture in front of the old
church--then sacred to three cows and a calf--was the cradle of
civilization in the far West.

[Illustration: San Carlos de Carmelo]

The original custom-house--there was no mistaking it, for it was founded
on a rock--overhung the sea, while the waves broke gently at its base,
and rows of sea-gulls sat solemnly on the skeletons of stranded whales
scattered along the beach. A Captain Lambert dwelt on the first floor of
the building; a goat fed in the large hall--it bore the complexion of a
stable--where once the fashionable element tripped the light fantastic
toe. In those days the first theatre in the State was opened with
brilliant success, and the now long-forgotten Binghams appeared in that
long-forgotten drama, "Putnam, or the Lion Son of '76." The
never-to-be-discourteously-mentioned years of our pioneers, '49 and '50,
"were memorable eras in the Thespian records of Monterey," says the
guide-book. They were indeed; for Lieutenant Derby, known to the
literary world as "John Phoenix" and "Squibob," was one of the leading
spirits of the stage. But the Thespian records came to an untimely end,
and it must be confessed that Monterey no longer tempts the widely
strolling player.

I saw her in decay, the once flourishing capital. The old convent was
windowless, and its halls half filled with hay; the barracks and the
calaboose, inglorious ruins; the Block House and the Fort, mere shadows
of their former selves. As for Colton Hall--the town-hall, named in
honor of its builder, the first alcalde,--it is a modern-looking
structure, that scarcely harmonizes with the picturesque adobes that
surround it. Colton said of it: "It has been erected out of the slender
proceeds of town lots, the labor of the convicts, taxes on liquor shops,
and fines on gamblers. The scheme was regarded with incredulity by many;
but the building is finished, and the citizens have assembled in it, and
christened it after my name, which will go down to posterity with the
odor of gamblers, convicts and tipplers." Bless his heart! he need not
have worried himself. No one seems to know or care how the building was
constructed; and as for the name it bears, it is as savory as any.

The church was built in 1794, and dedicated as the parish church in
1834, when the missions were secularized and Carmelo abandoned. It is
the most interesting structure in the town. Much of the furniture of the
old mission is preserved here: the holy vessels beaten out of solid
silver; rude but not unattractive paintings by nameless artists--perhaps
by the friars themselves,--landmarks of a crusade that was gloriously
successful, but the records of which are fading from the face of the

Doubtless the natives who had flourished under the nourishing care of
the mission in its palmy days, wagged their heads wittingly when the
brig _Natalia_ met her fate. Tradition says Napoleon I. made his escape
from Elba on that brig. It was by the _Natalia_ that Hijar, Director of
Colonization, arrived for the purpose of secularizing the missions; and
his scheme was soon accomplished. But the winds blew, and the waves rose
and beat upon the little brig, and laid her bones in the sands of
Monterey. It is whispered that when the sea is still and the water
clear, and the tide very, very low, one may catch faint glimpses of the
skeleton of the _Natalia_ swathed in its shroud of weeds.

There are two attractions in the vicinity, without which I fear
Monterey would have ultimately passed from the memory of man. These are
the mission at Carmelo, and the Druid grove at Cypress Point. In the
edge of the town there is a cross which marks the spot where Padre
Junipero Serra sang his first Mass at Monterey. It was a desolate
picture when I last saw it. It stood but a few yards from the sea, in a
lonely hollow. It was a favorite subject with the artists who found
their way thither, and who were wont to paint it upon the sea-shells
that lay almost within reach. Now a marble statue of Junipero Serra,
erected by Mrs. Leland Stanford, marks the spot.

Six miles away, beyond the hills, above the shallow river, in sight of
the sparkling sea, is the ruin of Carmelo. From the cross by the shore
to the church beyond the hills, one reads the sacred history of the
coast from _alpha_ to _omega_. This, the most famous, if not the most
beautiful, of all the Franciscan missions, has suffered the common fate.
In my day the roof was wanting; the stone arches were crumbling one
after another; the walls were tufted with sun-dried grass; everywhere
the hand of Vandalism had scrawled his initials or his name. The nave of
the church was crowded with neglected graves. Fifteen governors of the
territory mingle their dust with that consecrated earth, but there was
never so much as a pebble to mark the spot where they lie. Even the
saintly Padre Junipero, who founded the mission, and whose death was
grimly heroic, lay until recent years in an unknown tomb. Thanks to the
pious efforts of the late Father Cassanova, the precious remains of
Junipero Serra, together with those of three other friars of the
mission, were discovered, identified, and honorably reentombed.

From 1770 to 1784 Padre Junipero Serra entered upon the parish record
all baptisms, marriages, and deaths. These ancient volumes are carefully
preserved, and are substantially bound in leather; the writing is bold
and legible, and each entry is signed "Fray Junipero Serra," with an odd
little flourish of the pen beneath. The last entry is dated July 30,
1784; then Fray Francesco Palou, an old schoolmate of Junipero Serra,
and a brother friar, records the death of his famous predecessor, and
with it a brief recital of his life work, and the circumstances at the
close of it.

Junipero Serra took the habit of the order of St. Francis at the age of
seventeen; filled distinguished positions in Spain and Mexico before
going to California; refused many tempting and flattering honors; was
made president of the fifteen missions of Lower California--long since
abandoned; lived to see his last mission thrive mightily, and died at
the age of seventy--long before the fall of the crowning work of his

Feeling the approach of death, Junipero Serra confessed himself to Fray
Palou; went through the Church offices for the dying; joined in the hymn
_Tantum Ergo_ "with elevated and sonorous tones," saith the
chronicle,--the congregation, hearing him intone his death chaunt, were
awed into silence, so that the dying man's voice alone finished the
hymn; then he repaired to his cell, where he passed the night in prayer.
The following morning he received the captain and chaplain of a Spanish
vessel lying in the harbor, and said, cheerfully, he thanked God that
these visitors, who had traversed so much of sea and land, had come to
throw a little earth upon his body. Anon he asked for a cup of broth,
which he drank at the table in the refectory; was then assisted to his
bed, where he had scarcely touched the pillow when, without a murmur, he

In anticipation of his death, he had ordered his own coffin to be made
by the mission carpenter; and his remains were at once deposited in it.
So precious was the memory of this man in his own day that it was with
the utmost difficulty his coffin was preserved from destruction; for the
populace, venerating even the wooden case that held the remains of their
spiritual Father, clamored for the smallest fragment; and, though a
strong body-guard watched over it until the interment, a portion of his
vestment was abstracted during the night. One thinks of this and of the
overwhelming sorrow that swept through the land when this saintly
pioneer fell at the head of his legion.

The California mission reached the height of its prosperity forty years
later, when it owned 87,600 head of cattle, 60,000 sheep, 2,300 calves,
1,800 horses, 365 yoke of oxen, much merchandise, and $40,000 in specie.
Tradition hints that this money was buried when a certain
piratical-looking craft was seen hovering about the coast.

This wealth is all gone now--scattered among the people who have allowed
the dear old mission to fall into sad decay. What a beautiful church it
must have been, with its quaint carvings, its star-window that seems to
have been blown out of shape in some wintry wind, and all its lines
hardened again in the sunshine of the long, long summer; with its
Saracenic door!--what memories the _Padres_ must have brought with them
of Spain and the Moorish seal that is set upon it! Here we have evidence
of it painfully wrought out by the hands of rude Indian artisans. The
ancient bells have been carried away into unknown parts; the owl hoots
in the belfry; the hills are shown of their conventual tenements; while
the wind and the rain and a whole heartless company of iconoclasts have
it all their own way.

Once in the year, on San Carlos' Day, Mass is sung in the only
habitable corner of the ruin; the Indians and the natives gather from
all quarters, and light candles among the graves, and mourn and mourn
and make a strange picture of the place; then they go their way, and the
owl returns, and the weeds grow ranker, and every hour there is a
straining among the weakened joists, and a creaking and a crumbling in
many a nook and corner; and so the finest historical relic in the land
is suffered to fall into decay. Or, perhaps I should say, that was the
sorry state of Carmelo in my day. I am assured that every effort is now
being made to restore and preserve beautiful Carmelo.


She was a dear old stupid town in my day. She boasted but half a dozen
thinly populated streets. One might pass through these streets almost
any day, at almost any hour of the day, footing it all the way from the
dismantled fort on the seaside to the ancient cemetery, grown to seed,
at the other extremity of the settlement, and not meet half a score of

Geese fed in the gutters, and hissed as I passed by; cows grazing by the
wayside eyed me in grave surprise; overhead, the snow-white sea-gulls
wheeled and cried peevishly; and on the heights that shelter the
ex-capital the pine-trees moaned and moaned, and often caught and held
the sea-fog among their branches, when the little town was basking in
the sunshine and dreaming its endless dream.

How did a man kill time in those days? There was a studio on Alvarado
Street; it stood close to the post-office, in what may be generously
denominated as the busiest part of the town. The studio was the focus of
life and hope and love; some work was also supposed to be done there. It
was the headquarters of the idle and the hungry, and the seeker after
consolation in all its varied forms. Choice family groceries were
retailed three times a day in the rear of the establishment; and there
we often gathered about the Bohemian board, to celebrate whatever our
fancy painted. Now it was an imaginary birthday--a movable feast that
came to be very popular in our select artistic circle; again it was the
possible--dare I say probable?--sale of a picture at a quite
inconceivable price. There were always occasions enough. Would it had
been the case with the dinners!

The studio was the thing,--the studio, decked with Indian trophies and
the bleached bones of sea birds and land beasts, and lined with studies
in all colors under heaven. Here was the oft-lighted peace-pipe; and
Orient rugs and wolf-skins for a _siesta_ when the beach yonder was a
blaze of white and blinding light, that made it blessed to close one's
eyes and shut out the glare--and to keep one's ears open to the lulling
song of the sea.

Here we concocted a plan. It was to be kept a profound mystery; even the
butcher was unaware, and the baker in total darkness; as for the
wine-merchant, he was as blind as a bat. We were to give the banquet and
ball of the season. We went to the hall of our sisters,--scarcely kin
were they, but kinder never lived, and their house was at our disposal.
We threw out the furniture; we made a green bower of the adobe chamber.
One window, that bore upon the forlorn vacuum of the main street, was
speedily stained the deepest and most splendid dyes; from without, it
had a pleasing, not to say refining, medieval effect; from within, it
was likened unto the illuminated page of an antique antiphonary--in
flames; yes, positively in flames!

A great board was laid the length of the room, a kind of Round
Table--with some few unavoidable innovations, such as a weak leg or two,
square corners, and an unexpected depression in the centre of it, where
the folding leaves sought in vain to join. From the wall depended the
elaborate _menu_, life-size and larger; and at every course a cartoon in
color more appetizing than the town market. The emblematic owl blinked
upon us from above the door. Invitations were hastily penned and sent
forth to a select few. Forgive us, Dona Jovita, if thy guest card was
redolent of tea or of brown soap; for it was penned in the privacy of
the pantry, and either upon the Scylla of the tea-caddy or the soapy
Charybdis it was sure to be dashed at last.

It was rare fun, if I did say it from the foot of the flower-strewn
table, clad in an improvised toga, while a gentleman in Joss-like
vestments carved and complimented in a single breath at the top of the
Bohemian board. From the adjoining room came the music of hired
minstrels: the guitar, the violin, and blending voices--a piping tenor
and a soft Spanish _falsetto_. They chanted rhythmically to the clatter
of tongues, the ripple of laughter, and the clash of miscellaneous

An unbidden multitude, gathered from the highways, and the byways,
loitered about the vicinity, patiently--O how patiently!--awaiting our
adjournment. The fandango naturally followed; and it enlivened the vast,
bare chambers of an adjoining adobe, whose walls had not echoed such
revelry since the time when Monterey was the chief port of the Northern
Pacific, and basked in the sunshine of a prosperous monopoly. A good
portion of the town was there that evening. Shadowy forms hovered in the
arbors of the rose garden; the city band appeared and rendered much
pleasing music,--though it was rendered somewhat too vigorously. That
band was composed of the bone and sinew of the town. Oft in the daytime
had I not heard the flageolet lifting its bird-like voice over the
counter of the juvenile jeweller, who wrought cunningly in the
shimmering abalone shells during the rests in his music? Did not the
trombone bray from beyond the meadow, where the cooper could not barrel
his aspiring soul? It was the French-horn at the butcher's, the fife at
the grocer's, the cornet in the chief saloon on the main street; while
at the edge of the town, from the soot and grime of the smithy, I heard
at intervals the boom of the explosive drum. It was thus they responded
to one another on that melodious shore, and with an ambitious diligence
worthy of the Royal Conservatory.

There was nothing to disturb one in the land, after the musical mania,
save the clang of the combers on the long, lonely beach; the cry of the
sea-bird wheeling overhead, or the occasional bang of a rifle. Even the
narrow-gauge railway, that stopped discreetly just before reaching the
village, broke the monotony of local life but twice in the twenty-four
hours. The whistle of the arriving and departing train, the signal of
the occasional steamer--ah! but for these, what a sweet, sad, silent
spot were that! I used to believe that possibly some day the unbroken
stillness of the wilderness might again envelop it. The policy of the
people invited it. Anything like energy or progress was discouraged in
that latitude. When it was discovered that the daily mail per Narrow
Gauge was arriving regularly and usually on time, it began to look like
indecent haste on the part of the governmental agents. The beauty and
the chivalry that congregated at the post-office seemed to find too
speedy satisfaction at the general delivery window; and presently the
mail-bag for Monterey was dropped at another village, and later carted
twenty miles into town. The happy uncertainty of the mail's arrival
caused the post-office to become a kind of forum, where all the
grievances of the populace were turned loose and generally discussed.

Then it seemed possible that the Narrow Gauge might be frowned down
altogether, and the locomotive warned to cease trespassing upon the
green pastures of the ex-capital. It even seemed possible that in course
of time all aliens might require a passport and a recommendation from
their last place before being permitted to enter in and enjoy the
society of the authorities brooding over that slumberous village.

I have seen as many as six men and a boy standing upon one of the
half-dozen street corners of the town, watching, with a surprise that
bordered upon impertinence, a white pilgrim from San Francisco in an
ulster, innocently taking his way through the otherwise deserted
streets. The ulster was perhaps the chief object of interest. I have
seen three or four citizens sitting in a row, on a fence, like so many
rooks,--and sitting there for hours, as if waiting for something. For
what, pray? For the demented squaw, who revolved about the place, and
slept out of doors in all weathers, and muttered to herself incessantly
while she went to and fro, day after day, seeking the rest she could not
hope for this side the grave? Or for Murillo, the Indian, impudent
though harmless, full of fancies and fire-water? Or for the return of
the whale-boats, with their beautiful lateen-sails? Or for the gathering
of the Neapolitan fishermen down under the old Custom House, where they
sat at evening looking off upon the Bay, and perchance dreaming of Italy
and all that enchanted coast? Or for the rains that poured their sudden
and swift rivulets down the wooded slopes and filled the gorges that
gutted some of the streets? Was it the love of nature, or a belief in
fatalism, or sheer laziness, I wonder, that preserved to Monterey those
washouts, from two to five feet in depth, that were sometimes in the
very middle of the streets, and impassable save by an improvised
bridge--a single plank?

Ah me! It is an ungracious task to prick the bubble reputation, had I
not been dazzled with dreams of Monterey from my youth up! Was I piqued
when I, then a citizen of San Francisco--one of the three hundred
thousand,--when I read in "The Handbook of Monterey" these lines: "San
Francisco is not too firmly fixed to fear the competition of Monterey"?

Well, I may as well confess myself a false prophet. The town fell into
the hands of Croesus, and straightway lost its identity. It is now a
fashionable resort, and likely to remain one for some years to come.
Where now can one look for the privacy of old? Then, if one wished to
forget the world, he drove through a wilderness to Cypress Point. Now
'tis a perpetual picnic ground, and its fastnesses are threaded by a
drive which is one of the features of Del Monte Hotel life. It was
solemn enough of yore. The gaunt trees were hung with funereal mosses;
they had huge elbows and shoulders, and long, thin arms, with skeleton
fingers at the ends of them, that bore knots that looked like heads and
faces such as Doré portrayed in his fantastic illustrations. They were
like giants transformed,--they are still, no doubt; for the tide of
fashion is not likely to prevail against them.

They stand upon the verge of the sea, where they have stood for ages,
defying the elements. The shadows that gather under their locked
branches are like caverns and dungeons and lairs. The fox steals
stealthily away as you grope among the roots, that writhe out of the
earth and strike into it again, like pythons in a rage. The coyote sits
in the edge of the dusk, and cries with a half-human cry--at least he
did in my dead day. And here are corpse-like trees, that have been naked
for ages; every angle of their lean, gray boughs seems to imply
something. Who will interpret these hieroglyphics? Blood-red sunsets
flood this haunted wood; there is a sound as of a deep-drawn sigh
passing through it at intervals. The moonlight fills it with mystery;
and along its rocky front, where the sea-flowers blossom and the
sea-grass waves its glossy locks, the soul of the poet and of the artist
meet and mingle between shadowless sea and cloudless sky, in the
unsearchable mystery of that cypress solitude.

So have I seen it; so would I see it again. When I think on that beach
at Monterey--the silent streets, the walled, unweeded gardens--a wistful
Saturday-afternoon feeling comes over me. I hear again the incessant
roar of the surf; I see the wheeling gulls, the gray sand; the brown,
bleak meadows; the empty streets; the shops, tenantless sometimes--for
the tenant is at dinner or at dominos; the other shops that are locked
forever and the keys rusted away;--whenever I think of her I am reminded
of that episode in Coulton's diary, where he, as alcalde, was awakened
from a deep sleep at the dead of night by a guard, a novice, and a slave
to duty. With no little consternation, the alcalde hastened to unbar the
door. The guard, with a respectful salute, said: "The town, sir, is
perfectly quiet."


It was reception night at the Palace Hotel. As usual the floating
population of San Francisco had drifted into the huge court of that
luxurious caravansary, and was ebbing and eddying among the multitudes
of white and shining columns that support the six galleries under the
crystal roof. The band reveled in the last popular waltz, the hum of the
spectators was hushed, but among the galleries might be seen pairs of
adolescent youths and maidens swaying to the rhythmical melody. We were
taking wine and cigarettes with the Colonel. He was always at home to us
on Monday nights, and even our boisterous chat was suspended while the
blustering trumpeters in the court below blew out their delirious music.
It was at this moment that Bartholomew beckoned me to follow him from
the apartment. We quietly repaired to the gallery among the huge vases
of palms and creepers, and there, bluntly and without a moment's
warning, the dear fellow blurted out this startling revelation: "I have
made an engagement for you; be ready on Thursday next at 4 p.m.; meet me
here; all arrangements are effected; say not a word, but come; and I
promise you one of the jolliest experiences of the season." All this
was delivered in a high voice, to the accompaniment of drums and
cymbals; he concluded with the last flourish of the bandmaster's baton,
and the applause of the public followed. Certainly dramatic effect could
go no further. I was more than half persuaded, and yet, when the
applause had ceased, the dancers unwound themselves, and the low rumble
of a thousand restless feet rang on the marble pavement below, I found
voice sufficient to ask the all-important question, "But what is the
nature of this engagement?" To which he answered, "Oh, we're going down
the coast for a few days, you and I, and Alf and Croesus. A charming
bungalow by the sea; capital bathing, shooting, fishing; nice quiet time
generally; back Monday morning in season for biz!" This was certainly
satisfactory as far as it went, but I added, by way of parenthesis, "and
who else will be present?" knowing well enough that one uncongenial
spirit might be the undoing of us all. To this Bartholomew responded,
"No one but ourselves, old fellow; now don't be queer." He knew well
enough my aversion to certain elements unavoidable even in the best
society, and how I kept very much to myself, except on Monday nights
when we all smoked and laughed with the Colonel--whose uncommonly
charming wife was abroad for the summer; and on Tuesday and Saturday
nights, when I was at the club, and on Wednesdays, when I did the
theatricals of the town, and on Thursdays and Fridays--but never mind!
girls were out of the question in my case, and he knew that the bachelor
hall where I preside was as difficult of access as a cloister. I might
not have given my word without further deliberation, had not the
impetuous Colonel seized us bodily and borne us back into his
smoking-room, where he was about to shatter the wax on a flagon of wine,
a brand of fabulous age and excellence. Bartholomew nodded to Alf, Alf
passed the good news to Croesus, for we were all at the Colonel's by
common consent, and so it happened that the compact was made for

That Thursday, at 4 p.m. we were on our way to the station at 4:30; the
town-houses were growing few and far between, as the wheels of the
coaches spun over the iron road. At five o'clock the green fields of the
departed spring, already grown bare and brown, rolled up between us and
the horizon. California is a naked land and no mistake, but how
beautiful in her nakedness! An hour later we descended at School-house
station; such is the matter-of-fact pet-name given to a cluster of dull
houses, once known by some melodious but forgotten Spanish appellation.
The ranch wagon awaited us; a huge springless affair, or if it had
springs they were of that aggravating stiffness that adds insult to
injury. Excellent beasts dragged us along a winding, dusty road, over
hill, down dale, into a land that grew more and more lonely; not exactly
"a land where it was always afternoon," but apparently always a little
later in the day, say 7 p.m. or thereabouts. We were rapidly wending our
way towards the coast, and on the breezy hill-top a white fold of
sea-fog swept over and swathed us in its impalpable snow. Oh! the chill,
the rapturous agony of that chill. Do you know what sea-fog is? It is
the bodily, spiritual and temporal life of California; it is the
immaculate mantle of the unclad coast; it feeds the hungry soil, gives
drink unto the thirsting corn, and clothes the nakedness of nature. It
is the ghost of unshed showers--atomized dew, precipitated in
life-bestowing avalanches upon a dewless and parched shore; it is the
good angel that stands between a careless people and contagion; it is
heaven-sent nourishment. It makes strong the weak; makes wise the
foolish--you don't go out a second time in midsummer without your
wraps--and it is altogether the freshest, purest, sweetest, most
picturesque, and most precious element in the physical geography of the
Pacific Slope. It is worth more to California than all her gold, and
silver, and copper, than all her corn and wine--in short, it is simply

This is the fog that dashed under our hubs like noiseless surf, filled
up the valleys in our lee, shut the sea-view out entirely, and finally
left us on a mountaintop--our last ascension, thank Heaven!--with
nothing but clouds below us and about us, and we sky-high and drenched
to the very bone.

The fog broke suddenly and rolled away, wrapped in pale and splendid
mystery; it broke for us as we were upon the edge of a bluff. For some
moments we had been listening to the ever-recurring sob of the sea.
There at our feet curled the huge breakers, shouldering the cliff as if
they would hurl it from its foundation. A little further on in the
gloaming was the last hill of all; from its smooth, short summit we
could look into the Delectable Land by candle light, and mark how
invitingly stands a bungalow by the sea's margin at the close of a dusty

On the summit we paused; certain unregistered packages under the wagon,
which had preyed at intervals upon the minds of Alf, Croesus, and
Bartholomew, were now drawn forth. Life is a series of surprises;
surprise No. 1, a brace of long, tapering javelins having
villainous-looking heads, i.e., two marine rockets, with which to rend
the heavens, and notify the vassals at the bungalow of our approach. One
of these rockets we planted with such care that having touched it off,
it could not free itself, but stood stock still and with vicious fury
blew off in a cloud of dazzling sparks. The dry grass flamed in a
circle about us; never before had we fought fire with wildly-waving
ulsters, but they prove excellent weapons in engagements of this
character, I assure you. Profiting by fatiguing experience, we poised
the second rocket so deftly that it could not fail to rise. On it we
hung our hopes, light enough burdens if they were all as faint as mine.
With the spurt of a match we touched it, a stream of flaky gold rushed
forth and then, as if waiting to gather strength, _biff_! and away she
went. Never before soared rocket so beautifully; it raked the very
stars; its awful voice died out in the dim distance; with infinite grace
it waved its trail of fire, and then spat forth such constellations of
variegated stars--you would have thought a rainbow had burst into a
million fragments--that shamed the very planets, and made us think
mighty well of ourselves and our achievement. There was still a long
dark mile between us and the bungalow; on this mile were strung a
fordable stream, a ragged village of Italian gardeners, some monstrous
looking hay-stacks, and troops of dogs that mouthed horribly as we
ploughed through the velvety dust.

The bungalow at last! at the top of an avenue of trees--and such a
bungalow! A peaked roof that sheltered everything, even the deepest
verandas imaginable; the rooms few, but large and airy; everything wide
open and one glorious blaze of light. A table spread with the luxuries
of the season, which in California means four seasons massed in one.
Flowers on all sides; among these flowers Japanese lanterns of
inconceivable forms and colors. These hung two or three deep--without,
within, above, below; nothing but light and fragrance, and mirth and
song. We were howling a chorus as we drove up, and were received with a
musical welcome, bubbling over with laughter from the lips of three
pretty girls, dressed in white and pink--probably the whitest and
pinkest girls in all California; and this was surprise No. 2.

Perfect strangers to me were these young ladies; but, like most
confirmed bachelors, I rather like being with the adorable sex, when I
find myself translated as if by magic.

We were formed of the dust of the earth--there was no denying the fact,
and we speedily withdrew; but before our dinner toilets were completed,
such a collection of appetizers was sent in to us as must distinguish
forever the charming hostess who concocted them. I need not recall the
dinner. Have you ever observed that there is no real pleasure in
reviving the memory of something good to eat? Suffice it to state that
the dinner was such a one as was most likely to be laid for us under the
special supervision of three blooming maidens, who had come hither four
and twenty hours in advance of us for this special purpose. That night
we played for moderate stakes until the hours were too small to be
mentioned. I forget who won; but it was probably the girls, who were as
clever at cards as they were at everything else. We ultimately retired,
for the angel of sleep visits even a Californian bungalow, though his
hours are a trifle irregular. Our rooms, two large chambers, with
folding doors thrown back, making the two as one, contained four double
beds; in one of the rooms was a small altar, upon which stood a statue
of the Madonna, veiled in ample folds of lace and crowned with a coronet
of natural flowers; vases of flowers were at her feet, and lighted
tapers flickered on either hand. The apartment occupied by the young
ladies was at the other corner of the bungalow; the servants, a good old
couple, retainers in Alf's family, slept in a cottage adjoining. We
retired manfully; we had smoked our last smoke, and were not a little
fatigued; hence this readiness on our part to lay down the burdens and
cares of the day. When the lights were extinguished the moon, streaming
in at the seaward windows, flooded the long rooms. It was a glorious
night; no sound disturbed its exquisite serenity save the subdued murmur
of the waves, softened by an intervening hillock on which the cypress
trees stood like black and solemn sentinels of the night.

[Illustration: "The Huge Court of that Luxurious Caravansary."]

I think I must have dozed, for it first seemed like a dream--the
crouching figures that stole in Indian file along the carpet from bed to
bed; but soon enough I wakened to a reality, for the Phillistines were
upon us, and the pillows fell like aerolites out of space. The air was
dense with flying bed-clothes; the assailants, Bartholomew and Alf, his
right-hand man, fell upon us with school-boy fury; they made mad leaps,
and landed upon our stomachs. We grappled in deadly combat; not an
article of furniture was left unturned; not one mattress remained upon
another. We made night hideous for some moments. We roused the ladies
from their virgin sleep, but paid little heed to their piteous
pleadings. The treaty of peace, which followed none too soon--the
pillow-cases were like fringes and the sheets were linen
shreds--culminated in a round of night-caps which for potency and flavor
have, perhaps, never been equalled in the history of the vine.

Then we _did_ sleep--the sleep of the just, who have earned their right
to it; the sleep of the horny-handed son of the soil, whose muscles
relax with a jerk that awakens the sleeper to a realizing sense that he
has been sleeping and is going to sleep again at his earliest
convenience: the sweet, intense, and gracious sleep of innocence--out of
which we were awakened just before breakfast time by the most
considerate of hostesses and her ladies of honor, who sent into us the
reviving cup, without which, I fear, we could not have begun the new day
in a spirit appropriate to the occasion.

The first day at the bungalow was Friday and, of course, a fast day; we
observed the rule with a willingness which, I trust, the recording angel
made a note of. There was a bath at the beach toward mid-day, followed
by a cold collation in the shelter of a rude chalet, which served the
ladies in the absence of the customary bathing-machine. Lying upon rugs
spread over the sand we chatted until a drowsy mood persuaded us to
return to the bungalow and indulge in a _siesta_. It being summer, and a
California summer by the sea, a huge log fire blazed upon the evening
hearth; cards and the jingle of golden counters again kept us at the
table till the night was far spent. Need I add that the ladies presented
a petition with the customary night-cap, praying that the gentlemen in
the double-chamber would omit the midnight gymnastics upon retiring, and
go to sleep like "good boys." It had been our intention to do so; we
were not wholly restored, for the festivities of the night previous had
been prolonged and fatiguing.

We began our preparations by wheeling the four bedsteads into one room.
It seemed to us cosier to be sleeping thus together; indeed, it was
quite a distance from the extremity of one room to the extremity of the
other. Resigning ourselves to the pillows, each desired his neighbor to
extinguish the lights; no one moved to perform this necessary duty. We
slept, or pretended to sleep, and for some moments the bungalow was
quiet as the grave. In the midst of this refreshing silence a panic
seized us; with one accord we sprang to arms; the pillows, stripped of
their cases on the night previous, again darkened the air. We leaped
gaily from bed to bed, and in turn, took every corner of the room by
storm; the shout of victory mingled with the cry for mercy. There was
one solitary voice for peace; it was the voice of the vexed hostess, and
it was followed by the suspension of hostilities and the instant
quenching of the four tapers, each blown by an individual mouth, after
which we groped back to our several couches in a state of charming
uncertainty as to which was which.

Saturday followed, and, of all Saturdays in the year, it chanced to be
the vigil of a feast, and therefore a day of abstinence. The ladies held
the key of the larder, and held it, permit me to add, with a clenched
hand. It may be that all boys are not like our boys; that there are
those who, having ceased to elongate and increase in the extremities out
of all proportion, are willing to fast from day to day; who no longer
lust after the flesh-pots, and whose appetites are governable--but ours
were not. The accustomed fish of a Friday was welcome, but Saturday was
out of the question. "Something too much of this," said Croesus the
Sybarite. "Amen!" cried the affable Alf. There was an unwonted fire in
the eye of Bartholomew when he asked for a dispensation at the hands of
the hostess, and was refused.

All day the maidens sought to lighten our burden of gloom; the sports in
the bath were more brilliant than usual. We adjourned to the hay-loft
and told stories till our very tongues were tired. It is true that
egg-nogg at intervals consoled us; but when we had awakened from a
refreshing sleep among the hay, and fought a battle that ended in
victory for the Amazons and our ignominious flight, we bore the scars of
burr and hay-seed for hours afterwards. Cold turkey and cranberry sauce
at midnight had been promised to us, yet how very distant that seemed.
Hunger cried loudly for beef and bouillon, and a strategic movement was
planned upon the spot.

The gaming, which followed a slim supper, was not so interesting as
usual. At intervals we consulted the clock; how the hours lagged!
Croesus poured his gold upon the table in utter distraction. The
maidens, who sat in sack-cloth and ashes, sorrowing for our sins, left
the room at intervals to assure themselves that the larder was intact.
We, also, quietly withdrew from time to time. Once, all three of the
girls fled in consternation--the footsteps of Bartholomew had been heard
in the vicinity of the cupboard; but it was a false alarm, and the game
was at once resumed. Now, indeed, the hours seemed to fly. To our
surprise, upon referring to the clock, the hands stood at ten minutes to
twelve. So swiftly speed the moments when the light hearts of youth beat
joyously in the knowledge that it is almost time to eat!

Twelve o'clock! Cold turkey, cranberry sauce, champagne, etc., and no
more fasting till the sixth day. Having devastated the board, we must
needs betray our folly by comparing the several timepieces. Alf stood at
five minutes to eleven; Bartholomew some minutes behind him; Croesus,
with his infallible repeater, was but 10:45; as for me, I had discreetly
run down. The secret was out. The clock had been tampered with, and the
trusting maids betrayed. At first they laughed with us; then they
sneered, and then they grew wroth, and went apart in deep dismay. The
dining-hall resounded with our hollow mirth; like the scriptural fool,
we were laughing at our own folly. The ladies solemnly re-entered; our
hostess, the spokeswoman, said, with the voice of an oracle, "You will
regret this before morning." Still feigning to be merry, we went
speedily to bed, but there was no night-cap sent to soothe us; and the
lights went out noiselessly and simultaneously.

After the heavy and regular breathing had set in--I think all slept save
myself--light footsteps were heard without. Why should one turn a key in
a bungalow whose hospitality is only limited by the boundary line of the
county surveyor? Our keys were not turned, in fact,--too late--we
discovered there were no keys to turn. In the dim darkness--the moon
lent us little aid at the moment--our door was softly thrown open, and
the splash of fountains could be heard; it was the sound of many waters.
As I listened to it in a half dream, it fell upon my ear most musically,
and then it fell upon my nose, and eyes, and mouth; it seemed as if the
windows of heaven were opened, as if the dreadful deluge had come again.
I soon discovered what it was. I threw the damp bed clothes over my head
and awaited further developments. I began to think they never would
come--I mean the developments. Meanwhile the garden hose, in the hands
of the irate maidens, played briskly upon the four quarters of the
room--not a bed escaped the furious stream. Nothing was left that was
not saturated and soaked, sponge-full. The floor ran torrents; our boots
floated away upon the mimic tide. We lay like inundated mummies, but
spake never a word. Possibly the girls thought we were drowned; at all
events, they withdrew in consternation, leaving the hose so that it
still belched its unwelcome waters into the very centre of our drenched

Rising at last from our clammy shrouds, we gave chase; but the
water-nymphs had fled. Then we barricaded the bungalow, and held a
council of war. Sitting in moist conclave, we were again assailed and
driven back to our rooms, which might now be likened to a swimming bath
at low-tide. We shrieked for stimulants, but were stoutly denied, and
then we took to the woods in a fit of indignation, bordering closely
upon a state of nature.

I thought to bury myself in the trackless wild; to end my days in the
depths of the primeval forest. But I remembered how a tiger-cat had been
lately seen emerging from these otherwise alluring haunts, and returned
at once to the open, where I glistened in the moonlight, now radiant,
and shivered at the thought of the possible snakes coiling about my
feet. My disgust of life was full; yet in the midst of it I saw the
reviving flames dancing upon the hearth-stone, and the click of glasses
recalled me to my senses.

We returned in a body, a defeated brotherhood, accepting as a
peace-offering such life-giving draughts as compelled us, almost against
our will, to drink to the very dregs in token of full surrender. Then
rheumatism and I lay down together, and a little child might have
played with any two of us. I assured my miserable companions that "I was
not accustomed to such treatment." Alf added that "it was more than he
had bargained for." Bartholomew had neither speech nor language
wherewith to vent his spleen. As for the bland and blooming Croesus--he
who had been lapped in luxury and cradled in delight--it was his private
opinion, publicly expressed, that "the like of it was unknown in the
annals of social history."

[Illustration: "The Gallery Among the Huge Vases of Palms and

Yet on the Sunday--our final day at the bungalow--you would have thought
that the gods had assembled together to hold sweet converse; and, when
we lounged in the shadow of the invisible Ida, never looked the earth
more fair to us. The whole land was in blossom from the summit to the
sea; the gardeners, as they walked among their vines, prated of Sicily
and sang songs of their Sun-land. There was no chapel at hand, and no
mass for the repose of souls that had been sorely troubled; but the
charm of those young women--they were salving our wounds as women know
how to do--and the voluptuous feast that was laid for us, when we
emptied the fatal larder; the music, and the thousand arts employed to
restore beauty and order out of the last night's chaos, made us better
than new men, and it taught us a lesson we never shall forget--though
from that hour to this, neither one nor the other of us, in any way,
shape, or fashion whatever, has referred in the remotest degree to that
eventful night in a Californian bungalow.


"Primeval California" was inscribed on the knapsack of the Artist, on
the portmanteau of Foster, the Artist's chum, and on the fly-leaf of the
note-book of the Scribe. The luggage of the boisterous trio was checked
through to the heart of the Red Woods, where a vacation camp was
pitched. The expected "last man" leaped the chasm that was rapidly
widening between the city front of San Francisco and the steamer bound
for San Rafael, and approached us--the trio above referred to--with a
slip of paper in his hand. It was not a subpoena; it was not a dun; it
was a round-robin of farewells from a select circle of admirers, wishing
us joy, Godspeed, success in art and literature, and a safe return at

The wind blew fair; we were at liberty for an indefinite period. In
forty minutes we struck another shore and another clime. San Francisco
is original in its affectation of ugliness--it narrowly escaped being a
beautiful city--and its humble acceptation of a climate which is as
invigorating as it is unscrupulous, having a peculiar charm which is
seldom discovered until one is beyond its spell. Sailing into the
adjacent summer,--summer is intermittent in the green city of the
West,--we passed into the shadow of Mount Tamalpais, the great landmark
of the coast. The admirable outline of the mountain, however, was
partially obscured by the fog, already massing along its slopes.

The narrow-gauge of the N.P.C.R.R. crawls like a snake from the ferry on
the bay to the roundhouse over and beyond the hills, but seven miles
from the sea-mouth of the Russian River. It turns very sharp corners,
and turns them every few minutes; it doubles in its own trail, runs over
fragile trestle-work, darts into holes and re-appears on the other side
of the mountains, roars through strips of redwoods like a rushing wind,
skirts the shore of bleak Tomales Bay, cuts across the potato district
and strikes the redwoods again, away up among the saw-mills at the
logging-camps, where it ends abruptly on a flat under a hill. And what a
flat it is!--enlivened with a first-class hotel, some questionable
hostelries, a country store, a post-office and livery-stable, and a
great mill buzzing in an artificial desert of worn brown sawdust.

Here, after a five hours' ride, we alighted at Duncan's Mills, hard by
the river, and with a girdle of hills all about us--high, round hills,
as yellow as brass when they are not drenched with fog. In the twilight
we watched the fog roll in, trailing its lace-like skirts among the
highland forests. How still the river was! Not a ripple disturbed it;
there was no perceptible current, for after the winter floods subside,
the sea throws up a wall of sand that chokes the stream, and the waters
slowly gather until there is volume enough to clear it. Then come the
rains and the floods, in which rafts of drift-wood and even great logs
are carried twenty feet up the shore, and permanently lodged in
inextricable confusion.

I remember the day when we had made a pilgrimage to the coast, when from
the rocky jaws of the river we looked up the still waters, and saw them
slowly gathering strength and volume. The sea was breaking upon the bar
without; Indian canoes swung on the tideless stream, filled with
industrious occupants taking the fish that await their first plunge into
salt water. Every morning we bathed in the unpolluted waters of the
river. How fresh and sweet they are--the filtered moisture of the hills,
mingled with the distillations from cedar-boughs drenched with fogs and

Lounging upon the hotel veranda, turning our backs upon the last
vestiges of civilization in the shape of a few guests who dressed for
dinner as if it were imperative, we were greeted with mellow heartiness
by a hale old backwoodsman, a genuine representative of the primeval. It
was Ingram, of Ingram House, Austin Creek, Red Woods, Sonoma County,
Primeval California. It was he, with ranch-wagon and stalwart steeds.
The Artist, who was captain-general of the forces, at once held a
consultation with Ingram, whom we will henceforth call the Doctor, for
he is a doctor--minus the degrees--of divinity, medicine, and laws, and
master of all work; a deer-stalker, rancher, and general utility man;
the father of a clever family, and the head of a primeval house.

In half an hour we were jolting, bag and baggage, body and soul, over
roads wherein the ruts were filled with dust as fine as flour, fording
trout-streams, and winding through wood and brake. We passed the old
logging-camp, with the hills about it blackened and disfigured for life;
and the new logging-camp, with its stumps still smoldering, its steep
slides smoking with the friction of swift-descending logs, the ring of
the ax and the vicious buzz of the saw mingled with the shouts of the
woodsmen. How industry is devastating that home of the primeval!

Soon the road led us into the very heart of the redwoods, where superb
columns stood in groups, towering a hundred and even two hundred feet
above our heads! A dense undergrowth of light green foliage caught and
held the sunlight like so much spray; the air was charged with the
fragrance of wild honeysuckle and resiniferous trees; the jay-bird
darted through the boughs like a phosphorous flame, screaming his joy to
the skies; squirrels fled before us; quails beat a muffled tattoo in
the brush-snakes slid out of the road in season to escape destruction.

We soon dropped into the bed of the stream Austin Creek, and rattled
over the broad, strong highway of the winter rains. We bent our heads
under low-hanging boughs, drove into patches of twilight, and out on the
other side into the waning afternoon; we came upon a deserted cottage
with a great javelin driven through the roof to the cellar; it had been
torn from one of the gigantic redwoods and hurled by a last winter's
gale into that solitary home. Fortunately no one had been injured, but
the inmates had fled in terror, lashed by the driving storm.

We came to Ingram House in the dusk, out of the solitude of the forest
into a pine-and-oak opening, the monotony of which was enlivened with a
fair display of the primitive necessities of life--a vegetable garden on
the right, a rustic barn on the left, a house of "shakes" in the
distance, and nine deer-hounds braying a deep-mouthed welcome at our

In the rises of the house on the hill-slope is a three-roomed bachelors'
hall; here, on the next day, we were cozily domiciled. There were a few
guests in the homestead. The boys slept in the granary. The deer-hounds
held high carnival under our cottage, charging at intervals during the
night upon imaginary intruders. We woke to the blustering music of the
beasts, and thought on the possible approach of bear, panther,
California lion, wild cat, 'coon, and polecat; but thought on it with
composure, for the hounds were famous hunters, and there was a whole
arsenal within reach.

We were waked at 6:30, and come down to the front "stoop" of the
homestead. The structure was home-made, with rafters on the outside or
inside according to the fancy of the builder; sunshine and storm had
stained it grayish brown, and no tint could better harmonize with the
background and surroundings. In one corner of the stoop a tin wash-basin
stood under a waterspout in the sink; there swung the family towels; the
public comb, hanging by its teeth to a nail, had seen much service; a
piece of brown soap lay in an _abalone_ shell tacked to the wall; a
small mirror reflected kaleidoscopical sections of the face, and made up
for its want of compass by multiplying one or another feature. We never
before ate at the hour of seven as we ate then; then a pipe on the front
steps and a frolic with the boys or the dogs would follow, and digestion
was well under way before the day's work began. Then the Artist
shouldered his knapsack and departed; the lads trudged through the road
to school; the women went about the house with untiring energy; the
male hands were already making the anvil musical in the rustic smithy,
or dragging stock to the slaughter, or busy with the thousand and one
affairs that comprise the sum and substance of life in a self-sustaining
community. We were assured that were war to be declared between the
outer world and Ingram House, lying in ambush in the heart of our black
forest, we might withstand the siege indefinitely. All that was needful
lay at our hands, and yet, a stone's-throw away from our shake-built
citadel, one loses himself in a trackless wood, whose glades are still
untrodden by men, though one sometimes hears the light step of the
_bronco_ when Charlie rides forth in search of a strong bull. All work
was like play there, because of a picturesque element which predominated
over the practical. Wood-cutting under the window of the best room,
trying out fat in a caldron or an earth-oven against our cottage,
dragging sunburnt straw in a rude sledge down the hill-side road,
shoeing a neighbor's horse in a circle of homely gossips, hunting to
supply the domestic board at the distant market--is this all that Adam
and the children of Adam suffer in his fall?

At noon a clarion voice resounded from the kitchen door and sent the
echoes up and down the creek. It was the hostess, who, having prepared
the dinner, was bidding the guests to the feast. The Artist came in
with his sketch, the Chum with his novel, the Scribe with his note-book,
followed by the horny-handed sons of toil, whose shoulders were a little
rounded and whose minds were seldom, if ever, occupied with any life
beyond the hills that walled us in. We sat down at a camp board and ate
with relish. The land was flowing with milk and honey; no sooner was the
pitcher drained or the plate emptied than each was replenished by the
willing hands of our hostess or her boys.

Another smoke under the stoop followed, and then, perhaps, a doze at the
cottage, or in one of the dozen rocking-chairs about the house, or on
the rustic throne hewn from a stump in the grove between the house and
the barn. The sun flooded the cañon with hot and dazzling light; the air
was spiced with the pungent odor of shrubs; it was time to rest a little
before beginning the laborious sports of the afternoon. Later, we all
wandered on the banks of the creek and were sure to meet at the
swimming-pool about four o'clock. Meanwhile the Artist has laid in
another study. Foster has finished his tale, and is rocking in a hammock
of green boughs; the Scribe has booked a half-dozen fragmentary
sentences that will by and by grow into an article, and the boys have
come home from school.

By and by we wanted change; the monotony of town life is always more or
less interesting; the monotony of country life palls after a season.
Change comes over us in a most unexpected guise. Our cañon was decked
with the flaming scarlet of the poison-oak; these brilliant bits of
foliage are the high-lights in almost every California landscape, and
must satisfy our love of color, in the absence of the Eastern autumnal
leaf. The gorgeous shrubs stand out like burning bushes by the roadside,
on the hill-slope, in the forest recesses, and almost everywhere. The
Artist's chum gave evidence of a special susceptibility to the poison by
a severe attack that prostrated him utterly for a while. Yet he stood by
us until his vacation came to an end, and, to the last, there was no
complaint heard from this martyr to circumstances.

One day he left us--on mule-back, with nine dogs fawning upon his
stirrup, and amid a hundred good-byes wafted to him from the house, the
smithy, the barn, and the swimming-pool. He had orders to send in the
Kid, or his successor, immediately upon his arrival at the Bay. We must
needs have some one to indulge, some one whose interests were not
involved in the primeval farther than the pleasure it afforded for the
hour. The Kid was the very thing--a youngster with happiness in heart,
luster in his eye, and nothing more serious than peach-down on his lip;
yet there was gravity enough in his composition to carry him beneath the
mere surface of men and things. The Kid drove in one night with rifle
tall as himself, fishing-tackle, and entomological truck, wild with
enthusiasm and hungry as a carp.

What days followed! Our little entomologist chased scarlet-winged
dragon-flies and descanted on the myriad forms of insect-life with
premature accomplishment. "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings" we
heard revelations not unmixed with the ludicrous superstitions of the

There is a school-house a mile distant, on the forks of the creek; we
visited it one Friday, and saw six angular youths, the sum total of the
young ideas within range of the instructress, spelled down in
broadsides; and heard time-honored recitations delivered in the same old
sing-song that could only have been original with the sons of our first
parents. The school-mistress, with a sun-bonnet that buried her face
from the world, passed Ingram's ten times a week, footing it silently
along the dusty road, lunch-pail in hand. She lives in a lonely cabin on
the trail to the wilderness over the hill.

The Kid sketched a little; indeed, the artistic fever spread to the
granary, where the boys spent some hours of each day restoring, not to
say improving, the tarnished color of certain face-cards of an imperfect
euchre deck, the refuse of the palette being carefully secreted to this
end; we never knew at what moment we might sit upon the improvised
color-box of some juvenile member of the family.

But hunting was our delectable recreation; the Doctor would lead off on
a half-broken _bronco_, followed by a select few from the house or the
friendly camps, Fred bringing up the rear with a pack-mule. This was the
chief joy of the hounds; the old couple grew young at the scent of the
trail, and deserted their whining progeny with Indian stoicism. Two
nights and a day were enough for a single hunt,--one may in that time
scour the rocky fortresses of the Last Chance, or scale the formidable
slopes of the Devil's Ribs.

The return from the hunt was a scene of picturesque interest: the
approach of the hunters at dusk, as they emerged one after another from
the dark wood; the pack-mule prancing proudly under a stark buck
weighing one hundred and thirty-three pounds, without its vitals; the
baby fawn slain by chance (for no one would acknowledge the criminal
slaughter); the final arrival of the fagged, sore-footed dogs, who were
wildly greeted by the puppies, and kissed on the mouth and banged about
by many a playful paw; the grouping under the trees in front of
Bachelors' Hall, where the buck was slung, head downward among green
leaves, and with stakes crossed between the gaping ribs; the light of
the flickering lantern; the dogs supping blood from the ground where it
had dripped; the satisfaction of the hunters; the admiration of the
women; the wild excitement of the boys, who all talked at once, at the
top of their voices, with gestures quicker than thought;--this was the
Carnival of the Primeval.

One night, the Kid set out for the stubble-field and lay in wait for
wild rabbits; when he came in with his hands full of ears, the glow of
moonlight was in his eye, the flush of sunset on his cheek, the riotous
blood's best scarlet in his lips, and his laugh was triumphant; with a
discarded hat recalled for camp-duty, a blue shirt open at the throat,
hair very much tumbled, and no thoughts of self to detract from the
absolute grace of his pose.

But all hunting-parties were not so successful. One of seven came home
empty-handed and disgusted. It became necessary, while the unlucky
huntsmen were under our roof, to give them festive welcome. Fred drew
out his fiddle; the Doctor gathered his strength and shook as lively a
shoe on the sanded floor of the best room as one will hear the clang of
in many a day. Clumsy joints grew supple; heavy boots made the splinters
fly; a fellow-townsman, like ourselves on a vacation tour, jigged with
the inimitable grace of a trained dancer. How few of our muscles are
aware of the joy of full development! From the wall of the best room the
"Family of Horace Greeley," in mezzotint, looked down through clouded
glass and a veneered frame. The county map hung _vis-à-vis_. A family
record, wherein a pale infant was cradled in saffron, and schooled in
pink, passing through a rainbow-tinted life that reached the climax of
color at the scarlet and gold bridal, and ended in a sea-green grave;
this record, with a tablet for appropriate inscriptions under each epoch
in the family history, was still further enriched with lids of stained
isinglass carefully placed over the domestic calendar, as much as to
say, "What is written here is not for the public eye." On the triangular
shelf in the corner, stood the condensed researches of all Arctic
explorers, in one obese volume; its twin contained the revelations of
African discoveries boiled down and embellished with numberless cuts; a
Family Physician, one volume of legislative documents, and three stray
magazines, with a Greek almanac, completed the library. So, even in the
primeval state, we were not without food for our minds as well as
exercise for our muscles. After a time, even the dance ceased to attract
us. The Artist had lined the walls of his chamber with brilliant
sketches; the kid clamored for home.

I suppose we might have tarried a whole summer and still found some turn
in the brook, some vista in the wood, some cluster of isolated trees, to
hold us entranced; for the peculiar glory of the hour transfigured
them, and the same effect was never twice repeated. Moreover, we at last
grew intolerant of one great annoyance. You all have known it as we knew
it, and doubtless endured it with as little grace. Is there anything
more galling than the surpassing impudence of country flies? We resolved
to return to town, and returned close upon the heels of our resolution.
Again we threaded the dark windings of the wood, and bade farewell to
every object that had become endeared to us. We wondered how soon change
would lay its hand upon this primeval beauty. We approached the
logging-camp. Presto! in the brief interval since our first glimpse of
the forests above it, the hills had been shorn of their antique harvest,
and the valley was a place of desolation and of death.

It seemed incredible that the dense growth of gigantic trees could be so
soon dragged to market. There was a famous tree--we saw the stump still
bleeding and oozing up--which, three feet from the ground, measured
eleven and a half feet one way by fourteen feet the other. When its doom
was sealed, a path was cut for it and a soft bed made for it to lie on.
The land was graded, and covered with a cushion of soft boughs. Had the
tree fallen on uneven ground, it would have been shattered; if it had
swerved to right or left, nothing but fire could have cleared the

The making of the death-bed of this monster cost Mrs. Duncan forty
dollars. Then the work began. An ax in the hands of a skillful
wood-cutter threw the tree headlong to the earth. Then it was sawed
across, yielding eighteen logs, each sixteen feet in length, with a
diameter of four feet at the smallest end. The logs were put upon
wheels, and run over a light trestle-work to the mill, drawn thither by
a ridiculous dummy, which looked not unlike an old-fashioned tavern
store on its beam-ends, with an elbow in the air. At the mill, it was
sawed into eighty thousand feet of marketable lumber.

Reaching the forest, on our way to the Mills, we found the river had
risen so that ten miles from the mouth we were obliged to climb upon the
wagon-seats, and hold our luggage above high-water mark.

At Duncan's, on the home stretch, we made our final pilgrimage, to a
wild glen over the Russian River, where, a few weeks before, the
Bohemian Club had held high jinks. The forest had been a scene of
enchantment on that midsummer night; but now the tents were struck, the
Japanese lanterns were extinguished, and nothing was left to tell the
tale but the long tables of rough deal, where we had feasted. They were
covered with leaves and dust; spiders had draped them with filmy robes.
The quail piped, the jay-bird screamed, the dove sobbed, and a slim
snake, startled at the flight of a bounding hare, glided away among the
rustling leaves. So soon does this new land recover the primeval beauty
of eternal youth.


When your bosom friend seizes you by the arm, and says to you in that
seductive sotto voce which implies a great deal more than is confessed,
"Come, let us go down to the sea in ships, and do business in the great
waters," you generally go, if you are not previously engaged. At least,
I do.

Much has been said in disfavor of yachting in San Francisco Bay. It is
inland yachting to begin with. The shelving shores prevent the
introduction of keel boats; flat and shallow hulls, with a great breadth
of beam, something able to battle with "lumpy" seas and carry plenty of
sail in rough weather, is the more practical and popular type. Atlantic
yachts, when they arrive in California waters, have their rigging cut
down one-third. Schooners and sloops with Bermudian mutton-leg sails
flourish. A modification of the English yawl is in vogue; but large
sloops are not handled conveniently in the strong currents, the chop
seas, the blustering winds, the summer fogs that make the harbor one of
the most treacherous of haunts for yachtsmen.

Think of a race when the wind is blowing from twenty-five to
thirty-five miles an hour! The surface current at the Golden Gate runs
six miles per hour and the tide-rip is often troublesome; but there is
ample room for sport, and very wild sport at times. The total area of
the bay is four hundred and eighty square miles, and there are hundreds
of miles of navigable sloughs, rivers, and creeks. One may start from
Alviso, and sail in a general direction, almost without turning, one
hundred and fifty-five miles to Sacramento city. During the voyage he is
pretty sure to encounter all sorts of weather and nearly every sort of
climate, from the dense and chilly fogs of the lower bay to the
semi-tropics of the upper shores, where fogs are unknown, and where the
winds die away on the surface of beautiful waters as blue as the Bay of

There are amateur yachtsmen, a noble army of them, who charter a craft
for a day or two, and have more fun in a minute than they can recover
from in a month. I have sailed with these, at the urgent request of one
who has led me into temptation more than once, but who never deserted me
in an evil hour, even though he had to drag me out of it by the heels. I
am at this moment reminded of an episode which still tickles my memory,
and, much as a worthy yachtsman may scorn it, I confess that this moment
is more to me than that of any dash into deep water which I can at
present recall.

It was a summer Saturday, the half-holiday that is the reward of a
week's hard labor. With the wise precaution which is a prominent
characteristic of my bosom friend, a small body of comrades was gathered
together on the end of Meigg's Wharf, simultaneously scanning, with
vigilant eyes, the fleets of sailing crafts as they swept into view on
the strong currents of the bay. It was a little company of youths, sick
of the world and its cares, and willing, nay eager, to embark for other
climes. They came not unfurnished. I beheld with joy numerous demijohns
with labels fluttering like ragged cravats from their long necks;
likewise stacks of vegetables, juicy joints, fruits, and more demijohns,
together with a small portable iceberg; blankets were there, also guns,
pistols, and fishing tackle. If one chooses to quit this world and its
follies, one must go suitably provided for the next. Experience teaches
these things.

The breeze freshened; the crowd grew impatient; more fellows arrived;
another demijohn was seen in the distance swiftly bearing down upon us
from the upper end of the wharf, and at this moment a dainty yacht
skimmed gracefully around the point of Telegraph Hill, picking her way
among the thousand-masted fleet that whitened the blue surface of the
bay, and we at once knew her to be none other than the "Lotus," a crack
yacht, as swift as the wind itself. In fifteen minutes there was a
locker full of good things, and a deck of jolly fellows, and when we
cast off our bow-line, and ran up our canvas, we were probably the
neatest thing on the tide. I know that I felt very much like a lay
figure in somebody's marine picture, and it was quite wonderful to
behold how suddenly we all became sea-worthy and how hard we tried to
prove it.

A heavy bank of cloud was piled up in the west, through which stole long
bars of sunshine, gilding the leaden waves. The "Lotus" bent lovingly to
the gale. Some of us went into the cabin, and tried to brace ourselves
in comfortable and secure corners--item--there are no comfortable or
secure seats at sea, and there will be none until there is a revolution
in ship-building. Our yachting afforded us an infinite variety of
experience in a very short time; we had a taste of the British Channel
as soon as we were clear of the end of the wharf. It was like rounding
Gibraltar to weather Alcatraz, and, as we skimmed over the smooth flood
in Raccoon Straits, I could think of nothing but the little end of the
Golden Horn. Why not? The very name of our yacht was suggestive of the
Orient. The sun was setting; the sky deeply flushed; the distance highly
idealized; homeward hastened a couple of Italian fishing boats, with
their lateen sails looking like triangular slices cut out of the full
moon; this sort of thing was very soothing. We all lighted our
cigarettes, and lapsed into dreamy silence, broken only by the plash of
ripples under our bow and the frequent sputter of matches quite
necessary to the complete consumption of our tobacco.

[Illustration: Meigg's Wharf in 1856]

About dusk our rakish cutter drifted into the shelter of the hills along
the north shore of the bay, and with a chorus of enthusiastic cheers we
dropped anchor in two fathoms of soft mud. We felt called upon to sing
such songs as marines are wont to sing upon the conclusion of a voyage,
and I believe our deck presented a tableau not less picturesque than
that in the last act of "Black-eyed Susan." Susan alone was wanting to
perfect our nautical happiness.

How charming to pass one's life at sea, particularly when it is a calm
twilight, and the anchor is fast to the bottom: the sheltering shores
seem to brood over you; pathetic voices float out of the remote and
deepening shadows; and stars twinkle so naturally in both sea and sky
that a fellow scarcely knows which end he stands on.

I have preserved a few leaves from a log written by my bosom friend. I
present them as he wrote them, although he apparently had "Happy
Thoughts" on the brain, and much Burnand had well nigh made him mad.


9 p.m.--Dinner just over; part of our crew desirous of fishing during
the night; hooks lost, lines tangled, no bait; a row by moonlight

10 p.m.--The Irrepressibles still eager to fish; lines untangled, hooks
discovered; two fellows despatched with yawl in search of bait; a row by
moonlight again proposed; we take observation--no moon!

11 p.m.--Two fellows returning from shore with hen; hen very tough and
noisy; tough hens not good for bait; fishing postponed till daybreak;
moonlight sail proposed as being a pleasant change; still no moon; half
the crew turn in for a night's rest; cabin very full of half-the-crew.

Midnight.--Irrepressibles dance sailor's hornpipe on deck; half-the-crew
below awake from slumbers, and advise Irrepressibles to renew search for

12:30 a.m.--Irrepressibles return to shore for bait. Loud breathing in
cabin; water swashing on rocks along the beach; very picturesque, but no
moon yet; voice in the distance says "Halloa!" Echo in the other
distance replies, "Halloa yourself, and see how you like it!"

1 a.m.--Irrepressibles still absent on shore; a dog barks loudly in the
dark; a noise is heard in a far away hen-coop--Irrepressibles looking
diligently for bait.

1:30 a.m.--Dog sitting on the shore howling; very heavy breathing in the
cabin; noise of oars in the rowlocks; music on the water, chorus of
youthful male voices, singing "A smuggler's life is a merry, merry,
life." Subdued noise of hens; dog still howling; no moon yet; more noise
of hens, bait rapidly approaching.

2 a.m.--Irrepressibles try to row yawl through sternlights of "Lotus";
grand collision of yawl at full speed and a rakish cutter at anchor.
Profane language in the cabin; sleepy crew, half awake, rush up the
hatchway, and denounce Irrepressibles. Irrepressibles sing "Smuggler's
Life," etc.; terrific noise of hens; half-the-crew invite the
Irrepressibles to "be as decent as they can." No moon yet; everybody
packed in the cabin.

2:30 a.m.--Sudden squall. "Lotus," as usual, bends lovingly to the gale;
dramatic youth in his bunk says, in deep voice, "No sleep till morn!"
More dramatic youths say, "I heard a voice cry, 'Sleep no more'." Very
deep voice says, "Macbeth hath mur-r-r-r-dered sleep!" General confusion
in the cabin. Old commodore of the "Lotus" says, "Gentlemen, a little
less noise, if you please." Noise subsides.

3 a.m.--Irrepressibles propose sleeping in binnacle; unfortunate
discovery--no binnacle on board. Half-the-crew turn over, and suggest
that the Irrepressibles take night-caps, and retire anywhere. Moved and
seconded, That the Irrepressibles take two night-caps, and retire in a
body--item: two heads better than one, two night-caps ditto, ditto.

3:30 a.m.--Commotion in cabin. Irrepressibles find no place to lay their
weary heads. Moonlight sail proposed; observations on deck--no moon;
squall in the distance; air very chilly. Irrepressibles retire in a
body, and take night-caps. Song by Irrepressibles, "A Smuggler's Life."
Half-the-crew sit up and throw boots. Irrepressibles assault
half-the-crew, and take bunks by storm; great confusion; old commodore
of the "Lotus" says, "Gentlemen had better sleep a little, so as to be
in trim for fishing at daybreak," night-caps all round; order restored;
chorus of subdued voices, "A Smuggler's Life."

4 a.m.--Signs of daybreak; thin blue mist over the water; white sea-bird
overhead, with bright light on its breast; flocks bleating on shore;
sloop becalmed under the lee of the land; fishermen casting nets; more
fishermen right under them, casting nets upside down. Everything very
fresh and shining; feel happy; think we must look like marine picture by

4:30 a.m.--Commodore of the "Lotus" comes on deck, and takes an
observation; all favorable; commodore draws bucket of water out of the
sea and makes toilet, white beard of the commodore waves gently in the
breeze; fine-looking old sea-dog that commodore of the "Lotus."

Sunday Morning.--All quiet; air very clear and bracing. Shore resembles
new world. Feel like Christopher Columbus discovering America. Peaceful
and happy emotions animate bosom; think I hear Sabbath bells--evidently
don't: no Sabbath bells anywhere around. Penitentiary of San Quentin in
the distance; look at San Quentin, and feel emotion of sadness steal
over me; moral reflection to try and avoid San Quentin as long as

5 a.m.--Noise in cabins; boots flying in the air; cries for mercy;
reconciliation and eye-openers all round. Everybody on deck; next minute
everybody overboard bathing; water very cold; teeth chattering;
something warming necessary for all hands. Yawl goes out fishing; two
small boats at the disposal of Irrepressibles; a row by sunlight; no
moon last night; funny boy says, "Bring moon along next time!" Everybody
sees San Quentin at the same moment; half-the-crew advise Irrepressibles
to "go home at once." Cries of "hi yi." Irrepressibles say "they will
inform on half-the-crew when they get there"; disturbance on deck in
consequence; Commodore suggests a new search for bait; order restored;
new search for bait instituted. Three fellows sing "Father, come home,"
and look toward San Quentin. Bad jokes on the prison every ten minutes
throughout the day. Small fleet of stern-wheel ducks come alongside for
breakfast; ducks in great danger of the galley; flock of pelicans, with
tremendous bowsprits, fly overhead; pistol-shot carries away tail
feathers of pelican; order restored.

8 a.m.--Irrepressibles propose naval engagement; three small boats armed
and equipped for the fray. Irrepressibles routed; some taken prisoners;
great excitement; quantities of water dashed in all directions; boats
rapidly filling; two fellows overboard; cries for help, "fellows can't
swim a stroke"; intense excitement; boat sinks in five feet of water and
two feet of mud; the fellows brought on board to be wrung out.
Irrepressibles hang everything in the rigging to dry. Imagination takes
her accustomed flight; good study of nude Irrepressibles in great
number; think we must resemble the barge of Cleopatra on the Nile!
unlucky thought; no Cleopatra on board. Subject reconsidered; lucky
fancy--the Greek gods on a yachting cruise. Sun very hot; another bath
all round; a drop of something, for fear of catching cold; the Greek
gods on deck indulge in negro dances; two men on shore look on, and
wonder what's up. Sun intensely hot; Greek gods turn in for a square

It becomes necessary to suppress the bosom friend, who, it is
superfluous to state, was one of the leaders of the Irrepressibles on
the memorable occasion--and the balance of his log is consigned to the
locker of oblivion.

The cruise of the "Lotus" had its redeeming features, though they were
probably unrecorded at the time. There was fishing and boating; rambles
on shore over the grassy hills; a search for clams and a good
old-fashioned clam bake; to which the sharpest appetites did ample
justice; and there were quiet fellows, who stole apart from the rioters
and had hours of solid satisfaction. You may have rocked in a small
skiff yourself, casting your line in deep water, waiting and watching
for the cod to bite. It is pleasant sculling up to a distant point, and
sounding by the way so as to get off the sand and over the pebbly bottom
as soon as possible. It is pleasant to cast anchor and float a few rods
from shore, where the rocks are eaten away by the tides of numberless
centuries, where the swallows build and the goats climb, and the scrub
oaks look over into the sea, with half their hairy roots trailing in the
air. It is less pleasant to thread your hook with a piece of writhing
worm that is full of agonizing expression, though head and tail are both
missing and writhing on their own hooks, which are also attached to your
line. I wonder if one bit of worm on a hook recognizes a joint of itself
on the next hook, and says to it, in its own peculiar fashion, "Well,
are you alive yet?"

The baiting accomplished, with a great flourish you throw your sinker,
and see it bury itself in the muddy water; then you listen intently,
for the least suggestion of a disturbance down there at the other end of
the line; the sinker thumps upon this rock and the next one, drops into
a hole and gets caught for a moment, but is loosened again, and then a
sort of galvanic shock thrills through your body; on guard! if you would
save your bait; another twinge, fainter than the first, and at last a
regular tug, and you haul in your line, which is jerking incessantly by
this time. The next moment the hooks come to the surface, and on one of
them you find a Lilliputian fish that is not yet old enough to feed
himself, and was probably caught by accident.

Perhaps you haul in your line as fast as you can, bait it and throw it
in again as rapidly as convenient--for this is the sport that fishermen
love to boast of; perhaps you rock in your boat all day, and draw but a
half-dozen of these shiners out before their time, and waste your
precious worms to no purpose.

It's hungry work, isn't it? and the summons to dinner that is by-and-by
sounded from the yacht is a pleasing excuse for deserting so profitless
a task. The right thing to do, however, is to put on an appearance of
immense success whenever a rival skiff comes within hail. You hold up
your largest fish several times in succession, so as to delude the
anxious inquirers in the other boat, who will of course think you have a
dozen of those big cod with a striking family resemblance. It is a very
successful ruse; all fishermen indulge in it, and you have as good a
right to play the pantomime as they.

By-and-by we are glad to think of a return to town. Why is it that
pleasure excursions seem to ravel out? They never stop short after a
brilliant achievement nor conclude with an imposing tableau; they die
out gradually. Someone gets out here, some-one else falls off there, and
there is a general running down of the machinery that has propelled the
festival up to the last moment. They flatten unmistakably, and it is
almost a pity that some sort of climax cannot be engaged for each
occasion, in the midst of which everyone should disappear, in red fire
and a blaze of rockets.

Our yachting cruise was very jolly. We hauled in our lines and our
anchors, and spread our canvas, while the wind was brisk and the evening
was coming on; white-caps danced and tumbled all over the bay. It looked
stormy far out in the open sea as we crossed the channel; thin tongues
of fog were lapping among the western hills, as though the town were
about to be devoured by some ghostly monster, and presently it was of
course. The spray leaped half-way up our jib, and our fore-sail was
dripping wet as we neared the town; there was a rolling up of blankets,
and a general clearing out of the debris that always accumulates in
small quarters. Everybody was a little tired, and a little hungry, and
a little sleepy, and quite glad to get home again, and when the "Lotus"
landed us on the old wharf at the north end of the town, we crept home
through the side streets for decency's sake.

The young "Corinthian" would scorn to recognize a yachting exploit such
as I have depicted. The young "Corinthian" owns his yacht, and lives in
it a great part of the summer. He is the first to make his appearance
after the rainy season has begun to subside, and the last to be driven
into winter quarters at Oakland or Antioch, where the fleet is moored
during four or five months of the year. The "Corinthian" paints his boat
himself, and is an adept at every art necessary to the completeness of
yachting life. He can cook, sail his boat, repair damages of almost
every description; he sketches a little, writes a little, and is, in
fact, an amphibious Bohemian, the life of the regatta, whose enthusiasm
goes far towards sustaining the healthful and amiable rivalry of the two
yachting clubs.

These clubs have charming club-houses at Saucelito, where many a "hop"
is given during the summer, and where, on one occasion, "H.M.S.
Pinafore" was sung with great effect on the deck of the "Vira," anchored
a few rods from the dock; the dock was, for the time being, transformed
into a dress-circle. Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B., made his entree in a
steam launch, and all the effects were highly realistic. The only hitch
in the otherwise immensely successful representation was the
impossibility of securing a moon for the second act.

The annual excursion of the two clubs is one of the social events of the
year. The favorite resort is Napa, a pretty little town in the lap of a
lovely valley, approached by a narrow stream that winds through meadow
lands and scattered groves of oak. The yachts are nearly all of them
there, from twenty-six to thirty, a flock of white wings that skim the
waters of San Pablo Bay, upward bound. At Vallejo and Mare Island they
exchange salutes, abreast of the naval station, and enter the mouth of
Napa Creek; it is broad and marshy for a time, but soon grows narrow,
and very crooked. More than once as we sailed we missed stays, and
drifted broadside upon a hayfield, and were obliged to pole one another
around the sharp turns in the creek; it is then that cheers and jeers
come over the meadows to us, from the lesser craft that are sailing
breast deep among the waving corn. All this time Napa, our destination,
is close at hand, but not likely to be reached for twenty or thirty
minutes to come. We turn and turn again, and are lost to sight among the
trees, or behind a barn, and are continually greeted by the citizens,
who have come overland to give us welcome.

Riotous days follow: a ball that night, excursions on the morrow, and
on the second night a concert, perhaps two or three of them, on board
the larger vessels of the fleet. We are lying in a row, against a long
curve of the shore; chains of lanterns are hung from mast to mast, the
rigging is gay with evergreens and bunting.

The revelry continues throughout the night; serenaders drift up and down
the stream at intervals until daybreak, when a procession is formed, a
steamer takes us in tow, and we are dragged silently down the tide, in
the grey light of the morning. At Vallejo, after a toilet and a
breakfast, which is immensely relished, we get into position. Every eye
is on the Commodore's signal; by-and-by it falls, bang goes a gun, and
in a moment all is commotion. The sails are trimmed, the light canvas
set, and away flies the fleet on the home stretch, to dance for an hour
or two in the sparkling sunshine of San Pablo Bay, then plunge into the
tumbling sea in the lower harbor, and at last end a three days' cruise
with unanimous and hearty congratulations.

A week ago I could have added here that in the annals of the yacht clubs
of San Francisco there has never been a fatal accident, never a
drowning, nor a capsizing, nor a wreck, and this covers a period of
thirteen years; alas! in a single day, on a cruise such as I have been
writing of, there was a shocking death. One yacht nearly foundered, but
fortunately escaped into smooth water, another was dashed upon the
rocks, and is probably a total wreck; while a third lost her
centre-board over a mud bank, where it buried itself, and held the
little craft a helpless prisoner; the crew and guests of the latter took
to the small boats, pulled three miles in a squall, and were rescued by
a passing steamer when they were all drenched to the skin, and well-nigh

You see that inland yachting is not child's play, nor are these inland
yachts without their romantic records. The flag of the San Francisco
yacht club has floated among the South Sea Islands; one of its boats has
beaten the German and English types in their own waters; one has been as
far as the Australian seas; one is a pearl fisher in the Gulf of
California, and another is coquetting with the doldrums along the
Mexican coast. They are staunch little beauties all, and it would be
neither courteous nor healthful to think otherwise in the presence of
inland yachtsmen.

[Illustration: Telegraph Hill, 1855]


"Yosemite, Sept.--: Come at once--the year wanes; would you see the
wondrous transformation, the embalming of the dead Summer in windings of
purple and gold and bronze--come quickly, before the white pall covers
it--delay no longer. The waters are low and fordable, the snows
threaten, but the hours are yet propitious; and such a welcome waits you
as Solomon in all his glory could not have lavished on Sheba's
approaching queen. * * *"

There was much more of the same sort of high-toned epistolary rhetoric,
written and sent by a dear hand, whose fanciful pen seemed touched by
the ambrosial tints of Autumn. So the year was going out in a gorgeous
carnival, before the Lent-like solemnity of Winter was assumed.

I had only two things to consider now: First, was it already too late to
hasten thither, and enjoy the splendid spectacle so freely offered and
so alluring; secondly, could I, if yet in time, venture so boldly upon
the edge of Winter, and risk the possibility--nay, probability--of being
snow-bound for four or six months, 30 miles from any human habitation?

I did not long consider. I felt every moment that the soul of Summer was
passing. I scented the ascending incense of smoking and crackling
boughs. What a requiem was being chanted by all the tremulous and broken
voices of Nature! Would I, could I, longer forbear to join the
passionate and tumultuous _miserere_? It seemed that I could not, for
gathering about me the voluminous furs of Siberia, I bade adieu to
friends, not without some forebodings awakened by the admonitions of my
elders, then, dropping all the folly of the world, like a monk I went
silently and alone into the monastery of a Sierran solitude, resigned,
trusting, prayerful.

What an entering it was! With slow, devotional steps I approached the
valley. There was a thin veil of snow over the upper trail. It was
smooth and unbroken as I came upon it, following the blazed trees in my
way. Footprints of bear and fox, squirrel and coyote, were traceable.
The owl hooted at me, and the jay shot past me like a blue flash of
light, uttering her prolonged, shrill cry. As for the owl, I could not
see him, but I heard him at startling intervals give the challenge, "Who
are you?" so I advanced and gave the countersign. I don't believe it was
for his grave face alone that the owl was chosen symbol of Wisdom.

Not too soon came the steep and perilous descent into the abysmal depths
of the mountain fastness. It is a shame that pilgrims who come up
thither do not time their steps so as to reach this _Ultima Thule_ of
old times and ways at sunset. Then the magnificence of the spectacle
culminates. That new world below there is illuminated with the soft
tints of Eden. What unutterable fullness of beauty pervades all. The
forests--those moss-like fields are forests, and mighty ones, too--are
all aflame with the burnished gold of sunset, brightening the gold of
autumn; for gold twice refined, as it were, gilds the splendid
landscape. Only think of that picture, shining through the mellow haze
of Indian Summer, and flashing with the lambent glimmer of a myriad
glassy leaves. You can not see them moving, yet they twinkle
incessantly, and the warm air trembles about them while you hang
bewildered from a toppling parapet, four thousand feet above them; birds
swing under you in mid-air, streams leap from the sharp cliff, and reel
in that sickening way through the air that your brain whirls after them.
One is tired, anyhow, by the time he has reached this far, and a night
camp in the cool rim of this world-to-come is just the panacea for any
sort of weariness.

Take my advice: Sleep on it, and drop down on the wings of the morning,
while the sun is filling up this marvelous ravine with such lights and
shadows as are felt, yet scarcely understood. Refreshed, amazed,
bewildered, go down into that solemn place, and see if you are not more
saint-like than you dared to think yourself. When the times are out of
joint, as they frequently are, come up here, forget men and things;
don't imagine we are as bad as we seem, for it is quite certain we might
be a great deal worse if we tried. While you bemoan our earthliness, you
may not be the one saint among us. Coming down with the evening, I was
scarcely at the gates of the inner valley when night was on me. Of this
gate, it is formed of a ponderous monument on the right, called
Cathedral Rock, and on the left is the one bald spot in the Sierras, the
great El Capitan. The arch over this primeval threshold is the astral
dome of heaven, and the gates stand ever open. There is no toll taken in
any mansion of my Father's House, and this is one of them. Passing to
the door of my host, I lifted the latch noiselessly. Before me dawned
fresh experiences. At my back Night gathered deeper than ever, and all
around I seemed to read the rubric of Life's new lesson.

We are a comfort to ourselves--six of us, all told. Summer invites our
little company into a breezy hotel, over in the shadow across the
valley. Winter suggests a log cabin, an expansive fireplace, plenty of
hickory, and as much sunshine as finds its way into our secluded
hermitage. So we are done up compactly, in between thick walls, our hard
finish being in the shape of mud cakes in the chinks of the logs, and a
very hard finish it is; but we take wondrous comfort withal.

How do I pass the hours? Leaving my friends, I wander forth, after
breakfast, in any direction that pleases me. Take today this sheep path;
it leads me to a pebbly beach at a swift turn of the Merced. That clump
of trees produces the best harvest of frost-pointed leaves; there are
new varieties offered every day at an alarming sacrifice, and I invest
largely in these fragile wares. Tomorrow, I shall go yonder across three
tumultuous streams, upon three convenient logs, broad and mossy. Some
book or other goes with me, and is opened now and then. Such books as
Plant Life, The Sexuality of Nature, Studies in Animal Life, suggest
themselves. Open these anywhere, and each is annotated and illustrated
by the scene before me. Every page is a running text to the hour I

Perhaps a leaf falls into my lap as I sit over the brook, on a log--a
single leaf, gilded about its border, in the centre a crimson flush,
fast swallowing up the original greenness; the whole will presently be
bronzed and sombre. O, Leaf! how art thou mummified! We do not think of
these little things of Nature. Look at this leaf. What is its record?
How many generations, think you, are numbered in its ancestry? A
perpetual intermarriage has not weakened its fibres. The anatomy of this
leaf is perfect, and the sap of this oak flows from oak to acorn, from
acorn to oak, in an interminable and uninterrupted succession since the
first day. What are your titles and estates beside this representative?
What is your heraldry, with its two centuries of mold; your absurd and
confused genealogies, your escutcheons, blotted no doubt with crimes and
errors, when this scion, which I am permitted to entertain for a moment,
comes of a race whose record is spotless and without stain through ten
thousand eventful years. Why, Eve would recognize the original of this
stock from the mere family resemblance.

Do you think these days tiresome? It is embarrassing for some people to
be left alone with themselves. They can no longer play a part, for there
are none like themselves to play to. The sun and stars know you well
enough--most likely, better than you yourselves do. I like this. I would
out and say to myself: "Here is a confidant. Day hides nothing from me,
or you; it expresses all, exposes all--even that which we might not ask
to see. It is best that we should see it; there are no errors in

Walking, the squirrel nods to me. I nod back; and why shouldn't I?
Nature has familiarly introduced us. Squirrel munches under his tail
canopy till I am out of sight, jabbering all the while. What sage little
fellows go on four feet! I believe an animal has all the instincts of
Adam. He should never be tamed, however, lest he lose his identity.
Civilization rubs down the points in our character. As the surf rounds
the pebble, the masses round us. We are polished and insufferably
proper, but have no angles left! It is the angles that give the diamond
its lustre.

Are you hungry? When the index of shadow points out from the base of old
Sentinel Rock and touches that column of descending spray they call
Yosemite, I go to dinner. "The Fall of the Yosemite"--what a dream it
is. A dream of the lotus-eaters, and an aspiration of the Ideal in
Nature. You can not realize it; and yet, you will never forget it. Don't
take it too early in the Spring, when it is less ethereal--nay, somewhat
heavy; rather see it in summer after the rains, or in autumn, better
than all, when it is like a tissue of diamond dust shaken upon the air.
It really seems a labor for it to reach its foaming basin, it is so
filmy, spiritual, delicate. The very air wooes it from its perpetual
leap; sudden currents of wind catch it up and whirl it away in their
arms, a trembling captive, or dash it against the solemn and sad-looking
rock, where it clings for a moment, then trickles down the scarred and
rugged face of it, fading in its descent; sometimes it is waved back by
the elements, and almost seems to return into its cloudy nest up yonder
close under the sky. It only comes to us at last by impulses, and all
along its shining and vapory path rockets of spray shoot out like
pendants, dissolving singly and alone.

But "to return to our muttons." My dial says 12 M. There is no winding
up and down of weights here; 12 M. it undoubtedly is, and mutton waits.
These muttons were begotten here of muttons begotten here to the third
or fourth generation. Their wool is clipped, larded, and spun here by
one who lives here and loves this valley. These mittens, that keep the
frost from my fingers, are among the comforting results of this domestic
economy. In the cabin, by the fireplace, stands the old-fashioned
spinning wheel; and the old-fashioned body who manipulates the wool so
skillfully is the light of our little household. The shadow has struck
twelve from old Sentinel; and I take the sun once a day, and no oftener.
A cool, bracing air, a sharp run over the meadows, for I see the hostess
waving a signal at me for my tardiness, and I am hungry on my own
account--such cliffs and vistas as one sees here make one hollow with
looking at them, and are calculated to keep a supply of appetite on
hand. Do you like good long strips of baked squash? How do you fancy
bowls of warm milk--milk that declares a creamy dividend before morning?
Here is a fine fowl of our own raising--one that has seen Yosemite in
its glory and in its gloom; it ought to be good eating, and I can affirm
that it is. That's a dinner for you, and one where you can begin on pie
the first thing, if your soul craves it, which it frequently does.

A storm brewing, and rain in the lower valley. Never mind, there is no
hurry here; one blushes to be caught worrying in the august presence of
these mountains.

What can I do this stormy afternoon? Stop within doors and sit at the
window; a small grossbeak overhead, and we two looking out upon the rain
and fog. It is a mile nearly to that wall opposite, but look up high as
I can from my window I see no strip of sky. Here is a precipice of
homely, almost hideous-looking rock, and above it a hanging garden;
those pines in that garden are a hundred feet and more in height:
measure the second cliff by their proportions--how far is it, think you,
to the garden above? A thousand feet, perhaps; and three, four--no, six
of these terraces before you touch blue sky. Oh, what a valley! and
where else under heaven are we sunk forty fathoms deep in shadow? But
the sun is up yet, and there floats an eagle in its golden ray. I like
to watch the last beams burn out in that upper gallery among the pines.
There is a moment given us at sunset when we may partly realize the
inexpressible sweetness of the eternal day that is promised us--a dim,
religious light. There is no screen or tint soft enough to render the
effect perfectly. Only these few seconds at sunset seem to hint
something of its surpassing tenderness.

What cloud effects! Look up!--a break in the heavens, and beyond it the
shoulder of a peak weighing some billions of tons, but afloat now, as
soft in outline as the mists that envelop it. What masses of clouds
tumble in upon us! The sky is obscured, night is declared at once, and
the fowls go to roost at three P.M. How is the Fall in this weather? A
silver braid dropped from one cloud to another. Its strands parted and
joined again, lost and found in its own element. Leaping from its dizzy
eyrie in the clouds, itself most cloud-like, it is lost in a whirlwind
of foam. Now it is as a voice heard faintly above the wind, borne hither
and thither. Long, stinging nights, plenty of woolen blankets, and
delicious sleep. Then the evenings, so cosy around the fire. H---- reads
Scott; we listen and comment. Baby is abed long ago--little Baby, four
years old, born here also; knowing nothing of the beautiful world save
what is gathered in this gallery of beauties. Such a queer little child,
left to herself, no doubt thinking she is the only little one in
existence, contented to teeter for hours on a plank by the woodpile,
making long explorations by herself and returning, when we are all well
frightened, with a pocketful of lizards and a wasp in her fingers;
always talking of horned toads and heifers; not afraid of snakes, not
even the rattlers; mocking the birds when she is happy, and growling
bear-fashion to express her disapproval of any thing.

When the snows come, there will be avalanches by day and night, rushing
into all parts of the valley. The Hermit hears a rumbling in the clouds,
as he hoes his potatoes. He looks; a granite pilaster, hewn out by the
hurricanes centuries ago, at last grown weary of clinging to that
precipitous bluff, lets go its hold, and is dashed from crag to crag in
a prolonged and horrible suicide. A pioneer once laid him out a garden,
and marked the plan of his cellar; he was to begin digging the next day:
that night, there leaped a boulder from under the brow of this cliff
right into the heart of the plantation. It dug his cellar for him, but
he never used it. It behooved him and others to get farther out from the
mountain that found this settler too familiar, and sent a random shot as
a sufficient hint to the intruder.

In the trying times when the world was baking, what agony these
mountains must have endured. You see it in their faces, they are so
haggard and old-looking: time is swallowed up in victory, but it was a
desperate duel. There is a dome here that the ambitious foot of man has
never attempted. Tissayac allows no such liberty. Look up at that
rose-colored summit! The sun endows it with glory long after twilight
has shut us in. We are cheated of much daylight here--it comes later and
goes earlier with us; but we get hints of brighter hours, both morning
and evening, from those sparkling minarets now decked with snowy
arabesques. I have seen our canopy, the clouds, so crimsoned at this
hour that the valley seemed a grand oriental pavilion, whose silken roof
was illuminated with a million painted lamps. The golden woods of Autumn
detract nothing from the bizarre effect of the spectacle. To be sure,
these walls are rather sombre for a festival, but the sun does what it
can to enliven them, whilst the flame-colored oaks and blood-spotted
azaleas projecting on all sides from the shelving rocks resemble to a
startling degree galleries of blazing candelabra. Night dispels this
illusion, it is so very deep and mysterious here. The solemn procession
of the stars silently passes over us. I see Taurus pressing forward, and
anon Orion climbs on hand and knee over the mountain in hot pursuit.

Does it tire you to look so long at a gigantic monument? I do not
wonder. The secret of self-esteem seems to lie in regarding our
inferiors; therefor let us talk of this frog. I have heard his chorus a
thousand times in the dark. His is one of the songs of the night. Just
watch him in the meadow pool. See the contentment in his double chin;
he flings out three links of hind leg and carries his elbows akimbo; his
attitudes are unconstrained; he is entirely without affectation; life
never bores him; he keeps his professional engagements to the letter,
and sings nightly through the season, whether hoarse or not.

It is a good plan to portion off the glorious vistas of Yosemite,
allotting so many surprises to each day. Take, for instance, the ten
miles of valley, and passing slowly through the heart of it, allow a
tableau for every three hundred yards. You are sure of this variety, for
the trail winds among a galaxy of snowy peaks. Turn as you choose, it is
either a water-fall at a new angle, a cliff in profile, a reflection in
river or lake--the sudden appearance of the supreme peak of all, or
ravine, cañon, cavern, pine opening, grove or prairie. There is a point
from which you may count over a hundred rocky fangs, tearing the clouds
to tatters. I can not tell you the exact location of this terrific
climax of savage beauty; try to find it, and perhaps discover half a
dozen as singular scenic combinations for yourself. See all that you are
told must be seen, then go out alone and discover as much more for
yourself, and something no doubt dearer to your memory than any of the
more noted haunts. "See Mirror Lake on a still morning," they said to
me. I saw it, but went again in the evening, and saw a vision that the
reader may not expect to have reflected here. It was the picture of the
morning--so softened and refined a veil of enchantment seemed thrown
over it. Hamadryad or water nymph could not have startled me at that
moment: they belonged there, and were looked for. I shall hardly again
renew those impressions; it was all so unexpected, and one is not twice
surprised in the same manner. That wondrous amphitheatre was for once
made cheerful with the broad, horizontal bars of fire that shifted about
it, yet all its lights were mellowed in the purpling mists of evening,
and the whole was pictured in little on the surface of the lake. There
was nothing earthly visible, I thought then, for every thing seemed
transfigured, floating in a lucent atmosphere. It was the hour when the
birds are silent for the space of one intense moment, stopping with one
accord--perhaps holding their breath till the spell is broken. As I
stood entranced, a large golden leaf, ready and willing to die, let go
its hold on the top bough of a tree overhanging the water. From twig to
twig it swung. I heard every sound in its fall till it was out of the
congregation of its fellows, turning over and over in mid-air, sailing
toward the centre of the lake. There it hung on the rim of that
stainless crystal, while a thin ring of silver light noiselessly
expanded toward the shore. The sun was down. All the birds of heaven
said so with their bubbling throats. Bewildered with the delicious
conclusion of this illustration of still life, I turned homeward,
dispelling the mirage. Then such a ride home in the keen air, while a
pillar of smoke rose over the little cabin, telling me which of the
hundred bowers of autumn sheltered my nest.

But, again and again, I have seen all. Pohono has breathed upon me with
its fatal breath, yet I survive. It is said that three Indian girls were
long ago bewitched by its waters, and now their perturbed spirits haunt
the place. Those perfectly round rainbows may form the nimbus for each
of the martyrs; they, at any rate, look supernatural enough for such an
office. The wildly wooded pass to the Vernal and Nevada Falls has echoed
to my tread. I have been sprayed upon till my spirit is never dry of the
life-giving waters that flow so freely. But I am just a little tired of
all this. I begin to breathe short, irregular breaths. The soul of this
mighty solitude oppresses me; I want more air of the common sort, and
less wisdom in daily talks and walks. I remember the pleasant nonsense
of life over the mountains, and sigh for those flesh-pots of Egypt once
in a while. These rocks are full of texts and teachings--these cliffs
are tables of stone, graven with laws and commandments. I read
everywhere mysterious cyphers and hieroglyphics; every changing season
offers to me a new palimpsest. I do not quite like to play here; I dare
not be simple; I'm altogether too good to last long. How many thousand
ascensions have been made in these worshipful days, I wonder; not merely
getting the body on to the tops of these wonderful peaks, but going
thither in spirit, as when the soul goes up into the mountains to pray?
This eye-climbing is as fatiguing and perilous as any. I feel the want
of some pure blue sky.

A few farewell rambles associate themselves with packing up and plans of
desertion. Not sad farewells in this case, for if I never again meet
these individual mountains, I carry with me their memory, eternal and
incomparably glorious. Let us peep into this nook: I got plentiful
blackberries there in the spring, together with stains and thorny
scratches. I haul myself over the ferry and back, for old acquaintance'
sake; the current is so lazy, it seems incredible that the same waters
are almost impassable at some seasons. I succeed in wrecking a whole
armada of floating leaves with stems like a bowsprit. A few beetles take
passage in these gilded barges--no doubt, for the antipodes.

Did you ever drive up the cattle at milking time? I have; but not
without endless trial and tribulation, for they spill off the path on
either side in a very remarkable way, and when I rush after one with a
flank movement, the column breaks and falls back utterly demoralized. A
little strategy on the part of their commander (which is myself)
triumphs in the end, for I privately reconstruct and march them all up
in detachments of one. I look after the little trees, the unbent twigs;
they are more interesting to me than your monsters. This nursery of
saplings sprang up in a night after a freshet: here are quivering aspens
trembling forever in penance for that one sin. They once were gravely
pointed out by the guide of a party of tourists as "shuddering asps." He
is doubtless the same who, being asked "what that was," (pointing to the
North Dome, six thousand feet in the air) said "he'd be hanged if he
knew; some knob or other." I recall ten thousand pleasant times as I
turn my face seaward; not only the great and omnipotent shadows under
the south wall of the valley, nor the continuous canticles of the
waters, but innumerable little things that fill up and make life

The talks, the walks with my friends here, the parrot "Sultan," fed
daily from the table, soliloquizing upon men and things in Arabic and
Hindostanee, for he scorns English and talks in his sleep. There is
_Bobby_, the grossbeak, brought to the door in pin feathers and skin
like oiled silk by an Indian. His history is tragic: this Indian brained
the whole family and an assortment of relatives; Bobby alone remaining
to brood over the massacre, was sold into bondage for two bits and a
tin dipper without the bottom. The sun seems to lift his gloom, for he
sings a little, sharpens his bill with great gusto and tomahawks a bit
of fruit, as though dealing vengeance upon the destroyer of his race.

[Illustration: Sentinel Hotel, Yosemite, in 1869]

When shall I see another such cabin as this--its great fireplaces, and
the loft heaping full of pumpkins? O, Yosemite! O, halcyon days, and
bed-time at eight P.M., tucking in for ten good hours and up again at
six; good eatings and drinkings day by day, mugs of milk and baked
squash forever, plenty of butter to our daily bread; letters at wide
intervals, and long, uninterrupted "thinks" about home and friends (as
the poet of the "Hermitage" writes in one of his letters). Shall I ever
again sit for two mortal hours hearing a housefly buzz in the window and
thinking it a pleasant voice! But alas! those restless days, when the
air was full of driving leaves and I could find nothing on earth to
comfort me.

I leave this morning. Opportunity takes me by the hand and leads me
away. The heart leaps with emotion: everything is momentous in a quiet
life. This is the portal we entered one deepening dusk. Its threshold
will soon be cushioned with snow; let us hasten on. If I were asked when
is the time to visit Yosemite, I should reply: Go in the spring; see the
freshets and the waterfalls in their glory, and the valley in its fresh
and vivid greenness. Go again, by all means, in the autumn, when the
woods are powdered with gold dust and a dreamy haze sleeps in the long
ravines; when the stars sparkle like crystals and the mornings are
frosty; when the clouds visit us in person, and the trees look like
crayon sketches on a vapory background, and the cliffs like leaning
towers traced in sepia on a soft ground glass. Go in spring and autumn,
if possible. I should choose autumn of the two; but go at any hazard,
and do not rest till you have been. You can enter and go out at this
portal. Passing seaward, to the left, out of the gray and groping mists
a form, arises, monstrous and awful in its proportions; spurning the
very earth that crumbles at its very base as it towers to heaven. The
vapors of the air cleave to its massive front. The passing cloud is
caught and torn in the grand carvings of its capitals. Gaze upon it in
the solemnity of its sunlit surface. Impressive, impassive, magnetic;
having a pulse and the organs of life almost; terrible as the forehead
of a god. The full splendor of the noonday can not belittle it, night
can not compass it. The moon is paler in its presence and wastes her
lamp, the stars are hidden and lost over and beyond it. Across the face
of it is borne forever the shadowy semblance of a swift and flying
figure. Despair and desperation are in the nervous energy depicted in
this marvelous medallion. Surely, the Indian may look with a degree of
reverence upon that picture, painted by the morning light, fading in the
meridian day, and gone altogether by evening. A grand etching of
colossal proportions, representing the great chief Tutochanula in his
mysterious flight. The Wandering Jew might look upon it and behold his
traditional beard and flowing robes blown here by the winds in the
rapidity of his desperate haste. It is the last one sees of the valley,
as it is the last any have seen of Tutochanula. He fled into the west,
cycles ago, and I follow him now into the west, nest-building, and
getting into the shadow and resting after the door of the mountain is
passed, and my soul no longer beats impetuously against those stormy

With uncovered head, having nothing between me and Saturn, wiser, I
trust, for my intercourse with these masters, purer in heart and holier
for my prolonged vigil, with careful and reverential steps I pass out of
Yosemite shadows.




She was a smallish moon, looking very chaste and chilly and she peered
vaguely through folds of scurrying fog. She shone upon a silent street
that ran up a moderate hill between far-scattered corporation
gas-lamps--a street that having reached the hill top seemed to saunter
leisurely across a height which had once been the most aristocratic
quarter of the Misty City; the quarter was still pathetically
respectable, and for three squares at least its handsome residences
stared destiny in the face and stood in the midst of flower-bordered
lawns, unmindful of decay. Its fountains no longer played; even its once
pampered children had grown up, and the young of the present generation
were of a different cast; but the street seemed not to heed these
changes; indeed it was growing a little careless of itself and needed
replanking. Was it a realization of this fact, I wonder, that caused it
on a sudden to run violently down a steep place into the Bay, as if it
were possessed of Devils? Well it might be, for the human scum of the
town gathered about the base of the hill, and the nights there were
unutterably iniquitous.

O that pale watcher, the Moon! She shone on a rude stairway leading up
to the bare face of a cliff that topped the hill; and five and forty
uncertain steps that had more than once slid down into the street below
along with the wreckage of the winter rains, for the cliff was of rock
and clay and though the rock may stand until the crack of Doom, the clay
mingles with the elements and an annual mud pudding, tons in weight, was
deposited on the pavement of the high street, to the joy of the
juveniles and the grief of the belated pedestrians. The cliff towering
at the junction of the two thoroughfares shared with each its generous
mud-flow and half of it descended in lavalike cascades into the depths
of a ravine that crossed the high street at right angles, passing under
a bridge still celebrated as a triumph of architectural ungainliness.

She shone, my Lady Moon, into that deep ravine which was half filled
with shadow and made a weird picture of the place; it seemed like the
bed of some dark noiseless river, the source of which was still
undiscovered; and as for its mouth, no one would ever find it, or,
finding, tell of it, for the few who trusted themselves to its voiceless
and invisible current were heard of no more; sometimes a sharp cry for
help pierced the midnight silence, and it was known upon the hill that
murder was being done down yonder--that was all. Yet day by day the
great tide of traffic poured through this subterranean passage, with
muffled roar as of a distant sea.

She shone on all that was left of a once beautiful and imposing mansion.
It crowned the very brow of the cliff; it proudly overlooked all the
neighbors; it was a Gothic ruin girded about with a mantle of ivy and
dense creepers, yet not all of the perennial leafage that clothed it,
even to the eaves, could disguise the fact that the major portion of the
mansion had been razed to the ground lest it should topple and go
crashing into that gulf below. There, once upon a time, in a Gothic
garden shaded by slender cypresses, walked the golden youth of the land;
there, feminine lunch parties, pink teas, highly exclusive musicales and
fashionable hops, flourished mightily; now the former side-door served
as the front entrance to all that was left of the mansion; the stone
that was rejected had become the headstone of the corner, as it were; it
was an abrupt corner to be sure, with the upper half of its narrow door
filled with small panes of glass; its modest threshold was somewhat
worn; but upon the platform before it a large egg-shaped jar of
unmistakable Chinese origin encased the roots of a flowing cactus that
might have added a grace to the proudest palace in the Misty City. This
was the modest portal of the Eyrie; ivy vines sheltered it like a dense
thatch; ivy vines clung fast to a deep bay window that nearly filled one
side of the library of the old mansion, now a living-room; ivy vines
curtained the glazed wall of a conservatory where some one slept as in a
bower. A weird dwelling place was this the moon shone upon, where
pigeons nested and cooed at intervals in all the green nooks thereof.

She shone on the tall slim panes of glass in the bay window till they
shimmered like ice, and brightened the carpet on the floor of the
room--a carpet that was faded and frayed; she threw a soft glow upon the
three walls beyond the window; where were low, convenient shelves of
books; there were books, books, books everywhere--books of all
descriptions, neither creed nor caution limited their range. Many
pictures and sketches in oil or water-color--some of them unframed--were
upon the walls above the book-shelves; there were bronze statuettes,
graceful figures of lute-strumming troubadours upon the old-fashioned
marble mantel; there were busts and medallions in plaster, and a few
casts after the antique. Heaped in corners, and upon the tops of the
book-shelves lay bric-a-brac in hopeless confusion; toy canoes from
Kamchatka and the Southern seas; wooden masks from the burial places of
the Alaskan Indians and the Theban Tombs of the Nile Kings; rude
fish-hooks that had been dropped in the coral seas; sharks' teeth; and
the strong beak of an albatross whose webbed feet were tobacco pouches
and whose hollow wing-bones were the long jointed stem of a pipe; spears
and war-clubs were there, brought from the gleaming shores of
reef-girdled islands; a Florentine lamp; a roll of papyrus; an idol from
Easter Island, the eyes of which were two missionary shirt buttons of
mother-of-pearl, of the Puritan type; your practical cannibal, having
eaten his missionary, spits out the shirt buttons to be used as the eyes
which see not; carved gourds were there, and calabashes; Mexican
pottery; and some of the latest Pompeiian antiquities such as are
miraculously discovered in the presence of the amazed and delighted
tourist who secretly purchases the same for considerably more than a

There were pious objects, many of them resembling the Ex Votos at a
shrine; an ebony and bronzed indulgenced crucifix with a history, and
Sacred Hearts done in scarlet satin with flames of shining tinsel
flickering from their tops.

There were vines creeping everywhere within the room, from jars that
stood on brackets and made hanging gardens of themselves; creepers,
yards in length that sprung from the mouths of water-pots hidden behind
objects of interest, and these framed the pictures in living green; a
huge wide-mouthed vase stood in the bay window filled with a great pulu
fern still nourished by its native soil--a veritable tropical island
this, now basking in the moonlight far from its native clime. Japanese
and Chinese lanterns were there; and an ostrich egg brought from Nubia
that hung like an alabaster lamp lit by a moonbeam; and fans, of course,
but quaint barbaric ones from the Orient and the Equatorial Isles; and
framed and unframed photographs of celebrities each bearing an original
autograph; and easy chairs, nothing but the easiest chairs from the very
far-reaching one with the long arms like a pair of oars over which one
throws his slippered feet, and lolls in his pajamas in memory of an East
Indian season of exile, to the deep nest-like sleepy hollow quite big
enough for two, in which one dozes and dreams, and out of which it is so
difficult for one to rise. Over all this picturesque confusion grinned a
fleshless human skull with its eye sockets and yawning jaws stuffed full
of faded boutonnieres.

The moon shone, but paler now for it was growing late, on a closed coupe
that rolled rapidly from the Club House in the early morning after a
High Jinks night, and clattered through the streets accompanied by the
matutinal milk wagons with their frequent, intermittent pauses; thus it
rolled and rolled over the resounding pavement toward that house on the
hill top, The Eyrie.

The vehicle zigzagged up the steep grade, and stopped at the foot of
the long stairway; some one alighted and exchanged a friendly word or
two with the driver, for in that lonely part of the town it was pleasant
to hear the sound of one's own voice even if one was guiltily conscious
of making conversation; then with a cheerful "Good-night," this some-one
climbed the steps while the vehicle hurried away with its jumble of
hoofs and wheels. A key was heard at the outer door; the door sagged a
little in common with everything about the house--and a tenant passed
into the Eyrie.

Enter Paul Clitheroe, sole scion of that melancholy house whose
foundations had sunk under him, and left him, at the age of five and
twenty, master of himself, but slave to fortune.

In the dim light he closed and fastened the outer door; from a hall
scarcely large enough for two people to pass in, he entered the inner
room with the confident step of a familiar. Having deposited hat, cane
and ulster in their respective places--there was a place for everything
or it would have been quite impossible to abide in that snuggery--he
sank into one of the easy chairs, rolled a cigarette with meditative
deliberation, lighted it and blew the smoke into the moonlight where it
assumed a thousand fantastic forms.

The silence of the room seemed emphasized by the presence of its
occupant; he was one who under no circumstances was likely to disturb
the serenity of a house. In most cases a single room takes on the
character of the one who inhabits it; this is invariably the case where
the apartment is in the possession of a woman; but turn a man loose in a
room, and leave him to himself for a season, and he will have made of
that room a witness strong enough to condemn or condone him on the Last
Day; the whole character of the place will gradually change until it has
become an index to the man's nature; where this is not the case, the man
is without noticeable characteristics.

Those who knew Paul Clitheroe, the solitary at the Eyrie, would at once
recognize this room as his abode; those of his friends who saw this room
for the first time, without knowing it to be his home, would say: "Paul
Clitheroe would fit in here." A kind of harmonious incongruity was the
chief characteristic of the man and his solitary lodging.

He sat for some time as silent as the inanimate objects in that
singularly silent room. An occasional turn of the wrist, the momentary
flash of the ash at the end of his cigarette, the smoke-wreath floating
in space--those were all that gave assurance of life; for when this
solitary returned into his well-chosen solitude he seemed to shed all
that was of the earth earthy, and to become a kind of spectre in a

Having finished his cigarette, Paul withdrew into the conservatory, his
sleeping room, half doll's house and half bower, where the ivy had crept
over the top of the casement and covered his ceiling with a web of
leaves. Shortly he was reposing upon his pillow, over which his
holy-water font--a large crimson heart of crystal with flames of
burnished gold, set upon a tablet of white marble--seemed almost to
pulsate in the exquisite half-lights of approaching dawn.

It may not have been manly, or even masculine, for him thus literally to
curtain his sleep, like a faun, with ivy; it may not have been orthodox
for him to admit to his Valhalla some of the false Gods, and to honor
them after a fashion; the one true God was duly adored, and all his
saints appealed to in filial faith. That was his nature and past
changing; if he could not look upon God as a Jealous God visiting His
judgments with fanatical justice upon the witted and half-witted, it was
because his was a nature which had never been warped by the various
social moral and religious influences brought to bear upon it.

He may have lacked judgment, in the eyes of the world, but he had never
suffered seriously in consequence. It may not have been wise for him to
fondly nourish tastes and tendencies that were usually quite beyond his
means; but he did it, and doing it afforded him the greatest pleasure in

You will pardon him all this; every one did sooner or later, even those
who discountenanced similar weaknesses or affectations--or whatever you
are pleased to call them--in anyone else, soon found an excuse for
overlooking them in his case.

He was not, thank heaven, all things to all men; all things to a few, he
may have been--yea, even more than all else to some, so long as the
spell lasted; to the majority, however, he was probably nothing, and
less than nothing. And what of that? If he did little good in the world,
he certainly did less evil, and, as he lay in his bed, under a white
counterpane upon which the dawning light, sifting through the vines that
curtained the glazed front of his sleeping room, fell in a mottled
Japanese pattern, and while the ivy that covered the Gothic ceiling
trailed long tendrils of the palest and most delicate green, each leaf
glossed as if it had been varnished, this unheroic-hero, this
pantheistic-devotee, this heathenized-Christian, this
half-happy-go-lucky æthestic Bohemian, lay upon his pillow, the
incarnation of absolute repose.

And so the morning broke, and the early birds began to chirp in the ivy
and to prune their plumage and flutter among the leaves; and down the
street tramped the feet of the toilers on their way to forge and dock.
Over the harbor came the daffodil light from the sun-tipped eastern
hills, and it painted the waves that lapped the sleek sides of a yacht
lying at anchor under the hill. A yacht that Paul had watched many a day
and dreamed of many a night; for he often longed with a great longing to
slip cable and hie away, even unto the uttermost parts.



He shone on the far side of the eastern azure hills and set all the tree
tops in the wood beyond the wold aflame; he looked over the silhouette
out of a cloudless sky upon a Bay whose breadth and beauty is one of the
seven hundred wonders of the world; he paved the waves with gold, a path
celestial that angels might not fear to tread. He touched the heights of
the Misty City and the sea-fog that had walled it in through the night
as with walls of unquarried marble--albeit the eaves had dripped in the
darkness as after a summer shower--and anon the opaque vapors dissolved
and fled away. There she lay, the Misty City, in all her wasted and
scattered beauty; she might have been a picture for Poets to dream on
and Artists to love--their wonder and their despair--but she is not; she
is hideous to look upon save in the sunset or the after-glow when you
cannot see her, but only the dim vision of what she might have been.

He rose as a God refreshed with sleep and called the weary to their
work, and disturbed the slumbers of those that toil not and spin not,
and have nothing to do but sleep.

There were no secrets from him now; every detail was discovered; and so
having gilded for a moment the mossy shingles of the Eyrie he stole into
the room where Paul Clitheroe passed most of his waking hours, and
through the curtain of ivy and geraniums that screened the conservatory
from the eyes of the curious world, and where Paul was at this moment
sleeping the sleep of the just. From the bed of the ravine below the
Eyrie rose the rumble and roar of traffic. The hours passed by. The
sleeper began to turn uneasily on his pillow. The sound of hurrying feet
was heard upon the board walks in front of the Eyrie-cliff; many voices,
youthful voices, swelled the chorus that told of the regiments of
children now hastening to school. From dreamland Paul returned by easy
stages to the work-a-day world. He arose, donned a trailing garment with
angel sleeves and a large crucifix embroidered in scarlet upon the
breast--that robe made of him a cross between a Monk and a
Marchioness--slipped his feet into sandals and entered the larger
chamber which was at once living-room and library. He opened the
shutters in the deep bay window and greeted the day with the silent
solemnity of a fire-worshipper; gave drink to his potted palms and ferns
and flowering plants; let his eye wander leisurely over the titles of
his books; lingered a little while over his favorites and patted some of
them fondly on the back. Taking a small key from its nail by the door he
opened the mail box without, carrying his letters to his writing table
and leaving them there unopened. He loved to speculate as to whom the
writers were and what they may have said to him. This piqued his
curiosity, and tided him over a scant breakfast at an inexpensive but
fly-blown restaurant where he was wont to eat or make a more or less
brave effort to eat whenever he had the wherewithal to settle for the
same. Breakfast over and gone the young man returned to his Eyrie, and
in due course was at his writing table, and at work upon the weekly
article that had been appearing in the Sunday issue of one of the
popular Dailies for an indefinite period, and the price of which had on
several occasions kept him from becoming a conspicuous object of

Having written himself out for the day, as he was apt to in a few hours,
he wandered down to the Club for a bit of refreshment which was sure to
be forthcoming, for his friends there were ever ready to dine him, or
more frequently to wine him, merely for the pleasure of his company.

[Illustration: San Francisco in 1856]

So the afternoon waned and the dinner hour approached; fortunately this
hour was usually bespoken and for a little while at least he was lapped
in luxury. On his way home he was very apt to turn in at the wicker
gates of a typical German Rathskellar where he was unmolested; where the
blustering pipes of a colossal orchestrion brayed through an aria from
Trovatore with more sound than sentiment and all unmindful of

He was at home by midnight, for the beer and the bravura ceased to flow
at the witching hour. Then he lounged in the easy chair, gradually and
not unconsciously shedding all the worldly influences that had been
clothing him as with a hair-shirt even since he first went forth that
morning. Safely he sank into the silence of the place. Every breath he
drew was balm; every moment healing. So he passed into the silence,
enfolded by invisible arms that led him gently to his pillow where he
sank to sleep with the trustful resignation of a tired babe.

If this routine was ever varied it was a variation with a vengeance.
"From grave to gay, from lively to severe" might have been engraved upon
his escutcheon. It chanced that the family motto was Festina Lente; this
also was appropriate; had he not all his life made haste slowly? For
this very reason he had been accounted one of the laziest of his kind;
his indolence was a byword merely because he did not throw himself into
an easy chair at the Club, of an evening, and bewail his fate; because
he did not puff and blow and talk often of the work he had
accomplished, was accomplishing, or hastening forward to accomplishment.
With all his faults, thank heaven, that sin cannot be charged against



He was scrimping in every way; his case was growing desperate. The
books, the pictures, the bric-a-brac so precious in his eyes, he was
loath to part with; moreover, he was well aware that if he were to
trundle his effects down to an auction-room they would not bring him
enough to cover his expenses for a single week. "Better to starve in the
midst of my household gods," thought he, "than to part with them for the
sake of prolonging this misery." The situation was in some respects
serio-comic. While he seemed to have everything, he really had almost
nothing; he was in a certain sense at the mercy of his friends and
dependent upon them.

As the dinner hour approached, Paul was called upon to make choice of
the character of his table-talk; there were several standing invitations
to dine at the houses of old friends, and these were a boon to him, for
at such houses the homeless fellow felt much at home. There were special
invitations, sometimes an embarrassing profusion of them--all kindly,
some persistent, and some even imperative; thus the dinner was a fixed
fact; the mood alone was to be consulted in his choice of a table and
after all how much of the success of a dinner depends upon the mood of
the diner!

Paul's income was uncertain; while he had written much, and traveled
much as a special correspondent, he had never regularly connected
himself with any journal, and he knew nothing of the routine of
office-work. Sometimes, I may say not infrequently, he could not write
at all; yet his pen was his only source of revenue, and often he was
without a copper to his credit. He was, therefore, constrained to dine
sumptuously with friends, when he would have found a solitary salad a
sweet alternative, and independence far more acceptable. The state of
the exchequer was very often alarming, and his predicament might have
cast a stronger man into the depths; but Paul could fast without
complaint, when necessary, for he had fasted often; and, to confess the
truth, he would much rather have fasted on and on, than parted with any
of the little souvenirs that made his surroundings charming in spite of
his privations. The friends who loved and fondled him were wont to send
messengers to his door with gifts of flowers, books, pictures and the
like, when soup-tickets would have been more serviceable, though by no
means more acceptable. It had happened to him more than once, that
having failed to break his fast--for he had a judicious horror of debt,
born of bitter experience--he received at a late hour as tokens of
sincere interest in his welfare, scarf pins, perfumery and scented soap;
or it may have been a silk handkerchief bearing the richly wrought
monogram of the happy but hungry recipient. At any rate these
testimonials of his popularity were never edible. Was this hard luck? He
went from one swell dinner to another, day after day, with never so much
as a crumb between meals. It of course made some difference to him--this
prolonged abstinence--but fortunately, or unfortunately, the effect upon
him mentally, morally and physically was hardly visible to the naked

He had a dress coat of the strictly correct type, which he had worn but
a few times; he had lectured in it; once or twice, he had recited poems
in it to the audiences of admiring lady friends. It was of no use to him
now, and he felt that he should never need it again. On the street below
him was a small shop, kept by the customary Israelite. Again and again,
Paul had noted the sun-faded frock-coat swinging from a hook over the
sidewalk in front of this shop; he had said, "I will take this coat to
him; it is a costly garment; divide the original price of it by the
number of times I have worn it and I find it has cost me about ten
dollars an evening. Perhaps this old-clothes dealer will pay me a fair
price for it; Jew though he be, he may be possessed of the heart of a

Alas and alack! All of Clitheroe's sufferings could be traced to the
cool, calculating hardness of the Christian's heart. Probably it was
prejudice alone that caused him to trust the Christian, and distrust the

From day to day he passed the shop, striving to muster courage enough to
enter and propose his bargain. At first he had imagined the dealer
offering him but ten dollars for the coat--it had cost him a goodly sum;
a little later he concluded that ten dollars was too little for any one
to offer him; he might take twenty; a day later thirty seemed to him a
probable offer, and shortly after he imagined himself consenting to
receive fifty dollars, since the coat was in such admirable repair.

One day he took it to the dealer; he was not cordially welcomed by the
man in shirt sleeves, with whom of late he had held innumerable
imaginary conversations. The shop was extremely small and dark; the odor
of dead garments pervaded it. With an earnest and kindly glance, Paul
invited the sympathy of Abraham the son of Moses who was the son of
Isaac; he saw nothing but speculation in those eyes. His coat was
examined and tossed aside, as possessing few attractions. Clitheroe's
heart sunk within him; and it sank deeper and deeper as it began to
dawn upon him that the Hebrew had no wish to possess the garment, and,
if he did so, he did so only to oblige the Christian youth. A bargain
was at last struck; Paul departed with five dollars in his pocket--his
dress-coat was a thing of the past.

What could he do next to extricate himself from his dubious dilemma? He
had a small gold watch, a precious souvenir: "Gold is gold," said he,
"and worth its weight in gold." He had the address of one who was known
far and wide as "Uncle." He had heard of persons of the highest
respectability seeking this uncle when close pressed, and there finding
temporary relief at the hands of one who is in some respects a good
Samaritan in disguise. Paul found it absolutely impossible for him to
enter the not unattractive front of this establishment but there was a
"private entrance" in a small dark alley-way; so delicate is the
consideration of an uncle whose business it is to nourish those in

One night, it was late at night, Clitheroe stole guiltily in through the
private entrance, and sought succor of his uncle: this was an unctuous
uncle, who was as sympathetic and emotional as an undertaker. Paul
exhibited his watch; not for worlds would he part with it forever; money
he must have at once, and surely some good angel would come to his
assistance before many days; this state of affairs could not exist much
longer. Mine uncle examined the watch with kindly eyes; with a pathetic
shake of his head, a pitiful lifting of his bushy eyebrows, a
commiserating shrug of his fat shoulders, and a petulant pursing of his
plump lips as much as to say, "Well, it is a pity, but we must make the
best of it, you know"--he told Clitheroe he would advance him ten
dollars on the watch. For this the boy was to pay one dollar per week,
and in the end receive his watch, as good as new, for the sum of ten
dollars, as originally advanced. Paul hesitated, but consented since he
had no choice in the matter.

"What name?" asked the Uncle, benevolently.

"P. Clitheroe," said Paul under his breath, as if he feared the whole
world might know of his disgrace; he looked upon this transaction as
nothing short of disgrace, and he wished to keep it a profound secret.

"Oh, yes; I know the name very well. Well, Mr. Clitheroe, here is your
ticket; take good care of it; and here is your money--you will always
pay your money in advance, and weekly, until you redeem your pledge. I
deduct the dollar for the first week."

Clitheroe took the proffered money, and withdrew. To his surprise and
chagrin he found himself possessed of but nine dollars. "It will not go
far," thought he with a heavy sigh; "and where is the dollar to come
from? I don't see that I have gained much by this exchange."

What he gained was this: for fifteen weeks he managed by the strictest
economy to pay his dollar. At the end of that time, he no longer found
it possible to even pay a dollar and the affair with the Uncle ended
with his having lost, not only his watch, but sixteen dollars into the

       *       *       *       *       *

A month has passed: the sun is streaming through the tall narrow windows
of a small chapel; the air is flooded with the music that floats from
the organ loft, the solemn strains of a requiem chanted by sweet
boy-voices; clouds of fragrant incense half obscure the altar, where the
priest in black vestments is offering the solemn sacrifice of the Mass
for the repose of the soul of one whom Paul had loved dearly ever since
he was a child. There is one chief mourner kneeling before the altar--it
is Paul Clitheroe.

When the Mass is over, while the exquisite silence of the place is
broken only by the occasional note of some bird lodging in the branches
of the trees without, Paul lingers in profound meditation. He is not at
all the Paul whom we knew but a few months ago; through some mysterious
influence he seems to have cast off his careless youth, and to have
become a grave and thoughtful man.

From the chapel he wanders into the quiet library on the opposite side
of a cloister, where the flowers grow in tangle, and a fountain splashes
musically night and day, and the birds build and the bees swarm among
the blossoms. Now we see him chatting with the Fathers as they stroll up
and down in the sunshine; now musing over the graves of the Franciscan
Friars who founded the early missions on the Coast; now dreaming in the
ruins of the orchard--wandering always apart from the novices and the
scholastics, who sometimes regard him curiously as if he were not wholly
human but a kind of shadow haunting the place.

His heart grew warm and mellow as he sat by the adobe wall under the
red-baked Spanish tiles, richly mossed with age, and contemplated the
statue of the Madonna in the trellised shrine overgrown with passion
flowers. There were votive offerings of flowers at her feet, and he laid
his tribute there from day to day. Neither did he neglect to pay his
visit to the shrine of St. Joseph, in the cloister, or St. Anthony of
Padua, whom he loved best of all, and whose statue stood under the
willows by the great pool of gold fish.

He used to count the hours and the quarter hours as they chimed in the
belfry and he was beginning to grow fond of the inexorable routine and
to find it passing sweet and restful.

He was unconsciously falling into a mode of life such as he had never
known before, and he seemed to feel a growing repugnance to the world
without him; how very far away it seemed now! He realized an increasing
sense of security so long as he lodged within those gates. His dark
robed companions, the amiable Fathers, cheered him, comforted him,
strengthened him; and yet when his ghostly father one day sent word to
Clitheroe that he desired to see him immediately, and thereupon insisted
that the heart-broken boy accompany him to the retreat of his Order, he
had no thought other than to offer Paul the change of scene which alone
might help to tide the youth over the first crushing pangs of

"Give me a week or two of your time," pleaded the good priest--"and I
will introduce you to a course of life such as you have never known; it
should interest and perhaps benefit you; possibly you may find it
delightful. At any rate you must be hastened out of the morbid mood
which now possesses you, even if we have to drag you by force."

So Paul went with him, suddenly and in a kind of desperation: his visit
was prolonged from day to day, until some weeks had passed. Peace was
returning to him--peace such as he had never known before.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile certain of the young poet's friends had called to see him at
the Eyrie, and to their amazement found his rooms deserted; in the
staring bay window with the inner blinds thrown wide open was notice "To
Let." His landlady knew nothing of his whereabouts. He had said good-bye
to no one. His disappearance was perhaps the most mysterious of
mysterious disappearances!

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, what really happened was this. Having packed everything he valued
and seen it safely stored, he settled with his landlady and went down to
the Club. It was his P.P.C., though no one there suspected it, and with
just a touch of sentiment--he walked through the rooms alone; he saw at
a glance that the usual habitues of the place were employing themselves
in the same old way. Though he had not been there often of late, no one
seemed much surprised to see him; he passed through the suite of rooms
without addressing himself to any one in particular; a glance of
recognition here and there; a smile, a slight nod, now and again, this
was all. Having made the rounds he returned to the cloak-room, took his
hat and cane and departed.

From that hour dated his disappearance. From that hour the Eyrie saw him
no more forever.

       *       *       *       *       *



For a long while he had been listening to the moan of the sea--the wail
and the warning that rise from every reef in that wild waste of waters.
There was no moon, but the large stars cast each a wake upon the wave,
and the distant surf-lines were faintly illuminated by a phosphorescent

There were reefs on every hand, and treacherous currents that would have
imperilled the ribs of any craft depending on the winds alone for its
salvation; but the "_Waring_," its pulse of steam throbbing with a slow
measured beat, picked its way in the glimmering night with a confidence
that made light of dangers past, present, and to come.

It had struck eight-bells forward; midnight; the air was warm, moist,
caressing; it stole forth from invisible but not far distant vales
ladened with the unmistakable odor of the land--a fragrance that was at
times faint enough, but at other times was almost overwhelming; from the
heart of the tropics only, is such perfume distilled; few who inhale it
for the first time can resist its subtle charm; its influence once
yielded to, the soul is soon enslaved and the dreams that follow are
never to be forgotten.

Eight-bells, and silence broken only by the swish of the propeller as it
ploughed slowly, deliberately, through the sea; the slap of the ripples
under the prow, and an occasional harp-like sigh of the zephyr in the
softly-vibrating shrouds; Paul Clitheroe had stolen out of the cabin and
was sitting by the companion-way on the port side. A small ladder still
hung there, for there had been boating and bathing just before dinner,
and there was sure to be more or less fishing whenever the weather was
favorable. Moreover, it must be acknowledged that the yacht was
liberty-hall afloat, yes, adrift, on a go-as-you-please cruise, and
things were not always in ship-shape.

An old half-breed Trader, who knew these seas as the star-gazer knows
the skies, was in the wheelhouse; every wakeful eye among officers and
crew, was at the prow peering into the depth in search of
danger-signals; every ear was listening intently for an order from the
lips of the pilot, and for the first whisper of the wave upon the reef.
Meanwhile the vessel crept forward with utmost caution, barely ruffling
the water under her keel.

_One Bell! Two Bells!_ Clitheroe had for a long time been sitting
unobserved by the companion-way. He had dined with a riotous company and
withdrew as soon after dinner as possible; this privilege was freely
accorded him, for he was at intervals gloomy, or silent, and his
companions were quite willing to dispense with his society. Hilarity had
ceased for the night, the fact was patent. The truth is, there was apt
to be something too much of it aboard that ship. When a young gentleman,
on the death of a distant relative, comes suddenly into an almost
fabulous fortune, he is apt to set about doing that which pleases him
best; in all probability he overdoes it. If he be fond of any society
and is willing to pay for the purchase of it, he will find no difficulty
in supplying himself, even to the verge of satiety.

A certain gentleman who shall be nameless in these pages but who came to
be known among his followers as _The Commodore_, finding himself heir to
a fortune, chartered a yacht for a summer cruise, and invited his
friends to join him. The yacht had been for some weeks the scene of
unceasing festivity; the joyous party on board her had passed from
island to island, the feted guests of Kings and Queens and dusky Chiefs;
feasting, dancing, and the exchange of gifts--these were the order of
entertainment night and day.

It was a novel life for most who were on board, filled with adventure
and spectacular surprises. The Commodore's hospitality was boundless;
the appetites of his guests insatiable. But Clitheroe had seen all this
from quite another point of view; he had been a native among the
natives; admitted into brotherhood with the tribe, he had lived the life
they lead until it had become as natural to him as if he had been born
to it. Their thoughts were his thoughts, their tongue, his tongue. He
was thinking of this as he sat by the companion-way, in the silence,

_Three Bells!_ He rose and going to the open transom, looked down into
the cabin. The long dinner table had been relieved of dessert-dishes,
but the after-dinner bottles were there in profusion, and cigar-boxes
and cigarettes within convenient reach; it was an odd scene; a picture
of confusion in a dead calm. The lights were burning low and there was
no sound save the hoarse breathing of some of the revelers who had
subsided into uncomfortable positions and were too heavy with sleep to
seek easier ones. Clitheroe saw at the head of the table the Commodore,
stretched back in his easy chair; he was fast asleep; there was no doubt
about that. His guests one and all were dozing. The drowsy stupor that
follows a debauch pervaded the whole company. I venture the assurance
that not one person present could have been aroused in season to save
himself or herself had the ship at that moment struck a reef, and

There they were, dimly outlined under the cabin-lamps, the companions
with whom for a season Clitheroe had been more or less intimately
associated in the Misty City; the Bohemians who had found it an easy and
pleasant thing to flock upon the deck of the "_Waring_," one foggy
afternoon, and set sail on a summer cruise. The Commodore invited them
for his entertainment, and because he was a mighty good fellow and could
afford to. They went for a change of air and scene, in search of
adventure--and moreover they were sure of luxurious hospitality for at
least six months. Clitheroe joined the company, not only for the reason
that there seemed nothing else for him to do, but he was glad of the
opportunity of revisiting a quarter of the globe so very dear to him.
This voyage, he thought, might re-awaken his interest in life; at any
rate, he could lose nothing by taking it, and that settled the question
for him.

The singers, the dancers, the painters and poets made life very lively
in that summer sea; it was a case of sweet idleness with wine, women and
wits, and all the world before them where to choose. It must be
confessed that Clitheroe had enjoyed himself in the society of these old
comrades--you would recognize most of them were he to name them; but
tonight, or rather this early morning he had begun to moralize, as he
peered down the transom upon the half-shadowy forms of those feasters
who had fallen by the way. He was asking himself if it paid--this
high-pressure happiness that knew no respite save temporary
insensibility? He began to think that it did not, and with a shrug of
his shoulders and a faint sigh, he turned away. He was about to resume
his solitary watch, for he could not sleep on such a night, when his eye
was attracted by a flitting shadow weaving to and fro astern; it seemed
to be soaring upon the face of the waters; was it some broad-winged
sea-bird following in their wake? He watched it as it drew near, growing
larger and larger every moment. No! it was not a bird; but it was the
next thing to one.

Out of the darkness was evolved the slender hull of a canoe, the wide,
many ribbed sail, and the dusky forms of three naked islanders. They had
not yet taken note of him; with a sudden impulse, he stole up to the
transom, and standing over it so that the lights from the cabin-lamps
shone full upon him, he waved a signal to the savages, enjoining
silence, and bidding them approach with caution.

In a few moments they had wafted themselves noiselessly up under the
companion ladder, and there, with suppressed excitement, he was
recognized. Old friends these, pals in the past, young chiefs from an
island he had loved and mourned.

There was a moment of passionate greeting, and but a moment, in the
silence under the stars, then, with a sudden resolve, and with never a
glance backward, Clitheroe, descending the ladder, entered the canoe
and it swung off into the night.

Two hours later, the "_Waring_," having run clear of the labyrinthine
reefs, steamed up and was out of sight before daybreak.

       *       *       *       *       *

"_And what is left? Dust and Ash and a Tale--or not even a Tale_!"


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