Skip to main content

Full text of "The works of Robert Louis Stevenson"

See other formats


■. ■^■ . ' ;--. V' 

',■■1 ,;••?'.' •'»♦ 

:;<i-£K^.- ;:■'■• ':':,'-^' - 


•r .tr, .''I * ■■■-..•■ 1^ 


National Library of Scotland 

Since the issue of the last volume, Mr. Steven- 
sorCs readers throughout the world have had to 
deplore the tidings of his untimely death. That 
event will make no difference in the plan or 
progress of this Edinburgh Edition of his zvorks. 
The successive volumes will he prepared for press 
by Mr. Sidney Colvin, with the author''s correc- 
tions so far as they have been sent home, and 
will be issued to subscribers on the 15th of each 
month as heretofore. 

During the absence of Mr. Charles Baxter, who has gone 
to Samoa, the volumes of this Edition will, by his authority, 
be numbered and signed by Mr. W. B. Blaikie. 

January 1895. 

Attention may be called to the fact that 
pp. 1-106 of the present volume contain matter 
hitherto unpublished. 

National Library of Scotland 

This Edinburgh Edition consists of 

one thousand and thirty-five copies 

all numbered 


IrA A 

Vo/. III. ofisszie : Jan. i{ 




Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

National Library of Scotland 











y'^V"^'-'- •■■■ 











I. MONTEREY . . .167 

II. SAN FRANCISCO . . . .192 



Part I. Written i&7g, abridged 1894, and now 
published for the first time. 

Part II. Written 1879, abridged and recast 
1883; originally published, Long- 
man's Magazine, July and August 
1883; reprinted in 'Across the 
Plains': Chatto and W%ndus,i?>g2. 





The Second Cabin .... 7 

Early Impressions . . . .17 

Steerage Scenes . . . .28 

Steerage Types . . . .38 

The Sick Man . . . .52 

The Stowaways . . . .64 

Personal Experience and Review . . 81 

New York ..... 95 



Notes by the Way to Council Bluffs . .109 

The Emigrant Train . . . .128 

3— A I 


The Plains of Nebraska 
The Desert of Wyoming 
Fellow- Passengers 
Despised Races 
To the Golden Gates . 





Our JrieridsMp was not only founded before we were horn hy a 
community of blood, but is in itself near as old as my life. It 
began with our early ages, and, like a history, has been con- 
tinued to the present time. Although we may not be old in the 
world, we are old to each other, having so long been intimates. 
We are now widely separated, a great sea and continent inter- 
vening ; but memory, like care, mounts into iron ships and rides 
post behind the horseman. Neither time nor space nor enmity 
can conquer old qff'ection ; and as I dedicate these sketches, it is 
not to you only, but to all in the old country, that I send the 
greeting of my heart. 

R. L. S. 




I FIRST encountered my fellow-passengers on the 
Broomielaw in Glasgow. Thence we descended the 
Clyde in no familiar spirit, but looking askance on 
each other as on possible enemies. A few Scan- 
dinavians, who had already grown acquainted on 
the North Sea, were friendly and voluble over their 
long pipes ; but among English speakers distance 
and suspicion reigned supreme. The sun was soon 
overclouded, the wind freshened and grew sharp as 
we continued to descend the widening estuary ; and 
with the falling temperature the gloom among the 
passengers increased. Two of the women wept. 
Any one who had come aboard might have supposed 
we were all absconding from the law. There was 
scarce a word interchanged, and no common senti- 
ment but that of cold united us, until at length, 
having touched at Greenock, a pointing arm and a 
rush to the starboard bow announced that our ocean 
steamer was in sight. There she lay in mid-river, 
at the tail of the Bank, her sea-signal flying : a wall 
of bulwark, a street of white deck-houses, an aspir- 
ing forest of spars, larger than a church, and soon to 



be as populous as many an incorporated town in the 
land to which she was to bear us. 

I was not, in truth, a steerage passenger. Although 
anxious to see the worst of emigrant life, I had some 
work to finish on the voyage, and was advised to go 
by the second cabin, where at least I should have a 
table at command. The advice was excellent; but 
to understand the choice, and what I gained, some 
outline of the internal disposition of the ship will 
first be necessary. In her very nose is Steerage 
No. 1, down two pair of stairs. A little abaft, 
another companion, labelled Steerage No. 2 and 3, 
gives admission to three galleries, two running for- 
ward towards Steerage No. 1, and the third aft 
towards the engines. The starboard forward gallery 
is the second cabin. Away abaft the engines and 
below the officers' cabins, to complete our survey of 
the vessel, there is yet a third nest of steerages, 
labelled 4 and 5. The second cabin, to return, is 
thus a modified oasis in the very heart of the steer- 
ages. Through the thin partition you can hear 
the steerage passengers being sick, the rattle of tin 
dishes as they sit at meals, the varied accents in 
which they converse, the crying of their children 
terrified by this new experience, or the clean flat 
smack of the parental hand in chastisement. 

There are, however, many advantages for the in- 
habitant of this strip. He does not require to bring 
his own bedding or dishes, but finds berths and a 
table completely if somewhat roughly furnished. 
He enjoys a distinct superiority in diet; but this, 


strange to say, differs not only on different ships, 
but on the same ship according as her head is to the 
east or west. In my own experience, the prin- 
cipal difference between our table and that of the 
true steerage passenger was the table itself, and 
the crockery plates from which we ate. But lest 
I should show myself ungrateful, let me recapitu- 
late every advantage. At breakfast, we had a 
choice between tea and coffee for beverage ; a 
choice not easy to make, the two were so sur- 
prisingly alike. I found that I could sleep after 
the coffee and lay awake after the tea, which is proof 
conclusive of some chemical disparity ; and even by 
the palate I could distinguish a smack of snuff in 
the former from a flavour of boiling and dish-cloths 
in the second. As a matter of fact I have seen 
passengers, after many sips, still doubting which had 
been supplied them. In the way of eatables at the 
same meal we were gloriously favoured ; for in 
addition to porridge, which was common to all, we 
had Irish stew, sometimes a bit of fish, and some- 
times rissoles. The dinner of soup, roast fresh beef, 
boiled salt junk, and potatoes, was, I believe, exactly 
common to the steerage and the second cabin ; only 
I have heard it rumoured that our potatoes were of 
a superior brand ; and twice a week, on pudding 
days, instead of duff, we had a saddle-bag filled with 
currants under the name of a plum-pudding. At 
tea we were served with some broken meat from the 
saloon ; sometimes in the comparatively elegant 
form of spare patties or rissoles; but as a general 



thing, mere chicken-bones and flakes of fish neither 
hot nor cold. If these were not the scrapings of 
plates their looks belied them sorely ; yet we were all 
too hungry to be proud, and fell to these leavings 
greedily. These, the bread, which was excellent, 
and the soup and porridge which were both good, 
formed my whole diet throughout the voyage ; so 
that except for the broken meat and the convenience 
of a table I might as well have been in the steerage 
outright. Had they given me porridge again in the 
evening, I should have been perfectly contented 
with the fare. As it was, with a few biscuits and 
some whisky and water before turning in, I kept 
my body going and my spirits up to the mark. 

The last particular in which the second cabin 
passenger remarkably stands ahead of his brother of 
the steerage is one altogether of sentiment. In the 
steerage there are males and females ; in the second 
cabin ladies and gentlemen. For some time after I 
came aboard I thought I was only a male ; but in 
the course of a voyage of discovery between decks, 
I came on a brass plate, and learned that I was still 
a gentleman. Nobody knew it, of course. I was 
lost in the crowd of males and females, and rigor- 
ously confined to the same quarter of the deck. 
Who could tell whether I housed on the port or star- 
board side of steerage No. 2 and 3 ? And it was only 
there that my superiority became practical ; every- 
where else I was incognito, moving among my in- 
feriors with simplicity, not so much as a swagger to 
indicate that I was a gentleman after all, and had 



broken meat to tea. Still, I was like one with a 
patent of nobility in a drawer at home ; and when 
I felt out of spirits I could go down and refresh 
myself with a look of that brass plate. 

For all these advantages I paid but two guineas. 
Six guineas is the steerage fare ; eight that by the 
second cabin ; and when you remember that the 
steerage passenger must supply bedding and dishes, 
and, in five cases out of ten, either brings some 
dainties with him, or privately pays the steward for 
extra rations, the difference in price becomes almost 
nominal. Air comparatively fit to breathe, food 
comparatively varied, and the satisfaction of being still 
privately a gentleman, may thus be had almost for 
the asking. Two of my fellow-passengers in the 
second cabin had already made the passage by the 
cheaper fare, and declared it was an experiment not 
to be repeated. As I go on to tell about my steer- 
age friends, the reader will perceive that they were 
not alone in their opinion. Out of ten with whom 
I was more or less intimate, I am sure not fewer 
than five vowed, if they returned, to travel second 
cabin ; and all who had left their wives behind 
them assured me they would go without the com- 
fort of their presence until they could afPord to bring 
them by saloon. 

Our party in the second cabin was not perhaps 
the most interesting on board. Perhaps even in 
the saloon there was as much good-will and charac- 
ter. Yet it had some elements of curiosity. There 
was a mixed group of Swedes, Danes, and Norse- 



men, one of whom, generally known by the name 
of * Johnny,' in spite of his own protests, greatly 
diverted us by his clever, cross-country efforts to 
speak English, and became on the strength of that 
an universal favourite — it takes so little in this world 
of shipboard to create a popularity. There was, 
besides, a Scots mason, known from his favourite 
dish as ' Irish Stew,' three or four nondescript Scots, 
a fine young Irishman, O'Reilly, and a pair of young 
men who deserve a special word of condemnation. 
One of them was Scots : the other claimed to be 
American ; admitted, after some fencing, that he 
was born in England ; and ultimately proved to be 
an Irishman born and nurtured, but ashamed to own 
his country. He had a sister on board, whom he 
faithfully neglected throughout the voyage, though 
she was not only sick but much his senior, and 
had nursed and cared for him in childhood. In 
appearance he was like an imbecile Henry the Third 
of France. The Scotsman, though perhaps as big 
an ass, was not so dead of heart ; and I have only 
bracketed them together because they were fast 
friends, and disgraced themselves equally by their 
conduct at the table. 

Next, to turn to topics more agreeable, we had a 
newly married couple, devoted to each other, with a 
pleasant story of how they had first seen each other 
years ago at a preparatory school, and that very 
afternoon he had carried her books home for her. I 
do not know if this story will be plain to Southern 
readers ; but to me it recalls many a school idyll, 



with wrathful swains of eight and nine confronting 
each other stride-legs, flushed with jealousy ; for to 
carry home a young lady's books was both a delicate 
attention and a privilege. 

Then there Avas an old lady, or indeed I am not 
sure that she was as much old as antiquated and 
strangely out of place, who had left her husband, and 
was travelling all the way to Kansas by herself We 
had to take her own word that she was married ; for 
it was sorely contradicted by the testimony of her 
appearance. Nature seemed to have sanctified her 
for the single state ; even the colour of her hair was 
incompatible with matrimony, and her husband, I 
thought, should be a man of saintly spirit and phan- 
tasmal bodily presence. She was ill, poor thing; 
her soul turned from the viands ; the dirty table- 
cloth shocked her like an impropriety ; and the 
whole strength of her endeavour was bent upon 
keeping her watch true to Glasgow time till she 
should reach New York. They had heard reports, 
her husband and she, of some unwarrantable disparity 
of hours between these two cities ; and with a spirit 
commendably scientific, had seized on this occasion 
to put them to the proof. It was a good thing for 
the old lady; for she passed much leisure time in 
studying the watch. Once, when prostrated by 
sickness, she let it run down. It was inscribed on 
her harmless mind in letters of adamant that the 
hands of a watch must never be turned backwards ; 
and so it behoved her to lie in wait for the exact 
moment ere she started it again. When she imagined 



this was about due, she sought out one of the young 
second-cabin Scotsmen, who was embarked on the 
same experiment as herself and had hitherto been 
less neglectful. She was in quest of two o'clock ; 
and when she learned it was already seven on the 
shores of Clyde, she lifted up her voice and cried 
* Gravy ! ' I had not heard this innocent expletive 
since I was a young child ; and I suppose it must 
have been the same with the other Scotsmen present, 
for we all laughed our fill. 

Last but not least, I come to my excellent friend 
Mr. Jones. It would be difficult to say whether I 
was his right-hand man, or he mine, during the 
voyage. Thus at table I carved, while he only 
scooped gravy ; but at our concerts, of which more 
anon, he was the president who called up performers 
to sing, and I but his messenger who ran his errands 
and pleaded privately with the over-modest. I knew 
I liked Mr. Jones from the moment I saw him. I 
thought him by his face to be Scottish ; nor could 
his accent undeceive me. For as there is a lingua 
franca of many tongues on the moles and in the 
feluccas of the Mediterranean, so there is a free or 
common accent among English-speaking men who 
follow the sea. They catch a twang in a New 
England Port ; from a cockney skipper even a 
Scotsman sometimes learns to drop an A ; a word of 
a dialect is picked up from another hand in the fore- 
castle ; until often the result is undecipherable, and 
you have to ask for the man's place of birth. So it 
was with Mr. Jones. I thought him a Scotsman 


who had been long to sea ; and yet he was from 
Wales, and had been most of his life a blacksmith at 
an inland forge ; a few years in America and half a 
score of ocean voyages having sufficed to modify his 
speech into the common pattern. By his own 
account he was both strong and skilful in his trade. 
A few years back, he had been married and after a 
fashion a rich man ; now the wife was dead and the 
money gone. But his was the nature that looks 
forward, and goes on from one year to another and 
through all the extremities of fortune undismayed ; 
and if the sky were to fall to-morrow, I should look 
to see Jones, the day following, perched on a step- 
ladder and getting things to rights. He was always 
hovering round inventions like a bee over a flower, 
and lived in a dream of patents. He had with him 
a patent medicine, for instance, the composition of 
which he had bought years ago for five dollars from an 
American pedlar, and sold the other day for a hun- 
dred pounds (I think it was) to an English apothe- 
cary. It was called Golden Oil ; cured all maladies 
without exception ; and I am bound to say that I 
partook of it myself with good results. It is a char- 
acter of the man that he was not only perpetually 
dosing himself with Golden Oil, but wherever there 
was a head aching or a finger cut, there would be 
Jones with his bottle. 

If he had one taste more strongly than another, it 
was to study character. Many an hour have we two 
walked upon the deck dissecting our neighbours in a 
spirit that was too purely scientific to be called un- 



kind ; whenever a quaint or human trait shpped out 
in conversation, you might have seen Jones and me 
exchanging glances ; and we could hardly go to bed 
in comfort till we had exchanged notes and discussed 
the day's experience. We were then like a couple 
of anglers comparing a day's kill. But the fish we 
angled for were of a metaphysical species, and we 
angled as often as not in one another's baskets. 
Once, in the midst of a serious talk, each found there 
was a scrutinising eye upon himself; I own I paused 
in embarrassment at this double detection ; but 
Jones, with a better civility, broke into a peal of 
unaffected laughter, and declared, what was the 
truth, that there was a pair of us indeed. 



We steamed out of the Clyde on Thursday night, 
and early on the Friday forenoon we took in our last 
batch of emigrants at Lough Foyle, in Ireland, and 
said farewell to Europe. The company was now 
complete, and began to draw together, by inscrutable 
magnetisms, upon the deck. There were Scots and 
Irish in plenty, a few Enghsh, a few Americans, a 
good handful of Scandinavians, a German or two, 
and one Russian ; all now belonging for ten days to 
one small iron country on the deep. 

As I walked the deck and looked round upon my 
fellow-passengers, thus curiously assorted from all 
northern Europe, I began for the first time to 
understand the nature of emigration. Day by day 
throughout the passage, and thenceforward across all 
the States, and on to the shores of the Pacific, this 
knowledge grew more clear and melancholy. Emi- 
gration, from a word of the most cheerful import, 
came to sound most dismally in my ear. There is 
nothing more agreeable to picture and nothing more 
pathetic to behold. The abstract idea, as conceived 
at home, is hopeful and adventurous. A young man, 
3— B 17 


you fancy, scorning restraints and helpers, issues 
forth into hfe, that great battle, to fight for his own 
hand. The most pleasant stories of ambition, of 
difficulties overcome, and of ultimate success, are 
but as episodes to this great epic of self-help. The 
epic is composed of individual heroisms ; it stands 
to them as the victorious war which subdued an 
empire stands to the personal act of bravery which 
spiked a single cannon and was adequately rewarded 
with a medal. For in emigration the young men 
enter direct and by the shipload on their heritage of 
work; empty continents swarm, as at the bo'sun's 
whistle, with industrious hands, and whole new 
empires are domesticated to the service of man. 

This is the closet picture, and is found, on trial, to 
consist mostly of embellishments. The more I saw 
of my fellow-passengers, the less I was tempted to 
the lyric note. Comparatively few of the men were 
below thirty ; many were married and encumbered 
with families ; not a few were already up in years ; 
and this itself was out of tune with my imaginations, 
for the ideal emigrant should certainly be young. 
Again, I thought he should oifer to the eye some 
bold type of humanity, with bluff or hawk-like 
features, and the stamp of an eager and pushing 
disposition. Now those around me were for the 
most part quiet, orderly, obedient citizens, family 
men broken by adversity, elderly youths who had 
failed to place themselves in life, and people who had 
seen better days. Mildness was the prevailing char- 
acter ; mild mirth and mild endurance. In a word 


I was not taking part in an impetuous and conquer- 
ing sally, such as swept over Mexico or Siberia, but 
found myself, like Marmion, 'in the lost battle, 
borne down by the flying.' 

Labouring mankind had in the last years, and 
throughout Great Britain, sustained a prolonged and 
crushing series of defeats. I had heard vaguely of 
these reverses ; of whole streets of houses standing 
deserted by the Tyne, the cellar-doors broken and 
removed for firewood ; of homeless men loitering at 
the street-corners of Glasgow with their chests beside 
them ; of closed factories, useless strikes, and starv- 
ing girls. But I had never taken them home to me 
or represented these distresses livingly to my imagina- 
tion. A turn of the market may be a calamity as 
disastrous as the French retreat from Moscow ; but 
it hardly lends itself to lively treatment, and makes 
a trifling figure in the morning papers. We may 
struggle as we please, we are not born economists. 
The individual is more affecting than the mass. It 
is by the scenic accidents, and the appeal to the 
carnal eye, that for the most part we grasp the 
significance of tragedies. Thus it was only now, 
when I found myself involved in the rout, that I 
began to appreciate how sharp had been the battle. 
We were a company of the rejected ; the drunken, 
the incompetent, the weak, the prodigal, all who had 
been unable to prevail against circumstances in the 
one land, were now fleeing pitifully to another ; and 
though one or two might still succeed, all had already 
failed. We were a shipful of failures, the broken 



men of England. Yet it must not be supposed that 
these people exhibited depression. The scene, on the 
contrary, was cheerful. Not a tear was shed on board 
the vessel. All were full of hope for the future, and 
showed an inchnation to innocent gaiety. Some 
were heard to sing, and all began to scrape acquaint- 
ance with small jests and ready laughter. 

The children found each other out like dogs, and 
ran about the decks scraping acquaintance after 
their fashion also. ' What do you call your mither?' 
I heard one ask. *Mawmaw,' was the reply, indicat- 
ing, I fancy, a shade of difference in the social scale. 
When people pass each other on the high seas of 
life at so early an age, the contact is but slight, and 
the relation more like what we may imagine to be 
the friendship of flies than that of men ; it is so 
quickly joined, so easily dissolved, so open in its 
communications and so devoid of deeper human 
qualities. The children, I observed, were all in a 
band, and as thick as thieves at a fair, while their 
elders were still ceremoniously manoeuvring on the 
outskirts of acquaintance. The sea, the ship, and 
the seamen were soon as familiar as home to these 
half-conscious little ones. It was odd to hear them, 
throughout the voyage, employ shore words to 
designate portions of the vessel. ' Co' 'way doon to 
yon dyke,' I heard one say, probably meaning the 
bulwark. I often had my heart in my mouth, 
watching them chmb into the shrouds or on the 
rails while the ship went swinging through the 
waves ; and I admired and envied the courage of 


their mothers, who sat by in the sun and looked on 
with composure at these perilous feats. 'He '11 maybe 
be a sailor,' I heard one remark ; ' now 's the time to 
learn. ' I had been on the point of running forward 
to interfere, but stood back at that, reproved. Very 
few in the more delicate classes have the nerve to 
look upon the peril of one dear to them ; but the 
Hfe of poorer folk, where necessity is so much more 
immediate and imperious, braces even a mother to 
this extreme of endurance. And perhaps, after all, 
it is better that the lad should break his neck than 
that you should break his spirit. 

And since I am here on the chapter of the chil- 
dren, I must mention one little fellow, whose family 
belonged to Steerage No. 4 and 5, and who, wherever 
he went, was Hke a strain of music round the ship. 
He was an ugly, merry, unbreeched child of three, 
his lint-white hair in a tangle, his face smeared with 
suet and treacle ; but he ran to and fro with so 
natural a step, and fell and picked himself up again 
with such grace and good-humour, that he might 
fairly be called beautiful when he was in motion. To 
meet him, crowing with laughter and beating an 
accompaniment to his own mirth with a tin spoon 
upon a tin cup, was to meet a little triumph of the 
human species. Even when his mother and the rest 
of his family lay sick and prostrate around him, he 
sat upright in their midst and sang aloud in the 
pleasant heartlessness of infancy. 

Throughout the Friday, intimacy among us men 
made but few advances. We discussed the probable 



duration of the voyage, we exchanged pieces of 
information, naming our trades, what we hoped to 
find in the new world, or what we were fleeing from 
in the old ; and, above all, we condoled together over 
the food and the vileness of the steerage. One or 
two had been so near famine that you may say they 
had run into the ship with the devil at their heels ; 
and to these all seemed for the best in the best of 
possible steamers. But the majority were hugely 
discontented. Coming as they did from a country in 
so low a state as Great Britain, many of them from 
Glasgow, which commercially speaking was as good 
as dead, and many having long been out of work, I 
was surprised to find them so dainty in their notions. 
I myself lived almost exclusively on bread, porridge, 
and soup, precisely as it was supplied to them, and 
found it, if not luxurious, at least sufficient. But 
these working men were loud in their outcries. It 
was not ' food for human beings,' it was ' only fit for 
pigs,' it was ' a disgrace.' Many of them lived almost 
entirely upon biscuit, others on their own private 
supplies, and some paid extra for better rations from 
the ship. This marvellously changed my notion of 
the degree of luxury habitual to the artisan. I was 
prepared to hear him grumble, for grumbling is the 
traveller's pastime ; but I was not prepared to find 
him turn away from a diet which was palatable to 
myself. Words I should have disregarded, or taken 
with a liberal allowance ; but when a man prefers dry 
biscuit there can be no question of the sincerity of 
his disgust. 



With one of their complaints I could most heartily 
sympathise. A single night of the steerage had 
filled them with horror. I had myself suffered, even 
in my decent second-cabin berth, from the lack of 
air ; and as the night promised to be fine and quiet, 
I determined to sleep on deck, and advised all who 
complained of their quarters to follow my example. 
I daresay a dozen of others agreed to do so, and I 
thought we should have been quite a party. Yet 
when I brought up my rug about seven bells, there 
was no one to be seen but the watch. That chimerical 
terror of good night-air, which makes men close 
their windows, Hst their doors, and seal themselves 
up with their own poisonous exhalations, had sent 
all these healthy workmen down below. One w^ould 
think we had been brought up in a fever country ; 
yet in England the most malarious districts are in 
the bedchambers. 

I felt saddened at this defection, and yet half- 
pleased to have the night so quietly to myself. The 
wind had hauled a little ahead on the starboard bow, 
and was dry but chilly. I found a shelter near the 
fire-hole, and made myself snug for the night. The 
ship moved over the uneven sea with a gentle and 
cradhng movement. The ponderous, organic labours 
of the engine in her bowels occupied the mind, and 
prepared it for slumber. From time to time a 
heavier lurch would disturb me as I lay, and recall 
me to the obscure borders of consciousness; or I 
heard, as it were through a veil, the clear note of 
the clapper on the brass and the beautiful sea-cry, 


'AH 's well ! ' 1 know nothing, whether for poetry 
or music, that can surpass the effect of these two 
syllables in the darkness of a night at sea. 

The day dawned fairly enough, and during the 
early part we had some pleasant hours to improve 
acquaintance in the open air ; but towards nightfall 
the wind freshened, the rain began to fall, and the 
sea rose so high that it was difficult to keep one's 
footing on the deck. I have spoken of our concerts. 
We were indeed a musical ship's company, and 
cheered our way into exile with the fiddle, the 
accordion, and the songs of all nations. Good, 
bad, or indifferent — Scottish, English, Irish, Russian, 
German or Norse, — the songs were received with 
generous applause. Once or twice, a recitation, very 
spiritedly rendered in a powerful Scottish accent, 
varied the proceedings ; and once we sought in vain 
to dance a quadrille, eight men of us together, to 
the music of the violin. The performers were all 
humorous, frisky fellows, who loved to cut capers in 
private life ; but as soon as they were arranged for 
the dance, they conducted themselves like so many 
mutes at a funeral. I have never seen decorum 
pushed so far ; and as this was not expected, the 
quadrille was soon whistled down, and the dancers 
departed under a cloud. Eight Frenchmen, even 
eight Englishmen from another rank of society, 
would have dared to make some fun for themselves 
and the spectators ; but the working man, when 
sober, takes an extreme and even melancholy view 
of personal deportment. A fifth-form schoolboy 


is not more careful of dignity. He dares not be 
comical ; his fun must escape from him unprepared, 
and above all, it must be unaccompanied by any 
physical demonstration. I like his society under 
most circumstances, but let me never again join with 
him in public gambols. 

But the impulse to sing was strong, and triumphed 
over modesty and even the inclemencies of sea and 
sky. On this rough Saturday night, we got together 
by the main deck-house, in a place sheltered from 
the wind and rain. Some clinging to a ladder which 
led to the hurricane deck, and the rest knitting arms 
or taking hands, we made a ring to support the 
women in the violent lurching of the ship ; and when 
we were thus disposed, sang to our hearts' content. 
Some of the songs were appropriate to the scene ; 
others strikingly the reverse. Bastard doggrel of 
the music-hall, such as, ' Around her splendid form, 
I weaved the magic circle,' sounded bald, bleak, and 
pitifully silly. 'We don't want to fight, but, by 
Jingo, if we do,' was in some measure saved by the 
vigour and unanimity with which the chorus was 
thrown forth into the night. I observed a Platt- 
Deutsch mason, entirely innocent of EngUsh, adding 
heartily to the general effect. And perhaps the 
German mason is but a fair example of the sincerity 
with which the song was rendered; for nearly all with 
whom I conversed upon the subject were bitterly 
opposed to war, and attributed their own misfor- 
tunes, and frequently their own taste for whisky, 
to the campaigns in Zululand and Afghanistan. 



Every now and again, however, some song that 
touched the pathos of our situation was given forth ; 
and you could hear by the voices that took up the 
burden how the sentiment came home to each. 
' The Anchor 's Weighed ' was true for us. We 
were indeed ' Rocked on the bosom of the stormy 
deep.' How many of us could say with the singer, 
' I 'm lonely to-night, love, without you,' or ' Go, 
some one, and tell them from me, to write me a letter 
from home ! ' And when was there a more appro- 
priate moment for ' Auld Lang Syne ' than now, 
when the land, the friends, and the affections of that 
mingled but beloved time were fading and fleeing 
behind us in the vessel's wake ? It pointed forward 
to the hour when these labours should be overpast, 
to the return voyage, and to many a meeting in the 
sanded inn, when those who had parted in the spring 
of youth should again drink a cup of kindness in 
their age. Had not Burns contemplated emigration, 
I scarce believe he would have found that note. 

All Sunday the weather remained wild and cloudy; 
many were prostrated by sickness ; only five sat 
down to tea in the second cabin, and two of these 
departed abruptly ere the meal was at an end. The 
Sabbath was observed strictly by the majority of 
the emigrants. I heard an old woman express her 
surprise that 'the ship didna gae doon,' as she saw 
some one pass her with a chess-board on the holy 
day. Some sang Scottish psalms. Many went to 
service, and in true Scottish fashion came back 
ill pleased with their divine. ' I didna think he 


was an experienced preacher,' said one girl to 

It was a bleak, uncomfortable day ; but at night, 
by six bells, although the wind had not yet moder- 
ated, the clouds were all wrecked and blown away 
behind the rim of the horizon, and the stars came 
out thickly overhead. I saw Venus burning as 
steadily and sweetly across this hurly-burly of the 
winds and waters as ever at home upon the summer 
woods. The engine pounded, the screw tossed out 
of the water with a roar, and shook the ship from 
end to end; the bows battled with loud reports 
against the billows ; and as I stood in the lee-scuppers 
and looked up to where the funnel leaned out over 
my head, vomiting smoke, and the black and mon- 
strous topsails blotted, at each lurch, a different crop 
of stars, it seemed as if all this trouble were a thing 
of small account, and that just above the mast 
reigned peace unbroken and eternal. 



Our companion (Steerage No. 2 and 3) was a 
favourite resort. Down one flight of stairs there 
was a comparatively large open space, the centre 
occupied by a hatchway, which made a convenient 
seat for about twenty persons, while barrels, coils of 
rope, and the carpenter's bench afforded perches for 
perhaps as many more. The canteen, or steerage 
bar, was on one side of the stair ; on the other, a no 
less attractive spot, the cabin of the indefatigable 
interpreter. I have seen people packed into this 
space hke herrings in a barrel, and many merry 
evenings prolonged there until five bells, when the 
lights were ruthlessly extinguished and all must go 
to roost. 

It had been rumoured since Friday that there was 
a fiddler aboard, who lay sick and unmelodious in 
Steerage No. 1 ; and on the Monday forenoon, as 
I came down the companion, I was saluted by some- 
thing in Strathspey time. A white-faced Orpheus 
was cheerily playing to an audience of white-faced 
women. It was as much as he could do to play, 
and some of his hearers were scarce able to sit; 


yet they had crawled from their bunks at the first 
experhnental flourish, and found better than medicine 
in the music. Some of the heaviest heads began to 
nod in time, and a degree of animation looked from 
some of the palest eyes. Humanly speaking, it is a 
more important matter to play the fiddle, even badly, 
than to write huge works upon recondite subjects. 
What could Mr. Darwin have done for these sick 
women ? But this fellow scraped away ; and the 
world was positively a better place for all who heard 
him. We have yet to understand the economical 
value of these mere accomplishments. I told the 
fiddler he was a happy man, carrying happiness 
about with him in his fiddle-case, and he seemed 
alive to the fact. 

* It is a privilege,' I said. He thought a while 
upon the word, turning it over in his Scots head, and 
then answered with conviction, ' Yes, a privilege.' 

That night I was summoned by 'Merrily danced 
the Quaker's wife ' into the companion of Steerage 
No. 4 and 5. This was, properly speaking, but a 
strip across a deck-house, lit by a sickly lantern 
which swung to and fro with the motion of the 
ship. Through the open slide-door we had a glimpse 
of a grey night sea, with patches of phosphorescent 
foam flying, swift as birds, into the wake, and the 
horizon rising and falling as the vessel rolled to the 
wind. In the centre the companion ladder plumped 
down sheerly like an open pit. Below, on the first 
landing, and lighted by another lamp, lads and lasses 
danced, not more than three at a time for lack of 



space, in jigs and reels and hornpipes. Above, on 
either side, there was a recess railed with iron, 
perhaps two feet wide and four long, which stood for 
orchestra and seats of honour. In the one balcony, 
five slatternly Irish lasses sat woven in a comely 
group. In the other was posted Orpheus, his body, 
which was convulsively in motion, forming an odd 
contrast to his somnolent, imperturbable Scots face. 
His brother, a dark man with a vehement, interested 
countenance, who made a god of the fiddler, sat by 
with open mouth, drinking in the general admiration 
and throwing out remarks to kindle it. 

' That 's a bonny hornpipe now,' he would say ; 
' it 's a great favourite with performers ; they dance 
the sand dance to it.' And he expounded the sand 
dance. Then suddenly, it would be a long ' Hush !' 
with uplifted finger and glowing, supplicating eyes ; 
' he 's going to play " Auld Robin Gray " on one 
string ! ' And throughout this excruciating move- 
ment, — ' On one string, that 's on one string ! ' he kept 
crying. I would have given something myself that 
it had been on none ; but the hearers were much 
awed. I called for a tune or two, and thus intro- 
duced myself to the notice of the brother, who 
directed his talk to me for some little while, keeping, 
I need hardly mention, true to his topic, like the 
seamen to the star. ' He 's grand of it,' he said con- 
fidentially. ' His master was a music-hall man.' 
Indeed the music-hall man had left his mark, for our 
fiddler was ignorant of many of our best old airs ; 
' Logic o' Buchan,' for instance, he only knew as a 


quick, jigging figure in a set of quadrilles, and had 
never heard it called by name. Perhaps, after all, 
the brother was the more interesting performer of 
the two. I have spoken with him afterwards re- 
peatedly, and found him always the same quick, 
fiery bit of a man, not without brains ; but he 
never showed to such advantage as when he was 
thus squiring the fiddler into public note. There 
is nothing more becoming than a genuine admira- 
tion ; and it shares this with love, that it does not 
become contemptible although misplaced. 

The dancing was but feebly carried on. The 
space was almost impracticably small ; and the Irish 
wenches combined the extreme of bashfulness about 
this innocent display with a surprising impudence 
and roughness of address. Most often, either the 
fiddle lifted up its voice unheeded, or only a couple 
of lads would be footing it and snapping fingers on 
the landing. And such was the eagerness of the 
brother to display all the acquirements of his idol, 
and such the sleepy indifference of the performer, 
that the tune would as often as not be changed, and 
the hornpipe expire into a ballad before the dancers 
had cut half a dozen shuffles. 

In the meantime, however, the audience had been 
growing more and more numerous every moment ; 
there was hardly standing-room round the top of the 
companion ; and the strange instinct of the race 
moved some of the new-comers to close both the 
doors, so that the atmosphere grew insupportable. 
It was a good place, as the saying is, to leave. 



The wind hauled ahead with a head sea. By ten 
at night heavy sprays were flying and drumming 
over the forecastle ; the companion of Steerage 
No. 1 had to be closed, and the door of communica- 
tion through the second cabin thrown open. Either 
from the convenience of the opportunity, or because 
we had already a number of acquaintances in that 
part of the ship, Mr. Jones and I paid it a late visit. 
Steerage No. 1 is shaped like an isosceles triangle, 
the sides opposite the equal angles bulging outward 
with the contom' of the ship. It is lined with eight 
pens of sixteen bunks apiece, four bunks below and 
four above on either side. At night the place is lit 
with two lanterns, one to each table. As the steamer 
beat on her way among the rough billows, the hght 
passed through violent phases of change, and was 
thrown to and fro and up and down with starthng 
swiftness. You were tempted to wonder, as you 
looked, how so thin a ghmmer could control and 
disperse such solid blackness. When Jones and I 
entered we found a httle company of our acquaint- 
ances seated together at the triangular foremost 
table. A more forlorn party, in more dismal cir- 
cumstances, it would be hard to imagine. The 
motion here in the ship's nose was very violent ; 
the uproar of the sea often overpoweringly loud. 
The yellow flicker of the lantern spun round and 
round and tossed the shadows in masses. The air 
was hot, but it struck a chill from its foetor. From 
all round in the dark bunks, the scarcely human 
noises of the sick joined into a kind of farmyard 


chorus. In the midst, these five friends of mine 
were keeping up what heart they could in com- 
pany. Singing was their refuge from discomfortable 
thoughts and sensations. One piped, in feeble tones, 
' O why left I my hame ? ' which seemed a pertinent 
question in the circumstances. Another, from the 
invisible horrors of a pen where he lay dog-sick upon 
the upper shelf, found courage, in a blink of his 
sufferings, to give us several verses of the * Death of 
Nelson ' ; and it was odd and eerie to hear the chorus 
breathe feebly from all sorts of dark corners, and 
'this day has done his dooty' rise and fall and be 
taken up again in this dim inferno, to an accom- 
paniment of plunging, hollow-sounding bows and 
the rattling spray-showers overhead. 

All seemed unfit for conversation ; a certain dizzi- 
ness had interrupted the activity of their minds ; and 
except to sing they were tongue-tied. There was 
present, however, one tall, powerful fellow of doubtful 
nationality, being neither quite Scotsman nor alto- 
gether Irish, but of surprising clearness of conviction 
on the highest problems. He had gone nearly beside 
himself on the Sunday, because of a general back- 
wardness to indorse his definition of mind as *a 
living, thinking, substance which cannot be felt, 
heard, or seen ' — nor, I presume, although he failed 
to mention it, smelt. Now he came forward in a 
pause with another contribution to our culture. 

'Just by way of change,' said he, 'I '11 ask you a 
Scripture riddle. There's profit in them too,' he 
added ungrammatically. 

3-c Z2, 


This was the riddle — 

' C and P Without the leave of G. 

Did agree All the people cried to see 

To cut down C ; The crueltie 

But C and P . Of C and P.' 
Could not agree 

Harsh are the words of Mercury after the songs of 
Apollo ! We were a long while over the problem, 
shaking our heads and gloomily wondering how a 
man could be such a fool ; but at length he put us 
out of suspense and divulged the fact that C and P 
stood for Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate. 

I think it must have been the riddle that settled 
us ; but the motion and the close air likewise hurried 
our departure. We had not been gone long, we 
heard next morning, ere two or even three out of the 
five fell sick. We thought it little wonder on the 
whole, for the sea kept contrary all night. I now 
made my bed upon the second cabin floor, where, 
although I ran the risk of being stepped upon, I had 
a free current of air, more or less vitiated indeed, and 
running only from steerage to steerage, but at least 
not stagnant ; and from this couch, as well as the 
usual sounds of a rough night at sea, the hateful 
coughing and retching of the sick and the sobs of 
children, I heard a man run wild with terror beseech- 
ing his friend for encouragement. ' The ship 's going 
down ! ' he cried with a thrill of agony. * The ship 's 
going down ! ' he repeated, now in a blank whisper, 
now with his voice rising towards a sob ; and his 
friend might reassure him, reason with him, joke 


at him — all was in vain, and the old cry came back, 
' The ship 's going down ! ' There was something 
panic and catching in the emotion of his tones ; and 
I saw in a clear flash what an involved and hideous 
tragedy was a disaster to an emigrant ship. If this 
whole parishful of people came no more to land, into 
how many houses would the newspaper carry woe, 
and what a great part of the web of our corporate 
human life would be rent across for ever ! 

The next morning when I came on deck I found 
a new world indeed. The wind was fair ; the sun 
mounted into a cloudless heaven ; through great 
dark blue seas the ship cut a swathe of curded foam. 
The horizon was dotted all day with companionable 
sails, and the sun shone pleasantly on the long, 
heaving deck. 

We had many fine- weather diversions to beguile 
the time. There was a single chess-board and a 
single pack of cards. Sometimes as many as twenty 
of us would be playing dominoes for love. Feats of 
dexterity, puzzles for the intelligence, some arith- 
metical, some of the same order as the old problem 
of the fox and goose and cabbage, were always 
welcome ; and the latter, I observed, more popular 
as well as more conspicuously well done than the 
former. We had a regular daily competition to 
guess the vessel's progress ; and twelve o'clock, when 
the result was pubhshed in the wheel-house, came 
to be a moment of considerable interest. But the 
interest was unmixed. Not a bet was laid upon our 
guesses. From the Clyde to Sandy Hook I never 



heard a wager offered or taken. We had, besides, 
romps in plenty. Puss in the Corner, which we had 
rebaptized, in more manly style. Devil and four 
Corners, was my own favourite game ; but there 
were many who preferred another, the humour of 
which was to box a person's ears until he found 
out who had cuffed him. 

This Tuesday morning we were all dehghted with 
the change of weather, and in the highest possible 
spirits. We got in a cluster like bees, sitting be- 
tween each other's feet under lee of the deck-houses. 
Stories and laughter went around. The children 
climbed about the shrouds. White faces appeared 
for the first time, and began to take on colour from 
the wind. I was kept hard at work making cigarettes 
for one amateur after another, and my less than 
moderate skill was heartily admired. Lastly, down 
sat the fiddler in our midst and began to discourse 
his reels, and jigs, and ballads, with now and then a 
voice or two to take up the air and throw in the 
interest of human speech. 

Through this merry and good-hearted scene there 
came three cabin passengers, a gentleman and two 
young ladies, picking then- way with httle gracious 
titters of indulgence, and a Lady-Bountiful air about 
nothing, which galled me to the quick. I have Httle 
of the radical in social questions, and have always 
nourished an idea that one person was as good as 
another. But I began to be troubled by this 
episode. It was astonishing what insults these 
people managed to convey by their presence. They 


seemed to throw their clothes in our faces. Their 
eyes searched us all over for tatters and incongruities. 
A laugh was ready at their lips ; but they were too 
well-mannered to indulge it in our hearing. Wait a 
bit, till they were all back in the saloon, and then 
hear how wittily they would depict the manners of 
the steerage. We were in truth very innocently, 
cheerfully, and sensibly engaged, and there was no 
shadow of excuse for the swaying elegant superiority 
with which these damsels passed among us, or for 
the stiff and waggish glances of their squire. Not a 
word was said ; only when they were gone Mackay 
sullenly damned their impudence under his breath ; 
but we were all conscious of an icy influence and a 
dead break in the course of our enjoyment. 



We had a fellow on board, an Irish-American, for 
all the world hke a beggar in a print by CaUot ; one- 
eyed, with great, splay crow's-feet round the sockets ; 
a knotty squab nose coming down over his moustache; 
a miraculous hat ; a shirt that had been white, ay, 
ages long ago ; an alpaca coat in its last sleeves ; and, 
without hyperbole, no buttons to his trousers. Even 
in these rags and tatters, the man twinkled all over 
with impudence like a piece of sham jewellery ; and 
I have heard him offer a situation to one of his fellow- 
passengers with the air of a lord. Nothing could 
overHe such a fellow ; a kind of base success was 
written on his brow. He was then in his ill days ; 
but I can imagine him in Congress with his mouth 
full of bombast and sawder. As we moved in the 
same circle, I was brought necessarily into his society. 
I do not think I ever heard him say anything that 
was true, kind, or interesting ; but there was enter- 
tainment in the man's demeanour. You might call 
him a half-educated Irish Tigg. 

Our Russian made a remarkable contrast to this 
impossible fellow. Rumours and legends were 


current in the steerages about his antecedents. 
Some said he was a NihiHst escaping ; others set him 
down for a harmless; spendthrift, who had squandered 
fifty thousand roubles, and whose father had now 
despatched him to America by way of penance. 
Either tale might flourish in security ; there was 
no contradiction to be feared, for the hero spoke not 
one word of Enghsh. I got on with him lumber- 
ingly enough in broken German, and learnt from his 
own lips that he had been an apothecary. He 
carried the photograph of his betrothed in a pocket- 
book, and remarked that it did not do her justice. 
The cut of his head stood out from among the 
passengers with an air of starthng strangeness. The 
first natural instinct was to take him for a desperado ; 
but although the features, to our Western eyes, had 
a barbaric and unhomely cast, the eye both reassured 
and touched. It was large and very dark and soft, 
with an expression of dumb endurance, as if it had 
often looked on desperate circumstances and never 
looked on them without resolution. 

He cried out when I used the word. * No, no,' he 
said, 'not resolution.' 

' The resolution to endure,' I explained. 

And then he shrugged his shoulders, and said, 
* Ach, jaj with gusto, like a man who has been 
flattered in his favourite pretensions. Indeed, he 
was always hinting at some secret sorrow ; and his 
Hfe, he said, had been one of unusual trouble and 
anxiety ; so the legends of the steerage may have 
represented at least some shadow of the truth. Once, 



and once only, he sang a song at our concerts, stand- 
ing forth without embarrassment, his great stature 
somewhat humped, his long arms frequently ex- 
tended, his Kalmuck head thrown backward. It 
was a suitable piece of music, as deep as a cow's 
bellow and wild hke the White Sea. He was struck 
and charmed by the freedom and sociality of our 
manners. At home, he said, no one on a journey 
would speak to him, but those with whom he would 
not care to speak ; thus unconsciously involving him- 
self in the condemnation of his countrymen. But 
Russia was soon to be changed ; the ice of the Neva 
was softening under the sun of civilisation ; the new 
ideas, 'wie einfeines Violin,' were audible among the 
big, empty drum-notes of Imperial diplomacy ; and 
he looked to see a great revival, though with a some- 
what indistinct and childish hope. 

We had a father and son who made a pah' of 
Jacks-of-aU-trades. It was the son who sang the 
' Death of Nelson ' under such contrarious circum- 
stances. He was by trade a shearer of ship plates ; 
but he could touch the organ, had led two choirs, 
and played the flute and piccolo in a professional 
string band. His repertory of songs was, besides, 
inexhaustible, and ranged impartially from the very 
best to the very worst within his reach. Nor did he 
seem to make the least distinction between these 
extremes, but would cheerfully follow up ' Tom 
Bowhng' with 'Around her splendid form.' 

The father, an old, cheery, small piece of manhood, 
could do everything connected with tinwork from 


one end of the process to the other, use almost every 
carpenter's tool, and make picture-frames to boot. 
' I sat down with silver plate every Sunday,' said he, 
' and pictures on the wall. I have made enough 
money to be rolling in my carriage. But, sir,' look- 
ing at me unsteadily with his bright rheumy eyes, 
* I was troubled with a di'unken wife.' He took a 
hostile view of matrimony in consequence. ' It 's an 
old saying,' he remarked : 'God made 'em, and the 
devil he mixed 'em.' 

I think he was justified by his experience. It was 
a dreary story. He would bring home three pounds 
on Saturday, and on Monday all the clothes would 
be in pawn. Sick of the useless struggle, he gave up 
a paying contract, and contented himself with small 
and ill-paid jobs. ' A bad job was as good as a good 
job for me,' he said ; ' it all went the same way.' 
Once the wife showed signs of amendment ; she 
kept steady for weeks on end ; it was again worth 
while to labour and to do one's best. The husband 
found a good situation some distance from home, and, 
to make a little upon every hand, started the wife in 
a cook-shop ; the children were here and there, busy 
as mice ; savings began to grow together in the bank, 
and the golden age of hope had returned again 
to that unhappy family. But one week my old 
acquaintance, getting earlier through with his work, 
came home on the Friday instead of the Saturday, 
and there was his wife to receive him, reeling drunk. 
He 'took and gave her a pair o' black eyes,' for 
which I pardon him, nailed up the cook-shop door, 



gave up his situation, and resigned himself to a hfe 
of poverty, with the workhouse at the end. As the 
children came to their full age they fled the house, 
and established themselves in other countries ; some 
did well, some not so well ; but the father remained 
at home alone with his drunken wife, all his sound- 
hearted pluck and varied accomphshments depressed 
and negatived. 

Was she dead now ? or, after all these years, had 
he broken the chain, and run from home like a 
schoolboy ? I could not discover which ; but here 
at least he was, out on the adventure, and still one 
of the bravest and most youthful men on board. 

'Now, I suppose, I must put my old bones to 
work again,' said he ; ' but I can do a turn yet.' 

And the son to whom he was going, I asked, was 
he not able to support him ? 

' Oh yes,' he replied. * But I 'm never happy 
without a job on hand. And I 'm stout ; I can eat 
a'most anything. You see no craze about me.' 

This tale of a drunken wife was paralleled on board 
by another of a drunken father. He was a capable 
man, with a good chance in life ; but he had drunk 
up two thriving businesses like a bottle of sherry, 
and involved his sons along with him in ruin. Now 
they were on board with us, fleeing his disastrous 

Total abstinence, like all ascetical conclusions, is 

unfriendly to the most generous, cheerful, and human 

parts of man ; but it could have adduced many 

instances and arguments from among our ship's 



company. I was one day conversing with a kind 
and happy Scotsman, rmming to fat and perspiration 
in the physical, but with a taste for poetry and a 
genial sense of fun. I had asked him his hopes in 
emigrating. They were like those of so many others, 
vague and unfounded : times were bad at home ; 
they were said to have a turn for the better in the 
States ; and a man could get on anywhere, he 
thought. That was precisely the weak point of his 
position ; for if he could get on in America, why 
could he not do the same in Scotland ? But I never 
had the courage to use that argument, though it was 
often on the tip of my tongue, and instead I agreed 
with him heartily, adding, with reckless originality, 
* If the man stuck to his work, and kept away from 

' Ah ! ' said he slowly, ' the drink ! You see, that 's 
just my trouble.' 

He spoke with a simplicity that was touching, 
looking at me at the same time with something 
strange and timid in his eye, half-ashamed, half- sorry, 
like a good child who knows he should be beaten. 
You would have said he recognised a destiny to 
which he was born, and accepted the consequences 
mildly. Like the merchant Abudah, he was at the 
same time fleeing from his destiny and carrying it 
along with him, the whole at an expense of six 

As far as I saw, drink, idleness, and incompetency 
were the three great causes of emigration, and for 
all of them, and drink first and foremost, this trick 



of getting transported over-seas appears to me the 
silliest means of cure. You cannot run away from 
a weakness ; you must some time fight it out or 
perish ; and if that be so, why not now, and where 
you stand ? Cvelum non anmiam. Change Glenlivat 
for Bourbon, and it is still whisky, only not so good. 
A sea-voyage will not give a man the nerve to put 
aside cheap pleasure ; emigration has to be done 
before we climb the vessel ; an aim in life is the only 
fortune worth the finding ; and it is not to be found 
in foreign lands, but in the heart itself. 

Speaking generally, there is no vice of this kind 
more contemptible than another ; for each is but a 
result and outward sign . of a soul tragically ship- 
wrecked. In the majority of cases, cheap pleasure 
is resorted to by way of anodyne. The pleasure- 
seeker sets forth upon life with high and difficult 
ambitions ; he meant to be nobly good and nobly 
happy, though at as little pains as possible to him- 
self; and it is because all has failed in his celestial 
enterprise that you now behold him rolling in the 
garbage. Hence the comparative success of the 
teetotal pledge ; because to a man who had nothing 
it sets at least a negative aim in life. Somewhat 
as prisoners beguile their days by taming a spider, 
the reformed drunkard makes an interest out of 
abstaining from intoxicating drinks, and may live 
for that negation. There is something, at least, not 
to be done each day ; and a cold triumph awaits him 
every evening. 

We had one on board with us, whom I have 


already referred to under the name of Mackay, who 
seemed to me not only a good instance of this failure 
in life of which we have been speaking, but a good 
type of the intelligence which here surrounded me. 
Physically he was a small Scotsman, standing a 
little back as though he were already carrying the 
elements of a corporation, and his looks somewhat 
marred by the smallness of his eyes. Mentally, he 
was endowed above the average. There were but 
few subjects on which he could not converse with 
understanding and a dash of wit ; delivering himself 
slowly and with gusto, like a man w^ho enjoyed his 
own sententiousness. He was a dry, quick, pertinent 
debater, speaking with a small voice, and swinging 
on his heels to launch and emphasise an argument. 
When he began a discussion, he could not bear to 
leave it off, but would pick the subject to the bone, 
without once relinquishing a point. An engineer 
by trade, Mackay believed in the unlimited perfec- 
tibility of all machines except the human machine. 
The latter he gave up with ridicule for a compound 
of carrion and perverse gases. He had an appetite 
for disconnected facts which I can only compare to 
the savage taste for beads. What is called informa- 
tion was indeed a passion with the man, and he not 
only delighted to receive it, but could pay you back 
in kind. 

With all these capabilities, here was Mackay, 
already no longer young, on his way to a new 
country, with no prospects, no money, and but 
little hope. He was almost tedious in the cynical 



disclosures of his despair. * The ship may go down 
for me,' he would say, * now or to-morrow. I have 
nothing to lose and nothing to hope.' And again : 
*I am sick of the whole damned performance.' He 
was, like the kind little man already quoted, another 
so-called victim of the bottle. But Mackay was 
miles from publishing his weakness to the world; 
laid the blame of his failure on corrupt masters and 
a corrupt State policy ; and after he had been one 
night overtaken and had played the buffoon in his 
cups, sternly, though not without tact, suppressed all 
reference to his escapade. It was a treat to see him 
manage this ; the various jesters withered under his 
gaze, and you were forced to recognise in him a 
certain steely force, and a gift of command which 
might have ruled a senate. 

In truth it was not whisky that had ruined him ; 
he was ruined long before for all good human pur- 
poses but conversation. His eyes were sealed by 
a cheap, school-book materialism. He could see 
nothing in the world but money and steam-engines. 
He did not know what you meant by the word 
happiness. He had forgotten the simple emotions 
of childhood, and perhaps never encountered the 
delights of youth. He believed in production, that 
useful figment of economy, as if it had been real 
Hke laughter ; and production, without prejudice to 
liquor, was his god and guide. One day he took me 
to task — a novel cry to me — upon the over-payment 
of literature. Literary men, he said, were more 
highly paid than artisans ; yet the artisan made 
46 , 


threshing-machines and butter-churns, and the man 
of letters, except in the way of a few useful hand- 
books, made nothing worth the while. He pro- 
duced a mere fancy article. Mackay's notion of a 
book was Hoppus's Measurer. Now in my time I 
have possessed and even studied that work ; but 
if I were to be left to-morrow on Juan Fernandez, 
Hoppus's is not the book that I should choose for 
my companion volume. 

I tried to fight the point with Mackay. I made 
him own that he had taken pleasure in reading books 
otherwise, to his view, insignificant ; but he was too 
wary to advance a step beyond the admission. It 
was in vain for me to argue that here was pleasure 
ready-made and running from the spring, whereas 
his ploughs and butter-churns were but means and 
mechanisms to give men the necessary food and 
leisure before they start upon the search for plea- 
sure ; he jibbed and ran away from such conclusions. 
The thing was different, he declared, and nothing 
was serviceable but what had to do with food. ' Eat, 
eat, eat ! ' he cried ; *that 's the bottom and the top.' 
By an odd irony of circumstance, he grew so much 
interested in this discussion that he let the hour slip 
by unnoticed and had to go without his tea. He 
had enough sense and humour, indeed he had no 
lack of either, to have chuckled over this himself in 
private ; and even to me he referred to it with the 
shadow of a smile. 

Mackay was a hot bigot. He would not hear of 
religion. I have seen him waste hours of time in 



argument with all sorts of poor human creatures who 
understood neither him nor themselves, and he had 
had the boyishness to dissect and criticise even so 
small a matter as the riddler's definition of mind. 
He snorted aloud with zealotry and the lust for 
intellectual battle. Anything, whatever it was, that 
seemed to him likely to discourage the continued 
passionate production of corn and steam-engines he 
resented like a conspiracy against the people. Thus, 
when I put in the plea for literature, that it was 
only in good books, or in the society of the good, 
that a man could get help in his conduct, he declared 
I was in a different world from him. 'Damn my 
conduct ! ' said he. * I have given it up for a bad 
job. My question is. Can I drive a nail ? ' And he 
plainly looked upon me as one who was insidiously 
seeking to reduce the people's annual bellyful of corn 
and steam-engines. 

It may be argued that these opinions spring from 
the defect of culture ; that a narrow and pinching 
way of life not only exaggerates to a man the im- 
portance of material conditions, but indirectly, by 
denying him the necessary books and leisure, keeps 
his mind ignorant of larger thoughts ; and that 
hence springs this overwhelming concern about diet, 
and hence the bald view of existence professed by 
Mackay. Had this been an English peasant the 
conclusion would be tenable. But Mackay had 
most of the elements of a liberal education. He 
had skirted metaphysical and mathematical studies. 
He had a thoughtful hold of what he knew, which 


would be exceptional among bankers. He had been 
brought up in the midst of hot-house piety, and 
told, with incongruous pride, the story of his own 
brother's deathbed ecstasies. Yet he had somehow 
failed to fulfil himself, and was adrift like a dead 
thing among external circumstances, without hope 
or Hvely preference or shaping aim. And further, 
there seemed a tendency among many of his fellows 
to fall into the same blank and unlovely opinions. 
One thing, indeed, is not to be learned in Scotland, 
and that is, the way to be happy. Yet that is the 
whole of culture, and perhaps two-thirds of morahty. 
Can it be that the Puritan school, by divorcing a 
man from nature, by thinning out his instincts, and 
setting the stamp of its disapproval on whole fields 
of human activity and interest, leads at last directly 
to material greed ? 

Nature is a good guide through life, and the love 
of simple pleasures next, if not superior, to virtue ; 
and we had on board an Irishman who based his 
claim to the widest and most affectionate popularity 
precisely upon these two qualities, that he was natural 
and happy. He boasted a fresh colour, a tight 
little figure, unquenchable gaiety, and indefatigable 
good- will. His clothes puzzled the diagnostic mind, 
until you heard he had been once a private coach- 
man, when they became eloquent and seemed a 
part of his biography. His face contained the rest, 
and, I fear, a prophecy of the future ; the hawk's 
nose above accorded so ill with the pink baby's 
mouth below. His spirit and his pride belonged, 

3— 1> 49 


you might say, to the nose : while it was the 
general shiftlessness expressed by the other that 
had thrown him from situation to situation, and at 
length on board the emigrant ship. Barney ate, 
so to speak, nothing from the galley ; his own tea, 
butter, and eggs supported him throughout the 
voyage ; and about meal-time you might often find 
him up to the elbows in amateur cookery. His 
was the first voice heard singing among all the 
passengers ; he was the first who fell to dancing. 
From Loch Foyle to Sandy Hook, there was not 
a piece of fun undertaken but there was Barney in 
the midst. 

You ought to have seen him when he stood up 
to sing at our concerts — his tight little figure step- 
ping to and fro, and his feet shuffling to the air, 
his eyes seeking and bestowing encouragement — 
and to have enjoyed the bow, so nicely calculated 
between jest and earnest, between grace and clumsi- 
ness, with which he brought each song to a con- 
clusion. He was not only a great favourite among 
ourselves, but his songs attracted the lords of the 
saloon, who often leaned to hear him over the rails of 
the hurricane-deck. He was somewhat pleased but 
not at all abashed, by this attention ; and one night, 
in the midst of his famous performance of 'Billy 
Keogh,' I saw him spin half round in a pirouette and 
throw an audacious wink to an old gentleman above. 

This was the more characteristic, as, for all his 
daffing, he was a modest and very polite little 
fellow among ourselves. He would not have hurt 


the feelings of a fly, nor throughout the passage 
did he give a shadow of offence ; yet he was always, 
by his innocent freedoms and love of fun, brought 
upon that narrow margin where politeness must be 
natural to walk without a fall. He was once 
seriously angry, and that in a grave, quiet manner, 
because they supplied no fish on Friday ; for Barney 
was a conscientious Catholic. He had likewise strict 
notions of refinement ; and when, late one evening, 
after the women had retired, a young Scotsman 
struck up an indecent song, Barney's drab clothes 
were immediately missing from the group. His 
taste was for the society of gentlemen, of whom, 
with the reader's permission, there was no lack in 
our five steerages arid second cabin ; and he avoided 
the rough and positive with a girlish shrinking. 
Mackay, partly from his superior powers of mind, 
which rendered him incomprehensible, partly from 
his extreme opinions, was especially distasteful to the 
Irishman. I have seen him slink off, with back- 
ward looks of terror and offended delicacy, while 
the other, in his witty, ugly way, had been pro- 
fessing hostility to God, and an extreme theatrical 
readiness to be shipwrecked on the spot. These 
utterances hurt the little coachman's modesty Hke 
a bad word. 



One night Jones, the young O'Reilly, and myself 
were walking arm-in-arm and briskly up and down 
the deck. Six bells had rung ; a head- wind blew 
chill and fitful, the fog was closing in with a sprinkle 
of rain, and the fog-whistle had been turned on, and 
now divided time with its unwelcome outcries, loud 
like a bull, thrilhng and intense like a mosquito. 
Even the watch lay somewhere snugly out of sight. 

For some time we observed something lying black 
and huddled in the scuppers, which at last heaved a 
little and moaned aloud. We ran to the rails. An 
elderly man, but whether passenger or seaman it 
was impossible in the darkness to determine, lay 
groveUing on his belly in the wet scuppers, and kick- 
ing feebly with his outspread toes. We asked him 
what was amiss, and he replied incoherently, with a 
strange accent and in a voice unmanned by terror, 
that he had cramp m the stomach, that he had 
been ailing all day, had seen the doctor twice, and 
had walked the deck against fatigue till he was over- 
mastered and had fallen where we found him. 

Jones remained by his side, while O'Reilly and I 


hurried off to seek the doctor. We knocked in vain 
at the doctor's cabin ; there came no reply ; nor 
could we find any one to guide us. It was no time 
for delicacy ; so we ran once more forward ; and 
I, whipping up a ladder and touching my hat to 
the officer of the watch, addressed him as politely as 
I could — 

' I beg your pardon, sir ; but there is a inan lying- 
bad with cramp in the lee scuppers ; and I can't find 
the doctor.' 

He looked at me peeringly in the darkness ; and 
then, somewhat harshly, ' Well, / can't leave the 
bridge, my man,' said he. 

' No, sir ; but you can tell me what to do,' I 
' * Is it one of the crew ? ' he asked. 

' I beheve him to be a fireman,' I rephed. 

I daresay officers are much annoyed by complaints 
and alarmist information from their freight of human 
creatures ; but certainly, whether it was the idea 
that the sick man was one of the crew, or from 
something concihatory in my address, the officer in 
question was immediately reheved and molhfied ; 
and speaking in a voice much freer from constraint, 
advised me to find a steward and despatch him in 
quest of the doctor, who would now be in the 
smoking-room over his pipe. 

One of the stewards was often enough to be found 
about this hour down our companion. Steerage No. 
2 and 3 ; that was his smoking-room of a night. Let 
me call him Blackwood. O'Reilly and I rattled 



down the companion, breathing hurry ; and in his 
shirt-sleeves and perched across the carpenter's 
bench upon one thigh, found Blackwood ; a neat, 
bright, dapper, Glasgow-looking man, with a bead 
of an eye and a rank twang in his speech. I forget 
who was with him, but the pair were enjoying a 
deliberate talk over their pipes. I daresay he was 
tired with his day's work, and eminently comfort- 
able at that moment ; and the truth is I did not 
stop to consider his feeUngs, but told my story in a 

' Steward,' said I, ' there 's a man lying bad with 
cramp, and I can't find the doctor.' 

He turned upon me as pert as a sparrow, but with 
a black look that is the prerogative of man ; and 
taking his pipe out of his mouth — 

' That 's none of my business,' said he. ' I don't 
care. ' 

I could have strangled the Httle ruffian where he 
sat. The thought of his cabin civihty and cabin 
tips filled me with indignation. I glanced at 
O'Reilly ; he was pale and quivering, and looked 
like assault and battery every inch of him. But we 
had a better card than violence. 

* You will have to make it your business,' said 
I, * for I am sent to you by the officer on the 

Blackwood was fairly tripped. He made no 
answer, but put out his pipe, gave me one murder- 
ous look, and set off upon his errand strolling. 
From that day forward, I should say,| he improved 


to me in courtesy, as though he had repented his 
evil speech and were anxious to leave a better im- 

When we got on deck again, Jones was still beside 
the sick man ; and two or three late stragglers had 
gathered round and were offering suggestions. One 
proposed to give the patient water, which was 
promptly negatived. Another bade us hold him 
up ; he himself prayed to be let lie ; but as it was 
at least as well to keep him off the streaming decks, 
O'Reilly and I supported him between us. It was 
only by main force that we did so, and neither an 
easy nor an agreeable duty ; for he fought in his 
paroxysms Hke a frightened child, and moaned miser- 
ably when he resigned himself to our control. 

' O let me lie ! ' he pleaded. ' I'll no' get better 
anyway.' And then, with a moan that went to 
my heart, ' O why did I come upon this miserable 
journey ? ' 

I was reminded of the song which I had heard 
a little while before in the close, tossing steerage : 
' O why left I my hame ? ' 

Meantime Jones, reheved of his immediate charge, 
had gone off to the galley, where we could see a 
light. There he found a belated cook scouring pans 
by the radiance of two lanterns, and one of these 
he sought to borrow. The scullion was backward. 
'Was it one of the crew ? ' he asked. And when 
Jones, smitten with my theory, had assured him that 
it was a fireman, he reluctantly left his scouring 
and came towards us at an easy pace, with one of 



the lanterns swinging from his finger. The light, as 
it reached the spot, showed us an elderly man, thick- 
set, and grizzled with years ; but the shifting and 
coarse shadows concealed from us the expression and 
even the design of his face. 

So soon as the cook set eyes on him he gave a 
sort of whistle. 

' It 's only a passenger ! ' said he ; and turning 
about, made, lantern and all, for the galley. 

' He 's a man anyway,' cried Jones in indignation. 

* Nobody said he was a woman,' said a gruff voice, 
which I recognised for that of the bo's'un. 

All this while there was no word of Blackwood or 
the doctor ; and now the officer came to our side of 
the ship and asked, over the hurricane-deck rails, if 
the doctor were not yet come. We told him not. 

' No ?' he repeated with a breathing of anger ; and 
we saw him hurry aft in person. 

Ten minutes after the doctor made his appearance 
dehberately enough and examined our patient with 
the lantern. He made little of the case, had the 
man brought aft to the dispensary, dosed him, and 
sent him forward to his bunk. Two of his neigh- 
bours in the steerage had now come to our assistance, 
expressing loud sorrow that such *a fine cheery 
body ' should be sick ; and these, claiming a sort of 
possession, took him entirely under their own care. 
The drug had probably relieved him, for he struggled 
no more, and was led along plaintive and patient, 
but protesting. His heart recoiled at the thought 
of the steerage. 'O let me lie down upon the 


bieldy side,' he cried ; ' O dinna take me down ! ' 
And again: *0 why did ever I come upon this 
miserable voyage ? ' And yet once more, with a gasp 
and a waihng prolongation of the fourth word : ' I 
had no call to come.' But there he was ; and by the 
doctor's orders and the kind force of his two ship- 
mates disappeared down the companion of Steerage 
No. 1 into the den allotted him. 

At the foot of our own companion, just where I 
had found Blackwood, Jones and the bo's'un were 
now engaged in talk. This last was a gruff, cruel- 
looking seaman, who must have passed near half a 
century upon the seas ; square-headed, goat-bearded, 
with heavy blonde eyebrows, and an eye without 
radiance, but inflexibly steady and hard. I had not 
forgotten his rough speech ; but I remembered also 
that he had helped us about the lantern ; and now 
seeing him in conversation with Jones, and being 
choked with indignation, I proceeded to blow off my 

' Well,' said I, 'I make you my compliments 
upon your steward,' and furiously narrated what had 

' I 've nothing to do with him,' replied the bo's'un. 
' They 're all alike. They wouldn't mind if they saw 
you all lying dead one upon the top of another.' 

This was enough. A very little humanity went a 
long way with me after the experience of the evening. 
A sympathy grew up at once between the bo's'un 
and myself; and that night, and during the next few 
days, I learned to appreciate him better. He was a 



remarkable type, and not at all the kind of man you 
find in books. He had been at Sebastopol under 
English colours ; and again in a States ship, * after 
the Alabama, and praying God we shouldn't find 
her.' He was a high Tory and a high Englishman. 
No manufacturer could have held opinions more 
hostile to the working man and his strikes. 'The 
workmen,' he said, ' think nothing of their country. 
They think of nothing but themselves. They're 
damned greedy, selfish fellows.' He would not hear 
of the decadence of England. ' They say they send 
us beef from America,' he argued ; ' but who pays 
for it? All the money in the world's in England.' 
The Royal Navy was the best of possible services, 
according to him. ' Anyway the officers are gentle- 
men,' said he ; ' and you can't get hazed to death by 

a damned non-commissioned as you can in the 

army.' Among nations, England was the first ; then 
came France. He respected the French navy and 
liked the French people ; and if he were forced to 
make a new choice in life, ' by God, he would try 
Frenchmen ! ' For all his looks and rough cold 
manners, I observed that children were never fright- 
ened by him; they divined him at once to be a 
friend ; and one night when he had chalked his hand 
and went about stealthily setting his mark on people's 
clothes, it was incongruous to hear this formidable 
old salt chuckling over his boyish monkey trick. 

In the morning, my first thought was of the sick 
man. I was afraid I should not recognise him, so 
baffling had been the light of the lantern ; and found 


myself unable to decide if he were Scots, English, or 
Irish. He had certainly employed north-country 
words and elisions ; but the accent and the pro- 
nunciation seemed unfamiliar and incongruous in 
my ear. 

To descend on an empty stomach into Steerage 
No. 1 was an adventure that required some nerve. 
The stench was atrocious ; each respiration tasted in 
the throat Mke some horrible kind of cheese ; and 
the squalid aspect of the place was aggravated by so 
many people worming themselves into their clothes 
in the twilight of the bunks. You may guess if I 
was pleased, not only for him, but for myself also, 
when I heard that the sick man was better and had 
gone on deck. 

The morning was raw and foggy, though the sun 
suffused the fog with pink and amber ; the fog-horn 
still blew, stertorous and intermittent; and to add 
to the discomfort, the seamen were just beginning to 
wash down the decks. But for a sick man this was 
heaven compared to the steerage. I found him 
standing on the hot-water pipe, just forward of the 
saloon deck-house. He was smaller than I had 
fancied, and plain-looking ; but his face was distin- 
guished by strange and fascinating eyes, limpid grey 
from a distance, but, when looked into, full of 
changing colours and grains of gold. His manners 
were mild and uncompromisingly plain ; and I soon 
saw that, when once started, he delighted to talk. 
His accent and language had been formed in the 
most natural way, since he was born in Ireland, had 



lived a quarter of a century on the banks of Tyne, 
and was married to a Scots wife. A fisherman in 
the season, he had fished the east coast from Fisher- 
row to Whitby. When the season was over, and 
the great boats, which required extra hands, were 
once drawn up on shore till the next spring, he 
worked as a labourer about chemical furnaces, or 
along the wharves unloading vessels. In this com- 
paratively humble way of life he had gathered a 
competence, and could speak of his comfortable 
house, his hayfield, and his garden. On this ship, 
where so many accomplished artisans were fleeing 
from starvation, he was present on a pleasure trip to 
visit a brother in New York. 

Ere he started, he informed me he had been 
warned against the steerage and the steerage fare, 
and recommended to bring with him a ham and tea 
and a spice loaf. But he laughed to scorn such 
counsels. ' / 'm not afraid,' he had told his adviser, 
* / 7/ get on for ten days. I 've not been a fisherman 
for nothing.' For it is no light matter, as he re- 
minded me, to be in an open boat, perhaps waist- 
deep with herrings, day breaking with a scowl, and 
for miles on every hand lee-shores, unbroken, 
iron-bound, surf-beat, with only here and there an 
anchorage where you dare not lie, or a harbour 
impossible to enter with the wind that blows. The 
life of a North Sea fisher is one long chapter of 
exposure and hard work and insufficient fare ; and 
even if he makes land at some bleak fisher port, 
perhaps the season is bad or his boat has been 


unlucky, and after fifty hours' unsleeping vigilance 
and toil, not a shop will give him credit for a loaf of 
bread. Yet the steerage of the emigrant ship had 
been too vile for the endurance of a man thus rudely 
trained. He had scarce eaten since he came on 
board, until the day before, when his appetite was 
tempted by some excellent pea-soup. We were all 
much of the same mind on board, and beginning 
with myself, had dined upon pea-soup not wisely but 
too well ; only with him the excess had been 
punished, perhaps because he was weakened by 
former abstinence, and his first meal had resulted in 
a cramp. He had determined to live henceforth on 
biscuit ; and when, two months later, he should 
return to England, to make the passage by saloon. 
The second cabin, after due inquiry, he scouted as 
another edition of the steerage. 

He spoke apologetically of his emotion when ill. 
' Ye see, I had no call to be here,' said he ; ' and I 
thought it was by with me last night. I 've a good 
house at home, and plenty to nurse me, and I had 
no real call to leave them.' Speaking of the atten- 
tions he had received from his shipmates generally, 
' they were all so kind,' he said, ' that there 's none 
to mention.' And except in so far as I might share 
in this, he troubled me with no reference to my 

But what affected me in the most lively manner 
was the wealth of this day-labourer, paying a two 
months' pleasure visit to the States, and preparing to 
return in the saloon, and the new testimony rendered 



by his story, not so much to the horrors of the 
steerage as to the habitual comfort of the working 
classes. One foggy, frosty December evening, I 
encountered on Liberton Hill, near Edinburgh, an 
Irish labourer trudging homeward from the fields. 
Our roads lay together, and it was natural that we 
should fall into talk. He was covered with mud ; 
an inoffensive, ignorant creature, who thought the 
Atlantic Cable was a secret contrivance of the 
masters the better to oppress labouring mankind; 
and I confess I was astonished to learn that he had 
nearly three hundred pounds in the bank. But this 
man had travelled over most of the world, and 
enjoyed wonderful opportunities on some American 
railroad, with two dollars a shift and double pay on 
Sunday and at night ; whereas my fellow-passenger 
had never quitted Tyneside, and had made all that 
he possessed in that same accursed, down-falling 
England, whence skilled mechanics, engineers, mill- 
wrights, and carpenters were fleeing as from the 
native country of starvation. 

Fitly enough, we slid off on the subject of strikes 
and wages and hard times. Being from the Tyne, 
and a man who had gained and lost in his own pocket 
by these fluctuations, he had much to say, and held 
strong opinions on the subject. He spoke sharply 
of the masters, and, when I led him on, of the 
men also. The masters had been selfish and obstruc- 
tive ; the men selfish, silly, and light-headed. He 
rehearsed to me the course of a meeting at which he 
had been present, and the somewhat long discourse 


which he had there pronounced, calling into question 
the wisdom and even the good faith of the Union 
delegates ; and although he had escaped himself 
through flush times and starvation times with a 
handsomely provided purse, he had so little faith in 
either man or master, and so profound a terror for 
the unerring Nemesis of mercantile affairs, that he 
could think of no hope for our country outside of a 
sudden and complete political subversion. Down 
must go Lords and Church and Army ; and capital, 
by some happy direction, must change hands from 
worse to better, or England stood condemned. Such 
principles, he said, were growing * like a seed.' 

From this mild, soft, domestic man, these words 
sounded unusually ominous and grave. I had heard 
enough revolutionary talk among my workmen fellow- 
passengers ; but most of it was hot and turgid, and 
fell discredited from the lips of unsuccessful men. 
This man was calm ; he had attained prosperity and 
ease ; he disapproved the policy which had been 
pursued by labour in the past ; and yet this was his 
panacea, — to rend the old country from end to end, 
and from top to bottom, and in clamour and civil 
discord remodel it with the hand of violence. 


On the Sunday, among a party of men who were 
talking in our companion. Steerage No. 2 and 3, we 
remarked a new figure. He wore tweed clothes, 
well enough made if not very fresh, and a plain 
smoking-cap. His face was pale, with pale eyes, 
and spiritedly enough designed ; but though not 
yet thu'ty, a sort of blackguardly degeneration had 
already overtaken his features. The fine nose had 
grown fleshy towards the point, the pale eyes were 
sunk in fat. His hands were strong and elegant ; 
his experience of life evidently varied ; his speech 
full of pith and verve ; his manners forward, but 
perfectly presentable. The lad who helped in the 
second cabin told me, in answer to a question, that 
he did not know who he was, but thought, ' by his 
way of speaking, and because he was so pohte, that 
he was some one from the saloon.' 

I was not so sure, for to me there was something 
equivocal in his air and bearing. He might have 
been, I thought, the son of some good family who 
had fallen early into dissipation and run from home. 
But, making every allowance, how admirable was 


his talk ! I wish you could have heard him tell his 
own stories. They were so swingingly set forth, in 
such dramatic language, and illustrated here and 
there by such luminous bits of acting, that they 
could only lose in any reproduction. There were 
tales of the P. and O. Company, where he had 
been an officer ; of the East Indies, where in former 
years he had hved lavishly ; of the Royal En- 
gineers, where he had served for a period ; and of 
a dozen other sides of hfe, each introducing some 
vigorous thumb-nail portrait. He had the talk to 
himself that night, we were aU so glad to Usten. 
The best talkers usually address themselves to some 
particular society ; there they are kings, elsewhere 
camp-followers, as a man may know Russian and 
yet be ignorant of Spanish ; but this fellow had a 
frank, headlong power of style, and a broad, human 
choice of subject, that would have turned any circle 
in the world into a circle of hearers. He was a 
Homeric talker, plain, strong, and cheerful ; and the 
things and the people of which he spoke became 
readily and clearly present to the minds of those 
who heard him. This, with a certain added colour- 
ing of rhetoric and rodomontade, must have been 
the style of Burns, who equally charmed the ears of 
duchesses and hostlers. 

Yet freely and personally as he spoke, many points 
remained obscure in his narration. The Engineers, 
for instance, was a service which he praised highly ; 
it is true there would be trouble with the sergeants ; 
but then the officers were gentlemen, and his own, 
3— E 65 


in particular, one among ten thousand. It sounded 
so far exactly like an episode in the rakish, topsy- 
turvy life of such an one as I had imagined. But 
then there carrie incidents more doubtful, which 
showed an almost impudent greed after gratuities, 
and a truly impudent disregard for truth. And 
then there was the tale of his departure. He had 
wearied, it seems, of Woolwich, and one fine day, 
with a companion, slipped up to London for a spree. 
I have a suspicion that spree was meant to be a long 
one ; but God disposes all things ; and one morning, 
near Westminster Bridge, whom should he come 
across but the very sergeant who had recruited him 
at first ! What followed ? He himself indicated 
cavaherly that he had then resigned. Let us put it 
so. But these resignations are sometimes very trying. 

At length, after having dehghted us for hours, he 
took himself away from the companion ; and I could 
ask Mackay who and what he was. 'That?' said 
Mackay. ' Why, that 's one of the stowaways.' 

' No man,' said the same authority, ' who has had 
anything to do with the sea, would ever think of 
paying for a passage.' I give the statement as 
Mackay 's, without indorsement ; yet I am tempted 
to beheve that it contains a grain of truth ; and if 
you add that the man shall be impudent and 
thievish, or else dead-broke, it may even pass for a 
fair representation of the facts. We gentlemen of 
England who hve at home at ease have, I suspect, 
very insufficient ideas on the subject. All the world 
over, people are stowing away in coal-holes and dark 


corners, and when ships are once out to sea, appear- 
ing again, begrimed and bashful, upon deck. The 
career of these sea-tramps partakes largely of the 
adventurous. They may be poisoned by coal-gas, or 
die by starvation in their place of concealment ; or 
when found they may be clapped at once and 
ignominiously into irons, thus to be carried to their 
promised land, the port of destination, and alas ! 
brought back in the same way to that from which 
they started, and there dehvered over to the magis- 
trates and the seclusion of a county jail. Since I 
crossed the Atlantic, one miserable stowaway was 
found in a dying state among the fuel, uttered but 
a word or two, and departed for a farther country 
than America. 

When the stowaway appears on deck, he has but 
one thing to pray for : that he be set to work, which 
is the price and sign of his forgiveness. After half 
an hour with a swab or a bucket, he feels himself as 
secure as if he had paid for his passage. It i§ not 
altogether a bad thing for the company, who get 
more or less efficient hands for nothing but a few 
plates of junk and duff; and every now and again 
find themselves better paid than by a whole family 
of cabin passengers. Not long ago, for instance, a 
packet was saved from nearly certain loss by the 
skill and courage of a stowaway engineer. As was 
no more than just, a handsome subscription rewarded 
him for his success ; but even without such excep- 
tional good fortune, as things stand in England and 
America, the stowaway will often make a good profit 



out of his adventure. Four engineers stowed away- 
last summer on the same ship, the Cir cassia ; and 
before two days after their arrival each of the four 
had found a comfortable berth. This was the most 
hopeful tale of emigration that I heard from first to 
last ; and as you see, the luck was for stowaways. 

My curiosity was much inflamed by what I heard ; 
and the next morning, as I was making the round 
of the ship, I was dehghted to find the ex-Royal 
Engineer engaged in washing down the white paint 
of a deck-house. There was another fellow at work 
beside him, a lad not more than twenty, in the most 
miraculous tatters, his handsome face sown with 
grains of beauty and hghted up by expressive eyes. 
Four stowaways had been found aboard our ship 
before she left the Clyde ; but these two had alone 
escaped the ignominy of being put ashore. Ahck, 
my acquaintance of last night, was Scots by birth, 
and by trade a practical engineer ; the other was 
from Devonshire, and had been to sea before the 
mast. Two people more unhke by training, char- 
acter, and habits, it would be hard to imagine ; yet 
here they were together, scrubbing paint. 

AHck had held all sorts of good situations, and 
wasted many opportunities in hfe. I have heard 
him end a story with these words : * That was in my 
golden days, when I used finger-glasses.' Situation 
after situation failed him ; then followed the depres- 
sion of trade, and for months he had hung round 
with other idlers, playing marbles all day in the 
West Park, and going home at night to tell his 


landlady how be had been seeking for a job. I 
believe this kind of existence was not unpleasant 
to Alick himself, and he might have long continued 
to enjoy idleness and a life on tick ; but he had a 
comrade, let us call him Brown, who grew restive. 
This fellow was continually threatening to shp his 
cable for the States, and at last, one Wednesday, 
Glasgow was left widowed of her Brown. Some 
months afterwards, Alick met another old chum in 
Sauchiehall Street. 

' By the by, AUck,' said he, ' I met a gentleman in 
New York who was asking for you.' 

' Who was that ?' asked Ahck. 

' The new second engineer on board the So-and-so,'' 
was the reply. 

' Well, and who is he ?' 

' Brown, to be sin-e.' 

For Brown had been one of the fortunate quartette 
aboard the Circassia. If that was the way of it in 
the States, Alick thought it was high time to follow 
Brown's example. He spent his last day, as he put 
it, 'reviewing the yeomanry,' and the next morning 
says he to his landlady, ' Mrs. X., I '11 not take 
porridge to-day, please ; I '11 take some eggs.' 

' Why, have you found a job ? ' she asked, de- 

' Well, yes,' returned the perfidious Alick ; * I 
think I '11 start to-day.' 

And so, well lined with eggs, start he did, but for 
America. I am afraid that landlady has seen the 
last of him. 



It was easy enough to get on board in the con- 
fusion that attends a vessel's departure ; and in one 
of the dark corners of Steerage No. 1, flat in a bunk 
and with an empty stomach, Ahck made the voyage 
from the Broomielaw to Greenock. That night, the 
ship's yeoman pulled him out by the heels and had 
him before the mate. Two other stowaways had 
already been found and sent ashore ; but by this 
time darkness had fallen, they were out in the middle 
of the estuary, and the last steamer had left them till 
the morning. 

' Take him to the forecastle and give him a meal,' 
said the mate, ' and see and pack him off the first 
thing to-morrow.' 

In the forecastle he had supper, a good night's 
rest, and breakfast ; and was sitting placidly with a 
pipe, fancying all was over and the game up for 
good with that ship, when one of the sailors grumbled 
out an oath at him, with a 'What are you doing 
there ? ' and ' Do you call that hiding, anyway ? ' 
There was need of no more : Alick was in another 
bunk before the day was older. Shortly before the 
passengers arrived, tlie ship was cursorily inspected. 
He heard the round come down the companion and 
look into one pen after another, until they came 
within two of the one in which he lay concealed. 
Into these last two they did not enter, but merely 
glanced from without ; and Ahck had no doubt that 
he was personally favoured in this escape. It was 
the character of the man to attribute nothing to luck 
and but little to kindness ; whatever happened to 


him he had earned in his own right amply ; favours 
came to him from his singular attraction and adroit- 
ness, and misfortunes he had always accepted with 
his eyes open. Half an hour after the searchers had 
departed, the steerage began to fill with legitimate 
passengers, and the worst of AHck's troubles was at 
an end. He was soon making himself popular, 
smoking other people's tobacco, and poHtely sharing 
their private stock of delicacies, and when night 
came, he retired to his bunk beside the others with 

Next day by afternoon. Lough Foyle being already 
far behind, and only the rough north-western hills of 
Ireland within view, Ahck appeared on deck to court 
inquiry and decide his fate. As a matter of fact, he 
was known to several on board, and even intimate 
with one of the engineers ; but it was plainly not the 
etiquette of such occasions for the authorities to 
avow their information. Every one professed surprise 
and anger on his appearance, and he was led prisoner 
before the captain. 

' What have you got to say for yoiu-self ?' inquired 
the captain. 

* Not much,' said AUck ; ' but when a man has 
been a long time out of a job, he will do things he 
would not under other circumstances.' 

' Are you willing to work V 

AUck swore he was burning to be useful. 

' And what can you do V asked the captain. 

He replied composedly that he was a brass-fitter 
by trade. 



'1 think you will be better at engineering?' 
suggested the officer, with a shrewd look. 

' No, sir,' says Ahek simply. — ' There 's few can 
beat me at a he,' was his engaging commentary to 
me as he recounted the affair. 

' Have you been to sea ? ' again asked the captain. 

' I 've had a trip on a Clyde steamboat, sir, but no 
more,' replied the unabashed Ahck. 

* Well, we must try and find some work for you,' 
concluded the officer. 

And hence we behold Alick, clear of the hot 
engine-room, lazily scraping paint and now and then 
taking a pull upon a sheet. ' You leave me alone,' 
was his deduction. ' When I get talking to a man, 
I can get round him.' 

The other stowaway, whom I will call the 
Devonian — it was noticeable that neither of them 
told his name — had both been brought up and seen 
the world in a much smaller way. His father, a 
confectioner, died and was closely followed by his 
mother. His sisters had taken, I think, to dress- 
making. He himself had returned from sea about a 
year ago and gone to hve with his brother, who kept 
the ' George Hotel '■ — ' it was not quite a real hotel,' 
added the candid fellow — and had a hu-ed man to 
mind the horses. At first the Devonian was very 
welcome ; but as time went on his brother not un- 
naturally grew cool towards him, and he began to 
find himself one too many at the ' George Hotel.' 
' I don't think brothers care much for you,' he said, 
as a general reflection upon hfe. Hurt at this 


change, nearly penniless, and too proud to ask for 
more, he set off on foot and walked eighty miles to 
Weymouth, hving on the journey as he could. He 
would have enlisted, but he was too small for the 
army and too old for the navy ; and thought himself 
fortunate at last to find a berth on board a trading 
dandy. Somewhere in the Bristol Channel, the 
dandy sprung a leak and went down ; and though 
the crew were picked up and brought ashore by 
fishermen, they found themselves with nothing but 
the clothes upon their back. His next engagement 
was scarcely better- starred ; for the ship proved so 
leaky, and frightened them all so heartily during a 
short passage through the Irish Sea, that the entire 
crew deserted and remained behind upon the quays 
of Belfast. 

Evil days were now coming thick on the Devonian. 
He could find no berth in Belfast, and had to work 
a passage to Glasgow on a steamer. She reached the 
Broomielaw on a Wednesday : the Devonian had a 
bellyful that morning, laying in breakfast manfully 
to provide against the future, and set off along the 
quays to seek employment. But he was now not 
only penniless, his clothes had begun to fall in 
tatters ; he had begun to have the look of a street 
Arab ; and captains will have nothing to say to a 
ragamuffin ; for in that trade, as in all others, it is 
the coat that depicts the man. You may hand, reef, 
and steer like an angel, but if you have a hole in 
your trousers, it is hke a millstone round your 
neck. The Devonian lost heart at so many refusals. 



He had not the unpudence to beg ; although, as he 
said, * when I had money of my own, I always gave 
it.' It was only on Saturday morning, after three 
whole days of starvation, that he asked a scone from 
a milkwoman, who added of her own accord a glass 
of milk. He had now made up his mind to stow 
away, not from any desire to see America, but merely 
to obtain the comfort of a place in the forecastle and 
a supply of familiar sea-fare. He hved by begging, 
always from milkwomen, and always scones and milk, 
and was not once refused. It was vile wet weather, 
and he could never have been dry. By night he 
walked the streets, and by day slept upon Glasgow 
Green, and heard, in the intervals of his dozing, the 
famous theologians of the spot clear up intricate 
points of doctrine and appraise the merits of the 
clergy. He had not much instruction ; he could 
' read bills on the street,' but was ' main bad at writ- 
ing ; ' yet these theologians seem to have impressed 
him with a genuine sense of amusement. Why he did 
not go to the Sailors' Home I know not ; I presume 
there is in Glasgow one of these institutions, which 
are by far the happiest and the wisest effort of con- 
temporaneous charity ; but I must stand to my 
author, as they say in old books, and relate the story 
as I heard it. In the meantime, he had tried four 
times to stow away in different vessels, and four 
times had been discovered and handed back to starva- 
tion. The fifth time was lucky ; and you may judge 
if he were pleased to be aboard ship again, at his old 
work, and with duff twice a week. He was, said 



Alick, ' a devil for the duff.' Or if devil was not the 
word, it was one if anything stronger. 

The difference in the conduct of the two was 
remarkable. The Devonian was as wiUing as any 
paid hand, swarmed aloft among the first, pulled his 
natural weight and firmly upon a rope, and found 
work for himself when there was none to show him. 
Alick, on the other hand, was not only a skulker in 
the grain, but took a humorous and fine-gentlemanly 
view of the transaction. He would speak to me 
by the hour in ostentatious idleness ; and only 
if the bo's'un or a mate came by, fell-to languidly 
for just the necessary time till they were out of 
sight. * I 'm not breaking my heart with it,' he re- 

Once there was a hatch to be opened near where 
he was stationed ; he watched the preparations for a 
second or so suspiciously, and then, * Hullo,' said he, 
* here 's some real work coming — I'm off,' and he 
was gone that moment. Again, calculating the six 
guinea passage-money, and the probable duration 
of the passage, he remarked pleasantly that he was 
getting six shillings a day for this job, * and it 's 
pretty dear to the company at that.' ' They are 
making nothing by me,' was another of his observa- 
tions ; ' they 're making something by that fellow.' 
And he pointed to the Devonian, who was just then 
busy to the eyes. 

The more you saw of Alick, the more, it must be 
owned, you learned to despise him. His natural 
talents were of no use either to himself or others ; for 



his character had degenerated like his face, and be- 
come pulpy and pretentious. Even his power of 
persuasion, which was certainly very surprising, stood 
in some danger of being lost or neutralised by over- 
confidence. He lied in an aggressive, brazen manner, 
like a pert criminal in the dock ; and he was so vain 
of his own cleverness that he could not refrain from 
boasting, ten minutes after, of the very trick by 
which he had deceived you. 'Why, now I have 
more money than when I came on board,' he said 
one night, exhibiting a sixpence, ' and yet I stood 
myself a bottle of beer before I went to bed yester- 
day. And as for tobacco, I have fifteen sticks of it.' 
That was fairly successful indeed ; yet a man of his 
superiority, and with a less obtrusive policy, might, 
who knows ? have got the length of half a crown. 
A man who prides himself upon persuasion should 
learn the persuasive faculty of silence, above all as to 
his own misdeeds. It is only in the farce and for 
dramatic purposes that Scapin enlarges on his peculiar 
talents to the world at large. 

Scapin is perhaps a good name for this clever, 
unfortunate Alick ; for at the bottom of all his mis- 
conduct there was a guiding sense of humour that 
moved you to forgive him. It was more than half 
as a jest that he conducted his existence. ' Oh, 
man,' he said to me once with unusual emotion, 
hke a man thinking of his mistress, ' I would give 
up anything for a lark.' 

It was in relation to his fellow-stowaway that 
Alick showed the best, or perhaps I should say, the 


only, good points of his nature. * Mind you,' he said 
suddenly, changing his tone, * mind you, that 's a 
good boy. He wouldn't tell you a lie. A lot of 
them think he is a scamp because his clothes are 
ragged, but he isn't; he's as good as gold.' To 
hear him, you became aware that Alick himself had 
a taste for virtue. He thought his own idleness and 
the other's industry equally becoming. He was no 
more anxious to ensure his own reputation as a liar 
than to uphold the truthfulness of his companion ; and 
he seemed unaware of what was incongruous in his 
attitude, and was plainly sincere in both characters. 

It was not surprising that he should take an 
interest in the Devonian, for the lad worshipped and 
served him in love and wonder. Busy as he was, he 
would find time to warn Alick of an approaching 
officer, or even to tell him that the coast was clear, 
and he might slip off and smoke a pipe in safety. 
' Tom,' he once said to him, for that was the name 
which Alick ordered him to use, ' if you don't like 
going to the galley, I '11 go for you. You ain't used 
to this kind of thing, you ain't. But I 'm a sailor ; 
and I can understand the feelings of any fellow, I 
can.' Again, he was hard up and casting about for 
some tobacco, for he was not so hberally used in this 
respect as others perhaps less worthy, when Alick 
offered him the half of one of his fifteen sticks. I 
think, for my part, he might have increased the offer 
to a whole one, or perhaps a pair of them, and not 
lived to regret his liberality. But the Devonian 
refused. 'No,' he said, ' you 're a stowaway like me ; 


I won't take it from you, I '11 take it from some one 
who 's not down on his luck.' 

It was notable in this generous lad that he was 
strongly under the influence of sex. If a woman 
passed near where he was working, his eyes lit up, 
his hand paused, and his mind wandered instantly 
to other thoughts. It was natural that he should 
exercise a fascination proportionally strong upon 
women. He begged, you will remember, from 
women only, and was never refused. Without wish- 
ing to explain away the charity of those who helped 
him, I cannot but fancy he may have owed a little 
to his handsome face, and to that quick, responsive 
nature, formed for love, which speaks eloquently 
through all disguises, and can stamp an impression 
in ten minutes' talk or an exchange of glances. He 
was the more dangerous in that he was far from 
bold, but seemed to woo in spite of himself, and 
with a soft and pleading eye. Ragged as he was, 
and many a scarecrow is in that respect more com- 
fortably furnished, even on board he was not without 
some curious admirers. 

There was a girl among the passengers, a tall, 
blonde, handsome, strapping Irishwoman, with a 
wild, accommodating eye, whom Alick had dubbed 
Tommy, with that transcendental appropriateness 
that defies analysis. One day the Devonian was 
lying for warmth in the upper stoke-hole, which 
stands open on the deck, when Irish Tommy came 
past, very neatly attired, as was her custom. 

'Poor fellow,' she said, stopping, 'you haven't avest.' 


* No,' he said ; ' I wish I 'ad.' 

Then she stood and gazed on him in silence, until, 
in his embarrassment, for he knew not how to look 
under this scrutiny, he pulled out his pipe and began 
to fill it with tobacco. 

' Do you want a match ? ' she asked. And before 
he had time to reply, she ran off and presently 
returned with more than one. 

That was the beginning and the end, as far as our 
passage is concerned, of what I will make bold to 
call this love-affair. There are many relations which 
go on to marriage and last during a Hfetime, in which 
less human feeling is engaged than in this scene of 
five minutes at the stoke-hole. 

Rigidly speaking, this would end the chapter of 
the stowaways ; but in a larger sense of the word I 
have yet more to add. Jones had discovered and 
pointed out to me a young woman who was remark- 
able among her fellows for a pleasing and interesting 
air. She was poorly clad, to the verge, if not over 
the line, of disrespectabiHty, with a ragged old jacket 
and a bit of a sealskin cap no bigger than your fist ; 
but her eyes, her whole expression, and her manner, 
even in ordinary moments, told of a true womanly 
nature, capable of love, anger, and devotion. She 
had a look, too, of refinement, hke one who might 
have been a better lady than most, had she been 
allowed the opportunity. When alone she seemed 
pre-occupied and sad ; but she was not often alone ; 
there was usually by her side a heavy, dull, gross 
man in rough clothes, chary of speech and gesture 



— not from caution, but poverty of disposition; a 
man like a ditcher, unlovely and uninteresting ; 
whom she petted and tended and waited on with 
her eyes as if he had been Amadis of Gaul. It was 
strange to see this hulking fellow dog-sick, and this 
delicate, sad woman caring for him. He seemed, 
from first to last, insensible of her caresses and 
attentions, and she seemed unconscious of his in- 
sensibility. The Irish husband who sang his wife 
to sleep, and this Scottish girl serving her Orson, 
were the two bits of human nature that most 
appealed to me throughout the voyage. 

On the Thursday before we arrived, the tickets 
were collected ; and soon a rumour began to go 
round the vessel ; and this girl, with her bit of 
sealskin cap, became the centre of whispering and 
pointed fingers. She also, it was said, was a stow- 
away of a sort ; for she was on board with neither 
ticket nor money ; and the man with whom she 
travelled was the father of a family, who had left 
wife and children to be hers. The ship's officers 
discouraged the story, which may therefore have 
been a story and no more ; but it was believed in 
the steerage, and the poor girl had to encounter 
many curious eyes from that day forth. 



Travel is of two kinds ; and this voyage of mine 
across the ocean combined both. * Out of my coun- 
try and myself I go,' sings the old poet : and I was 
not only travelling out of my country in latitude 
and longitude, but out of myself in diet, associates, 
and consideration. Part of the interest and a great 
deal of the amusement flowed, at least to me, from 
this novel situation in the world. 

I found that I had what they call fallen in Hfe 
with absolute success and verisimilitude. I was taken 
for a steerage passenger ; no one seemed surprised 
that I should be so ; and there was nothing but the 
brass plate between decks to remind me that I had 
once been a gentleman. In a former book, de- 
scribing a former journey, I expressed some wonder 
that I could be readily and naturally taken for a 
pedlar, and explained the accident by the difference 
of language and manners between England and 
France. I must now take a humbler view ; for 
here I was among my own countrym^en, somewhat 
roughly clad, to be sure, but with every advantage 
of speech and manner ; and I am bound to confess 
3-F 8 1 


that I passed for nearly anything you please except 
an educated gentleman. The sailors called me 
' mate,' the officers addressed me as ' my man/ my 
comrades accepted me without hesitation for a person 
of their own character and experience, but with some 
curious information. One, a mason himself, beheved 
I was a mason ; several, and among these at least 
one of the seamen, judged me to be a petty officer 
in the American navy ; and I was so often set down 
for a practical engineer that at last I had not the 
heart to deny it. From all these guesses I drew 
one conclusion, which told against the insight of my 
companions. They might be close observers in their 
own way, and read the manners in the face ; but it 
was plain that they did not extend their observation 
to the hands. 

To the saloon passengers also I sustained my part 
without a hitch. It is true I came httle in their 
way; but when we did encounter, there was no 
recognition in their eye, although I confess I some- 
times courted it in silence. All these, my inferiors 
and equals, took me, hke the transformed monarch 
in the story, for a mere common, human man. They 
gave me a hard, dead look, with the flesh about the 
eye kept unrelaxed. 

With the women this surprised me less, as I had 
already experimented on the sex by going abroad 
through a suburban part of London simply attired 
in a sleeve-waistcoat. The result was curious. I 
then learned for the first time, and by the exhaustive 
process, how much attention ladies are accustomed 


to bestow on aU male creatures of their own station ; 
for, in my humble rig, each one who went by me 
caused me a certain shock of surprise and a sense of 
something wanting. In my normal circumstances, 
it appeared, every young lady must have paid me 
some passing tribute of a glance ; and though I had 
often been unconscious of it when given, I was well 
aware of its absence when it was withheld. My 
height seemed to decrease with every woman who 
passed me, for she passed me like a dog. This is one 
of my grounds for supposing that what are called the 
upper classes may sometimes produce a disagreeable 
impression in what are called the lower ; and I wish 
some one would continue my experiment, and find 
out exactly at what stage of toilette a man becomes 
invisible to the well-regulated female eye. 

Here on shipboard the matter was put to a more 
complete test ; for, even with the addition of speech 
and manner, I passed among the ladies for precisely 
the average man of the steerage. It was one after- 
noon that I saw this demonstrated. A very plainly 
dressed woman was taken ill on deck. I think I 
had the luck to be present at every sudden seizure 
during aU the passage ; and on this occasion found 
myself in the place of importance, supporting the 
sufferer. There was not only a large crowd imme- 
diately around us, but a considerable knot of saloon 
passengers leaning over our heads from the hurricane- 
deck. One of these, an elderly managing woman, 
hailed me with counsels. Of course I had to reply ; 
and as the talk went on, I began to discover that 



the whole group took me for the husband. I looked 
upon my new wife, poor creature, with mingled 
feelings ; and I must own she had not even the 
appearance of the poorest class of city servant-maids, 
but looked more like a country wench who should 
have been employed at a roadside inn. Now was 
the time for me to go and study the brass plate. 

To such of the officers as knew about me — the 
doctor, the purser, and the stewards — I appeared in 
the hght of a broad joke. The fact that I spent the 
better part of my day in writing had gone abroad 
over the ship and tickled them all prodigiously. 
Whenever they met me they referred to my absurd 
occupation with famiharity and breadth of humor- 
ous intention. Their manner was well calculated 
to remind me of my fallen fortunes. You may be 
sincerely amused by the amateur literary efforts of 
a gentleman, but you scarce publish the feeling to 
his face. ' Well !' they would say : ' still writing V 
And the smile would widen into a laugh. The 
purser came one day into the cabin, and, touched 
to the heart by my misguided industry, offered me 
some other kind of writing, 'for which,' he added 
pointedly, ' you will be paid.' This was nothing else 
than to copy out the list of passengers. 

Another trick of mine which told against my 
reputation was my choice of roosting-place in an 
active draught upon the cabin floor. I was openly 
jeered and flouted for this eccentricity ; and a con- 
siderable knot would sometimes gather at the door 
to see my last dispositions for the night. This was 


embarrassing, but I learned to support the trial with 

Indeed I may say that, upon the whole, my new 
position sat lightly and naturally upon my spirits. 
I accepted the consequences with readiness, and 
found them far from difficult to bear. The steerage 
conquered me ; I conformed more and more to the 
type of the place, not only in manner but at heart, 
growing hostile to the officers and cabin passengers 
who looked down upon me, and day by day greedier 
for small delicacies. Such was the result, as I fancy, 
of a diet of bread and butter, soup and porridge. 
We think we have no sweet tooth as long as we are 
full to the brim of molasses ; but a man must have 
sojourned in the workhouse before he boasts himself 
indifferent to dainties. Every evening, for instance, 
I was more and more pre-occupied about our doubt- 
ful fare at tea. If it was delicate my heart was much 
lightened; if it was but broken fish I was propor- 
tionally downcast. The offer of a little jelly from a 
fellow-passenger more provident than myself caused 
a marked elevation in my spirits. And I would have 
gone to the ship's end and back again for an oyster 
or a chipped fruit. 

In other ways I was content with my position. 
It seemed no disgrace to be confounded with my 
company ; for I may as well declare at once I found 
their manners as gentle and becoming as those of 
any other class. I do not mean that my friends 
could have sat down without embarrassment and 
laughable disaster at the table of a duke. That 



does not imply an inferiority of breeding, but a 
difference of usage. Thus I flatter myself that I 
conducted myself well among my fellow-passengers ; 
yet my most ambitious hope is not to have avoided 
faults, but to have committed as few as possible. I 
know too well that my tact is not the same as their 
tact, and that my habit of a different society con- 
stituted, not only no qualification, but a positive 
disability to move easily and becomingly in this. 
When Jones complimented me — because I ' managed 
to behave very pleasantly ' to my fellow-passengers, 
was how he put it — I could follow the thought in 
his mind, and knew his compliment to be such as 
we pay foreigners on their proficiency in English. 
I daresay this praise was given me immediately on 
the back of some unpardonable solecism, which had 
led him to review my conduct as a whole. We are all 
ready to laugh at the ploughman among lords ; we 
should consider also the case of a lord amons; the 
ploughmen. I have seen a lawyer in the house of a 
Hebridean fisherman ; and I know, but nothing will 
induce me to disclose, which of these two was the 
better gentleman. Some of our finest behaviour, 
though it looks well enough from the boxes, may 
seem even brutal to the gallery. We boast too 
often manners that are parochial rather than univer- 
sal ; that, like a country wine, will not bear trans- 
portation for a hundred miles, nor from the parlour 
to the kitchen. To be a gentleman is to be one all 
the world over, and in every relation and grade of 
society. It is a high calling, to which a man must 


first be born, and then devote himself for Hfe. And, 
unhappily, the manners of a certain so-called upper 
grade have a kind of currency, and meet with a 
certain external acceptation throughout all the 
others, and this tends to keep us well satisfied with 
slight acquirements and the amateurish accomplish- 
ments of a clique. But manners, like art, should be 
human and central. 

Some of my fellow-passengers, as I now moved 
among them in a relation of equality, seemed to me 
excellent gentlemen. They were not rough, nor 
hasty, nor disputatious ; debated pleasantly, differed 
kindly ; were helpful, gentle, patient, and placid. 
The type of manners was plain, and even heavy ; 
there was little to please the eye, but nothing to 
shock ; and I thought gentleness lay more nearly at 
the spring of behaviour than in many more ornate 
and delicate societies. I say delicate, where I can- 
not say refined ; a thing may be fine like ironwork, 
without being delicate like lace. There was here 
less delicacy ; the skin supported more callously the 
natural surface of events, the mind received more 
bravely the crude facts of human existence ; but I 
do not think that there was less eiFective refinement, 
less consideration for others, less polite suppression 
of self. I speak of the best among my fellow- 
passengers ; for in the steerage, as well as in the" 
saloon, there is a mixture. Those, then, with 
whom I found myself in sympathy, and of whom I 
may therefore hope to write with a greater measure 
of truth, were not only as good in their manners, but 



endowed with very much the same natural capacities, 
and about as wise in deduction, as the bankers and 
barristers of what is called society. One and all 
were too much interested in disconnected facts, and 
loved information for its own sake with too rash a 
devotion ; but people in all classes display the same 
appetite as they gorge themselves daily with the 
miscellaneous gossip of the newspaper. Newspaper 
reading, as far as I can make out, is often rather a 
sort of brown study than an act of culture. I have 
myself palmed off yesterday's issue on a friend, and 
seen him re-peruse it for a continuance of minutes 
with an air at once refreshed and solemn. Workmen, 
perhaps, pay more attention ; but though they may 
be eager listeners, they have rarely seemed to me 
either willing or careful thinkers. Culture is not 
measured by the greatness of the field which is 
covered by our knowledge, but by the nicety with 
which we can perceive relations in that field, whether 
great or small. Workmen, certainly those who were 
on board with me, I found wanting in this quality or 
habit of the mind. They did not perceive relations, 
but leaped to a so-called cause, and thought the 
problem settled. Thus the cause of everything in 
England was the form of government, and the cure 
for all evils was, by consequence, a revolution. It is 
surprising how many of them said this, and that none 
should have had a definite thought in his head as he 
said it. Some hated the Church because they dis- 
agreed with it ; some hated Lord Beaconsfield because 
of war and taxes ; all hated the masters, possibly with 


reason. But these feelings were not at the root 
of the matter ; the true reasoning of their souls ran 
thus — I have not got on ; I ought to have got on ; 
if there was a revolution I should get on. How? 
They had no idea. Why ? Because — because — 
well, look at America ! 

To be politically bhnd is no distinction ; we are all 
so, if you come to that. At bottom, as it seems to 
me, there is but one question in modern home politics, 
though it appears in many shapes, and that is the 
question of money ; and but one poUtical remedy, 
that the people should grow wiser and better. My 
workmen fellow-passengers were as impatient and 
dull of hearing on the second of these points as 
any member of Parliament ; but they had some 
glimmerings of the first. They would not hear of 
improvement on their part, but wished the world 
made over again in a crack, so that they might 
remain improvident and idle and debauched, and 
yet enjoy the comfort and respect that should 
accompany the opposite virtues ; and it was in this 
expectation, as far as I could see, that many of them 
were now on their way to America. But on the 
point of money they saw clearly enough that inland 
politics, so far as they were concerned, were reducible 
to the question of annual income ; a question which 
should long ago have been settled by a revolution, 
they did not know how, and which they were now 
about to settle for themselves, once more they knew 
not how, by crossing the Atlantic in a steamship of 
considerable tonnage. 



And yet it has been amply shown them that the 
second or income question is in itself nothing, and 
may as well be left undecided, if there be no wisdom 
and virtue to profit by the change. It is not by a 
man's purse, but by his character, that he is rich or 
poor. Barney will be poor, Ahck will be poor, 
Mackay will be poor, let them go where they wiU, 
and wreck all the governments under heaven ; they 
will be poor until they die. 

Nothing is perhaps more notable in the average 
workman than his surprising idleness, and the candour 
with which he confesses to the failing. It has to me 
been always something of a relief to find the poor, as 
a general rule, so little oppressed with work, I can 
in consequence enjoy my own more fortunate be- 
ginning with a better grace. The other day I was 
living with a farmer in America, an old frontiersman, 
who had worked and fought, hunted and farmed, 
from his childhood up. He excused himself for his 
defective education on the ground that he had been 
overworked from first to last. Even now, he said, 
anxious as he was, he had never the time to take up 
a book. In consequence of this, I observed him 
closely ; he was occupied for four or, at the extreme 
outside, for five hours out of the twenty-four, and 
then principally in walking ; and the remainder of 
the day he passed in sheer idleness, either eating fruit 
or standing with his back against a door. I have 
known men do hard literary work all morning, and 
then undergo quite as much physical fatigue by way 
of relief as satisfied this powerful frontiersman for the 


day. He, at least, like all the educated class, did so 
much homage to industry as to persuade himself he 
was industrious. But the average mechanic recog- 
nises his idleness with effrontery ; he has even, as I 
am told, organised it. 

I give the story as it was told me, and it was told 
me for a fact. A man fell from a housetop in the 
city of Aberdeen, and was brought into hospital with 
broken bones. He was asked what was his trade, 
and replied that he was a tappe?\ No one had ever 
heard of such a thing before ; the officials were filled 
with curiosity ; they besought an explanation. It 
appeared that when a party of slaters were engaged 
upon a roof, they would now and then be taken with a 
fancy for the public-house. Now a seamstress, for ex- 
ample, might shp away from her work and no one be 
the wiser ; but if these fellows adjourned, the tapping 
of the mallets would cease, and thus the neighbour- 
hood be advertised of their defection. Hence the 
career of the tapper. He has to do the tapping and 
keep up an industrious bustle on the housetop during 
the absence of the slaters. When he taps for only 
one or two the thing is child's-play, but when he has 
to represent a whole troop, it is then that he earns 
his money in the sweat of his brow. Then must he 
bound from spot to spot, reduphcate, triplicate, sex- 
tuplicate ^is single personality, and swell and hasten 
his blows, until he produce a perfect illusion for the 
ear, and you would swear that a crowd of emulous 
masons were continuing merrily to roof the house. 
It must be a strange sight from an upper window. 



I heard nothing on board of the tapper ; but I was 
astonished at the stories told by my companions. 
Skulking, shirking, malingering, were all established 
tactics, it appeared. They could see no dishonesty 
when a man who is paid for an hour's work gives 
half an hour's consistent idling in its place. Thus 
the tapper would refuse to watch for the police during 
a burglary, and call himself an honest man. It is 
not sufficiently recognised that our race detests to 
work. If I thought that I should have to work every 
day of my life as hard as I am working now, I should 
be tempted to give up the struggle. And the work- 
man early begins on his career of toil. He has never 
had his fill of holidays in the past, and his prospect of 
holidays in the future is both distant and uncertain. 
In the circumstances, it would require a high degree 
of virtue not to snatch alleviations for the moment. 

There were many good talkers on the ship ; and 
I beUeve good talking of a certain sort is a common 
accomplishment among working men. Where books 
are comparatively scarce, a greater amount of in- 
formation will be given and received by word of 
mouth ; and this tends to produce good talkers, 
and, what is no less needful for conversation, good 
listeners. They could all tell a story with effect. 
I am sometimes tempted to think that the less 
literary class show always better in narrat^ion ; they 
have so much more patience with detail, are so 
much less hurried to reach the points, and preserve 
so much juster a proportion among the facts. At 
the same time their talk is dry; they pursue a 


topic ploddingly, have not an agile fancy, do not 
throw sudden lights from unexpected quarters, and 
when the talk is over they often leave the matter 
where it was. They mark time instead of march- 
ing. They think only to argue, not to reach new 
conclusions, and use their reason rather as a weapon 
of offence than as a tool for self-improvement. 
Hence the talk of some of the cleverest was un- 
profitable in result, because there was no give and 
take ; they would grant you as little as possible 
for premise, and begin to dispute under an oath 
to conquer or to die. 

But the talk of a workman is apt to be more 
interesting than that of a wealthy merchant, because 
the thoughts, hopes, and fears of which the work- 
man's life is built lie nearer to necessity and nature. 
They are more immediate to human life. An in- 
come calculated by the week is a far more human 
thing than one calculated by the year, and a small 
income, simply from its smallness, than a large one. 
I never wearied listening to the details of a work- 
man's economy, because every item stood for some 
real pleasure. If he could afford pudding twice a 
week, you know that twice a week the man ate with 
genuine gusto and was physically happy ; while if you 
learn that a rich man has seven courses a day, ten to 
one the half of them remain untasted, and the whole 
is but misspent money and a weariness to the flesh. 

The difference between England and America to 
a working man was thus most humanly put to me 
by a fellow-passenger: 'In America,' said he, 'you 



get pies and puddings.' I do not hear enough, 
in economy books, of pies and pudding. A man 
hves in and for the dehcacies, adornments, and 
accidental attributes of life, such as pudding to eat 
and pleasant books and theatres to occupy his 
leisure. The bare terms of existence would be re- 
jected with contempt by all. If a man feeds on 
bread and butter, soup and porridge, his appetite 
grows wolfish after dainties. And the workman 
dwells in a borderland, and is always within sight 
of those cheerless regions where life is more difficult 
to sustain than worth sustaining. Every detail of 
our existence, where it is worth while to cross the 
ocean after pie and pudding, is made alive and 
enthralling by the presence of genuine desire ; but 
it is all one to me whether Croesus has a hundred 
or a thousand thousands in the bank. There is 
more adventure in the life of the working man 
who descends as a common soldier into the battle 
of life, than in that of the millionaire who sits 
apart in an office, hke Von Moltke, and only directs 
the manoeuvres by telegraph. Give me to hear 
about the career of him who is in the thick of the 
business ; to whom one change of market means an 
empty belly, and another a copious and savoury 
meal. This is not the philosophical, but the human 
side of economics ; it interests like a story ; and the 
life of all who are thus situated partakes in a small 
way of the charm of Robinson Crusoe ; for every 
step is critical, and human life is presented to you 
naked and verging to its lowest terms. 


As we drew near to New York I was at first 
amused, and then somewhat staggered, by the 
cautions and the grisly tales that went the round. 
You would have thought we were to land upon a 
cannibal island. You must speak to no one in the 
streets, as they would not leave you till you were 
rooked and beaten. You must enter a hotel with 
mihtary precautions; for the least you had to 
apprehend was to awake next morning without 
money or baggage, or necessary raiment, a lone 
forked radish in a bed ; and if the worst befell, you 
would instantly and mysteriously disappear from 
the ranks of mankind, 

I have usually found such stories correspond to 
the least modicum of fact. Thus I was warned, 
I remember, against the roadside inns of the Ce- 
vennes, and that by a learned professor ; and when 
I reached Pradelles the warning was explained ; it 
was but the far-away rumour and reduplication of 
a single terrifying story already half a century old, 
and half forgotten in the theatre of the events. So 
I was tempted to make light of these reports against 



America. But we had on board with us a man 
whose evidence it would not do to put aside. He 
had come near these perils in the body ; he had 
visited a robber inn. The public has an old and 
well-grounded favour for this class of incident, and 
shall be gratified to the best of my power. 

My fellow - passenger, whom we shall call 
M'Naughten, had come from New York to Boston 
with a comrade, seeking work. They were a pair 
of rattling blades ; and, leaving their baggage at 
the station, passed the day in beer-saloons, and with 
congenial spirits, until midnight struck. Then they 
applied themselves to find a lodging, and walked 
the streets till two, knocking at houses of enter- 
tainment and being refused admittance, or them- 
selves declining the terms. By two the inspiration 
of their liquor had begun to wear off; they were 
weary and humble, and after a great circuit found 
themselves in the same street where they had begun 
their search, and in front of a French hotel where 
they had already sought accommodation. Seeing the 
house still open, they returned to the charge. A 
man in a white cap sat in an office by the door. 
He seemed to welcome them more warmly than 
when they had first presented themselves, and the 
charge for the night had somewhat unaccountably 
fallen from a dollar to a quarter. They thought 
him ill-looking, but paid their quarter apiece, and 
were shown upstairs to the top of the house. There, 
in a small room, the man in the white cap wished 
them pleasant slumbers. 


The room was furnished with a bed, a chair, and 
some conveniences. The door did not lock on the 
inside ; and the only sign of adornment was a couple 
of framed pictures, one close above the head of the 
bed, and the other opposite the foot, and both 
curtained, as we may sometimes see valuable water- 
colours, or the portraits of the dead, or works of art 
more than usually skittish in the subject. It was 
perhaps in the hope of finding something of this 
last description that M'Naughten's comrade pulled 
aside the curtain of the first. He was startlingly 
disappointed. There was no picture. The frame 
surrounded, and the curtain was designed to hide, 
an oblong aperture in the partition, through which 
they looked forth into the dark corridor. A person 
standing without could easily take a purse from 
under the pillow, or even strangle a sleeper as he lay 
abed. M'Naughten and his comrade stared at each 
other like Balboa and his men, ' with a wild sur- 
mise ; ' and then the latter, catching up the lamp, 
ran to the other frame and roughly raised the cur- 
tain. There he stood, petrified ; and M'Naughten, 
who had followed, grasped him by the wrist in 
terror. They could see into another room, larger 
in size than that which they occupied, where three 
men sat crouching and silent in the dark. For a 
second or so these five persons looked each other 
in the eyes, then the curtain was dropped, and 
M'Naughten and his friend made but one bolt of 
it out of the room and down the stairs. The man 
in the white cap said nothing as they passed him ; 
3-G 97 


and they were so pleased to be once more in the 
open night that they gave up all notion of a bed, 
and walked the streets of Boston till the morning. 

No one seemed much cast down by these stories, 
but all inquired after the address of a respectable 
hotel ; and I, for my part, put myself under the 
conduct of Mr. Jones. Before noon of the second 
Sunday we sighted the low shores outside of New 
York harbour ; the steerage passengers must remain 
on board to pass through Castle Garden ori the 
following morning ; but we of the second cabin 
made our escape along with the lords of the saloon ; 
and by six o'clock Jones and I issued into West 
Street, sitting on some straw in the bottom of an 
open baggage- waggon. It rained miraculously ; and 
from that moment till on the following night I left 
New York, there was scarce a lull, and no cessation 
of the downpour. The roadways were flooded; a 
loud strident noise of falling water filled the air ; 
the restaurants smelt heavily of wet people and 
wet clothing. 

It took us but a few minutes, though it cost us a 
good deal of money, to be rattled along West Street 
to our destination : ' Reunion House, No. 10 West 
Street, one minute's walk from Castle Garden ; con- 
venient to Castle Garden, the Steamboat Landings, 
California Steamers and Liverpool Ships ; Board and 
Lodging per day 1 dollar, single meals 25 cents, 
lodging per night 25 cents ; private rooms for 
families ; no charge for storage or baggage ; satis- 
faction guaranteed to all persons ; Michael MitcheU, 


Proprietor.' Reunion House was, I may go the 
length of saying, a humble hostelry. You entered 
through a long bar-room, thence passed into a little 
dining-room, and thence into a still smaller kitchen. 
The furniture was of the plainest ; but the bar was 
hung in the American taste, with encouraging and 
hospitable mottoes. 

Jones was well known ; we were received warmly ; 
and two minutes afterwards I had refused a drink 
from the proprietor, and was going on, in my plain 
European fashion, to refuse a cigar, when Mr. 
Mitchell sternly interposed, and explained the situa- 
tion. He was offering to treat me, it appeared ; 
whenever an American bar-keeper proposes any- 
thing, it must be borne in mind that he is offering 
to treat ; and if I did not want a drink, I must at 
least take the cigar. I took it bashfully, feehng I 
had begun my American career on the wrong foot. 
I did not enjoy that cigar ; but this may have been 
from a variety of reasons, even the best cigar often 
failing to please if you smoke three-quarters of it in 
a drenching rain. 

For many years America was to me a sort of pro- 
mised land. ' Westward the march of empire holds 
its way ; ' the race is for the moment to the young ; 
what has been and what is we imperfectly and 
obscurely know ; what is to be yet hes beyond the 
flight of our imaginations. Greece, Rome, and 
Judeea are gone by for ever, leaving to generations 
the legacy of their accomplished work ; China still 
endures, an old inhabited house in the brand-new 



city of nations ; England has already declined, since 
she has lost the States ; and to these States, there- 
fore, yet undeveloped, full of dark possibilities, and 
grown, like another Eve, from one rib out of the side 
of their own old land, the minds of young men in 
England turn naturally at a certain hopeful period 
of their age. It will be hard for an American to 
understand the spirit. But let him imagine a young 
man who shall have grown up in an old and rigid 
circle, following bygone fashions and taught to dis- 
trust his own fresh instincts, and who now suddenly 
hears of a family of cousins, all about his own age, 
who keep house together by themselves and live far 
from restraint and tradition ; let him imagine this, 
and he will have some imperfect notion of the 
sentiment with which spirited English youths turn 
to the thought of the American Republic. It seems 
to them as if, out west, the w^r of life was still con- 
ducted in the open air, and on free barbaric terms ; 
as if it had not yet been narrowed into parlours, nor 
begun to be conducted, like some unjust and dreary 
arbitration, by compromise, costume, forms of pro- 
cedure, and sad, senseless self-denial. Which of 
these two he prefers, a man with any youth still 
left in him will decide rightly for himself. He would 
rather be houseless than denied a pass-key ; rather 
go without food than partake of a stalled ox in stiff, 
respectable society ; rather be shot out of hand than 
direct his hfe according to the dictates of the world. 
He knows or thinks nothing of the Maine Laws, 
the Puritan sourness, the fierce, sordid appetite for 



dollars, or the dreary existence of country towns. 
A few wild story-books which delighted his child- 
hood form the imaginative basis of his picture of 
America. In course of time, there is added to this 
a great crowd of stimulating details — vast cities that 
grow up as by enchantment ; the birds, that have 
gone south in autumn, returning with the spring to 
find thousands camped upon their marshes, and the 
lamps burning far and near along populous streets ; 
forests that disappear like snow ; countries larger 
than Britain that are cleared and settled, one man 
running forth with his household gods before another, 
while the bear and the Indian are yet scarce aware 
of their approach ; oil that gushes from the earth ; 
gold that is washed or quarried in the brooks or 
glens of the Sierras ; and all that bustle, courage, 
action, and constant kaleidoscopic change that Walt 
Whitman has seized and set forth in his vigorous, 
cheerful, and loquacious verses. 

Here I was at last in America, and was soon out 
upon New York streets, spying for things foreign. 
The place had to me an air of Liverpool ; but such 
was the rain that not Paradise itself would have 
looked inviting. We were a party of four, under 
two umbrellas ; Jones and I and two Scots lads, 
recent immigrants, and not indisposed to welcome a 
compatriot. They had been six weeks in New York, 
and neither of them had yet found a single job or 
earned a single halfpenny. Up to the present they 
were exactly out of pocket by the amount of the 



The lads soon left us. Now I had sworn by all 
my gods to have such a dinner as would rouse the 
dead ; there was scarce any expense at which I 
should have hesitated ; the devil was in it but Jones 
and I should dine like heathen emperors. I set to 
work, asking after a restaurant ; and I chose the 
wealthiest and most gastronomical-looking passers-by 
to ask from. Yet, although I had told them I was 
wilUng to pay anything in reason, one and all sent 
me off to cheap, fixed-price houses, where I would 
not have eaten that night for the cost of twenty 
dinners. I do not know if this were characteristic 
of New York, or whether it was only Jones and I 
who looked un-dinerly and discouraged enterprising 
suggestions. But at length, by our own sagacity, 
we found a French restaurant, where there was a 
French waiter, some fair French cooking, some so- 
called French wine, and French coffee to conclude 
the whole. I never entered into the feelings of 
Jack on land so completely as when I tasted that 

I suppose we had one of the ' private rooms for 
families ' at Reunion House. It was very small ; 
furnished with a bed, a chair, and some clothes-pegs ; 
and it derived all that was necessary for the life of 
the human animal through two borrowed lights ; one, 
looking into the passage, and the second opening, 
without sash, into another apartment, where three 
men fitfully snored, or, in intervals of wakefulness, 
drearily mumbled to each other all night long. It 
will be observed that this was almost exactly the dis- 



position of the room in M'Naughten's story. Jones 
had the bed ; I pitched my camp upon the floor ; he 
did not sleep until near morning, and I, for my part, 
never closed an eye. 

At sunrise I heard a cannon fired; and shortly 
afterwards the men in the next room gave over 
snoring for good, and began to rustle over their 
toilettes. The sound of their voices as they talked 
was low and moaning, Hke that of people watching 
by the sick. Jones, who had at last begun to doze, 
tumbled and murmured, and every now and then 
opened unconscious eyes upon me where I lay. I 
found myself growing eerier and eerier, for I dare- 
say I was a httle fevered by my restless night, and 
hurried to dress and get down-stairs. 

You had to pass through the rain, which still fell 
thick and resonant, to reach a lavatory on the other 
side of the court. There were three basin-stands, 
and a few crumpled towels and pieces of wet soap, 
white and slippery Hke fish ; nor should I forget a 
looking-glass and a pair of questionable combs. 
Another Scots lad was here, scrubbing his face 
with a good will. He had been three months in 
New York and had not yet found a single job nor 
earned a single halfpenny. Up to the present, he 
also was exactly out of pocket by the amount of the 
fare. I began to grow sick at heart for my fellow- 

Of my nightmare wanderings in New York I 
spare to tell. I had a thousand and one things to 
do ; only the day to do them in, and a journey across 



the continent before me in the evening. It rained 
with patient fury ; every now and then I had to get 
under cover for a while in order, so to speak, to give 
my mackintosh a rest; for under this continued 
drenching it began to grow damp on the inside. I 
went to banks, post-offices, railway-offices, restau- 
rants, pubHshers, booksellers, money-changers, and 
wherever I went a pool would gather about my feet, 
and those who were careful of their floors would 
look on with an unfriendly eye. Wherever I went, 
too, the same traits struck me : the people were all 
surprisingly rude and surprisingly kind. The money- 
changer cross-questioned me like a French commis- 
sary, asking my age, my business, my average income, 
and my destination, beating down my attempts at 
evasion, and receiving my answers in silence ; and 
yet when all was over, he shook hands with me up 
to the elbows, and sent his lad nearly a quarter of a 
mile in the rain to get me books at a reduction. 
Again, in a very large publishing and bookselling 
establishment, a man, who seemed to be the manager, 
received me as I had certainly never before been 
received in any human shop, indicated squarely that 
he put no faith in my honesty, and refused to look 
up the names of books or give me the shghtest help 
or information, on the ground, hke the steward, that 
it was none of his business. I lost my temper at 
last, said I was a stranger in America and not learned 
in their etiquette; but I would assure him, if he 
went to any bookseller in England, of more hand- 
some usage. The boast was perhaps exaggerated; 


but like many a long shot, it struck the gold. The 
manager passed at once from one extreme to the 
other ; 1 may say that from that moment he loaded 
me with kindness ; he gave me all sorts of good 
advice, wrote me down addresses, and came bare- 
headed into the rain to point me out a restaurant 
where I might lunch, nor even then did he seem to 
think that he had done enough. These are (it is 
as well to be bold in statement) the manners of 
America. It is this same opposition that has most 
struck me in people of almost all classes and from 
east to west. By the time a man had about strung 
me up to be the death of him by his insulting 
behaviour, he himself would be just upon the point 
of melting into confidence and serviceable attentions. 
Yet I suspect, although I have met with the Hke in 
so many parts, that this must be the character of 
some particular State or group of States ; for in 
America, and this again in all classes, you will find 
some of the softest-mannered gentlemen in the 

I was so wet when I got back to Mitchell's to- 
wards the evening, that I had simply to divest 
myself of my shoes, socks, and trousers, and leave 
them behind for the benefit of New York city. 
No fire could have dried them ere I had to start; 
and to pack them in their present condition was to 
spread ruin among my other possessions. With a 
heavy heart I said farewell to them as they lay a 
pulp in the middle of a pool upon the floor of 
Mitchell's kitchen. I wonder if they are dry by now. 



Mitchell hired a man to carry my baggage to the 
station, which was hard by, accompanied me thither 
himself, and recommended me to the particular atten- 
tion of the officials. No one could have been kinder. 
Those who are out of pocket may go safely to 
Reunion House, where they will get decent meals 
and find an honest and obhging landlord. I owed 
him this word of thanks, before I enter fairly on the 
second chapter of my emigrant experience. 

1 06 



Monday. — It was, if I remember rightly, five 
o'clock when we were all signalled to be present 
at the Ferry Depot of the railroad. An emigrant 
ship had arrived at New York on the Saturday 
night, another on the Sunday morning, our own on 
Sunday afternoon, a fourth early on Monday ; and 
as there is no emigrant train on Sunday, a great 
part of the passengers from these four ships was 
concentrated on the train by which I was to travel. 
There was a Babel of bewildered men, women, and 
children. The wretched little booking-office, and 
the baggage-room, which was not much larger, were 
crowded thick with emigrants, and were heavy and 
rank with the atmosphere of dripping clothes. Open 
carts full of bedding stood by the half-hour in the 
rain. The officials loaded each other with recrim- 
inations. A bearded, mildewed little man, whom 
I take to have been an emigrant agent, was all 
over the place, his mouth full of brimstone, bluster- 
ing and interfering. It was plain that the whole 



system, if system there was, had utterly broken 
down under the strain of so many passengers. 

My own ticket was given me at once, and an 
oldish man, who preserved his head in the midst 
of this turmoil, got my baggage registered, and 
counselled me to stay quietly where I was till he 
should give me the word to move. I had taken 
along with me a small valise, a knapsack, which I 
carried on my shoulders, and in the bag of my 
railway rug the whole of Bancroft's History of the 
United States, in six fat volumes. It was as much 
as I could carry with convenience even for short 
distances, but it ensured me plenty of clothing, and 
the valise was at that moment, and often after, 
useful for a stool. I am sure I sat for an hour in 
the baggage-room, and wretched enough it was ; yet, 
when at last the word was passed to me, and I picked 
up my bundles and got under way, it was only to 
exchange discomfort for downright misery and danger. 

I followed the porters into a long shed reaching 
downhill from West Street to the river. It was 
dark, the wind blew clean through it from end to 
end ; and here I found a great block of passengers 
and baggage, hundreds of one and tons of the 
other. I feel I shall have a difficulty to make 
myself believed ; and certainly the scene must have 
been exceptional, for it was too dangerous for daily 
repetition. It was a tight jam ; there was no fan- 
way through the mingled mass of brute and Hving 
obstruction. Into the upper skirts of the crowd, 
porters, infuriated by hurry and overwork, clove 

I lO 


their way with shouts. I may say that we stood 
like sheep, and that the porters charged among us 
like so many maddened sheep-dogs ; and I believe 
these men were no longer answerable for their acts. 
It mattered not what they were carrying, they drove 
straight into the press, and when they could get 
no farther, blindly discharged their barrowful. With 
my own hand, for instance, I saved the life of a 
child as it sat upon its mother's knee, she sitting 
on a box ; and since I heard of no accident, I must 
suppose that there were many similar interpositions 
in the course of the evening. It will give some 
idea of the state of mind to which we were reduced 
if I tell you that neither the porter nor the mother 
of the child paid the least attention to my act. It 
was not till some time after that I understood what 
I had done myself, for to ward off heavy boxes 
seemed at the moment a natural incident of human 
life. Cold, wet, clamour, dead opposition to pro- 
gress, such as one encounters in an evil dream, had 
utterly daunted the spirits. We had accepted this 
purgatory as a child accepts the conditions of the 
world. For my part, I shivered a little, and my 
back ached wearily; but I beheve I had neither a 
hope nor a fear, and all the activities of my nature 
had become tributary to one massive sensation of 

At length, and after how long an interval I 
hesitate to guess, the crowd began to move, heavily 
straining through itself About the same time some 
lamps were lighted, and threw a sudden flare over 



the shed. We were being filtered out into the 
river boat for Jersey City. You may imagine how 
slowly this filtering proceeded, through the dense, 
choking crush, every one overladen with packages 
or children, and yet under the necessity of fishing 
out his ticket by the way ; but it ended at length 
for me, and I found myself on deck, under a flimsy 
awning, and with a trifle of elbow-room to stretch 
and breathe in. This was on the starboard; for 
the bulk of the emigrants stuck hopelessly on the 
port side, by which we had entered. In vain the 
seamen shouted to them to move on, and threatened 
them with shipwreck. These poor people were 
under a speU of stupor, and did not stir a foot. It 
rained as heavily as ever, but the wind now came 
in sudden claps and capfuls, not without danger 
to a boat so badly ballasted as ours ; and we crept 
over the river in the darkness, traihng one paddle 
in the water like a wounded duck, and passed ever 
and again by huge, illuminated steamers running 
many knots, and heralding their approach by strains 
of music. The contrast between these pleasm-e 
embarkations and our own grim vessel, with her 
list to port and her freight of wet and silent 
emigrants, was of that glaring description which 
we count too obvious for the pvu'poses of art. 

The landing at Jersey City was done in a stam- 
pede. I had a fixed sense of calamity, and, to 
judge by conduct, the same persuasion was common 
to us all. A panic selfishness, like that produced 
by fear, presided over the disorder of our landing. 



People pushed, and elbowed and ran, their families 
following how they could. Children fell, and were 
picked up, to be rewarded by a blow. One child, 
who had lost her parents, screamed steadily and 
with increasing shrillness, as though verging towards 
a fit ; an official kept her by him, but no one else 
seemed so much as to remark her distress ; and I am 
ashamed to say that I ran among the rest. I was 
so weary that I had twice to make a halt and set 
down my bundles in the hundred yards or so 
between the pier and the railway station, so that 
I was quite wet by the time that I got under 
cover. There was no waiting-room, no refresh- 
ment-room ; the cars were locked ; and for at least 
another hour, or so it seemed, we had to camp 
upon the draughty, gas-lit platform. I sat on my 
valise, too crushed to observe my neighbours ; but 
as they were all cold, and wet, and weary, and 
driven stupidly crazy by the mismanagement to 
which we had been subjected, I beUeve they can 
have been no happier than myself. I bought half 
a dozen oranges from a boy, for oranges and nuts 
were the only refection to be had. As only two 
of them had even a pretence of juice, I threw the 
other four under the cars, and beheld, as in a 
dream, grown people and children groping on the 
track after my leavings. 

At last we were admitted into the cars, utterly 

dejected, and far from dry. For my own part, I 

got out a clothes-brush, and brushed my trousers 

as hard as I could, till I had dried them and wariiied 

3— H 113 


my blood into the bargain ; but no one else, except 
my next neighbour, to whom I lent the brush, 
appeared to take the least precaution. As they 
were, they composed themselves to sleep.- I had 
seen the lights of Philadelphia, and been twice 
ordered to change carriages and twice counter- 
manded, before I allowed myself to follow their 

Tuesday. — When I awoke it was already day ; 
the train was standing idle ; I was in the last car- 
riage, and, seeing some others strolling to and fro 
about the lines, I opened the door and stepped 
forth, as from a caravan by the wayside. We were 
near no station, nor even, as far as I could see, 
within reach of any signal. A green, open, un- 
dulating country stretched away upon all sides. 
Locust-trees and a single field of Indian corn gave 
it a foreign grace and interest ; but the contours 
of the land were soft and English. It was not 
quite England, neither was it quite France ; yet 
like enough either to seem natural in my eyes. 
And it was in the sky, and not upon the earth, 
that I was surprised to find a change. Explain it 
how you may, and for my part I cannot explain 
it at all, the sun rises with a different splendour in 
America and Europe. There is more clear gold 
and scarlet in our old-country mornings ; more 
purple, brown, and smoky orange in those of the 
new. It may be from habit, but to me the coming 
of day is less fresh and inspiriting in the latter ; it 
has a duskier glory, and more nearly resembles 


sunset; it seems to fit some subsequential, evening 
epoch of the world, as though America were in 
fact, and not merely in fancy, farther from the 
orient of Aurora and the springs of day. I thought 
so then, by the railroad-side in Pennsylvania, and I 
have thought so a dozen times since in far distant 
parts of the continent. If it be an illusion, it is 
one very deeply rooted, and in which my eyesight 
is accomplice. 

Soon after a train whisked by, announcing and 
accompanying its passage by the swift beating of a 
sort of chapel-bell upon the engine ; and as it was 
for this we had been waiting, we were summoned 
by the cry of ' All aboard ! ' and went on again 
upon our way. The whole line, it appeared, was 
topsy-turvy ; an accident at midnight having thrown 
all the traffic hours into arrear. We paid for this 
in the flesh, for we had no meals all that day. 
Fruit we could buy upon the cars ; and now and 
then we had a few minutes at some station with 
a meagre show of rolls and sandwiches for sale ; 
but we were so many and so ravenous that, though 
I tried at every opportunity, the coffee was always 
exhausted before I could elbow my way to the 

Our American sunrise had ushered in a noble 
summer's day. There was not a cloud ; the sun- 
shine was baking ; yet in the woody river- valleys 
among which we wound our way the atmosphere 
preserved a sparkling freshness till late in the after- 
noon. It had an inland sweetness and variety to 



one newly from the sea ; it smelt of woods, rivers, 
and the delved earth. These, though in so far a 
country, were airs from home. I stood on the plat- 
form by the hour ; and as I saw, one after another, 
pleasant villages, carts upon the highway and fishers 
by the stream, and heard cockcrows and cheery 
voices in the distance, and beheld the sun no longer 
shining blankly on the plains of ocean, but striking 
among shapely hills, and his light dispersed and 
coloured by a thousand accidents of form and sur- 
face, I began to exult with myself upon this rise 
in life like a man who had come into a rich estate. 
And when I had asked the name of a river from 
the brakesman, and heard that it was called the 
Susquehanna, the beauty of the name seemed to be 
part and parcel of the beauty of the land. As when 
Adam with divine fitness named the creatures, so 
this word Susquehanna was at once accepted by 
the fancy. That was the name, as no other could 
be, for that shining river and desirable valley. 

None can care for literature in itself who do 
not take a special pleasure in the sound of names ; 
and there is no part of the world where nomencla- 
ture is so rich, poetical, humorous, and picturesque 
as the United States of America, All times, races, 
and languages have brought their contribution. 
Pekin is in the same State with Euclid, with Belle- 
fontaine, and with Sandusky. Chelsea, with its 
London associations of red brick, Sloane Square, 
and the King's Road, is own suburb to stately and 
primeval Memphis ; there they have their seat, 


translated names of cities, where the Mississippi runs 
by Tennessee and Arkansas ^ ; and both, while 1 
was crossing the continent, lay watched by armed 
men, in the horror and isolation of a plague. Old, 
red Manhattan Hes, like an Indian arrowhead under 
a steam factory, below Anglified New York. The 
names of the States and Territories themselves form 
a chorus of sweet and most romantic vocables : 
Delaware, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, Dakota, Iowa, 
Wyoming, Minnesota, and the Carolinas ; there are 
few poems with a nobler music for the ear : a song- 
ful, tuneful land ; and if the new Homer shall arise 
from the Western continent, his verse will be en- 
riched, his pages sing spontaneously, with the names 
of states and cities that would strike the fancy in 
a business circular. 

Late in the evening we were landed in a waiting- 
room at Pittsburg. I had now under my charge a 
young and sprightly Dutch widow with her chil- 
dren ; these I was to watch over providentially for a 
certain distance farther on the way ; but as I found 
she was furnished with a basket of eatables, I left 
her in the waiting-room to seek a dinner for myself 

I mention this meal, not only because it was 
the first of which I had partaken for about thirty 
hours, but because it was the means of my first 
introduction to a coloured gentleman. He did me 
the honour to wait upon me after a fashion, while 
I was eating ; and with every word, look, and 
gesture marched me farther into the country of 

^ Please pronounce Arkansaw, with the accent on the first. 



surprise. He was indeed strikingly unlike the negroes 
of Mrs. Beecher Stowe, or the Christy Minstrels of 
my youth. Imagine a gentleman, certainly some- 
what dark, but of a pleasant warm hue, speaking 
English with a slight and rather odd foreign accent, 
every inch a man of the world, and armed with 
manners so patronisingly superior that I am at a 
loss to name their parallel in England. A butler 
perhaps rides as high over the unbutlered, but then 
he sets you right with a reserve and a sort of sigh- 
ing patience which one is often moved to admire. 
And again, the abstract butler never stoops to 
familiarity. But the coloured gentleman will pass 
you a wink at a time ; he is familiar like an upper- 
form boy to a fkg ; he unbends to you like Prince 
Hal with Poins and FalstafF, He makes himself 
at home and welcome. Indeed, I may say, this 
waiter behaved himself to me throughout that 
supper much as, with us, a young, free, and not 
very self-respecting master might behave to a good- 
looking chambermaid. I had come prepared to pity 
the poor negro, to put him at his ease, to prove 
in a thousand condescensions that I was no sharer 
in the prejudice of race ; but I assure you I put 
my patronage away for another occasion, and had 
the grace to be pleased with that result. 

Seeing he was a very honest fellow, I consulted 
him upon a point of etiquette : if one should offer 
to tip the American waiter ? Certainly not, he told 
me. Never. It would not do. They considered 
themselves too highly to accept. They would even 


resent the offer. As for him and me, we had en- 
joyed a very pleasant conversation ; he, in particular, 
had found much pleasure in my society ; I was a 
stranger ; this was exactly one of those rare conjunc- 
tures. . . . Without being very clear-seeing, I can 
still perceive the sun at noonday ; and the coloured 
gentleman deftly pocketed a quarter. ^ 

Wednesday. — A httle after midnight I convoyed 
my widow and orphans on board the train ; and 
morning found us far into Ohio. This had early 
been a favourite home of my imagination ; I have 
played at being in Ohio by the week, and enjoyed 
some capital sport there with a dummy gun, my 
person being still unbreeched. My preference was 
founded on a work which appeared in CasselVs 
Family Paper, and was read aloud to me by 
my nurse. It narrated the doings of one Custa- 
loga, an Indian brave, who, in the last chapter, 
very obligingly washed the paint off his face and 
became Sir Reginald Somebody-or-other ; a trick I 
never forgave him. The idea of a man being an 
Indian brave, and then giving that up to be a 
baronet, was one which my mind rejected. It 
offended verisimilitude, like the pretended anxiety 
of Robinson Crusoe and others to escape from un- 
inhabited islands. 

But Ohio was not at all as I had pictured it. 
We wer^ now on those great plains which stretch 
unbroken to the Rocky Mountains. The country 
was flat like Holland, but far from being dull. All 
through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa, or for as 



much as I saw of them from the train and in 
my waking moments, it was rich and various, and 
breathed an elegance pecuHar to itself. The tall 
corn pleased the eye ; the trees were graceful in 
themselves, and framed the plain into long, aerial 
vistas ; and the clean, bright, gardened townships 
spoke of country fare and pleasant summer even- 
ings on the stoop. It was a sort of flat paradise ; 
but, I am afraid, not unfrequented by the devil. 
That morning dawned with such a freezing chill as 
I have rarely felt; a chiU that was not perhaps so 
measurable by instrument, as it struck home upon 
the heart and seemed to travel with the blood. 
Day came in with a shudder. White mists lay 
thinly over the surface of the plain, as we see them 
more often on a lake ; and though the sun had 
soon dispersed and drunk them up, leaving an 
atmosphere of fever-heat and crystal pureness from 
horizon to horizon, the mists had still been there, 
and we knew that this paradise was haunted by 
killing damps and foul malaria. The fences along 
the line bore but two descriptions of advertisement ; 
one to recommend tobacco;s, and the other to vaunt 
remedies against the ague. At the point of day, 
and while we were all in the grasp of that first 
chill, a native of the State, who had got in at some 
way-station, pronounced it, with a doctoral air, ' a 
fever-and-ague morning.' * 

The Dutch widow was a person of some character. 
She had conceived at first sight a great aversion 
for the present writer, which she was at no pains to 
1 20 


conceal. But, being a woman of a practical spirit, 
she made no difficulty about accepting my attentions, 
and encouraged me to buy her children fruits and 
candies, to carry all her parcels, and even to sleep 
upon the floor that she might profit by my empty 
seat. Nay, she was such a rattle by nature, and so 
powerfully moved to autobiographical talk, that she 
was forced, for want of a better, to take me into 
confidence and tell me the story of her life. I heard 
about her late husband, who seemed to have made 
his chief impression by taking her out pleasuring on 
Sundays. I could tell you her prospects, her hopes, 
the amount of her fortune, the cost of her house- 
keeping by the week, and a variety of particular 
matters that are not usually disclosed except to 
friends. At one station she shook up her children 
to look at a man on the platform and say if he were 
not like Mr. Z. ; while to me she explained how she 
had been keeping company with this Mr. Z., how far 
matters had proceeded, and how it was because of 
his desistance that she was now travelhng to the 
west. Then, when I was thus put in possession of 
the facts, she asked my judgment on that type of 
manly beauty. I admired it to her heart's content. 
She was not, I think, remarkably veracious in talk, 
but broidered as fancy prompted, and built castles in 
the air out of her past ; yet she had that sort of 
candour, to keep me, in spite of all these confidences, 
steadily aware of her aversion. Her parting words 
were ingeniously honest. ' I am sure,' said she, 'we 
all ought to be very much obhged to you.' I cannot 



pretend that she put me at my ease ; but I had a 
certain respect for such a genuine dishke. A poor 
nature would have sHpped, in the course of these 
famiharities, into a sort of worthless toleration for 

We reached Chicago in the evening. I was turned 
out of the cars, bundled into an omnibus, and driven 
off through the streets to the station of a different 
railroad. Chicago seemed a great and gloomy city. 
I remember having subscribed, let us say sixpence, 
towards its restoration at the period of the fire ; and 
now when I beheld street after street of ponderous 
houses and crowds of comfortable burghers, I thought 
it would be a graceful act for the corporation to 
refund that sixpence, or, at the least, to entertain 
me to a cheerful dinner. But there was no word of 
restitution. I was that city's benefactor, yet I was 
received in a third-class waiting-room, and the best 
dinner I could get was a dish of ham and eggs at 
my own expense. 

I can safely say, I have never been so dog-tired as 
that night in Chicago. When it was time to start, I 
descended the platform like a man in a dream. It 
was a long train, Hghted from end to end ; and car 
after car, as I came up with it, was not only filled, 
but overflowing. My valise, my knapsack, my rug, 
with those six ponderous tomes of Bancroft, weighed 
me double ; I was hot, feverish, painfully athirst ; 
and there was a great darkness over me, an internal 
darkness, not to be dispelled by gas. When at last 
I found an empty bench, I sank into it like a bundle 



of rags, the world seemed to swim away into the 
distance, and my consciousness dwindled within me 
to a mere pin's head, like a taper on a foggy 

When I came a little more to myself, I found that 
there had sat down beside me a very cheerful, rosy 
little German gentleman, somewhat gone in drink, 
who was talking away to me, nineteen to the dozen, 
as they say. I did my best to keep up the conver- 
sation ; for it seemed to me dimly as if something 
depended upon that. I heard him relate, among 
many other things, that there were pickpockets on 
the train, who had already robbed a man of forty 
dollars and a return ticket ; but though I caught 
the words, I do not think I properly understood the 
sense until next morning ; and I believe I replied at 
the time that I was very glad to hear it. What else 
he talked about I have no guess ; I remember a gab- 
bhng sound of words, his profuse gesticulation, and 
his smile, which was highly explanatory ; but no 
more. And I suppose I must have shown my con- 
fusion very plainly; for, first, I saw him knit his 
brows at me like one who has conceived a doubt ; 
next, he tried me in German, supposing perhaps 
that I was unfamiliar with the EngUsh tongue; 
and finally, in despair, he rose and left me. I felt 
chagrined ; but my fatigue was too crushing for 
delay, and, stretching myself as far as that was 
possible upon the bench, I was received at once 
into a dreamless stupor. 

The little German gentleman was only going a 



little way into the suburbs after a diner fin, and 
was bent on entertainment while the journey lasted. 
Having failed with me, he pitched next upon another 
emigrant, who had come through from Canada, and 
was not one jot less weary than myself. Nay, even 
in a natural state, as I found next morning when we 
scraped acquaintance, he was a heavy, uncommuni- 
cative man. After trying him on different topics, 
it appears that the little German gentleman flounced 
into a temper, swore an oath or two, and departed 
from that car in quest of livelier society. Poor little 
gentleman ! I suppose he thought an emigrant 
should be a rollicking, free-hearted blade, with a 
flask of foreign brandy and a long, comical story 
to beguile the moments of digestion. 

Thursday . — I suppose there must be a cycle in 
the fatigue of travelling, foi- when I awoke next 
morning I was entirely renewed in spirits, and ate a 
hearty breakfast of porridge, with sweet milk, and 
coffee and hot cakes, at Burlington upon the Missis- 
sippi. Another long day's ride followed, with but 
one feature worthy of remark. At a place called 
Creston, a drunken man got in. He was aggres- 
sively friendly, but, according to English notions, 
not at all unpresentable upon a train. For one 
stage he eluded the notice of the officials ; but just 
as we were beginning to move out of the next 
station, Cromwell by name, by came the conductor. 
There was a word or two of talk ; and then the 
official had the man by the shoulders, twitched him 
from his seat, marched him through the car, and 


sent him flying on to the track. It was done in 
three motions, as exact as a piece of driU. The 
train was still moving slowly, although beginning 
to mend her pace, and the drunkard got his feet 
without a fall. He carried a red bundle, though not 
so red as his cheeks ; and he shook this menacingly 
in the air with one hand, while the other stole 
behind him to the region of the kidneys. It was 
the first indication that I had come among revolvers, 
and I observed it with some emotion. The con- 
ductor stood on the steps with one hand on his hip, 
looking back at him ; and perhaps this attitude 
imposed upon the creature, for he turned without 
further ado, and went off staggering along the track 
towards Cromwell, followed by a peal of laughter 
from the cars. They were speaking English all 
about me, but I knew I was in a foreign land. 

Twenty minutes before nine that night we were 
deposited at the Pacific Transfer Station near Coun- 
cil Bluffs, on the eastern bank of the Missouri river. 
Here we were to stay the night at a kind of caravan- 
serai, set apart for emigrants. But I gave way to a 
thirst for luxury, separated myself from my com- 
panions, and marched with my effects into the 
Union Pacific Hotel. A white clerk and a coloured 
gentleman, whom, in my plain European way, I 
should call the boots, were installed behind a 
counter like bank tellers. They took my name, 
assigned me a number, and proceeded to deal with 
my packages. And here came the tug of war. I 
wished to give up my packages into safe keeping ; 


but I did not wish to go to bed. And this, it 
appeared, was impossible in an American hotel. 

It was, of course, some inane misunderstanding, 
and sprang from my unfamiharity with the language. 
For although two nations use the same words and 
read the same books, intercourse is not conducted by 
the dictionary. The business of life is not carried on 
by words, but in set phrases, each with a special and 
almost a slang signification. Some international 
obscurity prevailed between me and the coloured 
gentleman at Council Bluffs ; so that what I was 
asking, which seemed very natural to me, appeared 
to him a monstrous exigency. He refused, and that 
with the plainness of the West. This American 
manner of conducting matters of business is, at first, 
highly unpalatable to the European. When we 
approach a man in the way of his calling, and for 
those services by which he earns his bread, we con- 
sider him for the time being our hired servant. But 
in the American opinion, two gentlemen meet and 
have a friendly talk with a view to exchanging 
favours if they shall agree to please. I know not 
which is the more convenient, nor even which is the 
more truly courteous. The English stiffness un- 
fortunately tends to be continued after the particular 
transaction is at an end, and thus favours class 
separations. But on the other hand, these equali- 
tarian plainnesses leave an open field for the in- 
solence of Jack-in-office. 

I was nettled by the coloured gentleman's refusal, 
and unbuttoned my wrath under the simihtude of 


ironical submission. I knew nothing, I said, of the 
ways of American hotels ; but I had no desire to 
give trouble. If there was nothing for it but to 
get to bed immediately, let him say the word, and 
though it was not my habit, I should cheerfully 

He burst into a shout of laughter. ' Ah ! ' said he, 
'you do not know about America. They are fine 
people in America. Oh ! you will hke them very 
well. But you mustn't get mad. I know what you 
want. You come along with me.' 

And issuing from behind the counter, and taking 
me by the arm like an old acquaintance, he led me 
to the bar of the hotel. 

'There,' said he, pushing me from him by the 
shoulder, * go and have a drink ! ' 



All this while I had been travelling by mixed 
trains, where I might meet with Dutch widows and 
little German gentry fresh from table. I had been 
but a latent emigrant ; now I was to be branded 
once more, and put apart with my fellows. It was 
about two in the afternoon of Friday that I found 
myself in front of the Emigrant House, with more 
than a hundred others, to be sorted and boxed for 
the journey. A white-haired official, with a stick 
under one arm, and a list in, the other hand, stood 
apart in front of us, and called name after name in 
the tone of a command. At each name you would 
see a family gather up its brats and bundles and run 
for the hindmost of the three cars that stood await- 
ing us, and I soon concluded that this was to be set 
apart for the women and children. The second or 
central car, it turned out, was devoted to men 
traveUing alone, and the third to the Chinese. 
The official was easily moved to anger at the 
least delay ; but the emigrants were both quick at 
answering their names, and speedy in getting them- 
selves and their effects on board. 


The families once housed, we men carried the 
second car without ceremony by simultaneous 
assault. I suppose the reader has some notion of 
an American railroad-car, that long, narrow wooden 
box, Hke a flat-roofed Noah's ark, with a stove and a 
convenience, one at either end, a passage down the 
middle, and transverse benches upon either hand. 
Those destined for emigrants on the Union Pacific 
are only remarkable for their extreme plainness, 
nothing but wood entering in any part into their 
constitution, and for the usual inefficacy of the 
lamps, which often went out and shed but a dying 
glimmer even while they burned. The benches are 
too short for anything but a young child. Where 
there is scarce elbow-room for two to sit, there will 
not be space enough for one to lie. Hence the com- 
pany, or rather, as it appears from certain bills about 
the Transfer Station, the company's servants, have 
conceived a plan for the better accommodation of 
travellers. They prevail on every two to chum to- 
gether. To each of the chums they sell a board and 
three square cushions stuffed with straw and covered 
with thin cotton. The benches can be made to face 
each other in pairs, for the backs are reversible. On 
the approach of night the boards are laid from bench 
to bench, making a couch wide enough for two, and 
long enough for a man of the middle height ; and 
the chums lie down side by side upon the cushions 
with the head to the conductor's van and the feet 
to the engine. When the train is full, of course this 
plan is impossible, for there must not be more than 
3~i 129 


one to every bench, neither can it be carried out 
unless the chums agree. It was to bring about this 
last condition that our white-haired official now 
bestirred himself. He made a most active master 
of ceremonies, introducing hkely couples, and even 
guaranteeing the amiability and honesty of each. 
The greater the number of happy couples the better 
for his pocket, for it was he who sold the raw 
material of the beds. His price for one board and 
three straw cushions began with two dollars and a 
half; but before the train left, and I am sorry to 
say long after I had purchased mine, it had faUen 
to one dollar and a half 

The match -maker had a difficulty with me ; per- 
haps, like some ladies, I showed myself too eager for 
union at any price ; but certainly the first who was 
picked out to be my bedfellow declined the honour 
without thanks. He was an old, heavy, slow-spoken 
man, I think from Yankeeland, looked me all over 
with great timidity, and then began to excuse him- 
self in broken phrases. He didn't know the young 
man, he said. The young man might be very honest, 
but how was he to know that ? There was another 
young man whom he had met already in the train ; 
he guessed he was honest, and would prefer to chum 
with him upon the whole. All this without any sort 
of excuse, as though I had been inanimate or absent. 
I began to tremble lest every one should refuse my 
company, and I be left rejected. But the next in 
turn was a tail, strapping, long-limbed, small-headed, 
curly-haired Pennsylvania Dutchman, with a soldierly 


smartness in his manner. To be exact, he had 
acquired it in the navy. But that was all one ; he 
had at least been trained to desperate resolves, so he 
accepted the match, and the white-haired swindler 
pronounced the connubial benediction, and pocketed 
his fees. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent in making up 
the train. I am afraid to say how many baggage- 
waggons followed the engine — certainly a score ; then 
came the Chinese, then we, then the families, and 
the rear was brought up by the conductor in what, 
if I have it rightly, is called his caboose. The class 
to which I belonged was of course far the largest, 
and we ran over, so to speak, to both sides ; so that 
there were some Caucasians among the Chinamen 
and some bachelors among the famihes. But our 
own car was pure from admixture, save for one little 
boy of eight or nine who had the whooping-cough. 
At last, about six, the long train crawled out of the 
Transfer Station and across the wide Missouri river 
to Omaha, westward bound. 

It was a troubled, uncomfortable evening in the 
cars. There was thunder in the air, which helped to 
keep us restless. A man played many airs upon the 
cornet, and none of them were much attended to, 
until he came to ' Home, sweet Home.' It was truly 
strange to note how the talk ceased at that, and the 
faces began to lengthen. I have no idea whether 
musically this air is to be considered good or bad ; 
but it belongs to that class of art which may be best 
described as a brutal assault upon the feelings. 


Pathos must be relieved by dignity of treatment. 
If you wallow naked in the pathetic, like the author 
of ' Home, sweet Home,' you make your hearers 
weep in an unmanly fashion; and even while yet 
they are moved, they despise themselves and hate 
the occasion of their weakness. It did not come to 
tears that night, for the experiment was interrupted. 
An elderly, hard-looking man, with a goatee beard, 
and about as much appearance of sentiment as you 
would expect from a retired slaver, turned with a 
start and bade the performer stop that ' damned 
thing.' ' I 've heard about enough of that,' he 
added ; ' give us something about the good country 
we're going to.' A murmur of adhesion ran round 
the car ; the performer took the instrument from his 
lips, laughed and nodded, and then struck into a 
dancing measure ; and, like a new Timotheus, stilled 
immediately the emotion he had raised. 

The day faded ; the lamps were lit ; a party of 
wild young men, who got off next evening at North 
Platte, stood together on the stern platform, singing 
' The Sweet By-and-bye ' with very tuneful voices ; 
the chums began to put up their beds ; and it seemed 
as if the business of the day were at an end. But it 
was not so ; for, the train stopping at some station, 
the cars were instantly thronged with the natives, 
wives and fathers, young men and maidens, some of 
them in little more than nightgear, some with stable- 
lanterns, and all offering beds for sale. Their charge 
began with twenty-five cents a cushion, but feU, 
before the train went on again, to fifteen, with the 


bed-board gratis, or less than one-fifth of what I had 
paid for mine at the Transfer. This is my contribu- 
tion to the economy of future emigrants. 

A great personage on an American train is the 
newsboy. He sells books (such books !), papers, 
fruit, lollipops, and cigars ; and on emigrant journeys, 
soap, towels, tin washing-dishes, tin coffee pitchers, 
coffee, tea, sugar, and tinned eatables, mostly hash or 
beans and bacon. Early next morning the newsboy 
went around the cars, and chumming on a more 
extended principle became the order of the hour. 
It requires but a co-partnery of two to manage beds ; 
but washing and eating can be carried on most 
economically by a syndicate of three. I myself entered 
a httle after sunrise into articles of agreement, and 
became one of the firm of Pennsylvania, Shakespeare, 
and Dubuque. Shakespeare was my own nickname 
on the cars ; Pennsylvania that of my bedfellow ; 
and Dubuque, the name of a place in the State of 
Iowa, that of an amiable young fellow going west 
to cure an asthma, and retarding his recovery by 
incessantly chewing or smoking, and sometimes 
chewing and smoking together. I have never seen 
tobacco so sillily abused. Shakespeare bought a tin 
washing-dish, Dubuque a towel, and Pennsylvania a 
brick of soap. The partners used these instruments, 
one after another, according to the order of their first 
awaking ; and when the firm had finished there was 
no want of borrowers. Each filled the tin dish at 
the water filter opposite the stove, and retired with 
the whole stock in trade to the platform of the 



car. There he knelt down, supporting himself by a 
shoulder against the woodwork, or one elbow crooked 
about the railing, and made a shift to wash his face 
and neck and hands, — a cold, an insufficient, and, 
if the train is moving rapidly, a somewhat dangerous 

On a similar division of expense, the firm of Penn- 
sylvania, Shakespeare, and Dubuque supplied them- 
selves with coffee, sugar, and necessary vessels ; and 
their operations are a type of what went on through 
all the cars. Before the sun was up the stove would 
be brightly burning ; at the first station the natives 
would come on board with milk and eggs and coffee 
cakes ; and soon from end to end the car would be 
filled with little parties breakfasting upon the bed- 
boards. It was the pleasantest hour of the day. 

There were meals to be had, however, by the way- 
side ; a breakfast in the morning, a dinner somewhere 
between eleven and two, and supper from five to 
eight or nine at night. We had rarely less than 
twenty minutes for each ; and if we had not spent 
many another twenty minutes waiting for some 
express upon a side track among miles of desert, we 
might have taken an hour to each repast and arrived 
at San Francisco up to time. For haste is not the 
foible of an emigrant train. It gets through on 
sufferance, running the gauntlet among its more 
considerable brethren ; should there be a block, it is 
unhesitatingly sacrificed ; and they cannot, in con- 
sequence, predict the length of the passage within 
a day or so. Civility is the main comfort that you 


miss. Equality, though conceived very largely in 
America, does not extend so low down as to an 
emigrant. Thus in all other trains a warning cry of 
' All aboard ! ' recalls the passengers to take their 
seats ; but as soon as I was alone with emigrants, 
and from the Transfer all the way to San Fran- 
cisco, I found this ceremony was pretermitted ; the 
train stole from the station without note of warning, 
and you had to keep an eye upon it even while you 
ate. The annoyance is considerable, and the dis- 
respect both wanton and petty. 

Many conductors, again, will hold no communica- 
tion with an emigrant. I asked a conductor one 
day at what time the train would stop for dinner ; 
as he made no answer I repeated the question, with 
a like result ; a third time I returned to the charge, 
and then Jack-in-office looked me coolly in the face 
for several seconds and turned ostentatiously away. 
I believe he was half-ashamed of his brutality ; 
for when another person made the same inquiry, 
although he still refused the information, he con- 
descended to answer, and even to justify his reti- 
cence in a voice loud enough for me to hear. It 
was, he said, his principle not to tell people where 
they were to dine ; for one answer led to many other 
questions, as, what o'clock it was ; or, how soon 
should we be there ? and he could not afford to be 
eternally worried. 

As you are thus cut off from the superior author- 
ities, a great deal of your comfort depends on the 
character of the newsboy. He has it in his power 



indefinitely to better and brighten the emigrant's 
lot. The newsboy with whom we started from the 
Transfer was a dark, bullying, contemptuous, insolent 
scoundrel, who treated us like dogs. Indeed, in his 
case, matters came nearly to a fight. It happened 
thus: he was going his rounds through the cars with 
some commodities for sale, and coming to a party who 
were at Seven-up or Cascino (our two games) upon a 
bed-board, slung down a cigar-box in the middle of the 
cards, knocking one man's hand to the floor. It was 
the last straw. In a moment the whole party were 
upon their feet, the cigars were upset, and he was 
ordered to ' get out of that directly, or he would get 
more than he reckoned for.' The fellow grumbled 
and muttered, but ended by making off, and was less 
openly insulting in the future. On the other hand, 
the lad who rode with us in this capacity from Ogden 
to Sacramento made himself the friend of all, and 
helped us with information, attention, assistance, and 
a kind countenance. He told us where and when 
we should have our meals, and how long the train 
would stop ; kept seats at table for those who were 
delayed, and watched that we should neither be left 
behind nor yet unnecessarily hurried. You, who live 
at home at ease, can hardly realise the greatness of 
this service, even had it stood alone. When I think 
of that lad coming and going, train after train, with 
his bright face and civil words, I see how easily a 
good man may become the benefactor of his kind. 
Perhaps he is discontented with himself, perhaps 
troubled with ambitions ; why, if he but knew it, he 


is a hero of the old Greek stamp ; and while he thinks 
he is only earning a profit of a few cents, and that 
perhaps exorbitant, he is doing a man's work and 
bettering the world. 

I must tell here an experience of mine with an- 
other newsboy. I tell it because it gives so good an 
example of that uncivil kindness of the American, 
which is perhaps their most bewildering character to 
one newly landed. It was immediately after I had 
left the emigrant train ; and I am told I looked like a 
man at death's door, so much had this long journey 
shaken me. I sat at the end of a car, and the catch 
being broken, and myself feverish and sick, I had to 
hold the door open with my foot for the sake of air. 
In this attitude my leg debarred the newsboy from his 
box of merchandise. I made haste to let him pass 
when I observed that he was coming ; but I was busy 
with a book, and so once or twice he came upon me 
unawares. On these occasions he most rudely struck 
my foot aside ; and though I myself apologised, as if 
to show him the way, he answered me never a word. 
I chafed furiously, and I fear the next time it would 
have come to words. But suddenly I felt a touch 
upon my shoulder, and a large juicy pear was put into 
my hand. It was the newsboy, who had observed 
that I was looking ill, and so made me this present 
out of a tender heart. For the rest of the journey 
I was petted like a sick child ; he lent me news- 
papers, thus depriving himself of his legitimate profit 
on their sale, and came repeatedly to sit by me and 
cheer me up. 



It had thundered on the Friday night, but the sun 
rose on Saturday without a cloud. We were at sea 
— there is no other adequate expression — on the 
plains of Nebraska. I made my observatory on the 
top of a fruit- waggon, and sat by the hour upon 
that perch to spy about me, and to spy in vain for 
something new. It was a world almost without a 
feature ; an empty sky, an empty earth ; front and 
back, the line of railway stretched from horizon to 
horizon, like a cue across a billiard-board ; on either 
hand, the green plain ran till it touched the skirts of 
heaven. Along the track innumerable wild sun- 
flowers, no bigger than a crown-piece, bloomed in a 
continuous flower-bed ; grazing beasts were seen 
upon the prairie at all degrees of distance and dimi- 
nution ; and now and again we might perceive a few 
dots beside the railroad, which grew more and more 
distinct as we drew nearer, till they turned into 
wooden cabins, and then dwindled and dwindled in 
our wake until they melted into their surroundings, 
and we were once more alone upon the billiard-board. 
The train toiled over this infinity like a snail ; and 


being the one thing moving, it was wonderful what 
huge proportions it began to assume in our regard. 
It seemed miles in length, and either end of it within 
but a step of the horizon. Even my own body or my 
own head seemed a great thing in that emptiness. I 
note the feeling the more readily as it is the contrary 
of what I have read of in the experience of others. 
Day and night, above the roar of the train, our ears 
were kept busy with the incessant chirp of grass- 
hoppers — a noise like the winding up of countless 
clocks and watches, which began after a while to seem 
proper to that land. 

To one hurrying through by steam there was a 
certain exhilaration in this spacious vacancy, this 
greatness of the air, this discovery of the whole arch 
of heaven, this straight, unbroken, prison-line of the 
horizon. Yet one could not but reflect upon the 
weariness of those who passed by there in old days, 
at the foot's pace of oxen, painfully urging their 
teams, and with no landmark but that unattainable 
evening sun for which they steered, and which daily 
fled them by an equal stride. They had nothing, it 
would seem, to overtake ; nothing by which to reckon 
their advance ; no sight for repose or for encourage- 
ment ; but stage after stage, only the dead green 
waste under foot, and the mocking, fugitive horizon. 
But the eye, as I have been told, found differences 
even here ; and at the worst the emigrant came, by 
perseverance, to the end of his toil. It is the settlers, 
after all, at whom we have a right to marvel. Our 
consciousness, by which we live, is itself but the 



creature of variety. Upon what food does it subsist 
in such a land ? What hvehhood can repay a human 
creature for a Hfe spent in this huge sameness ? He 
is cut off from books, from news, from company, from 
all that can relieve existence but the prosecution 
of his affairs. A sky full of stars is the most varied 
spectacle that he can hope for. He may walk five 
miles and see nothing ; ten, and it is as though he 
had not moved; twenty, and still he is in the midst of 
the same great level, and has approached no nearer to 
the one object within view, the flat horizon which 
keeps pace with his advance. We are full at home 
of the question of agreeable wall-papers, and wise 
people are of opinion that the temper may be quieted 
by sedative surroundings. But what is to be said of 
the Nebraskan settler ? His is a wall-paper with a 
vengeance — one quarter of the universe laid bare in 
all its gauntness. His eye must embrace at every 
glance the whole seeming concave of the visible 
world ; it quails before so vast an outlook, it is tor- 
tured by distance ; yet there is no rest or shelter, till 
the man runs into his cabin, and can repose his sight 
upon things near at hand. Hence, I am told, a sick- 
ness of the vision peculiar to these empty plains. 

Yet perhaps with sunflowers and cicadee, summer 
and winter, cattle, wife and family, the settler may 
create a full and various existence. One person at 
least I saw upon the plains who seemed in every way 
superior to her lot. This was a woman who boarded 
us at a way-station, selhng milk. She was largely 
formed ; her features were more than comely ; she 


had that great rarity — a fine complexion which be- 
came her ; and her eyes were kind, dark, and steady. 
She sold milk with patriarchal grace. There was not 
a line in her countenance, not a note in her soft and 
sleepy voice, but spoke of an entire contentment with 
her^ life. It would have been fatuous arrogance to 
pity such a woman. Yet the place where she hved 
was to me almost ghastly. Less than a dozen 
wooden houses, all of a shape and all nearly of a 
size, stood planted along the railway lines. Each 
stood apart in its own lot. Each opened direct off 
the billiard-board, as if it were a billiard-board indeed, 
and these only models that had been set down upon 
it ready-made. Her own, into which I looked, was 
clean but very empty, and showed nothing home-like 
but the burning fire. This extreme newness, above 
all in so naked and flat a country, gives a strong 
impression of artificiality. With none of the litter 
and discoloration of human life ; with the paths 
unworn, and the houses still sweating from the axe, 
such a settlement as this seems purely scenic. The 
mind is loth to accept it for a piece of reality ; and 
it seems incredible that life can go on with so few 
properties, or the great child, man, find entertainment 
in so bare a playroom. 

And truly it is as yet an incomplete society in 
some points ; or at least it contained, as I passed 
through, one person incompletely civihsed. At North 
Platte, where we supped that evening, one man 
asked another to pass the milk-jug. This other was 
well dressed, and of what we should call a respectable 



appearance ; a darkish man, high-spoken, eating as 
though he had some usage of society ; but he turned 
upon the first speaker with extraordinary vehemence 
of tone — 

' There 's a waiter here ! ' he cried. 

' I only asked you to pass the milk,' explained the 

Here is the retort verbatim — 

' Pass ? Hell ! I 'm not paid for that business ; 
the waiter 's paid for it. You should use civility at 
table, and, by God, I 'II show you how ! ' 

The other man very wisely made no answer, and 
the bully went on with his supper as though nothing 
had occurred. It pleases me to think that some day 
soon he will meet with one of his own kidney ; and 
that perhaps both may fall. 



To cross such a plain is to grow home-sick for the 
mountains. I longed for the Black Hills of Wyoming, 
which I knew we were soon to enter, like an ice- 
bound whaler for the spring. Alas ! and it was 
a worse country than the other. All Sunday and 
Monday we travelled through these sad mountains, 
or over the main ridge of the Rockies, which is a fair 
match to them for misery of aspect. Hour after 
hour it was the same unhomely and unkindly world 
about our onward path ; tumbled boulders, cliffs that 
drearily imitate the shape of monuments and forti- 
fications — how drearily, how tamely, none can tell 
who has not seen them ; not a tree, not a patch of 
sward, not one shapely or commanding mountain 
form ; sage-brush, eternal sage-brush ; over all, the 
same weariful and gloomy colouring, greys warming 
into brown, greys darkening towards black ; and for 
sole sign of life, here and there a few fleeing 
antelopes ; here and there, but at incredible intervals, 
a creek running in a canon. The plains have a 
grandeur of their own ; but here there is nothing but 
a contorted smallness. Except for the air, which was 



light and stimulating, there was not one good cir- 
cumstance in that God-forsaken land. 

I had been suffering in my health a good deal all 
the way ; and at last, whether I was exhausted by my 
complaint or poisoned in some wayside eating-house, 
the evening we left Laramie I fell sick outright. 
That was a night which I shall not readily forget. 
The lamps did not go out ; each made a faint shining 
in its own neighbourhood, and the shadows were con- 
founded together in the long, hollow box of the car. 
The sleepers lay in uneasy attitudes ; here two chums 
alongside, flat upon their backs like dead folk ; there 
a man sprawling on the floor, with his face upon his 
arm ; there another half-seated with his head and 
shoulders on the bench. The most passive were con- 
tinually and roughly shaken by the movement of the 
train ; others stirred, turned, or stretched out their 
arms like children ; it was surprising how many 
groaned and murmured in their sleep ; and as I passed 
to and fro, stepping across the prostrate, and caught 
now a snore, now a gasp, now a half-formed word, it 
gave me a measure of the worthlessness of rest in 
that unresting vehicle. Although it was chill, I was 
obliged to open my window, for the degradation of 
the air soon became intolerable to one who was awake 
and using the full supply of life. Outside, in a 
ghmmering night, I saw the black, amorphous hills 
shoot by unweariedly into our wake. They that long 
for morning have never longed for it more earnestly 
than I. 

And yet when day came, it was to shine upon the 


same broken and unsightly quarter of the world. 
Mile upon mile, and not a tree, a bird, or a river. 
Only down the long, sterile canons, the train shot 
hooting, and awoke the resting echo. That train was 
the one piece of life in all the deadly land ; it was 
the one actor, the one spectacle fit to be observed in 
this paralysis of man and nature. And when I think 
how the railroad has been pushed through this un- 
watered wilderness and haunt of savage tribes, and 
now will bear an emigrant for some twelve pounds 
from the Atlantic to the Golden Gates ; how at each 
stage of the construction, roaring, impromptu cities, 
full of gold and lust and death, sprang up and then died 
away again, and are now but wayside stations in the 
desert; how in these uncouth places pig- tailed Chinese 
pirates worked side by side with border ruffians and 
broken men from Europe, talking together in a 
mixed dialect, mostly oaths, gambling, drinking, 
quarrelHng, and murdering like wolves ; how the 
plumed hereditary lord of all America heard, in this 
last fastness, the scream of the ' bad medicine-wag- 
gon ' charioting his foes ; and then when I go on to 
remember that all this epical turmoil was conducted 
by gentlemen in frock-coats, and with a view to 
nothing more extraordinary than a fortune and a 
subsequent visit to Paris, it seems to me, I own, as 
if this railway were the one typical achievement of 
the age in which we live, as if it brought together 
into one plot all the ends of the world and all the 
degrees of social rank, and offered to some great 
writer the busiest, the most extended, and the most 

3—^ 145 


varied subject for an enduring literary work. If it 
be romance, if it be contrast, if it be heroism that we 
require, what was Troy town to this ? But, alas ! it 
is not these things that are necessary — it is only 

Here also we are grateful to the train, as to some 
god who conducts us swiftly through these shades 
and by so many hidden perils. Thirst, hunger, the 
sleight and ferocity of Indians, are all no more feared, 
so lightly do we skim these horrible lands ; as the 
gull, who wings safely through the hurricane and 
past the shark. Yet we should not be forgetful of 
these hardships of the past ; and to keep the balance 
true, since I have complained of the trifling dis- 
comforts of my journey perhaps more than was 
enough, let me add an original document. It was 
not written by Homer, but by a boy of eleven, long 
since dead, and is dated only twenty years ago. I 
shall punctuate, to make things clearer, but not 
change the spelhng : — 

* My dear Sister 3Iary, — / am afraid you will go 
nearly crazy when you read my letter. If Jerry ' 
{the writer'' s eldest brother) ^has not written to you 
before now, you will be surprised to heare that we 
are in California, and that poor Thomas^ {another 
brother, of fifteen) 'is dead. We started from 

in July, with plenty of provisions and too 

yoke oxen. We went along very well till we got 
within siao or seven hundred miles of Calfornia, when 
the Indians attacked us. * We found places where 


they had killed the emigrants. We had one passenger 
with us, too guns, and one revolver ; so we ran all 
the lead We had . into bullets {and) hung the guns up 
in the wagon so that we could get at them in a minit 
It was about two o'clock in the afternoon ; droave the 
cattel a little way ; when a praiiie chicken alited a 
little way from the wagon. 

'Jerry took out one of the guns to shoot it, and 
told Tom drive the oxen. Tom and I drove the oxen, 
and Jerry and the passenger went on. Then, after 
a little, I left Tom and caught up with Jerry and 
the other man. Jerry stopped for Tom to come up ; 
me and the man went on and sit down by a little 
stream. In a few minutes we heard some noise ; then 
three shots {they all struck poor Tom, I suppose) ; 
then they gave the war hoop, and as many as twenty 
of the red skins came down upon us. The three that 
shot Tom was hid hy the side of the road in the 

'I thought the Tom and Jerry were shot ; so I 
told the other man that Tom and Jerry were dead, 
and that we had better try to escape, if possible. I 
had no shoes on ; having a sore foot, I thought I 
would not put them on. The man and me run down 
the road, but We was soon stopt by an Indian on a 
pony. We then turend the other way, and run up 
the side of the Mountain, and hid behind some cedar 
trees, and stayed there till dark. The Indians hunted 
all over after us, and verry close to us, so close that 
we could here there tomy hawks Jingle. At dark the 
man and me started on, I stubing my toes against 



sticks and stones. We traveld on all night; and 
next morning. Just as it was getting gray, we saw 
something in the shape of a man. It layed Down in 
the grass. We went up to it, and it was Jerry. He 
thought we ware Indians. You can imagine how 
glad he was to see me. He thought we was all dead 
hut him, and we thought him and Tom was dead. He 
had the gun that he took out of the wagon to shoot 
the prairie Chicken ; all he had was the load that was 
in it. 

*We traveld on till about eight o'clock. We caught 
up with one wagon with too men with it. We had 
traveld xmth them before one day ; we stopt and they 
Drove on ; we knew that they was ahead of us, unless 
they had been killed to. 3Iy feet was so sore when 
we caught up with them that I had to lide ; I coidd 
not step. We traveld on for too days, when the men 
that owned the cattle said they would {coidd) not 
drive them another inch. We unyoked the oocen ; we 
had about seventy pounds of flour ; we took it out 
and divided it into four packs. Each of the men took 
about 18 pounds apiece and a blanket. I carried a 
little bacon, dried meat, and little quilt; I had in 
all about twelve pounds. We had one pint of flour 
a day for our alloyance. So7netimes we made soup of 
it; sometiines we {made) pancakes; and sometimes 
mixed it up with cold water and eat it that way. We 
traveld twelve or fourteen days. The time came at last 
when we should have to reach some place or starve. 
We saw fresh horse and cattle tracks. The morning 
come, we scraped all the flour oid of the sack, mixed 


it up, and baked it into bread, and made some soup, 
and eat everything we had. We traveld on all day 
without anything to eat, and that evening we Caught 
up with a sheep train of eight wagons. We traveld 
with them till we arrived at the settlements ; and know 
1 am safe in California, and got to good home, and 
going to school. 

'Jerry is working in . It is a good 

country. You can get from 50 to 60 and 75 Dollars 
for cooking. Tell me all about the affairs in the 
States, and how all the folks get along.' 

And so ends this artless narrative. The httle 
man was at school again, God bless him ! while his 
brother lay scalped upon the deserts. 



At Ogden we changed cars from the Union Pacific 
to the Central Pacific line of railroad. The change 
was doubly welcome ; for, first, we had better cars 
on the new line ; and, second, those in which we 
had been cooped for more than ninety hours had 
begun to stink abominably. Several yards away, as 
we returned, let us say from dinner, our nostrils were 
assailed by rancid air. I have stood on a platform 
while the whole train was shunting ; and as the 
dwelHng-cars drew near, there would come a whiff of 
pure menagerie, only a little sourer, as from men 
instead of monkeys. I think we are human only in 
virtue of open windows. Without fresh air, you 
only require a bad heart, and a remarkable command 
of the Queen's Enghsh, to become such another as 
Dean Swift ; a kind of leering, human goat, leaping 
and wagging your scut on mountains of offence. I 
do my best to keep my head the other way, and look 
for the human rather than the bestial in this Yahoo- 
hke business of the emigrant train. But one thing 
I must say : the car of the Chinese was notably the 
least offensive. 


The cars on the Central Pacific were nearly twice 
as high, and so proportionally airier ; they were freshly 
varnished, which gave us all a sense of cleanliness as 
though we had bathed; the seats drew out and 
joined in the centre, so that there was no more need 
for bed-boards ; and there was an upper tier of berths 
which could be closed by day and opened at night. 

I had by this time some opportunity of seeing 
the people whom I was among. They were in rather 
marked contrast to the emigrants I had met on 
board ship while crossing the Atlantic. They were 
mostly lumpish fellows, silent and noisy, a common 
combination; somewhat sad, I should say, with an 
extraordinary poor taste in humour, and little interest 
in their fellow-creatures beyond that of a cheap and 
merely external curiosity. If they heard a man's 
name and business, they seemed to think they had 
the heart of that mystery ; but they were as eager to 
know that much as they were indifferent to the rest. 
Some of them were on nettles till they learned your 
name was Dickson and you a journeyman baker ; 
but beyond that, whether you were Catholic or 
Mormon, dull or clever, fierce or friendly, was all 
one to them. Others who were not so stupid gos- 
siped a little, and, I am bound to say, unkindly. 
A favourite witticism was for some lout to raise the 
alarm of ' All aboard ! ' while the rest of us were 
dining, thus contributing his mite to the general 
discomfort. Such a one was always much applauded 
for his high spirits. When I was ill coming through 
Wyoming, I was astonished — fresh from the eager 



humanity on board ship — to meet with httle but 
laughter. One of the young men even amused 
himself by incommoding me, as was then very easy ; 
and that not from ill-nature, but mere clod-like 
incapacity to think, for he expected me to join the 
laugh. I did so, but it was phantom merriment. 
Later on, a man from Kansas had three violent 
epileptic fits, and though, of course, there were not 
wanting some to help him, it was rather superstitious 
terror than sympathy that his case evoked among 
his fellow-passengers. ' Oh, I hope he 's not going 
to die ! ' cried a woman ; ' it would be terrible to 
have a dead body ! ' And there was a very general 
movement to leave the man behind at the next 
station. This, by good fortune, the conductor 

There was a good deal of story-telling in some 
quarters ; in others, little but silence. In this society, 
more than any other that ever I was in, it was the 
narrator alone who seemed to enjoy the narrative. 
It was rarely that any one listened for the listening. 
If he lent an ear to another man's story, it was 
because he was in iinmediate want of a hearer for 
one of his own. Food and the progress of the train 
were the subjects most generally treated ; many 
joined to discuss these who otherwise would hold 
their tongues. One small knot had no better occu- 
pation than to worm out of me my name ; and the 
more they tried, the more obstinately fixed I grew 
to baffle them. They assailed me with artful ques- 
tions and insidious offers of correspondence in the 


future ; but I was perpetually on my guard, and 
parried their assaults with inward laughter. I am 
sure Dubuque would have given me ten dollars for 
the secret. He owed me far more, had he understood 
life, for thus preserving him a lively interest through- 
out the journey. I met one of my fellow-passengers 
months after, driving a street tramway car in San 
Francisco ; and, as the joke was now out of season, 
told him my name without subterfuge. You never 
saw a man more chapfallen. But had my name been 
Demogorgon, after so prolonged a mystery he had 
still been disappointed. 

There were no emigrants direct from Europe — 
save one German family and a knot of Cornish 
miners who kept grimly by themselves, one reading 
the New Testament all day long through steel 
spectacles, the rest discussing privately the secrets 
of their old-world, mysterious race. Lady Hester 
Stanhope believed she could make something great 
of the Cornish ; for my part, I can make nothing of 
them at all. A division of races, older and more 
original than that of Babel, keeps this close, esoteric 
family apart from neighbouring Englishmen. Not 
even a Red Indian seems more foreign in my eyes. 
This is one of the lessons of travel — that some of 
the strangest races dwell next door to you at home. 

The rest were all American born, but they came 
from almost every quarter of that continent. All 
the States of the North had sent out a fugitive to 
cross the plains with me. From Virginia, from 
Pennsylvania, from New York, from far western 



Iowa and Kansas, from Maine that borders on the 
Canadas, and from the Canadas themselves — some 
one or two were fleemg in quest of a better land and 
better wages. The talk in the train, like the talk I 
heard on the steamer, ran upon hard times, short 
commons, and hope that moves ever westward. I 
thought of my shipful from Great Britain with a 
feeling of despair. They had come 3000 miles, and 
yet not far enough. Hard times bowed them out of 
the Clyde, and stood to welcome them at Sandy 
Hook. Where were they to go ? Pennsylvania, 
Maine, Iowa, Kansas ? These were not places for 
immigration, but for emigration, it appeared ; not 
one of them, but I knew a man who had lifted up 
his heel and left it for an ungrateful country. And 
it was still westward that they ran. Hunger, you 
would have thought, came out of the east like the 
sun, and the evening was made of edible gold. And, 
meantime, in the car in front of me, were there not 
half a hundred emigrants from the opposite quarter ? 
Hungry Europe and hungry China, each pouring 
from their gates in search of provender, had here 
come face to face. The two waves had met; east 
and west had alike failed ; the whole round world 
had been prospected and condemned ; there was no 
El Dorado anywhere ; and till one could emigrate 
to the moon, it seemed as well to stay patiently at 
home. Nor was there wanting another sign, at 
once more picturesque and more disheartening ; for 
as we continued to steam westward toward the land 
of gold, we were continually passing other emigrant 


trains upon the journey east; and these were as 
crowded as our own. Had all these return voyagers 
made a fortune in the mines ? Were they all bound 
for Paris, and to be in Rome by Easter ? It would 
seem not, for, whenever we met them, the passengers 
ran on the platform and cried to us through the 
windows, in a kind of wailing chorus, to ' come back.' 
On the plains of Nebraska, in the mountains of 
Wyoming, it was still the same cry, and dismal to 
my heart, ' Come back ! ' That was what we heard 
by the way ' about the good country we were going 
to.' And at that very hour the Sand-lot of San 
Francisco was crowded with the unemployed, and 
the echo from the other side of Market Street was 
repeating the rant of demagogues. 

If in truth it were only for the sake of wages 
that men emigrate, how many thousands would regret 
the bargain ! But wages, indeed, are only one con- 
sideration out of many ; for we are a race of gipsies, 
and love change and travel for themselves. 



Of all stupid ill-feelings, the sentiment of my fellow- 
Caucasians towards our companions in the Chinese 
car was the most stupid and the worst. They 
seemed never to have looked at them, listened to 
them, or thought of them, but hated them a priori. 
The Mongols were their enemies in that cruel and 
treacherous battle-field of money. They could work 
better and cheaper in half a hundred industries, and 
hence there was no calumny too idle for the Cauca- 
sians to repeat and even to believe. They declared 
them hideous vermin, and affected a kind of choking 
in the throat when they beheld them. Now, as a 
matter of fact, the young Chinese man is so like 
a large class of European women, that on raising 
my head and suddenly catching sight of one at a 
considerable distance, I have for an instant been 
deceived by the resemblance. I do not say it is the 
most attractive class of our women, but for all that 
many a man's wife is less pleasantly favoured. Again, 
my emigrants declared that the Chinese were dirty. 
I cannot say they were clean, for that was impossible 
upon the journey ; but in their efforts after cleanli- 


ness they put the rest of us to shame. We all pigged 
and stewed in one infamy, wet our hands and faces 
for half a minute daily on the platform, and were 
unashamed. But the Chinese never lost an oppor- 
tunity, and you would see them washing their feet 
— an act not dreamed of among ourselves — and going 
as far as decency permitted to wash their whole 
bodies. I may remark by the way that the dirtier 
people are in their persons the more delicate is their 
sense of modesty. A clean man strips in a crowded 
boathouse ; but he who is unwashed slinks in and 
out of bed without uncovering an inch of skin. 
Lastly, these very foul and malodorous Caucasians 
entertained the surprising illusion that it was the 
Chinese waggon, and that alone, which stank. I 
have said already that it was the exception, and 
notably the freshest of the three. 

These judgments are typical of the feeling in all 
Western America. The Chinese are considered 
stupid because they are imperfectly acquainted with 
English. They are held to be base because their 
dexterity and frugality enable them to underbid the 
lazy, luxurious Caucasian. They are said to be 
thieves ; I am sure they have no monopoly of that. 
They are called cruel ; the Anglo-Saxon and the 
cheerful Irishman may each reflect before he bears 
the accusation. I am told, again, that they are of 
the race of river pirates, and belong to the most 
despised and dangerous class in the Celestial Empire. 
But if this be so, what remarkable pirates have we 
here ! and what must be the virtues, the industry, 



the education, and the intelligence of their superiors 
at home ! 

A while ago it was the Irish, now it is the Chinese 
that must go. Such is the cry. It seems, after all, 
that no country is bound to submit to immigration 
any more than to invasion : each is war to the knife, 
and resistance to either but legitimate defence. Yet 
we may regret the free tradition of the republic, 
which loved to depict herself with open arms, wel- 
coming all unfortunates. And certainly, as a man 
who believes that he loves freedom, I may be excused 
some bitterness when I find her sacred name misused 
in the contention. It was but the other day that I 
heard a vulgar fellow in the Sand-lot, the popular 
tribune of San Francisco, roaring for arms and 
butchery. 'At the call of Abreham Lincoln,' said 
the orator, 'ye rose in the name of freedom to set 
free the negroes ; can ye not rise and liberate your- 
selves from a few dhirty Mongolians ? ' 

For my own part I could not look but with 
wonder and respect on the Chinese. Their fore- 
fathers watched the stars before mine had begun 
to keep pigs. Gunpowder and printing, which the 
other day we imitated, and a school of manners 
which we never had the delicacy so much as to 
desire to imitate, were theirs in a long-past antiquity. 
They walk the earth with us, but it seems they must 
be of different clay. They hear the clock strike the 
same hour, yet surely of a different epoch. They 
travel by steam conveyance, yet with such a baggage 
of old Asiatic thoughts and superstitions as might 


check the locomotive in its course. Whatever is 
thought within the circuit of the Great Wall ; what 
the wry-eyed, spectacled schoolmaster teaches in 
the hamlets round Pekin ; religions so old that our 
language looks a halfling boy alongside ; philosophy 
so wise that our best philosophers find things therein 
to wonder at ; all this travelled alongside of me 
for thousands of miles over plain and mountain. 
Heaven knows if we had one common thought or 
fancy all that way, or whether our eyes, which yet 
were formed* upon the same design, beheld the same 
world out of the railway windows. And when either 
of us turned his thoughts to home and childhood, 
what a strange dissimilarity must there not have 
been in these pictures of the mind — when I beheld 
that old, grey, castled city, high throned above the 
firth, with the flag of Britain flying, and the red-coat 
sentry pacing over all ; and the man in the next car 
to me would conjure up some junks and a pagoda 
and a fort of porcelain, and call it, with the same 
affection, home. 

Another race shared among my fellow-passengers 
in the disfavour of the Chinese ; and that, it is hardly 
necessary to say, was the noble red man of old story 
— he over whose own hereditary continent we had 
been steaming all these days. I saw no wild or 
independent Indian ; indeed, I hear that such avoid 
the neighbourhood of the train ; but now and again 
at way -stations, a husband and wife and a few 
children, disgracefully dressed out with the sweep- 
ings of civihsation, came forth and stared upon the 



emigrants. The silent stoicism of their conduct, and 
the pathetic degradation of their appearance, would 
have touched any thinking creature, but my fellow- 
passengers danced and jested round them with a 
truly Cockney baseness. I was ashamed for the 
thing we call civiUsation, We should carry upon 
our consciences so much, at least, of our forefathers' 
misconduct as we continue to profit by ourselves. 

If oppression drives a wise man mad, what should 
be raging in the hearts of these poor tribes, who 
have been driven back and back, step after step, 
their promised reservations torn from them one after 
another as the States extended westward, until at 
length they are shut up into these hideous mountain 
deserts of the centre — and even there find them- 
selves invaded, insulted, and hunted out by rufBanly 
diggers ? The eviction of the Cherokees (to name 
but an instance), the extortion of Indian agents, the 
outrages of the wicked, the ill-faith of all, nay, down 
to the ridicule of such poor beings as were here with 
me upon the train, make up a chapter of injustice 
and indignity such as a man must be in some ways 
base if his heart will suffer him to pardon or forget. 
These old, well-founded, historical hatreds have a 
savour of nobility for the independent. That the 
Jew should not love the Christian, nor the Irishman 
love the English, nor the Indian brave tolerate the 
thought of the American, is not disgraceful to the 
nature of man ; rather, indeed, honourable, since it 
depends on wrongs ancient like the race, and not 
personal to him who cherishes the indignation. 
1 60 


A LITTLE corner of Utah is soon traversed, and 
leaves no particular impressions on the mind. By 
an early hour on Wednesday morning we stopped to 
breakfast at Toano, a little station on a bleak, high- 
lying plateau in Nevada. The man who kept the 
station eating-house was a Scot, and learning that I 
was the same, he grew very friendly, and gave me 
some advice on the country I was now entering. 
* You see,' said he, ' I tell you this, because I come 
from your country.' Hail, brither Scots ! 

His most important hint was on the moneys of 
this part of the world. There is something in the 
simplicity of a decimal coinage which is revolting to 
the human mind ; thus the French, in small affairs, 
reckon strictly by halfpence ; and you have to solve, 
by a spasm of mental arithmetic, such posers as 
thirty-two, forty-five, or even a hundred halfpence. 
In the Pacific States they have made a bolder push 
for complexity, and settle their affairs by a coin that 
no longer exists — the hit, or old Mexican real. The 
supposed value of the bit is twelve and a half cents, 
eight to the dollar. When it comes to two bits, the 
3— L i6i 


quarter-dollar stands for the required amount. But 
how about an odd bit ? The nearest coin to it is a 
dime, which is short by a fifth. That, then, is called 
a short bit. If you have one, you lay it triumphantly 
down, and save two and a half cents. But if you 
have not, and lay down a quarter, the bar-keeper 
or shopman calmly tenders you a dime by way of 
change ; and thus you have paid what is called a 
long bit, and lost two and a half cents, or even, by 
comparison with a short bit, five cents. In country 
places all over the Pacific coast, nothing lower than 
a bit is ever asked or taken, which vastly increases 
the cost of life ; as even for a glass of beer you must 
pay fivepence or sevenpence-halfpenny, as the case 
may be. You would say that this system of mutual 
robbery was as broad as it was long ; but I have 
discovered a plan to make it broader, with which I 
here endow the public. It is brief and simple — 
radiantly simple. There is one place where five 
cents are recognised, and that is the post-office. A 
quarter is only worth Wo bits, a short and a long. 
Whenever you have a quarter, go to the post-office 
and buy five cents' worth of postage-stamps ; you 
will receive in change two dimes, that is, two short 
bits. The purchasing power of your money is un- 
diminished. You can go and have your two glasses 
of beer all the same ; and you have made yourself a 
present of five cents' worth of postage-stamps into 
the bargain. Benjamin Franklin would have patted 
me on the head for this discovery. 

From Toano we travelled all day through deserts 


of alkali and sand, horrible to man, and bare sage- 
brush country that seemed Uttle kindlier, and came 
by supper-time to Elko. As we were standing, after 
our manner, outside the station, I saw two men 
whip suddenly from underneath the cars, and take 
to their heels across country. They were tramps, it 
appeared, who had been riding on the beams since 
eleven of the night before ; and several of my fellow- 
passengers had already seen and conversed with them 
while we broke our fast at Toano. These land 
stowaways play a great part over here in America, 
and I should have Hked dearly to become acquainted 
with them. 

At Elko an odd circumstance befell me. I was 
coming out from supper, when I was stopped by a 
small, stout, ruddy man, followed by two others 
taller and ruddier than himself. 

* Ex-cuse me, sir,' he said, ' but do you happen to 
be going on ? ' 

I said I was, whereupon he said he hoped to 
persuade me to desist from that intention, ^e had 
a situation to offer me, and if we could come to 
terms, why, good and well. ' You see,' he continued, 
* I 'm running a theatre here, and we 're a little short 
in the orchestra. You 're a musician, I guess ? ' 

I assured him that, beyond a rudimentary acquaint- 
ance with ' Auld Lang Syne ' and ' The Wearing of 
the Green,' I had no pretension whatever to that 
style. He seemed much put out of countenance ; 
and one of his taller companions asked him, on the 
nail, for five dollars. 



•• You see, sir,' added the latter to me, ' he bet you 
were a musician ; I bet you weren't. No oiFence, 
I hope ? ' 

'None whatever,' I said, and the two with- 
drew to the bar, where I presume the debt was 

This little adventure woke bright hopes in my 
fellow-travellers, who thought they had now come 
to a country where situations went a-begging. But 
I am not so sure that the offer was in good faith. 
Indeed, I am more than half persuaded it was but a 
feeler to decide the bet. 

Of all the next day I will tell you nothing, for 
the best of all reasons, that I remember no more 
than that we continued through desolate and desert 
scenes, fiery hot and deadly weary. But some time 
after I had fallen asleep that night, I was awakened 
by one of my companions. It was in vain that I 
resisted. A fire of enthusiasm and whisky burned in 
his eyes ; and he declared we were in a new country, 
and I, must come forth upon the platform and see 
with my own eyes. The train was then, in its 
patient way, standing halted in a by-track. It was 
a clear, moonht night ; but the valley was too narrow 
to admit the moonshine direct, and only a diffused 
glimmer whitened the tall rocks and relieved the 
blackness of the pines. A hoarse clamour filled the 
air ; it was the continuous plunge of a cascade some- 
where near at hand among the mountains. The air 
struck chill, but tasted good and vigorous in the 
nostrils — a fine, dry, old mountain atmosphere. I 


was dead sleepy, but I returned to roost with a 
grateful mountain feeling at my heart. 

When I awoke next morning, I was puzzled for 
a while to know if it were day or night, for the 
illumination was unusual. I sat up at last, and 
found we were grading slowly downward through 
a long snowshed; and suddenly we shot into an 
open ; and before we were swallowed into the next 
length of wooden tunnel, I had one glimpse of a 
huge pine-forested ravine upon my left, a foaming 
river, and a sky already coloured with the fires of 
dawn. I am usually very calm over the displays of 
nature; but you will scarce believe how my heart 
leaped at this. It was like meeting one's wife. I 
had come home again — home from unsightly deserts 
to the green and habitable corners of the earth. 
Every spire of pine along the hill- top, every trouty 
pool along that mountain river, was more dear to 
me than a blood-relation. Few people have praised 
God more happily than I did. And thenceforward, 
down by Blue Canon, Alta, Dutch Flat, and all the 
old mining camps, through a sea of mountain forests, 
dropping thousands of feet toward the far sea-level 
as we went, not I only, but all the passengers on 
board, threw off their sense of dirt and heat and 
weariness, and bawled like schoolboys, and thronged 
with shining eyes upon the platform, and became 
new creatures within and without. The sun no 
longer oppressed us with heat, it only shone laugh- 
ingly along the mountain-side, until we were fain to 
laugh ourselves for glee. At every turn we could 



see farther into the land and our own happy futures. 
At every town the cocks were tossing their clear 
notes into the golden air, and crowing for the new 
day and the new country. For this was indeed our 
destination ; this was ' the good country ' we had 
been going to so long. 

By afternoon we were at Sacramento, the city of 
gardens in a plain of corn ; and the next day before 
the dawn we were lying-to upon the Oakland side 
of San Francisco Bay. The day was breaking as we 
crossed the ferry ; the fog was rising over the citied 
hills of San Francisco ; the bay was perfect — not a 
ripple, scarce a stain, upon its blue expanse ; every- 
thing was waiting, breathless, for the sun. A spot 
of cloudy gold lit first upon the head of Tamalpais, 
and then widened downward on its shapely shoulder ; 
the air seemed to awaken, and began to sparkle ; 
and suddenly 

' The tall hills Titan discovered,' 

and the city of San Francisco, and the bay of gold 
and corn, were lit from end to end with summer 



Part I. Originally published, Fraser's Magazine, 
November 1880; reprinted in 'Across 
the Plains ' : Ghatto and Windus, 1 892 . 

Part II. Originally published. Magazine of Art, 
May i883j and now reprinted for the 
first time. 


The Bay of Monterey has been compared by no less 
a person than General Sherman to a bent fishing- 
hook ; and the comparison, if less important than 
the march through Georgia, still shows the eye of a 
soldier for topography. Santa Cruz sits exposed at 
the shank ; the mouth of the Salinas river is at the 
middle of the bend ; and Monterey itself is cosily 
ensconced beside the barb. Thus the ancient capital 
of CaHfornia faces across the bay, while the Pacific 
Ocean, though hidden by low hills and forest, bom- 
bards her left flank and rear with never-dying surf. 
In front of the town, the long line of sea-beach 
trends north and north-west, and then westward to 
enclose the bay. The waves which lap so quietly 
about the jetties of Monterey grow louder and larger 
in the distance ; you can see the breakers leaping 
high and white by day ; at night, the outhne of the 
shore is traced in transparent silver by the moonhght 
and the flying foam ; and from all round, even in 
quiet weather, the low, distant, thrilling roar of the 
Pacific hangs over the coast and the adjacent country 
like smoke above a battle. 



These long beaches are enticing to the idle man. 
It would be hard to find a walk more solitary and at 
the same time more exciting to the mind. Crowds 
of ducks and sea-gulls hover over the sea. Sand- 
pipers trot in and out by troops after the retiring 
waves, trilling together in a chorus of infinitesimal 
song. Strange sea-tangles, new to the European 
eye, the bones of whales, or sometimes a whole 
whale's carcase, white with carrion-gulls and poison- 
ing the wind. He scattered here and there along the 
sands. The waves come in slowly, vast and green, 
curve their translucent necks, and burst with a sur- 
prising uproar, that runs, waxing and waning, up 
and down the long key-board of the beach. The 
foam of these great ruins mounts in an instant to 
the ridge of the sand glacis, swiftly fleets back again, 
and is met and buried by the next breaker. The 
interest is perpetually fresh. On no other coast that 
I know shall you enjoy, in calm, sunny weather, 
such a spectacle of Ocean's greatness, such beauty of 
changing colour, or such degrees of thunder in the 
sound. The very air is more than usually salt by 
this Homeric deep. 

Inshore, a tract of sand-hills borders on the 
beach. Here and there a lagoon, more or less 
brackish, attracts the birds and hunters, A rough, 
spotty undergrowth partially conceals the sand. The 
crouching, hardy, live oaks flourish singly or in 
thickets — the kind of wood for murderers to crawl 
among — and here and there the skirts of the forest 
extend downward from the hills with a floor of turf 


and long aisles of pine-trees hung with Spaniard's 
Beard. Through this quaint desert the railway cars 
drew near to Monterey from the junction at Salinas 
City — though that and so many other things are 
now for ever altered — and it was from here that you 
had the first view of the old township lying in the 
sands, its white windmills bickering in the chill, 
perpetual wind, and the first fogs of the evening 
drawing drearily around it from the sea. 

The one common note of all this country is the 
haunting presence of the ocean. A great faint sound 
of breakers follows you high up into the inland 
canons ; the roar of water dwells in the clean, empty 
rooms of Monterey as in a shell upon the chimney ; 
go where you will, you have but to pause and listen 
to hear the voice of the Pacific. You pass out of the 
town to the south-west, and mount the hill among 
pine woods. Glade, thicket, and grove surround 
you. You follow winding sandy tracks that lead 
nowhither. You see a deer ; a multitude of quail 
arises. But the sound of the sea still follows you as 
you advance, like that of wind among the trees, only 
harsher and stranger to the ear ; and when at length 
you gain the summit, out breaks on every hand and 
with freshened vigour that same unending, distant, 
whispering rumble of the ocean ; for now you are 
on the top of Monterey peninsula, and the noise no 
longer only mounts to you from behind along the 
beach towards Santa Cruz, but from your right also, 
round by Chinatown and Pinos lighthouse, and from 
down before you to the mouth of the Carmello 



river. The whole woodland is begirt with thunder- 
ing surges. The silence that immediately surrounds 
you where you stand is not so much broken as it is 
haunted by this distant, circling rumour. It sets 
your senses upon edge ; you strain your attention ; 
you are clearly and unusually conscious of small 
sounds near at hand; you walk Hstening like an 
Indian hunter; and that voice of the Pacific is a 
sort of disquieting company to you in your walk. 

When once I was in these woods I found it 
difficult to turn homeward. All woods lure a 
rambler onward; but in those of Monterey it was 
the surf that particularly invited me to prolong my 
walks. I would push straight for the shore where 
I thought it to be nearest. Indeed, there was scarce 
a direction that would not, sooner or later, have 
brought me forth on the Pacific. The emptiness 
of the woods gave me a sense of freedom and dis- 
covery in these excursions. I never in all my visits 
met but one man. He was a Mexican, very dark 
of hue, but smiUng and fat, and he carried an axe, 
though his true business at that moment was to 
seek for straying cattle. I asked him what o'clock 
it was, but he seemed neither to know nor care; 
and when he in his turn asked me for news of his 
cattle, I showed myself equally indifferent. We 
stood and smiled upon each other for a few seconds, 
and then turned without a word and took our several 
ways across the forest. 

One day — I shall never forget it— I had taken a 
trail that was new to me. After a while the woods 


began to open, the sea to sound nearer hand. 
I came upon a road, and, to my surprise, a stile. 
A step or two farther, and, without leaving the 
woods, I found myself among trim houses. I 
walked through street after street, parallel and at 
right angles, paved with sward and dotted with 
trees, but still undeniable streets, and each with its 
name posted at the corner, as in a real town. 
Facing down the main thoroughfare — ' Central 
Avenue,' as it was ticketed — I saw an open-air 
temple, with benches and sounding-board, as though 
for an orchestra. The houses were all tightly shut- 
tered ; there was no smoke, no sound but of the 
waves, no moving thing. I have never been in any 
place that seemed so dream-like. Pompeii is all in 
a bustle with visitors, and its antiquity and strange- 
ness deceive the imagination ; but this town had 
plainly not been built above a year or two, and 
perhaps had been deserted overnight. Indeed it 
was not so much like a deserted town as like a 
scene upon the stage by daylight, and with no one 
on the boards. The barking of a dog led me at 
last to the only house still occupied, where a Scots 
pastor and his wife pass the winter alone in this 
empty theatre. The < place was *The Pacific Camp 
Grounds, the Christian Seaside Resort.' Thither, in 
the warm season, crowds come to enjoy a life of 
teetotalism, religion, and flirtation, which I am 
willing to think blameless and agreeable. The 
neighbourhood at least is well selected. The Pacific 
booms in front. Westward is Point Pinos, with 


the lighthouse in a wilderness of sand, where you 
will find the lightkeeper playing the piano, making 
models and bows and arrows, studying dawn and 
sunrise in amateur oil-painting, and with a dozen 
other elegant pursuits and interests to surprise his 
brave, old-country rivals. To the east, and still 
nearer, you will come upon a space of open down, 
a hamlet, a haven among rocks, a world of surge 
and screaming sea-gulls. Such scenes are very 
similar in different climates; they appear homely 
to the eyes of all ; to me this was like a dozen 
spots in Scotland. And yet the boats that ride in 
the haven are of strange outlandish design ; and, if 
you walk into the hamlet you will behold costumes 
and faces, and hear a tongue, that are unfamiliar to 
the memory. The joss-stick burns, the opium-pipe 
is smoked, the floors are strewn with slips of 
coloured paper — prayers, you would say, that had 
somehow missed their destination — and a man guid- 
ing his upright pencil from right to left across the 
sheet writes home the news of Monterey to the 
Celestial Empire. 

The woods and the Pacific rule between them 
the climate of this seaboard region. On the streets 
of Monterey, when the air does not smell salt from 
the one, it will be blowing perfumed from the 
resinous tree-tops of the other. For days together 
a hot, dry air will overhang the town, close as from 
an oven, yet healthful and aromatic in the nostrils. 
The cause is not far to seek, for the woods are 
afire, and the hot wind is blowing from the hills. 


These fires are one of the great dangers of Cahfornia. 
I have seen from Monterey as many as three at the 
same time, by day a cloud of smoke, by night a 
red coal of conflagration in the distance. A little 
thing will start them, and, if the wind be favour- 
able, they gallop over miles of country faster than 
a horse. The inhabitants must turn out and work 
like demons, for it is not only the pleasant groves that 
are destroyed ; the climate and the soil are equally at 
stake, and these fires prevent the rains of the next 
winter and dry up perennial fountains. California 
has been a land of promise in its time, like Palestine ; 
but if the woods continue so swiftly to perish, it 
may become, like Palestine, a land of desolation. 

To visit the woods while they are languidly burn- 
ing is a strange piece of experience. The fire passes 
through the underbrush at a run. Every here and 
there a tree flares up instantaneously from root to 
summit, scattering tufts of flame, and is quenched, 
it seems, as quickly. But this last is only in sem- 
blance. For after this first squib-Hke conflagration 
of the dry moss and twigs, there remains behind a 
deep-rooted and consuming fire in the very entrails 
of the tree. The resin of the pitch-pine is principally 
condensed at the base of the bole and in the spread- 
ing roots. Thus, after the light, showy, skirmish- 
ing flames, which are only as the match to the 
explosion, have already scampered down the wind 
into the distance, the true harm is but beginning 
for this giant of the woods. You may approach 
the tree from one side, and see it, scorched indeed 



from top to bottom, but apparently survivor of the 
peril. Make the circuit, and there, on the other 
side of the column, is a clear mass of living coal, 
spreading like an ulcer ; while underground, to their 
most extended fibre, the roots are being eaten out 
by fire, and the smoke is rising through the fissures 
to the surface. A little while and, without a nod 
of warning, the huge pine-tree snaps off short across 
the ground, and falls prostrate with a crash. Mean- 
while the fire continues its silent business ; the roots 
are reduced to a fine ash ; and long afterwards, if 
you pass by, you will find the earth pierced witli 
radiating galleries, and preserving the design of all 
these subterranean spurs, as though it were the 
mould for a new tree instead of the print of an old 
one. These pitch-pines of Monterey are, with the 
single exception of the Monterey cypress, the most 
fantastic of forest trees. No words can give an idea 
of the contortion of their growth ; they might figure 
without change in a circle of the nether hell as 
Dante pictured it ; and at the rate at which trees 
grow, and at which forest fires spring up and gallop 
through the hills of California, we may look for- 
ward to a time when there will not be one of them 
left standiiig in that land of their nativity. At 
least they have not so much to fear from the axe, 
but perish by what may be called a natural although 
a violent death ; while it is man in his short-sighted 
greed that robs the country of the nobler redwood. 
Yet a little while and perhaps all the hills of sea- 
board California may be as bald as Tamalpais. 


I have an interest of my own in these forest 
fires, for I came so near to lynching on one occa- 
sion, that a braver man might have retained a thrill 
from the experience. I wished to be certain whether 
it was the moss, that quaint funereal ornament of 
Californian forests, which blazed up so rapidly when 
the flame first touched the tree. I suppose I must 
have been under the influence of Satan, for instead 
of plucking off a piece for my experiment, what 
should I do but walk up to a great pine tree in a 
portion of the wood which had escaped so much 
as scorching, strike a match, and apply the flame 
gingerly to one of the tassels. The tree went off" 
simply like a rocket ; in three seconds it was a 
roaring pillar of fire. Close by I could hear the 
shouts of those who were at work combating the 
original conflagration. I could see the waggon that 
had brought them tied to a live oak in a piece of 
open ; I could even catch the flash of an axe as it 
swung up through the underwood into the sunlight. 
Had any one observed the result of my experiment 
my neck was literally not worth a pinch of snufi^; 
after a few minutes of passionate expostulation I 
should have been run up to a convenient bough. 

' To die for faction is a common evil ; 
But to be hanged for nonsense is the devil.' 

I have run repeatedly, but never as I ran that day. 
At night I went out of town, and there was my 
own particular fire, quite distinct from the other, 
and burning, as I thought, with even greater vigour. 

3~M 177 


But it is the Pacific that exercises the most direct 
and obvious power upon the climate. At sunset, 
for months together, vast, wet, melancholy fogs 
arise and come shoreward from the ocean. From 
the hill-top above Monterey the scene is often 
noble, although it is always sad. The upper air is 
still bright with sunlight ; a glow still rests upon 
the Gabelano Peak ; but the fogs are in possession 
of the lower levels ; they crawl in scarves among 
the sandhills ; they float, a little higher, in clouds 
of a gigantic size and often of a wild configuration ; 
to the south, where they have struck the seaward 
shoulder of the mountains of Santa Lucia, they 
double back and spire up skyward like smoke. 
Where their shadow touches, colom- dies out of 
the world. The air grows chill and deadly as they 
advance. The trade-wind freshens, the trees begin 
to sigh, and all the windmills in Monterey are whirl- 
ing and creaking and filling their cisterns with the 
brackish water of the sands. It takes but a little 
while till the invasion is complete. The sea, in its 
lighter order, has submerged the earth. Monterey 
is curtained in for the night in thick, wet, salt, and 
frigid clouds, so to remain till day returns ; and 
before the sun's rays they slowly disperse and retreat 
in broken squadrons to the bosom of the sea. And 
yet often when the fog is thickest and most chill, 
a few steps out of the town and up the slope, the 
night will be dry and warm and full of inland 




The history of Monterey has yet to be written. 
Founded by Catholic missionaries, a place of wise 
beneficence to Indians, a place of arms, a Mexican 
capital continually wrested by one faction from 
another, an American capital when the first House 
of Representatives held its deliberations, and then 
falling lower and lower from the capital of the 
State to the capital of a county, and from that 
again, by the loss of its charter and town lands, 
to a mere bankrupt village, its rise and decline is 
typical of that of all Mexican institutions and even 
Mexican families in California. 

Nothing is stranger in that strange State than 
the rapidity with which the soil has changed hands. 
The Mexicans, you may say, are all poor and land- 
less, like their former capital ; and yet both it 
and they hold themselves apart, and preserve their 
ancient customs and something of their ancient 

The town, when I was there, was a place of two 
or three streets, economically paved with sea-sand, 
and two or three lanes, which were water-courses 
in the rainy season, and at all times were rent up 
by fissures four or five feet deep. There were no 
street lights. Short sections of wooden sidewalk 
only added to the dangers of the night, for they 
were often high above the level of the roadway, 
and no one could tell where they would be likely 



to begin or end. The houses were for the most 
part built of unbaked adobe brick, many of them 
old for so new a country, some of very elegant 
proportions, with low, spacious, shapely rooms, and 
walls so thick that the heat of summer never dried 
them to the heart. At the approach of the rainy 
season a deathly chill and a graveyard smell began 
to hang about the lower floors ; and diseases of the 
chest are common and fatal among house-keeping 
people of either sex. 

There was no activity but in and around the 
saloons, where people sat almost all day long playing 
cards. The smallest excursion was made on horse- 
back. You would scarcely ever see the main street 
without a horse or two tied to posts, and making 
a fine figure with their Mexican housings. It struck 
me oddly to come across some of the Cornhill illus- 
trations to Mr. Blackmore's JErema, and see all the 
characters astride on English saddles. As a matter 
of fact, an English saddle is a rarity even in San 
Francisco, and you may say a thing unknown in 
all the rest of California. In a place so exclusively 
Mexican as Monterey, you saw not only Mexican 
saddles but true Vaquero riding — men always at 
the hand-gallop up hill and down dale, and round 
the sharpest corner, urging their horses with cries 
and gesticulations and cruel rotatory spurs, check- 
ing them dead with a touch, or wheeling them 
right-about-face in a square yard. The type of 
face and character of bearing are surprisingly un- 
American. The first ranged from something like 


the pure Spanish, to something, in its sad fixity, 
not unHke the pure Indian, although I do not 
suppose there was one pure blood of either race in 
all the country. As for the second, it was a matter 
of perpetual surprise to find, in that world of abso- 
lutely mannerless Americans, a people full of de- 
portment, solemnly courteous, and doing all things 
with grace and decorum. In dress they ran to 
colour and bright sashes. Not even the most 
Americanised could always resist the temptation 
to stick a red rose into his hatband. Not even 
the most Americanised would descend to wear the 
vile dress-hat of civilisation. Spanish was the 
language of the streets. It was difficult to get 
along without a word or two of that language for 
an occasion. The only communications in which 
the population joined were with a view to amuse- 
ment. A weekly public ball took place with great 
etiquette, in addition to the numerous fandangoes 
in private houses. There was a really fair amateur 
brass band. Night after night serenaders would be 
going about the street, sometimes in a company 
and with several instruments and voices together, 
sometimes severally, each guitar before a different 
window. It was a strange thing to lie awake in 
nineteenth-century America, and hear the guitar 
accompany, and one of these old, heart-breaking 
Spanish love-songs mount into the night air, perhaps 
in a deep baritone, perhaps in that high-pitched, 
pathetic, womanish alto which is so common among 
Mexican men, and which strikes on the unaccustomed 



ear as something not entirely human, but altogether 

The town, then, was essentially and wholly 
Mexican ; and yet almost all the land in the 
neighbourhood was held by Americans, and it was 
from the same class, numerically so small, that the 
principal officials were selected. This Mexican and 
that Mexican would describe to you his old family 
estates, not one rood of which remained to him. 
You would ask him how that came about, and 
elicit some tangled story back-foremost, from which 
you gathered that the Americans had been greedy 
like designing men, and the Mexicans greedy like 
children, but no other certain fact. Their merits 
and their faults contributed alike to the ruin of 
the former landholders. It is true they were im- 
provident, and easily dazzled with the sight of 
ready money ; but they were gentlefolk besides, 
and that in a way which curiously unfitted them to 
combat Yankee craft. Suppose they have a paper 
to sign, they would think it a reflection on the other 
party to examine the terms with any great minute- 
ness ; nay, suppose them to observe some doubtful 
clause, it is ten to one they would refuse from 
delicacy to object to it. I know I am speaking 
within the mark, for I have seen such a case occur, 
and the Mexican, in spite of the advice of his 
lawyer, has signed the imperfect paper like a lamb. 
To have spoken in the matter, he said, above all 
to have let the other party guess that he had 
seen a lawyer, would have ' been like doubting 


his word.' The scruple sounds oddly to one of 
ourselves, who have been brought up to under- 
stand all business as a competition in fraud, and 
honesty itself to be a virtue which regards the 
carrying out, but not the creation, of agreements. 
This single unworldly trait will account for much 
of that revolution of which we are speaking. The 
Mexicans have the name of being great swindlers, 
but certainly the accusation cuts both ways. In a 
contest of this sort, the entire booty would scarcely 
have passed into the hands of the more scrupulous 

Physically the Americans have triumphed ; but it 
is not entirely seen how far they have themselves 
been morally conquered. This is, of course, but a 
part of a part of an extraordinary problem now in 
the course of being solved in the various States of the 
American Union. I am reminded of an anecdote. 
Some years ago, at a great sale of wine, all the odd 
lots were purchased by a grocer in a small way in 
the old town of Edinburgh. The agent had the 
curiosity to visit him some time after and inquire 
what possible use he could have for such material. 
He was shown, by way of answer, a huge vat where 
all the liquors, from humble Gladstone to imperial 
Tokay, were fermenting together. 'And what,' he 
asked, ' do you propose to call this ? ' 'I 'm no' 
very sure,' replied the grocer, 'but I think it's 
going to turn out port.' In the older Eastern 
States, I think we may say that this hotch-potch 
of races is going to turn out English, or there- 


about. But the problem is indefinitely varied in 
other zones. The elements are differently mingled 
in the south, in what we may call the Territorial 
belt, and in the group of States on the Pacific 
coast. Above all, in these last we may look to 
see some singular hybrid — whether good or evil, 
who shall forecast ? but certainly original and all 
their own. In my little restaurant at Monterey, 
we have sat down to table, day after day, a French- 
man, two Portuguese, an Itahan, a Mexican, and a 
Scotsman : we had for common visitors an American 
from Illinois, a nearly pure-blood Indian woman, 
and a naturalised Chinese ; and from time to time 
a Switzer and a German came down from country 
ranches for the night. No wonder that the Pacific 
coast is a foreign land to visitors from the Eastern 
States, for each race contributes something of its 
own. Even the despised Chinese have taught the 
youth of CaHfornia, none indeed of their virtues, 
but the debasing use of opium. And chief among 
these influences is that of the Mexicans. 

The Mexicans, although in the State, are out of 
it. They still preserve a sort of international inde- 
pendence, and keep their affairs snug to themselves. 
Only four or five years ago, Vasquez the bandit, his 
troops being dispersed and the hunt too hot for him 
in other parts of California, returned to his native 
Monterey, and was seen publicly in her streets and 
saloons, fearing no man. The year that I was there 
there occurred two reputed murders. As the Mon- 
tereyans are exceptionally vile speakers of each other 


and of every one behind his back, it is not possible for 
me to judge how much truth there may have been in 
these reports ; but in the one case every one beheved, 
and in the other some suspected, that there had been 
foul play ; and nobody dreamed for an instant of 
taking the authorities into their counsel. Now this 
is, of course, characteristic enough of the Mexicans ; 
but it is a noteworthy feature that all the Ameri- 
cans in Monterey acquiesced without a word in this 
inaction. Even when I spoke to them upon the 
subject, they seemed not to understand my sur- 
prise; they had forgotten the traditions of their 
own race and upbringing, and become, in a word, 
wholly Mexicanised. 

Again, the Mexicans, having no ready money to 
speak of, rely almost entirely in their business trans- 
actions upon each other's worthless paper. Pedro 
the penniless pays you with an I O U from the 
equally penniless Miguel. It is a sort of local 
currency by courtesy. Credit in these parts has 
passed into a superstition. I have seen a strong, 
violent man struggling for months to recover a debt, 
and getting nothing but an exchange, of waste paper. 
The very storekeepers are averse to asking for cash 
payments, and are more surprised than pleased when 
they are offered. They fear there must be something 
under it, and that you mean to withdraw your custom 
from them. I have seen the enterprising chemist 
and stationer begging me with fervour to let my 
account run on, although I had my purse open in my 
hand ; and partly from the commonness of the case, 



partly from some remains of that generous old 
Mexican tradition which made all men welcome to 
their tables, a person may be notoriously both un- 
willing and unable to pay, and still find credit for 
the necessaries of life in the stores of Monterey. 
Now this villainous habit of living upon ' tick ' has 
grown into Californian nature. I do not mean that 
the American and European storekeepers of Monterey 
are as lax as Mexicans ; I mean that American 
farmers in many parts of the State expect unlimited 
credit, and profit by it in the meanwhile without a 
thought for consequences. Jew storekeepers have 
already learned the advantage to be gained from 
this ; they lead on the farmer into irretrievable 
indebtedness, and keep him ever after as their 
bond-slave hopelessly grinding in the mill. So the 
whirligig of time brings in its revenges, and ex- 
cept that the Jew knows better than to foreclose, 
you may see Americans bound in the same chains 
with which they themselves had formerly bound the 
Mexican. It seems as if certain sorts of follies, 
like certain sorts of grain, were natural to the soil 
rather than to the race that holds and tills it for 
the moment. 

In the meantime, however, the Americans rule in 
Monterey County. The new county seat, Salinas 
City, in the bald, corn-bearing plain under the Gabe- 
lano Peak, is a town of a purely American character. 
The land is held, for the most part, in those enormous 
tracts which are another legacy of Mexican days, 
and form the present chief danger and disgrace of 


California ; and the holders are mostly of Ameri- 
can or British birth. We have here in England 
no idea of the troubles and inconveniences which 
flow from the existence of these large landholders 
— land-thieves, land-sharks, or land-grabbers, they 
are more commonly and plainly called. Thus the 
townlands of Monterey are all in the hands of a 
single man. How they came there is an obscure, 
vexatious question, and rightly or wrongly the 
man is hated with a great hatred. His life has 
been repeatedly in danger. Not very long ago, 
I was told, the stage was stopped and examined 
three evenings in succession by disguised horsemen 
thirsting for his blood. A certain house on the 
Salinas road, they say, he always passes in his buggy 
at full speed, for the squatter sent him warning 
long ago. But a year since he was publicly pointed 
out for death by no less a man than Mr. Dennis 
Kearney. Kearney is a man too well known in 
California, but a word of explanation is required for 
English readers. Originally an Irish drayman, he 
rose, by his command of bad language, to almost 
dictatorial authority in the State ; throned it there 
for six months or so, his mouth full of oaths, 
gallowses, and conflagrations ; was first snuffed out 
last winter by Mr. Coleman, backed by his San Fran- 
cisco Vigilantes and three Gatling guns ; completed 
his own ruin by throwing in his lot with the grotesque 
Greenbacker party ; and had at last to be rescued by 
his old enemies, the police, out of the hands of his 
rebellious followers. It was while he was at the top 



of his fortune that Kearney visited Monterey with 
his battle-cry against Chinese labour, the railroad 
monopolists, and the land-thieves; and his one 
articulate counsel to the Montereyans was to 'hang 
David Jacks.' Had the town been American, in my 
private opinion, this would have been done years 
ago. Land is a subject on which there is no jest- 
ing in the West, and I have seen my friend the 
lawyer drive out of Monterey to adjust a competi- 
tion of titles with the face of a captain going into 
battle, and his Smith-and- Wesson convenient to his 

On the ranche of another of these landholders you 
may find our old friend, the Truck system, in full 
operation. Men live there, year in year out, to cut 
timber for a nominal wage, which is all consumed in 
supplies. The longer they remain in this desirable 
service the deeper they will fall in debt — a burlesque 
injustice in a new country, where labour should be 
precious, and one of those typical instances which 
explains the prevailing discontent and the success of 
the demagogue Kearney. 

In a comparison between what was and what is in 
California, the praisers of times past will fix upon the 
Indians of Carmel. The valley drained by the river 
so named is a true Californian valley, bare, dotted 
with chaparal, overlooked by quaint, unfinished hills. 
The Carmel runs by many pleasant farms, a clear and 
shallow river, loved by wading kine ; and at last, as 
it is falling towards a quicksand and the great Pacific, 
passes a ruined mission on a hill. From the mission 


church the eye embraces a great field of ocean, 
and the ear is filled with a continuous sound of 
distant breakers on the shore. But the day of the 
Jesuit has gone by, the day of the Yankee has 
succeeded, and there is no one left to care for the 
converted savage. The church is roofless and ruin- 
ous, sea-breezes and sea-fogs, and the alternation of 
the rain and sunshine, daily widening the breaches 
and casting the crockets from the wall. As an 
antiquity in this new land, a quaint specimen of 
missionary architecture, and a memorial of good 
deeds, it had a triple claim to preservation from 
all thinking people ; but neglect and abuse have 
been its portion. There is no sign of American 
interference, save where a head-board has been torn 
from a grave to be a mark for pistol-bullets. So it 
is with the Indians for whom it was erected. Their 
lands, I was told, are being yearly encroached upon 
by the neighbouring American proprietor, and with 
that exception no man troubles his head for the 
Indians of Carmel. Only one day in the year, the 
day before our Guy Fawkes, the padre drives over , 
the hill from Monterey ; the little sacristy, which is 
the only covered portion of the church, is filled with 
seats and decorated for the service ; the Indians 
troop together, their bright dresses contrasting with 
their dark and melancholy faces ; and there, among 
a crowd of unsympathetic holiday-makers, you 
may hear God served with perhaps more touch- 
ing circumstances than in any other temple under 
heaven. An Indian, stone-blind and about eighty 



years of age, conducts the singing ; other Indians 
compose the choir ; yet they have the Gregorian 
music at their finger-ends, and pronounce the Latin 
so correctly that I could follow the meaning as they 
sang. The pronunciation was odd and nasal, the 
singing hurried and staccato. ' In ssecula sseculo-ho- 
horum,' they went, with a vigorous aspirate to every 
additional syllable. I have never seen faces more 
vividly Ht up with joy than the faces of these Indian 
singers. It was to them not only the worship of 
God, nor an act by which they recalled and com- 
memorated better days, but was besides an exercise 
of culture, where all they knew of art and letters 
was united and expressed. And it made a man's 
heart sorry for the good fathers of yore who had 
taught them to dig and to reap, to read and to 
sing, who had given them European mass-books 
which they still preserve and study in their cottages, 
and who had now passed away from all authority 
and influence in that land — to be succeeded by 
greedy land-thieves and sacrilegious pistol-shots. 
So ugly a thing may our Anglo-Saxon Protestant- 
ism appear beside the doings of the Society of 

But revolution in this world succeeds to revolution. 
All that I say in this paper is in a paulo-past tense. 
The Monterey of last year^ exists no longer. A huge 
hotel has sprung up in the desert by the railway. 
Three sets of diners sit down successively to table. 
Invaluable toilettes figure along the beach and be- 

1 1879, 


tween the live oaks ; and Monterey is advertised in 
the newspapers, and posted in the waiting-rooms at 
railway stations, as a resort for wealth and fashion. 
Alas for the Httle town ! it is not strong enough to 
resist the influence of the flaunting caravanserai, and 
the poor, quaint, penniless native gentlemen of 
Monterey must perish, hke a lower race, before the 
millionaire vulgarians of the Big Bonanza. 



The Pacific coast of the United States, as you may 
see by the map, and still better in that admirable 
book, Two Years before the Mast, by Dana, is one 
of the most exposed and shelterless on earth. The 
trade-wind blows fresh ; the huge Pacific swell 
booms along degree after degree of an unbroken line 
of coast. South of the joint firth of the Columbia 
and Williamette, there flows in no considerable 
river; south of Puget Sound there is no protected 
inlet of the ocean. Along the whole seaboard of 
California there are but two unexceptionable anchor- 
ages, — the bight of the Bay of Monterey, and the 
inland sea that takes its name from San Francisco. 

Whether or not it was here that Drake put in in 
1597, we cannot tell. There is no other place so 
suitable; and yet the narrative of Francis Pretty 
scarcely seems to suit the features of the scene. 
Viewed from seaward, the Golden Gates should give 
no very English impression to justify the name of 
a New Albion. On the west, the deep Hes open ; 
nothing near but the still vexed Farallones. The 
coast is rough and barren. Tamalpais, a mountain of 
a memorable figure, springing direct from the sea- 


level, over-plumbs the narrow entrance from the north. 
On the south, the loud music of the Pacific sounds 
along beaches and cUffs, and among broken reefs, 
the sporting-place of the sea-Hon. Dismal, shifting 
sandhills, wrinkled by the wind, appear behind. 
Perhaps, too, in the days of Drake, Tamalpais would 
be clothed to its peak with the majestic redwoods. 

Within the memory of persons not yet old, a 
mariner might have steered into these narrows — not 
yet the Golden Gates — opened out the surface of 
the bay — here girt with hills, there lying broad to 
the horizon — and beheld a scene as empty of the 
presence, as pure from the handiwork, of man, as in 
the days of our old sea-commander. A Spanish 
mission, fort, and church took the place of those 
* houses of the people of the country' which were 
seen by Pretty, 'close to the water-side.' All else 
would be unchanged. Now, a generation later, a 
great city covers the sandhUls on the west, a grow- 
ing town hes along the muddy shallows of the east ; 
steamboats pant continually between them from 
before sunrise till the small hours of the morning; 
lines of great sea-going ships lie ranged at anchor ; 
colours fly upon the islands ; and from all around 
the hum of corporate life, of beaten bells, and steam, 
and running carriages, goes cheerily abroad in the 
sunshine. Choose a place on one of the huge throb- 
bing ferry-boats, and, when you are midway between 
the city and the suburb, look around. The air is 
fresh and salt as if you were at sea. On the one 
hand is Oakland, gleaming white among its gardens. 
3— N 193 


On the other, to seaward, hill after hill is crowded 
and crowned with the palaces of San Francisco ; its 
long streets lie in regular bars of darkness, east and 
west, across the sparkling picture ; a forest of masts 
bristles like bulrushes about its feet ; nothing remains 
of the days of Drake but the faithful trade-wind 
scattering the smoke, the fogs that will begin to 
muster about sundown, and the fine bulk of Tamal- 
pais looking down on San Francisco, Hke Arthur's 
Seat on Edinburgh. 

Thus, in the course of a generation only, this city 
and its suburb have arisen. Men are alive by the 
score who have hunted all over the foundations in 
a dreary waste. I have dined, near the ' punctual 
centre ' of San Francisco, with a gentleman (then 
newly married), who told me of his former pleasures, 
wading with his fowhng-piece in sand and scrub, on 
the site of the house where we were dining. In this 
busy, moving generation, we have all known cities 
to cover our boyish playgrounds, we have all started 
for a country walk and stumbled on a new suburb ; 
but I wonder what enchantment of the Arabian 
Nights can have equalled this evocation of a roaring- 
city, in a few years of a man's life, from the marshes 
and the blowing sand. Such swiftness of increase, 
as with an overgrown youth, suggests a correspond- 
ing swiftness of destruction. The sandy peninsula 
of San Francisco, mirroring itself on one side in the 
bay, beaten on the other by the surge of the Pacific, 
and shaken to the heart by frequent earthquakes, 
seems in itself no very durable foundation. Accord- 


ing to Indian tales, perhaps older than the name of 
CaHfornia, it once rose out of the sea in a moment, 
and sometime or other shall, in a moment, sink 
again. No Indian, they say, cares to linger on that 
doubtful land. 'The earth hath bubbles as the 
water has, and this is of them.' Here, indeed, all is 
new, nature as well as towns. The very hills of 
California have an unfinished look; the rains and 
the streams have not yet carved them to their perfect 
shape. The forests spring like mushrooms from the 
unexhausted soil ; and they are mown down yearly 
by the forest fires. We are in early geological 
epochs, changeful and insecure ; and we feel, as with 
a sculptor's model, that the author may yet grow 
weary of and shatter the rough sketch. 

Fancy apart, San Francisco is a city beleaguered 
with alarms. The lower parts, along the bay side, 
sit on piles ; old wrecks decaying, fish dwelling un- 
sunned, beneath the populous houses ; and a trifling 
subsidence might drown the business quarters in an 
hour. Earthquakes are not only common, they are 
sometimes threatening in their violence ; the fear of 
them grows yearly on a resident ; he begins with 
indifference, ends in sheer panic ; and no one feels 
safe in any but a wooden house. Hence it comes 
that, in that rainless clime, the whole city is built of 
timber — a woodyard of unusual extent and compH- 
cation ; that fires spring up readily, and served by the 
unwearying trade-wind, swiftly spread ; that all over 
the city there are fire-signal boxes; that the sound of 
the bell, telling the number of the threatened ward, 



is soon familiar to the ear ; and that nowhere else in 
the world is the art of the fireman carried to so nice 
a point. 

Next, perhaps, in order of strangeness to the 
rapidity of its appearance, is the mingling of the 
races that combine to people it. The town is essen- 
tially not Anglo-Saxon; still more essentially not 
American. The Yankee and the Englishman find 
themselves ahke in a strange country. There are 
none of these touches — not of nature, and I dare 
scarcely say of art — ^by which the Anglo-Saxon feels 
himself at home in so great a diversity of lands. 
Here, on the contrary, are airs of Marseilles and of 
Pekin. The shops along the street are hke the 
consulates of different nations. The passers-by vary 
in feature like the sUdes of a magic-lantern. For we 
are here in that city of gold to which adventurers 
congregated out of all the winds of heaven; we 
are in a land that till the other day was ruled and 
peopled by the countrymen of Cortes ; and the sea 
that laves the piers of San Francisco is the ocean of 
the East and of the isles of summer. There goes the 
Mexican, unmistakable ; there the blue-clad China- 
man with his white shppers ; there the soft-spoken, 
brown Kanaka, or perhaps a waif from far-away 
Malaya. You hear French, German, Itahan, Spanish, 
and English indifferently. You taste the food of all 
nations in the various restaurants ; passing from a 
French prioc-fioce where every one is , French, to a 
roaring German ordinary where every one is German ; 
ending, perhaps, in a cool and silent Chinese tea- 


house. For every man, for every race and nation, 
that city is a foreign city ; humming with foreign 
tongues and customs; and yet each and all have 
made themselves at home. The Germans have a 
German theatre and innumerable beer-gardens. The 
French Fall of the Bastille is celebrated with squibs 
and banners, and marching patriots, as noisily as the 
American Fourth of July. The Itahans have their 
dear domestic quarter, with Italian caricatures in the 
windows, Chianti and polenta in the taverns. The 
Chinese are settled as in China. The goods they 
offer for sale are as foreign as the lettering on the 
signboard of the shop : dried fish from the China 
seas ; pale cakes and sweetmeats — the like, perhaps, 
once eaten by Badroubadour ; nuts of unfriendly 
shape ; ambiguous, outlandish vegetables, misshapen, 
lean, or bulbous — telling of a country where the trees 
are not as our trees, and the very back-garden is a 
cabinet of curiosities. The joss-house is hard by, 
heavy with incense, packed with quaint carvings and 
the paraphernalia of a foreign ceremonial. All these 
you behold, crowded together in the narrower arteries 
of the city, cool, sunless, a little mouldy, with the 
unfamiliar faces at your elbow, and the high, musical 
sing-song of that alien language in your ears. Yet 
the houses are of Occidental build; the Hues of a 
hundred telegraphs pass, thick as a ship's rigging, 
overhead, a kite hanging among them, perhaps, or 
perhaps two, one European, one Chinese, in shape 
and colour ; mercantile Jack, the Italian fisher, the 
Dutch merchant, the Mexican vaquero, go hustling 



by ; at the sunny end of the street, a thoroughfare 
roars with European traffic; and meanwhile, high 
and clear, out breaks perhaps the San Francisco fire- 
alarm, and people pause to count the strokes, and in 
the stations of the double fire-service you know that 
the electric bells are ringing, the traps opening, and 
clapping to, and the engine, manned and harnessed, 
being whisked into the street, before the sound of 
the alarm has ceased to vibrate on your ear. Of all 
romantic places for a boy to loiter in, that Chinese 
quarter is the most romantic. There, on a half- 
hohday, three doors from home, he may visit an 
actual foreign land, foreign in people, language, 
things, and customs. The very barber of the Arabian 
Nights shall be at work before him, shaving heads ; 
he shall see Aladdin playing on the streets; who 
knows but among those nameless vegetables the 
fruit of the nose-tree itself may be exposed for sale ? 
And the interest is heightened with a chill of horror. 
Below, you hear, the cellars are alive with mystery ; 
opium dens, where the smokers lie one above another, 
shelf above shelf, close-packed and grovelling in 
deadly stupor; the seats of unknown vices and 
cruelties, the prisons of anacknowledged slaves and 
the secret lazarettos of disease. 

With all this mass of nationalities, crime is com- 
mon. There are rough quarters where it is dangerous 
o' nights ; cellars of pubHc entertainment which the 
wary pleasure-seeker chooses to avoid. Concealed 
weapons are unlawful, but the law is continually 
broken. One editor was shot dead while 1 was 


there; another walked the streets accompanied by 
a bravo, his guardian angel. I have been quietly 
eating a dish of oysters in a restaurant, where, not 
more than ten minutes after I had left, shots were 
exchanged and took effect; and one night about 
ten o'clock, I saw a man standing watchfully at a 
street-corner with a long Smith-and- Wesson glitter- 
ing in his hand behind his back. Somebody had 
done something he should not, and was being looked 
for with a vengeance. It is odd, too, that the seat 
of the last vigilance committee I know of — a 
mediaeval Vehmgericht — was none other than the 
Palace Hotel, the world's greatest caravanserai, 
served by lifts and lit with electricity ; where, in the 
great glazed court, a band nightly discourses music 
from a grove of palms. So do extremes meet in this 
city of contrasts : extremes of wealth and poverty, 
apathy and excitement, the conveniences of civilisa- 
tion and the red justice of Judge Lynch. 

The streets lie straight up and down the hills, and 
straight across at right angles, these in sun, those in 
shadow, a trenchant pattern of gloom and glare ; and 
what with the crisp illumination, the sea-air singing 
in your ears, the chill and ghtter, the changing aspects 
both of things and people, the fresh sights at every 
corner of your walk — sights of the bay, of Tamalpais, 
of steep, descending streets, of the outspread city — 
whiffs of ahen speech, sailors singing on shipboard, 
Chinese coolies toiling on the shore, crowds brawling 
all day in the street before the Stock Exchange — 
one brief impression follows and obliterates another, 



and the city leaves upon the mind no general and 
stable picture, but a profusion of airy and incon- 
gruous images, of the sea and shore, the east and 
west, the summer and the winter. 

In the better parts of the most interesting city 
there is apt to be a touch of the commonplace. It 
is in the slums and suburbs that the city dilettante 
finds his game. And there is nothing more charac- 
teristic and original than the outlying quarters of 
San Francisco. The Chinese district is the most 
famous ; but it is far from the only truffle in the pie. 
There is many another dingy corner, many a young 
antiquity, many a terrain vague with that stamp of 
quaintness that the city lover seeks and dwells on ; 
and the indefinite prolongation of its streets, up hill 
and down dale, makes San Francisco a place apart. 
The same street in its career visits and unites so 
many different classes of society, here echoing with 
drays, there lying decorously silent between the 
mansions of Bonanza milHonaires, to founder at last 
among the drifting sands beside Lone Mountain 
cemetery, or die out among the sheds and lumber of 
the north. Thus you may be struck with a spot, set it 
down for the most romantic of the city, and, glancing 
at the name-plate, find it is in the same street that 
you yourself inhabit in another quarter of the town. 

The great net of straight thoroughfares lying at 
right angles, east and west and north and south, over 
the shoulders of Nob Hill, the hill of palaces, must 
certainly be counted the best part of San Francisco. 
It is there that the millionaires are gathered together 


vying with each other in display. From thence, 
looking down over the business wards of the city, we 
can descry a building with a little belfry, and that is 
the Stock Exchange, the heart of San Francisco : a 
great pump we might call it, continually pumping 
up the savings of the lower quarters into the pockets 
of the millionaires upon the hill. But these same 
thoroughfares that enjoy for a while so elegant a 
destiny have their lines prolonged into more unplea- 
sant places. Some meet their fate in the sands ; 
some must take a cruise in the ill-famed China 
quarters ; some run into the sea ; some perish unwept 
among pig-sties and rubbish-heaps. 

Nob Hill comes, of right, in the place of honour ; 
but the two other hills of San Francisco are more 
entertaining to explore. On both there are a world 
of old wooden houses snoozing together all forgot- 
ten. Some are of the quaintest design, others only 
romantic by neglect and age. Some have been 
almost undermined by new thoroughfares, and sit 
high up on the margin of the sandy cutting, only to 
be reached by stairs. Some are curiously painted, 
and I have seen one at least with ancient carvings 
panelled in its wall. Surely they are not of Cah- 
fornian building, but far voyagers from round the 
stormy Horn, like those who sent for them and 
dwelt in them at first. Brought to be the favourites 
of the wealthy, they have sunk into these poor, for- 
gotten districts, where, like old town toasts, they keep 
each other silently in countenance. Telegraph Hill 
and Rincon Hill, these are the two dozing quarters 



that I recommend to the city dilettante. There 
stand these forgotten houses, enjoying the unbroken 
sun and quiet. There, if there were such an author, 
would the San Francisco Fortune de Boisgobey 
pitch the first chapter of his mystery. But the first 
is the quainter of the two, and commands, moreover, 
a noble view. As it stands at the turn of the bay, 
its skirts are all waterside, and round from North 
Reach to the Bay Front you can follow doubtful 
paths from one quaint corner to another. Every- 
where the same tumble-down decay and sloppy 
progress, new things yet unmade, old things totter- 
ing to their fall ; everywhere the same out-at-elbows, 
many-nationed loungers at dim, irregular grog-shops ; 
everywhere the same sea-air and isleted sea-prospect ; 
and for a last and more romantic note, you have on 
the one hand Tamalpais standing high in the blue 
air, and on the other the tail of that long alignment 
of three-masted, full-rigged, deep-sea ships that make 
a forest of spars along the eastern front of San Fran- 
cisco. In no other port is such a navy congregated. 
For the coast trade is so trifling, and the ocean trade 
from round the Horn so large, that the smaller ships 
are swallowed up, and can do nothing to confuse 
the majestic order of these merchant princes. In an 
age when the ship-of-the-hne is already a thing of 
the past, and we can never again hope to go coasting 
in a cock-boat between the ' wooden walls ' of a 
squadron at anchor, there is perhaps no place on 
earth where the power and beauty of sea architec- 
ture can be so perfectly enjoyed as in this bay. 


Vixerunt nonnulli in agris, delectati 
re sua familiari. His idem pro- 
posifum fuit quod regibus, ut ne 
qua re agerent, ne cui parerent, 
libertate uterentur : cujus pro- 
prium est sic mvere ut velis. 







First Complete Edition : Chatto and Windus, 

London, 1883. 
Originally published (with some omissions) : 

' Century Magazine,' November and 

December 1883. 



The Silverado Squatters 

. 209 

In the Valley : 

I. Cahstoga 

. 217 

II. The Petrified Forest . 

. 223 

III. Napa Wine . 

. 229 

IV. The Scot Abroad 

. 236 

With the Children of Israel : 

I. To Introduce Mr. Kelmar 

. 243 

II. First Impressions of Silverado 

. 248 

III. The Return . . - . 

. 261 

The Act of Squatting . 

. 267 

The Hunter's Family . 

. 279 

The Sea Fogs .... 

. 291 




The ToU House . . . .299 

A Starry Drive ..... 305 
Episodes in the Story of a Mine . .310 

Toils and Pleasures . . , . 323 



The scene of this little book is on a high mountain. 
There are, indeed, many higher ; there are many of 
a nobler outline. It is no place of pilgrimage for 
the summary globe-trotter ; but to one who lives 
upon its sides. Mount Saint Helena soon becomes 
a centre of interest. It is the Mont Blanc of one 
section of the Cahfornian Coast Range, none of its 
near neighbours rising to one-half its altitude. It 
looks down on much green, intricate country. It 
feeds in the spring-time many splashing brooks. 
From its summit you must have an excellent lesson 
of geography : seeing, to the south, San Francisco 
Bay, with Tamalpais on the one hand and Monte 
Diablo on the other ; to the west, and thirty miles 
away, the open ocean ; eastward, across the corn- 
lands and thick tule swamps of Sacramento Valley, 
to where the Central Pacific railroad begins to climb 
the sides of the Sierras ; and northward, for what I 
know, the white head of Shasta looking down on 
Oregon. Three counties, Napa County, Lake 
County, and Sonoma County, march across its cliffy 
shoulders. Its naked peak stands nearly four thou- 
3 — o 209 


sand five hundred feet above the sea ; its sides are 
fringed with forest ; and the soil, where it is bare, 
glows warm with cinnabar. 

Life in its shadow goes rustically forward. Bucks, 
and bears, and rattlesnakes, and former mining 
operations, are the staple of men's talk. Agriculture 
has only begun to mount above the valley. And 
though in a few years from now the whole district 
may be smiling with farms, passing trains shaking 
the mountain to the heart, many-windowed hotels 
lighting up the night hke factories, and a prosperous 
city occupying the site of sleepy Cahstoga ; yet in 
the meantime, around the foot of that mountain the 
silence of nature reigns in a great measure unbroken, 
and the people of hill and valley go sauntering about 
their business as in the days before the flood. 

To reach Mount Saint Helena from San Fran- 
cisco, the traveller has twice to cross the bay : once 
by the busy Oakland ferry, and again, after an hour 
or so of the railway, from Vallejo junction to Vallejo. 
Thence he takes rail once more to mount the long 
green strath of Napa Valley. 

In all the contractions and expansions of that 
inland sea, the Bay of San Francisco, there can be 
few drearier scenes than the Vallejo Ferry. Bald 
shores and a low, bald islet enclose the sea ; through 
the narrows the tide bubbles, muddy like a river. 
When we made the passage (bound, although yet 
we knew it not, for Silverado) the steamer jumped, 
and the black buoys were dancing in the jabble ; the 
ocean breeze blew killing chill; and, although the 



upper sky was still unflecked with vapour, the sea 
fogs were pouring in from seaward, over the hill- 
tops of Marin County, in one great, shapeless, silver 

South Vallejo is typical of many Californian 
towns. It was a blunder ; the site has proved un- 
tenable ; and, although it is still such a young place 
by the scale of Europe, it has already begun to be 
deserted for its neighbour and namesake, North 
Vallejo. A long pier, a number of drinking-saloons, 
a hotel of a great size, marshy pools where the frogs 
keep up their croaking, and even at high noon the 
entire absence of any human face or voice — these 
are the marks of South Vallejo. Yet there was a 
tall building beside the pier, labelled the Star Flour 
Mills; and sea-going, full-rigged ships lay close 
alongshore, waiting for their cargo. Soon these 
would be plunging round the Horn, soon the flour 
from the Star Flour Mills would be landed on the 
wharves of Liverpool. For that, too, is one of 
England's outposts ; thither, to this gaunt mill, 
across the Atlantic and Pacific deeps and round 
about the icy Horn, this crowd of great, three- 
masted, deep-sea ships come, bringing nothing, and 
return with bread. 

The Frisby House, for that was the name of the 
hotel, was a place of fallen fortunes, hke the town. 
It was now given up to labourers, and partly ruinous. 
At dinner there was the ordinary display of what is 
called in the west a two-bit house : the tablecloth 
checked red and white, the plague of flies, the wire 



hencoops over the dishes, the great variety and 
invariable vileness of the food, and the rough, coat- 
less men devouring it in silence. In our bedroom 
the stove would not burn, though it would smoke ; 
and while one window would not open, the other 
would not shut. There was a view on a bit of 
empty road, a few dark houses, a donkey wandering 
with its shadow on a slope, and a blink of sea, with 
a tall ship lying anchored in the moonlight. All about 
that dreary inn frogs sang their ungainly chorus. 

Early the next morning we mounted the hill 
along a wooden footway, bridging one marish spot 
after another. Here and there, as we ascended, we 
passed a house embowered in white roses. More 
of the bay became apparent, and soon the blue peak 
of Tamalpais rose above the green level of the island 
opposite. It told us we were still but a little way 
from the city of the Golden Gates, already, at that 
hour, beginning to awake among the sandhills. It 
called to us over the waters as with the voice of a 
bird. Its stately head, blue as a sapphire on the 
paler azure of the sky, spoke to us of wider outlooks 
and the bright Pacific. For Tamalpais stands sentry, 
like a Ughthouse, over the Golden Gates, between 
the bay and the open ocean, and looks down in- 
differently on both. Even as we saw and hailed it 
from Vallejo, seamen, far out at sea, were scanning 
it with shaded eyes ; and, as if to answer to the 
thought, one of the great ships below began silently 
to clothe herself with white sails, homeward bound 
for England. 



For some way beyond Vallejo the railway led us 
through bald green pastures. On the west the rough 
highlands of Marin shut off the ocean ; in the midst, 
in long, straggling, gleaming arms, the bay died out 
among the grass ; there were few trees and few 
enclosures ; the sun shone wide over open uplands, 
the displumed hills stood clear against the sky. But 
by and by these hills began to draw nearer on either 
hand, and first thicket and then wood began to 
clothe their sides ; and soon we were away from 
all signs of the sea's neighbourhood, mounting an 
inland, irrigated valley. A great variety of oaks 
stood, now severally, now in a becoming grove, 
among the fields and vineyards. The towns were 
compact, in about equal proportions, of bright, new 
wooden houses and great and growing forest trees ; 
and the chapel-bell on the engine sounded most 
festally that sunny Sunday, as we drew up at one 
green town after another, with the townsfolk troop- 
ing in their Sunday's best to see the strangers, with 
the sun sparkling on the clean houses, and great 
domes of foliage humming overhead in the breeze. 

This pleasant Napa Valley is, at its north end, 
blockaded by our mountain. There, at Calistoga, 
the railroad ceases, and the traveller who intends 
faring farther, to the Geysers or to the springs in 
Lake County, must cross the spurs of the mountain 
by stage. Thus, Mount Saint Helena is not only 
a summit, but a frontier ; and, up to the time of 
writing, it has stayed the progress of the iron horse. 




It is difficult for a European to imagine Calistoga, 
the whole place is so new, and of such an Occidental 
pattern ; the very name, I hear, was invented at a 
supper-party by the man who found the springs. 

The railroad and the highway come up the valley 
about parallel to one another. The street of Calis- 
toga joins them, perpendicular to both — a wide 
street, with bright, clean, low houses, here and there 
a verandah over the sidewalk, here and there a 
horse-post, here and there lounging townsfolk. Other 
streets are marked out, and most likely named ; for 
these towns in the New World begin with a firm 
resolve to grow larger, Washington and Broadway, 
and then First and Second, and so forth, being 
boldly plotted out as soon as the community indulges 
in a plan. But, in the meanwhile, all the life and 
most of the houses of Calistoga are concentrated 
upon that street between the railway station and 
the road. I never heard it called by any name, but 
I will hazard a guess that it is either Washington or 



Broadway. Here are the blacksmith's, the chemist's, 
the general merchant's, and Kong Sam Kee, the 
Chinese laundryman's ; here, probably, is the office 
of the local paper (for the place has a paper — they 
all have papers) ; and here certainly is one of the 
hotels, Cheeseborough's, whence the daring Foss, 
a man dear to legend, starts his horses for the 

It must be remembered that we are here in a land 
of stage-drivers and highwaymen : a land, in that 
sense, like England a hundred years ago. The 
highway robber — road-agent, he is quaintly called — 
is still busy in these parts. The fame of Vasquez is 
still young. Only a few years go, the Lakeport 
stage was robbed a mile or two from Cahstoga. In 
1879, the dentist of Mendocino City, fifty miles 
away upon the coast, suddenly threw off the gar- 
ments of his trade, like GrindofF, in The Miller and 
his Men, and flamed forth in his second dress as a 
captain of banditti. A great robbery was followed 
by a long chase, a chase of days, if not of weeks, 
among the intricate hill-country ; and the chase was 
followed by much desultory fighting, in which several 
— and the dentist, I believe, amongst the number — 
bit the dust. The grass was springing for the first 
time, nourished upon their blood, when I arrived in 
Calistoga. I am reminded of another highwayman 
of that same year. ' He had been unwell,' so ran 
his humorous defence, ' and the doctor told him to 
take something, so he took the express-box.' 

The cultus of the stage- coachman always flourishes 


highest where there are thieves on the road, and 
where the guard travels armed, and the stage is not 
only a link between country and city, and the 
vehicle of news, but has a faint warfaring aroma, 
like a man who should be brother to a soldier. Cali- 
fornia boasts her famous stage-drivers, and among 
the famous Foss is not forgotten. Along the un- 
fenced, abominable mountain roads, he launches his 
team with small regard to human life or the doctrine 
of probabilities. FHnching travellers, who behold 
themselves coasting eternity at every corner, look 
with natural admiration at their driver's huge, im- 
passive, fleshy countenance. He has the very face 
for the driver in Sam Weller's anecdote, who upset 
the election party at the required point. Wonderful 
tales are current of his readiness and skill. One in 
particular, of how one of his horses fell at a ticklish 
passage of the road, and how Foss let slip the reins, 
and, driving over the fallen animal, arrived at the 
next stage with only three. This I relate as I heard 
it, without guarantee. 

I only saw Foss once, though, strange as it may 
sound, I have twice talked with him. He lives out 
of Calistoga, at a ranche called Fossville. One 
evening, after he was long gone home, I dropped 
into Cheeseborough's, and was asked if I should like 
to speak with Mr. Foss. Supposing that the inter- 
view was impossible, and that I was merely caUed 
upon to subscribe the general sentiment, I boldly 
answered 'Yes.' Next moment, I had one instru- 
ment at my ear, another at my mouth, and found 



myself, with nothing in the world to say, conversing 
with a man several miles off among desolate hills. 
Foss rapidly and somewhat plaintively brought the 
conversation to an end; and he returned to his 
night's grog at Fossville, while I strolled forth 
again on Calistoga high street. But it was an odd 
thing that here, on what we are accustomed to con- 
sider the very skirts of civilisation, I should have 
used the telephone for the first time in my civilised 
career. So it goes in these young countries ; tele- 
phones, and telegraphs, and newspapers, and adver- 
tisements running far ahead among the Indians and 
the grizzly bears. 

Alone, on the other side of the railway, stands the 
Springs Hotel, with its attendant cottages. The 
fl.oor of the valley is extremely level to the very 
roots of the hills ; only here and there a hillock, 
crowned with pines, rises like the barrow of some 
chieftain famed in war ; and right against one of 
these hillocks is the Springs Hotel — is or was ; for 
since I was there the place has been destroyed by 
fire, and has risen again from its ashes. A lawn runs 
about the house, and the lawn is in its turn sur- 
rounded by a system of little five-roomed cottages, 
each with a verandah and a weedy palm before the 
door. Some of the cottages are let to residents, and 
these are wreathed in flowers. The rest are occu- 
pied by ordinary visitors to the hotel ; and a very 
pleasant way this is, by which you have a little 
country cottage of your own, without domestic 
burthens, and by the day or week. 


The whole neighbourhood of Mount Saint Helena 
is full of sulphur and of boiling springs. The Gey- 
sers are famous ; they were the great health resort 
of the Indians before the coming of the whites. 
Lake County is dotted with spas ; Hot Springs 
and White Sulphur Springs are the names of two 
stations on the Napa Valley railroad ; and Calistoga 
itself seems to repose on a mere film above a boiling, 
subterranean lake. At one end of the hotel en- 
closure are the springs from which it takes its name, 
hot enough to scald a child seriously while I was 
there. At the other end, the tenant of a cottage 
sank a well, and there also the water came up boiling. 
It keeps this end of the valley as warm as a toast. 
I have gone across to the hotel a little after five 
in the morning, when a sea-fog from the Pacific was 
hanging thick and grey, and dark and dirty overhead, 
and found the thermometer had been up before me, 
and had already climbed among the nineties ; and in 
the stress of the day it was sometimes too hot to 
move about. 

But in spite of this heat from above and below, 
doing one on both sides, Calistoga was a pleasant 
place to dwell in ; beautifully green, for it was then 
that favoured moment in the Californian year, when 
the rains are over and the dusty summer has not yet 
set in ; often visited by fresh airs, now from the 
mountain, now across Sonoma from the sea ; very 
quiet, very idle, very silent but for the breezes and 
the cattle-bells afield. And there was something 
satisfactory in the sight of that great mountain that 



enclosed us to the north : whether it stood robed in 
sunshine, quaking to its topmost pinnacle with the 
heat and brightness of the day ; or whether it set 
itself to weaving vapours, wisp after wisp growing, 
trembling, fleeting, and fading in the blue. 

The tangled, woody, and almost trackless foothills 
that enclose the valley, shutting it off from Sonoma 
on the west, and from Yolo on the east — rough 
as they were in outline, dug out by winter streams, 
crowned by cliffy bluffs and nodding pine-trees — 
were dwarfed into satellites by the bulk and bearing 
of Mount Saint Helena. She over-towered them by 
two-thirds of her own stature. She excelled them 
by the boldness of her profile. Her great bald 
summit, clear of trees and pasture, a cairn of quartz 
and cinnabar, rejected kinship with the dark and 
shaggy wilderness of lesser hill-tops. 




We drove off from the Springs Hotel about three in 
the afternoon. The sun warmed me to the heart. 
A broad, cool wind streamed pauselessly down the 
valley, laden with perfume. Up at the top stood 
Mount Saint Helena, a bulk of mountain, bare 
atop, with tree-fringed spurs, and radiating warmth. 
Once we saw it framed in a grove of tall and ex- 
quisitely graceful white oaks, in line and colour a 
finished composition. We passed a cow stretched 
by the roadside, her bell slowly beating time to the 
movement of her ruminating jaws, her big red face 
crawled over by half a dozen flies, a monument of 

A Httle farther, and we struck to the left up a 
mountain road, and for two hours threaded one 
valley after another, green, tangled, full of noble 
timber, giving us every now and again a sight of 
Mount Saint Helena and the blue hilly distance, 
and crossed by many streams, through which we 
splashed to the carriage-step. To the right or the 



left, there was scarce any trace of man but the road 
we followed ; I think we passed but one ranchero's 
house in the whole distance, and that was closed and 
smokeless. But we had the society of these bright 
streams — dazzlingly clear as is their wont, splashing 
from the wheels in diamonds, and striking a lively 
coolness through the sunshine. And what with 
the innumerable variety of greens, the masses of 
foliage tossing in the breeze, the glimpses of dis- 
tance, the descents into seemingly impenetrable 
thickets, the continual dodging of the road which 
made haste to plunge again into the covert, we had 
a fine sense of woods, and spring-time, and the open 

Our driver gave me a lecture by the way on 
Californian trees — a thing I was much in need of, 
having fallen among painters who know the name 
of nothing, and Mexicans who know the name of 
nothing in English. He taught me the madrona, 
the manzanita, the buck-eye, the maple ; he showed 
me the crested mountain quail ; he showed me 
where some young redwoods were already spiring 
heavenwards from the ruins of the old ; for in this 
district all had already perished : redwoods and red- 
skins, the two noblest indigenous living things, alike 

At length, in a lonely dell, we came on a huge 
wooden gate with a sign upon it like an inn. ' The 
Petrified Forest. Proprietor : C. Evans,' ran the 
legend. Within, on a knoll of sward, was the house 
of the proprietor, and another smaller house hard by 


to serve as a museum, where photographs and petri- 
factions were retailed. It was a pure little isle of 
touristry among these solitary hills. 

The proprietor was a brave old white-faced Swede. 
He had wandered this way, Heaven knows how, 
and taken up his acres — I forget how many years 
ago — all alone, bent double with sciatica, and with 
six bits in his pocket and an axe upon his shoulder. 
Long, useless years of seafaring had thus discharged 
him at the end, penniless and sick. Without doubt 
he had tried his luck at the diggings, and got no 
good from that; without doubt he had loved the 
bottle, and Uved the life of Jack ashore. But at 
the end of these adventures, here he came ; and, the 
place hitting his fancy, down he sat to make a new 
life of it, far from crimps and the salt sea. And the 
very sight of his ranche had done him good. It 
was ' the handsomest spot in the Californy moun- 
tains.' 'Isn't it handsome, now?' he said. Every 
penny he makes goes into that ranche to make it 
handsomer. Then the climate, with the sea-breeze 
every afternoon in the hottest summer weather, had 
gradually cured the sciatica ; and his sister and niece 
were now domesticated with him for company — or, 
rather, the niece came only once in the two days, 
teaching music the meanwhile in the valley. And then 
for a last piece of luck, ' the handsomest spot in the 
Californy mountains' had produced a petrified forest, 
which Mr. Evans now shows at the modest figure 
of half a dollar a head, or two-thirds of his capital 
when he first came there mth an axe and a sciatica. 
3— p 225 


This tardy favourite of fortune — hobbling a little, 
I think, as if in memory of the sciatica, but with not 
a trace that I can remember of the sea — thoroughly 
ruralised from head to foot, proceeded to escort us 
up the hill behind his house. 

* Who first found the forest ? ' asked my wife. 

' The first ? I was that man,' said he. ' I was 
cleaning up the pasture for my beasts, when I found 
this ' — kicking a great redwood, seven feet in dia- 
meter, that lay there on its side, hollow heart, 
clinging lumps of bark, all changed into grey stone, 
with veins of quartz between what had been the 
layers of the wood. 

' Were you surprised ? ' 

' Surprised ? No ! What would I be surprised 
about ? What did I know about petrifactions — 
following the sea ? Petrifaction ! There was no 
such word in my language ! I knew about putre- 
faction, though ! I thought it was a stone ; so 
would you if you was cleaning up pasture.' 

And now he had a theory of his own, which I did 
not quite grasp, except that the trees had not 
' grewed ' there. But he mentioned, with evident 
pride, that he differed from all the scientific people 
who had visited the spot ; and he flung about such 
words as ' tufa ' and ' silica ' with careless free- 

When I mentioned I was from Scotland, ' My 

old country,' he said ; ' my old country ' — with a 

smiling look and a tone of real affection in liis 

voice. I was mightily surprised, for he was ob- 



viously Scandinavian, and begged him to explain. 
It seemed he had learned his English and done 
nearly all his sailing in Scottish ships. * Out of 
Glasgow,' said he, ' or Greenock ; but that 's all 
the same — they all hail from Glasgow.' And he 
was so pleased with me for being a Scotsman, and 
his adopted compatriot, that he made me a present 
of a very beautiful piece of petrifaction — I believe 
the most beautiful and portable he had. 

Here was a man, at least, who was a Swede, a 
Scot, and an American, acknowledging some kind 
allegiance to three lands. Mr. Wallace's Scoto- 
Circassian will not fail to come before the reader. I 
have myself met and spoken with a Fifeshire Ger- 
man, whose combination of abominable accents 
struck me dumb. But, indeed, I think we all 
belong to many countries. And perhaps this habit 
of much travel, and the engendering of scattered 
friendships, may prepare the euthanasia of ancient 

And the forest itself ? Well, on a tangled, briary 
hiUside — for the pasture would bear a little further 
cleaning up, to my eyes — there lie scattered thickly 
various lengths of petrified trunk, such as the one 
already mentioned. It is very curious, of course, 
and ancient enough, if that were all. Doubtless the 
heart of the geologist beats quicker at the sight ; 
but, for my part, I was mightily unmoved. Sight- 
seeing is the art of disappointment. 

' There 's nothing undei* heaven so blue, 
That 's fairly worth the travelling to.' 



But, fortunately, Heaven rewards us with many 
agreeable prospects and adventures by the way ; and 
sometimes, when we go out to see a petrified forest, 
prepares a far more delightful curiosity in the form 
of Mr. Evans, whom may all prosperity attend 
throughout a long and green old age. 



I WAS interested in Calif ornian wine. Indeed, I am 
interested in all wines, and have been all my life, 
from the raisin-wine that a school-fellow kept secreted 
in his play-box up to my last discovery, those 
notable Valtellines, that once shone upon the board 
of Caesar. 

Some of us, kind old Pagans, watch with dread 
the shadows falling on the age : how the uncon- 
querable worm invades the sunny terraces of France, 
and Bordeaux is no more, and the Rhone a mere 
Arabia Petrsea. Chateau Neuf is dead, and I have 
never tasted it ; Hermitage — a hermitage indeed 
from all life's sorrows — lies expiring by the river. 
And in the place of these imperial elixirs, beautiful 
to every sense, gem-hued, flower-scented, dream- 
compellers : — behold upon the quays at Cette the 
chemicals arrayed ; behold the analyst at Marseilles, 
raising hands in obsecration, attesting god Lyseus, 
and the vats staved in, and the dishonest wines 
poured forth among the sea. It is not Pan only ; 
Bacchus, too, is dead. 



If wine is to withdraw its most poetic countenance, 
the sun of the white dinner-cloth, a deity to be 
invoked by two or three, all fervent, hushing their 
talk, degusting tenderly, and storing reminiscences 
— for a bottle of good wine, like a good act, shines 
ever in the retrospect — if wine is to desert us, 
go thy ways, old Jack ! Now we begin to have 
compunctions, and look back at the brave bottles 
squandered upon dinner-parties, where the guests 
drank grossly, discussing politics the while, and even 
the schoolboy * took his whack,' like liquorice-water. 
And at the same time we look timidly forward, with 
a spark of hope, to where the new lands, already 
weary of producing gold, begin to green with vine- 
yards. A nice point in human history falls to be 
decided by Californian and Australian wines. 

Wine in California is still in the experimental 
stage ; and when you taste a vintage, grave econo- 
mical questions are involved. The beginning of 
vine-planting is like the beginning of mining for the 
precious metals : the wine-grower also ' prospects.' 
One corner of land after another is tried with one 
kind of grape after another. This is a failure ; that 
is better ; a third best. So, bit by bit, they grope 
about for their Clos Vougeot and Lafitte. Those 
lodes and pockets of earth, more precious than the 
precious ores, that yield inimitable fragrance and 
soft fire ; those virtuous Bonanzas, where the soil 
has sublimated under sun and stars to something 
finer, and the wine is bottled poetry : these still lie 
undiscovered ; chaparral conceals, thicket embowers 


them ; the miner chips the rock and wanders farther, 
and the grizzly muses undisturbed. But there they 
bide their hour, awaiting their Columbus ; and 
nature nurses and prepares them. The smack of 
Californian earth shall linger on the palate of your 

Meanwhile the wine is merely a good wine ; the 
best that I have tasted — better than a Beaujolais, and 
not unlike. But the trade is poor ; it lives from 
hand to mouth, putting its all into experiments, and 
forced to sell its vintages. To find one properly 
matured, and bearing its own name, is to be fortune's 

Bearing its own name, I say, and dwell upon the 

* You want to know why California wine is not 
drunk in the States?' a San Francisco wine-merchant 
said to me, after he had shown me through his 
premises. ' Well, here's the reason.' 

And opening a large cupboard, fitted with many 
little drawers, he proceeded to shower me all over 
with a great variety of gorgeously tinted labels, blue, 
red, or yellow, stamped with crown or coronet, and 
haihng from such a profusion of clos and chateaux, 
that a single department could scarce have furnished 
forth the names. But it was strange that all looked 

' Chateaux X ? ' said I. ' I never heard of 


' I daresay not,' said he. ' I had been reading one 

ofX 's novels.' 



They were all castles in Spain ! But that sure 
enough is the reason why California wine is not 
drunk in the States. 

Napa Valley has been long a seat of the wine- 
growing industry. It did not here begin, as it does 
too often, in the low valley lands along the river, 
but took at once to the rough foothills, where alone 
it can expect to prosper. A basking inclination, 
and stones, to be a reservoir of the day's heat, seem 
necessary to the soil for wine ; the grossness of the 
earth must be evaporated, its marrow daily melted 
and refined for ages ; until at length these clods that 
break below our footing, and to the eye appear but 
common earth, are truly and to the perceiving mind 
a masterpiece of nature. The dust of Richebourg, 
which the wind carries away, what an apotheosis 
of the dust ! Not man himself can seem a stranger 
child of that brown, friable powder, than the blood 
and sun in that old flask behind the fagots. 

A Californian vineyard, one of man's outposts in 
the wilderness, has features of its own. There is 
nothing here to remind you of the Rhine or Rhone, 
of the low Cote d'Or, or the infamous and scabby 
deserts of Champagne ; but all is green, sohtary, 
covert. We visited two of them, Mr. Schram's and 
Mr. M'Eckron's, sharing the same glen. 

Some way down the valley below Calistoga we 
turned sharply to the south and plunged into the 
thick of the wood. A rude trail rapidly mounting ; 
a little stream tinkling by on the one hand, big 
enough perhaps after the rains, but already yielding 



up its life ; overhead and on all sides a bower of 
green and tangled thicket, still fragrant and still 
flower-bespangled by the early season, where thimble- 
berry played the part of our English hawthorn, and 
the buck-eyes were putting forth their twisted horns 
of blossom : through all this we struggled toughly 
upwards, canted to and fro by the roughness of the 
trail, and continually switched across the face by 
sprays of leaf or blossom. The last is no great in- 
convenience at home ; but here in California it is a 
matter of some moment. For in all woods and by 
every wayside there prospers an abominable shrub or 
weed, called poison-oak, whose very neighbourhood 
is venomous to some, and whose actual touch is 
avoided by the most impervious. 

The two houses, with their vineyards, stood each 
in a green niche of its own in this steep and narrow 
forest dell. Though they were so near, there was 
already a good difference in level ; and Mr. 
M'Eckron's head must be a long way under the feet 
of Mr. Schram. No more had been cleared than 
was necessary for cultivation ; close around each 
oasis ran the tangled wood ; the glen enfolds them : 
there they lie basking in sun and silence, concealed 
from all but the clouds and the mountain birds. 

Mr. M'Eckron's is a bachelor establishment ; a 
little bit of a wooden house, a small cellar hard by 
in the hillside, and a patch of vines planted and 
tended single-handed by himself. He had but 
recently begun ; his vines were young, his business 
young also ; but I thought he had the look of a man 



who succeeds. He hailed from Greenock : he re- 
membered his father putting him inside Mons Meg, 
and that touched me home ; and we exchanged a 
word or two of Scots, which pleased me more than 
you would fancy. 

Mr. Schram's, on the other hand, is the oldest 
vineyard in the valley, eighteen years old, I think ; 
yet he began a penniless barber, and even after he 
had broken ground up here with his black malvoisies, 
continued for long to tramp the valley with his 
razor. Now, his place is the picture of prosperity ; 
stuffed birds in the verandah, cellars far dug into the 
hillside, and resting on pillars like a bandit's cave : — 
all trimness, varnish, flowers, and sunshine, among 
the tangled wildwood. Stout, smiling Mrs, Schram, 
who has been to Europe and apparently all about 
the States for pleasure, entertained Fanny in the 
verandah while I was tasting wines in the cellar. To 
Mr. Schram this was a solemn office ; his serious 
gusto warmed my heart ; prosperity had not yet 
wholly banished a certain neophyte and girlish trepida- 
tion, and he followed every sip and read my face with 
proud anxiety. I tasted all. I tasted every variety 
and shade of Schramberger, red and white Schram- 
berger, Burgundy Schramberger, Schramberger 
Hock, Schramberger Golden Chasselas, the latter 
with a notable bouquet, and I fear to think how 
many more. Much of it goes to London — most, I 
think ; and Mr. Schram has a great notion of the 
English taste. 

In this wild spot I did not feel the sacredness of 



ancient cultivation. It was still raw ; it was no 
Marathon, and no Johannisberg ; yet the stirring 
sunlight, and the growing vines, and the vats and 
bottles in the cavern, made a pleasant music for the 
mind. Here, also, earth's cream was being skimmed 
and garnered ; and the London customers can taste, 
such as it is, the tang of the earth in this green 
valley. So local, so quintessential is a wine, that it 
seems the very birds in the verandah might com- 
municate a flavour, and that romantic cellar influence 
the bottle next to be uncorked in Pimlico, and 
the smile of jolly Mr. Schram might mantle in the 

But these are but experiments. All things in this 
new land are moving farther on : the wine-vats and 
the miner's blasting tools but picket for a night, Hke 
Bedouin pavilions ; and to-morrow, to fresh woods ! 
This stir of change and these perpetual echoes of 
the moving footfall haunt the land. Men move 
eternally, still chasing Fortune; and. Fortune found, 
still wander. As we drove back to Calistoga the 
road lay empty of mere passengers, but its green 
side was dotted with the camps of travelling famihes : 
one cumbered with a great waggonful of household 
stuff, settlers going to occupy a ranche they had 
taken up in Mendocino, or perhaps Tehama County ; 
another, a party in dust coats, men and women, whom 
we found camped in a grove on the roadside, all on 
pleasure bent, with a Chinaman to cook for them, 
and who waved their hands to us as we drove by. 



A FEW pages back I wrote that a man belonged, in 
these days, to a variety of countries ; but the old 
land is still the true love, the others are but pleasant 
infidelities. Scotland is indefinable ; it has no unity 
except upon the map. Two languages, many dialects, 
innumerable forms of piety, and countless local 
patriotisms and prejudices, part uS among ourselves 
more widely than the extreme east and west of that 
great continent of America. When I am at home, 
I feel a man from Glasgow to be something like a 
rival, a man from Barra to be more than half a 
foreigner. Yet let us meet in some far country, and, 
whether we hail from the braes of Manor or the 
braes of Mar, some ready-made affection joins us on 
the instant. It is not race. Look at us. One is 
Norse, one Celtic, and another Saxon. It is not 
community of tongue. We have it not among our- 
selves ; and we have it, almost to perfection, with 
Enghsh, or Irish, or American. It is no tie of faith, 
for we detest each other's errors. And yet some- 


where, deep down in the heart of each one of us, 
something yearns for the old land and the old kindly 

Of all mysteries of the human heart this is per- 
haps the most inscrutable. There is no special 
loveliness in that grey country, with its rainy, sea- 
beat archipelago ; its fields of dark mountains ; its 
unsightly places, black with coal ; its treeless, sour, 
unfriendly -looking corn -lands ; its quaint, grey, 
castled city, where the bells clash of a Sunday, and 
the wind squalls, and the salt showers fly and beat. 
I do not even know if I desire to live there ; but 
let me hear, in some far land, a kindred voice sing 
out, ' O why left I my hame ? ' and it seems at 
once as if no beauty under the kind heavens, and no 
society of the wise and good, can repay me for my 
absence from my country. And though I think I 
would rather die elsewhere, yet in my heart of hearts 
I long to be buried among good Scots clods. I will 
say it fairly, it grows on me with every year : there 
are no stars so lovely as Edinburgh street-lamps. 
When I forget thee, Auld Reekie, may my right 
hand forget its cunning ! 

The happiest lot on earth is to be born a Scots- 
man. You must pay for it in many ways, as for 
all other advantages on earth. You have to learn 
the Paraphrases and the Shorter Catechism ; you 
generally take to drink ; your youth, as far as I can 
find out, is a time of louder war against society, of 
more outcry and tears and turmoil, than if you had 
been born, for instance, in England. But somehow 



life is warmer and closer ; the hearth burns more 
redly ; the lights of home shine softer on the rainy 
street ; the very names, endeared in verse and music, 
cling nearer round our hearts. An Englishman may 
meet an Englishman to-morrow, upon Chimborazo, 
and neither of them cares ; but when the Scots 
wine-grower told me of Mons Meg it was hke 

' From the dim shieling on the misty island 
Mountains divide iis^ and a world of seas ; 
Yet still our hearts are true, our hearts are Highland, 
And we, in dreams, behold the Hebrides.' 

And, Highland and Lowland, all our hearts are 

Only a few days after I had seen M'Eckron, a 
message reached me in my cottage. It was a Scots- 
man who had come down a long way from the hills 
to market. He had heard there was a countryman 
in Calistoga, and came round to the hotel to see 
him. We said a few words to each other ; we had 
not much to say — should never have seen each other 
had we stayed at home, separated alike in space and 
in society ; and then we shook hands, and he went 
his way again to his ranche among the hills, and that 
was all. 

Another Scotsman there was, a resident, who for 
the mere love of the common country, douce, serious, 
religious man, drove me all about the valley, and 
took as much interest in me as if I had been his son: 
more, perhaps; for the son has faults too keenly 


felt, while the abstract countryman is perfect — like 
a whiff of peats. 

And there was yet another. Upon him I came 
suddenly, as he was calmly entering my cottage, his 
mind quite evidently bent on plunder : a man of 
about fifty, filthy, ragged, roguish, with a chimney- 
pot hat and a tail-coat, and a pursing of his mouth 
that might have been envied by an elder of the kirk. 
He had just such a face as I have seen a dozen 
times behind the plate. 

' Hullo, sir ! ' I cried. ' Where are you going ? ' 

He turned round without a quiver. 

* You 're a Scotsman, sir ? ' he said gravely. ' So 
am I ; I come from Aberdeen. This is my card,' 
presenting me with a piece of pasteboard which he 
had raked out of some gutter in the period of the 
rains. ' I was just examining this palm,' he con- 
tinued, indicating the misbegotten plant before our 
door, 'which is the largest specimen I have yet 
observed in Califoarnia.' 

There were four or five larger within sight. But 
where was the use of argument ? He produced a 
tape-line, made me help him to measure the tree at 
the level of the ground, and entered the figures in a 
large and filthy pocket-book, all with the gravity of 
Solomon. He then thanked me profusely, remarking 
that such httle services were due between country- 
men ; shook hands with me, ' for auld lang syne,' as 
he said; and took himself solemnly away, radiating 
dirt and humbug as he went. 

A month or two after this encounter of mine, 



there came a Scot to Sacramento — perhaps from 
Aberdeen. Anyway, there never was any one more 
Scottish in this wide world. He could sing and 
dance — and drink, I presume; and he played the 
pipes with vigour and success. All the Scots in 
Sacramento became infatuated with him, and spent 
their spare time and money driving him about in an 
open cab, between drinks, while he blew himself 
scarlet at the pipes. This is a very sad story. After 
he had borrowed money from every one, he and his 
pipes suddenly disappeared from Sacramento, and 
when I last heard, the pohce were looking for him. 

I cannot say how this story amused me, when I 
felt myself so thoroughly ripe on both sides to be 
duped in the same way. 

It is at least a curious thing, to conclude, that the 
races which wander widest, Jews and Scots, should 
be the most clannish in the world. But perhaps 
these two are cause and effect: 'For ye were 
strangers in the land of Egypt.' 





One thing in this new country very particularly 
strikes a stranger, and that is the number of anti- 
quities. Already there have been many cycles of 
population^ succeeding each other, and passing away 
and leaving behind them relics. These, standing on 
into changed times, strike the imagination as forcibly 
as any pyramid or feudal tower. The towns, like 
the vineyards, are experimentally founded : they 
grow great and prosper by passing occasions ; and 
when the lode comes to an end, and the miners 
move elsewhere, the town remains behind them, like 
Palmyra in the desert. I suppose there are, in no 
country in the world, so many deserted towns as 
here in California. 

The whole neighbourhood of Mount Saint Helena, 
now so quiet and sylvan, was once alive with mining- 
camps and villages. Here there would be two thou- 
sand souls under canvas ; there one thousand or 
fifteen hundred ensconced, as if for ever, in a town 
of comfortable houses. But the luck had failed, the 



mines petered out; and the army of miners had 
departed, and left this quarter of the world to the 
rattlesnakes and deer and grizzlies, and to the slower 
but steadier advance of husbandry. 

It was with an eye on one of these deserted places. 
Pine Flat, on the Geysers road, that we had come 
first to Calistoga. There is something singularly 
enticing in the idea of going, rent-free, into a ready- 
made house. And to the British merchant, sitting 
at home at ease, it may appear that, with such a roof 
over your head and a spring of clear water hard by, 
the whole problem of the squatter's existence would 
be solved. Food, however, has yet to be considered. 
I will go as far as most people on tinned meats ; 
some of the brightest moments of my life were 
passed over tinned mulligatawny in the cabin of a 
sixteen-ton schooner, storm-stayed in Portree Bay ; 
but after suitable experiments, I pronounce authori- 
tatively that man cannot live by tins alone. Fresh 
meat must be had on an occasion. It is true that 
the great Foss, driving by along the Geysers road, 
wooden-faced, but glorified with legend, might have 
been induced to bring us meat, but tlie great Foss 
could hardly bring us milk. To take a cow would 
have involved taking a field of grass and a milkmaid ; 
after which it would have been hardly worth while 
to pause, and we might have added to our colony a 
flock of sheep and an experienced butcher. 

It is really very disheartening how we depend on 
other people in this life. ' Mihi est propositum,' as 
you may see by the motto, 'ide7?i quod regibus\' 


and behold, it cannot be carried out, unless I find 
a neighbour rolling in cattle. 

Now, my principal adviser in this matter was one 
whom I will call Kelmar. That was not what he 
called himself, but as soon as I had set eyes on him, 
I knew it was or ought to be his name ; I am sure 
it will be his name among the angels. Kelmar was 
the storekeeper, a Russian Jew, good-natured, in a 
very thriving way of business, and, on equal terms, 
one of the most serviceable of men. He also had 
something of the expression of a Scottish country 
elder, who, by some peculiarity, should chance to be 
a Hebrew. He had a projecting under-lip, with 
which he continually smiled, or rather smirked. Mrs. 
Kelmar was a singularly kind woman ; and the oldest 
son had quite a dark and romantic bearing, and 
might be heard on summer evenings playing senti- 
mental airs on the violin. 

I had no idea, at the time I made his acquaintance, 
what an important person Kelmar was. But the 
Jew storekeepers of California, profiting at once by 
the needs and habits of the people, have made 
themselves in too many cases the tyrants of the 
rural population. Credit is offered, is pressed on the 
new customer, and when once he is beyond his 
depth, the tune changes, and he is from thenceforth 
a white slave. I believe, even from the little I saw, 
that Kelmar, if he chose to put on the screw, could 
send half the settlers packing in a radius of seven 
or eight miles round Calistoga. These are con- 
tinually paying him, but are never suffered to get 



out of debt He palms dull goods upon them, for 
they dare not refuse to buy ; he goes and dines with 
them when he is on an outing, and no man is loudlier 
welcomed ; he is their family friend, the director of 
their business, and, to a degree elsewhere unknown 
in modern days, their king. 

For some reason, Kelmar always shook his head 
at the mention of Pine Flat, and for some days I 
thought he disapproved of the whole scheme and 
was proportionately sad. One fine morning, how- 
ever, he met me, wreathed in smiles. He had 
found the very place for me — Silverado, another old 
mining town, right up the mountain. Rufe Hanson, 
the hunter, could take care of us — fine people the 
Hansons ; we should be close to the Toll House, 
where the Lakeport stage called daily ; it was the 
best place for my health, besides. Rufe had been 
consumptive, and was now quite a strong man, ain't 
it ? In short, the place and all its accompaniments 
seemed made for us on purpose. 

He took me to his back-door, whence, as from 
every point of Calistoga, Mount Saint Helena could 
be seen towering in the air. There, in the nick, just 
where the eastern foothills joined the mountain, and 
she herself began to rise above the zone of forest — 
there was Silverado. The name had already pleased 
me ; the high station pleased me still more. I began 
to inquire with some eagerness. It was but a little 
while ago that Silverado was a great place. The 
mine — a silver mine, of course — had promised great 
things. There was quite a lively population, with 


several hotels and boarding-houses ; and Kelmar him- 
self had opened a branch store, and done extremely 
well — ' Ain't it ? ' he said, appealing to his wife. 
And she said, 'Yes; extremely well.' Now there 
was no one living in the town but Rufe the hunter ; 
and once more I heard Rufe's praises by the yard, 
and this time sung in chorus. 

I could not help perceiving at the time that there 
was something underneath ; that no unmixed desire 
to have us comfortably settled had inspired the 
Kelmars with this flow of words. But T was im- 
patient to be gone, to be about my kingly project ; 
and when we were offered seats in Kelmar 's waggon, 
I accepted on the spot. The plan of their next 
Sunday's outing took them, by good fortune, over 
the border into Lake County. They would carry us 
so far, drop us at the Toll House, present us to the 
Hansons, and call for us again on Monday morning 



We were to leave by six precisely ; that was 
solemnly pledged on both sides ; and a messenger' 
came to us the last thing at night, to remind us of 
the hour. But it was eight before we got clear of 
Calistoga : Kelmar, Mrs. Kelmar, a friend of theirs 
whom we named Abramina, her little daughter, my 
wife, myself, and, stowed away behind us, a cluster 
of ship's coffee-kettles. These last were highly orna- 
mental in the sheen of their bright tin, but I could 
invent no reason for their presence. Our carriageful 
reckoned up, as near as we could get at it, some 
three hundred years to the six of us. Four of the 
six, besides, were Hebrews. But I never, in all my 
life, was conscious of so strong an atmosphere of 
holiday. No word was spoken but of pleasure ; and 
even when we drove in silence, nods and smiles went 
round the party like refreshments. 

The sun shone out of a cloudless sky. Close at 
the zenith rode the belated moon, still clearly visible, 
and, along one margin, even bright. The wind blew 


a gale from the north ; the trees roared ; the corn 
and the deep grass in the valley fled in whitening 
surges ; the dust towered into the air along the road 
and dispersed like the smoke of battle. It was clear 
in our teeth from the first, and for all the windings 
of the road it managed to keep clear in our teeth 
until the end. 

For some two miles we rattled through the valley, 
skirting the eastern foothills ; then we struck off to 
the right, through haugh-land, and presently, cross- 
ing a dry water-course, entered the Toll road, or, to 
be more local, entered on 'the grade.' The road 
mounts the near shoulder of Mount Saint Helena, 
bound northward into Lake County. In one place 
it skirts along the edge of a narrow and deep canon, 
filled with trees, and I was glad, indeed, not to be 
driven at this point by the dashing Foss. Kelmar, 
with his unvarying smile, jogging to the motion of 
the trap, drove for all the world like a good, plain 
country clergyman at home ; and I profess I blessed 
him unawares for his timidity. 

Vineyards and deep meadows, islanded and framed 
with thicket, gave place more and more as we 
ascended to woods of oak and madrona, dotted with 
enormous pines. It was these pines, as they shot 
above the lower wood, that produced that pencilling 
of single trees I had so often remarked from the 
valley. Thence, looking up and from however far, 
each fir stands separate against the sky no bigger 
than an eyelash ; and all together lend a quaint, 
fringed aspect to the hills. The oak is no baby; 



even the madrona, upon these spurs of Mount Saint 
Helena, comes to a fine bulk and ranks with forest 
trees ; but the pines look down upon the rest for 
underwood. As Mount Saint Helena among her 
foothills, so these dark giants out-top their fellow- 
vegetables. Alas ! if they had left the redwoods, 
the pines, in turn, would have been dwarfed. But 
the redwoods, fallen from their high estate, are 
serving as family bedsteads, or yet more humbly as 
field fences, along all Napa Valley. 

A rough smack of resin was in the air, and a 
crystal mountain purity. It came pouring over these 
green slopes by the oceanful. The woods sang 
aloud, and gave largely of their healthful breath. 
Gladness seemed to inhabit these upper zones, and 
we had left indifference behind us in the valley. ' I 
to the hills will lift mine eyes ! ' There are days in 
a life when thus to climb out of the lowlands seems 
like scaling heaven. 

As we continued to ascend, the wind fell upon us 
with increasing strength. It was a wonder how the 
two stout horses managed to pull us up that steep 
incHne and still face the athletic opposition of the 
wind, or how their great eyes were able to endure 
the dust. Ten minutes after we went by, a tree fell, 
blocking the road ; and even before us leaves w^ere 
thickly strewn, and boughs had fallen, large enough 
to make the passage difficult. But now we were 
hard by the summit. The road crosses the ridge, 
just in the nick that Kelmar showed me from below, 
and then, without pause, plunges down a deep, 


thickly-wooded glen on the farther side. At the 
highest point a trail strikes up the main hill to the 
leftward ; and that leads to Silverado. A hundred 
yards beyond, and in a kind of elbow of the glen, 
stands the Toll House Hotel. We came up the one 
side, were caught upon the summit by the whole 
weight of the wind as it poured over into Napa 
Valley, and a minute after had drawn up in shelter, 
but all buffeted and breathless, at the Toll House 

A water-tank, and stables, and a grey house of 
two stories, with gable-ends and a verandah, are 
jammed hard against the hillside, just where a stream 
has cut for itself a narrow canon, filled with pines. 
The pines go right up overhead ; a little more and 
the stream might have played, like a fire-hose, on 
the Toll House roof In front the ground drops as 
sharply as it rises behind. There is just room for 
the road and a sort of promontory of croquet ground, 
and then you can lean over the edge and look deep 
below you through the wood. I said croquet 
ground, not green ; for the surface was of brown, 
beaten earth. The toll-bar itself was the only other 
note of originality : a long beam, turning on a post, 
and kept slightly horizontal by a counterweight of 
stones. Regularly about sundown this rude barrier 
was swung, like a derrick, across the road and made 
fast, I think, to a tree upon the farther side. 

On our arrival there followed a gay scene in the 
bar. I was presented to Mr. Corwin, the landlord ; 
to Mr. Jennings, the engineer, who lives there for 



his health ; to Mr. Hoddy, a most pleasant little 
gentleman, once a member of the Ohio legislature, 
again the editor of a local paper, and now, with 
undiminished dignity, keeping the Toll House bar. 
I had a number of drinks and cigars bestowed on me, 
and enjoyed a famous opportunity of seeing Kelmar 
in his glory, friendly, radiant, smiling, steadily edging 
one of the ship's kettles on the reluctant Corwin. 
Corwin, plainly aghast, resisted gallantly, and for 
that bout victory crowned his arms. 

At last we set forth for Silverado on foot. 
Kelmar and his jolly Jew girls were full of the 
sentiment of Sunday outings, breathed geniality and 
vagueness, and suffered a little vile boy from the 
hotel to lead them here and there about the woods. 
For three people all so old, so bulky in body, and 
belonging to a race so venerable, they could not but 
surprise us by their extreme and almost imbecile 
youthfulness of spirit. They were only going to 
stay ten minutes at the Toll House ; had they not 
twenty long miles of road before them on the other 
side ? Stay to dinner ? Not they ! Put up the 
horses ? Never. Let us attach them to the verandah 
by a wisp of straw-rope, such as would not have 
held a person's hat on that blustering day. And 
with all these protestations of hurry, they proved 
irresponsible like children. Kelmar himself, shrewd 
old Russian Jew, with a smirk that seemed just to 
have concluded a bargain to its satisfaction, intrusted 
himself and us devoutly to that boy. Yet the boy 
was patently fallacious ; and for that matter a most 


unsympathetic urchin, raised apparently on ginger- 
bread. He was bent on his own pleasure, nothing 
else ; and Kelmar followed him to his ruin, with the 
same shrewd smirk. If the boy said there was 'a 
hole there in the hill ' — a hole, pure and simple, 
neither more nor less — Kelmar and his Jew ffirls 
would follow him a hundred yards to look com- 
placently down that hole. For two hours we looked 
for houses ; and for two hours they followed us, 
smelling trees, picking flowers, foisting false botany 
on the unwary. Had we taken five, with that vile 
lad to head them off on idle divagations, for five 
they would have smiled and stumbled through the 

However, we came forth at length, and as by 
accident, upon a lawn, sparse planted like an orchard, 
but with forest instead of fruit trees. That was the 
site of Silverado mining town. A piece of ground 
was levelled up, where Kelmar 's store had been ; and 
facing that we saw Rufe Hanson's house, still bear- 
ing on its front the legend Silverado Hotel. Not 
another sign of habitation. Silverado town had all 
been carted from the scene ; one of the houses was 
now the school-house far down the road; one was 
gone here, one there, but all were gone away. It 
was now a sylvan soHtude, and the silence was un- 
broken but by the great, vague voice of the wind. 
Some days before our visit, a grizzly bear had been 
sporting round the Hansons' chicken-house. 

Mrs. Hanson was at home alone, we found. Rufe 
had been out after a ' bar,' had risen late, and was 



now gone, it did not clearly appear whither. Perhaps 
he had had wind of Kelmar's coming, and was now 
ensconced among the underwood, or watching us 
from the shoulder of the mountain. We, hearing 
there were no houses to be had, were for immediately 
giving up all hopes of Silverado. But this, somehow, 
was not to Kelmar's fancy. He first proposed that 
we should ' camp someveres around, ain't it ? ' waving 
his hand cheerily as though to weave a spell ; and 
when that was firmly rejected, he decided that we 
must take up house with the Hansons. Mrs. 
Hanson had been, from the first, flustered, subdued, 
and a little pale ; but from this proposition she 
recoiled with haggard indignation. So did we, who 
would have preferred, in a manner of speaking, death. 
But Kelmar was not to be put by. He edged Mrs. 
Hanson into a corner, where for a long time he 
threatened her with his forefinger, like a character 
in Dickens ; and the poor woman, driven to her 
entrenchments, at last remembered with a shriek 
that there were still some houses at the tunnel. 

Thither we went; the Jews, who should already 
have been miles into Lake County, still cheerily 
accompanying us. For about a furlong we followed 
a good road along the hillside through the forest, 
until suddenly that road widened out and came 
abruptly to an end. A canon, woody below, red, 
rocky, and naked overhead, was here walled across 
by a dump of rolling stones, dangerously steep, and 
from twenty to thirty feet in height. A rusty iron 
chute on wooden legs came flying, like a monstrous 


gargoyle, across the parapet. It was down this that 
they poured the precious ore ; and below here the 
carts stood to wait their lading, and carry it mill- 
ward down the mountain. 

The whole canon was so entirely blocked, as if 
by some rude guerilla fortification, that we could 
only mount by lengths of wooden ladder, fixed in 
the hillside. These led us round the farther corner 
of the dump ; and when they were at an end, we 
still persevered over loose rubble and wading deep 
in poison-oak, till we struck a triangular platform, 
filling up the whole glen, and shut in on either hand 
by bold projections of the mountain. Only in front 
the place was open like the proscenium of a theatre, 
and we looked forth into a great realm of air, and 
down upon tree-tops and hill-tops, and far and near 
on wild and varied country. The place still stood 
as on the day it was deserted : a line of iron rails 
with a bifurcation ; a truck in working order ; a 
world of lumber, old wood, old iron ; a blacksmith's 
forge on one side, half-buried in the leaves of dwarf 
madronas ; and on the other, an old brown wooden 

Fanny and I dashed at the house. It consisted 
of three rooms, and was so plastered against the hill, 
that one room was right atop of another, that the 
upper floor was more than twice as large as the 
lower, and that all three apartments must be entered 
from a different side and level. Not a window-sash 
remained. The door of the lower room was smashed, 
and one panel hung in splinters. We entered that, 



and found a fair amount of rubbish : sand and gravel 
that had been sifted in there by the mountain winds; 
straw, sticks, and stones ; a table, a barrel ; a plate- 
rack on the wall ; two home-made bootjacks, signs 
of miners and their boots ; and a pair of papers 
pinned on the boarding, headed respectively ' Funnel 
No. 1,' and ' Funnel No. 2,' but with the tails torn 
away. The window, sashless of course, was choked 
with the green and sweetly smelling foliage of a bay; 
and through a chink in the floor, a spray of poison - 
oak had shot up and was handsomely prospering in 
the interior. It was my first care to cut away that 
poison-oak, Fanny standing by at a respectfnl dis- 
tance. That was our first improvement by which 
we took possession. 

The room immediately above could only be en- 
tered by a plank propped against the threshold, 
along which the intruder must foot it gingerly, 
clutching for svipport to sprays of poison-oak, the 
proper product of the country. Herein was, on 
either hand, a triple tier of beds, where miners had 
once lain ; and the other gable was pierced by a 
sashless window and a doorless doorway opening on 
the air of heaven, five feet above the ground. As 
for the third room, which entered squarely from the 
ground level, but higher up the hill and farther up 
the canon, it contained only rubbish and the up- 
rights for another triple tier of beds. 

The whole building was overhung by a bold, lion- 
like, red rock. Poison-oak, sweet bay trees, calcan- 
thus, brush and chaparral, grew freely but sparsely 


all about it. In front, in the strong sunshine, the 
platform lay overstrewn with busy litter, as though 
the labours of the mine might begin again to-morrow 
in the morning. 

Following back into the canon, among the mass 
of rotting plant and through the flowering bushes, 
we came to a great crazy staging, with a wry wind- 
lass on the top ; and clambering up, we could look 
into an open shaft, leading edgeways down into the 
bowels of the mountain, trickling with water, and lit 
by some stray sun-gleams, whence I know not. In 
that quiet place the still far-away tinkle of the water- 
drops was loudly audible. Close by, another shaft 
led edgeways up into the superincumbent shoulder 
of the hill. It lay partly open ; and sixty or a hun- 
dred feet above our head we could see the strata 
propped apart by solid wooden wedges, and a pine, 
half undermined, precariously nodding on the verge. 
Here also a rugged, horizontal tunnel ran straight 
into the unsunned bowels of the rock. This secure 
angle in the mountain's flank was, even on this wild 
day, as still as my lady's chamber. But in the 
tunnel a cold, wet draught tempestuously blew. 
Nor have I ever known that place otherwise than 
cold and windy. 

Such was our first prospect of Juan Silverado. I 
own I had looked for something different : a clique 
of neighbourly houses on a village green, we shall 
say, all empty to be sure, but swept and varnished ; 
a trout stream brawling by ; great elms or chestnuts, 
humming with bees and nested in by song-birds ; 
3— 1< 257 


and the mountains standing round about as at 
Jerusalem. Here, mountain and house and the old 
tools of industry were all alike rusty and down- 
falling. The hill was here wedged up, and there 
poured forth its bowels in a spout of broken mineral; 
man with his picks and powder, and nature with her 
own great blasting tools of sun and rain, labouring 
together at the ruin of that proud mountain. The 
view up the canon was a glimpse of devastation ; 
dry red minerals sliding together, here and there 
a crag, here and there dwarf thicket clinging in the 
general glissade, and over all a broken outhne 
trenching on the blue of heaven. Downwards 
indeed, from our rock eyrie, we beheld the greener 
side of nature ; and the bearing of the pines and 
the sweet smell of bays and nutmegs commended 
themselves gratefully to our senses. One way and 
another, now the die was cast. Silverado be it ! 

After we had got back to the Toll House, the 
Jews were not long of striking forward. But I 
observed that one of the Hanson lads came down, 
before their departure, and returned with a ship's 
kettle. Happy Hansons ! Nor was it until after 
Kelmar was gone, if I remember rightly, that Rufe 
put in an appearance to arrange the details of our 

The latter part of the day, Fanny and I sat in the 
verandah of the Toll House, utterly stunned by the 
uproar of the wind among the trees on the other 
side of the valley. Sometimes, we would have it 
it was like a sea, but it was not various enough 


for that ; and again, we thought it Uke the roar 
of a cataract, but it was too changeful for the 
cataract ; and then we would decide, speaking in 
sleepy voices, that it could be compared with 
nothing but itself My mind was entirely pre- 
occupied by the noise. I hearkened to it by the 
hour, gapingiy hearkened, and let my cigarette go 
out. Sometimes the wind would make a sally 
nearer hand, and send a shrill, whistling crash 
among the fohage on our side of the glen ; and 
sometimes a back-draught would strike into the 
elbow where we sat, and cast the gravel and torn 
leaves into our faces. Butj for the most part, this 
great, streaming gale passed unweariedly by us into 
Napa Valley, not two hundred yards away, visible by 
the tossing boughs, stunningly audible, and yet not 
moving a hair upon our heads. So it blew all night 
long while I was writing up my journal, and after 
we were in bed, under a cloudless, star-set heaven ; 
and so it was blowing still next morning when we 

It was a laughable thought to us, what had be- 
come of our cheerful, wandering Hebrews. We 
could not suppose they had reached a destination. 
The meanest boy could lead them miles out of their 
way to see a gopher-hole. Boys we felt to be their 
special danger ; none others were of that exact pitch 
of cheerful irrelevancy to exercise a kindred sway 
upon their minds : but before the attractions of a boy 
their most settled resolutions would be wax. We 
thought we could follow in fancy these three aged 



Hebrew truants wandering in and out on hill- top and 
in thicket, a demon boy trotting far ahead, their 
will-o'-the-wisp conductor ; and at last, about mid- 
night, the wind still roaring in the darkness, we had 
a vision of all three on their knees upon a mountain- 
top around a glow-worm. 



Next morning we were up by half-past five, ac- 
cording to agreement, and it was ten by the clock 
before our Jew boys returned to pick us up : Kelmar, 
Mrs. Kelmar, and Abramina, all smiling from ear to 
ear, and full of tales of the hospitaUty they had found 
on the other side. It had not gone unrewarded ; 
for I observed with interest that the ship's kettles, 
all but one, had been 'placed.' Three Lake County 
families, at least, endowed for hfe with a ship's kettle. 
Come, this was no mis-spent Sunday. The absence 
of the kettles told its own story : our Jews said 
nothing about them ; but, on the other hand, they 
said many kind and comely things about the people 
they had met. The two women, in particular, had 
been charmed out of themselves by the sight of a 
young girl surrounded by her admirers ; all evening, 
it appeared, they had been triumphing together in 
the girl's innocent successes, and to this natural and 
unselfish joy they gave expression in language that 
was beautiful by its simplicity and truth. 



Take them for all in all, few people have done 
my heart more good ; they seemed so thoroughly 
entitled to happiness, and to enjoy it in so large a 
measure and so free from after-thought ; almost they 
persuaded me to be a Jew. There was, indeed, a 
chink of money in their talk. They particularly 
commended people who were well-to-do. ' He don't 
care — ain't it?' was their highest word of commenda- 
tion to an individual fate ; and here I seem to grasp 
the root of their philosophy — it was to be free from 
care, to be free to make these Sunday wanderings, 
that they so eagerly pursued after wealth ; and all 
this carefulness was to be careless. The fine good- 
humour of all three seemed to declare they had 
attained their end. Yet there was the other side 
to it ; and the recipients of kettles perhaps cared 

No sooner had they returned than the scene of 
yesterday began again. The horses were not even 
tied with a straw rope this time — it was not worth 
while ; and Kelmar disappeared into the bar, leaving 
them under a tree on the other side of the road. I 
had to devote myself I stood under the shadow of 
that tree for, I suppose, hard upon an hour, and had 
not the heart to be angry. Once some one remem- 
bered me, and brought me out half a tumblerful of 
the playful, innocuous American cocktail. I drank 
it, and lo ! veins of living fire ran down my leg ; and 
then a focus of conflagration remained seated in my 
stomach, not unpleasantly, for a quarter of an hour. 
I love these sweet, fiery pangs, but I will not court 


them. The bulk of the time I spent in repeating as 
much French poetry as I could remember to the 
horses, who seemed to enjoy it hugely. And now 
it went — 

' O ma vieille Font-georges 
Oil volent les rouges-gorges : ' 

and again, to a more trampling measure — 

' Et tout tremble, Irun, Coimbre, 
Sautander, Almodovar, 
Sitot qu'on entend le timbre 
Des cymbales de Bivar.' 

The redbreasts and the brooks of Europe, in that 
dry and songless land ; brave old names and wars, 
strong cities, cymbals, and bright armour, in that 
nook of the mountain, sacred only to the Indian 
and the bear ! This is still the strangest thing in all 
man's travelling, that he should carry about with 
him incongruous memories. There is no foreign 
land ; it is the traveller only that is foreign, and 
now and again, by a flash of recollection, lights up 
the contrasts of the earth. 

But while I was thus wandering in my fancy, 
great feats had been transacted in the bar. Corwin 
the bold had fallen, Kelmar was again crowned with 
laurels, and the last of the ship's kettles had changed 
hands. If I had ever doubted the purity of Kelmar 's 
motives, if I had ever suspected him of a single eye 
to business in his eternal dallyings, now at least, 
when the last kettle was disposed of, my suspicions 
must have been allayed. I dare not guess how much 
more time was wasted ; nor how often we drove off, 



merely to drive back again and renew interrupted 
conversations about nothing, before the Toll House 
was fairly left behind. Alas ! and not a mile down 
the grade there stands a ranche in a sunny vineyard, 
and here we must all dismount again and enter. 

Only the old lady was at home, Mrs. Guele, a 
brown old Swiss dame, the picture of honesty ; and 
with her we drank a bottle of wine and had an 
age-long conversation, which would have been highly 
delightful if Fanny and I had not been faint with 
hunger. The ladies each narrated the story of 
her marriage, our two Hebrews with the prettiest 
combination of sentiment and financial bathos. 
Abramina, specially, endeared herself with every 
word. She was as simple, natural, and engaging as 
a kid that should have been brought up to the 
business of a money-changer. One touch was so 
resplendently Hebraic that I cannot pass it over. 
When her ' old man ' wrote home for her from 
America, her old man's family would not intrust her 
with the money for the passage, till she had bound 
herself by an oath — on her knees, J think she said 
— not to employ it otherwise, "this had tickled 
Abramina hugely, but I think it tickled me fully 

Mrs. Guele told of her home-sickness up here in 
the long winters ; of her honest, country-woman 
troubles and alarms upon the journey ; how in the 
bank at Frankfort she had feared lest the banker, 
after having taken her cheque, should deny all 
knowledge of it — a fear I have myself every time 


I go to a bank ; and how crossing the Luneburger 
Heath, an old lady, witnessing her trouble and 
finding whither she was bound, had given her ' the 
blessing of a person eighty years old,' which would 
be sure to bring her safely to the States. ' And the 
first thing I did,' added Mrs. Guele, 'was to fall 
down-stairs. ' 

At length we got out of the house, and some of 
us into the trap, when — judgment of Heaven ! — here 
came Mr. Guele from his vineyard. So another 
quarter of an hour went by ; till at length, at our 
earnest pleading, we set forth again in earnest, 
Fanny and I white-faced and silent, but the Jews 
still smiling. The heart fails me. There was yet 
another stoppage ! And we drove at last into 
Calistoga past two in the afternoon, Fanny and 
I having breakfasted at six in the morning, eight 
mortal hours before. We were a pallid couple ; but 
still the Jews were smiling. 

So ended our excursion with the village usurers ; 
and, now that it was done, we had no more idea of 
the nature of the business, nor of the part we had 
been playing in it, than the child unborn. That all 
the people we had met were the slaves of Kelmar, 
though in various degrees of servitude ; that we 
ourselves had been sent up the mountain in the 
interests of none but Kelmar ; that the money we 
laid out, dollar by doUar, cent by cent, and through 
the hands of various intermediaries, should all hop 
ultimately into Kelmar's till ; — these were facts that 
we only grew to recognise in the course of time and 



by the accumulation of evidence. At length all 
doubt was quieted, when one of the kettle-holders 
confessed. Stopping his trap in the moonlight, a 
little way out of Calistoga, he told me, in so many 
words, that he dare not show face there with an 
empty pocket. 'You see, I don't mind if it was 
only five dollars, Mr. Stevens,' he said, ' but I must 
give Mr. Kelmar something^' 

Even now, when the whole tyranny is plain to me, 
I cannot find it in my heart to be as angry as per- 
haps I should be with the Hebrew tyrant. The 
whole game of business is beggar my neighbour ; 
and though perhaps that game looks uglier when 
played at such close quarters and on so small a scale, 
it is none the more intrinsically inhumane for that. 
The village usurer is not so sad a feature of humanity 
and human progress as the millionaire manufacturer, 
fattening on the toil and loss of thousands, and yet 
declaiming from the platform against the greed and 
dishonesty of landlords. If it were fair for Cobden 
to buy up land from owners whom he thought 
unconscious of its proper value, it was fair enough 
for my Russian Jew to give credit to his farmers. 
Kelmar, if he was unconscious of the beam in his 
own eye, was at least silent in the matter of his 
brother's mote. 



There were four of us squatters — myself and my 
wife, the King and Queen of Silverado ; Lloyd, the 
Crown Prince ; and Chuchu, the Grand Duke. 
Chuchu, a setter crossed with spaniel, was the most 
unsuited for a rough life. He had been nurtured 
tenderly in the society of ladies ; his heart was large 
and soft ; he regarded the sofa-cushion as a bed-rock 
necessary of existence. Though about the size of a 
sheep, he loved to sit in ladies' laps ; he never said a 
bad word in all his blameless days ; and if he had 
seen a flute, I am sure he could have played upon it 
by nature. It may seem hard to say it of a dog, 
but Chuchu was a tame cat. 

The king and queen, the grand duke, and a basket 
of cold provender for immediate use, set forth from 
Calistoga in a double buggy ; the crown prince, on 
horseback, led the way like an outrider. Bags and 
boxes and a second-hand stove were to follow close 
upon our heels by Hanson's team. 

It was a beautiful still day ; the sky was one field 
of azure. Not a leaf moved, not a speck appeared 
in heaven. Only from the summit of the moun- 



tain one little snowy wisp of cloud after another 
kept detaching itself, hke smoke from a volcano, 
and blowing southward in some high stream of air : 
Mount Saint Helena still at her interminable task, 
making the weather, like a Lapland witch. 

By noon we had come in sight of the mill : a 
great brown building, half-way up the hill, big as a 
factory, two stories high, and with tanks and ladders 
along the roof; which, as a pendicle of Silverado 
mine, we held to be an outlying province of our 
own. Thither, then, we went, crossing the valley 
by a grassy trail ; and there lunched out of the 
basket, sitting in a kind of portico, and wondering, 
while we ate, at this great bulk of useless building. 
Through a chink we could look far down into the 
interior, and see sunbeams floating in the dust and 
striking on tier after tier of silent, rusty machinery. 
It cost six thousand dollars, twelve hundred English 
sovereigns ; and now, here it stands deserted, like 
the temple of a forgotten religion, the busy millers 
toiling somewhere else. All the time we were there, 
mill and mill-town showed no sign of life ; that part 
of the mountain-side, which is very open and green, 
was tenanted by no living creature but ourselves 
and the insects ; and nothing stirred but the cloud 
manufactory upon the mountain summit. It was 
odd to compare tliis with the former days, when the 
engine was in full blast, the mill palpitating to 
its strokes, and the carts came rattling down from 
Silverado, charged with ore. 

By two we had been landed at the mine, the 


buggy was gone again, and we were left to our own 
reflections and the basket of cold provender, until 
Hanson should arrive. Hot as it was by the sun, 
there was something chill in such a home-coming, in 
that world of wreck and rust, splinter and rolhng 
gravel, where for so many years no fire had smoked. 
Silverado platform filled the whole width of the 
canon. Above, as I have said, this was a wild, red, 
stony gully in the mountains ; but below, it was a 
wooded dingle. And through this, I was told, there 
had gone a path between the mine and the Toll 
House — our natural north-west passage to civilisa- 
tion. I found and followed it, clearing my way as I 
went through fallen branches and dead trees. It 
went straight down that steep canon, till it brought 
you out abruptly over the roofs of the hotel. There 
was nowhere any break in the descent. It almost 
seemed as if, were you to drop a stone down the old 
iron chute at our platform, it would never rest until 
it hopped upon the Toll House shingles. Signs were 
not wanting of the ancient greatness of Silverado. 
The footpath was well marked, and had been well 
trodden in the old days by thirsty miners. And far 
down, buried in foliage, deep out of sight of Silverado, 
I came on a last outpost of the mine — a mound of 
gravel, some wreck of wooden aqueduct, and the 
mouth of a tunnel, like a treasure grotto in a fairy 
story. A stream of water, fed by the invisible 
leakage from our shaft, and dyed red with cinnabar 
or iron, ran trippingly forth out of the bowels of the 
cave ; and, looking far under the arch, I could see 



something like an iron lantern fastened on the rocky 
wall. It was a promising spot for the imagination. 
No boy could have left it unexplored. 

The stream thenceforward stole along the bottom 
of the dingle, and made, for that dry land, a pleasant 
warbling in the leaves. Once, I suppose, it ran 
splashing down the whole length of the canon, but 
now its head- waters had been tapped by the shaft 
at Silverado, and for a great part of its course it 
wandered sunless among the joints of the mountain. 
No wonder that it should better its pace when it 
sees, far before it, daylight whitening in the arch, or 
that it should come trotting forth into the sunlight 
with a song. 

The two stages had gone by when I got down, 
and the Toll House stood, dozing in sun and dust 
and silence, like a place enchanted. My mission 
was after hay for bedding, and that I was readily 
promised. But when I mentioned that we were 
waiting for Rufe, the people shook their heads. 
Rufe was not a regular man any way, it seemed ; and 

if he got playing poker Well, poker was too 

many for Rufe. I had not yet heard them bracketed 
together ; but it seemed a natural conjunction, and 
commended itself swiftly to my fears ; and as soon 
as I returned to Silverado and had told my story, 
we practically gave Hanson up, and set ourselves to 
do what we could find do-able in our desert-island 

The lower room had been the assayer's office. The 
floor was thick with debris — part human, from the 


former occupants ; part natural, sifted in by moun- 
tain winds. In a sea of red dust there swam or 
floated sticks, boards, hay, straw, stones, and paper ; 
ancient newspapers, above all — for the newspaper, 
especially when torn, soon becomes an antiquity — 
and bills of the Silverado boarding-house, some 
dated Silverado, some Calistoga Mine. Here is one, 
verbatim ; and if any one can calculate the scale of 
charges, he has my envious admiration. 

Calistoga Mine, May 3rd, 1875. 
John Stanley 

To S. Chapman, C^ 
To board from April 1st, to April 30 . . $25 75 

„ „ „ May 1st, to 3rd . . .2 00 

$27 75 

Where is John Stanley mining now ? Where is 
S. Chapman, within whose hospitable walls we were 
to lodge ? The date was but five years old, but in 
that time the world had changed for Silverado ; like 
Palmyra in the desert, it had outlived its people and 
its purpose ; we camped, like Layard, amid ruins, 
and these names spoke to us of prehistoric time. A 
bootjack, a pair of boots, a dog-hutch, and these 
bills of Mr. Chapman's, were the only speaking rehcs 
that we disinterred from all that vast Silverado 
rubbish-heap ; but what would I not have given to 
unearth a letter, a pocket-book, a diary, only a 
ledger, or a roll of names, to take me back, in a more 
personal manner, to the past ? It pleases me, besides, 
to fancy that Stanley or Chapman, or one of their 



companions, may light upon this chronicle, and be 
struck by the name, and read some news of their 
anterior home, coming, as it were, out of a subse- 
quent epoch of history in that quarter of the world. 

As we were tumbling the mingled rubbish on the 
floor, kicking it with our feet, and groping for these 
written evidences of the past, Lloyd, with a some- 
what whitened face, produced a paper bag. ' What 's 
this ? ' said he. It contained a granulated powder, 
something the colour of Gregory's Mixture, but 
rosier ; and as there were several of the bags, and 
each more or less broken, the powder was spread 
widely on the floor. Had any of us ever seen giant 
powder ? No, nobody had ; and instantly there 
grew up in my mind a shadowy belief, verging with 
every moment nearer to certitude, that I had some- 
where heard somebody describe it as just such a 
powder as the one around us. I have learnt since 
that it is a substance not unlike tallow, and is 
made up in rolls for all the world hke tallow candles. 

Fanny, to add to our happiness, told us a story 
of a gentleman who had camped one night, like our- 
selves, by a deserted mine. He was a handy, thrifty 
fellow, and looked right and left for plunder, but all 
he could lay his hands on was a can of oil. After 
dark he had to see to the horses with a lantern ; and 
not to miss an opportunity, filled up his lamp from 
the oil-can. Thus equipped, he set forth into the 
forest. A little while after, his friends heard a loud 
explosion ; the mountain echoes bellowed, and then 
all was still. On examination, the can proved to 


contain oil, with the trifling addition of nitro- 
glycerine ; but no research disclosed a trace of either 
man or lantern. 

It was a pretty sight, after this anecdote, to see 
us sweeping out the giant powder. It seemed never 
to be far enough away. And, after all, it was only 
some rock pounded for assay. 

So much for the lower room. We scraped some 
of the rougher dirt off the floor, and left it. That 
was our sitting-room and kitchen, though there was 
nothing to sit upon but the table, and no provision 
for a fire except a hole in the roof of the room 
above, which had once contained the chimney of a 

To that upper room we now proceeded. There 
were the eighteen bunks in a double tier, nine on 
either hand, where from eighteen to thirty-six miners 
had once snored together all night long, John 
Stanley, perhaps, snoring loudest. There was the 
roof, with a hole in it through which the sun now 
shot an arrow. There was the floor, in much the 
same state as the one below, though, perhaps, there 
was more hay, and certainly there was the added 
ingredient of broken glass, the man who stole the 
window-frames having apparently made a miscarriage 
with this one. Without a broom, without hay or 
bedding, we could but look about us with a begin- 
ning of despair. The one bright arrow of day, in 
that gaunt and shattered barrack, made the rest look 
dirtier and darker, and the sight drove us at last into 
the open. 

3— s 273 


Here, also, the handiwork of man lay ruined : but 
the plants were all ahve and thriving ; the view 
below was fresh with the colours of nature ; and we 
had exchanged a dim, human garret for a corner, 
even although it were untidy, of the blue hall of 
heaven. Not a bird, not a beast, not a reptile. 
There was no noise in that part of the world, save 
when we passed beside the staging, and heard the 
water musically falHng in the shaft. 

We wandered to and fro. We searched among 
that drift of lumber — wood and iron, nails and rails, 
and sleepers and the wheels of trucks. We gazed up 
the cleft into the bosom of the mountain. We sat 
by the margin of the dump, and saw, far below us, 
the green tree-tops standing still in the clear air. 
Beautiful perfumes, breaths of bay, resin, and nut- 
meg, came to us more often, and grew sweeter and 
sharper as the afternoon dechned. But still there 
was no word of Hanson. 

I set-to with pick and shovel, and deepened the 
pool behind the shaft, till we were sure of sufficient 
water for the morning ; and by the time I had 
finished, the sun had begun to go down behind the 
mountain shoulder, the platform was plunged in 
quiet shadow, and a chill descended from the sky. 
Night began early in our cleft. Before us, over the 
margin of the dump, we could see the sun still 
striking aslant into the wooded nick below, and on 
the battlemented, pine-bescattered ridges on the 
farther side. 

There was no stove, of course, and no hearth in 


our lodging, so we betook ourselves to the black- 
smith's forge across the platform. If the platform be 
taken as a stage, and the out-curving margin of the 
dump to represent the line of the footlights, then our 
house would be the first wing on the actor's left, and 
this blacksmith's forge, although no match for it in 
size, the foremost on the right. It was a low, brown 
cottage, planted close against the hill, and overhung 
by the fohage and peeling boughs of a madrona 
thicket. Within, it was full of dead leaves and 
mountain dust and rubbish from the mine. But 
we soon had a good fire brightly blazing, and sat close 
about it on impromptu seats. Chuchu, the slave 
of sofa-cushions, whimpered for a softer bed; but 
the rest of us were greatly revived and comforted by 
that good creature — fire, which gives us warmth and 
light and companionable sounds, and colours up the 
emptiest building with better than frescoes. For a 
while it was even pleasant in the forge, with the 
blaze in the midst, and a look over our shoulders on 
the woods and mountains where the day was dying 
like a dolphin. 

It was between seven and eight before Hanson 
arrived, with a waggonful of our effects and two of 
his wife's relatives to lend him a hand. The elder 
showed surprising strength. He would pick up a 
huge packing-case full of books, of all things, swing 
it on his shoulder, and away up the two crazy ladders 
and the break-neck spout of rolHng mineral, familiarly 
termed a path, that led from the cart-track to our 
house. Even for a man unburthened, the ascent was 



toilsome and precarious ; but Irvine sealed it with a 
light foot, carrying box after box, as the hero whisks 
the stage child up the practicable footway beside the 
waterfall of the fifth act. With so strong a helper, 
the business was speedily transacted. Soon the 
assayer's office was thronged with our belongings, 
piled higgledy-piggledy, and upside down, about 
the floor. There were our boxes, indeed, but my 
wife had left her keys in Calistoga. There was the 
stove, but, alas ! our carriers had forgot the chim- 
ney, and lost one of the plates along the road. The 
Silverado problem was scarce solved. 

Rufe himself was grave and good-natured over his 
share of blame ; he even, if I remember right, ex- 
pressed regret. But his crew, to my astonishment 
and anger, grinned from ear to ear, and laughed 
aloud at our distress. They thought it ' real funny ' 
about the stove-pipe they had forgotten ; ' real 
funny ' that they should have lost a plate. As for 
hay, the whole party refused to bring us any till 
they should have supped. See how late they were ! 
Never had there been such a job as coming up that 
grade ! Nor often, I suspect, such a game of poker 
as that before they started. But about nine, as a 
particular favour, we should have some hay. 

So they took their departure, leaving me still 
staring, and we resigned ourselves to wait for their 
return. The fire in the forge had been suffered to 
go out, and we were one and all too weary to kindle 
another. We dined, or, not to take that word in 
vain, we ate after a fashion, in the nightmare dis- 


order of the assayer's office, perched among boxes. 
A single candle lighted us. It could scarce be called 
a house-warming ; for there was, of course, no fire, 
and with the two open doors and the open window 
gaping on the night, like breaches in a fortress, it 
began to grow rapidly chill. Talk ceased ; no- 
body moved but the unhappy Chuchu, still in quest 
of sofa-cushions, who tumbled complainingly among 
the trunks. It required a certain happiness of dis- 
position to look forward hopefully, from so dismal a 
beginning, across the brief hours of night, to the 
warm shining of to-morrow's sun. 

But the hay arrived at last, and we turned, with 
our last spark of courage, to the bedroom. We had 
improved the entrance, but it was still a kind of 
rope-walking ; and it would have been droll to see us 
mounting, one after another, by candle-hght, under 
the open stars. 

The western door — that which looked up the 
canon, and through which we entered by our 
bridge of flying plank — was still entire, a handsome, 
panelled door, the most finished piece of carpentry 
in Silverado. And the two lowest bunks next to 
this we roughly filled with hay for that night's use. 
Through the opposite, or eastern-looking gable, with 
its open door and window, a faint, diff'used starshine 
came into the room like mist ; and when we were 
once in bed, we lay, awaiting sleep, in a haunted, 
incomplete obscurity. At first the silence of the 
night was utter. Then a high wind began in the 
distance among the tree-tops, and for hours con- 



tinued to grow higher. It seemed to me much such 
a wind as we had found on our visit; yet here in 
our open chamber we were fanned only by gentle 
and refreshing draughts, so deep was the canon, 
so close our house was planted under the overhang- 
ing rock. 



There is quite a large race or class of people in 
America for whom we scarcely seem to have a 
parallel in England. Of pure white blood, they are 
unknown or unrecognisable in towns; inhabit the 
fringe of settlements and the deep, quiet places of 
the country; rebeUious to all labour, and pettily 
thievish, like the English gipsies; rustically ig- 
norant, but with a touch of wood-lore and the 
dexterity of the savage. Whence they came is a 
moot point. At the time of the war they poured 
north in thousands to escape the conscription ; lived 
during summer on fruits, wild animals, and petty 
theft; and at the approach of winter, when these 
supplies failed, built great fires in the forest, and 
there died stoically by starvation. They are widely 
scattered, however, and easily recognised. Loutish, 
but not ill-looking, they will sit all day, swinging 
their legs on a field-fence, the mind seemingly as 
devoid of all reflection as a Suffolk peasant's, care- 
less of politics, for the most part incapable of read- 
ing, but with a rebellious vanity and a strong sense 
of independence. Hunting is their most congenial 



business, or, if the occasion offers, a little amateur 
detection. In tracking a criminal, following a par- 
ticular horse along a beaten highway, and drawing 
inductions from a hair or a footprint, one of these 
somnolent, grinning Hodges will suddenly display 
activity of body and finesse of mind. By their 
names ye may know them, the women figuring as 
Loveina, Larsenia, Serena, Leanna, Orreana; the 
men answering to Alvin, Alva, or Orion, pro- 
nounced Orrion, with the accent on the first. 
Whether they are indeed a race, or whether this 
is the form of degeneracy common to all back- 
woodsmen, they are at least known by a generic 
byword, as Poor Whites or I^ow-downers. 

I will not say that the Hanson family was Poor 
White, because the name savours of offence; but 
I may go as far as this— they were, in many points, 
not un similar to the people usually so called. 
Rufe himself combined two of the quahfications, 
for he was both a hunter and an amateur detective. 
It was he who pursued Russel and Dollar, the 
robbers of the Lake Port stage, and captured them 
the very morning after the exploit, while they were 
still sleeping in a hay-field. Russel, a drunken 
Scots carpenter, was even an acquaintance of his 
own, and he expressed much grave commiseration 
for his fate. In all that he said and did Rufe was 
grave. I never saw him hurried. When he spoke, 
he took out his pipe with ceremonial dehberation, 
looked east and west, and then, in quiet tones and 
few words, stated his business or told his story. 


His gait was to match ; it would never have sur- 
prised you if, at any step, he had turned round 
and walked away again, so warily and slowly, and 
with so much seeming hesitation did he go about. 
He lay long in bed in the morning — rarely, indeed, 
rose before noon ; he loved all games, from poker 
to clerical croquet ; and in the Toll House croquet- 
ground I have seen him toiling at the latter with 
the devotion of a curate. He took an interest in 
education, was an active member of the local school 
board, and when I was there he had recently lost 
the school-house key. His waggon was broken, 
but it never seemed to occur to him to mend it. 
Like all truly idle people, he had an artistic eye. 
He chose the print stuff' for his wife's dresses, and 
counselled her in the making of a patchwork quilt, 
always, as she thought, wrongly, but to the more 
educated eye, always with bizarre and admirable 
taste — the taste of an Indian. With all this, he 
was a perfect, unoffending gentleman in word and 
act. Take his clay pipe from him, and he was 
fit for any society but that of fools. Quiet as he 
was, there burned a deep, permanent excitement 
in his dark-blue eyes ; and when this grave man 
smiled, it was like sunshine in a shady place. 

Mrs. Hanson {iiee, if you please, Lovelands) was 
more commonplace than her lord. She was a 
comely woman, too, plump, fair- coloured, with 
wonderful white teeth ; and in her print dresses 
(chosen by Rufe) and with a large sun-bonnet 
shading her valued complexion, made, I assure you, 



a very agreeable figure. But she was on the sur- 
face, what there was of her, outspoken and loud- 
spoken. Her noisy laughter had none of the charm 
of one of Hanson's rare, slow-spreading smiles ; 
there was no reticence, no mystery, no manner 
about the woman : she was a first-class dairy-maid, 
but her husband was an unknown quantity between 
the savage and the nobleman. She was often in 
and out with us, merry, and healthy, and fair; he 
came far seldomer — only, indeed, when there was 
business, or, now and again, to pay a visit of 
ceremony, brushed up for the occasion, with his 
wife on his arm, and a clean clay pipe in his teeth. 
These visits, in our forest state, had quite the air 
of an event, and turned our red canon into a salon. 

Such was the pair who ruled in the old Silverado 
Hotel, among the windy trees, on the mountain 
shoulder overlooking the whole length of Napa 
Valley, as the man aloft looks down on the ship's 
deck. There they kept house, with sundry horses 
and fowls, and a family of sons, Daniel Webster, 
and I think George Washington, among the number. 
Nor did they want visitors. An old gentleman, of 
singular stolidity, and called Breedlove — I think he 
had crossed the plains in the same caravan with 
Rufe — housed with them for a while during our 
stay ; and they had besides a permanent lodger, in 
the form of Mrs. Hanson's brother, Irvine Love- 
lands. I spell Irvine by guess, for I could get no 
information on the subject, just as I could never 
find out, in spite of many inquiries, whether or not 


Rufe was a contraction for Rufus. They were all 
cheerfully at sea about their names in that genera- 
tion. And this is surely the more notable where 
the names are all so strange, and even the family 
names appear to have been coined. At one time, 
at least, the ancestors of all these Alvins and Alvas, 
Loveinas, Lovelands, and Breedloves, must have 
taken serious counsel and found a certain poetry in 
these denominations ; that must have been, then, 
their form of hterature. But still times change ; 
and their next descendants, the George Washing- 
tons and Daniel Websters, will at least be clear 
upon the point. And anyway, and however his 
name should be spelt, this Irvine Lovelands was 
the most unmitigated Caliban I ever knew. 

Our very first morning at Silverado, when we 
were full of business, patching up doors and win- 
dows, making beds and seats, and getting our rough 
lodging into shape, Irvine and his sister made their 
appearance together, she for neighbourhness and 
general curiosity; he, because he was working for 
me, to my sorrow, cutting firewood at I forget how 
much a day. The way that he set about cutting 
wood was characteristic. We were at that moment 
patching up and unpacking in the kitchen. Down 
he sat on one side, and down sat his sister on the 
other. Both were chewing pine-tree gum, and he, 
to my annoyance, accompanied that simple pleasure 
with profuse expectoration. She rattled away, 
talking up hill and down dale, laughing, tossing 
her head, showing her brilliant teeth. He looked 



on in silence, now spitting heavily on the floor, 
now putting his head back and uttering a loud, 
discordant, joyless laugh. He had a tangle of shock 
hair, the colour of wool ; his mouth was a grin ; 
although as strong as a horse, he looked neither 
heavy nor yet adroit, only leggy, coltish, and in 
the road. But it was plain he was in high spirits, 
thoroughly enjoying his visit ; and he laughed 
frankly whenever we failed to accomplish what we 
were about. This was scarcely helpful : it was 
even, to amateur carpenters, embarrassing ; but it 
lasted until we knocked off work and began to get 
dinner. Then Mrs. Hanson remembered she should 
have been gone an hour ago ; and the pair retired, 
and the lady's laughter died away among the 
nutmegs down the path. That was Irvine's first 
day's work in my employment — the devil take 
him ! 

The next morning he returned, and as he was 
this time alone, he bestowed his conversation upon 
us with great liberality. He prided himself on 
his intelligence ; asked us if we knew the school 
ma'am. He didn't think much of her, anyway. 
He had tried her, he had. He had put a question 
to her. If a tree a hundred feet high were to fall 
a foot a day, how long would it take to fall right 
down? She had not been able to solve the pro- 
blem. * She don't know nothing,' he opined. He 
told us how a friend of his kept a school with a 
revolver, and chuckled mightily over that ; his friend 
could teach school, he could. All the time he kept 


chewing gum and spitting. He would stand a while 
looking down ; and then he would toss back his 
shock of hair, and laugh hoarsely, and spit, and 
bring forward a new subject. A man, he told us, 
who bore a grudge against him, had poisoned his 
dog. ' That was a low thing for a man to do now, 
wasn't it ? It wasn't like a man, that, nohow. But 
I got even with him : I pisoned Ms dog.' His 
clumsy utterance, his rude embarrassed manner, 
set a fresh value on the stupidity of his remarks. 
I do not think I ever appreciated the meaning of 
two words until I knew Irvine — the verb loaf, and 
the noun oaf\ between them, they complete his 
portrait. He could lounge, and wriggle, and rub 
himself against the wall, and grin, and be more 
in everybody's way than any other two people that 
I ever set my eyes on. Nothing that he did became 
him ; and yet you were conscious that he was one 
of your own race, that his mind was cumbrously 
at work, revolving the problem of existence like a 
quid of gum, and in his own cloudy manner enjoy- 
ing life, and passing judgment on his fellows. 
Above all things, he was delighted with himself. 
You would not have thought it, from his uneasy 
manners and troubled, struggling utterance ; but 
he loved himself to the marrow, and was happy and 
proud like a peacock on a rail. 

His self-esteem was, indeed, the one joint in his 
harness. He could be got to work, and even kept 
at work, by flattery. As long as my wife stood 
over him, crying out how strong he was, so long 



exactly he would stick to the matter in hand ; and 
the moment she turned her back, or ceased to 
praise him, he would stop. His physical strength 
was wonderful; and to have a woman stand by 
and admire his achievements warmed his heart like 
sunshine. Yet he was as cowardly as he was power- 
ful, and felt no shame in owning to the weakness. 
Something was once wanted from the crazy plat- 
form over the shaft, and he at once refused to 
venture there — did not like, as he said, 'foolen' 
round them kind o' places,' and let my wife go 
instead of him, looking on with a grin. Vanity, 
where it rules, is usually more heroic : but Irvine 
steadily approved himself, and expected others to 
approve him ; rather looked down upon my wife, 
and decidedly expected her to look up to him, on 
the strength of his superior prudence. 

Yet the strangest part of the whole matter was 
perhaps this, that Irvine was as beautiful as a statue. 
His features were, in themselves, perfect; it was 
only his cloudy, uncouth, and coarse expression 
that disfigured them. So much strength residing 
in so spare a frame was proof sufficient of the 
accuracy of his shape. He must have been built 
somewhat after the pattern of Jack Sheppard ; but 
the famous housebreaker, we may be certain, was 
no lout. It was by the extraordinary powers of 
his mind no less than by the vigour of his body 
that he broke his strong prison with such imperfect 
implements, turning the very obstacles to service. 
Irvine, in the same case, would have sat down and 


spat, and grumbled curses. He had the soul of a 
fat sheep, but, regarded as an artist's model, the 
exterior of a Greek god. It was a cruel thought 
to persons less favoured in their birth, that this 
creature, endowed — to use the language of theatres 
— with extraordinary ' means,' should so manage 
to misemploy them that he looked ugly and almost 
deformed. It was only by an effort of abstraction, 
and after many days, that you discovered what 
he was. 

By playing on the oaf's conceit, and standing 
closely over him, we got a path made round the 
corner of the dump to our door, so that we could 
come and go with decent ease ; and he even enjoyed 
the work, for in that there were boulders to be 
plucked up bodily, bushes to be uprooted, and other 
occasions for athletic display ; but cutting wood 
was a different matter. Anybody could cut wood ; 
and, besides, my wife was tired of supervising him, 
and had other things to attend to. And, in short, 
days went by, and Irvine came daily, and talked 
and lounged and spat; but the firewood remained 
intact as sleepers on the platform or growing trees 
upon the mountain side. Irvine, as a woodcutter, 
we could tolerate ; but Irvine as a friend of the 
family, at so much a day, was too bald an imposi- 
tion, and at length, on the afternoon of the fourth 
or fifth day of our connection, I explained to him, 
as clearly as I could, the light in which I had 
grown to regard his presence. I pointed out to 
him that 1 could not continue to give him a salary 



for spitting on the floor ; and this expression, which 
came after a good many others, at last penetrated 
his obdurate wits. He rose at once, and said if 
that was the way he was going to be spoke to, he 
reckoned he would quit. And, no one interposing, 
he departed. 

So far, so good. But we had no firewood. The 
next afternoon I strolled down to Rufe's and con- 
sulted him on the subject. It was a very droU in- 
terview, in the large, bare north room of the Silverado 
Hotel, Mrs. Hanson's patchwork on a frame, and 
Rufe, and his wife, and I, and the oaf himself, all 
more or less embarrassed. Rufe announced there 
was nobody in the neighbourhood but Irvine who 
could do a day's work for anybody. Irvine, there- 
upon, refused to have any more to do with my 
service ; he ' wouldn't work no more for a man as 
had spoke to him 's I had done.' I found myself on 
the point of the last humiliation — driven to beseech 
the creature whom I had just dismissed with insult : 
but I took the high hand in despair, said there must 
be no talk of Irvine coming back unless matters 
were to be differently managed ; that I would rather 
chop firewood for myself than be fooled ; and, in 
short, the Hansons being eager for the lad's hire, I 
so imposed upon them with merely affected resolu- 
tion that they ended by begging me to re-employ 
him again, on a solemn promise that he should be 
more industrious. The promise, I am bound to say, 
was kept. We soon had a fine pile of firewood at 
our door ; and if Caliban gave me the cold shoulder 


and spared me his conversation, I thought none the 
worse of him for that, nor did I find my days much 
longer for the deprivation. 

The leading spirit of the family was, I am inclined 
to fancy, Mrs. Hanson. Her social brilliancy some- 
what dazzled the others, and she had more of the 
small change of sense. It was she who faced Kelmar, 
for instance ; and perhaps, if she had been alone, 
Kelmar would have had no rule within her doors. 
Rufe, to be sure, had a fine, sober, open-air attitude of 
mind, seeing the world without exaggeration — per- 
haps, we may even say, without enough ; for he lacked, 
along with the others, that commercial idealism which 
puts so high a value on time and money. Sanity 
itself is a kind of convention. Perhaps Rufe was 
wrong ; but, looking on life plainly, he was unable 
to perceive that croquet or poker were in any way 
less important than, for instance, mending his 
waggon. Even his own profession, hunting, was 
dear to him mainly as a sort of play ; even that he 
would have neglected, had it not appealed to his 
imagination. His hunting-suit, for instance, had 
cost I should be afraid to say how many bucks — 
the currency in which he paid his way ; it was all 
befringed, after the Indian fashion, and it was dear 
to his heart. The pictorial side of his daily business 
was never forgotten. He was even anxious to stand 
for his picture in those buckskin hunting clothes ; 
and I remember how he once warmed almost into 
enthusiasm, his dark-blue eyes growing perceptibly 
larger, as he planned the composition in which he 
3 — T 289 


should appear, " with the horns of some real big 
bucks, and dogs, and a camp on a crick ' (creek, 

There was no trace in Irvine of this woodland 
poetry. He did not care for hunting, nor yet for 
buckskin suits. He had never observed scenery. 
The world, as it appeared to him, was almost obliter- 
ated by his own great grinning figure in the fore- 
ground : Caliban-Malvolio. And it seems to me as 
if, in the persons of these brothers-in-law, we had 
the two sides of rusticity fairly well represented : the 
hunter living really in nature ; the clodhopper living 
merely out of society : the one bent up in every 
corporal agent to capacity in one pursuit, doing 
at least one thing keenly and thoughtfully, and 
thoroughly alive to all that touches it ; the other 
in the inert and bestial state, walking in a faint 
dream, and taking so dim an impression of the 
myriad sides of life that he is truly conscious of 
nothing but himself It is only in the fastnesses of 
nature, forests, mountains, and the back of man's 
beyond, that a creature endowed with five senses 
can grow up into the perfection of this crass and 
earthy vanity. In towns or the busier country-sides 
he is roughly reminded of other men's existence ; and 
if he learns no more, he learns at least to fear con- 
tempt. But Irvine had come scatheless through life, 
conscious only of himself, of his great strength and 
intelligence ; and in the silence of the universe to 
which he did not listen, dwelling with delight on the 
sound of his own thoughts. 


A CHANGE in the colour of the Hght usually called 
me in the morning. By a certain hour, the long 
vertical chinks in our western gable, where the 
boards had shrunk and separated, flashed suddenly 
into my eyes as stripes of dazzhng blue, at once so 
dark and splendid that I used to marvel how the 
qualities could be combined. At an earlier hour 
the heavens in that quarter were still quietly coloured, 
but the shoulder of the mountain which shuts in the 
cafion already glowed with sunlight in a wonderful 
compound of gold and rose and green ; and this too 
would kindle, although more mildly and with rain- 
bow tints, the fissures of our crazy gable. If I were 
sleeping heavily, it was the bold blue that struck 
me awake ; if more lightly, then I would come to 
myself in that earher and fairer light. 

One Sunday morning, about five, the first bright- 
ness called me. I rose and turned to the east, not 
for my devotions, but for air. The night had been 
very still. The little private gale that blew every 
evening in our cafion, for ten minutes or perhaps a 
quarter of an hour, had swiftly blown itself out ; in 



the hours that followed not a sigh of wind had 
shaken the tree-tops ; and our barrack, for all its 
breaches, was less fresh that morning than of wont. 
But I had no sooner reached the window than I 
forgot all else in the sight that met my eyes, and 
I made but two bounds into my clothes, and down 
the crazy plank to the platform. 

The sun was still concealed below the opposite 
hill-tops, though it was shining already, not twenty 
feet above my head, on our own mountain slope. 
But the scene, beyond a few near features, was 
entirely changed. Napa Valley was gone ; gone 
were all the lower slopes and woody foothills of the 
range ; and in their place, not a thousand feet below 
me, rolled a great level ocean. It was as though I 
had gone to bed the night before, safe in a nook 
of inland mountains, and had awakened in a bay 
upon the coast. I had seen these inundations from 
below ; at Cahstoga I had risen and gone abroad in 
the early morning, coughing and sneezing, under 
fathoms on fathoms of grey sea-vapour, hke a cloudy 
sky — a dull sight for the artist, and a painful ex- 
perience for the invahd. But to sit aloft one's self 
in the pure air and under the unclouded dome of 
heaven, and thus look down on the submergence of 
the valley, was strangely different, and even delight- 
ful to the eyes. Far away were hill-tops Hke little 
islands. Nearer, a smoky surf beat about the foot 
of precipices and poured into all the coves of these 
rough mountains. The colour of that fog-ocean 
was a thing never to be forgotten. For an instant, 


among the Hebrides and just about sundown, I 
have seen something hke it on the sea itself. But 
the white was not so opaline ; nor was there, what 
surprisingly increased the effect, that breathless, 
crystal stillness over all. Even in its gentlest moods 
the salt sea travails, moaning among the weeds or 
lisping on the sand ; but that vast fog-ocean lay in a 
trance of silence, nor did the sweet air of the morn- 
ing tremble with a sound. 

As I continued to sit upon the dump, I began to 
observe that this sea was not so level as at first sight 
it appeared to be. Away in the extreme south, a 
little hill of fog arose against the sky above the 
general surface, and as it had already caught the sun, 
it shone on the horizon like the topsails of some 
giant ship. There were huge waves, stationary, as 
it seemed, like waves in a frozen sea ; and yet, as I 
looked again, I was not sure but they were moving 
after all, with a slow and august advance. And 
while I was yet doubting, a promontory of the hills 
some four or five miles away, conspicuous by a 
bouquet of tall pines, was in a single instant over- 
taken and swallowed up. It appeared in a little, 
with its pines, but this time as an islet, and only to 
be swallowed up once more, and then for good. This 
set me looking nearer, and I saw that in every cove 
along the line 'of mountains the fog was being piled in 
higher and higher, as though by some wind that was 
inaudible to me. I could trace its progress, one pine- 
tree first growing hazy and then disappearing after 
another ; although sometimes there was none of this 



forerunning haze, but the whole opaque white ocean 
gave a start and swallowed a piece of mountain at a 
gulp. It was to flee these poisonous fogs that I had 
left the seaboard, and climbed so high among the 
mountains. And now, behold, here came the fog to 
besiege me in my chosen altitudes, and yet came so 
beautifully that my first thought was of welcome. 

The sun had now gotten much higher, and through 
all the gaps of the hills it cast long bars of gold 
across that white ocean. An eagle, or some other 
very great bird of the mountain, came wheeling over 
the nearer pine-tops, and hung, poised and some- 
thing sideways, as if to look abroad on that unwonted 
desolation, spying, perhaps with terror, for the eyries 
of her comrades. Then, with a long cry, she dis- 
appeared again towards Lake County and the clearer 
air. At length it seemed to me as if the flood were 
beginning to subside. The old landmarks, by whose 
disappearance I had measured its advance, here a 
crag, there a brave pine-tree, now began, in the 
inverse order, to make their reappearance into day- 
light. I judged all danger of the fog was over. 
This was not Noah's flood; it was but a morning 
spring, and would now drift out seaward whence it 
came. So, mightily relieved, and a good deal ex- 
hilarated by the sight, I went into the house to 
light the fire. »; 

I suppose it was nearly seven when I once more 
mounted the platform to look abroad. The fog- 
ocean had swelled up enormously since last I saw 
it ; and a few hundred feet below me, in the deep 


gap where the Toll House stands and the road runs 
through into Lake County, it had already topped 
the slope, and was pouring over and down the other 
side like driving smoke. The wind had climbed 
along with it ; and though I was still in calm air, I 
could see the trees tossing below me, and their long, 
strident sighing mounted to me where I stood. 

Half an hour later, the fog had surmounted all 
the ridge on the opposite side of the gap, though a 
shoulder of the mountain still warded it out of our 
canon. Napa Valley and its bounding hills were 
now utterly blotted out. The fog, sunny white in 
the sunshine, was pouring over into Lake County 
in a huge ragged cataract, tossing tree-tops appear- 
ing and disappearing in the spray. The air struck 
with a little chill, and set me coughing. It smelt 
strong of the fog, like the smell of a washing-house, 
but with a shrewd tang of the sea-salt. 

Had it not been for two things — the sheltering 
spur which answered as a dyke, and the great valley 
on the other side which rapidly engulfed whatever 
mounted — our own little platform in the canon 
must have been already buried a hundred feet in 
salt and poisonous air. As it was, the interest of 
the scene entirely occupied our minds. We were 
set just out of the wind, and but just above the fog ; 
we could listen to the voice of the one as to music 
on the stage ; we could plunge our eyes down into 
the other as into some flowing stream from over the 
parapet of a bridge; thus we looked on upon a 
strange, impetuous, silent, shifting exhibition of the 



powers of nature, and saw the familiar landscape 
changing from moment to moment like figures in a 

The imagination loves to trifle with what is not. 
Had this been indeed the deluge, I should have felt 
more strongly, but the emotion would have been 
similar in kind. I played with the idea, as the child 
flees in delighted terror from the creations of his 
fancy. The look of the thing helped me. And 
when at last I began to flee up the mountain, it was 
indeed partly to escape from the raw air that kept 
me coughing, but it was also part in play. 

As I ascended the mountain side I came once 
more to overlook the upper surface of the fog ; but 
it wore a different appearance from what I had 
beheld at daybreak. For, first, the sun now fell on 
it from high overhead, and its surface shone and 
undulated like a great norland moor country, sheeted 
with untrodden morning snow. And next, the new 
level must have been a thousand or fifteen hundred 
feet higher than the old, so that only five or six 
points of all the broken country below me still 
stood out. Napa Valley was now one with Sonoma 
on the west. On the hither side, only a thin, scat- 
tered fringe of blufls was unsubmerged ; and through 
all the gaps the fog was pouring over, hke an ocean, 
into the blue, clear, sunny country on the east. 
There it was soon lost ; for it fell instantly into the 
bottom of the valleys, following the watershed; 
and the hill-tops in that quarter were still clear cut 
upon the eastern sky. 


Through the Toll House gap and over the near 
ridges on the other side the deluge was immense. 
A spray of thin vapour was thrown high above it, 
rising and falling, and blown into fantastic shapes. 
The speed of its course was like a mountain torrent. 
Here and there a few tree-tops were discovered and 
then whelmed again ; and for one second the bough 
of a dead pine beckoned out of the spray like the 
arm of a drowning man. But still the imagination 
was dissatisfied, still the ear waited for something 
more. Had this indeed been water (as it seemed so 
to the eye) with what a plunge of reverberating- 
thunder would it have rolled upon its course, dis- 
embowelling mountains and deracinating pines ! 
And yet water it was, and sea-water at that — true 
Pacific billows, only somewhat rarefied, roUing in 
mid-air among the hill-tops. 

I climbed still higher, among the red rattling 
gravel and dwarf underwood of Mount Saint Helena, 
until I could look right down upon Silverado, and 
admire the favoured nook in which it lay. The 
sunny plain of fog was several hundred feet higher ; 
behind the protecting spur a gigantic accumulation 
of cottony vapour threatened, with every second, to 
blow over and submerge our homestead ; but the 
vortex setting past the Toll House was too strong ; 
and there lay our little platform, in the arms of the 
deluge, but still enjoying its unbroken sunshine. 
About eleven, however, thin spray came flying over 
the friendly buttress, and I began to think the fog 
had hunted out its Jonah after all. But it was the 



last effort. The wind veered while we were at 
dinner, and began to blow squally from the mountain 
summit ; and by half-past one all that world of sea- 
fogs was utterly routed and flying here and there 
into the south in little rags of cloud. And instead 
of a lone sea-beach, we found ourselves once more 
inhabiting a high mountain-side, with the clear green 
country far below us, and the light smoke of Cahs- 
toga blowing in the air. 

This was the great Russian campaign for that 
season. Now and then, in the early morning, a little 
white lakelet of fog would be seen far down in Napa 
Valley ; but the heights were not again assailed, 
nor was the surrounding world again shut off from 



The Toll House, standing alone by the wayside 
under nodding pines, with its streamlet and water- 
tank ; its backwoods, toU-bar, and well-trodden 
croquet-ground ; the ostler standing by the stable 
door chewing a straw; a glimpse of the Chinese 
cook in the back parts ; and Mr. Hoddy in the bar, 
gravely alert and serviceable, and equally anxious to 
lend or borrow books ; — dozed all day in the dusty 
sunshine, more than half asleep. There were no 
neighbours, except the Hansons up the hill. The 
traffic on the road was infinitesimal ; only, at rare 
intervals, a couple in a waggon, or a dusty farmer 
on a spring-board, toiling over *the grade' to that 
metropolitan hamlet, Calistoga ; and, at the fixed 
hours, the passage of the stages. 

The nearest building was the school-house, down 
the road ; and the school-ma'am boarded at the Toll 
House, walking thence in the morning to the little 
brown shanty where she taught the young ones of 
the district, and returning thither pretty weary in 
the afternoon. She had chosen this outlying situa- 
tion, I understood, for her health. Mr. Corwin was 
consumptive; so was Rufe; so was Mr. Jennings, 



the engineer. In short, the place was a kind of 
small Davos : consumptive folk consorting on a hill- 
top in the most unbroken idleness. Jennings never 
did anything that I could see, except now and then 
to fish, and generally to sit about in the bar and the 
verandah, waiting for something to happen. Corwin 
and Rufe did as little as possible ; and if the school- 
ma'am, poor lady, had to work pretty hard all 
morning, she subsided when it was over into much 
the same dazed beatitude as all the rest. 

Her special corner was the parlour — a very genteel 
room, with Bible prints, a crayon portrait of Mrs. 
Corwin in the height of fashion, a few years ago, 
another of her son (Mr. Corwin was not represented), 
a mirror, and a selection of dried grasses. A large 
book was laid rehgiously on the table — From Palace 
to Hovel, I believe, its name — full of the raciest 
experiences in England. The author had mingled 
freely with all classes, the nobility particularly 
meeting him with open arms ; and I must say that 
traveller had ill requited his reception. His book, in 
short, was a capital instance of the Penny Messalina 
school of literature ; and there arose from it, in that 
cool parlour, in that silent wayside mountain inn, a 
rank atmosphere of gold and blood and 'Jenkins,' 
and the ' Mysteries of London,' and sickening, 
inverted snobbery, fit to knock you down. The 
mention of this book reminds me of another and 
far racier picture of our island life. The latter parts 
of Rocambole are surely too sparingly consulted in 
the country which they celebrate. No man's educa- 


tion can be said to be complete, nor can he pronounce 
the world yet emptied of enjoyment, till he has 
made the acquaintance of ' the Reverend Patterson, 
director of the Evangehcal Society.' To follow the 
evolutions of that reverend gentleman, who goes 
th ough scenes in which even Mr. Duffield would 
hesitate to place a bishop, is to rise to new ideas. 
But, alas ! there was no Patterson about the Toll 
House. Only, alongside of From Palace to Hovel, 
a sixpenny ' Ouida ' figured. So literature, you see, 
was not unrepresented. 

The school-ma'am had friends to stay with her, 
other school-ma'ams enjoying their holidays, quite a 
bevy of damsels. They seemed never to go out, or 
not beyond the verandah, but sat close in the little 
parlour, quietly talking or listening to the wind 
among the trees. Sleep dwelt in the Toll House, 
like a fixture : summer sleep, shallow, soft, and 
dreamless. A cuckoo-clock, a great rarity in such a 
place, hooted at intervals about the echoing house ; 
and Mr. Jennings would open his eyes for a moment 
in the bar, and turn the leaf of a newspaper, and 
the resting school-ma'ams in the parlour would be 
recalled to the consciousness of their inaction. Busy 
Mrs. Corwin and her busy Chinaman might be heard 
indeed, in the penetralia, pounding dough or rattling 
dishes ; or perhaps Rufe had called up some of the 
sleepers for a game of croquet, and the hollow strokes 
of the mallet sounded far away among the woods ; 
but with these exceptions, it was sleep and sunshine 
and dust, and the wind in the pine-trees, all day long. 



A little before stage-time that castle of indolence 
awoke. The ostler threw his straw away and set 
to his preparations. Mr. Jennings rubbed his eyes ; 
happy Mr. Jennings, the something he had been 
waiting for all day about to happen at last ! The 
boarders gathered in the verandah, silently giving 
ear, and gazing down the road with shaded eyes. 
And as yet there was no sign for the senses, not a 
sound, not a tremor of the mountain road. The 
birds, to whom the secret of the hooting cuckoo is 
unknown, must have set down to instinct this pre- 
monitory bustle. 

And then the first of the two stages swooped 
upon the Toll House with a roar and in a cloud of 
dust; and the shock had not yet time to subside, 
before the second was abreast of it. Huge concerns 
they were, well-horsed and loaded, the men in their 
shirt-sleeves, the women swathed in veils, the long 
whip cracking like a pistol; and as they charged 
upon that slumbering hostelry, each shepherding a 
dust-storm, the dead place blossomed into life and 
talk and clatter. This the Toll House? — with its 
city throng, its jostling shoidders, its infinity of 
instant business in the bar ? The mind would not 
receive it ! The heartfelt bustle of that hour is 
hardly credible; the thrill of the great shower of 
letters from the post-bag, the childish hope and 
interest with which one gazed in all these strangers' 
eyes. They paused there but to pass : the blue-clad 
China boy, the San Francisco magnate, the mystery 
in the dust-coat, the secret memoirs in tweed, the 


ogling, well-shod lady with her troop of girls ; they 
did but flash and go ; they were hull-down for us 
behind life's ocean, and we but hailed their topsails 
on the hne. Yet, out of our great solitude of four- 
and-twenty mountain hours, we thrilled to their 
momentary presence ; gauged and divined them, 
loved and hated; and stood light-headed in that 
storm of human electricity. Yes, like Piccadilly 
Circus, this is also one of hfe's crossing-places. 
Here I beheld one man, already famous, or infamous, 
a centre of pistol-shots : and another who, if not yet 
known to rumour, will fill a column of the Sunday 
paper when he comes to hang — a burly, thickset, 
powerful Chinese desperado, six long bristles upon 
either lip ; redolent of whisky, playing cards, and 
pistols ; swaggering in the bar with the lowest 
assumption of the lowest European manners ; rap- 
ping out blackguard English oaths in his canorous 
Oriental voice ; and combining in one person the 
depravities of two races and two civilisations. For 
all his lust and vigour he seemed to look cold upon 
me from the valley of the shadow of the gallows. 
He imagined a vain thing ; and while he drained his 
cocktail, Holbein's Death was at his elbow. Once, 
too, I fell in talk with another of these flitting 
strangers— like the rest, in his shirt-sleeves and all 
begrimed with dust — and the next minute we were 
discussing Paris and London, theatres and wines. 
To him, journeying from one human place to an- 
other, this was a trifle ; but to me ! No, Mr. Lillie, 
I have not forgotten it. 



And presently the city tide was at its flood and 
began to ebb. Life runs in Piccadilly Circus, say, 
from nine to one, and then, there also, ebbs into the 
small hours of the echoing policeman and the lamps 
and stars. But the Toll House is far up stream, 
and near its rural springs ; the bubble of the tide 
but touches it. Before you had yet grasped your 
pleasure, the horses were put to, the loud whips 
volleyed, and the tide was gone. North and south 
had the two stages vanished, the towering dust sub- 
sided in the woods ; but there was still an interval 
before the flush had fallen on your cheeks, before 
the ear became once more contented with the silence, 
or the seven sleepers of the Toll House dozed back 
to their accustomed corners. Yet a little, and the 
ostler would swing round the great barrier across the 
road; and in the golden evening that dreamy inn 
begin to trim its lamps and spread the board for 

As I recall the place — the green dell below ; the 
spires of pine ; the sun-warm, scented air ; that grey, 
gabled inn, with its faint stirrings of life amid the 
slumber of the mountains — I slowly awake to a 
sense of admiration, gratitude, and almost love. A 
fine place, after all, for a wasted life to doze away 
in — the cuckoo-clock hooting of its far home country; 
the croquet mallets, eloquent of English lawns ; the 
stages daily bringing news of the turbulent world 
away below there ; and perhaps once in the summer, 
a salt fog pouring overhead with its tale of the 



In our rule at Silverado there was a melancholy 
interregnum. The queen and the crown prince with 
one accord fell sick; and, as I was sick to begin 
with, our lone position on Mount Saint Helena was 
no longer tenable, and we had to hurry back to 
Calistoga and a cottage on the green. By that 
time we had begun to realise the difficulties of our 
position. We had found what an amount of labour 
it cost to support life in our red caiion ; and it was 
the dearest desire of our hearts to get a China boy 
to go along with us when we returned. We could 
have given him a whole house to himself — self- 
contained, as they say in the advertisements ; and 
on the money question we were prepared to go 
far. Kong Sam Kee, the Calistoga washerman, was 
intrusted with the affair ; and from day to day it 
languished on, with protestations on our part and 
mellifluous excuses on the part of Kong Sam Kee. 

At length, about half-past eight of our last even- 
ing, with the waggon ready harnessed to convey us 
up the grade, the washerman, with a somewhat 
sneering air, produced the boy. He was a hand- 
some, gentlemanly lad, attired in rich dark blue, and 
3-u 305 


shod with snowy white ; but, alas ! he had heard 
rumours of Silverado. He knew it for a lone place 
on the mountain-side, with no friendly wash-house 
near by, where he might smoke a pipe of opium 
o' nights with other China boys, and lose his little 
earnings at the game of tan ; and he first backed out 
for more money ; and then, when that demand was 
satisfied, refused to come point-blank. He was 
wedded to his wash-houses ; he had no taste for the 
rural life ; and we must go to our mountain servant- 
less. It must have been near half an hour before we 
reached that conclusion, standing in the midst of 
Cahstoga high street under the stars, and the China 
boy and Kong Sam Kee singing their pigeon English 
in the sweetest voices and with the most musical 

We were not, however, to return alone ; we 
brought with us a painter guest, who proved to be 
a most good-natured comrade and a capital hand 
at an omelette. I do not know in which capacity 
he was most valued — as a cook or a companion ; and 
he did excellently well in both. 

The Kong Sam Kee negotiation had delayed us 
unduly ; it must have been half-past nine before we 
left Cahstoga, and night came fully ere we struck 
the bottom of the grade. I have never seen such a 
night. It seemed to throw calumny in the teeth of 
all the painters that ever dabbled in starlight. The 
sky itself was of a ruddy, powerful, nameless, chang- 
ing colour, dark and glossy like a serpent's back. 
The stars, by innumerable miUions, stuck boldly 


forth like lamps. The milky way was bright, like 
a moonlit cloud ; half heaven seemed milky way. 
The greater luminaries shone each more clearly than 
a winter's moon. Their light was dyed in every sort 
of colour — red, like fire ; blue, like steel ; green, like 
the tracks of sunset ; and so sharply did each stand 
forth in its own lustre that there was no appearance 
of that flat, star-spangled arch we know so well in 
pictures, but all the hollow of heaven was one chaos 
of contesting luminaries — a hurly-burly of stars. 
Against this the hills and rugged tree-tops stood out 
redly dark. 

As we continued to advance, the lesser lights 
and milky ways first grew pale, and then vanished ; 
the countless hosts of heaven dwindled in number 
by successive millions ; those that still shone had 
tempered their exceeding brightness and fallen back 
into their customary wistful distance; and the sky 
declined from its first bewildering splendour into the 
appearance of a common night. Slowly this change 
proceeded, and still there was no sign of any cause. 
Then a whiteness like mist was thrown over the 
spurs of the mountain. Yet a while, and, as we 
turned a corner, a great leap of silver fight and net 
of forest shadows fell across the road and upon our 
wondering waggonful ; and, swimming low among 
the trees, we beheld a strange, misshapen, waning 
moon, half-tilted on her back. 

' Where are ye when the moon appears ? ' so the 
old poet sang, half-taunting, to the stars, bent upon 
a courtly purpose. 



' As the sunlight round the dim earth's midnight tower of 
shadow pours^ 
Streaming past the dim, wide portals. 
Viewless to the eyes of mortals, 
Till it floods the moon's pale islet or the morning's golden 

So sings Mr. Trowbridge, with a noble inspiration. 
And so had the sunhght flooded that pale islet of 
the moon, and her lit face put out, one after another, 
that galaxy of stars. The wonder of the drive was 
over; but, by some nice conjunction of clearness 
in the air and fit shadow in the valley where we 
travelled, we had seen for a Mttle while that brave 
display of the midnight heavens. It was gone, but 
it had been ; nor shall I ever again behold the stars 
with the same mind. He who has seen the sea 
commoved with a great hurricane thinks of it very 
differently from him who has seen it only in a calm. 
And the difference between a calm and a hurricane 
is not greatly more striking than that between the 
ordinary face of night and the splendour that shone 
upon us in that drive. Two in our waggon knew 
night as she shines upon the tropics, but even that 
bore no comparison. The nameless colour of the 
sky, the hues of the star-fire, and the incredible pro- 
jection of the stars themselves, starting from their 
orbits, so that the eye seemed to distinguish their 
positions in the hollow of space — these were things 
that we had never seen before and shall never see agam. 
Meanwhile, in this altered night, we proceeded on 
our way among the scents and silence of the forest, 
reached the top of the gi-ade, wound up by Hanson's, 


and came at last to a stand under the flying gargoyle 
of the chute. Lloyd, who had been lying back, fast 
asleep, with the moon on his face, got down, with 
the remark that it was pleasant *to be home.' The 
waggon turned and drove away, the noise gently 
dying in the woods, and we clambered up the rough 
path, Caliban's great feat of engineering, and came 
home to Silverado. 

The moon shone in at the eastern doors and 
windows, and over the lumber on the platform. 
The one tall pine beside the ledge was steeped in 
silver. Away up the canon, a wild cat welcomed 
us with three discordant squalls. But once we had 
lit a candle, and began to review our improvements, 
homely in either sense, and count our stores, it was 
wonderful what a feehng of possession and perman- 
ence grew up in the hearts of the lords of Silverado. 
A bed had still to be made up for our guest, and the 
morning's water to be fetched, with clinking pail ; 
and as we set about these household duties, and 
showed off our wealth and conveniences before the 
stranger, and had a glass of wine, I think, in honour 
of our return, and trooped at length one after 
another up the flying bridge of plank, and lay down 
to sleep in our shattered, moon-pierced barrack, we 
were among the happiest sovereigns in the world, 
and certainly ruled over the most contented people. 
Yet, in our absence, the palace had been sacked. 
Wild cats, so the Hansons said, had broken in and 
carried off" a side of bacon, a hatchet, and two 



No one could live at Silverado and not be curious 
about the story of the mine. We were surrounded 
by so many evidences of expense and toil, we lived 
so entirely in the wreck of that great enterprise, hke 
mites in the ruins of a cheese, that the idea of the 
old din and bustle haunted our repose. Our own 
house, the forge, the dump, the chutes, the rails, 
the windlass, the mass of broken plant; the two 
tunnels, one far below in the 'green dell, the other 
on the platform where we kept our wine ; the deep 
shaft, with the sun-glints and the water-di'ops ; 
above all, the ledge, that great gaping slice out of 
the mountain shoulder, propped apart by wooden 
wedges, on whose immediate margin, high above 
our heads, the one tall pine precariously nodded — 
these stood for its greatness ; while the dog-hutch, 
bootjacks, old boots, old tavern bills, and the very 
beds that we inherited from bygone miners, put in 
human touches and realised for us the story of the 

I have sat on an old sleeper, under the thick 
madronas near the forge, with just a look over the 


dump on the green world below, and seen the sun 
lying broad among the wreck, and heard the silence 
broken only by the tinkling water in the shaft, or a 
stir of the royal family about the battered palace, 
and my mind has gone back to the epoch of the 
Stanleys and the Chapmans, with a grand tutti of 
pick and drill, hammer and anvil, echoing about the 
caiion ; the assayer hard at it in our dining-room ; 
the carts below on the road, and their cargo of red 
mineral bounding aud thundering down the iron 
chute. And now all gone — all fallen away into this 
sunny silence and desertion : a family of squatters 
dining in the assayer's office, making their beds in 
the big sleeping-room erstwhile so crowded, keeping 
their wine in the tunnel that once rang with picks. 

But Silverado itself, although now fallen in its turn 
into decay, was once but a mushroom, and had suc- 
ceeded to other mines and other flitting cities. 
Twenty years ago, away down the glen on the Lake 
County side, there was a place, Jonestown by name, 
with two thousand inhabitants dwelling under can- 
vas, and one roofed house for the sale of whisky. 
Round on the western side of Mount Saint Helena 
there was at the same date a second large encamp- 
ment, its name, if it ever had one, lost for me. Both 
of these have perished, leaving not a stick and 
scarce a memory behind them. Tide after tide of 
hopeful miners have thus flowed and ebbed about 
the mountain, coming and going, now by lone pro- 
spectors, now with a rush. Last in order of time 
came Silverado, reared the big mill in the valley, 



founded the town which is now represented, monu- 
mentally, by Hanson's, pierced all these slaps and 
shafts and tunnels, and in turn declined and died 

* Our noisy years seem moments in the being 
Of the eternal silence.' 

As to the success of Silverado in its time of being, 
two reports were current. According to the first, 
six hundred thousand doUars were taken out of that 
great upright seam, that still hung open above us 
on crazy wedges. Then the ledge pinched out, and 
there followed, in quest of the remainder, a great 
drifting and tunnelling in all directions, and a great 
consequent effusion of dollars, until, all parties being 
sick of the expense, the mine was deserted, and the 
town decamped. Accordij;ig to the second version, 
told me with much secrecy of manner, the whole 
affair, mine, mill, and town, were parts of one 
majestic swindle. There had never come any silver 
out of any portion of the mine ; there was no silver 
to come. At midnight trains of pack-horses might 
have been observed winding by devious tracks about 
the shoulder of the mountain. They came from far 
away, from Amador or Placer, laden with silver in 
'old cigar-boxes.' They discharged their load at 
Silverado, in the hour of sleep ; and before the 
morning they were gone again with their mysterious 
drivers to their unknown source. In this way, 
twenty thousand pounds' worth of silver was 
smuggled in under cover of night, in these old 


cigar-boxes ; mixed with Silverado mineral ; carted 
down to the mill ; crushed, amalgamated, and re- 
fined, and despatched to the city as the proper pro- 
duct of the mine. Stockjobbing, if it can cover 
such expenses, must be a profitable business in San 

I give these two versions as I got them. But I 
place little rehance on either, my belief in history 
having been greatly shaken. For it chanced that 
I had come to dwell in Silverado at a critical hour ; 
great events in its history were about to happen — 
did happen, as I am led to believe ; nay, and it will 
be seen that I played a part in that revolution 
myself. And yet from first to last I never had a 
glimmer of an idea what was going on; and even 
now, after full reflection, profess myself at sea. That 
there was some obscure intrigue of the cigar-box 
order, and that I, in the character of a wooden 
puppet, set pen to paper in the interest of some- 
body, — so much, and no more, is certain. 

Silverado, then under my immediate sway, be- 
longed to one whom I will call a Mr. Ronalds. I 


only knew him through the extraordinarily distorting 
medium of local gossip, now as a momentous jobber ; 
now as a dupe to point an adage ; and again, and 
much more probably, as an ordinary Christian gen- 
tleman like you or me, who had opened a mine and 
worked it for a while with better and worse fortune. 
So, through a defective window-pane, you may see 
the passer-by shoot up into a hunchbacked giant 
or dwindle into a pot-bellied dwarf. 



To Ronalds, at least, the mine belonged ; but the 
notice by which he held it would run out upon the 
30th of June — or rather, as I suppose, it had run 
out already, and the month of grace would expire 
upon that day, after which any American citizen 
might post a notice of his own, and make Silverado 
his. This, with a sort of quiet slyness, Rufe told 
me at an early period of our acquaintance. There 
was no silver, of course ; the mine ' wasn't worth 
nothing, Mr. Stevens,' but there was a deal of old 
iron and wood around, and to gain possession of this 
old wood and iron, and get a right to the water, 
Rufe proposed, if I had no objections, to 'jump the 

Of course I had no objection. But I was filled 
with wonder. If all he wanted was the wood and 
iron, what, in the name of fortune, was to prevent 
him taking them ? ' His right there was none to 
dispute.' He might lay hands on aU to-morrow, as 
the wild cats had laid hands upon our knives and 
hatchet. Besides, was this mass of heavy mining 
plant worth transportation ? If it was, why had 
not the rightful owners carted it away ? If it was, 
would they not preserve their title to these move- 
ables, even after they had lost their title to the 
mine ? And if it were not, what the better was 
Rufe? Nothing would grow at Silverado; there 
was even no wood to cut ; beyond a sense of pro- 
perty, there was nothing to be gained. Lastly, was 
it at all credible that Ronalds would forget what 
Rufe remembered ? The days of grace were not yet 


over : any fine morning he might appear, paper in 
hand, and enter for another year on his inherit- 
ance. However, it was none of my business ; all 
seemed legal ; Rufe or Ronalds, all was one to me. 

On the morning of the 27th, Mrs. Hanson ap- 
peared with the milk as usual, in her sun-bonnet. 
The time would be out on Tuesday, she reminded 
us, and bade me be in readiness to play my part, 
though I had no idea what it was to be. And 
suppose Ronalds came? we asked. She received 
the idea with derision, laughing aloud with all her 
fine teeth. He could not find the mine to save his 
life, it appeared, without Rufe to guide him. Last 
year, when he came, they heard him ' up and down 
the road a-hollerin' and a-raisin' Cain.' And at last 
he had to come to the Hansons in despair, and bid 
Rufe, ' Jump into your pants and shoes, and show 
me where this old mine is, anyway ! ' Seeing that 
Ronalds had laid out so much money in the spot, 
and that a beaten road led right up to the bottom 
of the dump, I thought this a remarkable example. 
The sense of locality must be singularly in abeyance 
in the case of Ronalds. 

That same evening, supper comfortably over, our 
guest busy at work on a drawing of the dump and 
the opposite hills, we were all out on the platform 
together, sitting there, under the tented heavens, 
with the same sense of privacy as if we had been 
cabined in a parlour, when the sound of brisk foot- 
steps came mounting up the path. We pricked our 
ears at this, for the tread seemed lighter and firmer 



than was usual with our country neighbours. And 
presently, sure enough, two town gentlemen, with 
cigars and kid gloves, came debouching past the 
house. They looked in that place like a blasphemy. 

* Good-evening,' they said. For none of us had 
stirred ; we all sat stiif with wonder. 

* Good-evening,' I returned ; and then, to put 
them at their ease, ' A stiff cUmb,' I added. 

' Yes,' replied the leader ; ' but we have to thank 
you for this path.' 

I did not hke the man's tone. None of us liked 
it. He did not seem embarrassed by the meeting, 
but threw us his remarks like favours, and strode 
magisterially by us towards the shaft and tunnel. 

Presently we heard his voice raised to his com- 
panion. ' We drifted every sort of way, but couldn't 
strike the ledge.' Then again : ' It pinched out here.' 
And once more : ' Every miner that ever worked upon 
it says there 's bound to be a ledge somewhere.' 

These were the snatches of his talk that reached 
us, and they had a damning significance. We, the 
lords of Silverado, had come face to face with our 
superior. It is the worst of all quaint and of all 
cheap ways of life that they bring us at last to the 
pinch of some humiliation. I Hked well enough to 
be a squatter when there was none but Hanson by ; 
before Ronalds, I will own, I somewhat quailed. I 
hastened to do him fealty, said I gathered he was 
the Squattee, and apologised. He threatened me 
with ejection, in a manner grimly pleasant — more 
pleasant to him, I fancy, than to me ; and then he 


passed off into praises of the former state of Silver- 
ado. ' It was the busiest httle mining town you 
ever saw : ' a population of between a thousand and 
fifteen hundred souls, the engine in full blast, the 
mill newly erected ; nothing going but champagne, 
and hope the order of the day. Ninety thousand 
dollars came out ; a hundred and forty thousand 
were put in, making a net loss of fifty thousand. 
The last days, I gathered, the days of John Stanley, 
were not so bright ; the champagne had ceased to 
flow, the population was already moving elsewhere, 
and Silverado had begun to wither in the branch 
before it was cut at the root. The last shot that 
was fired knocked over the stove chimney, and made 
that hole in the roof of our barrack, through which 
the sun was wont to visit slug-a-beds towards after- 
noon. A noisy last shot, to inaugurate the days of 

Throughout this interview my conscience was a 
good deal exercised; and I was moved to throw 
myself on my knees and own the intended treachery. 
But then I had Hanson to consider. I was in much 
the same position as Old Rowley, that royal 
humorist, whom 'the rogue had taken into his 
confidence.' And again, here was Ronalds on the 
spot. He must know the day of the month as well 
as Hanson and I. If a broad hint were necessary, 
he had the broadest in the world. For a large board 
had been nailed by the crown prince on the very 
front of our house, between the door and window, 
painted in cinnabar — the pigment of the country — 



with doggerel rhymes and contumehous pictures, and 
announcing, in terms unnecessarily figurative, that the 
trick was already played, the claim already jumped, 
and the author of the placard the legitimate successor 
of Mr. Ronalds. But no, nothing could save that 
man ; quern deus vult yerdere^ prius dementat. As 
he came so he went, and left his rights depending. 

Late at night, by Silverado reckoning, and after 

we were all abed, Mrs. Hanson returned to give us 

the newest of her news. It was Hke a scene in a 

ship's steerage : all of us abed in our different tiers, 

the single candle strugghng with the darkness, and 

this plump, handsome woman, seated on an upturned 

valise beside the bunks, talking and showing her 

fine teeth, and laughing till the rafters rang. Any 

ship, to be sure, with a hundredth part as many holes 

in it as our barrack, must long ago have gone to her 

last port. Up to that time I had always imagined 

Mrs. Hanson's loquacity to be mere incontinence, 

that she said what was uppermost for the pleasure of 

speaking, and laughed and laughed again as a kind 

of musical accompaniment. But I now found there 

was an art in it. I found it less communicative than 

silence itself. I wished to know why Ronalds had 

come ; how he had found his way without Rufe ; 

and why, being on the spot, he had not refreshed his 

title. She talked interminably on, but her replies 

were never answers. She fled under a cloud of 

words; and when I had made sure that she was 

purposely eluding me, I dropped the subject in my 

turn, and let her rattle where she would. 



She had come to tell us that, instead of waiting 
for Tuesday, the claim was to be jumped on the 
morrow. How ? If the time were not out, it was 
impossible. Why ? If Ronalds had come and gone, 
and done nothing, there was the less cause for hurry. 
But again I could reach no satisfaction. The claim 
was to be jumped next morning, that was aU that 
she would condescend upon. 

And yet it was not jumped the next morning, nor 
yet the next, and a whole week had come and gone 
before we heard more of this exploit. That day 
week, however, a day of great heat, Hanson, with a 
little roll of paper in his hand, and the eternal pipe 
alight ; Breedlove, his large, dull friend, to act, I 
suppose, as witness ; Mrs. Hanson, in her Sunday 
best ; and all the children, from the oldest to the 
youngest ; — arrived in a procession, tailing one 
behind another up the path. Caliban was absent, 
but he had been chary of his friendly visits since the 
row ; and with that exception, the whole family was 
gathered together as for a marriage or a christening. 
Strong was sitting at work, in the shade of the 
dwarf madronas near the forge ; and they planted 
themselves about him in a circle, one on a stone, 
another on the waggon rails, a third on a piece of 
plank. Gradually the children stole away up the 
canon to where there was another chute, somewhat 
smaller than the one across the dump ; and down this 
chute, for the rest of the afternoon, they poured one 
avalanche of stones after another, waking the echoes 
of the glen. Meantime, we elders sat together on the 



platform, Hanson and his friend smoking in silence 
like Indian sachems, Mrs. Hanson rattling on as 
usual with an adroit volubihty, saying nothing, but 
keeping the party at their ease like a courtly hostess. 
Not a word occurred about the business of the 
day. Once, twice, and thrice I tried to slide the 
subject in, but was discouraged by the stoic apathy of 
Rufe, and beaten down before the pouring verbiage of 
his wife. There is nothing of the Indian brave about 
me, and I began to grill with impatience. At last, 
like a highway robber, I cornered Hanson, and bade 
him stand and deliver his business. Thereupon he 
gravely rose, as though to hint that this was not a 
proper place, nor the subject one suitable for squaws, 
and I, following his example, led him up the plank 
into our barrack. There he bestowed himself on a 
box, and unrolled his papers with fastidious delibera- 
tion. There were two sheets of note-paper, and an 
old mining notice, dated May 30th, 1879, part print, 
part manuscript, and the latter much obliterated by 
the rains. It was by this identical piece of paper 
that the mine had been held last year. For thirteen 
months it had endured the weather and the change 
of seasons on a cairn behind the shoulder of the 
canon ; and it was now my business, spreading it 
before me on the table, and sitting on a valise, to 
copy its terms, with some necessary changes, twice 
over on the two sheets of note-paper. One was then 
to be placed on the same cairn — ' a mound of rocks ' 
the notice put it ; and the other to be lodged for 


Rufe watched me, silently smoking, till I came to 
the place for the locator's name at the end of the 
first copy ; and when I proposed that he should sign, 
I thought I saw a scare in his eye. ' I don't think 
that'll be necessary,' he said slowly ; 'just you write 
it down.' Perhaps this mighty hunter, who was the 
most active member of the local school-board, could 
not write. There would be nothing strange in that. 
The constable of Calistoga is, and has been for years, 
a bedridden man, and, if I remember rightly, blind. 
He had more need of the emoluments than another, 
it was explained ; and it was easy for him to 
*depytise,' with a strong accent on the last. So 
friendly and so free are popular institutions. 

When I had done my scrivening, Hanson strolled 
out, and addressed Breedlove, ' Will you step up 
here a bit ? ' and after they had disappeared a little 
while into the chaparral and madrona thicket, they 
came back again, minus a notice, and the deed was 
done. The claim was jumped ; a track of mountain- 
side, fifteen hundred feet long by six hundred wide, 
with all the earth's precious bowels, had passed from 
Ronalds to Hanson, and, in the passage, changed its 
name from the 'Mammoth' to the 'Calistoga.' I 
had tried to get Rufe to call it after his wife, after 
himself, and after Garfield, the Republican Presi- 
dential candidate of the hour — since then elected, 
and^ alas ! dead — but all was in vain. The claim had 
once been called the Calistoga before, and he seemed 
to feel safety in returning to that. 

And so the history of that mine became once more 
3— X 321 


plunged in darkness, lit only by some monster 
pyroteehnical displays of gossip. And perhaps the 
most curious feature of the whole matter is this : 
that we should have dwelt in this quiet corner of 
the mountains, with not a dozen neighbours, and yet 
struggled all the while, like desperate swimmers, in 
this sea of falsities and contradictions. Wherever a 
man is, there will be a lie. 



I MUST try to convey some notion of our life, of how 
the days passed and what pleasure we took in them, 
of what there was to do and how we set about doing 
it, in our mountain hermitage. The house, after we 
had repaired the worst of the damages, and filled in 
some of the doors and windows with white cotton 
cloth, became a healthy and a pleasant dwelling- 
place, always airy and dry, and haunted by the 
outdoor perfumes of the glen. Within, it had the 
look of habitation, the human look. You had only 
to go into the third room, which we did not use, 
and see its stones, its sifting earth, its tumbled litter; 
and then return to our lodging, with the beds made, 
the plates on the rack, the pail of bright water 
behind the door, the stove crackling in a corner, 
and perhaps the table roughly laid against a meal, 
— and man's order, the little clean spots that he 
creates to dwell in, were at once contrasted with the 
rich passivity of nature. And yet our house was 
everywhere so wrecked and shattered, the air came 
and went so freely, the sun found so many portholes, 
the golden outdoor glow shone in so many open 



chinks, that we enjoyed, at the same time, some of 
the comforts of a roof and much of the gaiety and 
brightness of alfresco hfe, A single shower of rain, 
to be sure, and we should have been drowned out 
like mice. But ours was a Californian summer, and 
an earthquake was a far likelier accident than a 
shower of rain. 

Trustful in this fine weather, we kept the house 
for kitchen and bedroom, and used the platform as 
our summer parlour. The sense of privacy, as I 
have said already, was complete. We could look 
over the dump on miles of forest and rough hill-top ; 
our eyes commanded some of Napa Valley, where 
the train ran, and the little country townships sat so 
close together along the line of the rail. But here 
there was no man to intrude. None but the Hansons 
were our visitors. Even they came but at long 
intervals, or twice daily at a stated hour, with milk. 
So our days, as they were never interrupted, drew 
out to the greater length; hour melted insensibly into 
hour ; the household duties, though they were many, 
and some of them laborious, dwindled into mere 
islets of business in a sea of sunny day-time ; and it 
appears to me, looking back, as though the far 
greater part of our life at Silverado had been passed, 
propped upon an elbow, or seated on a plank, lis- 
tening to the silence that there is among the hills. 

My work, it is true, was over early in the morning. 

I rose before any one else, ht the stove, put on the 

water to boil, and strolled forth upon the platform 

to wait till it was ready. Silverado would then be 



still in shadow, the sun shining on the mountain 
higher up. A clean smell of trees, a smell of the 
earth at morning, hung in the air. Regularly, every- 
day, there was a single bird, not singing, but awk- 
wardly chirruping among the green raadronas, and 
the sound was cheerful, natural, and stirring. It did 
not hold the attention, nor interrupt the thread of 
meditation, like a blackbird or a nightingale ; it was 
mere woodland prattle, of which the mind was con- 
scious like a perfume. The freshness of these morning 
seasons remained with me far on into the day. 

As soon as the kettle boiled, I made porridge 
and coffee ; and that, beyond the literal drawing of 
water, and the preparation of kindling, which it 
would be hyperbolical to call the hewing of wood, 
ended my domestic duties for the day. Thenceforth 
my wife laboured single-handed in the palace, and I 
lay or wandered on the platform at my own sweet 
will. The little corner near the forge, where we 
found a refuge under the madronas from the un- 
sparing early sun, is indeed connected in my mind 
with some nightmare encounters over Euclid and the 
Latin Grammar. These were known as the Crown 
Prince's lessons. He was supposed to be the victim 
and the sufferer ; but here there must have been some 
misconception, for whereas I generally retired to bed 
after one of these engagements, he was no sooner 
set free than he dashed up to the Chinaman's house, 
where he had installed a printing-press, that great 
element of civilisation, and the sound of his labours 
would be faintly audible about the canon half the day. 



To walk at all was a laborious business ; the foot 
sank and slid, the boots were cut to pieces, among 
sharp, uneven, rolling stones. When we crossed 
the platform in any direction, it was usual to lay a 
course, following as much as possible the line of 
waggon rails. Thus, if water were to be drawn, the 
water-carrier left the house along some tilting planks 
that we had laid down, and not laid down very well. 
These carried him to that great highroad, the rail- 
way; and the railway served him as far as to the 
head of the shaft. But from thence to the spring 
and back again he made the best of his unaided way, 
staggering among the stones, and wading in low 
growth of the calcanthus, where the rattlesnakes lay 
hissing at his passage. Yet I liked to draw water. 
It was pleasant to dip the grey metal pail into the 
clean, colourless, cool water ; pleasant to carry it 
back, with the water lipping at the edge, and a 
broken sunbeam quivering in the midst. 

But the extreme roughness of the walking con- 
fined us in common practice to the platform, and, 
indeed, to those parts of it that were most easily 
accessible along the line of rails. The rails came 
straight forward from the shaft, here and there over- 
grown with little green bushes, but still entire, and 
still carrying a truck, which it was Lloyd's dehght to 
trundle to and fro by the hour with various ladings. 
About midway down the platform the railroad trended 
to the right, leaving our house and coasting along 
the far side within a few yards of the madronas 
and the forge, and not far from the latter, ended in a 


sort of platform on the edge of the dump. There, 
in old days, the trucks were tipped, and their load 
sent thundering down the chute. There, besides, 
was the only spot where we could approach the 
margin of the dump. Anywhere else, you took your 
life in your right hand when you came within a yard 
and a half to peer over. For at any moment the 
dump might begin to slide and carry you down and 
bury you below its ruins. Indeed, the neighbour- 
hood of an old mine is a place beset with dangers. 
For as still as Silverado was, at any moment the 
report of rotten wood might tell us that the platform 
had fallen into the shaft ; the dump might begin to 
pour into the road below; or a wedge slip in the 
great upright seam, and hundreds of tons of moun- 
tain bury the scene of our encampment. 

I have already compared the dump to a rampart, 
built certainly by some rude people, and for pre- 
historic wars. It was likewise a frontier. All below 
was green and woodland, the tall pines soaring one 
above another, each with a firm outhne and full 
spread of bough. All above was arid, rocky, and 
bald. The great spout of broken mineral, that had 
dammed the caiion up, was a creature of man's 
handiwork, its material dug out with a pick and 
powder, and spread by the service of the trucks. 
But nature herself, in that upper district, seemed to 
have had an eye to nothing besides mining; and 
even the natural hillside was all sliding gravel and 
precarious boulder. Close at the margin of the well, 
leaves would decay to skeletons and mummies, 



which at length some stronger gust would carry clear 
of the canon and scatter in the subjacent woods. 
Even moisture and decaying vegetable matter could 
not, with all nature's alchemy, concoct enough soil 
to nourish a few poor grasses. It is the same, they 
say, in the neighbourhood of all silver mines; the 
nature of that precious rock being stubborn with 
quartz and poisonous with cinnabar. Both were 
plenty in our Silverado. The stones sparkled white 
in the sunshine with quartz ; they were all stained 
red with cinnabar. Here, doubtless, came the Indians 
of yore to paint their faces for the war-path ; and 
cinnabar, if I remember rightly, was one of the few 
articles of Indian commerce. Now, the Crown Prince 
had it in his undisturbed possession, to pound down 
and slake and paint his rude designs with. But to 
me it had always a fine flavour of poetry, compounded 
out of Indian story and Hawthornden's allusion : — 

' Desire, alas ! desire a Zeuxis new. 
From Indies borrowing gold, from Eastern skies 
Most bright cinoper . . .' 

Yet this is but half the picture; our Silverado 
platform has another side to it. Though there was 
no soil, and scarce a blade of grass, yet out of these 
tumbled gravel-heaps and broken boulders a flower- 
garden bloomed as at home in a conservatory. Cal- 
canthus crept, like a hardy weed, all over our rough 
parlour, choking the railway, and pushing forth its 
rusty, aromatic cones from between two blocks of 
shattered mineral. Azaleas made a big snow-bed 
just above the well. The shoulder of the hill waved 


white with Mediterranean heath. In the crannies 
of the ledge and about the spurs of the tall pine, a 
red flowering stone-plant hung in clusters. Even 
the low, thorny chaparral was thick with pea-like 
blossom. Close at the foot of our path nutmegs 
prospered, delightful to the sight and smell. At 
sunrise, and again late at night, the scent of the 
sweet bay-trees filled the canon, and the down- 
blowing night-wind must have borne it hundreds of 
feet into the outer air. 

All this vegetation, to be sure, was stunted. The 
madrona was here no bigger than the manzanita ; 
the bay was but a stripUng shrub ; the very pines, 
with four or five exceptions in all our upper caiion, 
were not so tall as myself, or but a little taller, and 
the most of them came lower than my waist. For 
a prosperous forest tree we must look below, where 
the glen was crowded with green spires. But for 
flowers and ravishing perfume we had none to envy : 
our heap of road-metal was thick with bloom, like 
a hawthorn in the front of June ; our red, baking 
angle in the mountain, a laboratory of poignant 
scents. It was an endless wonder to my mind, as I 
dreamed about the platform, following the progress 
of the shadows, where the madrona with its leaves, 
the azalea and calcanthus with their blossoms, could 
find moisture to support such thick, wet, waxy 
growths, or the bay-tree collect the ingredients of 
its perfume. But there they all grew together, 
healthy, happy, and happy-making, as though rooted 
in a fathom of black soil. 



Nor was it only vegetable life that prospered. 
We had, indeed, few birds, and none that had much 
of a voice or anything worthy to be called a song. 
My morning comrade had a thin chirp, unmusical 
and monotonous, but friendly and pleasant to hear. 
He had but one rival : a fellow with an ostentatious 
cry of near an octave descending, not one note of 
which properly followed another. This is the only 
bird I ever knew with a wrong ear ; but there was 
something enthralling about his performance. You 
listened and listened, thinking each time he must 
surely get it right ; but no, it was always wrong, 
and always wrong the same way. Yet he seemed 
proud of his song, delivered it with execution and 
a manner of his own, and was charming to his mate. 
A very incorrect, incessant human whistler had thus 
a chance of knowing how his own music pleased the 
world. Two great birds— eagles, we thought — dwelt 
at the top of the caiion, among the crags that were 
printed on the sky. Now and again, but very rarely, 
they wheeled high over our heads in silence, or with 
a distant, dying scream ; and then, with a fresh 
impulse, winged fleetly forward, dipped over a hill- 
top, and were gone. They seemed solemn and 
ancient things, sailing the blue air ; perhaps coeval 
with the mountain where they haunted, perhaps 
emigrants from Rome, where the glad legions may 
have shouted to behold them on the morn of battle. 

But if birds were rare, the place abounded with 
rattlesnakes — the rattlesnake's nest, it might have 
been named. Wherever we brushed among the 


bushes, our passage woke their angry buzz. One 
dwelt habitually in the wood-pile, and sometimes, 
when we came for firewood, thrust up his small head 
between two logs, and hissed at the intrusion. The 
rattle has a legendary credit; it is said to be awe- 
inspiring, and, once heard, to stamp itself for ever 
in the memory. But the sound is not at all alarm- 
ing ; the hum of many insects and the buzz of the 
wasp convince the ear of danger quite as readily." 
As a matter of fact, we lived for weeks in Silverado, 
coming and going, with rattles sprung on every 
side, and it never occurred to us to be afraid. I 
used to take sun-baths and do cahsthenics in a 
certain pleasant nook among azalea and calcanthus, 
the rattles whizzing on every side like spinning- 
wheels, and the combined hiss or buzz rising louder 
and angrier at any sudden movement; but I was 
never in the least impressed, nor ever attacked. It 
was only towards the end of our stay, that a man 
down at Cahstoga, who was expatiating on the 
terrifying nature of the sound, gave me at last a 
very good imitation ; and it burst on me at once 
that we dwelt in the very metropolis of deadly 
snakes, and that the rattle was simply the commonest 
noise in Silverado. Immediately on our return, we 
attacked the Hansons on the subject. They had 
formerly assured us that our caiion was favoured, 
Hke Ireland, with an entire immunity from poisonous 
reptiles ; but, with the perfect inconsequence of the 
natural man, they were no sooner found out than 
they went off at score in the contrary direction, 



and we were told that in no part of the world did 
rattlesnakes attain to such a monstrous bigness as 
among the warm, flower-dotted rocks of Silverado. 
This is a contribution rather to the natural history 
of the Hansons than to that of snakes. 

One person, however, better served by his instinct, 
had known the rattle from the first ; and that was 
Chuchu, the dog. No rational creature has ever 
led an existence more poisoned by terror than that 
dog's at Silverado. Every whiz of the rattle made 
him bound. His eyes rolled ; he trembled ; he 
would be often wet with sweat. One of our great 
mysteries was his terror of the mountain. A little 
way above our nook, the azaleas and almost all the 
vegetation ceased. Dwarf pines not big enough to 
be Christmas-trees grew thinly among loose stones 
and gravel scaurs. Here and there a big boulder 
sat quiescent on a knoll, having paused there till 
the next rain in his long sHde down the mountain. 
There was here no ambuscade for the snakes, you 
could see clearly where you trod ; and yet the higher 
I went, the more abject and appeaHng became 
Chuchu's terror. He was an excellent master of 
that composite language in which dogs communi- 
cate with men, and he would assure me, on his 
honour, that there was some peril on the mountain ; 
appeal to me, by all that I held holy, to turn back ; 
and at length, finding all was in vain, and that 
I still persisted, ignorantly foolhardy, he would sud- 
denly whip round and make a bee-line down the 
slope for Silverado, the gravel showering after him. 


What was he afraid of? There were admittedly 
brown bears and Cahfornian hons on the mountain ; 
and a grizzly visited Rufe's poultry-yard not long 
before, to the unspeakable alarm of Caliban, who 
dashed out to chastise the intruder, and found him- 
self, by moonlight, face to face with such a Tartar. 
Something at least there must have been ; some 
hairy, dangerous brute lodged permanently among 
the rocks a little to the north-west of Silverado, 
spending his summer thereabout, with wife and 

And there was, or there had been, another 
animal. Once, under the broad daylight, on that 
open stony hillside, v/here the baby pines were 
growing, scarcely tall enough to be a badge for 
a MacGregor's bonnet, I came suddenly upon his 
innocent body, lying mummified by the dry air and 
sun : a pigmy kangaroo. I am ingloriously ignorant 
of these subjects ; had never heard of such a beast ; 
thought myself face to face with some incomparable 
sport of nature ; and began to cherish hopes of im- 
mortality in science. Rarely have I been conscious 
of a stranger thrill than when I raised that singular 
creature from the stones, dry as a board, his innocent 
heart long quiet, and all warm with sunshine. His 
long hind-legs were stiff, his tiny forepaws clutched 
upon his breast, as if to leap ; his poor life cut 
short upon that mountain by some unknown acci- 
dent. But the kangaroo rat, it proved, was no such 
unknown animal ; and my discovery was nothing. 

Crickets were not wanting. I thought I could 



make out exactly four of them, each with a corner 
of his own, who used to make night musical at 
Silverado. In the matter of voice they far ex- 
celled the birds, and their ringing whistle sounded 
from rock to rock, calling and replying the same 
thing, as in a meaningless opera. Thus children in 
full health and spirits shout together, to the dismay 
of neighbours ; and their idle, happy, deafening 
vociferations rise and fall, like the song of the 
crickets. I used to sit at night on the platform, 
and wonder why these creatures were so happy ; 
and what was wrong with man that he also did not 
wind up his days mth an hour or two of 
shouting ; but I suspect that all long-lived animals 
are solemn. The dogs alone are hardly used by 
nature ; and it seems a manifest injustice for poor 
Chuchu to die in his teens, after a life so shadowed 
and troubled, continually shaken with alarm, and 
the tear of elegant sentiment permanently in his eye. 
There was another neighbour of ours at Silverado, 
small but very active, a destructive fellow. This 
was a black, ugly fly — a bore, the Hansons called 
him — who lived by hundreds in the boarding of 
our house. He entered by a round hole, more 
neatly pierced than a man could do it with a gimlet, 
and he seems to have spent his life in cutting out 
the interior of the plank, but whether as a dwelhng 
or a store-house, I could never find. When I used 
to lie in bed in the morning for a rest — we had no 
easy-chairs in Silverado — I would hear, hour after 
hour, the sharp cutting sound of his labours, and 


from time to time a dainty shower of sawdust would 
fall upon the blankets. There lives no more in- 
dustrious creature than a bore. 

And now that I have named to the reader all our 
animals and insects without exception — only I find 
I have forgotten the flies — he will be able to appre- 
ciate the singular privacy and silence of our days. 
It was not only man who was excluded : animals, 
the song of birds, the lowing of cattle, the bleating 
of sheep, clouds even, and the variations of the 
weather, were here also wanting ; and as, day after 
day, the sky was one dome of blue, and the pines 
below us stood motionless in the still air, so the 
hours themselves were marked out from each other 
only by the series of our own affairs, and the sun's 
great period as he ranged westward through the 
heavens. The two birds cackled a while in the 
early morning ; all day the water tinkled in the 
shaft, the bores ground sawdust in the planking of 
our crazy palace — infinitesimal sounds ; and it was 
only with the return of night that any change 
would fall on our surroundings, or the four crickets 
begin to flute together in the dark. 

Indeed, it would be hard to exaggerate the 
pleasure that we took in the approach of evening. 
Our day was not very long, but it was very tiring. 
To trip along unsteady planks or wade among shift- 
ing stones, to go to and fro for water, to clamber 
down the glen to the Toll House after meat and 
letters, to cook, to make fires and beds, were all 
exhausting to the body. Life out of doors, besides, 



under the fierce eye of day, draws largely on the 
animal spirits. There are certain hours in the after- 
noon when a man, unless he is in strong health or 
enjoys a vacant mind, would rather creep into a 
cool corner of a house and sit upon the chairs of 
civilisation. About that time the sharp stones, the 
planks, the upturned boxes of Silverado, began to 
grow irksome to my body ; I set out on that hope- 
less, never-ending quest for a more comfortable pos- 
ture ; I would be fevered and weary of the staring 
sun ; and just then he would begin courteously 
to withdraw his countenance, the shadows length- 
ened, the aromatic airs awoke, and an indescribable 
but happy change announced the coming of the 

The hours of evening, when we were once cur- 
tained in the friendly dark, sped lightly. Even as 
with the crickets, night brought to us a certain 
spirit of rejoicing. It was good to taste the air; 
good to mark the dawning of the stars, as they 
increased their glittering company ; good, too, to 
gather stones, and send them crashing down the 
chute, a wave of light. It seemed, in some way, 
the reward and the fulfilment of the day. So it is 
when men dwell in the open air; it is one of the 
simple pleasures that we lose by living cribbed and 
covered in a house, that, though the coming of the 
day is still the most inspiriting, yet day's departure, 
also, and the return of night, refresh, renew, and 
quiet us ; and in the pastures of the dusk we stand, 
like cattle, exulting in the absence of the load. 


Our nights were never cold, and they were always 
still, but for one remarkable exception. Regularly, 
about nine o'clock, a warm wind sprang up, and 
blew for ten minutes, or maybe a quarter of an 
hour, right down the canon, fanning it well out, 
airing it as a mother airs the night-nursery before 
the children sleep. As far as I could judge, in the 
clear darkness of the night, this wind was purely 
local : perhaps dependent on the configuration of 
the glen. At least, it was very welcome to the 
hot and weary squatters ; and if we were not abed 
already, the springing up of this Lilliputian valley- 
wind would often be our signal to retire. 

I was the last to go to bed, as I was still the 
first to rise. Many a night I have strolled about 
the platform, taking a bath of darkness before I 
slept. The rest would be in bed, and even from 
the forge I could hear them talking together from 
bunk to bunk. A single candle in the neck of a 
pint bottle was their only illumination ; and yet 
the old cracked house seemed literally bursting 
with the light. It shone keen as a knife through all 
the vertical chinks ; it struck upward through the 
broken shingles ; and through the eastern door and 
window it fell in a great splash upon the thicket 
and the overhanging rock. You would have said 
a conflagration, or at the least a roaring forge ; and 
behold it was but a candle. Or perhaps it was yet 
more strange to see the procession moving bedwards 
round the corner of the house, and up the plank 
that brought us to the bedroom door; under the 
3-Y 337 


immense spread of the starry heavens, down in a 
crevice of the giant mountain, these few human 
shapes, with their unshielded taper, made so dis- 
proportionate a figure in the eye and mind. But 
the more he is alone with nature, the greater man 
and his doings bulk in the consideration of his 
fellow-men. Miles and miles away upon the oppo- 
site hill-tops, if there were any hunter belated or 
any traveller who had lost his way, he must have 
stood, and watched and wondered, from the time 
the candle issued from the door of the assayer's 
office till it had mounted the plank and disappeared 
again into the miners' dormitory. 










1 — 1 

1— 1 






^ II