Skip to main content

Full text of "The works of Hubert Howe Bancroft"

See other formats

University of California • Berkeley 

The Peter and Rosell Harvey 
Memorial Fund 











Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1890, by 

In the Oifice of the Librarian of Congress at Washington. 

All Bights Reserved. 















WORK, 148 








CHAPTER XI. p^o,. 




mongolianism: in America, 309 

















Facts can be accurately known to us only by the most rigid observation 
and sustained and scrutinizing scepticism 

— Froude 

In the North American Revieiu for April, 1876, ap- 
peared an article by Lewis H. Morgan entitled '' Mon- 
tezuma's Dinner," in which the writer attempts to 
show that the native nations of Central and South 
America were not so far advanced in culture as from 
the evidence of priests and conquerors we have been led 
to suppose, were not indeed so far advanced as the Iro- 
quois and some other northern tribes. As Mr Mor- 
gan takes for his text the second volume of my Na- 
tive Races of the Pacific States^ treating of the aboriginal 
civilization of the Mexican and Central American 
table-lands; and as his remarkable hypotheses affect 
not alone the quality of American aboriginal culture, 
but the foundations of early American history, and 
indeed of all historic evidence ; and as among his dis- 
iples are found several popular writers disseminating 
these erroneous ideas, I deem it not out of place to 
^^xpress my views upon the subject. 

I shall not attempt the elucidation of Mr Morgan's 
theories, which run through voluminous and somev/hat 


turbid writings, and which have been brought into 
some degree of notice, more by the persistent energy 
of the author than by any able arguments or convin- 
cing proofs. I have noticed tiiat not every originator 
or supporter of a theory holds to one belief through- 
out the entire course of his investigations, or can him- 
self explahi exactly what he thinks he believes. 

The Morgan hypothesis adopts a distinction of its 
own as to what constitutes a savage or a civilized na- 
tion, in which rise prominent the systems of kinship, 
conspicuous in particular among the Iroquois and 
Ojibways, together with plurality of wives and com- 
munity of property, as tests of a former grade. Con- 
vinced that the American nations all belong to one 
family, Mr Morgan assumes that their various insti- 
tutions must be practically identical, and that the so- 
cial customs of extinct tribes may be best learned, not 
from the statements of men who wrote from actual 
observation, but from the study of existing tribes. 
Himself familiar with the Iroquois, and to some ex- 
tent with other northern tribes, he arbitrarily applies 
the tribal organization of the Iroquois, of gentes. phra- 
tries, tribes, and confederations to the nations of Mex- 
ico and Central and South America, thus making 
savages of all the inhabitants of the two Americas. 

With Mr Morgan's theory I have nothing to do. I 
cannot see that it alters the facts regarding the cul- 
ture, the intellectual and social conditions of the in- 
habitants of the Mexican and Central American 
table-lands whether they are called savage or civilized, 
especially by those whose conception of the meaning of 
these words is peculiar, or at least quite different from 
that of the foremost scholars of the day. What alone 
interests me in this connection is the effect of such 
teachings on popular estimates of historical evidence, 
particularly as touching the early American chroni- 
clers. Not that the teachings of Mr Morgan himself 
could exercise any great popular influence anywhere; 
but there is a class of writers for the million, who 


■flit in the sunshine of public favor, in the borderland 
between fact and fancy, caring less for the, truth of 
what they say than for the manner in which it is said, 
and the money that comes to them in consequence. 

Men of this stamp have taken up the Morgan theory, 
and by pretending that there is more in it than ever 
the author himself dreamed of, have exercised a most 
pernicious influence over the popular mind, succeeding 
at one time in attracting to themselves considerable 
attention. They claimed that the literary and monu- 
mental remains of the Aztecs, Mayas, and Mound- 
builders might now be translated by skillful students ; 
that it clew to the labyrinths of race and origin had 
been found ; that conjecture in this direction had be- 
gun for science a new era, and that there remains 
little affecting American archaeology which the new 
theory will not make plain. For not one of these 
statements was there any foundation in fact or reason. 

They even went further to astonish the w^orld, by 
asserting that the early American annals are by the 
light of this new theory transformed, and to a great 
extent ammlled, the eyes of the first comers having 
deceived them ; that the aboriginal culture, its arts, 
literature, sciences, polities, and religions, mean not 
these, but other things, as is clearly shown by the 
**new interpretation," and that the tales of the con- 
querors must accordingly be written anew, written 
and read by this new transforming light; that there 
never was an Aztec or a Maya empire, but only wild 
tribes leagued like the northern savages ; that Yuca- 
tan never had great cities, nor Montezuma a palace, 
but that as an ordinary Indian chief this personage 
had lived in the communal dwelling of his tribe ; that 
we can see America as Cortes saw it, not in the words 
of Cortes and his companions, or in the monumental 
remains of the south, but in the reflection of New 
Mexican villages, and through the mental vagaries 
of one man after the annihilation of facts presented 
by a hundred men. 


All that was seen and said at the time of the con- 
quest, and all that has since been seen or said conflict- 
ing with this fancy, is illusion; reasonable, tangible 
evidence, such alone as could be accepted by unbiassed 
common- sense, was not admissible if conflicting with 
the preconceived idea. I was surprised that sucli 
conceits should ever assume tangible form and be re- 
ceived as truth by any considerable number of scholars ; 
that such conceits should ever be disseminated as facts 
by men pretending to a love of truth. It seems some- 
what difficult for the average mind, slowly undergoing 
eternal emancipation, to establish the true relative 
values of learned and unlearned ignorance. In the 
former category may be placed all those unprovable 
speculations destined to end where they begin, and 
which so largely occupy the attention of the human 
race. And so long as those who assume the roles of 
teachers present their illusions in pleasing forms, with 
a fair amount of dogmatic assurance, they will find 

In the present instance the disciples are far worse 
than the master. I fail to see the wisdom of thus 
attempting to sweep from the face of the earth by 
mere negation all persons and facts opposing a propo- 
sition. It is not by such means that reasonable hy- 
potheses are established; blank negation never yet 
overthrew substantial truth. It seems a long leap, 
indeed, from a theory resting on a trace of certain 
organizations in the north, to an arbitrary conclusion 
that the Mayas w^ere identical in their institutions 
with the Pueblo Indians. Grant the fundamental 
doctrine, and there is yet a wide distance between 
Zufii and Uxmal. It requires a vivid imagination to 
see only joint-tenement structures in the remains at 
Palenque. But admitting it, the radical difference in 
plan, architecture, and sculptured and stucco decora- 
tions, to employ Morgan's own line of argument, 
suggests a corresponding development and improve- 
ment in other mstitutions and arts, which would in- 


troduce some troublesome variations in the assumed 
identity with the Pueblos and Iroquois, even if all 
started together. The Maya hieroglyphs, and even 
certain of the Aztec, form also an obstacle by no 
means so easily removed. True, not being deciphered, 
their actual grade cannot be positively proved; yet 
the common picture-writing contains enough of the 
phonetic element to place the better class high above 
the line fixed by the new transforming light as the 
mark of civilization. Even by this bright illumination 
it seems scarcely possible to reconcile the testimony 
of existing relics, and of Spanish witnesses who came 
into contact with the Maya and Nahua nations, with 
the narrow conclusions of supporters of the all-embrac- 
ing consanguinity. In the earlier life of the hypothe- 
sis the changes to what are called descriptive consan- 
guinity and the inheritance of property were made 
tests of civilization; but these tests were abandoned 
when it was ascertained, among other things, that the 
Aztecs did inherit personal property, and to a certain 
extent landed estate. 

If this were the only theory ever advanced to prove 
indemonstrable propositions regarding the Americans, 
it might be more imposing ; but it is only one of fifty, 
each of which has had its day and its supporters, 
and we cannot look forward with any degree of con- 
fidence to the fulfilment of promises based on grounds 
so weak and fictitious. Nor do I regard such inves- 
tigation as in every respect beneficial; on the con- 
trary, it is clearly detrimental where facts are warped 
to fit theories, the theory being of less importance to 
mankind than the fact. On the other hand it is true 
that great discoveries have sprung from apparently 
puerile conceits ; and facts are sure to live, however 
sometimes distorted, while false doctrines are sure to 
die, however ably presented. 

In common with all such suppositions, the paths by 
which the advocate reaches his conclusions are fuller 
of instruction than the conclusions themselves. There 


is something of instruction in the nine massive folios 
left by the poor demented Lord Kingsborough, who 
greatly desired to prove the American Indians Jews, 
tliough he was not one whit nearer such proof at the 
end than at the beginning. The more knowledge the 
learned abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg brought to the 
subject the more confused he became, until the latter 
parts of his labors were directed toward revising his 
earlier conjectures. Such a course appears not unusual 
with theorists — from the dooniatic to the aro;umenta- 
tive, then back to the dogmatic again, forever explain- 
ing away mistakes and falling into new ones. The 
eloquent Robert Mackenzie is still in the first stage 
of dogmatism w^hen with a glance at the map showing 
tlie proximity of Asia and America he would forever 
settle the question of origin. Nor is the straining of 
modern scientists to prove Asiatic intercourse by 
shipwrecked Japanese junks at all necessary. It is a 
well established fact that for many centuries there has 
been free intercourse between the peoples on either 
side of Bering strait, both by means of boats and by 
crossing on the ice. It may be as Mr Morgan says, 
though his arguments appear scarcely more convincing 
than the arguments of those who preceded him, or of 
those who came after him. Some of these other 
theories are held to-day ; grant them all — ^what then? 
Grant that the Americans are one stock with the 
people of Asia, Scandinavia, or Africa, or Armenia, 
there still remains to be proven whether the Old 
World peopled the New, or the New the Old ; where 
stood the primordial cradle or cradles of the race ; 
where man was first made, and how . 

The fundamental weakness of Mr Morgan's argu- 
ment lies in the glaring distortion of evidence to sus- 
tain it. Mr Morgan begins by telling what the Span- 
ish conquerers found in Mexico — not what they them- 
selves reported to have seen, but what they should have 
seen to establish the * new interpretation.' This being 
infallible, the Spanish conquerors did not see what 


they claimed. It may be immaterial whether we call 
the Nah ua culture savagism or civilization, Montezuma's 
dwelling a palace or a tenement house, himself empcx'or 
or cacique, and his subordinate rulers lords or chiefs; 
but it is somewhat presum^ptuous for Mr Morgan, 
who never examined the monumental remains of the 
Aztecs, who had no greater opportunity than others 
of studying their social system, and who in fact 
never knew anything about it except upon the evi- 
dence of the very witnesses he denounces as blind 
and false, sweepingly to assert, in order to extend a 
preconceived theory over all the nations of America, 
that the conquerors were mistaken, that they could 
not have seen what they thought they saw. It is 
the old Ihie of reasoning employed by learned super- 
sition these many centuries ; if the universe, or any 
part of it, does not accord with the doctrine, so 
much the worse for the universe, which nmst there- 
upon be reconstructed. As the good elder of one 
of our ftishionable churches lately remarked, " If the 
bible affirmed that Jonah swallowed the whale, I 
should believe it." 

Without advancing adequate evidence to show the 
existence of his system among the Nahuas, Mr Morgan 
eno:a<T^es in sagre discussions concernhw it, transform- 
ing by the light of the new interpretation as many 
of the new facts into his fancies as suits his purpose. 
In doinof this, he allows the chroniclers to be riolit in 
whatever they say supporting his views ; in all such 
statements as oppose his system they were in error. 
It was indeed a transforming light that enabled this 
man to see, not being present, what others could by 
no means perceive though they were on the ground ; 
and he kindly admits that the early histories of 
Spanish America may for the most part be trusted, 
except where his pet project is touched. 

This, then, is my opinion of the Morgan theory. 
There may be grounds for certain of its suppositions 
in certain directions, but there are not sufficient 


grounds for its acceptance as affecting the nations of 
the Mexican and Central American table-lands. In 
all such discussions there may be marshalled many- 
analogies, some of them remarkable Nature is 
everywhere one ; the nations of the earth, of whatever 
origin, are formed on one model But for every anal- 
ogy these theorists have found, their predecessors have 
found a score of analogies in suppc^rt of some other 
theory. Analogy presents no reliable basis for prov- 
ing origin or race migrations. 

In lookincr over Mr Mororan's writin^js, it is to be 
noticed that traces of his tests to prove his theories 
become fainter and fainter as the southern and more 
advanced nations are approached. His attempt to 
locate the ancient Cibola shows no small lack of skill 
in tlie use of evidence. Likewise, though more dog- 
matical in some respects, in his later works he appa- 
rently relinquishes in some degree the positions which 
at first were maintained with such obstinacy, and 
spends some time in qualifying some of the more pal- 
pable of his former errors, yet still insisting in ex- 
tending his doctrines over the southern plateaux. 

In estimating the relative advancement of peoples, 
some standard of measurement is necessary. The 
term savage and civilized, as employed by various 
persons, have widely different significations. Proba- 
bly no words so freely used are so little understood. 
The terms are usually employed to designate fixed 
conditions, when by the very nature of things such 
conditions cannot properly be applied to man. 

Mr Morgan classified culture periods under the 
categories of savagism, barbarism, and civilization; 
to emerge from the first of which there should be 
knowledge of fire, fish subsistence, and the bow and 
arrow; from the second, pottery, domestication of ani- 
mals, agriculture, and smelting of iron ; and to attain 
full civilization a phonetic alphabet was necessary, or 
use of hieroglyphs upon stone as an equivalent. 


This may have been a convenient arrangement for 
his purpose, and I see no reason wliy he, and all v/ho 
choose, should not employ it. But surely the same 
right should be accorded others, who perchance may 
find another classification convenient. For instance, 
one miGfht wish to throw Mr Monxan's three divisions 
into the one category of savagism, and spread the 
idea of civilization upon a higher plane ; for surely 
our present highest civilization is as much superior to 
the condition essential to admission into his highest 
class as his highest class is superior to his lowest. 
Italian song, French art, German letters, English 
poetry, and American invention are certahil}' far 
enough in advance of the first use of the phonetic 
alphabet to entitle such accomplishments to a new 

One estimates a nation's civilization by its agri- 
culture ; another by its manufactures; others by the 
quality of its religion, morality, literature, or politi- 
cal and social institutions. Some say that tillers of 
the soil should be preferred before herders of cattle ; 
some hold w^(3rkers in iron and coal above w^orkers 
in gold and feathers; some place pottery in advance 
of sculpture ; the fine arts before the industrial ; some 
compare implements of war, others plionetic charac- 
ters, others knowledge of the movements of the 
heavenly bodies ; some w^ould take a general average. 

But weighing a people's civilization, or lack of it, 
by any of these standards, yet other standards are 
necessary by which to measure progress. What is 
meant by half civilized, or quarter civilized, or wholly 
civilized? A half civilized nation is a nation half as 
civilized as ours. But is ours civilized, fully civilized ? 
Is there no higher culture, or refinement, or justice, 
or humanity in store for man than those formed on 
present European models, which sanction coercion, 
bloody arbitrament, international robbery, the exter- 
mination of primitive peoples, and hide in society 
under more comely coverings all the iniquities of sav- 


agisiii ? Judging from the past and the present there 
is yet another six thousand, or sixty thousand years 
of progress for man, and then lie may be still a 
savage compared with his condition at the end of the 
next twelve tliousand or one hundred and twenty 
thousand years' term. Is there then no such thing 
as civilization? Assuredly not, in the significance of 
a fixed condition, a goal attained, a complete and 
perfected idea or state. Civilization and savagism 
are relative and not absolute terms. True, temporary 
standards have to be adopted at different stages in 
history for the sake of argument and elucidation; 
but to attempt to make them absolute and apply 
them to fixed conditions is to render them meaning- 
less, and make null the conditions indicated. The 
moment the man ])rimeval kindles a fire, or employs 
a crooked stick in procuring food, he has entered upon 
his never ending progressional journey ; he is no 
longer wholly and primordially savage. The terms 
being rightly employed, there are no absolute savages 
or civilized peoples on the earth to-day ; and when 
there arc so many standards by which progress may 
properly be measured, is it wise to warp fundamental 
facts in dogmatically thrusting one people into the 
category of half civilized, and another but slightly 
different into that of one quarter savage ? We might 
have a hundred fixed stages, not one of which by any 
possibility could bo so defined in words as completely 
to fit any one of the millions of human conditions. 
Howsoever definite an idea we may have of that end 
of the line which began with man, of the other which 
will never cease spinning until the last human being 
has left the planet, we can have no conception. For 
aught we know it may not stop short of omniscience. 
Civilization is an unfolding, and develops mainly 
from its own germ ; it is not a superficial acquisition, 
but an inward growth, even if nourished by extra- 
neous food. You may whitewash a savage with your 
superiority, but you cannot civilize him at once. 


Whether we turn to the extreme eastern kingdoms 
of Asia, or to the region watered by the Euphrates 
and the Nile, all inhabited since the remotest historic 
past by races of acknowledged culture, everywhere we 
find vast differences and strong peculiarities in the 
respective cultures, developed by environment. Some 
of the characteristics are of a high order, others de- 
scend to a grade of actual barbarism; some are in 
course of development, others stationary, or even 
retrogradhig. The Nahua culture partakes of the 
same traits, fashioned by its peculiar environment. 
For purposes of his own, Mr Morgan arbitrarily de- 
scribes limits to what is called civilization in order if 
possible to prevent the Nahuas from entering its pre- 
cincts. In this effort he ignores many distinctively 
higher traits which the most superficial observer must 
discover among the southern races; he chooses to 
disregard or slight the very distinct evidences of not 
merely settled life, but of settled comnmnities under 
a high form of government, with advanced institu- 
tions and arts. 

I will present briefly some facts and characteristics 
on which, according to my conception of the term, 
the Nahuas and ]\Iayas may justly lay claim to be 
called civilized. I will give beforeliand the proof that 
these traits did actually exist among the peoples of 
the Mexican and Central American table-lands at the 
time of their conquest by the Spaniards, laying before 
the reader the principal authorities in their true char- 
acter as fully as I am able to discover it, with all 
tlieir merits and demerits, their veracity and men- 
dacity; making as close and critical an analysis of 
their writings as the most skeptical could desire. I 
am not aware of any special desire to prove the pres- 
ence or absence of a civilization in this instance. If 
my historical writings display any one marked pecu- 
liarity, it is that of a critical incredulity in respect of 
both Indian and Spanish tales. I have avoided, so 


far as possible, placing myself in a position where I 
should be tempted to exaggerate. I have no theory 
to advocate. My narrations are based on the reports 
of eye-witnesses whose characters have been studied, 
whose education, idiosyncrasies, positions, conditions, 
temper, and temptations have all been carefully con- 
sidered in weighing their evidence, and the results 
are so given that the reader can easily form conclu- 
sions of his own if mine do not satisfy him. 

It is well not to lose sight of the fact, either in the 
present investigation or in using the writings of the 
chroniclers as historical evidence or for any other pur- 
pose, that the men of the period were deceived in re- 
gard to many things, but that it is not difficult for us 
to perceive in what things and to what extent they 
were laboring under misapprehension. All men and 
all things are to a certain extent deceiving, even to 
our wiser discrimination of to-day. Classes and 
creeds are given to misrepresentation ; either intention- 
ally or unintentionally, the false colors placed before 
the mind of man in the beginning, through which 
alone the universe and whatever it contains must of 
necessity be viewed, were quite different in different 
times and from various standpoints. The priest, how- 
ever, is not likely wilfully to misrepresent in matters 
wherefrom there will arise no benefit either to him 
or to his church or order. And so with the soldier 
and adventurer, each perhaps jealous of the other, and 
ever ready to contradict any false statement which 
w^ill lessen his own importance or add to the wealth 
or happiness of one he hates. 

In regard to aboriginal testimony, aside from that 
displayed by the still existing material remains, I 
never have placed great reliance, although on no better 
evidence than that of native Aztec writers, and abori- 
ginal traditions in existence long before the appearance 
in the country of Europeans, Christianity, mahomet- 
anism, and all religions pin their faith. There are 
some able scholars and investigators of the present 


day who are confident that in the hieroglyphics of 
the Nahuas and Mayas will yet be found the key to 
many mysteries, among others to unknown languages, 
to kinship with the Egyptians, Chaldeans, or other 
peoples, and to the routes and purposes of the great 
migrations of the earth ; but there has as yet appeared 
no evidence whatever to base any such expectations 
upon. Towards deciphering the picture writings of 
the aboriginal peoples of the Mexican and Central 
American table-lands, little or no advance has been 
made. Nevertheless, there were among the native 
nations inhabiting this region prior to the conquest 
wise and able men, who, after the Spaniards had come, 
and they had learned the language of the conquerors, 
transcribed much of their aboriginal history from the 
original hieroglyphics into Spanish, and there is no 
reason why we may not as well believe the more evi- 
dent truths contained in these writings, particularly 
such portions as we have at hand collateral evidence 
to sustain, as credit anything found in any ancient 
writings, sacred or profane. Even though the state- 
ments recorded in tliese aboriginal books are all thrown 
into the category of mythology, there is still evidence 
of a well-advanced culture in the bare ability to ori- 
ginate, entertain, and record such ideas. The measure 
of their civilization, which is the prominent point at 
issue in the present instance, is to a certain extent 
determined by the character and quality of their writ- 
ings, whether true or false. Let every word of the 
Iliad be untrue, Homer would not therefore be termed 
a savage. It seems superfluous to attempt to prove 
the validity of the early chroniclers. Mr Morgan's 
singular position would not be worthy of notice but 
that his statements have proved misleading to others. 
Imagine the history of the conquest written from the 
Morgan standpoint. The story might be told based on 
the authority of the chroniclers — it can never other- 
wise be written ; but all that they report in any way 
conflicting with the preconceived idea must be thrown 


out or explained away. Imagine my account of the 
aborigines announced as A JDescrijDtion of the Native 
Races of North America, founded on such 2oarts of 
existing Spanish Testimony, and on such Material 
Relics as seem to agree ivith the researches of Lewis 
II. Morgan among the Iroquois of New York! If, 
after the evidence in the present instance is fully 
given, the reader prefers denominating the peoples 
referred to as savages or satyrs, I have not the 
slightest objection. 

With the first expedition to IMexico went two men 
by the name of Diaz, one a priest and the other a 
soldier. Both wrote accounts of what they saw, thus 
giving us at the outset narratives from ecclesiastical 
and secular standpoints. It was a voyage along the 
coast ; they did not penetrate the interior. Observa- 
tion being general, the descriptions are general. There 
was nothing remarkable about the priest; he was not 
particularly intelligent or honest. I see no reason to 
doubt the commonplace incidents of the voyage as 
given in the Itinerario de Grijalva. The towns, with 
their white stone buildings and temple-towers glisten- 
ing in the foliage, remind him of Seville; when he 
mentions a miracle which happens at one of them, 
we know he is not telling the truth. Indeed, an 
experienced judge can almost always arrive at the 
truth even if the evidence comes only from the 
mouths of Ijing witnesses, provided he can examine 
them apart. Where the evidence is abundant, the 
judge soon knows more of the facts of the case than 
any one witness, and can easily discern the true state- 
ments from the false. But on the whole, the priest 
Juan Diaz was quite moderate in his descriptions of 
what we know from other sources to have been there. 

The same evidence is offered in the Historia Ver- 
dadera of Bernal Diaz, who attended not only on this 
voyage, but on the first and succeeding expeditions; 
all is plain, unvarnished, and devoid of coloring. If 
hyperbole was ever to be employed it should be in 


connection with the revelation of these first startling 
evidences of a new art and a strange race. But the 
enthusiasm of the author becomes marked only as he 
ascends later with Cortes to the table-land and there 
beholds the varied extent of the new culture. What 
stronger proof can there be of its superior grade when 
he passes by with comparative indifference the Yucatec 
specimen, known to us to be of rare beauty, and ex- 
presses marked wonder only on reaching Mexico? 

Bernal Diaz wrote rather late in life, after many 
accounts had already been given. He prided himself 
on giving a true history, was quite as ready to fight 
with his pen as with his sword, and having had many 
quarrels, and still harboring many jealousies, was 
very apt to criticise what others said; and he did so 
criticise and refute. The truth is, there were here 
many and opposing elements in the evidence to win- 
now it from falsehood, far more than are usually 
found in early materials for history. 

The memorials of the relatives of Velazquez to the 
king are not worth considering, being little more than 
masses of misstatements and exaof2ferations. 

The personage known as the Anonymous Con- 
queror, probably Francisco de Terrazas, mayordomo 
of Cortes, gave a clear description of Mexico, the 
country, people, towns, and institutions, and particu- 
larly the capital city, arranged in paragraphs with 
proper headings, with drawings of the great temple 
and of the city. His method and language denote in- 
telligence and inspire confidence. No reason is known 
why he should exaggerate, many being apparent 
why he should render a true account. If his testi- 
mony can be ruled out on the ground that it does not 
fit a theory, then can that of any man who furnishes 
material for history, and our histories may as well be 
written Vv4th the theories as authorities, and have done 
with it. Dealing wholly with native institutions, the 
writer seems to have no desire, as is the case with 
some, to magnify native strength and resources for the 


sake of raising the estimate of the deeds of himself 
and comrades; on the contrary, in speaking of native 
troops and arms, where a soldier would be most in- 
clined to boast, the description rather moderates the 
idea of their prowess. The population of Mexico he 
gives lower than most writers, and yet, when describing 
the city and its arts, he grows quite eloquent on the 
size, the beauty, the civilized features. The whole 
narrative bears the stamp of reliability, and the stu- 
dent may easily from internal evidence and com- 
parison deduct approximate truth. 

There are documents, such as Carta del Ejercito and 
Prohanza de Lejalde, attested under oath by hundreds, 
and therefore apparently worthy of credit above others ; 
but when we examine the motives for their production, 
and find that they were intended to palliate the con- 
duct of the conquerors, our confidence is shaken. 

Hernan Cortes was ever ready with a lie when it 
suited his purpose, but he was far too wise a man need- 
lessly to waste so useful an agent. He would not, and 
did not, acquire a name for untruthfulness. He knew 
that others were w^riting as well as himself, and it 
could by no possibility bring him permanent benefit 
to indulge in much deception. His misstatements 
chiefly affect himself and his enemies and opponents 
among his own countrymen; in giving detailed infor- 
mation concerning the natives there was little temp- 
tation to deceive. His Cartas might naturally be 
expected to aim at extolling his achievements and the 
value of his discovery. Expecting some coloring, the 
student is forewarned. We find at times what we feel 
inclined to stamp as exaggeration, but here also the 
enthusiasm of the narrator rises only as he approaches 
Mexico, the fame of which is dinned into his ears all 
along his march, and that by the natives nearer the 
coast, whose high advancement is attested by ruins 
and relics. Internal and collateral evidence shows his 
first descriptions of sights to be far from overrated, 
and his later discoveries to be in the main quite trust- 


worthy. Indeed, aware that some of his statements 
may be doubted, he urges his sovereign more than 
once to send out a commission to verify them. 

Such verification was exacted. Officials did come 
out to report on the conquest and its value, only to 
join, in the main, in confirmation of what had been 
said. A series of questions was also sent to public 
men in Mexico not long after the conquest, bearing to 
a great extent on the native culture, and the answers 
all tend to confirm the high estimate already formed 
from the specimens and reports forwarded to Spain. 
One of the most exhaustive answers was sent by the 
eminent jurist Alonso de Zurita, connected for nearly 
twenty years with Spanish audiencias in New Spain. 
He reviews the native institutions with calm and clear 
judgment, and it is only in rejecting the epithet of 
barbarians as bestowed by unthinking persons — a term 
applied also to Europeans by Chinese — that he grows 
indignant, declaring that none who had any knowledge 
of Mexican institutions and capacity could use such 
a term. He spoke while evidences were quite fresh, 
and well knew what he affirmed. Similar confirm- 
atory evidence may be found massed in the various 
collections of letters and narratives about the Indies 
brought to light from the archives of Spain and 
America, and published by the editors of the extensive 
Coleccion de Documentos Ineditos; Coleccion de Docu- 
mentos para la Historia de Mexico, etc. ; by the learned 
Navarrete, Ramirez, Icazbalceta, Ternaux-Compans, 
and others. 

Still stronger evidence of the reliability of the 
early authorities comes from the consideration that 
the rumors of IMexico's grandeur and wealth attracted 
vast hordes of hungry seekers for gold, grants of land, 
?aid office. Of course, most of them were disap- 
pointed, and Cortes, from his inability to please and 
gratify all, raised a host of enemies, who joined the 
large number already arraigned against him by reason 
of his successes. Their aim was naturally to vilify 

Essays and Miscellany 2 


him, to lower the achievements of the conquest, and 
to disparage the country which had failed to satisfy 
them. If ever a subject was assailed, it was this of 
Mexico, her resources and people; assailed, too, during 
the very opening years of the occupation, when the 
testimony of eye-witnesses was abundant, and particu- 
larly of the disappointed, whose voice was loudest. 
Notwithstanding all this the glories of Mexico stand 
unshaken, and greater grow the confirmed ideas of 
the superior condition of her race in number, culture, 
and resources; and this, too, when the Spanish gov- 
ernment began to discountenance the glowing reports 
of native superiority, and to lower the estimates of 
aboriginal wealth and condition, with a view to keep 
foreign attention from the country, and to hide the 
facts which would tell ag^ainstit while crushin^f ahio^h 
culture and enslaving a noble race. 

Thus it was that the writinofs of Sahas^un, Las 
Casas, and others, were suppressed or neglected. But 
if many such were lost, others came finally to light 
to receive additional confirmation from the native 
records. It is to these records that we must look 
not only for confirmation of what the chroniclers 
relate, but for the only reliable data on political ma- 
chinery and other esoteric subjects with which Span- 
iards could not become so well acquainted. The value 
of native records as supplementary and confirmatory 
testimony is self-apparent, since they were written by 
and for the natives themselves, and naturally without 
the idea of exaggeration or deception being dominant. 
A sufficient number of original and copied native 
manuscripts or paintings exists in different museums 
and libraries, relating not only to historic events, but 
describing the nature and development of institutions 
and arts. 

Besides the actual records, many histories exist, 
by natives and friars, based wholly on such paintings 
and on traditions and personal observations, such 
as those of Tezozomoc, Camargo, and Ixtlilxochitl. 


Each of these native authors wrote from a different 
standpoint, in the interest of his respective nation- 
ality. Camargo, for instance, as a Tlascaltec is bit- 
terly hostile to the Aztecs, and seeks of course to 
detract from their grandeur in order to exalt his own 
people. He rather avoids dwelhng on Aztec glories; 
nevertheless frequent admissions appear which help 
to confirm the impression of their advanced institu- 
tions. Ixtlilxochitl, again, writes from the family 
archives of his royal house of Tezcuco, and dwells 
upon the deeds and grandeur of his city and tribe. 
None of these authors possess sufficient skill to con- 
ceal the coloring which constitutes their chief defect 
as authorities. A number of chroniclers, and even 
modern writers like Brasseur de Bourbourg, have 
used native paintings and narratives more or less for 
their histories, while certain others, like Veytia, de- 
pend upon them or their translations almost wholly. 

Ixtlilxochitl was called by Bustama-nte the Cicero 
of Andhuac, and of course is to be read with allowance 
when speaking of his people. And so with Father 
Duran — I would no more trust a zealous priest while 
defending the natives than I would trust Morgan 
while defending his theory. 

The reliability of translators is best judged by the 
method used by Father Sahagun in the formation 
of the Historia General^ the three volumes of which 
are devoted to an account of native manners and cus- 
toms, their domestic and public life, their festivals 
and rites, their institutions and traits. Instructed by 
his superiors, the friar called upon intelligent and 
learned Indians in different places to paint in hiero- 
glyphics their accounts of these subjects. To these, 
explanations were attached in full Mexican text, and 
tested by further inquiries, and then translated into 
Spanish by Sahagun. Many of the narratives are 
vague and absurd, yet these very faults point in most 
cases to simple-minded earnestness and frankness, and 
render the work rather easier for the discriminating 


student to sift. The honesty of Sahagun's labors 
brought upon them obloquy and neglect, which only 
the more serve to commend the work to us. 

It is from such sources, original and translated 
native records, and verbal and written narrations of 
eye-witnesses, that succeeding writers, or chroniclers 
proper, obtained the main portion of their accounts 
of conquests and aboriginal institutions. They them- 
selves had opportunities for observation ; and actuated 
by different motives, they were naturally impelled to 
investigate and weigh to a certain extent, whether 
through eagerness for fixme, or from desire to raise 
the achievements of favorites, or to detract from the 
glories of envied or detested leaders. 

Las Casas, for instance, in his different works 
stands forward as a pronounced champion of the 
natives, and unflinchingly lashes the conquerors and 
historians for what he terms cruelty, unjust policy, 
and false statement. His Historia Ajwlogetica is 
purely a defence of the Indians, their institutions and 
characteristics, and consequently to be accepted with 
caution. The need of this caution becomes stronger 
when we behold the extreme exaggerations to which 
he is led in the Breve Relacion, claiming to be an expose 
of Spanish excesses and cruelties. In the Historia de 
las Indias, again, he allows his feelings of friendship 
for Velazquez to detract from the achievements of 
Cortes. On every hand, therefore, the historian finds 
reasons for accepting with caution the statements of 
Las Casas; but thus forewarned, he is able to reject 
the false and determine the true. He also finds that 
when not blinded by zeal the worthy bishop is honest, 
and withal a keen and valuable observer, guided by 
practical sagacity and endowed with a certain genius. 

His contemporary, Oviedo, although less talented, 
is by no means deficient in knowledge, and a varied 
experience in both hemispheres had given him a 
useful insight into affairs. He is not partial to the 
natives, and Las Casas actually denounces his state- 


ments against them as lies. This is hardly just, ex- 
cept in some instances. While personally acquainted 
only with the region to the south of Nicaragua Lake, 
his account embraces all Spanish conquests in the 
western Indies, the facts being gathered from every 
accessible source, and either compiled or given in 
separate form. Indian and Spaniard, friend, foe, and 
rival, all receive a hearing and a record, so that his 
work is to a great extent a mass of testimony from 
opposite sides. This to the hasty reader may present 
a contradictory appearance, as Las Casas is led to 
assume, but to the student such material is valuable. 

A third contemporary and famous writer is Peter 
Martyr, a man of brilliant attainments, deep, clear 
mind, and honest purpose, who had gained for him- 
self a prominent position in Spain, and even a seat in 
the Council of the Indies. Naturally interested in 
the New World, whose affairs were then unfolding, 
he eagerly questioned those who came thence, con- 
sulted their charts and reports, and was thus enabled 
to form a moi^e accurate opinion about the Indians 
and their land, one that was thus founded on 
reliable and varied testimony. A fault, however, is 
the haste with which his summaries were formed, 
both in order and detail; yet even this defect tends 
to leave the narrative unvarnished and free from a 
dangerous elaboration. Even Las Casas admits its 

The different minds, motives, prejudices, and even 
antagonisms, of these three writers each impart an 
additional value to their respective writings from 
which the historian cannot fail to derive benefit. 

Like Peter Martyr, Gomara took his material 
entirely from testimony, chiefly letters, reports, and 
other documents in the archives of Cortes, his patron, 
and collections to which his influence gained access. 
His high literar}^ tastes gave a zest to his writings, 
but impelled him also to elaboration, and his Ilistoria 
de Mexico is colored by his predilections as biographer 


of the conqueror. On the other hand, he finds en- 
dorsement in the decree which was issued against 
his history because of its treatment of government 
affairs, and comparison with other histories reveals 
the many valuable points which he has brought to 
light. The adoption of his Mexican work by so 
prominent a native as Chimalpain is to a certain ex- 
tent an assurance of its truthfulness. 

Munoz places Gomara among the first of the 
chroniclers. He had no special reason that we can 
see to extol unduly native institutions. He wrote 
early enough to know all about them, but not so early 
as to be carried away by a first enthusiasm. Made 
secretary and chaplain to Cortes in 1540, his object 
of adulation was his patron, in recounting whose 
deeds he cannot be trusted. Neither had Cortds, as 
before remarked, special interest, least of all at this 
time, in magnifying the civilization — the civilization 
he had destroyed. Alvarado and others of the chron- 
iclers were repeatedly tried by the Spanish govern- 
ment for their cruelty to the natives, whom it was 
the desire of both church and state to preserve. It 
would therefore be rather in favor of the conquerors 
to hold them up as ignoble and low. 

The learned and elegant Antonio de Solis, though 
so bigoted as to render his deductions in many in- 
stances puerile, and though constantly raving against 
the natives, was closely followed by both Robertson 
and Prescott. 

Herrera, the historiographer of the Indies, uses 
the material of all the preceding writers, in addition to 
original narratives, and has in his Historia General 
the most complete account of American affairs up to 
his time. His method of massing material makes it 
most valuable, but a slavish adherence to chronology 
destroys the sequence, interferes with broad views, 
and renders the reading uninteresting. This defect is 
increased by a bald, prolix style, the effect of inexpe- 
rienced aid, and by the extreme patriotism and piety 


which often set aside integrity and humanity. On 
the other hand, he in some measure tempered and 
corrected the exaggerations of his predecessors. 

Torquemada was less critical in accepting material, 
but he was indefatigable in his efforts to exhaust the 
information about New Spain and her natives, and 
his Monarquia Indiana is the most complete account 
extant in its combination of topics. Though an able 
work, it contains many errors; yet the manifold sources 
of information all the more help the student to arrive 
at the truth. Torquemada amassed a great store of 
private information about native institutions during 
the fifty years of his labor among the Indians, and 
he made use of many histories then unpublished — 
instance those of Sahagun, Mendicta, and others. 

Mendicta was an ardent champion of the natives, 
and a bitter opponent of the audicncia and govern- 
ment oflScials; yet in mundane affairs he possessed 
sound judgment, so much so that he was frequently 
intrusted with important missions of a diplomatic na- 
ture. He became the historian of his iirovinciay and 
gained the title of its Cicero. His Ilistoria Eclesi- 
dsticaj which treats chiefly of the missionary progress 
of his order, contains a large amount of matter on 
native customs, arts, and traits. 

Mendicta may be regarded as the pupil of Toribio 
de Benavente, whose humility of spirit caused him to 
adopt the name of Motolinia, applied by the Indians 
out of commiseration for his appearance. Not that 
he was very humble in all matters, as may be seen 
from his bitter attack on Las Casas. In this in- 
stance, however, he was merely an exponent of the 
hostility prevaihng between the Franciscans, to which 
he belonged, and the Dominicans, which led to many 
pen contests and contradictory measures for the In- 
dians, from all of which the historian gains new facts. 
Motolinia arrived in Mexico in 1524, and wandered 
over it and the countries to the south for a series of 
years, teaching and converting. He is claimed to have 


baptized over four hundred thousand persons. His 
knowledge of the aborigines and long intercourse with 
them before their customs were changed, enabled him 
to acquire most important information about them. 
All this, together with the story of his mission work, 
is related in the Historia de los Indios de Nueva 
Espana^ written in a rambling manner, with a nixive 
acceptance of the marvellous, yet bearing a stamp of 
truthfulness that wins confidence. 

Occasionally there have risen winters who, from 
excess of zeal, personal ambition, or careless study of 
facts, sought to cast doubts on native culture and 
similar topics, like De Pau and Raynal, only to evoke 
replies more or less hasty. This unsatisfactory contest 
roused the ire, among others, of the learned Jesuit 
Clavigero. Himself born in Mexico, his patriotic 
zeal was kindled, and during a residence there of 
thirty-iive years, till driven forth by the general edict 
against his order, he made the ancient history and 
institutions thereof his special study. The result was 
the Storia Antica del Messico, which if less bulky than 
Torquemadas work, is far more satisfactory in its 
plan for thoroughness and clearness, and remains the 
leading authority in its field. Clavigero is generally 
admitted to have refuted the two prominent oppo- 
nents above named on the culture questions, even 
though his statements are at times colored with the 
heat of argument and with zeal for race. 

Among the remaining historians who treat on civi- 
lized tribes may be named Acosta, who in speaking 
of Mexican culture borrow^s wholly from" Duran, a 
Franciscan, born in New Spain of a native mother, 
and consequently predisposed in favor of his race. 
Indeed, nearly all of Duran's bulky narrative on 
ancient history and institutions is not only from native 
sources, but from a native standpoint. Vetancurt, 
w^ho agrees mainly with Torquemada, follows both 
native and Spanish versions. Benzoni offers a good 
store of personal observation on Central American 


Indians and affairs, but writes from hearsay when 
touching on Mexico. Writers on special districts are 
also numerous. Bishop Landa wrote on Yucatan aad 
its culture, and is accused of having given forth and in- 
vented alphabets, as the Maya. Cogolludo adds much 
to his accounts, while Fuentes, Remesal, Vasquez, 
Villagutierre, and Juarros exhaust the adjoining fields 
of Chiapas and Guatemala. Thence northward the 
circle may be continued wdth Burgoa's works on 
Oajaca, Beaumont's on Michoacan, Mota Padilla's 
on Nueva Galicia, Arlegui's on Zacatecas, Bibas' on 
Sinaloa; and so forth. 

Descriptions of the chroniclers and their works 
might be carried to almost any extent, but sufficient 
has been given, I trust, to prove their testimony, 
taken as a whole, closely sifted and carefully \veighed, 
to be quite as worthy of credence as that from Avhich 
history is usually derived. I cannot throw to the 
winds such testimony in order that certain specu- 
lators may the better win converts to their fancy. 

The traducers of Aztec culture and its clironiclers 
have evidently failed in that most important point of 
carefully reading, comparing, and analyzing the author- 
ities which they so recklessly condemn as a mass of 
fiction or exaggeration. It seems to me ridiculous for 
the superficial readers of a few books to criticise the 
result of such thorough researches as Prescott's, and 
even to sweep them all away with one contemptuous 
breath. I for one can testify to Prescott's general 
fairness and accuracy. His researches and writings 
are beyond all comparison with those of any modern 
theorist. Others also have read, compared, and ana- 
lyzed the authorities on Mexico, perhaps even more 
than Prescott, for fresh documents have appeared 
since his time; and while some errors and discrep- 
ancies have been discovered, yet in the main neither 
Nahua culture nor the chronicles and records de- 
scribing it can be said to have been misrepresented or 
exaggerated by him. 


The very discrepancies in the accounts of different 
chroniclers, which to the experienced observer indi- 
cate genuineness and truthfuhiess, are paraded by the 
superficial reader as proof of falsity. The chroniclers 
have for centuries been exposed to numerous and 
severe ordeals of critique, and their respective defects 
and merits have been widely discussed; but on the 
whole these discussions tend to confirm the state- 
ments which I have given, some of the strongest 
testimony being found in their very differences and 
blunders. Thus not even their bigotry, then so strong 
and wide-spread, their simplicity, their prejudices in 
different directions, none of these can conceal the 
truth or its main features, although occasional points 
may still remain hidden under a false coloring. The 
rigid censorship exercised in Spain over all writings 
led to the suppression of many works, but the main 
effort was to suppress heterodoxy and unfavorable 
reflections on Spanish policy, and if culture questions 
were touched, to lower the estimate thereof in order 
to cover vandalism. 

While thoroughly convinced that we have in the 
early American chroniclers a solid foundation for his- 
tory, as before stated I do not by any means accept 
as truth all they say; I do not accept half of what 
some say, while others I find it difficult to believe 
at all. Upon this basis, then — that is, on the basis 
of truth and well sifted facts — I will present a few of 
the leading characteristics of the Nahua and Maya 
peoples, sufficient in my opinion to justify their claim, 
as the Avorld goes, to be called civilized. 

Whether those w^ho thus affect to disbelieve in 
Aztec culture, including such men as Lewis Cass 
and R. A. Wilson, advocate an Old World origin for 
some of the advanced features does not matter, for 
there is absolutely no evidence for such origin beyond 
resemblances which may be traced between nations 
throughout the world; on the other hand, there are 


strong internal evidences of the autochthonic origin 
of some of the highest features of this civilization, 
such as hieroglyphics and many branches of the higher 
arts. Besides, the existence or non-existence of these 
advanced arts is the point in question, not whence 
they came. 

The city of Mexico presents many features of ad- 
vanced urban life under Aztec occupation, not alone 
as related by chroniclers, but as proved by incidental 
details in the account of the sieges of and by the 
Spaniards, and by the ruins. Humboldt found distinct 
traces of the old city, extending in some directions far 
beyond the present actual hmits; and the numerous 
and substantial causeways which led to it for several 
miles through the lake prove that it must have been 
of great extent. The causeways, though now passing 
over dry land, arc still in use, and reveal their soHdity. 
Any one who will carefully read the mihtary report 
and other accounts of the long protracted siege must 
become impressed with the vast extent and strength 
of the city; the large number and size of its temple 
pyramids affirm the same. Through an aqueduct of 
masonry several miles long it was supplied with water, 
which was distributed by pipes, and by boatmen. 
Light-houses guided the lake traffic; a large body of 
men kept the numerous canals in order, swept the 
streets, and sprinkled them. The houses were, many 
of them, large and well built. The emperor's palace 
contained many suites of rooms designed for individual 
occupation, not at all like anything in New Mexico. 
Temple -towers and turrets were frequent, proving 
that structures several stories in height were in use. 

Among the Nahuas the several branches of art 
were under control of a council or academy, with a 
view to promote development in poetry, music, oratory, 
painting, and sculpture, though chiefly literary arts, 
and to check the production of defective work. Before 
this council poems and essays were recited, and inven- 
tions exhibited. 


If distortion assumes prominence in a large class of 
models instead of ideal beauty, this must be attributed 
to the peculiarity and cruelty of certain Aztec insti- 
tutions, which stamp their traits on subjective art. 

Beauty of outline is nevertheless common, notably 
in the rich ornamentation to be seen on ruins, and 
on art relics transmitted in large numbers to Spain 
by the conquerors. The friezes or borders equal the 
Grecian in elegant outline and combination. The 
well known calendar stone contains in itself a vast 
number of beautiful designs. Some of the vases in 
the museums at Mexico and Washington surpass the 
Etruscan in beauty of form and in tasteful decora- 
tions. Again, the terra-cotta heads picked up round 
Teotihuacan, some of whicli I have in my possession, 
exhibit a most truthful delineation of the human face, 
with considerable expression, and are of actual beauty. 

Other admirable specimens are the female Aztec 
idol in the British Museum, the mosaic knife with its 
human figure from Cliristy's collection, the skin-clad 
Aztec priest, the Ethiopian granite head, the beauti- 
ful head from !Mitla, and the grotesque figures from 
the JNIexican gulf Such specimens suffice to establish 
the existence of a hi<xh decree of art amoni]^ the 

As for the advance exhibited by adjoining races, 
one glance at the numerous artistic designs and 
groupings on Yucatan ruins must command admira- 
tion, which rises as the observer examines the monu- 
ments at Palenque, with their extent of massive 
edifices, their advanced mode of construction, their 
galleries, their arches, their fine facade and interior 
ornamentation, and above all, their numerous human 
figures of absolute beauty in model. This applies 
also to some terra-cotta relics from the same quarter. 

Ornamental work in gold and silver had reached a 
perfection which struck the Spaniards with admira- 
tion, and much of the metal obtained by them was 
given to native smiths to shape into models and set- 


tings. Many pieces sent to Europe were pronounced 
superior to what Old World artists could then pro- 
duce. Birds and other animals were modelled with 
astonishing exactness, and furnished with movable 
wings, legs, and tongues. The so-called 'lost art' of 
casting parts of the same object in different metals 
was known; thus fishes were modelled with alternate 
scales of gold and silver. Copper and other metals 
were gilded by a process which would have made the 
fortune of a goldsnnth in Europe. Furnaces, perhaps 
of earthen-ware, and blowpipes, are depicted on native 
paintings in connection with gold-working. 

Although there had been but little progress in 
mining, yet a beginning appears to have been made 
in obtaining metals and minerals from the solid rock, 
and melting, casting, hammering, and carving were in 
use among goldsmiths and other workers, as shown 
in native paintings. This is one of the strongest 
proofs that the Xalmas were progressing in civilization, 
not at a stand-still nor retrograding, for such mining 
and melting methods must surely lead to the discovery 
of iron ere they stopped. Cutting implements were 
made of copper alloyed with tin, and tempered to 
great hardness. Yet stone tools were still chiefly 
used, particularly those of obsidian, from which mir- 
rors were also made, equal in reflecting powder to 
those of Europe at that time, it was said. Softer 
stone being chiefly used, flint implements sufiiced 
for the sculptor; yet specimens exist in hard stone. 
Precious stones were cut with copper tools, with the 
aid of silicious sand, and carved in forms of ani- 
mals. Specimens of their art m stone and metal were 
received in Europe, where chroniclers of diflerent 
minds and impulses write in ecstasy over workman- 
ship which in so many instances surpassed in excel- 
lence that of Spain. The fabrics and feather-work 
were equally admired for fineness of texture, brilliancy 
of coloring, and beauty of arrangement and form. So 
accurate were the representations of animals in relief 


and drawing as to serve the naturalist Hernandez for 

The Nahua paintings show little artistic merit, 
because the figures, in order to be intelligible, were 
necessarily conventional, as were the Egyptian hiero- 
glyphics. This necessity naturally cramped art. But 
while the Egyptians carried the conventionality even 
to sculpture and painting generally, the Nahuas clung 
to it closely only in their waitings; and it needs 
but a glance at many specimens among ruins and 
relics to see that considerable skill had been reached 
in delineating even the human form and face in 
plastic material, for in painting the development was 
small. An art, however, which approached that of 
painting was the formation of Resigns and imitation 
of animal forms, and even faces, wdth feathers — feather- 
mosaic — so beautifully done that the feather-pictures 
are declared by wondering Spaniards to have equalled 
the best works of European painters. Specimens are 
still to be seen in museums. The artist would often 
spend hours, even days, in selecting and adjusting 
one feather in order to obtain the desired shade of 

Fabrics were made of cotton, of rabbit-hair, or of 
both mixed, or w^th feather admixture. The rabbit- 
hair fabrics were pronounced equal in finish and text- 
ure to silk. The fibres of maguey and palm leaves 
were used for coarser cloth. Paper in long narrow 
sheets w^as made chiefly of maguey fibres, and though 
thick, the surface was smooth. Gums appear to have 
been used for cohesion. Parchment was also used. 
Skins were tanned by a process not described, but the 
result is highly praised. In dyeing they appeared to 
have excelled Europeans, and cochineal and other 
dyes have been introduced among us from them. 
Many of their secrets in this art have since been lost. 

There is little doubt that the palaces of the rulers 
were of immense extent, and provided with manifold 
comforts and specimens of art. Numerous divisions 


existed for harems, private rooms, reception and state 
rooms, guard-rooms, servants' quarter, storehouses, 
gardens, and menageries. The chroniclers speak of 
walls faced with polished marble and jasper; of balco- 
nies supported bymonoliths, of sculptures and carvings, 
of tapestry brilliant in colors and fine in texture, of 
censers with burning perfume. The admitted excel- 
lence in arts and wealth, the possession of rare stones 
and metals, permit to some extent the belief in a 
Hall of Gold, Room of Emeralds, and so forth, which 
the chroniclers place within the palaces. 

The menagerie at Mexico was large and varied, and 
the many beautifully laid out gardens in all parts of 
the country, some devoted to scientific advancement, 
denote a high status in natural history. 

Throughout the narratives of the chroniclers the 
Aztec ruler receives the title of emperor, which it was 
not the custom of the conquerors to give unadvisedly. 
It was almost a sacred title in their eyes, their own 
sovereign being so called, and they were not likely to 
apply that title to a common Indian chief Indeed, 
the native records relate that Montezuma 11. after 
many conquests assumed the title emperor, or ruler, 
of the world. In two of the Nahua kingdoms the 
succession was lineal and hereditary, and fell to the 
eldest legitimate son, those born of concubines or 
lesser wives being passed over. In Mexico election 
prevailed, but the choice was restricted to one family. 
The system resembled very much that of the electoral 
German empire. Each of these rulers was expected 
to confer with a council, the number and composition 
of whose members are not quite satisfactorily estab- 
lished. Executive government was intrusted to regu- 
larly appointed officials and tribunals. In Tlascala a 
parliament composed of the nobility and headed by 
the four lords determined the affairs of government. 

The native records indicate a number of classes and 
orders among nobles, officials, and warriors. The 
highest were the feudal lords, as in Tezcuco, whose 


position corresponded very much to that of the mighty 
baron of Germany in former times, all kept from defying 
the supreme ruler by a balancing of power, by private 
jealousies, and later by the ruler increasing their num- 
bers, and thus closely attaching to himself a large pro- 
portion, and by obliging others to constantly reside in 
the capital, either to form a council or on other pre- 
tences. Another means for controlling the haughty 
feudal lord, and indeed a step toward abolishing their 
power, was to divide the kingdom into sixty-five de- 
partments, whose governors were nearly all creatures 
of the king. The population of certain districts was 
moved in part to other districts, or made to receive 
inwanderers, both operations tending to give the king 
greater control. Instances of such master-strokes of 
policy as are related in aboriginal records serve to 
show the power of the monarch and the advanced 
system of government. 

In Mexico the people had had access in a great 
measure to military, civil, and court offices, but with 
the enthronement of Montezuma II. the nobles man- 
aged to obtain exclusive control of nearly all dignities. 
This reform naturally served to alienate the people 
and to aid in the downfall of the empire. 

The list of royal officials is imposing in its length, 
and is vouched for not only by the minute account of 
the titles and duties of the dignitaries, but by the 
many incidental allusions to them and their acts in 
the native records of events. The list embraces offices 
corresponding to minister of war, who was also com- 
mander-in-chief; to minister of finance, grand master of 
ceremonies, grand chamberlain, superintendent of arts, 
etc. There were also military orders, corresponding 
to the knights of mediaeval Europe, while the church 
had its gradations of priests, guardians, deacons, friars, 
nuns, and probationers. 

Several tribunals existed, each with a number of 
appointed judges and a staff of officials; and appeals 
could be carried from one to the other, and finally to 


the supreme judge, who was without a colleague. In 
the wards were elected magistrates, who judged minor 
cases in the first instance, and an inferior class of 
justices, assisted by bailiffs and constables. Some 
courts had jurisdiction over matters relating only to 
taxes and their collectors, others over industries and 
arts. Cases were conducted with the aid not alone of 
verbal testimony under oath, but of paintings, repre- 
senting documents; and names, evidence, and decisions 
were recorded by clerks. Whether advocates were 
employed is not clear, but the judges were skilled in 
cross-examination, and many a perjury was proved, 
followed by the penalty of death. Suits were limited 
to eighty days. Bribery was strictly forbidden. The 
judges were selected from the higher class, the superior 
from relatives of the kings, and held office for life, 
sustained by ample revenues. Adultery and similar 
crimes were severely punished. 

Land was divided in different proportions, the 
largest owned by king and nobles, and the remainder 
by the temples and communities of the people. All 
such property was duly surveyed, and each estate 
accurately marked on maps or paintings, kept on file 
by district officials. Each class of landed estate had 
then its distinctive color and name, and from each 
owner or tenant was exacted tribute in product or 
service, regular or occasional. Portions of the crown 
land were granted to usufructuaries and their heirs; 
for service rendered and to be rendered. In con- 
quered provinces a certain territory was set aside for 
the conqueror and cultivated by the people for his 
benefit. The estates of the nobles were, many of 
them, of ancient origin, and often entailed, which fact 
establishes to a certain extent the private ownership 
of land. These feudatories paid no rent, but were 
bound to render service to the crown with person, 
vassals, and property, when called upon. The people's 
land belonged to the wards of the towns or villages, 
with perpetual and inalienable tenure. Individual 

Essays and Miscellany 3 


members of the ward were, on demand, assigned por- 
tions for use, and could even transmit the control 
thereof to heirs, but not sell. Certain conditions 
must be observed for the tenure of such lands, and 
the observance was watched over by a council of 
elders or its asfents. 

There is much in this to confirm the resemblances 
to the feudal system of Europe already noticed. The 
exactness of the information on land tenure is con- 
firmed by investigations instituted under auspices of 
the Spanish government with a view to respect the 
rights of the natives, so far as the claims of con- 
querors and settlers permitted. Cortes obtained from 
the native archives and officials copies of the estate 
maps, and tax lists, by which he was guided in his 
distribution of land and collection of tribute. 

In the department of the minister of finance, and 
in the offices of the numerous tax collectors, were kept 
hieroglyphic lists of the districts, towns, and estates, 
designating the kind and quantity of tax to be paid 
by each, in product or service. A copy of such a list 
is given by Lorenzana, and others are reproduced in 
the Codex Mendoza, and other collections. Certain 
cities had to supply the palaces with laborers and ser- 
vants, food and furniture, fabrics and other material; 
others paid their service and products regularly to 
the finance department, or when called upon. Manu- 
facturers and merchants paid in the kind they pos- 
sessed, and artisans often in labor. The tenants of 
nobles tilled land for their own benefit, and paid 
rent in a certain amount of labor for the landlord, 
and in military service when called upon; besides 
this, they paid tribute in kind to the crown, the pro- 
duce being stored away in magazines in the nearest 

There were nearly four hundred tributary towns 
in the Mexican empire, some paying taxes several 
times a month, others less often, and still others only 
once a year, the amount being in many instances over 


a third of everything produced. Custom-houses also 
existed for exacting duties. 

In the capitals of the provinces resided chief treas- 
urers, each with a corps of collectors, who not only en- 
forced the payment of taxes but watched that lands 
were kept under cultivation and industries generally 

To illustrate the extent to which organization en- 
tered into the affairs of life, we can point to the mer- 
chants, with their guilds, apprenticeship, caravans, 
markets, fairs, agencies, and factories in distant re- 
gions. Tlatelulco was renowned for her trade and 
vast market, and her merchants really formed a 
commercial corporation controlling the trade of the 
country. Sahagun's records sketch the development 
of this company. Maps guided them in their journeys, 
tribunals of their own regulated affairs, and different 
articles were accepted as a medium for exchange, in- 
cluding copper and tin pieces, and gold-dust. The 
market at Tlatelulco, in the vast extent of booths, 
and of articles for sale, and in its regulations, was a 
source of wonder to the Spaniards. Couriers and 
inns existed to aid travel and intercourse; also roads, 
well kept and often paved, such as late exploration 
in Yucatan shows to have connected distant cities. 
In navigation the Mexicans were less advanced. 

One lawful wife was married with special ceremo- 
nies, and her children were the only legitimate issue. 
Three additional classes of mates were admissible: 
those bound to the man with less solemn ceremonies, 
and bearing the title of w^fe, like the legitimate one, 
yet deprived of inheritance or nearly so, together with 
their children; those bound with no ceremonies, and 
ranking merely as concubines; and those who co- 
habited with unmarried men, and who might be 
married by their lovers or by other men. These two 
classes of concubines were not entitled to the respect 
accorded to the first-named, yet no dishonor attached 
to their condition. Public prostitutes were tolerated 


as a necessary evil. This is a social condition which 
needs not for its justification to seek a parallel among 
other nations recognized as civilized, nor among the 
European princes who publicly maintained the same 
classes of consorts and mistresses. 

Schools tiourisned in connection with the temple 
under control of the priests, and in Mexico every quar- 
ter had its school for the common people, after the man- 
ner of our public schools. There were higher schools 
or colleges for sons of nobles and those destined for the 
priesthood, wherein were taught history, religion, 
philosophy, law, astronomy, writing, and interpreting 
hieroglyphics, singing, dancing, use of arms, gymnas- 
tics, and many arts and sciences. A result of this 
high training may be found in the many botanical 
and zoological collections in the country, and the pro- 
motion of art in sculpture, weaving, feather orna- 
ments, and jewelry, by the nobles and the wealthy. 

Picture-writing is practised to a certain extent by 
all savages, both in representative and symbolic form, 
but it is only by studying the art, or following its 
development to a higher grade, that it acquires per- 
manent value, or can be made the means to gain for 
its possessors the culture stamp of keeping records, 
and records were kept by the Nahuas. They had ad- 
vanced to some extent even in the phonetic form of 
picture-writing, but had not reached the alphabetic 
grade. Any codex will show in abundance the repre- 
sentative and symbolic signs, and some that are pho- 
netic. In religious and astrologic documents the signs 
vary so greatly that the theory has been strongly 
asserted that the priests used a partially distinct 
symbolic system for certain records. When studying 
church forms under the missionaries the natives used 
phonetic signs to aid their memory in remembering 
abstract words, a method also recognized in the pre- 
served paintings for designation of names. The sys- 
tem is apparently of native origin. The Maya writing 
is still more phonetic in its character. 


The Nahua records, in hieroglyphic characters, in- 
clude traditional and historical annals, with names and 
genealogic tables of kings and nobles, lists and tribute 
rolls of provinces and towns, land titles, law codes, 
court records, calendar, religious rules and rites, edu- 
cational and mechanical processes, etc. The hiero- 
glyphic system was known in its ordinary application 
to the educated classes, while the priests alone under- 
stood it fully. The characters were painted in bright 
colors, on long strips of paper, cloth, or parchment, or 
carved in stone. Original specimens on stone and 
paper or skin exist to prove the efficiency of the sys- 
tem for all ordinary requirements, and to establish for 
the race that high index of culture, the possession of 
written annals. The Spanish authorities for a long 
time had to appeal to them to settle land and other 
suits, and to fix taxes, etc. The several codices in 
European libraries and museums, with their early and 
recent interpretation, have added much valuable ma- 
terial to ancient history; Ixtlilxochitl and others built 
their histories mainly on such paintings. 

The Nahuas were well acquainted with the move- 
ments of the sun, moon, and of some planets, and 
observed and recorded eclipses, though not attributing 
them to natural causes. Their calendar divided time 
into ages of two cycles, each cycle consisting of four 
periods of thirteen years, the years of each cycle being 
distinctly designated by signs and names with num- 
bers, in orderly arrangement, as shown on their sculpt- 
ured stones. The civil year w^as divided into eighteen 
months of twenty clays, with five extra days to com- 
plete the year; and each month into four sections 
or weeks. Extra days were also added at the end of 
the cycle, so that our calculations are closely ap- 
proached. The day was divided into fixed periods 
corresponding to hours. All the above divisions had 
their signs and names. The ritual calendar was lunar, 
wdth twenty weeks of thirteen days for the year, all 
differinsr in their enumeration, thouoii the names of 


the days were the same as in the solar calendar. The 
system of numeration was simple and comprehensive, 
without limit to the numbers that could be expressed; 
and so were the signs for them. It was essentially 

These are some few instances of Nahua culture 
which might easily be extended to fill a volume after 
all exaggeration has been thrown out; and all this, 
be it remembered, was the condition of things four 
hundred years ago. Compare it with the European 
civilization or semi-civilization of that day on the one 
hand, and with the savagism of the Iroquois and 
Ojibways on the other, and then judge which of the 
two it most resembled. 



Among men valor and prudence are seldom met with, and of all human 
excellencies justice is still more uncommon. 

— Plutarch. 

Amidst tlie seemingly fortuitous flight of time and 
evolution of nations, we may rest assured of some 
things that they are tolerably certain to come to pass. 
There are a few simple and self-evident propositions 
which are sure to work themselves out in certain sim- 
ple and self-evident results. 

For example, satisfied that from the once chaotic 
universe this planet emerged in a crude uninhabited 
state ; that the cooling process is yet going on, and 
the plants and animals engendered have not yet reached 
perfection ; that the once wikl humanity is gradually be- 
coming what is called civilized, the human intellect 
slowly extending its sway over all the eartli ; satisfied 
of these and other like phenomena, we may know that 
it is only a question of more time, a further progress, 
a yet more powerful reign of mind, when there will 
be no more savagism, measured by the standard of 
to-day ; when a higher than the present culture will 
extend to the uttermost parts of the earth, when a 
culture more refined than ever yet the world has wit- 
nessed, intellectual domination more extended and 
complete, science, literature, and the arts more elevated 
and all-compelling than ever has been or at present is 
dreamed of will develop upon these shores, upon this 
western earth's end, this terminus of the grand pro- 
gressional highway from the oriental cradle of civili- 
zation to the farthest occidental reach of firm land. 



Of old, prophets spake of a new lieaven and a new 
earth ; we may here predict with Air better reason a 
New CiviHzation. 

If the future can in any degree be determined from 
the past — and upon this doctrhie man bases every rule 
of action ; if, in the progress of human affairs, the de- 
velopment of intellect, the evolution of societies, there 
is anything like method or law, by wliich from what 
has been we may judge to some extent of what will 
be, then we may know that liereupon and around this 
western pohit of the temperate zone man's highest and 
ultimate endeavor is to be achieved. 

For the tide of intelliijjence havino^ ever been from 
east to west, and the ultimate west having been at- 
tained, civilization must pause in its migration, and 
either turn backward or work out its salvation on this 
ground. Hitherto there has been no turning back ; 
the east has ever declined as tlie west has advanced, 
oriental peoples having lapsed toward barbarism, and 
oriental cities being well-nigh dead. 

That away back in the dim prehistoric there may 
have been movements of peoples other than those 
given in orthodox story, or origins of race, or cradles 
of civilization other than those generally accepted, 
does not affect the fact ; indeed, we can plainly trace 
the westward current for thirty or forty centuries, and 
it has not wholly ceased flowing yet. 

The classic nations of the Mediterranean preserve 
the tradition of their respective phases of the Aryan 
migration, with the elaborations prompted by romance 
and vanity, as in ^neas, who with his followers, with 
sacred fire and the national gods of Troy, set out for 
the unknown shores of Hesperia. The east is known, 
though dimly, by means of maintained commercial 
relations, while the west became the object of curios- 
ity and attraction, to which mystery lent a veneration 
which stands revealed in the assignment here of the 
happy abode of the Hesperides. 

The incentives for the movement must ever remain 


a dim conjecture. Science points to America as the 
oldest continent, peopled perchance from now sub- 
merged areas, of which the Azores and Cape Verde 
islands present vestiges on one side, and Polynesia on 
the other. The resemblance of race-types on either 
side of Bering strait confirms the natural supposition 
of ancient intercourse in this quarter. The oceans 
interposed obstacles well-nigh insurmountable to mi- 
grations from America, save by thp north-western ap- 
proach to Asia. In times of more favorable climatic 
conditions, this route may have been a great highway, 
although long since closed by its winters, and its dreary, 
barren surroundings. 

Whether or not we accept one common origin for 
mankind, or a migration to Asia from America, or 
still older lost continents, the westward advance from 
the Asiatic table-lands is generally adopted. The re- 
cent theory of a Scandinavian source for the Aryans 
has not presented itself in sufficiently strong array to 
merit comparison with the other. TJie Phoenician 
migration of traders and colonizers alone forms a 
more imposing evidence of the westward movement 
than any to be found in favor of the south-eastward. 

Among the incentives for the start of the migration 
must be considered, as now, not alone over-population, 
war, famine, and other disastrous incidents, but the 
attractions also of nomnd life on the plains, and the 
inspiriting influence of travel. From the interior 
of Asia swept several great invading hosts within his- 
toric times. The instilled passion for roaming, fostered 
by the possession of beasts of burden, found a stinmlus 
in the swiftness of the animals wherein lay alike safety 
and the temptation to daring feats. The pressure of 
such restless peoples was sufficient in itself to compel 
their more settled neighbors to seek a new home, 
while the resources of richer nations, bordering on the 
ocean and its fertilizing tributaries, served as an allure- 
ment to raid and conquest, from which China and 
India suffered in common with occidental retjions. 


The direction of advance from the Asiatic plateaux 
may have been in a measure indicated by the course of 
the sun, wliich in tlie si)lcndor of its western retreat 
held fortli an entrancini^ promise to the toiler as he 
sank to rest and meditation after the day's labor. It 
is evident, however, that the route westward was less 
obstructed than those to the east and south, for here 
interposed lofty mountain ranges, the bulwark of com- 
pact settlements reaching to the ocean. In these 
directions the proxiuiity of the sea placed a bar to 
advance. For that matter, the exodus from the in- 
terior plains overran the continent in all directions, 
into Kathai, Hindostan, and Persia ; but it was left 
to the highest race, the Aryan, to follow the guiding 
sun mainly along an equable zone, whose conditions 
were best adai)ted to the unfolding of culture. The 
fructifying element lay in the movement, and the con- 
sequent contact with different peoples and histitutions, 
to be absorbed during a more or less prolonged stay, 
together with the blood-infusion of the conquered. 
Thus the eye of progress with its inquiring gaze, and 
the arm of progress with its romance and revelations, 
have ever been directed toward the setting sun. 

Still another explanation for the westward march 
is furnished by the unfolding of settlements in the 
United States of America. The first colonists occu- 
pied the coast region. Later comers were obliged to 
extend themselves along the rivers inland. The 
movement continued westward in quest of new lands, 
until the inner border peoples, cramped for lack of 
outlet, began to look toward the Pacific coast for re- 
lief. The construction of railways has rendered less 
attractive or important the sea-shore, with its pre- 
viously better means for intercourse and trade, and its 
more equable temperature. 

Thus in Asia, whether originating in an older con- 
tinent or not, the people naturally clustered along the 
coast and the great river channels, with their addi^ 
tional attractions of fish. The gradual filling up oj 


China and India left the Aryans among others as a 
border tribe of the interior. The wealth of the In- 
dian peninsulas served to increase the attractions for 
the seaboards, and lend an incentive to the march. 
Thus was occupied every attractive point westward. 
On reaching Africa, the desert on one side, and the 
mountains and equatorial heat on the other, turned 
the next phase of the movement from the Nile ranges, 
along the northern shores of the Mediterranean, until 
the Atlantic was reached. A fresh field being opened 
in America, social and political troubles and aspira- 
tions prompted anotlier advance, with a still greater 
intellectual development. The highest culture is 
found always along tlie paths of trade, with its stimu- 
lating intercourse, along the highway from India to 
Phoenicia, along the peninsula of the northern Medi- 
terranean, thence to spread by colonization westward 
and north, to be rooted among the slower yet stronger 
peoples bordering on the North Sea. 

The most striking progress was attained with the 
opening of new fields in America, attended by more 
daring and insph^iting voyages and expeditions, and by 
a battling with nature in the founding of settlements, 
which led to a practical self-reliance and inventive 
faculty, ever the sources of the widest development. 
The acquisition of vacant land on which to exert in- 
telligent energy was a strong factor in the advance, 
and the location of progressive peoples along the tem- 
perate belt gave stimulus to eflbrts, as did the libera- 
tion from civil and ecclesiastical restraint, with the 
privilege to freely think and act and work out the 
promptings of laudable aspirations. 

This check to liberty, and the lack of free land, tended 
to steep the middle ages of Europe in stagnation, 
while the encircling Mohammedans, of inferior traits 
and abilities, under stimulating movement and inter- 
course, conquest and empire building, were developing 
to an exceptional degree of culture. The two obsta- 
cles removed, Europe resumed her onward march, 


while the Saracens, deprived of these benefits, fell be- 
hind. The energy latent in man needs only proper 
incentive to manifest itself with effect; but tlie nature 
of the incentive varies somewhat as illustrated by 
the followers of the Bible and the Koran. The pres- 
ent advance is marked especially by the elevation of 
the masses, by means of inventions and acquisition 
of landed interest. 

It is a matter worthy of consideration, that ever 
since the world was made down to the present time, 
there have been untenanted lands for a crowded hu- 
manity to overflow into, swarming places for the race; 
that although as men fathomed science more and 
more, and became skilled in the arts, and assumed 
more and more a master}^ over nature, they re(|uired 
less room, yet the area occupied was ever filling up 
with human beings, whom land could not adequately 
sustain, or development provide for, thus rendering 
constantly necessary new lands or else a curtailment 
of population. 

The theory of population wliich leaves no standing- 
room for further comers is findinof realization faster 


than its originators imagined. It is but a question of 
time when the race increase must stop, if not by one 
means then by another. Until now the world has 
had a west, where good land could be had for the 
takino:; there is not now left a single acre of the kind. 
True, our western lands for tlie present will hold many 
more people, and poorer lands will be utilized, but all 
the same the end will come — the end of the world, it 
may be, as it is noticeable that in the more advanced 
stages of national aixe and culture, increase is first 
arrested, and then population retrogrades. 

What is civilization? The question has often been 
asked, but never answered. Nor can it be satisfac- 
torily explained until human knowledge has advanced 
much farther, has, indeed, entered the domain of om- 
niscience. The irrepressible unfolding of intellect stands 


in the same category with the otlier great unknowable 
mysteries of the miiverse. What is. life ? what intel- 
lect? How shall be unravelled the tangled thread of 
origin and destiny? The self-consciousness which 
makes man know that he is, the reasoning faculties 
which tell him that his mind is something different 
from mere brute intelligence, his aspirations something 
different from, if not, indeed, higlier and more lasting 
than mere brute instinct, and that existence has its 
significance to him — this consciousness reveals to the 
possessor at once an ocean of knowledge and an eter- 
nity of despair. 

Although tlie offspring of man is the most hr^lpless 
and apparently senseless of all animals during the long 
period of its intant existence, it makes rapid strides 
afterwards. Measure by this standard the life of 
the human race, and it has many millions of years 
yet to live before it knows all there is to be known, 
and can do all there is to be done ; so slowly unfolds 
the intellect, so slowly nature reveals herself to man I 
It seems to have taken a long time before man could 
gain a position distinct from the brute creation. It 
is difficult to conceive the point of separation, or to 
apply tlie ordinary tests to distinguish absolute savag- 
isni from incipient civilization. We say that when 
man, with intellect still a germ, indistinguishable from 
instinct, bends branches and places sticks and bark so 
as the better to shelter himself; the moment he seizes 
a club to assist him in capturing food, he has taken 
the first step from savagism toward civilization; and 
yet many animals do this, and more, animals which 
never advance further. The difference is more 
marked, however, w^ien man, after deliberately erect- 
ing for himself a hut, sits dow^n before it, and sharpens 
one end of his stick, or in one end of it makes a slit, 
in which he fastens a stone so that one end shall be 
the heavier, or perhaps sharpens the stone before he 
ties it to a stick in the form of a hatchet, notwith- 
standing sticks and stones when taken apart are used 


by many animals as weapons. Let the sharpened 
end of the stick be hardened in the fire, tipped with 
poison, or with sharpened flint, or both, and let a 
bow be strung with which to drive the feathered dart, 
and a stride has been made which satisfies hmnanity 
peiliaps for thousands of years. 

The advance may be slow. Nevertheless, there is 
an advance ; and herein lies the diflerence between 
man and brute. The one, with the aid of reason, im- 
proves his weapons, while the other does not. And 
this improving is civilization. Here may be noticed 
the anomaly in man emerging from a purely primitive 
state, that while decoration is before dress, in tem- 
perate zones at least, in all of his other unfoldings, 
the practical precedes the ornamental. In the very 
fact that the naked wild man is of all animals the least 
fitted by nature to provide for himself his first necessity, 
fot)d, lies the strongest of hnpulses for him to abandon 
savagism, and set out on his endless journey toward 
civilization — endless, because civilization is not an end 
but an aim. If the world stands ten thousand years 
longer, and men continue to come and go as of old, 
then we of to-day are savages as compared with the 
more cultured people of that remote period. As no- 
where on the globe mankind are now born into a 
state of absolute savagism, so nowhere can their 
beginning here be made in an atmosphere of perfect 

We may go further and say with truth and reason 
of the latest civilization, that if it be the foremost on 
the earth of its day, it must of necessity be the far- 
thest advanced of any that has been before. It can 
not blot out all the benefits to the race added by its 
predecessors, and so leave the world the worse. Civ- 
ilization is a progress, a perpetual and continuous pro- 
gress, although the advance is more marked at certain 
times and in certain directions. Such growth, like 
that of most things in nature, may not be visible to 
the eye, but it is none the less present. There may 


be apparent inaction, or even retrogression, during 
wliicli many things are forgotten, and some valuable 
arts lost ; yet who shall say of any period, long or short, 
that here was no advance, or there civilization rested ? 

It is true that since the dawn of our present de- 
velopment there has been a so-called Dark Age, ten 
ceuturies, during which knowledge lay hidden away 
in musty prison-houses, and civilization. slumbered, 
while the heavens were hung in black. But was 
there then really no advance during these ten dark cen- 
turies ? Was there no leaven of progress working in 
society, no hidden processes going on, no unseen 
changes which were to yield mighty results, turning 
and overturning nations, and kneading the world of 
Europe into new forms ? It is true the sky was dark, 
aiul all the earth incarnadine with man's blood, shed 
by man because of conceptions so absurd, so super- 
latively silly as to appear to us naught but the work- 
ings of insanity ; and yet out of all this wickedness 
and folly came great good; out of feudalism the com- 
pacting of societies, out of knight-errantry the eleva- 
tion of woman, out of the crusades the general break- 
mg down of barriers, the explosion of fallacies, and the 
out-spreading of knowledge, not to mention the tem- 
porary ascendancy of Mohammedanism in general 
culture. Add the high achievements of art and 
science, culminating in the inventions of gunpowder 
and printing, the adaptation of the mariner's compass 
to navigation, which was followed by the discovery of 
a new world, divers circumnavigations, and the final 
uncovenng of the entire globe. Such grand results, 
the grandest the world has ever witnessed, could 
hardly have arisen from a stagnant pool, notwith- 
standing we are in the habit of calHng it the Dark 
Age of general depression, when the intellect of man 
lay dormant. 

Yet, while the period following the opening of 
America was indeed an age of progress, aside from 
the few great inventions mentioned, how insignificant 


have been the clevelopinents of the tlirce past centu- 
ries as eonipareil witli the achievements massed within 
five decades of the present century, the era of steam 
and steel. Still greater j)rosi)ects of development 
are promised by electricity alone, which is as yet in 
its infancy; and who shall venture to predict the ad- 
vance to be made within the following centuries? 

During the past few thousand years, for which 
time alone the doings of the human race have left any 
record, men have been much occupied in their migra- 
tions. These are now for the most part finished, so 
far at least as large united bodies are concerned. The 
great migrations of the human race are ended. There 
will continue, more than ever before, a restless moving 
hither and thither over the face of the earth of in- 
dividuals and small parties; but for a nation, or any 
considerable portion of a nation, to arise, go forth, 
and conquer, despoil, and sul)jugate or drive out an- 
other nation, will never again be done under the pres- 
ent order of things. The general connningling of 
the peoples of the earth essentially prohil)it such 
usurpation. Never was intercourse so wide-spread 
and expeditious as now; never was less conspicuous 
the idea of race robbery and national spoliation. 

The last great migration was to California, the 
western world's end, com])leting the cycle of Aryan 
wanderings. Far less voluminous and cosmopolitan 
were the movements toward Australia and Africa. 
On the Pacific coast met the representatives of 
nations from all quarters to form a new organization, 
bringing into contribution the choicest traits and ac- 
quirements. What Egyptian and west Asiatic civiliza- 
tion did for Greece, what Greece did for Rome, what 
Rome did for Western Europe, all the world has 
done for these Pacific States. 

The site of this new civilization, which but lately 
seemed far removed from reoions of refinement and 


the higher culture, is gradually becoming the centre 


of the most energetic material and intellectual progress 
tliat may be found among the nation's of the earth 
to-day. The stranger coming hither from any part 
of the world may find more congenial companionship, 
more that is like himself and his early life than in any 
other community. He finds himself at home, envi- 
roned by an atmosphere in which his true inwardness 
may best thrive, and he may transplant himself into 
this new and natural civilization and grow as if born 
in it. 

Following the law of progress, other things being 
equals the latest civilization is the most powerful, and 
becomes the world's master. It is most powerful be- 
cause of its superior knowledge, its superior mental 
force, which breeds mechanical force surmounting the 
forces of otlier peoples and of nature. The new civili- 
zation has for its guide all the recorded experiences 
of otlier civilizations. To tliese world-wide and ac- 
cumulated ex[)eriences it may add its own intuitions 
and inventions, and wliile avoiding the errors of oth- 
ers it may [)r()fit by the wisdom of the past. 

The train of thought stiirted in the east has ever 
expanded in its westward advance. Each succeeding 
generation has surpassed tlie preceding. Neverthe- 
less, the self-esteem and prestige of age has naturally 
sought to assert itself over youth ; the parent has 
striven to maintain its authority over the child. As 
before intimated, since the first appearance of civiliza- 
tion in Europe, and indeed before it left Asia, it has 
been the tendency of the east to rule the west. Al- 
ways further advanced in culture, superior in the arts 
and sciences, tlie people of the cast have ever assumed 
it as a divine riglit to tyrannize over those of the west, 
to fasten upon them not alone tlieir social customs, 
and their mechanical contrivances, but their laws, 
their literature, their modes of thought, and their re- 
ligious beliefs. 

Wlien Europeans broke the boundaries of time, tra- 
versed the Sea of Darkness, and found a strange peo- 



pie in their new India, the same old story was 
repeated. The nations of America were less powerful 
than those of Europe ; and we well know the inex- 
orable law of nature, that the weaker must give w^ay 
to the stronger. The Indians were naked ; their 
weapons were crude and ineffectual ; they had neither 
steel nor gunpowder; they were simple-minded, su- 
perstitious, at war one with anotlier, easily played 
upon ; and finally, with no great difficulty, they were 
subjugated. As matters of course they must learn 
the language of the conquerors, they must accept the 
faith and obey the laws of the conquerors. This was 
demanded and enforced, all in the way of true right- 
eousness, as the will of heaven, as the eternal purpose 
of the almighty. God should feel truly grateful for 
what man has done for him. 

And even to the present day lingers this same 
spirit of domination, with the difference that the spots 
whereon appeared the oldest civilizations are no longer 
centres of superior intelligence. Progress there has 
become withered, dead, the nations retrograde, and 
the people have relapsed into a state more hopeless 
in some respects than that of savagism. Thus the 
seat of domination has shifted ever further westward 
with the unfolding of civilization, following in the 
path of the select elements which have cut loose from 
eastern homes to flourish in fresher soil. 

Hound about the hypothetical cradle of the race 
the very earth has gone out with its people, the for- 
ests are withered, and the soil exhausted. Siva has 
usurped the place of Vishnu, to assume sway over 
lands once as fair as any which have so long been 
kept fresh for the new civilization. Eden of the Eu- 
phrates is a desert ; where once grew the oaks of Bash- 
an acorns will not sprout ; the elysian fields which 
once bordered the Mediterranean, where are they ? 

Unlike the mouldering plant which fertilizes its 
successor, the decaying nations of the old w^orld, in 
common with their forests and fields, seem difficult to 


restore. Like the soil of the east, progress is dissi- 
pated rather than decayed ; for in decay is life. 

In practical enterprise and cognate traits, whereon 
depend the highest unfolding of civilization, America 
is nearly as far in advance of Europe as Europe is of 
Asia. This relative excellence applies also to the 
western and Pacific states, as compared with the At- 
lantic seaboard of the United States. Behold the 
effect of open fields and fresh resources on self-reliant 
man on this western slope, in the transformation of a 
wilderness into a series of flourishing states, with a 
rapidity, soundness, and perfection that stand unparal- 
leled I Consider the impromptu yet efficient organi- 
zations of local and general government ; the elabora- 
tion of a new system of mining under the promptings 
of necessity, marked by inventions for sluicing and 
hydraulics, in cribbing, pumping, crushing, and reduc- 
tion, devices so great as to revolutionize and revive 
the exploitation of precious metals in all parts of the 
world, the improvements in lumbering, which have 
increased this business to huge porportions, and bene- 
fited the world at large, notably by means of the 
flume and saw-tooth, and the powerful and economic 
method and machinery applied to agriculture, which 
assisted to lift California within a few years to the 
front rank among wheat regions. Similar advances 
have been made in other industries, and this 
within the first decade or two after the birth of 
these territories and states. Within the same period 
California raised herself from an obscure colonial 
and frontier settlement to a position of paramount 
influence along the entire Pacific coast, the nucleus 
whence started the founders of states, the chief seat 
of commerce in the Occident, the school whence issued 
disciples to scatter the seed of Anglo-Saxon culture 
among the retrograde nations of the south and the 

Turnips transplanted from the east to California 
change in their nature; so do grains and grasses, fruit 


and live stock, and likewise men. Bone, sinew, 
brains, the whole person teeming with detenuinato 
purpose, comprise the lapis phiIos(fpIiorfnii of Californian 
alchemists. Thus into the alembic of this heterogene- 
ous society, into this land of broad possibilities, came 
many a young farmer and mechanic for his refining; 
many a business man and scientist. 

In art, literature, and learning, we must expect the 
east for some time yet to patronize the west. In 
journalism we must expect that as the editor of the 
L<in(lon JI/fjl(J>in<lcr regards the editor of the New 
York 7//y////>/??^/rr with* disdain, so will the editor of 
the NewYork Jfif/hhindrr have no hesitation in man- 
ifesting his contempt for whatever appears in the 
colunuTs of the Chicago Highbinder or the San Fran- 
cisco Highbinder, The eastern editor may be the 
wiser man, or he may not be so; if tlie latter, he 
happily does not know it, and putting on his cloak of 
tracHti'()n and environment, he will contiime to write 
most bravely. 

Tlie east has been so long accustomed to i)lay the 
part of schoolmaster that it "does not realize that in 
the west also are things to learn and brains to learn 
them ; it does not realize that much of its so-called 
learnhig is obsolete or untrue, that many of its teach- 
ings ai-e absurdly fallacious and false, and that the 
first work of western wisdom is to unlearn a large part 
of what it has been taught by the east, more especially 
in regard to matters oV wliicli no one can know any- 
thing^ If we have not here so much of conversational^ 
refin'ement and prudish formalism, it is because we doj 
not want them, preferring a physical energy with un- 
adulterated intellectual force. 

For centuries to come, and henceforth to the end 
for aught anyone can tell, the tendency of culturd 
will be to concentrate on this Pacific seaboard, thd 
terminal of the great Aryan march; nor is this expecj 
tation without good and reasonable ground. Conside 


alone the vast array of resources in fertile soil, mineral 
deposits, forests, fish, and the like, and a climate of 
unsurpassed equability for fully twenty degrees oF 
latitude. The choicest of these advantages unite in 
California, which, from its peculiarly favorable geo- 
graphic position and fine harbors, will ever sustain it- 
self as a great entrepot for trade between the orient 
and the Australasias, and the vast range of states and 
countries eastward. 

This prospect of a great future brings forward one 
more point for consideration. There is a unity of in- 
terests among the nations bordering the Pacific side 
of the continent which circumstances are just now be- 
ginning fully to develop. Time brings to pass many 
wonderful things. The eastern side of America does 
not always regard tlie western with a benignant eye, 
single to the interests of the nation. There are moun- 
tain barriers dividing the east from the west; there 
are broad placid waters inviting intercourse between 
the south and the north. This western strip of North 
America nature has made one country. Tlie same 
world-enwrapping waters wash its entire shore ; the 
same glow of sunset bathes its entire borders. It 
makes little difference what the political divisions 
may be, so long as the several states or republics are 
at peace and liarmony, one with another. Several in- 
dependent governments along this Pacific seaboard may 
be better or worse than one, according to circumstances. 

In proof of these premises, we see already com- 
menced a migration different from any which has 
preceded it ; a migration, not for gold, or furs, or con- 
quest, or religion, by adventurers, soldiers, priests, or 
peltry men, but by persons of wealtli and intelligence 
from the more inhospitable climates of the east and 
Europe, who come hither for health and pleasure and 
happy homes. Already has begun the New Civiliza- 
tion. And when decay comes here, will the western 
sunset be followed by a new sunrise in the east, or 
will the world be rejuvenated by a new cataclysm? 



Con legno legno spranga mai non cinse 
Lorte cosi; ond'ei, come duo becclii, 
Cozzaro insieme, tanb'ira gli vinse. 

— DelV Inferno. 

One hot day in July 1848, such as the middle prong 
of the American river has long been subject to, 
perched upon one of the high boulders time had 
tumbled into the defile, sat a philosophic savage, his 
hairless chin resting on his naked knees, his bony 
hands clasped over his bushy head, and his black 
eyes gleaming with dim intelligence as they strained 
their powers to encompass the scene before him. On 
either side, scattered up the stream and down it, far 
as the eye could reach and until the steel-and-silver 
band was lost behind precipitous banks, were strange 
beings engaged in a strange business. 

Some were in red and black, some in white and 
gray; many were almost as naked as himself, their 
bare arms and legs whiter than the white stones over 
which the waters skipped. Crawling between the 
rocks, and turning up the red earth, and kneading 
with their hands the mud they made, through the 
dry baked air tremulous with rarefactions, they looked 
not unlike variegated bugs rolling their delectable 
dung-balls. Some were swinging over their heads 
large double- pronged clubs, and smiting the earth 
therewith ; some were standing bare-legged and bare- 
armed in the rushing waters, peering into them as if 
to read their records or fathom the secrets of the 
mountains ; some were on their knees in an attitude 


of worship or supplication; others lay like lizards on 
the rocks pecking with their knives. Some with 
shovels were digging in the sands and gravel, leaving 
beside the earth-heaps holes half filled with water. 

"These must be graves," the savage thought, ''pre- 
pared before the coming sacrifice." Right, my big- 
lipped brother! These are graves, every one of 
them, graves of sense and soul, of high hopes and 
the better quality of manhood. Indeed, of all this 
fine array of mind-driven mechanism, of beings that 
in this wilderness might rise to the full stature of 
gods were they not under curse to crawl about these 
canons serpentine upon their bellies; of all of them, 
I say, there will be little left this day twelve-month 
not buried in these holes. For most of the gold the 
foothills gave, brought like that of Nibeluiigen, noth- 
ing but ill-luck to the possessor. 

''What are they digging for?" the meditative 
aboriginal asks himself. "My faithful wives dig roots 
and so sustain the lives of their liege lord and little 
ones, as in duty they are ever bound ; but these poor 
pale fools will find no nourishment beneath those 
stones. I will tell them so. But stop ! What is 
that he holds aloft with out-stretched arms midst 
yells and waving of his hat, the one more frantic than 
the rest ? By the dried bones of my grandsire I 
believe it is the heavy 3^ellow dirt that often as a 
child I gathered to see it glitter in the sun, though 
it is not half so beautiful for that as the snake's back. 
Once I hammered handfuls of it into a dish for crush- 
ing grasshoppers in, or for boiling fish, but the stones 
my greasy darlings hollow out are better for the one 
purpose, and their baskets for the other. Besides, 
willows and grass are easier worked than that heavy 
stuff. So I kicked the old dish into the river and 
was glad to see it sink. The young chief tried that 
same dirt for his arrow-heads, but it was not fit ; the 
women forged it into chains for ornaments, but there 
was nothing ornamental about them ; so after trying 


it for one thing and another it was finally let alone as 
good for nothing. 

"But heavenly spirit I we found that out ages ago. 
It must be that these white scramblers have not been 
long upon this earth to be so taken by so poor a 
glitter. Mark their posture. Even their eyes are 
turned downward. They cannot see the sun, which 
is brighter than their gold. And the stars are 
brighter; and the dancing water, and the purple haze 
that lies on misty mountains, and the awful craggincss 
hereabout are a thousand times more beautiful and 
grand. Can they eat this they so covet? No. It . 
is good for nothing or for very little for which there I 
are not other better things. I have it. The stuffs 
melts; I saw some running down the edges of my 
dish when they put the fire to it. They want it for j 
images, for molten gods. Alas I alas I that through- I 
out this universe intelligences yet exist possessed of 
such insensate folly." 

Softly, bad-smelling barbarian ! Though thou art 
right, it is for gods they want the stuff, and very 
good gods it makes. None of your deaf and dumb 
effigies, nor even invisible, impalpable spirits perched 
on high Olympus, hell-bound, or be-heavened beyond 
space. Appeal to these golden gods and they answer 
you. Invoke them and forthwith they procure you 
food, obeisance, and eternal life. 

And yet you question, tawny friend, why this insa- 
tiate human appetite for bits of yellow earth, for cold, 
dead metal, and why for this more than for any other 
kind of earth ? Not for its utility, surely, you argue ; 
though economists say that it is an absolute equivo- 
lent as well as a measure of value. It is scarcely 
more valuable than other metals, scarcely more valua- 
ble intrinsically than the least of all created things. 
It is less valuable than stone, which makes the moun- 
tains that rib and form the valleys, than grass which 
offers food, than soil which feeds the grass. For or- 
nament, if ornament be essential to human happiness, 


sliells or laurel serve as well ; for plate, porcelain is 
better. True, some little of it may be used for filling 
teeth, but tons of it might be employed in vain to 
fill the stomach. Other metals are just as rare, and 
beautiful, and durable. ''Then what magic power 
lies wrapped withia its molecules ? " you seem to 
say. " Will it heal the sick or raise the dead ; will it 
even clothe or feed, or add one comfort to naked, 
houseless humanity ? Hidden beneath its cold and 
weighty covering may we hope to find an elixir vitae, 
a fountain of youth; or will it save a soul from hell, 
or a body from the grave ? Surely there must be 
some innate virtue there, some power, natural or 
supernatural, that thus brings intellect and all the 
high attributes and holy aspirations of intelligent rea- 
soning creatures beneath its sway." 

Peace, brute I Nothing of the kind. Yes and no. 
Have I not told you that in the civilization which so 
sage a savage even as yourself can but faintly com- 
prehend, gold is god, and a very good god ? All men 
worship it, and all women. It buys men and it buys 
women. It buys intellect and honor; it buys beauty 
and chastity. There is nothing on earth that it will 
not purchase, nor yet anything in heaven, or in hell. 
Lucifer has his broker on every street corner, and 
Christ his agent in every pulpit. All cry alike for 
gold ! gold 1 Men cannot live without it, or die with- 
out it. Unless he finds an obolus in their mouth to 
pay the ferriage over the stygian stream, Charon will 
not pass them. You do not know Charon ? Well, 
you shall know him presently. Charon is a very good 
god, but not so good as gold. Indeed, gold is Charon's 
god; and every god's god, as well as every man's. 
You are somewhat like Charon, oh ! sooty and filthy ! 
Charon is he who, while with Mercury on a visit for 
a day to the upper world to see what life was like, 
wondered how men should so wail while crossing Styx 
when there was so little on earth to lose. 

No, shock-head 1 gold is not wealth even, and yet 


men give all their wealth for it. Money, as intrinsic 
wealth, has little value, and yet wealth is valued only 
as it can be converted into money. Nor is it long 
since the doctrine prevailed that money was wealth, 
the only wealth; but after commerce and industry 
had begged for centuries, and men and nations had 
fought for the enforcement of this principle, the world 
awoke one day and found it fallacy ; found that money, 
instead of being wealth, was only the attendant on 
traffic and not actual wealth. Money is synonymous 
neither with capital nor wealth. It is capital only 
when it is bought and sold like any other commodity; 
it is wealth only according to its worth as a measure 
of values. Gold is not value, or the representative 
of value, until it is made such by the stamp of the 
image and superscription. All men desire it, and in 
limitless quantities; yet those who have it are anx- 
ious to be rid of it, as it is the most profitless of all 
things to hold. 

Know, then, the truth of the matter. Oh ! red- 
painted and tattooed! Long ago, before Adam Smith 
or John Stuart Mill, when those diggers to the gods 
down there were little less wild and beastly than your- 
self, — craving your pardon, — at the instigation of 
Pluto, perhaps, though some hold opinion that the 
creator made gold specially to be used by man as money, 
it so happened that a conventionalism arose concerning 
this metal. It was agreed between the fathers of the 
Pharaohs and Job's ancestors, that this heavy durable 
substance, chiefly because it was hard to get, should 
be baptized into the category of wealth ; nay more, 
that it should be endowed with the soul of riches, be 
coined into idols, worshipful crowned pieces, and be 
called money, as children in their play cut paper into 
bits and call it money, or as certain tamed tribes have 
sought to use for money merely the name, without all 
this trouble and agitation about the metal, computing- 
value by means of the idea instead of the substance. 
Since which time their descendants and offshoots, that 


is those of the Jobs and the Pharaohs, have kept up 
the joke, and it appears that we of this boasted scien- 
tific and economic nineteenth-century civihzation can 
do no better than to keep it up. It requires as much 
labor to find and dig a certain quantity of it as it does 
to raise a field of grain, so we swear it to be worth as 
much as the grain. So subtle is its energy, that 
moulded and milled into the current image of wealth, 
it assumes all qualities and virtues. Call it land, and 
it is land ; labor, and straightway the fields sweat with 
labor. It is health and happiness, it is body, intellect, 
soul, aye, and eternal salvation. Thrice lucky metal 
to be so humanly endowed, so divinely inspired I Oh 1 
precious metal, how I do love thee I Oh I holy metal, 
how I do worship thee I 

Thus you see, thrice honored scalper and camiibal, 
that these men down among the boulders are slaves 
of a slave. To serve us in our interchanges we endow 
with imaginative miraculous power the yellow sub- 
stance wliicli you see them all so eagerly snatching 
from the all-unconscious earth. They snatch it to 
make it their slave, but being beforehand deified, as 
heathen idolators deify the little images which their 
fingers have made, and their mouths call gods, they 
straightway find themselves in bondage to tlieir ser- 
vant. Sage though you are, and a most respectable 
wild man, you cannot yet fairly comprehend this pe- 
culiarity of civilized liberty, wherein you are permitted 
to call yourself free only in so far as you are in bond- 
age to something. You find one wife good, but sev- 
eral wives better; one wife finds you good, several 
also. You may now marry as many wives as you 
please; as many women as please may marry you, 
provided you mutually agree. Doubtless you will be 
j surprised to learn that the liberty of civilization per- 
j mits you but one wife, howsoever half a dozen love 
' you. This is technically called giving up some portion 
I of your natural rights for the benefit of all ; as a matter 
of fact, it is falling into the tyranny of the majority, 


however stupid or unjust that may be. Again, gamble 
commercially, and your piety is not impeached ; gamble 
with money only, and you are an odious thing. You 
may not marry but one wife, but you may keep as 
many mistresses as you please ; you may keep them, 
always in proper retirement, unchidden by society, 
though she whom you have enticed into such connec- 
tion is forever anathematized by the whole sisterhood. 
But as I said, you do not understand such things, 
and I will confess it to you, greasy brother, neither 
do I. 

Coming back to our gold — for however much we 
may despise it, we cannot do without it — we have 
seen that money is wealth only by sufFerance.^ Men 
have agreed to call gold stamped in a certain way 
money ,%ut for all that, only in as far as it series 
purpose, like anything useful, in so far it is wealth. 
You might ask, to what good is this great expenditure 
of time'and energy, of health and life, when we con- 
sider that in proportion as the quantity of gold in 
circulation increases, its value diminishes, that the 
aggregation of money is not aggregation of wealth, 
and that the uses of money are not facilitated by in- 
creasing the quantity ? Increase the volume of money 
and you increase prices; diminish the quantity in cir- 
culation and prices diminish. Give to every man in 
the world a boat-load of it, and not one of them is 
the richer; take from every man living half he hath, 
and not one of them is the poorer. Why, then, 
is the result of the labors of these ditch-gods re- 
garded with such concern throughout the commercia 

In answer to which queries, gentle savage, I re- 
spectfully refer you to the libraries. You must ask 
me easy questions respecting the present order of 
things among so-called civilized societies if you would 
have answers. I can get no answers even to many 
simple questions. Some medium for exchanges, some 
materialization of the spirit of commerce is certainly 

i J 


convenient, as business is now done. That there is 
room for improvement upon our present system I am 
equally certain. In extensive transactions barter is a 
cumbrous process; there must be money, but is it 
necessary that money should be made of metals ? Is 
it necessary for a measure of values that the world 
should expend as much labor as for the values meas- 
ured? As it is now, the value of money depends 
upon the cost of the metal coinposing it. If the metal 
exists in large quantities and is easily gathered, the 
amount produced is large, and its value correspond- 
ingly low. Could a bushel of gold dust under ordi- 
nary circumstances be produced with no more labor 
than a bushel of potatoes, then a bushel of potatoes 
would be worth a bushel of gold dust. Gold, because 
of its scarcity, and consequent cost of production, its 
divisibility, and its imperishable qualities, was tacitly 
adopted by almost all nations as money. Its very 
intrinsic worthlessness adds to its importance as a 
make-believe value, for not being used to any great 
extent for other purposes, it is not subject to sudden 
or violent fluctuations in value. I have actually heard 
men in the pulpit, who professed to be teachers of 
their fellow-men, say that God not only made gold 
specially to be used as money, but that he kept some 
of it hidden, and let men find it only as commerce re- 
quired it. This may be true in the sense that he 
made death that the livino^ might have standino'-room 
upon the earth, but being too slow at his work disease 
and war were sent to help him. 

I say something of the kind, as matters are now 
arranged, seems to be necessary. You, yourself, 
tawny sir, have felt the need of a currency medium 
in your petty barters. You have taken shells and 
beads, and have called them money, making the long- 
est shells and beads of a certain color to represent the 
higher values, just as others have invested the yellow 
metal with a greater purchasing power than the white 
or the copper-colored. Money is a convenience, a 


great labor-saving machine, and would be worth all 
it costs provided something cheaper could not be de- 
vised to take its place. It permits to the fullest ex- 
tent the division of labor; it ameliorates the condition 
of man by bringing to his door the products of distant 
nations; it facilitates industrial activities, promotes 
national intercourse, and stimulates the life blood of 
society. But a moderate amount of gold, if gold must 
be had for a currency, is as valuable to connnerce as 
a large amount. We may safely say that before the 
discovery of gold in California the world had sufficient. 
Then were not the labor and lives spent here in add- 
ing to the store to some extent thrown away ? Though 
the discovery of precious metals has hitherto more 
than kept pace with the requirements of commerce, 
yet so elastic and capacious is the maw of man that 
he has been able to appropriate it. The time will 
come, however, when the mountains will be exhausted 
of their gold and silver, which likewise shall drop out 
of commerce. California, Australia, and the Ural 
mountains together poured their precious metals into 
the world's coffers, and the value of gold soon fell one 
half and more. We can wait some time yet with 
what we have, but where will we find other Califor- 
nias, Australias, and Ural mountains when wanted? 
Much more will yet be found, but there is obviously 
a limit. When the value of gold was thus so seriously 
disturbed, silver was talked of as the chief monetary 
standard. Then Nevada poured out her several thou- 
sand tons of silver, which became such a drug in the 
market as to be bought and sold at from one to ten 
per cent discount. But even Comstock lodes have 
bottoms, and when the end of it all comes, perhaps 
mankind will improve its currency. 

Under the present infliction, and relatively in the 
proportion of the aggregate product to the work gold 
has to accomplish, the race must earn its comforts 
once and more. First it must till the land so that it 
will bring forth, and then unearth the gold with which 


to buy and sell the product. Thus is avoided bar- 
ter, which is cumbersome to commerce and industries, 
and every way undesirable. But so far ingenuity 
has sought in vain a cheaper substitute. With 
changes in the national conditions, however, there 
will in due time be a change here. Just as we shall 
have new religions, new moralities, and new political 
orders, so shall we have new standards of value and 
new currencies. Meanwhile we must be thankful for 
what we have, and in our present imperfect state 
accept it as a blessing, as an aid to civilization and 
all cheating. Then let the diggers continue, let them 
sweat in death-distilling labor until they drop in the 
graves of their own digging, so that wealth may. have 
its image and commerce its superscription. But let 
us not pride ourselves too much on intellectual supe- 
riority over the Pharaohs' and Jobs' ancestors in this 
respect, wherein we make so slight improvement. 

And this, my dear root-digger, is civilization, and 
religion, and all the rest. If you have acuteness of 
intellect, eloquence, and personal magnetism enough, 
you may go out even under the shining skies of 
America and play the prophet with the best of those 
that gulled humanity fift}^ or five thousand years 
back. You may go to New York, to London, to 
Berlin and capture your thousands. The gullibility 
of mankind in its extent is a question not so much of 
intelligence and enlightenment as of the strength of 
the impostor. Some little advance out of the subter- 
ranean darkness has been made during the last two 
thousand years, but it is little comparatively. The 
world still, in many respects, prefers falsehood to 
truth, and men will believe a lie, though their rea- 
son, if they have any, plainly tells them it is such. 
It is not ia the power of the human mind to conceive 
a creed so absurd or diabolical as not to find believers 
amons: the most enlio-htened nations of the earth, and 
that in proportion to the power with which the doc- 
trine is enforced. 


Suddenly the sharp crack of a rifle is heard, and 
the meditative aboriginal tumbles from his seat a 
lifeless mass into the stream. A miner's mustanor 
was missing yesterday; some skulking redskin must 
have stolen it. 

Even the rattlesnake will not strike until it sounds 
the note of battle. 



Qii 'on me donne six lignes ecrites de la main de plus honnete homme, j'y 
trouverai de quoi le faire pendre. 

— Riclielku. 

Notwithstanding the pretentions of Portugal and 
Prance, the two Americas in their final occupancy fell 
largely to Spain and Great Britain. The policy of 
the several nations in the disposal of their prizes was 
directed not alone by the race characteristics of Latin 
and Teuton, marked on one side by a laisser-aller dis- 
position, on the other by selfish energy, but by geo- 
graphic conditions, which invited to one section of 
North America the immigration of families for agri- 
cultural colonies, and to others men who were ambi- 
tious to reap fortunes at mining, fur-hunting, and exac- 
tion, with attendant instability and undefined inten- 
tions at permanent settlement. 

The attitude tow^ard the aborigines of the quiet 
and reserved settler, intent on home-building, differed 
radically from that of the adventurer and fortune- 
hunter aiming at speedy enrichment. The one was 
prompted to propitiatory measures by regard for his 
exposed family and possessions ; the other had noth- 
ing to lose and everything to gain by yielding to the 
still rampant war spirit, fresh from "^ Mohammedan 
crusades, and to the greed which had lured across 
the seas an otherwise unwilling colonist. Hence the 
noly calm of puritan advent, as contrasted with the 
blood-stained invasion of the Iberian. 

Gradually came a change, from the very nature of 
these primary conditions. As the settler acquired a 

Essays AND Miscellany 5 (65j 


foothold and strength, the restraints of fear were cast 
aside, together with solemn obligations, while selfish 
assertion assumed the reins. As the glitter of gold 
beo-an to fade, the eyes of the fortune-seeker opened 
to the existence of more substantial treasures for his 
o-leaning, in fertile soils, existing plantations, unfolding 
silver mines, and other resources, and above all in 
submissive natives to develop them. The Indians ac- 
quired a value ; but were too plentiful to obtain due 
appreciation and consequent immunity from the ex 
acting oppression of irresponsible masters. Fortunate- 
ly for them both church and government learned to 
better estimate their worth, and to impress it upon their 
graceless sons for the perpetuation of their own 
economic and sovereign interests. 

The Spanish government was never intentionally 
unkind to the Indians, however cruel may have been 
the unprincipled horde of conquerors. When the 
Holy See had passed upon the quality of this new 
humanity — when the pope had pronounced that the 
dusky inhabitants of the New World were possessed 
of souls, the queen of Castile declared them her sub- 
jects, with rights of life and protection, always pro- 
vided that they bowed submission to Christ and tlieir 
catholic Majesties. The pope's decision, indeed, could 
scarcely have been otherwise in view of church pre- 
rogatives, as these beings, whether human or not, 
were destined to become important factors in New 
World affairs ; but it was a judgment less happy for 
the savages presently to be converted at the point of 
the sword, than for the missionaries who were to gain 
much wealth and glory thereby. The Spanish sov- 
ereigns were true to their original declaration, and 
did all in their power to prevent the infamies con- 
stantly being perpetrated by the distant colonists in 
their eag:erness for slaves and results. The extermin- 
ation of the Indians was equally remote from the 
minds of the colonists, averse as they were to work ; and 
their lands and mines were valueless without laborers. 


A similar governmental interference took place in 
the north, when the rivalry of miscrupulous fur-traders 
led to excesses and disregard alike for the morals of 
the natives and the revenues of the crown. For the 
preservation of both, charters were issued to respon- 
sible companies in French and Eussian America, 
These soon found it to their interest to court the 
aborigine for his fur and his trade, as well as for the 
safety of their scattered trappers and peddlers. In 
supplanting the Gaul the English adopted his ad- 
mirable policy. 

Neither of these nations cared for the native 
Americans, their souls or bodies; they cared far less 
than the Spaniards, who were so widely swayed by 
the church, wherein humanity found also strong 
material incentive. 

All were of the same stock, and claimed alike the 
highest morality and the purest religion; comparing 
one with another of the great nations of the foremost 
civilization, there is little to choose between them 
in regard to equity and humanity. Englishmen speak 
of the Spaniards and Russians of a century or two 
ago as cruel, and so they were ; but it is not possible 
in the compass of crime for men to inflict upon their 
fellow-men greater wrongs than those put by England 
upon India and China, within the century. 

With the decline of pecuniary interest in the 
Indians fell also the consideration of the invaders 
and the zeal of the authorities. When the independ- 
ence of the New England provinces divided Anglo- 
American domination, the policy of the two parts in 
their treatment of the aborigines became as distinct 
as that of Spain or Kussia. 

It is safe to say that nowhere in the history of 
colonization were native nations worse treated than in 
the United States, or better treated than in British 
America. Not that the revolted colonists were in- 
herently less humane than their northern brethren, 
and least of all was it owing to any influence from 


the mother country. The cause lay in the fur wealth 
of the northern section, which prompted the company 
representing the crown to comport itself with circum- 
spection, while southward there was less of this in- 
centive to self-control, and no government to assign 
the trade to responsible parties or regulate the fiercer 
rivalry which ensued among a host of competitors, 
heedless of the future or the consequences to others, 
and bent only on quick profits. 

National moralities, outside of certain bounds, are 
regulated by pecuniary interests. It so happened that 
it was money in the pockets of the Canadians for the 
savages to live, so they were kept alive; it paid the 
people of the United States to have them die, so 
their wild men were killed. The colonists of New 
England and their descendants were essentially work- 
ers, settlers, agriculturalists, and wanted the land 
cleared of all cumbrances, while the Montreal Scotch- 
men were fur-dealers, and wished to maintain half of 
North America as a gfime preserve, with the Indians 
as their hunters. Hence the officers of the great 
fur companies were exceedingly kind and circumspect, 
placing in contact with the savages only their own 
servants of tried integrity, who dealt with them hon- 
estly, charitably, respecting their rights and main- 
taining the peace of nations. 

A Hudson's Bay Company's man was never thanked 
by his superior for taking advantage of an Indian in 
trade. Promises were faith fully kept ; and if a white 
man injured an Indian he was punished as surely if 
not as severely as the Indian who injured a white 
man. A whole village was not murdered for a theft 
by one of its members, but only the guilty one was 
made to suffer. And when the country was thrown 
open to settlement, the natives were not left to the 
mercy of the vilest element in the commonwealth to 
be robbed and insulted, but were allotted the lands 
about their ancient homes, and made useful and re- 
spectable. Along the ever-widening border of the 


great republic, on the other hand, were free trappers, 
desperadoes, the scum of society, together with un- 
Hcerised settlers, knowing no law and having no pro- 
tection save of their own devising. It was alone from 
contact with such an element that the savages were 
forced to form their opinion of white men — an element 
that kept them in a state of constant exasperation. 

More than was the case with the Spaniards, or 
Portuguese, or Russians, it was to the interest of the 
people of the United States to rid themselves of their 
savages. ,They were in the way ; of no use to any ; 
and preordained at best soon to die; then why protect 
them ? Moreover, they killed white men, stole cattle, 
and held possession of land which could be put to 
better use. That white men did worse by them, or 
among themselves, made no difference. That the 
English lord might fence out hundreds of paupers 
from his thousand-acre park which gave him each 
year a few days' shooting, or a Yankee speculator 
hold 50,000 acres for an advance in price made no 
difference. Englishmen and Yankees are not painted 
savages; English lords are not American lords; civ- 
ilization and savagism are natural foes ; the weaker 
must give way, and the less said about justice and 
humanity the better. So with their accustomed en- 
ergy the people of the United States have driven 
back the Indian beyond their fast expanding border, 
and with the extermination of their wild beasts ex- 
terminated their wild men when these ventured to 
protest or resist. Few now remain within their 
borders from the Atlantic to the Pacific, while Mex- 
ico, British America, and Russian America, if it be 
any satisfaction to them, may still count their hordes 
of unslain aboriginals. 

Perhaps it is better so. If with our Indians we 
would kill off our Africans, and Asiatics, and low 
Europeans, we might in due time breed a race of 
gods. But must we not first revise our ethics, and 
throw out as obsolete the idea of any other right than 


might, of any other principle than the inexorable law 
of progress? Must we not root out of our religion 
every sentiment which conflicts with culture ? We 
see plainly enough that the rights of nations are re- 
spected by other nations in proportion to the power 
of a people to defend them. Neither religion nor 
civilization are sufficiently advanced to render strict 
justice to savage nations, or to any weaker power. 
The immigrants from England were no exception to 
this rule. Finding the savages along the eastern sea- 
board too strong to be at once driven back, they ac- 
knowledged their ownership to the land, but did not 
hesitate to cheat them out of it as opportunity offered. 
And later, as the white men became stronger and the 
red men weaker, while it has been partially acknowl- 
edged that the latter have some rights, practically 
but few have been granted them. It would have 
been more consistent on the part of the government 
to have ignored them entirely or to have recognized 
them fully. Savagism has no rights if it has not 
equal rights with civilization. 

It is revolting to our every sense of manhood, of 
honor, and of justice, the narrative of the century- 
march of European civilization, from east to west 
across the mid-continent of North America. It were 
enough, one would think, to inflict on the doomed 
race the current curses of civilization, rum and divers 
strange diseases, without employing steel and gun- 
powder. But no sooner were the English plantations 
on the eastern seaboard strong enough than the strug- 
gle began, and in one line may be told the story ring- 
ing with its thousand imfamies to fit ten thousand 
occasions. The white man, in the belief of his mental 
and moral superiority, imposes upon the red man, 
who, daring to defend himself, is struck to earth. 
The story fits the great battles of the period no less 
than the local raids brought on by an attempt of a 
husband and father to protect an insulted wife or 
daughter, or the theft of a hungry Indian from whose 


lands game has been driven to give pasturage to cattle, 
the whole neio^hborhood rallvintr in reveno-e and shoot- 
ing down indiscriminately every native man, woman 
and child in the vicinity. 

The government has been likewise at fault. We 
behold warlike and blustering tribes wring one conces- 
sion after another, in reservations, provisions, annui- 
ties, and aid toward building houses, and obtain ready 
pardon after every fresh uprising or outrage. Peace- 
ful and weak tribes, on the other hand, have been 
neglected, or put off with barren tracts and scanty 
allowance, filtered though the fingers of dishonest 
agents. Thus a premium was ever offered to disaffec- 
tion. Some tribes, like the Mission Indians of Cali- 
fornia, have been surrendered to swindlers, to be driven 
from their homes occupied for generations, and left to 

Temporizing was in a measure enforced by the feud 
bred of long hostility and the exposed condition of a 
vast frontier; and the mode of dealing had to con- 
form to the character and strength of the tribe, as 
practised among so-called civilized nations. Yet it 
can never excuse the glaring injustice toward well- 
disposed and deserving peoples. 

For the last half century the aim of the govern- 
ment in its Indian policy has been for the most part 
humane and honorable, equal in its benevolent inten- 
tions to Spain's, and superior to that of England ; 
nevertheless, its mistakes and inconsistencies have 
been numberless. Starting out upon a false premise, 
striving at once to be powerful and pure, its pathway 
has bristled with difficulties. It made lofty distinctions 
which were without a difference, acknowledging in words 
from the first the lords aboriginal in possession as the 
rightful owners of the soil, from whom to steal with- 
out pretext of right was sinful, but who might never- 
theless be righteously robbed in a thousand ways. 
Nor was it until the young republic had secured for 
itself acreage broad enough, as it supposed, for all 


present and future needs, and was on the highroad 
to wealth and fame, tliat the cast began preach uig to 
the west such honesty and Imnianity on behalf of the 
natives as it had not hitherto felt able to indulge in 
on its own account. What new revelation has come 
to the connnon wealth, that the settlers west of the 
Mississippi have not the same right to seize the lands 
and kill the inhabitants as had the settlers east of 
that line ? Had a clause been inserted in the consti- 
tution making the robbery and nmrder of Indians 
lawful, the course of all would have been clear; but 
to rob and murder, or permit a straight century of 
such license, and that on a mighty magnificent scale, 
and now beirin to rail at similar sli^jhter deeds en- 
forced by necessity, seems absurd. 

The condition of the philanthropists of the east, in 
no fear for their scalps, and in the full enjoyment of 
lands stolen from the savages by their forefathers, 
differs widely from that of tlie settlers on the border 
with dwellings aflame and wives and children 

AmoncT the more common and continued mistakes 
of the government in dealing with the Indians has 
been the employment as agents of men who would 
buy their appointment from some political hack, de- 
pending on peculation or other rascality for a return. 
Of all the millions of money appropriated by congress 
for the benefit of the Indians, it is safe to say that 
only a small proportion has ever reached them. Then 
there has been much bad faith on the part of govern- 
ment, broken promises, and unfulfilled treaties. A 
savage cannot understand how a nation can deceive 
without expecting to fight. Indian outbreaks have 
always been the result of real or fancied wrongs, 
which nine times in ten the government might have 
remedied, and thus avoided bloodshed, had it acted 
through honest, competent agents, with promptness, 
fairness, and firmness. 

An insurmountable obstacle confinincy the action of 


the authorities lies in race feelino-, which is far more in- 
tense among the Teutons than in the Latin element. 
The Frenchman and Spaniard hold themselves above 
the lowly Indian, but they do not spurn him. Inter- 
marriage was unhesitatingly adopted by their young 
men, and favored by the church and the government, 
as among fur-traders, on the ground of morality and 
witli a view to form a claim upon native loyalty. The 
half-breed grew to receive a share in the affection so 
freely bestowed by Spanish parents. Thus favored, 
the mestizo expanded in Latin America into a power- 
ful race. Subjected like the Creole to narrow-minded 
oppression and disregard, he turned for sympathy to 
the maternal side, to cherish ancient tradition, and to 
revive its glories in the achievement of independence. 

With him the aborigines have been lifted to full 
equality before the law, although the sprightlier mes- 
tizo seeks to maintain the domination over the masses 
inherited from the Spaniard, politically as well as 
socially. His rise is most desirable, for his patient 
and conservative traits form a needful check on the 
cliangeable disposition of the others. His capacity 
for elevation is demonstrated not alone in the fraternal 
recognition of his merits and character in the various 
official positions which he shares with his half-breed 
brother, but in the number of prominent men con- 
tributed by him to the circles of arts, science, and lit- 
erature, as in the case of Juarez, the great lawgiver 
and lil)erator, whom unanimous gratitude has raised 
to a national hero. 

So in the north also we find bright promises, as ex- 
hibited by the Cherokees, by instances of intellectual 
and material advancement at different reservations, 
and by marked reformation effected by missionary 
effort on the remote Alaskan border of British Co- 
lumbia, in creating a model community from among 
rude fisher tribes. There is not here the same pros- 
pect for advancement, however, as in Spanish America, 
for the contemptuous race antipathy and disdainful 


exclusiveness, on the part of the Anglo-Saxons, have 
placed a gulf impassable between them and the Indians 
and half-breeds, which leaves them strangers and out- 
easts on their ancestral soil. 

There can be no great good, now that the Indians 
are nearly all dead, in devising means for preserving 
their lives. At tlie same time the mind will some- 
times revert to a possible condition of things, wherein 
there were no Indian reservations to serve as prisons 
for free men, and hot-beds of political iniquity; wherein 
the survivors of a nation had each been secured in the 
possession of land sufficient for his easy maintenance 
on the spot where had lived his ancestors, officers be- 
ing appointed for their further protection under the 
severest penalties for misconduct ; wherein there were 
strict regulations respecting settlers on the border, 
their occupation of lands, and intercourse with the 
natives; wherein, if voting in this republic must be 
promiscuous, Africans and low Europeans being in- 
vited to become our peers, the privilege was not de- 
nied the Indians, whose soil w^e have seized and whose 
nationalities we have obliterated. 



He alone reads history aright, M^ho, observing how powerfully circum- 
stances influence the feelings and opinions of man, how often vices pass into 
virtues and paradoxes into axioms, learns to distinguish what is accidental and 
transitory in human nature from what is essential and imnmtable. 

— Macaulay. 

As the world makes history, men are found to re- 
cord it ; first on the tablet of memory, to be in like 
manner reinscribed by successive generations, illumi- 
nated with the glow of family pride, of tribal sympa- 
pathy, of patriotic devotion. In the course of this 
transmission occur further modifications under in- 
fluences multifarious, colored by the vagaries of fanc}^ 
superstition, or emotion, others warped by defective 
retention or obscure judgment : others perverted to 
please the varying audiences, of elders or youth, of 
friends or strangers, or to add brilliancy to the rhet- 
oric of the narrator. 

The distortion here is no worse than in the host of 
written chronicles, additionally influenced by fanati- 
cism and prejudice, ignorance, and lack of reflection. 
In the latter, however, the outlines are sharply cut 
in prose and with unalterable rigidity ; in the former 
they fade and intermingle with the metric current 
which bore the tales of illiterate ancestors. A poetic 
imagination lifts incidents into the sphere of miracu- 
lous or supernatural phenomena, and the figure rises 
from the sage patriarch or valiant chieftain to a hero 
or a divinity, euphemistically transformed. Distance 
wraps around all its mystifying veil ; age invests false- 
hood with sanctity. 

A step back and history fades. As the vista of 


time lengthens and the past recedes, a mist closes in 
behind us and even recorded facts grow dim. Poets 
themselves, as milestones in the highway of history — 
Chaucer, as displaying English character at the close 
of the fifteenth century ; Shakespeare, as opening a 
new era in the development of thought; and Shelley, 
as heralding the approach of modern skepticism — are 
doomed in time to become obsolete, and crumble. 
With the fruits of their lives in never-dying fragrance 
still before us, some affect to believe the man Homer 
a myth ; some regard Shakespeare as a mask. But 
where is the difference, if, contrary to our teachings, 
the blind minstrel or the divine dramatist never had 
authentic reality? Their works, the testimony of 
earnest lives and matchless intellects, are with us, and 
for these their authors, whosoever they are, shall be 
to us as Homer and Shakespeare. 

From hallowed antiquity emerges mythology to en- 
fold the cradle of most nations, and to be in time set 
forth in records like the Jewish scriptures, the Hindoo 
Veda, the Popol Vuh of the Quiches, regarded by 
their several peoples as sacred, and supplemented by 
heroic ballads, which often contain tlie beginnings of 
national history. Even science had its occult period, 
as in the astrology of astronomy and the alchemy of 
chemistry. All the unknown was tlie doings of the 
gods; and while imagination thus tyrannized over 
reason, all historical records were deemed divine. 

Then arose skepticism with its questionings, and 
the human began to mix with the spiritual. The 
history of one age became the romance of the next. 
Until a comparatively late period, patristic writings 
w^ere regarded by Christians as but little less worthy 
of belief than the holy scriptures. Now, history, in 
common with the vital forces of the age, has become 
humanized, materialized. No longer are mainsprings 
of thought and action sought amidst the unknowable. 
Chivalry, kingcraft, and military Christianity have 
had their day, and mankind is now less ruled by the 


ecclesiastical spirit or by the sentiment of loyalty. 
Spiritual power and temporal power are divorced; 
and instead of crusading knights, inquisitions, and an 
infallible papacy, we have constitutional government 
and a free press. Thought is emancipated, and mind 
harnesses the forces of nature. 

We are becoming more and more satisfied to be 
guided by the light of our reason, which, howsoever 
dim and flickering, distinguishes us from brute beasts, 
and serves to reveal the will-o'-the-wisps which have 
so long misled us, dispelling the veneration which 
once attended all that was printed, almost all that was 
written, and much of what was said, particularly if 
spoken from the pul})it or forum. There was some- 
thing mysterious and almost sacred in books, and in 
the words of those who had long and diligently 
searched them. The unthinking millions were ever 
ready to credit philosopher and sage, priest and pro- 
fessor, with knowledge and powers illimitable. The 
earliest book of the nation was above all held sacred, 
as something emanating from divinity, by virtue of its 
unearthly and unnatural incidents. But the older 
the world grows, the clearer becomes its discrimina- 
tion in historic judgment. In this it is aided also by 
the unobscured records of many a modern nation from 
its political inception. 

In our present researches we have recourse to lenses 
as well as new liohts. The cumulative knowledo^e of 
past generations is becoming more accessible and con- 
centrated, and science gives daily fresh tongues to 
organic and inorganic substance. The normal unfold- 
ing of nature is demonstrated, together with depend- 
ing events ; the hieroglyphics of the past assume an 
ever-brightening outline, and the elements of truth 
distill from the ambiguous and absurd in the national 
books. As history emerges from this shadowy border- 
land, the mythology and dim beginning of national 
records proceeding from the sacred to the profane, it 


loses somewhat of its deception and uncertainty, until 
truth triumphant rises superior to all tradition. 

Similarly graded was the development from original 
reflective and philosophic histor3\ In regard to the 
latter, it is better thab history should be pure, unadul- 
terated by any philosophy, than to be burdened by it. 
It is well for the historian ever to have in mind causes 
and principles ; otherwise, indeed, he would be only a 
chronicler or annalist. But he need not parade his 
doctrines unduly. No two writers or readers, if they 
think at all, will agree exactly touching the origin of 
human affairs and the nature of human progress; it 
is not necessary that they should. The greater the 
pretension to insight into these enigmas, the greater 
the confusion. Let us have our facts, so far as con- 
sistent with reasonable and critical narration, pure and 
simple, presented clearly, in natural order and logical 
sequence ; and each of us, if so disposed, can weave 
from them any additional web of philosophy. Strained 
efforts in this direction are as unprofitable and unpleas- 
ant as preconceived recognition of special providence 
or miraculous interposition. It is enough to discern 
wise provisions and fundamental rules, or proclaim a 
seemingly overruling intelligence in all that relates to 
man and nature, without appending on the one side 
evident or remote explanations, or attempting on the 
other to trace the finger of God in the affairs of men 
to such an extent as to make the Almighty the drudge 
and scavenger of the universe, subject to the beck and 
call of every atom in his Boeotic handiwork. 

In mixing too freely philosophy with history, homely 
facts are liable to become distorted or subverted. In 
truth, philosophizing produces too often only a phan- 
tom to which facts will not cling. While pretending 
to great things, to primary and universal investiga- 
tion, to the synthesis and analysis of all knowledge, 
the explanation of fundamental causes and the de- 
termining of infinite effects, it soars away from real 
knowledge to deal with its shadow. With Montaigne, 


M. Sainte-Beuve loved ''only the simple ingenuous 
historians who recounted facts without choice or 
selection in good faith ; " but that is another extreme 
to which few will subscribe. 

But a little while ago it was assumed that a nation 
which had not waded through centuries of blood had 
no history. To our more refined sensibilities, pictures 
of battle-field agonies, catalogues of death wounds, 
and barbarous atrocities are less congenial — I will not 
say less profitable — than to the ruder tastes of Homer's 
listeners or to the lover of King Arthur romances. 
Narratives of sieges and battles, of the discipline and 
movement of armies, and of international diplomacies ; 
biographies of ministers and generals, and the idiosyn- 
cracies of great ineu; pictures of court intrigues, 
dainty morsels of court scandals, recitations of the 
sayings of imbecile monarchs, anecdotes of princes, 
the opinions of counsellors, or the tortuous ways of 
political factions — these are not all of history. 

What Carlyle wanted to see was " not red-book 
lists, and court calendars, and parliamentary registers, 
but the life of man in England ; what men did, thought, 
suffered, enjoyed; the form, especially the spirit, of 
their terrestrial existence, its outward environment, 
its inward principle ; how and what it was ; whence 
it proceeded, whither it was tending." 

Beginning with Moses or Homer and tracing the 
records of the race to the present time, if we take 
out the accounts of human butcheries, of lying and 
over-reaching of statesmen and rulers, and of the 
sources of lamentation, there is little left. Crushing 
is the curse of ignorance and injustice ! How blotted 
are the pages of history with the cruelties of tyrants, 
the corruptions of courts, the wanton wickedness of 
lawmakers and governors I What wonder that the 
poor steal, and bloated sensualists ravish ! Gibbon 
considers history indeed little more tlian the register 
of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind. 


History's tale as given is by far too woeful. It tells 
not the whole truth. It holds up to us chiefly the 
dolorous side of humanity, with the wounds, conflicts, 
and stains of crime, — the hateful, bloody side. 

Now, to every human soul, and to every aggrega- 
tion of souls, there is a bright side, generally the un- 
written side of history. Between the black periods 
of passion are long eras of peace and prosperity, 
as fully entitled to their place in history as the 

A still greater omission lies in the failure to duly 
observe the mighty current of history in the people, 
to dilate only or chiefly upon eddies, streaks, and 
flotsam, in stirring incidents and striking figures. 
No intelligent reader of the present day will for a 
moment question the relative value of a knowledge 
of the origin and structure of social institutions as 
compared with a knowledge of kings, dynasties, geneal- 
ogies, and political intrigues. Formerly the people 
seemed to be kept alive in order that the government 
might live, but as the people become strong the gov- 
ernment recedes to a subordinate position. 

We are told that history is but the essence of in- 
numerable biographies. Resolving then this essence, 
we find chronicled how this prince was elevated and 
deposed, how that sycophant intrigued ; we are noti- 
fied at length how certain nobles quarreled, how 
ministers were made and unmade — as if the universe 
revolved round these poor worms, and the fate of 
humanity hung upon their lips. Descending to minor 
greatness, we find recorded the mechanical ingenuity 
of an inventor, the skill or magnanimity of a politi- 
cian or a tradesman ; but of the men, moral or bestial, 
we learn little. Success we can but worship, weak 
creatures that we are, and success demands a place; 
whether it comes from propagandism or pickle-making, 
it will have a niche in the pantheon. But this is not 
enough ; the new immortal must be bleached or black- 
ened to harmonize with the surroundini:;s ; he 


must be elevated and rendered conspicuous, as angel 
or devil, above the crowd whence he issued. 

In history the people have been represented far 
too much by their chiefs. The movers of the world 
are mankind, not the leaders. Statesmen are un- 
doubtedly the authors of many evils and some few 
benefits to man. Yet we exat^oerate when from the 
prow of the ship of state we see the threatening 
breakers, and fancy that, but for the helming of great 
men, we should be dashed to pieces. From the cause 
of bad leadership alone is seldom, at this day, a 
nation wrecked. The people are the nation ; and to 
their ignorance or weakness, poverty or cowardice, we 
must look for the origin of all the greater evils that 
befall them. 

The time was when Pharaohs and Alexanders, or 
latterly a Napoleon, seemed to sway the destinies of 
their own and adjacent nations, partly by inherited 
control over a subjected people, partly through ascen- 
dency gained by prowess and intellect. The acts of 
such a wielder of power are undoubtedly all impor- 
tant, and his biography becomes largely the history 
of the nation. Neverthdess, we must look deeper, 
and not be blinded by superficial glitter. We must 
look for bases and causes, not alone for appearances 
and effects. 

The great men of history, or those who play prom- 
inent parts on the world's stage, are in the main the 
result of accident or a combination of circumstances, 
being made by fortune rather than making it. The 
evolution of a king varies little in form or principle 
from the unfolding of any other object in nature or in 
man, with the ditierence that fitness as the element 
of survival seems to have little to do with it. Origi- 
nally, as subordinate leaders, they possessed the merit 
of prowess, or as representatives in whom centered 
the interests of castes and guilds and tribes, held in 
equilibrium by diplomatic jealousy and distrust; but 
otherwise there was usually no merit whatever. 



In following the career of an Alexander, the causes 
of success must be sought not in his legislative acts 
and military feats, in his public conduct or private 
life, but in the character and habits of the peoples 
which achieved his conquests or submitted to his sway. 
We must go back and trace the influence of the sur- 
rounding circumstances, and watch the ripening in- 
cidents which enable one man to step to the front, 
and seemingly guide the current of national perform- 
ance into a new channel. It required the long fer- 
mentations of many ingredients to start the Aryans 
on the great westward march which still pursues its 
civilizing course. In tracing it, we direct our glance 
no longer at the leaders, but at the movino^ mass, and 
at the numerous evidences of its halt, now in the fertile 
valley of the Euphrates, now on the sterile shores of 
Pooenicia, in the semi-tropic climate of Greece, and in 
the diversified valleys of America. 

Alexander's father introduced a primary element 
of success in the military system, long matured in the 
classic peninsula, and which inspired the Macedonians 
with irresistible confidence as well as military ardor. 
It was the spirit of Epaminondas, to a certain extent, 
which guided them to victory. Then we must take 
into consideration the influence of Greek thought in 
other directions upon the leading classes, and of Aris- 
totle's teachings upon the young general, until finally 
we approximate the cause which started the invasion, 
roused the flame of discord among the nations 
throughout south-western Asia, and shaped the policy 
which assured the conquest. The comparative insig- 
nificance of the head is illustrated by the parting 
asunder of the fabric at his death for the benefit of 
his generals, upheld by the favor and desire of the 
subordinate ofiScers and soldiers. 

In Napoleon we behold the personification of a new 
military method, which found success among old-fash- 
ioned and rutty systems, and of the consequent inspir- 
ation which drove the nation onward to glorious deeds. 


In the reaction, it was national sympathy and love of 
independence, rather than the direction of kings, wiiich 
broke the chains, while national integrity kept the 
allied powers from exacting terms too severe. 

The material and intellectual advancement of nations 
cannot be wholly arrested by the vagaries of rulers, 
who, autocratic as they may be, are bound and guided 
by common interests with their people, although 
prompted by ambition and vanity to secure more than 
a due share for themselves. The statecraft which so 
long deluded the masses for the benefit of a self-assert- 
ing few avails no longer. Democracy has had its ebbs 
and tides, but since the middle ages its progress has 
been more steady. The practical discoveries and in- 
ventions which form the essentials of civilization are 
the levers of its own making, whereby it is uplifted. 

Note also the effect of the three great inventions 
upon this modern era, the compass, printing press, 
and gunpowder ; the first opening the hitherto locked 
oceans and western continents to enterprise and emi- 
gration, offering an asylum for the oppressed and a 
nursery for freedom ; the second opening the portals of 
knowledge to benighted masses, presenting to them 
means and guidance for self-reliant acquisition of 
power; the third, by revolutionizing warfare, dealing 
the death blow to feudal tyranny, and reducing the 
ascendancy of knights and nobles. 

The success of democratic rule in America has ex- 
erted a powerful influence upon Europe. Autocracy 
has had to yield to representative government. Ru- 
lers are obliged more and more to conform to their 
duty as executives of popular will, and to study the 
requirements of the masses, in order to sustain them- 
selves. Subordinate heads have in similar manner to 
court their respective constituents or apparent de- 
fenders, and to figure as representatives and mouth- 
pieces rather than masters. 

The comfort of the people and the growth of intel- 
ligence, the genesis of laws and institutions, are of as 


vital importance in our study of social anatomy, and 
in the deduction of principles as the juggleries of po- 
litical tricksters. To ignore the existence of the ma- 
terial composing the nation in writing its history, is to 
persist in the retention of the barbaric in historic 

The absence of allusions to the masses in the Ho- 
meric poems, and in the Arthurian and Carlovingian 
tales, is striking. Yet what minstrel could condescend 
to celebrate in song the lives and thoughts of base- 
born drudges, when the general was considered every- 
thing, the soldier nothhig, the lord more than man, 
the laborer less than brute. How doth the halo of 
divine kingship blind the eyes of men I Lamartine 
saw in gouty old Louis XVIII. a manly figure, an 
honored hero, clothed in modest wisdom ; eyes like 
lapis lazuli, without anger, without timidity, reflected 
the ancestral nobility as in a mirror I 

Not that rulers are to be ignored in history. The 
good ruler influences the interests of society as the 
mountains give direction to wind and rain. Yet in 
scientific history, forms and dignities must give place 
to human nature, men-killers and political thimble- 
riggers to iron-smiths and wool-weavers. Kings and 
courts will never again figure in history as hitherto, 
for as their hold on us in real life lessens, so does 
their hold in tradition. Rather throw rank and caste, 
with patriotic egoism and fanatical creeds, to the wind, 
and rest our philosophy on the broad principles of 
nature and humanity. 

Give rulers, generals, and great men their place in 
history — in the background. These are the creatures, 
not the creators of civilization. Marshal to the 
front generalizable facts, from which principles impor- 
tant to the welfare of the people may be deduced. 
Let us see how nations originate, organize, and unfold ; 
let us examine the structure and operations of govern- 
ments, their polities, strength, tyrannies, and corrup- 
tions ; with civil government let us parallel ecclesias- 


ticpJ government, with its powers, creeds, ceremonials, 
and superstitions ; domestic customs, sex and family 
relationships, the affinities and antagonisms of class, 
occupation, and every species of social phenomena 
down to the apparently most insignificant habits, are 
worth our attention ; labor, industries, the economy 
of wealth, the arts, the condition and advancement of 
the intellect, aesthetic culture, morals, and everytliing 
appertaining to the individual as well as to the body 
social should be critically considered; in short, the 
progress of man's domination over nature. Costumes 
as well as customs should be reproduced, for dress, no 
less than style, is the man, and the man is the na- 
tion. A half-century ago poets, painters, novelists, 
neither knew nor cared to know the costumes of the 
several nations and epochs of history which they at- 
tempted to picture, so tliat the grossest anachronisms 
were perpetrated. And this w^as only one phase of 
the disregard for knowledge then prevalent. The 
analysis of history should be made inversely from the 
concrete to the abstract, from the homogeneous to 
the heterogeneous and complex. After examining 
the facts, we may proceed inductively to gener- 

History, heaven-born, descends to earth ; from the 
abstract to the concrete : from the general and re- 
mote to the particular and proximate ; from the do- 
ings of demi-gods, heroes, and kings, it comes to the 
doings of humbler men. Mighty in its original aspira- 
tions, history bridged the chasm between heaven and 
earth; then dropping down through all the modifica- 
tions of the semi-supernatural, through all the phases 
of divine and mortal rule, it finally rests upon the 
shoulders of the common herd, which finally raises its 
eyes dimly conscious of its destiny. 

The history of the United States illustrates in par- 
ticular the unfolding of this destiny, presenting a lesson 
to the world of practical energy and able and prosper- 
ous self-government. We are not as yet prepared to 


determine the exact relative importance to mankind 
of the histories of the different nations of the earth. 
It may seem to us now, that Greece, and Rome, and 
England have exercised a broader and deeper influ- 
ence upon the destinies of man than ever will Oregon, 
California, or Mexico ; but we cannot tell. The civ- 
ilizations of antiquity flourished while yet the world 
was small, and thought circumscribed; when the Pa- 
cific slope shall have had centuries of national life, 
her annals may tell of more benefits to the race than 
those of Egypt can now boast. 

In order to better understand and bring forward 
with proper spirit the current and flotsam of history, 
the laws of nature and humanity should be kept in 
mind, and all those natural and supernatural forces 
of which we know so little and feel so strongly ; for 
these, to the historian, are as the world's wind and 
water currents to the meteorologist, or as the effects 
of heat and intermixtures to the chemist ; else there 
is no accounting for the insane wranglings, the battles 
and butcheries over nothings, the sacrifice of millions 
upon the altar of an inane idea. They proffer clues to 
the modifications to which changeable man is con- 
stantly subjected by his surroundings, and to the ac- 
tion and reaction of individuals and institutions on 
each other. 

So intertwined and subtle are the relations of man 
and nature that knowledge of mankind constitutes the 
sum of all knowledge. Physical nature marks out a 
path to human nature, and human nature in turn be- 
comes the key to physical nature ; as in the motions 
of matter so in the emotions of mind, whether evolved 
or artificially created, human passions and proclivities 
act and react on each other, are measured relatively 
not absolutely, and balanced one by another. Hence 
it is that change in one place involves change in an- 
other, and any deviation from the general plan would 
result in a totally different order of things. 


We must remember that individuals, institutions, 
and societies are developed, not self-created; and that in 
this evolution evil instruments are employed in com- 
mon with good ; that the virtue of one age is the vice 
of another, and the beauty of one age the deformity 
of another. We do not realize how infinitesimal 
are our originatings, how infinite the powders that 
mould us ; we do not consider that in the ideal, as in 
the material world, there is no escape from external 
influences, that society fastens upon every member 
laws as inflexible as the laws of nature, and that 
we rest under dire necessity. We may imagine our- 
selves free when in truth we are bound to the strict- 
est servitude. Statutory laws, with their limited re- 
straint, may be evaded, but disobedience to the laws 
of nature is promptly punished by nature herself. 
Divine law comprehends all law, but divine punish- 
ment is remote and undefined. The laws of society 
however, are more domineering than all other laws 
combined, and, although punishing with but a frown, 
they are more dreaded than either the laws of nations 
or the laws of nature 

We forget, moreover, that civilization, this evolu- 
tion of the mechanical from the mechanical, and of the 
mental from the mental, with all its attendant moral- 
ities, polities, and religions, is not a human invention; 
that great ideas, great consequences are born of time, 
not originated by man nor self-imposed ; that indi- 
viduals owe their intelliojence and their igrnorance to 
the age and society in which by their destiny they 
are projected, and that society must first make a place 
for the great man before it can produce one ; nay, 
more, that man with his mighty intellect originates 
nothing, not even one poor thought, for trains of 
thought inevitably follow trains of circumstances, and 
every thought is but one in a sequence of thought, 
dependent upon its correlative, the seed of its progen- 
itor, the germ of its successor, and that man can no 
more originate or exterminate thought than he 


can originate or exterminate a solar system, so that 
our ideas are ever coming and going, and, whether 
we will or not, gathering color and volume from every 
fresh experience — I say we forget all this and a thous- 
and other things of like import, when we so sagely 
sit in judgment on our fellows. 

Some intimation humanity has of its elevation from 
the earthy by this subtle power, for in the naming of 
itself, in speaking the word "man" it says ^'thinker," 
such being the signification. Man, thinker, and not 
alone brute, not stolid senseless brain and muscle only, 
but thinker. So if we would be men and not ani- 
mals only we must think, and the more we think the 
less brutish we will be. Herein is a world of philos- 
ophy, and moreover much strength, for thought breeds 
knowledge, and knowledge is strength. 

Innumerable varieties of thought are generated by 
innumerable varieties of circumstance, as plants are 
generated by soil and climate. Men, in so far as they 
think at all, think differently ; few are wholly wrong. 
Judgment is always perverted by our teachings, which 
consist largely of fallacies. 

In our estimations of human nature the great fault 
lies in our restricted vision, and in the narrow-minded 
and one-sided views of life which are taken even by 
the profoundest scholars in every branch of learning. 
By some, humanity is studied as an art; by others, as 
a science. Some consider proximate causes only, en- 
dow mankind with absolute volition, make the indi- 
vidual the arbiter of his fate, governing, yet in some 
measure being governed by his surroundings; for- 
tuitous circumstances are referred to divine interposi- 
tions, unexplainable phenomena are thrown back upon 
the supernatural, and the supernatural in return ex- 
plains all mysteries. Herein life is an art. Others 
raise their eyes to causations more remote ; they be- 
hold the broad eternal stream of progress from afar, 
human rivers flowing on solemnly, resistlessly, in 
channels predetermined. They see in the civiliza- 


tions of nations, in the evolutions of successive socie- 
ties, an orderly march, uniform in impulse, under the 
direction of supreme intelligence, and regulated by 
primordial laws. They see the tide of human aflairs 
ebbing and flowing, now sinking into the depths of 
the material, now rising to the confines of the spiritual, 
but ever firmly bound by omnipotence. From the 
association of human intellects they perceive engen- 
dering progressional phenomena, under an influence 
vivifying as the sun and palpable as the air we 
breathe ; a living principle, like conditions ever pro- 
ducing like results. Circumstances apparently for- 
tuitous they refer to the same natural laws that 
govern the knowable,. and the genesis of progress 
they hold to be one with the genesis of man. This 
view raises the study of humanity into a science ; 
and thus is human life pictured on opposite sides of 
the shield, and discussed by minds practical on the 
one hand and by minds speculative on the other. 
True philosophy, however, grasps at entireties; man 
is made up of many elements, of endless impulses as 
well as fixed principles ; take away parts of his nature 
and he becomes denaturalized, becomes either more or 
less than man. 

Every philosophic writer of history has his own 
ideas of primal causes and underlying principles reg- 
ulating society and progress. Thus Buckle makes 
natural phenomena and a 'priori necessity the basis of 
his philosophy of history ; Draper rears his structure 
on the physiological idea ; Froude sees in the ambi- 
tions and passions of men the domineering elements 
of social energetics, while Goldwin Smith believes in 
the direct interposition of the creator in the affairs of 
men. Very different were the old-time explanations 
of social phenomena from these latter-day explainers. 
Mandeville went so far as to make moral virtue spring 
from the cunning of rulers, who the better to govern 
their subjects persuaded them to restrain their pas- 
sions and achieve the good— -so low were the estimates 


placed by the teachers of mankind upon the over- 
ruhng of social afiairs. 

All seem to agree that an unseen mj^sterious force 
has some direction of human affairs, and rules them 
by intelligent laws for man's advancement. It 
matters little for the purposes of history what this 
subtle force is called, whether free-will, necessity, 
progress, or providence. Says Jean Paul Richter, 
''Nature forces on our heart a creator; history a 
providence." The religionist sees in history God's 
plan concerning mankind, and the records of our 
race are to him but sequent supernatural interferences. 
The scientist sees an unfolding, and in studying causa- 
tions discovers laws. But whether these laws are 
called God's or nature's they are the same in origin 
and in operation. This much, however, I think may 
safely be said : No one seeks truth with keener zest 
or with higher aspirations toward that which is beau- 
tiful and good than the skeptic. He alone w^ho rests 
satisfied in the stolid ignorance of an old and trodden 
path prefers falsehood. 

The historian of ''innumerable biographies," with 
mind of breadth and depth sufficient to take in at one 
view the whole of this vast theme, has yet to come 
forward. Greatness in great things is seldom found 
united to greatness in little things; individual action 
so ill accords with philosophic speculation, that it is 
with extreme difficulty the practical mind is drawn 
from immediate practical results, or the speculative 
mind can be brought down to the careful considera- 
tion of the proximate. "To realize with any adequacy 
the force of a passion we have never experienced," re- 
marks Lecky, ^' to conceive a type of character radi- 
cally different from our own, above all, to form any 
just appreciation of the lawlessness and obtuseness of 
moral temperament, inevitably generated by a vicious 
education, requires a power of imagination which is 
among the rarest of human endowments." 

There are those who claim that many of the leading 


events of history spring from trivial accidents, ignoring 
which, in his efforts at more dignified causations, the 
writer exaggerates or warps the truth. This may be 
so to a Umited extent. But when Wilham Mathews 
soberly affirms that " half of the great movements in 
the world are brought about by means far more in- 
significant than a Helen's beauty or an Achilles' 
wrath," that '*one more pang of doubt in the tossed 
and wavering soul of Luther, and the current of the 
world's history would have been changed," he is far 
from the fact. And when this writer continues, "had 
Cleopatra's nose been shorter, had the spider not 
woven its web across the cave in which Mahomet 
took refuge, had Luther's friend escaped the thunder- 
storm," mankind shall never know what might have 
been, he approaches the burlesque. As Fontanelle 
remarks, ''L'histoire a pour objct les effets irreguliers 
des passions et des caprices des hommes, et une suite 
d'evenements si bizarres, que Ton a autrefois imagine 
une divinite avengle et insensee pour lui en donner la 

Another sums up fifteen decisive battles, any one 

of which, if resulting differently, would have brought 

destruction on mankind. Western civilization would 

have been blotted out had not Asia been checked at 

Marathon. And what would have happened, that 

did not happen, had Hasdrubal won, had Themistocles 

lost, had Charles Martel been overthrown by the 

Saracens, or had Napoleon been successful at Leipzig, 

j sages recite as though reading from a record. 

I While Wellington waited Bluchers arrival at 

? Waterloo the sun stood still to see whether its services 

i should be wanted more on this planet. In like man- 

; ner momentous turning-points are discovered in state- 

. craft, politics, and progress. 

I Humboldt saw in the discovery of Columbus a 

j "wonderful concatenation of trivial circumstances," 

' and Irving gives a string of incidents to show that 

something dreadful might have happened if Columbus 


Lad resisted Pinzon's counsel, when the latter was in- 
spired by the sight of a flock of parrots to steer west- 
ward. Mr Mill sagely observes, " If Mary had lived 
a little longer, or Elizabeth died sooner, the reforma- 
tion would have been crushed in England." An innate 
love for the marvellous fondles these assumptions ; but 
human affairs do not flow in such shallow channels as 
to be turned from their course by the falling of a 
pebble, or if turned from one course they find another 
which answers as well. It does not seem reasonable 
that had not the Modes and Persians, the Saracens, 
the French, and the rest of them, been checked just 
where they were, that we all would now be Mahom- 
etans or Frenchmen. And surely it does not argue 
well for Christ's care of his church to make its welfare 
dependent upon the accident of a woman's fate. 

Nature and the Great Inexorable have some voice 
in the dispensation of human aflairs as well as Blucher, 
Mary Queen of Scots, or Napoleon. These persons 
were but creatures of circumstances, and the events 
that raised them could have found other means and 
instruments. Politics and governments may run away 
with themselves, and with one another, but the master 
is sure to bring them back. The moral ideal of every 
society is stronger than its greatest friend or enemy. 
The great mass of readers, even of history, seem to 
prefer to have their thinking done for them. It is 
not given to every man to think as all the world shall !; 
think a century hence. The deepest original thinkers 
add little to the world of thought ; but from those 
who hire their thinking the world learns nothing. 
They are not satisfied with the bald facts, but must 
have them well coated with romance and theory be- 
fore they are palatable. The chief art of partisan 
historians is to make the facts of history sufficiently 
pliable to fit pre-determined principles. Their plan is 
not to deduce but to induce. Too often even among 
philosophic writers, history is but a special pleading 
— as in the case of Thirwall and Mitford, who take 


the facts of Grecian history, and warp them, one to 
suit democratic ideas, and the other aristocratic ; or of 
Abbott and AlUson, who in writing of the French, 
station God's providence on opposite sides. The pro- 
ficient historian will range his facts in natural se- 
quence, so that each event may show at once its 
origin and its influence, — and herein lies the essence 
of history writing, — while for his philosophy of his- 
tory the student should draw from his Hegel or his 
Schlegel rather than require the narrator of facts to 
warp them for popular or prejudiced views. As in 
geological science we discover a chronology of the 
material, so in history there is a chronology of the im- 
material. A fact in history, like a relic in archseology, 
may from its form and character be ascribed its proper 
place or epoch. There are the beliefs, the politics, 
the moralities of our period, which by no possibility 
could appear in another. 

** To serve more effectually the philosophical ex- 
planation of the past," says Noah Porter, *^the great 
movements of historic progress in separate lines and 
the several agencies on which they depend have been 
treated of in distinct works." To this separate treat- 
ment of topics particular attention should be given in 
all historical writings, bringing severally forward the 
progress of commerce, agriculture, education, and 
various kindred sections cf the ground covered, so as 
I to enable the mind to see the effects of each of these 
! civilizing agents on society apart from other causes 
I and effects. 

I To pure and healthy minds the plain truth has 

j! fascinations which no fiction, however brilliant, can 

\ equal. A taste for the latter can be cultivated, how- 

l ever, until it surpasses the former. The child contin- 

t ually asks of the story told, Is it true ? But by-and- 

by we find half the world reading romance, men and 

women of all classes, ages, and grades of intelligence 

devouring shadow as though it were substance, filling 

themselves with wind, imagining it to be food, laugh- 


ing and weeping over the airy nothings of novelists, 
all the while knowing them to be false yet pretending 
them to be true. And those who can make this false 
glitter appear most like truth are called artists, and 
apparently esteemed more highly than if they dealt 
only in truth. -Novels afford us pastime and keep us 
young ; but it is a most remarkable commentary on 
the mental and moral construction of humanity, this 
preference of pleasing fiction to substantial fact ; and 
yet, in the earlier processes of the mind, as we have 
seen, truth has its fascinations. 

In the domain of sober history, pure unadulterated 
facts were never in greater demand than in the pres- 
ent practical and material age. During the past 
thirty centuries and more, the world has had its fill 
of windy speculations; bubbles blown by wondering 
savages, half-crazed philosophers, and bigoted church- 
men. It is the raw material that worlds are made of, 
and guided by, and more knowledge of the propelling 
power that drives forward the mighty machine called 
civilization, that we now desire to see and handle. 

History is not alone facts, not alone ideas, but facts 
in their relation to ideas. The duty of the historian 
is not only to present truth, but to demand its origin 
and significance. According to Cousin's conception: 
"To recall every fact, even the most minute, to its 
general law, to the law which alone causes it to be : 
to examine its relation with other facts referred also 
to their laws ; and from relations to relations to arrive 
at seizing the relation of the most fugitive particular- 
ity, to the most general idea of an epoch, to the lofty 
rule of history." Continuing the same thoughts by 
Froude; ''When historians have to relate great so- 
cial or speculative changes, the overthrow of a mon- 
archy or the establishment of a creed, they do but 
half their duty if they merely relate the events. Tn 
an account, for instance, of the rise of Mahometan- 
ism, it is not enough to describe the character of the 
prophet, the ends which he set before him, the means 


which he made use of, and the effect which he pro- 
duced ; the historian must show what there was in 
the condition of the eastern races which enabled Ma- 
homet to act upon them so powerfully ; their existing 
beliefs, their existing moral and political condition." 

While laying the foundations of history for an im- 
portant section of the world, as did Herodotus, the 
writer should with Horace, in a series of tableaux vi- 
vants, carry the reader into the very heart of the sub- 
ject, and in the examination of antecedents bring to 
his aid the mirror of Lao, by which the mind as well 
as the visible form is reflected. 

Certain molecules are sure to assume given shapes 
in aggregating ; each element of matter has its own 
form of crystalization. So it is with human societies; 
ascertain elemental and individual qualities, and you 
may predict results. As the universal brotherhood 
of man becomes more and more apparent, the brother- 
hood of history is no less recognized. Nations act 
and react on each other, and a history of one cannot 
be complete while relating nothing of another. Nor 
yet alone by years are historical epochs measured. 
In modern history are things ancient, and in ancient, 
things modern. A century before Christ, the Romans, 
in their intentions and actions, were more like our- 
selves than were their successors four or five centu- 
ries later. The stream of human progress at the 
bottom is compact and silent in its flow, while the 
surface abounds in eddies, whirlpools, and counter- 
currents. The branches and foliage of the tree are 
in their substance equivalent to the volume and diame- 
ter of the trunk from which they shoot ; so the life of 
man is not that which it now appears, a network of 
erratic energies, swayed by every wind of passion, but 
the sum of wide-spread influences, which, uprising with 
the birth of time, unfolds from roots of good and evil. 

Many of the exaggerations of history have undoubt- 
edly their origin in the writer's effort at brilliancy in 
painting character; and nothing is truer than La 


Harpe's remark '^On affaiblit toujours ce qui on ex- 
agere." Such efforts tend to perdition, for before the 
writer is aware of it he is sacrificing truth to style in 
an endeavor to please rather than to instruct. There 
are few writers, who if they spoke truly could but 
admit with Jean Paul that ''there was a time when 
truth charmed me less than its ornament; the thought 
less than the form in w^iich it was expressed." Some 
regard style of the first importance ; others make style 
secondary to substance. Time was, and not long 
since, when style was not only the man, but the book ; 
when naked facts were savagisms not admissible into 
conventional literature. Ornamentation was more 
than dress, and dress more than the body. Un- 
less minted by philosophical and rhetorical flourish, 
the most golden of truths were not current. Haply, 
now we will gladly take the gold wherever or in what- 
ever form we find it, even if it be not already exchange- 
able coin. 

On the whole we may say that the heroic in histor- 
ical composition has given place to the scientific, the 
romantic and popular to the austere and truthful. 
Yet it is impossible wholly to separate romance from 
reality. Fiction must have truth for its base, w^hile 
staid indeed must be the narrative which is not tinged 
with romance. There are historical romances less 
romantic than the histories themselves — instance the 
Cyrus of Xenophon as compared with the Cyrus of 

Let, then, him who in writing history would bathe 
his rigid limbs in pools of inspiration, and dip his am- 
bitious pen in auroral colors, pray the gods that fancy 
may not outstrip fact. 

To religion must be accorded the foremost credit 
of sustaining alike ignorance and learning. The posi- 
tion of its servants, from the early sorcerer, medicine- 
man, and astrologer, to the brahmin, muezzin, or pope, 
made them the middlemen between the masses and 


the awe-inspiring forces of nature, and rendered 
knowledge, or the hiding of it, the object of their lives, 
the excuse for their occupation, the apology for their 
existence. As the means for influence it became to 
them as current coin. 

The collection and transcription of legends and tradi- 
tions into the general whole formed part of their work- 
ing capital. The leisure imposed by their vows and con- 
ditions on priests, and monks, and anarchists, promoted 
their labors. Their character has been stamped on 
most national literature, adding to the mysticism of 
ancient records. The Veda is as widely diffused in 
India as the religio-philosophic precepts of Confucius 
in the Celestial kingdom, influencing the conduct of 
a large proportion of the human race. The Koran 
spreads over many smaller nationalities, and the Bible 
helped to shape the destinies of the advanced among 
nations, permeating the middle 'ages with unparalleled 
tenacity. Not unlike these was the influence of the 
Popul Vuh, and other ancient records of civilized 

The first of the historians who began to place on 
record the myths and traditions of their nation, made 
additions and variations of their own mostly with a frank 
effort at truth ; yet they were not devoid of invention 
and wilful falsification. Dealing in the impossible, 
they readily fell back upon the supernatural to deliver 
them from every dilemma ; and being filled with dim 
conceptions regarding the origin and end of things, 
and that insane fervor, sometimes called inspiration, 
they were well-conditioned to prepare for peoples just 
aroused from savagism the bases of mental pabulum, 
which well enough served the purpose for certain 

The secular historian had to wait for the unfolding 
of liberal ideas, as in Greece, fostered like himself in 
the civilizing circle of foreign intercourse and trade. 
He was a traveller, roused by the excitement of mo- 
tion and the novelty of changing aspects, which also 

Essays and Miscellany 7 


brought comparison and judgment. Inquiry and 
skepticism brought improvement upon mere narrative, 
in philosophic history, to which further strength was 
imparted through the agency of compilation. The 
subsequent halt in progress was marked by the revival 
in the troubadour of Homeric reciters. 

Improvement was slow though perceptible. Follow- 
ing the gleam that breaks through the mist we behold 
those who begin to weigh evidence ; yet they venture 
only partially to force their way through the tram- 
mels cast round them by veneration for the divine 
authority and national character of the earliest books. 
This is strongly illustrated by the chroniclers of the 
twelfth and seventeenth centuries, who mark therein 
also the retrogression of the middle ages. 

Modern historians pride themselves on being freed 
from the superstitions which clouded the views of 
their predecessors, and on having gained a truer in- 
sight into events; but how shrouded are still their 
perceptions by inherited and acquired bias, and how 
distorted by subordination to irrelevant aims. Few 
histories stand relieved from partisan spirit. Some 
seek to uphold a liberal administration, others a con- 
servative policy; some the influence of ecclesiastics 
and nobles, others to champion the cause of the 
masses; some seek to justify the acts of a certain 
potentate, others to correct the omissions or prejudices 
of recorders. The mere effort to strengthen their 
argument brings about coloring and exaggeration^ 
even if it does not carry them so far as the clasa 
which writes to prove some predetermined proposi- 
tion, and warp every fact to fit the theory. Then, 
there are those who write for reputation and display, 
who strive to excel in the narration of some tale, 
to elaborate into romance some brilliant epoch or 
episode, too often at the expense of accuracy. Never- 
theless we encounter those who write to tell the truth 
for the simple love of it, actuated by a sense of 
fairness; and others there are who, confident in their 



power to control prejudices and exaggerations, and to 
discriminate, yield freely to style as well as argument 
in order to impart force to the incident and theory. 

In the championship of a dogma or doctrine by the 
religionist or scientist, fanaticism in some form is 
seldom wholly separable. In regard to the former, 
it is utterly impossible for him to see clearly where 
his faith is affected. He may be honest and conscien- 
tious, intelligent and virtuous ; his very honesty and 
virtue are barriers between him and truth. He has 
been taught to believe that upon his religion rests the 
universe, that his doctrina is the embodiment of 
truth; that by his holy book all human events, all 
science, all history, all that has been and is to be must 
be adjusted ; that by his deity exist the eternal hills, 
and all forces, attractive and repulsive, and all worlds, 
and all space, and light, and life, and time. And as 
he has been taught, so he has promised to teach ; he 
may not investigate ; he is bound ; he would say he 
is bound to the truth, but of that he may not ques- 
tion, and he has no desire to question. He may not 
subscribe to modern miracles, but he must to ancient 
ones ; he may trust reason and science for the present, 
but for the past, his sacred book supplies all. The 
improbable, impossible stories, the insane assertions 
of dim human intelligences, of blind ignorance, words 
of men spoken in the earlier stages of mental devel- 
opment — these and the like are to be taken as the 
omnipotence of truth, omnipotence and truth as pre- 
sented by nature, sense, and reason to the contrary 

In a similar realm of obscurity, blinded by the 
effulgence of inflowing light, stands the scientist who 
subscribes to the unprovable propositions of some 
school, or is seized by some conception of his own, 
the establishment of which absorbs his best efforts, 
and becomes the dearest object of his life. 

Superstition is not alone of the past, nor is bigotry 
confined to religion. There is a fanaticism of liberty 


as well as a fanaticism of enslavement. There is a 
bigotry of libertinism no less than a bigotry of secta- 
rianism ; there are in atheism zealots as blind as ever 
disgraced theism or deism. The pope claims infalli- 
bility m the face of protests from all unfettered 
minds; but dogmatic extremists, of whatsoever sect 
or creed, likewise assume infallibility in denouncing 
opinions opposed to their own. Upon a Procrustean 
bed of their own dimensions these liberalized latter- 
day contortionists place all who fall into their hands, 
cuttino; off the limbs that are too longr for it, and 
stretching those that are too short. 

Of approximate stamp is undue bias in favor of 
one's own people or country. This failing, still re- 
garded in many quarters as a virtue, is worse in some 
respects than the bigotry arising from religious belief, 
and denotes narrowness of mind. 

*' One historian after another sets himself to write 
the panegyric of his favorite period," says Gold win 
Smith, *' and each panegyric is an apology or a false- 
hood." The homily of glowing patriot or zealous 
sectarian is not history but verbiage. Let all that is 
worthy of censure in state, church, and society be con- 
demned ; let all that is worthy of praise be extolled ; 
but let not censure and praise be meted out according 
to the maxims of country or creed. Patriotism is but 
a form of egotism, which must be circumscribed if not 
laid entirely aside. Let us meet every age and nation 
upon the broad platform of humanity, measuring no 
man's conscience by our own but by the conscience of 
nature, and condemning cruelty and injustice wherever 
we find it, whether in Hebrew, Turk, or Christian, 
Sj^aniard or Anglo-Saxon. It is no less unwise than dis- 
honest to wage vituperative warfare against any nation 
or sect as such. Would he keep pellucid the stream 
of thought, with his piety and patriotism the writer of 
history will have little to do. *' Nothing endures ex- 
cept that which is necessary, and history occupies it- 
self only with that which endures," observes M. Cousin. 


Other obstacles interpose in forms infinite to warp 
our conceptions of incidents and character. There is 
the intellectual bias, the impossibility of reproducing 
in our own minds the thoughts and abstractions of 
others; the emotional bias, in which category may be 
placed the whole range of passion, family and class, 
loves and hates, with their numberless sympathies 
and antipathies; the educational bias, and many 

Impartiality and clearness must not be confounded 
or obscured, even by a strong detestation of the hate- 
ful or an absorbing admiration for the excellent. The 
effects and lessons of both have to be duly emphasized, 
yet the writer must rise above the excitement which 
he himself seeks to rouse by incident or style. Like 
the general, he must inspire enthusiasm without al- 
I lowing himself to be carried away by it. While ap- 
I parently yielding to the emotions awakened by varying 
I occurrences, he must ever be on his guard to restrain 
' those sympathies within bounds, or he becomes un- 

j There are many yet remaining among the guilds 
I and schools who prefer graceful fiction to ungainly 
; fact, and the older and more learned and more refined 
^ the school, the closer they hug their superstitions and 
■ deny conflicting trutlis. They have been taught, and 
sagely ; the world's storehouse of knowledge has been 
(opened to them, and tliey have been able to secure 
. more of it to themselves than usually falls to the lot 
;of man; percliance they receive their daily food by 
holding to certain doctrines; at all events, they seem 
too ready to welcome any sham which will bolster up 
■their learning, as against any reality which will over- 
throw it. To pander to the passions or prejudices of 
a class, to romance for the pleasure of idle brains, or 
draw thrilling pictures for the amusement of dull 
intellects, whatever else it may be, is not to write 

No less indispensable than freedom from such dc- 


basing shackles is fearlessness in the portrayal of con- 
temporaneous events. 

The impartial judge should be a satisfied man — 
satisfied with place and possessions, and as free from 
vanity as from ambition. He should have nothing to 
gain by the expression of any opinion or in advocating 
any principle, and if loss attends such expression, he 
should be ready to sustain it. There may not be 
many historians who, like Paulus Jovius, would write 
openly as they were bribed, who would assign illus- 
trious acts or noble pedigree to those who paid for 
them, and who would blacken and vilify the name of 
him who refused to buy fame; yet there are enough 
over whom other motives and influences hold sway 
sufficient to make their record far from just. 

Hume piqued himself on his judicial fairness, and 
yet would alter or reverse a fact to suit his printer. 
What kind of a historian is he whose charm of style 
and whose exquisite grace and vivacity of narration 
have captivated so many readers, and of whom De 
Quincey might justly say, "Upon any question of fact, 
Hume's authority is none at all?" Macaulay hated 
the Quakers, hated the duke of Marlborough, idolized 
William III. — conditions wholly unfitting him to 
write truthfully. 

When Douglas Jerrold went to Paris, and amidst 
the scenes then stirring the capital attempted the role 
of special correspondent for his own journal, writing 
from strange nooks, as George Hodder says, '^with- 
out the accustomed implements of his calling, and far 
removed from those domestic influences which he 
often confessed quickened his impulses and chastened 
his understanding," he felt that the same work could 
have been done better at home. When his companion 
reminded him that he came there for facts, he angrily 
exclaimed, ''Damn the facts! I don't want facts." 

History is a magician's bottle, out of which we can 
pour any kind of wine the human appetite craves. 
Sophocles pictured humanity a3 ib ought to be ; Eurip- 


ides as it was. Thucydides wrote down democracy, 
Tacitus imperialism. Was either of them true to the 
interests of the opposite side ? Would they not have 
been accounted as traitors by their respective parties 
had they been wholly impartial, and might not their 
names and works have soon perished in consequence? 
Macaulay looks upon the ills of the English poor two 
centuries back; Cobbett and Hallam dwell more upon 
their comforts. Read one, and you imagine them the 
most miserable of mortals ; read the others, and you 
think how much happier people were then tlian now. 
To the character of Philip II Prescott applies the 
words bigoted, perfidious, suspicious, cruel, which were 
enough for even so powerful a prince, but when Mot- 
ley adds to these the terms pedant and idiot, one be- 
gins to wonder how such a driveller was able to manage 
his estate of half a world so long and so well. 

The writer of liistory need not be a genius — indeed, 
genius is ordinarily too erratic for faithful plodding — 
but he must be a fair man, a man of sound sense, good 
judgment, and catholicity of opinion ; of broad ex- 
perience and a wide range of knowledge. While 
guarding against a too free indulgence of that love of 
personalities which, latent in simple minds, begins in 
gossip and boyish stories, and culminates in biography 
and histor}^, he will never hold himself above anything 
which affects human nature, however humble, nor be- 
low those abstract generalities which are a later pro- 
duct, the result of study and experience. He should 
be possessed of the faculty of abstraction to the de- 
gree of double sense and opposite natures, so that he 
may clearly see the two sides there are to every prop- 
osition and every human character, and thus be ena- 
bled to reconcile the antagonisms of mind and emotions. 
A practical imagination, calm energy, and cautious 
speculation, should underlie all his efforts. It is the 
historian's duty to fill vacant spaces with probable 
events, or as Porter says : *' The power when trained 
and used in the search after historic truth be- 


comes what is called the historic imagination, which 
by long practice becomes so discriminating and so 
trustworthy as to be termed the historic sense." 

All this is very well in nuhibus. It is easy enough 
to point out defects and tell how history should be 
written, easier far than to find the model historian. 
Wholly to abstract thought from falsifying influences, 
to divorce mind from its superstitions, its hollow max- 
ims, and its moral phantasms, is not possible. Before 
attempting it let Ithuriel and Zephon search for Satan 
in paradise, and let Lucifer cleanse his abode of every 
worthy quality. Between opinion and experience, 
cognition and emotion, there is perpetual antagonism. 
How little we know of nature, of ourselves, of our 
neighbor I How little of impartial thought there is 
even among those who most earnestly seek it I 

The infant beholds the moon within its grasp, and 
learns but gradually how unreliable are his perceptions 
in this and other directions without the correcting 
medium of experience. The artist has recourse to 
delusive methods to convey to the observer a truer 
idea of his work, to correct the aberrations of the eye 
and mind. The sculptor curves the column to secure 
an apparent straightness of outlines ; the painter 
shades the background to convey aerial perspective or 
project his figures; the musician uses now slow, now 
fast vibrations to soothe or animate his listeners. 
Without skilful exaggeration the poem, heroic or 
idyllic, would fail in its purpose. Likewise in history, 
although in minor degree, writers find it often neces- 
sary to emphasize, in more or less forcible manner, 
certain incidents in order to raise them to due promi- 
nence above the general level, to produce a proper 
contrast. Coloring of style is permissible to relieve 
monotony, or to secure an appreciation of a trait or 
happening commensurate with its importance; all, 
however, within the bounds requisite alone for strength- 
ening truth, while keeping the reins of thought ever 


under control. A battle could not be effectually de- 
picted in the monotone applicable to the enumeration 
of legislative enactments, nor a humorous occurrence 
in the strain required for tragedy. 

In this age of rapid transition from one state of 
thought to another, some might consider it almost a 
necessity for the writer of history at the outset to de- 
clare his method of investigation in the study of social 
phenomena, whether he inclines to the side of the super- 
natural interference theory, to the influence of the indi- 
vidual willsof great men in social affairs, or to the theory 
of evolution and the unchangeable operation of primor- 
dial law. The political speaker, or pulpit orator — and 
to these I might add nine-tenths of the book -writers — 
who does not appear before the public as a partisan 
or a sectarian of some sort, and hence prepared to 
suppress half the truth in support of his opinion, is 
regarded as little better than beside himself Better 
than plain truth we love to listen to that which pleases 
the ear and absorbs the fancy, and he who speaks to 
us thus speaks truth; him we will feed, and clothe, 
and praise, for he it is who holds over us the grateful 
shades of ignorance. On the other hand those who 
love light more than self-opinionated blindness can, 
perhaps, listen or read as profitably, if they know at 
once the color and calibre of the speaker's or writer's 
mind. '^Broader and deeper must we write our an- 
nals," says Emerson, '' from an ethical reformation, 
from an influx of the ever new, ever sanitive conscience, 
if we would trulier express our central and wide- 
related nature, instead of this old chronology of selfish- 
ness and pride to which we have too long lent 
our eyes." 

Yet the knowledge of the end from the beginning 
tends to operate against exact narration or views. 
How different to the eye of an observer appear the 
carriage and conduct of one in court if he be told the 
individual is culprit or judge ! If to a stranger the 


most innocent man that walks the street was pointed 
out as a thief and an assassin, villainy would seem to 
lurk about his heels and display itself in every feature. 
Then too, it is one thing to write fanaticism for fan- 
atics or weave fustian for demagogues, and quite an- 
other to write for those with whom a mere assertion, 
however strongly made, will not take the place of 
well-digested facts and logical conclusions. 

History repeats itself, we are told. Yet like most 
maxims this is too frequently misapplied. Man's 
progress — and history is but the record of this pro- 
gress — though infinitely variable in its phenomena, 
and like physical nature immutable in its laws, never, 
strictly speaking, repeats itself. Human nature, like 
physical nature, and the nature of all created things, is 
unchangeable. Like conditions produce like results ; 
and in as far as the conditions of to-day are similar to 
the conditions of a hundred or a thousand years ago, 
in so far, and no farther, does history repeat itself 
There is more truth in the idea that recent events 
present themselves at too short range to be seen as 
an entirety, and hence are unfit for historical record. 
Time must be allowed for insignificant detail, and in- 
terests purely local and personal, to subside, and all 
parts of the occurrence to assume proper proportions. 
The member of a society, daily commingling with his 
fellows, is not only ipso facto incapacitated forjudging 
impartially that society, but he cannot rightly esti- 
mate contemporaneous neighboring societies. His 
sympathies and antipathies warp his judgment, and 
if he attempts to bend it straight, likely enough he 
crooks it in the opposite direction. Phrynichus, the J 
dramatist, was fined for breaking the rule of his art, I 
and presenting the fall of Miletus and the attendant! 
woes so soon after the occurrence as to excite thai 
sympathy of the audience to a painful degree. Great I 
actions should be presented in their simplicity, not! 
in their complexity, and this can be done only at somel 
distance, in time, from the date of their occurrence.! 


As Taine truly says: ''La veritable histoire 
s'eleve a sentiment quand I'historien commence a dem6- 
ler, a travers la distance des temps, riionniie vivant, 
agissant, donne de passions, muni d'habitudes, avec sa 
voix et sa physionomie, avec ses gestes et ses habits, 
distinct et complet comme celui que tout a I'lieure 
nous avons quitte dans la rue." 

At the same time there may be occasions when it 
is impracticable for a writer to confine himself to the 
remote in history, when important incidents and 
events coming to his knowledge would be lost if left un- 
recorded, or it may be deemed best sometimes to bring 
a narrative down to a modern date rather than leave 
the work unfinished. Kernels of permanent history 
can be selected from current events. 

Practical life and our views of the after-life, are 
based upon life and opinion as entertained in the past. 
Among the three sources for our knowledge of the 
past, personal observation, the testimony of eye- 
witnesses, and circumstantial evidence, the former 
are naturally preferable. Yet circumstantial evi- 
dence may in some instances be stronger than tes- 
timonial evidence. For example, no evidence is more 
true than that written by reptiles on the bottom of 
the sea, by insects in the rocks, or by plants and ani- 
mals in the sand. Again, a bullet in the brain with 
a hole in the skull corresponding to that which a pis- 
tol-ball usually makes, is better proof that the man 
was shot, than would be the assertion of a pretended 
eye-witness open to the charge of faulty vision. 

Although there are phenomena in the science of 
human nature common to all, yet the condition and 
character of every man differ from those of every 
other man. Then, to the same minds things appear 
different at different times. Vision is affected by time 
and place. The world seems very large to the unso- 
phisticated. To the young man returning to his child- 
hood home after anabsence of years, a general shrinkage 


appears to have taken place ; sizes have dwhidlcd and 
distances shortened. Many phases of human charac- 
ter there are which, Kke certain physical elements, act 
paradoxically when brouglit in contact. I.liere are 
two clear liquids which when mixed become opaque 
mud ; there are two cold liquids which when brought 
together become boiling hot. Some of the most dia- 
bolical acts ever witnessed have been committed by 
brethren of the same faith warring on each other. 

What we now call infamous deeds may have been 
done by those who in their day were regarded as good 
men, and many good deeds have been done by those 
whose name we may justly consign to infamy; for by 
their teachings no less than by their fruits we may 
know them. We must not forget what the world 
owes to its bad men, nor how much civilization is hi- 
debted to things which are now called evil. In judg- 
ing by the light of conscience, it makes a vast difference 
whose conscience is to be the guide, and at what place 
and period in the annals of the race it was exercised. 
Conscience is like a piece of wrought steel, its value 
depending upon the quality. Well tempered with 
reason, it performs its functions fairly. It has often 
guided mankind into the most shameful atrocities, to 
Christian butcheries, the very irony of Christian love. 
The Spanish inquisitors who burned heretics for 
Christ's sake were most conscientious and respectable 
men. "There is no beast more savage than man, 
when he is possessed of power equal to his passion," 
says Plutarch. While the effect of a bad act is in no 
wise lessened by a praiseworthy motive, and while 
such an act merits a 'priori as severe condemnation as 
if committed from a bad motive, yet judgment upon 
the character of the actors in the two cases should be 
rendered very differently if we would not fall into the 
error of weighing the virtue of one against the vice of 
another, the cruelty of one against the humaneness 
of another, loyalty against treachery, rather than 
against a loftier standard. 


Standards differ. What is right or expedient in 
one age or nation may not be right and expedient in 
another age and nation. Opinion changes; mind 
evolves, and thought becomes material, and wc find 
the most eminent of geologists, Sir Charles Lyell, 
after holding for forty years to the doctrine of special 
creation, making it the corner-stone of his intellectual 
structure through nine editions of his work, wholly 
abandoning the theory in the tenth. 

Medissval legends were born of a time when there 
was little inclination to question their authenticity, 
and little opportunity to distinguish between the true 
and the false. Modern canons of morality are not 
applicable to the measurement of mediseval character. 
Likewise care should be taken to distinguish between 
the various standards employed by different persons. 
Thus, one would regard a poet as possessing the high- 
est type of intellect, another a philosopher, another a 
reformer. One would name Shakespeare, one New- 
ton, one Luther, as the greatest of men. To the 
miser, who can be more exalted in every virtue than 
a Rothschild ; to a disciple of the manly art, who is 
there more worthy of imitation than the champion 
prize-fighter? When in the region of shadows, Men- 
ippus asked Mercury to show Jiim the notable wort] lies 
of the past gone thither. *' Yonder on your right," 
he said, "are Hyacinthus, and Narcissus, Nireus, 
Achilles, Tyro, Helen, and Leda." "I see nought 
but bones and bare skulls," replied Menippus, ''all 
very alike." *' Yet all the poets have gone into rap- 
tures about those very bones which you seem to look 
upon with such contempt." Thus it is in history. 
Those we praise or censure are dust, as we soon shall 
be. Let us speak of them justly, as we shall wish 
others to speak of us. 

Social phenomena, the last to be brought under the 
surveillance of science, are the most difficult of all in- 
vestigations. Human character always appears before 
us in ever-ch angling: colors. There is no such thincr 


as human nature apart from physical nature. As in 
plants, so the ovule of human nature, clothed in its 
own integuments and enclosed in its pericarp, lies hi 
embryo embedded in the albumen that feeds it, burst- 
ing which it finds itself ever subject to the governance 
of new surroundings. The milieu of proclivities and 
passions is the air breathed, the earth trodden on, and 
the sky gazed into. Thus it is that great artists 
and great authors are always keenly alive to the in- 
fluence of external nature over mind and emotion. So 
multitudinous, and intricate, and interdependent are 
the laws which govern mental phenomena, so diversi- 
fied are the agencies which determine human charac- 
ter, that only an approximate knowledge of mankind 
is possible. Isolated facts, in this connection, are of 
little value; in sequent circumstances, converging 
from innumerable sources, and reaching back to the 
beginning of time, and in the innumerable influences 
which rise within, and breathe upon, and play about 
the individual — if these could be known, might be 
found the causations of character. 

Protagoras said, ''Man is the measure of all things." 
But how shall we measure man? Our conceptions of 
our neighbor are of necessity automorphic. We judge 
others by ourselves; how else shall we judge them? 
True, no two minds or characters are alike; hence, 
automorphic conceptions, and, inductively, all concep- 
tions of human character are more or less erroneous. 
We may compare this arm or intellect with that arm 
or intellect, measure one man by another man, one 
age or nation by another age or nation, but abstract 
measurements are less easily made. Consider alone 
how inseparable from the mind of the investigator are 
inherent distortions and sectional prejudices, which 
obstruct or render notional even attempts at concrete 
perceptions. In the question. What is morality? we 
are unable to clearly distinguish innate principles 
from those which spring from association. 

With Herr Teufelsdrockh one must look through 


the coat and through the skin it covers if one would 
know the man. Where feehng is to be propitiated, 
few may boast the subtlety of the serpent, for few 
carry the heart so near the head. He who attempts 
to portray character should guard as much against 
the hallucinations of his own mind, the delusions of 
his own vision, as against falsity in fact, form, or col- 
oring. From a balloon, the earth's surface next the 
observer appears not convex but concave. Inferences 
from the clearest data may be illogical and untrue. 
Democritus laughed at everything ; Heraclitus wept 
at everything. To one, the world and all it contained 
seemed unreal and ridiculous, objects of mirth to a 
wise man, while to the other there was nothing but 
what called for tears. Man, he cries, is only to be 
pitied ; the world is one of wickedness, fit only for 
destruction. Evil reigns ; pleasure is not pleasure ; 
knowledge is ignorance; life is but a winter's day. 

Were it possible even to know self; to dive into 
the depths of our own consciousness, and drawing 
aside the veil, scan the strange conglomeration of op- 
posing forces, and mark off the ego and the non-ego; 
could we step within the shrine, and examine the ma- 
chinery of our wondrous life, note the ticking of obso- 
lete formulas and the unfolding of divine intuitions; 
could we place free-will and necessity under analysis, 
fathom the duality of our nature, decompose the falsity 
of seeming reality and the reality of falsity, and ascer- 
tain whence the ascendency of these vagaries and the 
subordination of those — we might then understand 
what is due to intrinsic self and what to intractable 
circumstances. Could we play the critic after this 
fashion, we might tell why feeling has so much more 
power over us than reason ; why we feed our passions 
only to give them strength to devour us; why, with 
scarcely a consciousness of our inconsistency, we per- 
sist in deceiving ourselves and accepting as true what 
we know to be false; why we daily tempt death, 
struggling for we know not what, yet intensify hope 


to prolong life ; why we commit a wrong in order to 
accomplish a right; why we conceal our nobler part, 
turn our baser qualities like porcupine quills to the 
world, then roll ourselves in the dust to hide them. 
When once we know all this, we have then but to 
turn our eyes within and there beheld, as in a mirror, 
that alter ego, our neighbor. 

Momus blamed Jupiter because in creating man he 
put no window in his breast through which the heart 
might be seen. Momus was a sleepy god, and we 
mortals are likewise troubled with a lack of insight 
into human character. No doubt Jupiter could have 
done better. Man is far from a perfect creation. 
But as the gods saw fit to do no more for us, may we 
not now do something for ourselves ? Were not the 
eyes of Momus somewhat at fault as well as the fingers 
of Ju]3iter? If we lay aside the narrowing prejudices 
of birth and education, under the influences of which 
it is impossible to balance nicely the actions of men, 
may we not discover here and there openings into the 



Ich bin ein Feind von Explicationen; man betrllgt sich oder den Andem, 
und meist beide. 

— Goethe. 
II n'appartient qu'aux grands hommes d'avoic de grands defauts. 

— La Rochefoucauld, 

Los h ombres famosos por sus ingenios, los grandes poetas, los ilustres 
historiadores siempre, d las mas vezes, son embidiados de aquellos que 
tienen por gusto, y por particular entretenimiento, juzgar los escritos 
agenos, sin aver dado algunos proprios ^ la luz del mundo. 

— Cervantes. 

Protagoras begins his treatise On the Gods, in 
these words: ''Respecting the gods, I am unable to 
know whether they exist or do not exist." A writer 
opens a chapter On the Snakes in Ireland, by saying, 
''There are no snakes in Ireland." We can hardly 
affirm that there is no such thing as criticism, but if 
any exist, it is of doubtful interpretation. There are 
tricks in all trades, but there are few trades that are 
all tricks. There are some honest men who are critics ; 
there is even such a thing as fair criticism. There 
are many who try to be just; there are yet more who 
are amiable; a great many in this world are politic; 
hundreds of thousands are obliged to live. 

The office is one of honor, and honorably filled 
is of benefit to the community. Books are the 
great civilizers of the race, the store-houses of knowl- 
edge, the granaries of intellectual food. Therefore to 
designate in all candor which books of those that are 
made are, indeed, public pabulum, and which are 
straw; carefully and conscientiously to examine and 
explain, one man for the million, the publications 
which are conducive or detrimental, in whole or in 

Essays and Miscellany 8 ( 113 ) 


part, to learning and progress, is one of the most im- 
portant and noblest works in which man can be en- 
gaged, w^hile to prostitute the powers requisite for 
such a position is one of the basest. 

So with regard to newspaper strictures on men. 
The journahst who as a sacred duty strives to cleanse 
the community of its pollutions, who searches out and 
exposes wickedness in high and low places, who holds 
up to public scorn evil purposes and practices, derelic- 
tion of duty in public officials, subversion of the law, 
prostitution of politics, injustice, bribery, iniquitous 
monopoly, and all immorality, employs divine func- 
tions for the highest benefit of man. On the other 
hand, he who, through fear or favor, or for money, or 
popularity, or to increase the circulation of his journal, 
or through prejudice, or fanaticism, or jealousy, turns 
from the path of rectitude, and vilifies the good while 
allowing the bad to escape, is a curse to the commu- 
nity. And worst of all, most vile and most detestable, 
is the hypocrite who strikes in the dark, who, while 
pretending to pure integrity, sells himself and his in- 
fluence for personal benefit, panders to depraved pub- 
lic taste, advocates iniquitous measures, or vilifies 
from personal spite good men whose ways are honest 
and whose lives have been devoted to praiseworthy 
efforts. Such a man, or a newspaper proprietor who 
will allow such creatures to crawd about him and in- 
sert slanders in his journal, is a villain of the deepesis 
dye, more deserving of the hangman's rope than manj 
who suffer thereat. 

More than ever before, during these days of exten-j 
sive book-making, the scholar immersed in his invesJ 
tigations, the teacher, the general reader, need the 
opinion of qualified persons on the respective meritd 
of books as they appear, need the conscientious opinion 
of discriminating critics. It is impossible otherwisd 
for a specialist, even, to keep under control the sci 
rapidly multiplying literature relative to his depart-] 
ment. Indeed, opinions and controversies have become 


SO numerous tliat we shall soon require reviews of re- 
viewers; for on the works of some authors, more has 
been written than by the authors themselves. 

Many have essayed criticism ; some have achieved 
it. Although critical talent is ranked a little lower 
than creative talent, on the ground that in free creative 
power man finds exercise for his highest capabilities, 
yet in all the field of letters nothing is more difficult 
of attainment than pure criticism, — not that conven- 
tional article so freely flaunted in our faces by aspiring 
youths or censorious old men, of which Destouches 
says, " La critique est aisee et I'art est difficile," but 
the intelligent expression of truthful opinion resulting 
from unbiassed inquiry. With comparative ease, 
from the delicate filament of his inspiration the poet 
may spin stanzas, but omniscience, justice, goodness, 
and truth, all the attributes of the deity, scarcely 
suffice for the qualifications of the perfect critic. 

In no department of literature is there more skilled 
humbug employed than in criticism. Writers of 
every other class sail under colors which enable the 
reader to form some idea of their craft, and whither 
it is driving. He may be knave or fanatic, philosopher 
or fool, who deals in history or romance, science or 
religion ; he may be conscientious and exact, or men- 
dacious, ignorant, and superstitious ; but whatever he 
is, the intelligent reader can approximately place him, 
and attach a tolerably correct value to his work. But 
the critic finds himself in a peculiar position. He 
must be wiser than all men, abler than all, and of 
more experience than any ;. for if he is not, then is he 
no critic. 

The fault is not his ; he is generally a very good 
fellow ; but too often he is placed at the treadle of the 
machine and instructed to do certain work in a certain 
way, and he must obey. Fifty thousand reviewers in 
Europe and America are employed to tell what five 
thousand authors have done or are doing, nominally 
to read, analyze, prove, and truthfully value their 


work, really to display learning and acumen in 
the service of their respective journals. It is a diffi- 
cult position, and one which should be better paid, 
that of too often sacrificino^ fair-mindedness and in- 
tegrity for policy or subordinating them to prejudice, 
that of pretending to a superiority which one does not 
possess, that of appearing erudite and honest when 
one is not. This among the fifty thousand is the rule, 
but to which there are exceptions. 

That most of the books written never should have 
had being; that most authors are men who display 
their stupidity through a desire for notoriety, or other 
ambition, and should be put down ; that this flooding 
the world with worthless books appealing to mankind 
for examination and judgment is a nuisance, and a 
detriment to learning and refinement, has nothing to 
do with it. The lack of honesty and sincerity in 
praising a poor book is as culpable as in condemning 
a good one. And even worse than this is so magnify- 
ing the non-essential faults of a really good book, and 
omitting to mention its merits, as to leave the impres- 
sion that it is wholly bad, which is a trick very com- 
mon with malevolent and unprincipled critics. It is 
the utter selling of himself to the prejudice, popularity, 
bigotry, or pecuniary advantage of himself or another 
that lies at the bottom of all false criticism. 

This literary gauging and estimating of values is a 
matter which comes home to every writer, whether 
his labors be in the field of science, and in the study 
of a particular branch, or in the all-embracing province 
of the historian, who must analyze alike individuals 
and communities, institutions and events, authorities 
and critics. Says the talented author of Causeries du 
Lundij '^Criticism is an invention, a perpetual creation. 
One needs to renew, to repeat continually his observa- 
tion and study of men, even of those he knows best 
and has portrayed ; otherwise he runs the risk of par- 
tially forgetting them, and of forming imaginary ideas 
of them while rememberinc^ them. No one has a 



right to say, ^I understand men.' All that one can 
truly say is, 'I am in a fair way to understand them.'" 

More of this ideal application and conscientiousness 
on the part of the critic is due to both authors and 
readers, that one may not be injured or the other 
misled. Every author, except of course the few 
sensible ones, believes his work to be, if not the best 
that ever was written, at least the equal of any, and 
the inferior of none. He has no intention of allowing 
it to rest in the dismal shades of silence, preferring 
publicity at all hazards. Sometimes he deserves the 
condemnation he receives, but earnest and honest 
effort should never be met by ridicule, even though 
the author be an ignoramus. His honesty might be 
respected even though his ability were not. Readers 
of books, meanwhile, justly object to an imposition on 
the part of a critic which prevents his perusal of a 
good book, or causes him to waste his time over a 
worthless one. 

For so ancient an art, criticism should be farther 
advanced than it is. Little progress seems to have 
been made since that day when cried the unhappy 
man of Uz, ^' O, that mine adversary had written a 
book ! " He had been comforted and criticized by his 
friends well-nigh to death, and he asked no better 
opportunity for squaring accounts with his enemy. 
The art seems to have been founded upon the same 
morality, which was to half love your friends and 
wholly hate your enemies; to half recognize and flat- 
ter your own prejudices as spoken by another, and 
wholly to condemn all antagonism to your opinions 
wherever found. Instead of simple inquiry, as it pro- 
fessed to be, it was arbitrary inquisition, totally unlike 
Christ's criticism when he judged men and women. 

In the world of letters are three several classes of 
critics; there is the critic by instinct, the critic by 
education, and the critic who is no critic. The first 
are those who judge by inspiration, like Hazlitt or 
Sainte-Beuve, measuring the book and the author at 


a glance. It is claimed for both of these writers that 
their criticisms are divinations rather than the results 
of investigation. Beneath their all-searching gaze 
the author might ask with Venus, who, on beholding 
her statue at Cnidos, cried, " Where saw Praxiteles 
me thus nude ? " They read a book as a necromancer 
reads his victim. Then come those who, being intel- 
ligent and well-read, are charged with learning of so 
susceptible a nature that as soon as a few facts of a 
writer come under their eye, ignition ensues, and like 
a flash of gunpowder sufficient of their knowledge, 
colored somewhat by the contents of the book they 
review, is discharged on paper to the extent of so 
many columns or pages. And thirdly, those who 
gather all they know of the subject treated from the 
book they review, make so much of it their own as 
they require, and write ad libitum at so much the 
yard. Any one of these may be honest or dishonest 
in his intentions, and skilful or bungling in the 

In the first of these more than in either of the 
others we can excuse extravagance of expression, for 
the keener the appreciation the more intense the feel- 
ings for or against. He by whom the beauty and 
fragrance of the flower are most enjoyed is most of all 
sensitive to ugly and odorous weeds. Rare is this 
natural critic, v/ho sees as with second sight the spirit 
of the book, not without looking into it, but without 
the careful reading of it; or who, like De Quincey, 
instinctively attacks a Junius, throttles a windy 
Brougham, and dissects a pompous Parr or hollow 
Sheridan, and with Pascal can exclaim, "■ It is not in 
Montaigne, but in myself, that I find all I read in his 
book." But let those devoid of this fine subtlety be- 
ware how they don the lion's skin, lest their bray 
discover them. The loud long wail of a Byron or a 
Poe fascinates while it thrills, because there is human 
nature in it. So with the genius of criticism, which 
means more than metaphysical hair-splitting. 


Yet of all classes men of genius, other than those 
critically inspired, make the worst critics. He whose 
one faculty is developed at the expense of all the 
other faculties is in no fit condition to judge another's 
production, still less his own. Contemporaneous men 
of letters, particularly if occupying the same field, are 
always envious of each other ; yet they emulate while 
they hate. 

Criticism is an art sui generis. The best authors 
are seldom the best critics; just as artists are seldom 
the best judges of art, or lawyers of justice, or poli- 
ticians of patriotism, or theologians of religion. We all 
lack that microscopic vision which clearly discerns prox- 
imate objects lying under the shadow of our egoism. 

None rail so loudly against critics as the critics them- 
selves. With the ancient philosophers, whom learned 
men have so long worshiped , criticism was a sneering and 
scolding of school against school, and of individuals 
against each other. Wordsworth, who was scarcely less 
critic than poet, bunglingly enough affirms that review- 
ers ^'while they prosecute their inglorious employment 
cannot be supposed to be in a state ofmind very favorable 
for being affected by the finer influences of a thing so 
pure as genuine poetry." Wordsworth's strictures 
fit Wordsworth as well as another ; for at this very 
time he was snarling at Byron for plagiarizing from 

Here, then, lies a reason for the absorption of the 
field by the special class called into existence by its 
vast and growing expanse and by the mission of the 
press as a medium between authors and the public. 
Invested with this power of judging and instructing 
on topics embracing every grade of knowledge, they 
regard it as a duty to their office to assume a versatility 
which indeed transcends human capacity. They claim 
it as essential to inspire confidence, just as in the man- 
ner of the physician, whose mere tone is oft sufficient 
to gain half the battle over the influences contending 
with his patient, and spur the weakened imagination 


to aid his prescription; or like the judge upon whose 
insight and decision depend Hves and fortunes. Nev- 
ertheless, the claim springs from vanity rather than 

Since Rabelais, there have been found no other men 
save this race of critics, who, like Gargantua knew 
everything — knew all languages, all sciences, all 
ologies, isms, and onomies ; history, music, mathe- 
matics, and things worthy of belief; all realities and 
philosophy; all pleasures, all pains, all creeds, and all 
spiritualities, all mysteries beneath the earth and be- 
yond the sky. 

Behold him, then, the be-wigged and be-gowned 
by virtue of authoritative ink and paper, who sits in 
judgment upon the products of men's brains ! Regard 
him well, this opinion-maker, this idea-autocrat. Is 
he a partisan, prescribed already in his decisions ; or a 
specialist with a pet theory to which all things must 
square themselves; or an unfledged litterateur pufl^ed 
with ambitious conceits? Choose your judge and be 
satisfied to be condenmed ad pias causas. 

Among the many who assume the office of critic, 
there may be those who can review an ordinary book 
of fiction, history, science, or philosophy with discrim- 
ination and fairness ; who, besides possessing as great 
or greater knowledge of the subject than the author, 
can weigh in an even balance the merits and demerits 
of the work, and mete out in due proportions praise 
and censure. And I can truthfully say that it has 
been my good fortune to meet with many men occu- 
pying that proud position; men in whom are united 
the higjhest order of critical talent with inbred honesty 
and fair-mindedness ; men to whom is given the power 
they wield because they use it justly ; men who are 
wise by reason of native talent and education, and 
who are noblemen by instinct. 

And I have met others, also, those who are any- 
thing but honorable, who prostitute their talents, and, I 


be they professors, preachers, or pubhcans, delight 
in all '^sorts of subterfuge, pretending to what is 
not true. It is certainly within the limits of truth to 
say that three times in four some other than the pre- 
tended purpose actuates the ordinary reviewer in in- 
troducing a book to the public, a deceit based upon 
an assumed knowledge of the subject which he does 
not possess. If he has not superior knowledge, how 
can he offer a superior opinion? If ten books are 
given him to review in three days, each book being 
the life-work of an abler man than himself, or if he is 
a specialist, an expert in certain directions, and is 
given a work fresh from the hands of a brother spe- 
cialist, who has devoted the last twenty years to the 
latest and fullest developments of the subject, we will 
say the work of a student of greater natural ability 
than the critic, and of far greater research and appli- 
cation, the reviewer has still to assume a knowledge of 
the subject and a judgment as to the manner in which 
it should be handled superior to the knowledge and 
judgment of the author, if he would not be put down 
as incompetent for the task. Nine times in ten the 
task is impossible, from sheer lack of time to weigh 
the subject, but nine times in ten the counterfeit in 
criticism serves the public just as well as the genuine 
article, and the consequence is that nine times in ten 
the critic is a sham. 

The critic fails to consider that his point of observa- 
tion is totally different from that of the general reader. 
One seeks information with which to discourse on the 
book, the other reads for instruction, and the thoughts 
of the two while perusing the same work run in differ- 
ent channels. It is not necessary for the reviewer to 
know as much of the subject treated as the author. 
This is impossible. For during the course of a year 
the reviewer might have occasion to notice a hundred 
volumes, each on an average having cost its author 
five years of study. One may tell a good watch with- 
out being able to reproduce it. Pretension is there- 


fore absurd as well as misleading. Nevertheless he 

And after all he only floats with the general cur- 
rent, for three- fourths of every man is pretence; three- 
f)urths of society, its moralities, its politics, its con- 
ventionalities, and its religions, is hypocrisy. Men love 
companionship, wherein alone is progress; yet this 
companionship which we call society is more a seem- 
ing than a being. The forgeries of fashion are more 
than its sincerities ; the wrongs of religion are greater 
than its charities; the shufflings and prevarications of 
business and pohtics attend all their dealings. For 
so noble an animal, man is a wretched compound, 
though seasoned with sagacity. Beasts assume the 
mask at times, but man is a living mask, and the worst 
of it is that he cannot escape his destiny. He is the 
offspring of a double parentage, truth and error; one 
of his fathers is the father of lies, to whom the resem- 
blance of the child is striking. Man is a mass of 
sophisms. The chief occupation of associated man is 
to deceive one another. Being but partially true to 
ourselves, we are in a still greater degree false before 
our fellows. And this through no fault of our own; 
we are so made ; we are born into a society full of 
pretension and disguise, and civilization with its arts 
enforces artfulness. Entering life with our moral 
being at its best, we endow the world and all it con- 
tains with grace, beauty, and perfection, which grad- 
ually change to our perceptions as the years go by, 
leaving us at the last in a maze of bewilderment. At 
the beginning of our consciousness the world is spread 
out before us like a mirage of which to the day of our 
death we are proving the falsity. 

Among the child's first teachings are so many 
aphorisms heretical to nature that it would almost 
appear that his maker did not understand his business, 
*' that one of nature's journeymen had made him, and 
not made him well either." First of all he must cover 
his matchless form, his God-made body, as a thing 


igiioaiinious to behold, unfit for human eyes to dwell 
upon ; he improvises shame and hides it under clothes. 
Not only in certain respects must he be to himself a 
lie, but his deception must be aided by nature. Then 
that unruly member the tongue must be curbed; it 
must not speak the whole truth, and may often vir- 
tuously prevaricate. And as society is constructed 
we cannot escape these curses. What would be the 
man of commerce with unvarnished plainness of speech 
and dealing? A bankrupt. What would be the reli- 
gious teacher, who, instead of telling his people what 
he does not know, should tell them all that he does 
know ? Anathema. What should we say of a strict- 
ly honest politician ? That he was not a politician. 

Even conscience is a counterfeit ; not a heaven-born 
guide as it pretends to be, but a fungus fastened on 
the mind by the atmosphere surrounding it. Nature 
furnishes the raw material for its manufacture, and 
societies hammer it out according to their several 
ideals. Form, fashion, which in all human affairs are 
a necessity until man is perfect, must be the imperfect 
counterfeit of the reality they represent. Our cloth- 
ing, our courtesies, our worship, our rascalities, must 
have forms, which are all transparent enough to him 
who has eyes. We pray by beads and genuflections, 
or in stereotyped phrases. Our social intercourse, 
like our dress, is for simulution and display, rather 
than for real utility. 

Morality is but a fashion, and society is cemented 
by subterfuge. Our religion is based upon a not 
wholl}^ fair purchase of heavenly favors, our poor tem- 
porary self-denials being urged as payment for an 
eternity of felicity. True, our morality must be for- 
mulated in accordance with the mandates of nature, 
and the standards of excellence set up by society, as 
a rule, conform to the standards accepted by our moral 
and aesthetic faculties; but it is no less a fact that 
three-fourths of our thoughts, words, and deeds in our 
intercourse with each other are counterfeit. 


Wherefore, if we are so hollow and false in so many 
other things, how shall we have literature without 
hyperbole, or reviews without empiricism ? An editop 
who never wholly praised any book, yet often be- 
smeared with his venom a really good one, once re- 
fused to espouse a cause of great public utility on the 
ground that people would say he had been bribed! 
The old, vulgar, and time-worn trick of finding some 
fault — it made little difference what, or whether or 
not deserved, or whether or not the most glaring fault 
in the work — in order to make a show of ability, and 
for fear the public would think him not capable of discov- 
ering imperfections unless he did so, was a policy and 
principle with this man, leading him into many ludi- 
crous absurdities. 

He was of the truest type of newspaper hypocrite, 
professing religion, professing integrity, professing 
immaculate purity for his newspaper, holding himself 
a worthy member of society, — he was indeed possessed 
of wealth and much influence, — ^yet utteriy insincere, 
unreliable, and not entitled to half the respect which 
should fall to the holder of looser principles openly 
avowed. Though no lover of the people, except as 
he was paid for his love, he was held in esteem by 
many for whom he concocted opinion, and who seemed 
awed by the feeling that in the inner sanctuary of a 
master mind was distilled refined knowledge, presently 
to impregnate the metal types, and be distributed in 
multiplications without end on paper. A helper was 
kept in the office more especially for the talent he 
possessed of clothing verbiage in the apparel of learn- 
ing, like Geber, the alchemist, who wrote in gibberish, 
or mystical jargon, upon his art, because to have written 
plainly would have brought him to grief 

It is a matter the people would do well to consider, 
whether or not there should be allowed always to ex- 
ist in the community one or more newspapers either 
living or building themselves upon black-mail, attack- 
ing as may suit their fancy, citizens wholly undeserv- 


ing of such treatment, with ridicule and scurrility, in 
order to extort money or attract readers. Such jour- 
nalism reflects the tastes and propensities of society no 
less than the heart and mind of the journalist, for the 
latter .will write what the people will read. Those 
who so like to hear ill of their neighbor, whether he 
may be deserving of it or not, need not imagine them- 
selves exempt from similar slanders, and should not 
forget that while living in a community permitting and 
patronizing such detraction, they are at any moment 
liable to similar attack. 

After all, when we consider the wrong and injustice 
so frequently inflicted on individual members of the 
community by malicious writers, the author should 
not complain merely at seeing the better qualities of 
his book passed over, and the remainder, so far as 
possible reduced to an absurdity by inuendoes or false 

It is easy to deride when one can say nothing else. 
"My dear Tom," said Curran to Moore one day, 
'^wlien I can't talk sense I talk metaphor." Few can 
write well ; any one can ridicule, and often he who 
knows least condemns most. *^ There are twenty men 
of wit," says Pope, '' for one man of sense." 

''It is easy to write an average literary criticism," 
says Mathews, " especially of the fulsome, laudatory, 
or savage cut-and-thrust kind, which we find in many 
American journals. For such a purpose, little prepa- 
ration is required ; you have only to cut the leaves of 
the book to be reviewed, and then smell of the paper 

Underlying most criticism is the desire of the re- 
viewer to bring into notice either himself or his review, 
and as this can usually be done more effectually by 
censure than by praise, the weaker victims are gener- 
ally sacrificed. Some delight in picking a meritorious 
work to pieces purely for the pleasure it affords, just 
as a boy pulls off the legs and wings of a fly to see it 
squirm. Truth is of no moment ; blood alone will 


answer the purpose. Fur and feathers are made to 
fly, and if horsewhipped by the outraged author, he 
raises the cry of martyrdom. 

The mischievous appetite for popularity is apparent 
in ahnost all criticisms, as in almost every kind of 
teaching and amusing. Every reviewer must make 
or sustain a reputation as an ingenious critic, as one of 
brilhant wit, of fiery imagination, and who revels 
in scrupulous distinctions. Hence the work reviewed 
is first made to do service to the reviewer, after which 
it may be blessed or cursed, as fancy dictates. ''Half 
the lies of history," says Mathews, '' have their origin 
in this desire to be brilliant." 

Authors may writhe under the target practice in- 
stituted for the momentary delight of reviewers and 
readers, but their own attitude as critics tends to 
undermine sympathy for them. Every poet who ever 
lived has been ridiculed by his brother poets, every 
essayist by his brother essayists, every blacksmith by 
his brother blacksmiths. Some, indeed, have praised, 
but all have censured. Poets often stoop even to 
scurrility. Southey spoke slightingly of Coleridge's 
Ancient Manner. Fielding saw nothing good in Rich- 
ardson, nor Richardson in Fielding. To the ear of 
Beattie, Churchill's verse was drivelling and dull. 
Doctor Johnson, with all his acuteness and sagacity 
in dissecting metaphysical writers, like Dry den and 
Pope, failed completely when he touched the imagina- 
tive realms of romance. Nor was he better at criti- 
cism than at poetry. Often had he reviled Milton, 
although he confessed he never read Paradise Lost 
until obliged to do so in order to gather its words into 
his dictionary. 

Milton preferred Cowley to Drj^den; Waller, De 
Maistre, Dryden, and many others affirmed that Mil- 
ton's blank verse was not poetry ; the little wasp of 
Twickenham received about as many stings as he gave ; 
Ben Johnson scourged Spenser, Donne, Sharpbam, 


Day, and Dekkar. Byraer, Voltaire, and Samuel 
Rogers ridiculed Shakespeare, pronouncing the trage- 
dies bloody farces, without reason or coherence. Of 
Wordsworth's Prelude, Macaulay says: ''There are 
the old raptures about mountains and cataracts; the 
old flimsy philosophy about the eflects of scenery on 
the mind; the old crazy mystical metaphysics; the 
endless wilderness of dull, flat, prosaic declamations 
interspersed ; " and this is the poem which Coleridge 
had called '' an Orphic song indeed, a song divine, of 
high and passionate thoughts, to their own music 

In Gray's Elegy neither Wordsworth nor Coleridge 
saw merit. Gray pretended he could distinguish no 
genius in Goldsmith, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hume, 
Thomson, or Collins; indeed, in Gray's eyes there 
was but one poet, and that was Gray. Scarcely an 
author of note escapes scathing condemnation in some 
form. To be of note implies originality, and new ideas 
falling among dogmatic opinionists are sure to be 
wrangled over. Innovation invites derision ; sneers 
are the present reward of him who writes for the 

Elsewhere than in literature are discovered the 
same manifestations. Scott saw nothing beautiful in 
pictures, nor had he any ear for music. Sir Robert 
Peel disliked music. Lord Holland hated pictures; 
Byron did not care for architecture, nor did Madame 
de Stael for grand scenery. 

In every pronounced character there appears to be 
some one sense lacking. Probably there never lived 
a man possessed of more sweeping or subtler critical 
faculties than William Hazlitt, already mentioned. By 
a kind of preternatural insight or intellectual intuition 
he felt at once and with remarkable precision what 
another could reach only by study; just as a musical 
genius catches the spirit of a composition the moment 
his eye alights on it. And yet, though the assertion 
may seem paradoxical, his criticisms were always de- 


fective, and the cause may be traced to the possession 
of these extraordinary critical faculties. Inspiration 
is a splendid thing in criticism, but even genius cannot 
know all a book contains without reading it. The 
trouble with Hazlitt was, that he did not possess pa- 
tience thoroughly to master the work he attempted 
to criticize. His sharp invective was hurled alike on 
all. Between friend and foe he made no distinction. 
Wherever he saw faults or foibles he assumed the 
right to expose, and if possible to exterminate them. 
The temperament of Rogers, the poet, on the other 
hand, was most variable. With whatsoever his spirit 
harmonized, he w^as all delicacy and affection ; regard- 
ing things hateful to him, there was displayed an 
acerbity almost diabolical. Yet while every man does 
not permit his judgment to be made the tool of pas- 
sion, in humanity there is no such thing as passionless 
opinion. ^'Tant le tres irritable amour-propre des 
gens de lettres est difficile a menager ! " exclaims 
Rousseau. Some yield readily to tender feelings, as 
Pope, who burst into tears on reading Homer's rep- 
resentation of Priam's grief over Hector's loss; or 
Shelley, who fainted on hearing read for the first time 
a certain passage in Christabel I 

The condition of the reviewer's blood or liver often 
determines the color of his criticisms, leading him to 
dwell on parts, or to select for special attention pas- 
sages of beauty or deformity. Most energetic, ambi- 
tious persons have within them a certain amount of 
immoral bile, which they must occasionally discharge. 
Thus with indigestion, loss of sleep, matrimonial infe- 
licities, or wine and late hours, the reviewer whets 
his pen, and books are made the innocent victims of 
an acrimonious temper. From the freshly opened | 
volume comes an odor, fragrant or state as the case 
may be, but always responsive to the critic's humor. 

Criticism is by far too polemical. Leaving its : 
purely literary sphere, we see it every now and then I 


striking out into divers controversies which have 
nothing to do with the questions at issue, and which 
narrow the minds of men to one-sided views of things, 
and bhnd them even to their own bhndness. While 
some have assisted to popularity fanatical or superficial 
authors, as Tupper, Holland, and a host of others, 
the profound lucidity of such scholars as Mill, Lecky, 
Spencer, and Draper has been lost upon them, their 
seat of judgment being in the heart rather than in 
the head, if indeed they can be said to possess in any 
sense the faculty of judgment. In others, the very 
superiority of the author inspires dislike, his merit 
proving the cause of condemnation ; as we sometimes 
see a man who is indebted to another assail his bene- 
factor with a view thereby to lessen the obligation. 

Not unfrequently the critic affects to photograph 
the author from his writings. This affords an oppor- 
tunity for the display of much fustian, but it results 
in Httle else. The work alone falls within the prov- 
ince of criticism, not the author, else faults of style 
become faults of character. Of the author of every 
work he criticised, Saint-Beuve asked himself the 
following questions: "What were his religious views? 
How did the sight of nature affect him ? How was 
he affected toward women, and by money? Was he 
rich, poor, and what was his regimen? V/hat were 
his daily habits, and his besetting sins ? " All of which 
are essential in biography, but irrelevant in criticism. 
Because an artist squints, has a hair-lip, or a broken 
nose, are his Venuses and Madonnas to be judged 
thereby ? Because an author is infidel, or immoral, 
or wears long hair, or smokes, swears, gambles, 
preaches, or prays are his printed facts any better or 
worse on account of any of these ? The character of 
the writer cannot be portrayed from his works, nor is 
it necessary that it should be. Who can picture the 
glories of Eden like Lucifer, or the sweet serenities 
of temperance like the inebriate or glutton ? Euripides, 

Essays and Miscellany 9 


the most touching of Greek tragic poets, though more 
skeptical in his religious opinions than ^schylus, was 
a more pious writer. Love rather than fear was the 
spirit of his teachings. If we accept such precepts 
only as those that fall from pure lips, we shall wait 
long to be wise. And yet how quickly the intelligent 
reader imagines he detects the qualities of his author's 
mind and manner, fancying he sees before him a boor, 
a gentleman, one instinct with fun, kindness, honesty, 
or the reverse. Did not James Boswell, Esquire, the 
blustering British coxcomb, the witless wit, the syco- 
phant and sot, the spy and tattler, did lie not write 
the best biography in the English language, the most 
natural, the most vivid, the most truthful, and that 
because he was such an egregrious ass as always to 
tell all he knew ? And shall not a critic in his review 
separate such an author from such a work? This as 
a rule; notwithstanding which there may be some 
truth in the words of Jean Paul: ^'Nie zeichnet der 
Mensch den eignen charakter scharfer als in seiner 
Manier einen fremden zu zeichnen." 

I do not mean to say that a reader can know noth- 
ing of a man by his words and sentences. If we may 
know something of a person by his dress, his walk, 
his air, or attitude, surely we may know more of him 
when he opens his mouth to speak or introduces us to 
his inner self through the expression of ideas upon 
paper. The choice of language and style is an index 
to a man's character. In expressions emphatic, mod- 
erate, verbose, we see men of different dispositions. 
He is recognized as cool-headed, temperate, who 
weighs carefully his opinions, and makes his words 
strong from their very scarcity. We see a dogmatic 
disposition in one who makes assertions in a positive, 
arrogant manner, never admitting a doubt as to the 
correctness of his opinions. We know another to be 
impetuous and irritable from the hurried vehemence 
of his words and his impatience of controversy. But 
to know and judge a man is very different from con- 


demning the work on account of the workman, or rat- 
ing a book as good or bad on account of the author's 
temper or morahty. 

Too often in conversational criticism the author is 
made a vehicle in which to carry off the lumber of 
the writer's demolished ideas. This is the case when 
the main features of the work are ignored while insig- 
nificant parts are taken up and discussed with all the 
gravity of a De Quincey expatiating on murder as a 
fine art. The critic's own idiosyncrasies replace the 
sentiments of the author criticized. The reviewer, 
who perhaps is some professional man or theorist, 
takes this opportunity for ventilating his ideas on the 
subject under consideration, and the author and his 
work are placed in the background. Such were many 
of the reviews of Macaulay, who used the book only 
as a text to preach a sermon from. 

There is much of this special pleading in criticism, 
where the member of a sect or a society, a professor 
or doctor of something, views the world always through 
the mists of his learning, and the main object of whose 
life is to make converts'to his theory. As for unadul- 
terated truth, few desire it, or have the coura<>-e al- 
ways to own it when they find it. "^ 

What cares the sectarian for truth while pleadino- 
for proselytes? What cares the politician for truth 
while seeking to exalt himself or his party ? What 
cares the author for truth who seeks only to prove a 
favorite theory, or who writes to square his facts to 
his philosophy? And what is more, this garbled, 
mendacious style of writing is expected, regarded 
with favor, and even demanded in the highest quar- 
ters. He who does not write as advocate or special 
pleader on one side or the other of a subject, but 
simply to tell what is known of it, that the truth may 
finally be ascertained, seems in the eyes of many to 
be lacking in something. 'A critic in one of the quar- 
terlies," says Hamerton, ^' once treated me as a feeble 


defender of my opinions, because I gave due consider- 
ation to both sides of a question." 

It must not be forgotten that nearly all the so- 
called exponents of public opinion are in bondage to 
bread-winning, either as salaried men or proprietors. 
All teachers, preachers, professors, editors, and nine- 
tenths of the authors are chained in greater or less 
degree by some one interest, obligation, or necessity 
to certain lines of thought and conduct. The jour- 
nalist, if proprietor, must first of all consider the 
interests of his journal, the salaried editor, of his pay ; 
the clergyman and the professor must follow the 
course marked out for them by tradition and associa- 
tion. True, the}^ will claim to believe in what they 
teach ; but if knowledge is a fixed quantity what hope 
has progress? The popular writer must sacrifice 
whatever prevents the admission of his article in the 
popular magazine, whose publishers unhesitatingly 
sacrifice whatever impedes its circulation. It is a 
very difficult matter making men see the truth con- j 
trary to their interests. All this should be remem- 
bered in criticising critics. 

Even apparently independent criticisms in book! 
form have to study the views of publishers and par- [ 
ties, while the great mass, in the public journals, are] 
swayed not only by pressure of time, but by preju-l 
dices of the editor and proprietor, and the spirit of tliej 
publication. The press is called the mouth-piece of thai 
people, and as they would give utterance so must itl 
speak. But in what a limited degree does this apply. I 
Few of the people think at all, and when they open! 
their mouths nothing comes forth. To such the pub- 1 
lie journal is brains rather than tongue. 

Of those who think, or imagine so, few penetrate! 
beneath the surface of things, breaking asunder th( 
hold upon them of tradition and environment, and 
casting themselves adrift on the sea of reason, witt 
only nature and experience as a rudder. They dc 


not reach the bottom of any thing, or follow any sub- 
ject to its source ; consequently they are ever ready 
to listen to those who pretend to know more than they. 
Of this class, in a certain sense, the public journal is 
the mouth-piece, holding sway in most matters by 
means of that well-sustained assumption of superior 
knowledge which is necessary to successful leadership. 

The dignity of criticism sinks materially when the 
views of certain journals regarding any work on a 
given subject may be foretold by one conversant with 
the policy or prejudices of its editor. The popularity 
of the journal is its life blood, and is paramount to 
truth or fairness ; sometimes the popular course is in 
the direction of truth and the right. Where a book 
falls into the hands of a school or clique, it is made a 
foot-ball, and criticism, like sectarianism, or political 
partisanship, becomes a fight. Though the free indul- 
gence of personalties in criticism which obtained in 
Byron's day is modified, we have perhaps what is 
worse in these self-opinionated cabals. What would 
be thought of a Chinese woman jealously decrying a 
Parisian head-dress, or a Chinook finding fault with 
the religious observances of the Turks ; and yet as 
gross absurdities are perpetrated daily amid the world 
of criticism. 

Every shade of theological and political opinion has 
its organ of criticism, whose illogical dogmatism is the 
very irony of honesty. Its mandates take the 
place of the political or theological censorship which 
circumscribes the press in so many foreign countries. 
Instance the effect on Merimee's review of Napoleon's 
Csesar. " I am not dissatisfied with my article on 27ie 
History of Julius Csesar,'' writes he to his Incognita. 
" As the task was imposed on me, submission was un- 
avoidable. You know how very highly I think both 
of the author and his book, and you also appreciate 
the difficulties besetting the critic who would depre- 
cate the imputation of sycophancy and yet say noth- 
ing unbecoming." 


After all, there are only a comparatively few lead- 
ing journals and journalists in the world, the few 
which are really what they pretend to be, makers of 
opinion, that a writer for lasting fame needs to fear. 
About these there is little of that "ignorant praise, 
which," as George Elliot says, " misses every valid 
quality," nor yet ignorant condemnation. Before I 
should agree with Doctor Johnson when he says, "I 
would rather be attacked than unnoticed; for the 
worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as 
to his works," I should consider who or what it was 
that attacked. While the Olympian gods in council 
were discussing what should be done with certain 
skeptics on earth who doubted their existence, a mes- 
senger from below announced the occurrence of a duel 
of philosophers over the subject. Orthodox Timocles 
disputes with infidel Damis. Timocles becomes con- 
fused in his argument, then angry, and threatens to 
break the head of Damis, who laughingly escapes. 
Jupiter is in sorrowful doubt where lies the victory. 
Mercury attempts to console him by saying that they 
still have the greater numbers with them, let Damis 
win whom he may. ''Yes," replied Jupiter, "but I 
would rather have on my side one man like Damis 
than ten thousand Babylonians." 

There may be no deeper thinkers in the world now 
than three thousand years ago ; but mind seems to 
have been somewhat quickened since the days of the 
ancients, and there is more to think about, more of 
reality and less of speculation. After the voyages of 
Columbus knowledge rapidly multiplied. 

The true critic, after determining the questions 
whether or not the book has any right to be, whether 
or not the author's subject is of sufficient importance 
to claim public attention, whether or not the author 
has a proper cause to lay before the tribunal of letters, 
will then proceed to determine the merit of the plan 
and the faithfulness of execution. 

Adverse criticism, in so far as it is merited, should 


always unflinchingly be given; bub not in a spirit of 
injustice or antagonism. Neither coarse personalities 
nor chronic fault-findings are productive of any good. 
Imperfections may be pointed out with scrupulous 
care, but unimportant deficiencies should not be par- 
aded as primary failings, and so made condemnatory 
of the whole. To be productive of good both to the 
author and to the public, let faults be found in con- 
nection with good qualities, if of the latter there be 
any, and all in khid and conscientious fairness; so 
that while the public are warned of false pretenders, 
inexperienced authors of meritorious work may be led 
to correct the error of their ways. 

It is not expected that dullness and stupidity should 
be rewarded. Least of all is it to the interest of 
writers of good books that the incompetent should be 
successful. Yet might the critics make it a little 
more their pleasure to point out the merits of a good 
book, as well as the imperfections of a poor one. 
Jean Paul Richter says that a book without beauties 
is a bad thing, but a book without faults is not there- 
fore necessarily a good one. "Let your rogues in 
novels act like rogues," says Thackeray, ''and your 
honest men like honest men; don't let us have any 
juggling and thimblerigging with virtue and vice, so 
that at the end of three volumes the bewildered reader 
shall not know which is which." This may sound 
very well in novels, though such a sentiment does not 
tend to raise the discriminating qualities of the satir- 
ist in the reader's opinion, for in real life w^e find no 
such thing as men all rogues or all honest. Paul 
Pichter complained that the reviews bestowed upon 
his works either extravagant praise or indiscriminate 
censure. "Die Kritik," he says, "nimmt oft dem 
Ban me Paupen und Bliithen mit einander." It is 
easy to flatter, but exceedingly difficult to bestow 
heart-felt praise. We may for charity's sake overlook 
slight faults in a meritorious work. *'A book may be 
as great a thing as a battle," says Disraeli; the life 


and character of a good book may be measured with 
the Ufe and character of a good man ; frequently one 
good book is worth a thousand men. He therefore 
who wilfully and maliciously murders a good book 
or destroys praiseworthy effort, cannot be too severely 
condemned; though as Martial says: *' Chartis nee furta 
nocent, et falcula prosunt; solaque non n6runt hsec 
monumenta mori." 

Perfection nowhere exists; yet few books printed 
are wholly devoid of merit. That marvellous student, 
the elder Pliny, always took notes as he read, declar- 
ing that he could find something good in the worst of 
books. Attempts even are worth some consideration. 
A bad author is bad enough, but an incompetent or 
disiionest critic is worse. The least meritorious 
author does some good ; the best critic much evil. 

Carlyle says: "Of no given book, not even of a 
fashionable novel, can you predict with certainty that 
its vacuity is absolute ; that there are not other 
vacuities which shall partially replenish themselves 
therefrom, and esteem it a Plenum. And knowest 
thou, may the distressed novelwright exclaim, that I, 
here where I sit, am the foolishest of existing mortals;] 
that this my long ear of a fictitious biography shall! 
not find one and the other into whose still longer ears] 
it may be the means, under providence, of instilling J 
somewhat? We answer none knows, none can cer-f 
tainly know; therefore write on, worthy brother, even! 
as thou canst, even as it has been given thee." 

In literary ventures the chances of success are inj 
no wise proportionate to the necessary efforts. Dic- 
tion-drilling and literary stuffing do not make 
writer. Innumerable perplexities often beset thel 
author, of v/hich the reviewer knows nothing; not J 
unfrequently an author is obliged to adopt a plan! 
which no one knows better than himself to be faulty, I 
in order to avoid a yet more faulty course. 

In quoting from a work the reviewer by artful! 
selections can make the author say anything he J 


wishes. The Athanasian creed is not to be found in 
the writings of Athaoasius. Says Herbert Spencer 
on this subject, " We cannot infer from a fragment of 
a composition what the whole is, any more than we 
could describe Babylon from specimens of the bricks 
used in its construction. This is a principle whicli 
sound criticism holds fast to in pronouncing its judg- 
ments on authors and books." To mass facts and 
present arguments for the support of but one side of 
a question, pretending meanwhile to state the whole 
case truthfully, be it in law, theology, or letters, is 
neither honorable, nor beneficial to mankind. 

In the ultimate principles of human nature there is 
a dualism which manifests itself in all human affairs. 
An a priori analysis of humanity is not necessary to 
show that in all thino^s relatins; to man, no less than 
to man himself, there are two sides. In social inter- 
course there is an inner, proximate, and real side, 
and an outer, disingenuous, artificial, and false side. 
We know what we are ; we are none of us exactly 
satisfied with ourselves ; we would appear something 
different. Hence the primary purpose of society lies 
no less in suppressio veri than in suggestio falsi. 

Likewise whatever man touches, be it from the 
highest and purest motives, he warps and falsely 
colors. There is nothing he so eschews as truth, 
even while pretending to search for it. If he ascends 
the pulpit it is for the purpose of dogmatizing rather 
than for honest inquiry. If he enters politics it is for 
the purpose of serving himself, while pretending to 
serve the public. If he publishes a journal, and 
swears upon the holy evangelists that honor, integ- 
rity, and the welfare of the people are, and ever shall 
be, his governing principles, beware ! for he will be- 
tray you, aye, he will besmear his manhood with 
ditch-water and sacrifice friend, wife, or mother to 
whatever he conceives to be for the interests of his 
journal. The physician will leave a man to die rather 


than submit to what he regards as a breach of profes- 
sional etiquette. The lawyer will clear a murderer, 
knowing him to be such, and let him loose, like a blood- 
hound, with appetite whetted by confinement, again 
to prey upon society. Jurymen, sworn to render a 
verdict according to the testimony, fling evidence to 
the wind, and consult only their feelings. 

Many emphasize the value of standards by which 
to judge. Pope says study the ancients, and square 
all criticism by their rule ; but before Greece and 
Rome is nature, whose ethics should be our guide. 
The ancients were not so wise as they have been ac- 
counted ; they were not so wise as the men of to-day. 
Canons of critical art can be laid down but partially, 
and cannot be made to fit every case ; yet one may 
always broadly know sound sincerity from hollow 
cliicanery. Neither in literature nor in art has the 
world a complete and accepted standard of excellence. 
Art, like nature, may not always be interpreted by 
prescribed rules. Volumes sent forth among review- 
ers to be measured by rule have been made the battle 
ground of contending factions equally with those upon 
which critics have passed candid judgment from their 
own intuitive sense of right and wrong. Philosophic 
criticism is broadly guided by nature as the source of 
all knowledge. 

Inspiration alone can fathom inspiration or experi- 
ence fathom experience. Beads of perspiration rest- 
ing on the brow may tell of bodily fatigue, or of the 
soul's great agony, or they may, give welcome notice 
that the crisis of fever is safely passed. 

The dramatic critic has the advantage of the re- 
viewer of books in one respect; he is not obliged to 
pronounce his verdict until after the public have ren- 
dered theirs. Even the canons of dramatic criticism 
are taken ready made from the play-goers. Morality, 
an essential of literature, is subordinated to expression 
in the drama. We read books for instruction and 
improvement ; we attend the play for pleasure. 


Hence in the drama, more than in literature, to em- 
phasize a vice is no less pleasing to the public mind 
than to adorn a virtue. The pure-minded though 
vengeful Anne Boleyn is tedious on the stage beside 
the sinful fascinations of Camille. Philosophic criti- 
cism is an enlightened curiosity which seeks to know 
the good, an enlightened judgment which seeks to 
determine the right. It seeks to turn from party 
cant and plant itself fairly on the platform of truth. 
It does not stop to cavil at unimportant peculiarities 
of style or diction ; the author's opportunities as well 
as his aims are considered, the time in which he lived 
ai well as the result of his undertaking. The critic 
should be en rapport with the author instead of men- 
tally armed against him. As Porter says, "The 
critic cannot be just to an author unless he puts him- 
self in the author's place." 

Matthew Arnold gives his rule of criticism in one 
word, disinterestedness. And this he would display 
by holding aloof from what he calls the practical view 
of things, and by giving the mind free play. Criti- 
cism should follow its nobler instincts, utterly refusing 
to lend itself to social, political, or theological fashions 
or forms, utterly refusing to be influenced by pique or 
by intellectual vanity. 

A good reviewer, with a wide range of knowledge, 
combines comprehensiveness of views and catholicity 
of opinions, sustained by subtle instincts, delicate 
tastes, and an analytical and judicial mind; epigram 
and paradox he subordinates, and hyperbole and hy- 
pereriticism he despises. 

He must be neither a good lover nor a good 
hater. He must have wisdom without prejudices, 
power without passion. Candor controls his pen. He 
is bold yet modest; severe, if necessary, but kind; 
neither dogmatic nor moody, neither sentimental nor 
cynical. To high-minded unselfishness is added a 
keen and correct insight into the minds and motives 
of men. He discovers to a friend his faults, praises 


an enemy's good work, and never talks merely for 
effect nor professes too much. Of that which he 
knows nothmg he says nothing. He is satisfied that 
no trade based on cheating or cant ever is perma- 
nently successful. 

His knowledge of mankind is not less than his 
knowledge of books. He analyzes nature as skilfully 
as literature. Saint-Beuve served an apprenticeship 
dissecting the bodies of dead men before he began on 
the writings of living ones. ^' Je n'ai plus qu'un plai- 
sir," he exclaims, "j analyse, j 'herborise, je suis un 
naturaliste des esprits. Ce que je voudrais constituer, 
c'est riiistoire naturelle litteraire." 

Matthews remarks on Saint-Beuve: "It is safe to 
say there never was a literary judge who was more 
indefatigable in collecting the materials for his de- 
cisions, or who tried more earnestly to keep his mind 
from all bias, and from every influence which could 
interfere in the slightest degree with the clearness, 
vividness, and truthfulness of its impression. His 
jealousy of himself was carried, at times, to an almost 
ridiculous extreme. So keenly was he sensible, and 
so morbidly fearful of the influence of friendship upon 
one's opinions, that he sacrificed, it is said, some of his 
pleasantest intimacies to his love of impartiality." 

In measuring character, as in everything else, we 
run to extremes ; and often our foolish and versatile 
prejudices change objects most familiar. Through 
the eyes of love sparkle sunlight and prismatic rain- 
bow hues. The color of our glasses tinges all we see ; 
from our collection of spectacles, we draw and adjust 
the green glass, jealously; or the yellow gl^ss, envy; 
or the red glass, revenge ; or the black glass, racor ; 
turning all into hate and hellish hues. But in spite 
of our blind vagaries, as Pascal says, ''I'homme n'est 
ni ange ni bete ; et le malheur veut que qui veut faire 
Tano^e fait la bdte." 

The improbability of encountering the paragon re- 



viewer, and the likelihood of meeting with more flaw- 
finding than admiration, should teach the speaker or 
writer to steel his sensibilities and submit patiently to 
criticism. If wise he will not be pufled by praise nor 
annihilated by censure, but will be soberly stimulated 
by the one, and taught improvement by the other. 
The public, whose attention he challenges, have their 
ri'^hts as well as he, and if cheated by false pretenses 
out of their time or money, have just cause for com- 
plaint. He who cries truth and sells only its imita- 
tion, is a charlatan, and the people through their paid 
agent, the press, have the right to denounce him. If 
he has done aught worthy of fame, let him rest con- 
tent; time will establish it. A good book cannot be 
hidden. Bury it in the grave with its author, as in 
the case of Dicty's Cretensis, and an earthquake will 
burst the sepulchre. 

Tliat a book lives, though condemned by its critics, 
is not altogether proof of unsound judgment on the 
part of the reviewer, for he may have been right as 
to both the absolute and relative merits of the work, 
and the world led away by caprice, prejudice, or pas- 
sion. But for the most part, and in the long run, 
time and the world are to be trusted. 

''I know of no tonic more useful for a J^oung writer," 
says Higginson, ^'than to read carefully in the English 
reviews of seventy or eighty years ago the crushing 
criticisms on nearly every author of that epoch who 
has achieved lasting fame." Wordsworth attempted 
to disparage Goethe without having read him; he 
stigmatized Dryden's music ode as a drunken song, 
and held Burns' productions in profound contempt. 
On the other hand, amidst a universal hiss of scorn, 
upon the wheels of its sarcasm the Edinburgh Revieiu 
broke every poetic bone in Wordsworth's body. 

Hazlitt has often been pronounced a blockhead, and 
Shelley's poetry meaningless. Byron called Spenser 
a dull fellow, and Chaucer contemptible ; a poem of 
Wordsworth's was his aversion. When it first appeared. 


Jane Eyre was denounced in the severest terms by the 
Quarterly Review. No one ever aimed at severer im- 
partiality than Hallam, but in spite of his strictly 
judicial mind, his admiration was often too much for 
his discrimination. 

Patmore published a severe criticism on Sheridan 
Knowles' Virginius, which he was led wholly to mod- 
ify after having seen the author. When an old and 
expert critic in one of the first reviews of the day 
feels compelled to acknowledge that " the subsequent 
writings of this distinguished man have convinced me 
that my first impressions of his talents as a dramatic 
writer did him manifest injustice in some particulars, 
and fell far short of his merit in others," what trust 
can be placed in fledglings ? 

It was deemed scarcely safe at one time for the 
preface of a book to go out unarmed, that is, without 
defiance and loud denunciations of the critics. 

Soderini ordered to be made for him by Michael 
Angelo a statue, which when done was perfect. Nev- 
ertheless, Soderini must criticize; the nose was not 
Grecian enough. Taking a chisel Angelo pretended 
to alter it, meanwhile letting fall some dust which he 
had concealed in his hand, but in reality not touching 
the statue. Soderini was charmed that his opinion 
should have been so cheerfully acted upon, and extolled 
the nose as perfect. In like manner Pope pretended 
to change certain words of the Iliad which Lord Hal- 
ifax had criticized when Pope had read to him the 
poem, to the infinite gratification of his critical 

Before the triumphant march of genius critics are 
powerless. Knowingly they never attempt to write 
down what is apt to become popular. Like those of 
journalism, their opinions are based on cowardice, and 
too often on the trembling timidity of ignorance. Says 
Gillies, the Scotch reviewer, ''By no effort of criticism 
could we put down the Lay of the Last Minstrel. Even 
the ballad of Rosabelle, and the description of Melrose 


by moonlight, were alone enough to keep it buoyant, 
notwithstanding that the poem was decidedly at vari- 
ance with all our acknowledged models." 

Just before Talfourd's Ion was put upon the stage 
amidst the most boisterous triumph, the critic's place 
on the Athenseum was taken from Chorley and given 
to Darley, who used the axe and scalpel with such 
consummate dexterity that to cut books to pieces be- 
came a passion with him. But in writing down Ion 
Darley made a mistake ; and Chorley the supposed 
culprit was hooted to the wall by an exasperated 
public. He was blackguarded as the ''chaw-bacon of 
literature," ''a worm," and many such names. ''I 
cannot call to mind a writer more largely neglected, 
sneered at, and grudgingly analyzed than myself," 
complains this innocent victim. 

A reviewer is hi no wise backward about calling 
the attention of his reader to the praise bestowed by 
him on the first appearance of what subsequently 
proves a successful book. Says Chorley, of the 
Athensefiim, of Hawthorne's writings, ''It is one of 
my greatest pleasures as a journalist to recollect that 
I was the first who had the honor of calling attention 
to these tales when they appeared in the form of 
periodical articles." 

Plagiarism is a charge that has been freely bandied 
by jealous authors no less than by keen critics. 
Byron's inspirations of nature, Wordsworth said, were 
not drawn from nature, but from his Tintern Abbey, 
and that both the sentiment and style of the third 
canto of Childe Harold were caught from him and 
greatly marred in the reproduction. It is a delicate 
matter for one writer to charge another with lack of 
originality, when the most original of thinkers, for 
nine tenths of all their so-called original thoughts, 
draw upon the past. Besides, every writer has the 
right to use all^ that has gone before him, and if he 
but add one original idea to every thousand borrowed 


ideas his labor is not in vain. Human experiences 
are funded, and every man that appears has a right 
to a share. Says Bulwer, " from that which time 
has made classical we cannot plagiarize." 

How many of the best plots and plaj^s are founded 
upon classical mythology and ancient history ? From 
a Grecian legend of Hercules and the Pigmies Swift 
derives his story of Gulliver. Shakespeare in llid- 
summer Nighfs Dream has innumerable touches and 
travesties like that from Ovid's metamorphoses of 
Pyramus and Thisbe. De Foe's novel is founded on 
the published voyages in 1 7 1 2 of Woodes Rogers and 
Edward Cooke, and the embryo Robinson Crusoe may 
be seen in the Alexander Selkirk of Captain Bur- 
ney's narrative. See how the story of Romeo and 
Juliet has been handled. Shakespeare is directly in- 
debted for it to Arthur Brooke, who made a poetical 
version of Bolsteau's novel Rhomeo and Julietta. ' The 
main incidents were obtained by Balsteau from a story 
by Luigi da Porto, of Vicenza, called La Giulictta, 
and this closely resembles the Ephesiaca of Ephesius 
Xenophon. Under the title of Six Old Plays on tvhich 
Shakespeare Founded his Comedies published by S. 
Leacroft, of Charing Cross, was one of the same 
name from which the plot of Taming the Shreiv was 
taken, the induction being borrowed from Heuterus' 
Rerum Bitrgund. 

Few v/riters indeed are caught pursuing the oppo- 
site course, that of attributing their own ideas to 
others, like Xenophon, who makes Socrates, his mas- 
ter, the mouth-piece for many of his own conceptions. 

Style, which is the first thing an inexperienced 
writer thinks oF, and which should be the last, is often 
made a handle for adverse criticism when all else fails. 
A style consistent with the serious dignity of the sub- 
ject may be sneered at as Johnsonian, or if it be nat- 
ural and easy, then it is cheap English. In questions 
of svntax, where the best authorities do not agree, 

STYLE. 145 

and the writer is obliged to employ terms sanctioned 
by one or the other, whichever course he takes lays 
him open to the charge of solecism. In such hands 
warrantable hyperbole is gross exaggeration, and 
authorized antithesis, epigram, and metaphor, glaring 

Style is in a measure to letters what dress is to the 
body. Men and women are more attractive when 
tastefully attired than when clothed in rags or ill- 
fitting garments ; but as compared with the body, soul, 
or life of the person, dress is insignificant. So it is 
with literary composition. Facts are more pleasing 
when adorned with elegant diction ; but the arrange- 
ment of the words in which ideas are clothed is of 
little moment beside the magnitude and truthfulness 
of the naked fact. Nevertheless, say what we will of 
style in letters or in dress, it will have its influence. 
Beauty and symmetry appeal to the mind not less 
strongly than truth and logic. Dress is admirable 
no less than merit. Good clothes and a pleasing style 
captivate the multitude more than do shabby virtue 
or homely truths. 

Again, elegance and comfort in dress are greatly to 
be desired ; but what shall we say of him who all day, 
I and every day, is conscious of his attire, who cannot 
! lift his mind above the cut of his coat or the fit of his 
1 boots ; who thinks and speaks only of his raiment, 
I and who works or plays chiefly for the purpose of 
j displaying his dress ? In the various walks of life 
|! there are men who live by style; there are authors 
I whose ambition and eflbrts are all for style ; take from 
I their writings style, and there is nothing left. 
j Time was when the ruler prescribed the kind and 
I quality of dress each class should wear, the kind and 
1 quality of food each class should eat. In the eyes of 
kriticism, form was everything in those days. With 
[Johnson and Dryden the manner was no less import- 
ant than the matter. While we of this latter-day 
and less trammelled literature do not despise rhythm 

Essays and Miscellany 10 


or lightly esteem beauty in the arrangement of words, 
sentiment and truth we deem of far higher importance. 
Chaste imagery we admire, but clearness and energy 
are indispensable. The truly sublime swallows all 
petty adornments. 

Style is, however, something more than dress. It 
is not the adaptation of thought to expression, nor 
the adaptation of expression to thought. Style is 
thought itself; expression is the man ; it is character, 
as well as cut of clothes and carriage. Qualities of 
mind, form of physique, and every result of environ- 
ment, no less than the blaze of words lighted by 
thought, generate style, and are in turn moulded by 
style. The attitude of the body under cogitation is 
in a measure the outward or physical expression of 
thought. Says La Bru}^ ere, " II n'y a rien de si delie 
de si simple, et de si imperceptible, ou il n'entre des 
manieres qui nous decelent. Un sot n'entre, nine 
sort, ni ne s'assied, ni ne se leve, ni ne se tait, ni n'est 
sur les jambes, comme un homme d'esprit.'' "The I 
style of an author should be the image of his mind," • 
observes Gibbon, ''but the choice and command of i^ 
language is the fruit of exercise. Many experiments i: 
were made before I could hit the middle tone between 
a dull chronicle and a rhetorical declamation." 

A true and natural style is the product of birth, 
though it may be modified by education. It cannot 
be acquired any more than blood or brains. With the 
physical and intellectual man, it may be refined by 
culture ; but it must be as the unfolding of a germ, as 
the development of an innate quality, and not as a 
creation or an adoption ; else it is not style the man, 
but style the appearance, style the imitation. " Un 
homme qui ecrit bien," says Montesqueieu, ''n'ecrit 
pas comme on ecrit ; mais comme il^ ecrit ; et c'est 
souvent en parlant mal qu'il parle bien." Suppose 
two writers should attempt to exchange their style, 
that of both would be ruined. It would be worse 
than exchanging coats; the probability is that one 


would not fit the other. Tyndall's delicate forms of 
beauty, and Huxley's incisive wit and vivid pictur- 
esqueness, would not suit the plain direct forms of 
Darwin, whose thoughts spread themselves out on 
paper in such logical sequence and with such effective- 
ness, that from a mere statement of the facts arise 
the clearest conclusions. 

There are natural writers and there are artificial 
writers. They are known by their works. Strong 
is simplicity; strong the power of truthful words to 
move I All great poets, Homer, Horace, -^schylus, 
Shakespeare, Tennyson, exercised this charming 
power. The wisest of the ancients, feeling its superior 
strength and having it not, affected it. Studied sim- 
plicity of style seems to have been the effort of Plato. 
For we are assured that the sentences which flow so 
easily, and were apparently flung off currente calamo, 
were, indeed, the result of prolonged elaboration. 
Sainte-Beuve thanked the necessity which forced him 
from his ingrained mannerism into a style of strong 
simplicity which every one could understand. 



Get leave to work 
In this world, 'tis the best you get at all; 
For God, in cursing, gives us better gifts 
Than men in benediction. God says " Sweat 
For foreheads;" men say "crowns"; and so we are crowned, 
Ay, gashed l)y some tormenting circle of steel 
Which snaps with a secret spring. Get work; get work; 
Be sure 'tis better than what you work to get. 

— Mrs Browning. 

The necessity to labor is generally regarded as 
an evil ; the first and sum of evils ; offspring 
of the primal curse, spawn of Adamic transgres- 
sion, born of the serpent which envenoms all, 
which cradles humanity in thistles and thorns, and 
clothes us in galling fetters, to be worn 'midst sor- 
row and sweat until the body returns to dust. It is 
the severest punishment divine vengeance can con- 
jure for the disobedient, the heaviest infliction al- 
mighty power may lay upon the seed of woman for 
her sin of curiosity. And the curse of curses, Cain's 
curse, was that he should labor and reap no reward. 

These precepts accord with our earliest impressions 
of labor. The child abhors his task. It is neither 
affection, food, nor any good gift of God ; and in- 
stinctively he feels that it is not. It is a penalty he 
must pay, not having committed any crime ; a slavery 
he must undergo, though free-born. Even brutes 
blush, and hang their heads, when harnessed to man's 

Enjoyment alone the creatures of a beneficent crea- 
tor claim as their birthright. Therefore call it 
pleasure and the exercise is easy ; whereas pleasure 
itself is painful if done as duty. In childhood, how 
much of exertion and fatigue we laughingly undergo 



in the name of fun ; how intolerably dull and spirit- 
crushing the slight labor-lesson our kind parent gives 
us to learn. For the child at play winter has no cold, 
nor is the longest, hottest summer's day wearisome ; 
but over the light unfinished task the songs of birds 
strike heavily upon the ear, the fresh, fragrant breath 
of heaven is hateful, and the joyful sun-rays stinging 

In grown-up children we see drawn the same dis- 
tinctions. With what nervous delight the delicate 
young woman dances the dark hours through, when, 
were those midnight whirls and ambles necessary or 
useful, how terrible the infliction! Happy as a 
beaver the young man rises before day for a ten-mile 
tramp over the hills for a possible shot at a deer, 
when, did his breakfast every morning depend upon 
similar early and severe exertion, better die at once 
than keep up life at such a cost. Even old, prosaic, 
practical men, and humdrum women, cheerful as 
cackling barn-fowl, every summer leave their home 
comforts, their clean carpets and soft beds, their car- 
riage, garden, and well-stored larder, their cosey 
parlor and cool verandah, and go into voluntary 
exile, become savage or at least sylvan while encamp- 
ing under the chaparral or buckeye, eating indigesti- 
ble food, breathing the blistering air, and sweltering ' 
through the shelterless day only at night to stretch 
themselves with no small show of satisfaction upon 
the flea-and-fever-breeding earth, there to wait the 
slow approach of sleep, while the mosquito's soft 
soprano alternates with the loud contralto of the 
sympathetic frog. Were this all done from necessity, 
what a wail would go heavenward over the bitterness 
of their lot. So by the simple name of sport do we 
sweeten the very dregs of drudgery. 

Not only does the labor we delight in physic pain, 
but such effort ceases to be labor in the sense here 
used; that is, as a burden to be borne. Pleasures 
pall, however, showing that therein we may not seek 

150 WORK. 

the highest good ; and men are sometimes driven to 
do things useful through sheer ennui; activity then 
becomes delightful, and the necessity being removed, 
it falls not under the curse ; there are some whom 
wealth and luxury cannot wholly debase. 

In all industry, in commerce, agriculture, and man- 
ufactures; in mechanical or intellectual pursuits, in 
education and religion ; by all mankind, throughout all 
ages, it seems to have been tacitly implied that, how- 
ever beneficial the result of labor, work jper se is a 
curse. It is something to be deplored; something 
to be endured, rewarded ; and it is performed, for the 
most part, in the hope and endeavor of ultimate relief 
from it. Who has not this hope, and what would life 
be without it? How often we hear said, "When I 
have so much money, when my new house is built, 
my farm paid for, my daughters educated, my sons 
settled, I will no longer toil in this fashion ; I will 
rest; I will fling care to the winds, release brain, 
nerves, and muscles from their life-long tension, take 
a free look upward and outward, and live a little be- 
fore I die." Alas! how seldom is this effected; or if 
it be, how laborious this inactive waiting for death ! 

Anticipations are almost always more enjoyable 
than realizations. The pleasures of hope enter into 
labor to lighten it and relieve its hard lot with rose- 
colored vistas. One shoulders a shovel, another a hod, 
and early marches to melancholy exercise, foregoing 
awhile the companionable pipe at the corner grocery, 
in the expectation of coupling it later with a double 
reward. The merchant finds in his profit a delightful 
incentive to buying and selling. Nothing is sooner 
suspected in a stranger than a display of disinterested 
benevolence. The pioneer has a wider object in view, 
when planting a home in the forest, than mere delight 
in swinging an axe and seeing the chips fly. Clearing 
the ground, and ploughing, and planting are but the 
paths to that object. 

While the aim sweetens the pursuit, it seldom does 


SO sufficiently to render it desirable. Will anyone 
wanting a house to shelter his family say to himself, 
it is better for me to build it than that I should be 
saved the trouble? Will anyone desiring a fortune 
which shall give him rest for the remainder of his life, 
which shall give him leisure for the pursuit of refining 
arts and pleasures, which shall give him the means of 
making happy those he loves, of giving to the poor, 
of building schools and churches — will he say, better 
for me to rack my brain and ply my fingers early in 
the morning and late into the night, day after day for 
twenty or forty years, meanwhile keeping my feet to 
the treadmill, my eyes to the sordid occupation of 
money-making, until with old age is frozen every gen- 
erous impulse, shutting forever from my understand- 
ing all the God-given beauties and benefits that hang 
like a starry canopy above my head to the very hem- 
ming of my horizon; will he say, better for me to 
endure all this, to sacrifice all this, and that, too, 
while attended by a hundred necessary risks and ven- 
tures, any one of which may wreck all, than to find 
fortune ready-made, with a lifetime before me in 
which to enjoy it ? 

Or if his soul hungers for the higher good, if, in- 
different to wealth and social distinction, thoughts of 
the great What and Whence and Whither urge him 
to a more defined understanding of his being and sur- 
roundings, and if, without the laborious accumulating 
and analyzing of experiences, without days of nervous 
investigating and long nights of mental strain, scores 
of years of the severest study might be overleaped, 
and the youth know as the sage, — would he not be a 
dolt, an idiot, to refuse any Aladdin-lamp assistance, 
on the ground that the sore travail of knowledge was 
itself a blessing, the intellectual and moral faculties 
thus aroused and exercised and developed, but other- 
wise non-existent or dormant, being more beneficial 
than Minerva-births or other spontaneous results? 

152 WORK. 

This daily dead-lift of labor that walls every avenue 
of progress, that hangs like Dantean darkness over 
every effort of aspiring intelligence, that lays inexor- 
ably its burden upon the shoulder alike of operative, 
artisan, and clerk, of merchant and manufacturer, of 
student and professor, of lawyer, doctor, and preacher — 
will anyone say that it is a good thing, something in 
and of itself to be desired ? 

In a word, is not labor regarded by mankind gener- 
ally if not an absolute curse, yet less a blessing than 
the absence of its necessity ? 

Most assuredly. 

And yet mankind is wrong. Else the creator is a 
merciless tyrant, and creation a botch, or this great 
agony of our existence is a blessing. 

I know that one step farther carries our investiga- 
tion beyond its depths, and I do not propose to spec- 
ulate. I wish to confine myself to the plainest, simplest 
view of the case, the proximate and practical parts of 
these life-embracing anomalies being more than suffi- 
cient to occupy all our attention. 

It requires no great keenness of observation, what- 
ever one's creed or ethical code may be as to causations 
and consequences, to see that nature is our master, 
that she rules us with an iron hand, by unalterable 
laws, to which it behooves us humbly to conform the 
conduct of our lives. Nature is inexorable. Obey 
her, and she is kind ; throw off allegiance, and she is 
mercilessly cruel. Whether you know, or do not care 
to know, or forget, break one of the least of her laws 
and you suffer, and in proportion to the sin. Only 
the savage sees smiles and frowns in nature ; the phil- 
osopher fails to discover wherein the slightest par- 
tiality has ever been shown a votary, the slightest 
sentiment, or favoritism, or interposition, or yielding 
under supplication. Rain falls upon the just and the 
unjust; fire burns God's martyr as surely as Satan's 
servant. If I overreach the precipice too far in my 


effort to rescue a fellow-being, I am dashed in pieces 
as surely as if I fall in attempting revenge upon an 

In nature man finds his counterpart; she is our 
great example and teacher. If you would know the 
price of happiness, go to nature ; she will spread before 
you a true catalogue of rewards and punishments. To 
the purest codes of morality creeds are by no means 
essential. Even religion asks not of man labor or 
sacrifice for nothing, and nature asks not this. Of 
nature and the sublimest selfishness the highest ethics 
are built. 

Before labor in any sense can be called a curse, the 
economy of nature must be changed, or the universe 
be called a curse. All that have being labor, and by 
labor all was made that exists. Nature grows under 
redundant energy, with here and there convulsive 
throes, — excesses which sent worlds a-whirling into 
space and there maintains them, despite all striving 
for reunion, for rest. This seeking is the normal con- 
dition of affairs ; for rest only brings a desire for fresh 
activity. Bodies in motion labor to be quiet ; bodies 
at rest labor to be in motion. 

Rest is found in constant or varied activity. Such 
is nature's rest, God's rest, and man's only rest; night 
brings with it a restoration of the forces which have 
been expended during day. Death is called the 
absolute repose, yet that most dreaded quietude can- 
not rest for rotting. It also is merely transmutation. 

By work the universe is, and man. Force is all 
prevading, in our bodies and without; by it instinct 
is and intellect, mind is made, and soul implanted. 
Nature hinges on it; by it winds blow, and the fer- 
tilizing moisture is lifted from the ocean and dropped 
upon the hills; by it grass grows, flowers bloom, and 
the sunbeam enters my window, else how without 
work should it have come so far to greet me. The 
mind cannot conceive of a state of things wherein 
all was absolute inactivity, breathless immobility, rigid 

154 WORK. 

rest. The tendency of things is toward an unattain- 
able equihbrium. Unrest alone is eternal. 

So labor is the normal condition of man as of 
nature, both by will and from necessity. His inherent 
energy is significant of that destiny. If he wills not 
to labor, necessity drives him to it ; if necessity is 
absent, the spirit of good or the demon of evil stirs 
him to the accomplishment of he knows not what. 
Beyond the vista of absolute rest lies chaos. 

The most primitive and simple existence cannot be 
maintained without work. The savage must dig 
roots, pluck fruit, catch fish, or pursue game. He 
must construct a shelter against the storm and the 
insecurities of night, seek covering against the cold, 
and prepare weapons for onslaught upon wild beasts 
or defence against hostile neighbors. 

Disliking the task the male transfers it chiefly to 
wives and slaves, and abandons himself to indolent 
repose, or to agreeable pastime, to feats of strength 
and valor, flattering to his conceit, and pleasing to 
his appetites. In the tropics an over-indulgent nature 
fosters this indulgence to excess. Toward the arctic 
a harsher clime calls for greater exertion, especially 
during certain seasons, in order to provide food, fuel, 
and other necessaries for the long winter. The alter- 
nate rest and desultory labor are alike marred by 
risks and hardships. 

In the temperate zone man is relieved from many 
of these impedinjents and incubi, with the attendant 
spasmodic exertion and enervating relaxation. Both 
mind and body respond to the liberation by revel- 
mg in the balmy and refreshing atmosphere. With 
greater command of self comes wider enjoyment of 
resources. Herein lies the precious gift from the 
prudently restrained generosity of nature, for products 
abound here on soil and in water, sufficient to permit 
the savage to enjoy freely the dolce far niente, as in- 


stanced by the aborigines of America and the nomads 
of the Asiatic plains. 

Nature is not exacting. She works incessantly for 
her children, and demands as a rule only a slight ex- 
ertion on their part to sustain the machinery of mind 
and body set in motion by herself; but she implants 
longings and offers rewards for greater performance ; 
and to these have responded best the less weighted or 
benumbed energies of temperate regions. 

Vanity leads to the quest for ornament and im- 
proved covering. The hostility of neighbors, prompted 
by sex jealousy, greed, or pugnacity, calls not alone 
for weapons, but for fortifications, military bodies and 
organized communities. Thus comes good from evil. 
The gathering of large masses at one point, within 
walled camps, tended naturally to the development of 
agricultural and other industries. The inconvenience 
of every man attending to every duty led to rapid 
subdivision of labor, with a consequently greater 
effectiveness in each branch, and to the unfolding of 
trade, which, reaching in time to distant lands, brought 
about elevating intercourse and exchange of ideas 
and resources. 

Not until Adam was driven from his paradisiacal 
garden could he or his children have set out on a 
progressional journey. Perfect man is unfitted for an 
imperfect world ; and imperfect man in paradise, it 
seems, proved a failure. 

Among advanced peoples most of the labor is often 
imposed not by nature but by expanding civiliza- 
tion, which germinates in our passions and aspira- 
tions. Herein the energy of progressive spirits and 
leaders asserts its influence from the earliest stage, 
in setting example and giving proper direction to 
efforts. The aptitude of one inventive mind, and 
his consequent success in attracting admiration or 
attention, create emulation in others; and so with 
superior dress, comforts, and enjoyments. 

In time is reached a stage when the majority, 

156 WORK. 

through organized government, imposes as obligation 
the additional labor demanded by the condition of 
their culture. The man, who might be content with 
the bare cover, and the spontaneous products of the 
soil, is ordered by statutes and by the more imposing 
mandates of society, under pain of disgrace and other 
punishment, to provide decent clothing, food, and 
shelter for himself and family, and to educate his 
children. Thus is laid upon civilized males a mani- 
fold heavier burden than upon the savage. 

Fortuiiately many attributes attend to lighten the 
weight and sweeten the toil. The potency of the re- 
ward is recognized. There is also inducement in the 
more assured enjoyment of property and life, by 
means of agriculture and other institutions of settled 
hfe. Acquired taste for improvements lends spurs to 
their attainment. Habit assists to render labor en- 
durable, and interesting, and growing skill give ease 
to performance. Mere motion and exercise furnish 
incentive to deeds, to improving intercourse, to lofty 
aspirations. There is pleasure in the chase, and ex- 
ercise connected with the game, aside from the pur- 
suit itself. The man soon turns from his puerile 
pastime to sterner sport or more sedate entertain- 
ment, yet he still feels animated by the action itself 
He even imbibes a preference for occupations leading 
to a practical and substantial end, the unprofitable 
growing distasteful. Many take a decided delight in 
gardening, building, repairing, as compared with 
siestas, promenades, and sports. How irksome to 
many is the dumb-bell performance, as contrasted 
with the doubly useful wood-chopping has been illus- 
trated by the great English premier. Some find pleas- 
ure in riding when connected with stock-raising or 
other useful purposes, others for itself alone. Some 
prefer scientific books to novels. 

As in play, labor can become most pleasing when 
not entirely compulsory, and herein lies the strong- 
est of motives, aside from the reward, for the eager 


perseverance of farmers, merchants, and other self- 
dependent classes and employers. They are in a 
measure obliged to earn a livelihood, but can at least 
regulate operations to their taste and perhaps to their 
convenience. This soothing element is absent among 
the great mass of employers, and forms one of the 
main causes for dislike to labor. The restraint on 
time, inclination, and procedure is objectionable. It 
partakes of slavery, though voluntarily contracted. 
No less distasteful is the idea that only a portion of 
their efforts is for personal benefit in the form of 
wages, the rest being absorbed by another. Their 
balm lies chiefly in the wages, to be used for inde- 
pendent labor, pastime, or rest. Additional relief 
and incentive are brought by the exciting effect of 
rivalry. Competition lends zest to the consideration 
that, as work is unavoidable, it may best be performed 
with spirit. The desire to complete a task is an im- 
pulse, and still more so is the ambition to do it 
well, perhaps to excel others in perfection as well as 
speed. This strengthens the wish to learn, to become 
skilful, and to improve the limbs and senses by means 
of which the work is accomplished. 

AQ;er all it is in work itself, rather than in the ac- 
complished result, that the true benefit of labor lies. 
We have been wrongly taught ; nor is this the only 
instance wherein our teachers need instructing. 

It is evident that by exercise organs and faculties 
alone develop. This is the central principle alike in 
universal evolution and in individual unfolding. Or- 
gans and organisms improve according to use. The 
blacksmith does not acquire strength to swing his 
hammer by running foot-races, nor does the logician 
become proficient in subtle reasoning by counting 
money or selling bacon. Bind a limb and it withers ; 
put out one eye, and the other performs the work of 
two. Mind and muscle alike grow, acquire strength 
and elasticity by exercise. Little is expected of the 

158 WORK. 

man who in youth was not sent to school or required 
to work. 

To this end exercise is encouraged ahke in children 
and adults, often in dull bar or club movements, or 
strained walking, which lose much of their value from 
the associated distaste. A boat or bicycle might be 
welcomed as more agreeable, and therefore also as 
more beneficial, and many would find still greater sat- 
isfaction in a task with practical results, in the flower 
patch, the woodshed, or on the lawn; the manual 
worker, on his side, seeks discipline as well as relaxa- 
tion for the mind in chess, or in some solid reading. 
Many a craftsman would labor without recompense 
in his vocation rather than lose his cunning therein. 
Eflbrt is always its own reward. Every well-directed 
blow gives strength to the arm and skill to the fingers 
equally, whether paid for or not. Better, indeed, to 
work for nothing and maintain in good condition the 
digestive and other organs, rather than spend money 
at the alehouse in spoiling them. Laziness is social 
gangrene ; like the sword of Hudibras, which ate into 
itself for lack of blood to eat, it is its own perdition. 
Deplorable would be the aspect of humanity breeding 
like maggots upon the putridity of eflbrtless existence. 
The stoppage of work would bring about decay, g:etro- 
gression to savagism, annihilation. 

Labor, then, is improving, elevating, ennobling in 
itself, besides bringing comfort and wealth, unfolding 
civilization, and approximating toward that perfection 
which is the ideal alike of the individual and of on- 
ward-pushing society. This applies only to well- 
directed labor, for the spasmodic efforts of the savage 
yield but temporary benefits as compared with pro- 
gressive and enduring operations of civilized commu- 
nities. Nor would the finished results of the latter, 
in machinery, silks, and books, be appreciated by the 

From this aspect the possession of inherited wealth 


seldom confers the happiness which is so widely asso- 
ciated with it. The absence of an inspiring aim, such, 
for instance, as led the pioneers of the west to build 
up imposing and flourishing commonwealths, relaxes 
the energy, conduces to misdirected and abortive ex- 
ertion, and impairs the power of mind and body, un- 
fitting them for the proper or full enjoyment of life. 
Pleasure nauseates ; labor likewise is uncongenial from 
lack of will and skill, and the victim sinks, an invalid, 
into ennui. 

Blind pursuit of wealth is no less debasing than the 
passionate search for pleasures. The one is expected 
to follow in the wake of the other. As if in accord 
with some hidden principle in the economy of nature, 
the miserly sire is often succeeded by a spendthrift 
heir; the pushing man of business leaves an indolent 
son, the genius a commonplace oflspring. Excessive 
energy spends itself, or weakens the organs upon 
which falls the drain. Likewise the aspirations and 
desires unduly restrained at one period burst forth at 
another in over indulgence. The predilections of one 
generation find their balancing bents in another. In- 
tellectual revival follows a long period of material 
prosperity. Surfeited with gold, even Midas remem- 
bers his mind, and turns it to some new enjoyment. 

There is much talk about honorable or dishonorable 
degrees in labor, manual and mental, menial and in- 
dependent, cheap and dear. Cheap labor is no more 
degrading than dear labor. No labor is degrading. 
It all contributes to the well-being of mankind and 
the advancement of civilization directly or indirectly. 
Some kinds of labor are more elevating, more improv- 
ing, more refining than others, but all are honorable. 
The literary and scientific pursuits which expand the 
mind and enlarge the soul are naturally to be preferred 
to handling a shovel or cobbling shoes, and the superior 
knowledge and skill which adapts the possessor for 
such tasks confer a certain advantage over those less 

160 WORK. 

favored ; yet to class the inferior work as humiliating 
is wrong, since labor aims at a benefit, jper se and in 
its results. Again, some kinds of work are light ancj 
pleasant, others painful ; others, by reason of collateral 
conditions, unwholesome ; excessive labor is always 
disagreeable. The duties of the physician are in some 
respects unpleasant, but no one thinks of calling them 
degrading. But for the benefit arising from the care- 
ful examination of the exquisite anatomy of the 
human body, the dissecting of dead men would be 
about as revolting an occupation as the mind could 

In its repute labor has undergone many fluctua- 
tions, from the character of those to whom particular 
branches have been assigned. Thus the descendants 
of Spanish conquerors in America consigned tillage 
and other hard tasks to enslaved Indians, and regarded 
it as derogatory to their dignity to join therein. Yet 
not in the labor which Virgil framed in glowing verse, 
and for which Cincinnatus abandoned the dictator- 
ship, lay the stigma, but in the association with those 
who performed it. 

Labor has steadily risen in estimation with the 
elevation of its votaries. Compare the present con- 
dition of the farmer and plough-boy of America with 
that of their serf predecessors of feudal times, and 
the position of the merchant class of to-day with that 
of the period when the wielder of the sword alone 
enjoyed repute above ignoble commoners. The rise 
is proportionate to democratic ascendancy, as illus- 
trated in particular in the United States. The equali- 
zation of classes, and in a measure therefore of labor, 
was never more strikingly depicted than during the 
early mining fevers on the Pacific coast, when scien- 
tist and jurist worked side by side with artisan 
and laborer in common pursuit of gold, and joined on 
equal terms in every phase of life. Labor was deified. 
The possibilities opened in this land to pure energy, 
the caprices of fortune in distributing her resources, 


and the general participation in politics, tend to sus- 
tain that equality to a great extent. 

The Spanish view of Indian labor has found a 
parallel on this coast in Mongolian competition, which, 
by the humiliating association of a lower race, is 
making distasteful to Anglo-Saxons different branches 
of labor. It is claimed that by its political and social 
laws the nation imposes upon the latter a high stand- 
ard of living, including the rearing and education of 
families, which cannot be well maintained if a class 
of unmarried men, free from such ties and obligation, 
and accustomed to a cheap mode of life be allowed 
to encroach upon their resources. 

Much is said in these latter days about overwork. 
Of course excess of any kind is an evil; and the 
greater the blessing, the greater the curse when car- 
ried too far. Yet there is much less overwork than 
many would have us believe; much less overwork 
than overreaching. It is worry that kills men, not 
work. The harassing cares of overstrained business, 
the snapping of hungry hounds who follow at the 
heels of the unwary, the burnings of jealousy, stock 
gambling, and the demon drink, extravagance in dress 
and living — these are what wear life away. With the 
necessary food and raiment, and rest, work never in- 
jures anyone. 

The student should not neglect physical exercise, 
or the laboring or business man intellectual culture. 
Work may be varied with great advantage. Indeed 
a change of work is the best kind of rest. The 
highest attainment comes only with the proper de- 
velopment of both mind and body. Either exercised 
unduly brings weakness upon the other. In this 
sense overwork signifies simply the neglect of due 
precautions and adjuncts for carrjdng out the main 
task. Severe injury is frequently incurred by injudi- 
cious lifting of a weight which with care or proper 
appliances could be handled with ease. 

Essays and Miscellany il 

162 WORK. 

The development of a community depends upon the 
knowledge, disposition, and aptitude of its members, 
rather than upon natural advantages. The law of 
work partakes of the immutable in nature's laws. 
The chief condition for success is work. Honest, 
well-directed effort is as sure to succeed as the swell- 
ing rivulet is sure to find for itself a channel. Let 
the wage-w^orker also take heart, have patience, and 
persevere, laboring not as in the presence of a task- 
master, whom to defraud by perfunctory services were 
a gain ; but remembering that every good deed is done 
for himself, and makes him stronger, healthier, wiser, 
nobler, whether performed in the dark or in the broad 
light of open day. 

Every subterfuge, slight, or cheat is sure to react 
on the performer. The shop or office is but the cru- 
cible in which his metal is to be tried, the work the 
anvil upon which with his own arms he hammers 
out his character, his daily duties the mould in which 
his destiny is shaped. The spirit in which his duties 
are done gives form and direction to his future life ; it 
makes or unmakes him for all time. The reputation 
acquired among his comrades is likely to be a true 
estimate of his character. From the incipient stages 
of a business career proceed natural results, and few 
bad beginnings make good endings. A course of de- 
ception can never lead to success. ''Nemo omnes, 
neminem omnes fefellerunt," observes the younger 

Character will not be hidden. It shows itself in 
gait and garments ; it shines through the gossamer of 
features and is woven into observation by the fingers. 
Even the contour of a man, his back towards you 
speaks volumes, and the very atmosphere surround- 
ing him breathes of his occupation, be it of shop, 
pulpit, or the courtroom. Confine ignited gunpowder 
in a rock; smother Vesuvius with a handful of ashes; 
but do not attempt the role of the foolish ostrich which 
thrusts its head under a leaf to hide itself withal. 


The appreciation by parents of early training for a 
career, no less for inculcating industrious habits than 
for acquiring knowledge of a business, is manifest in 
the widely prevalent custom of binding boys to a 
trade or profession, often paying for the privilege. 
With the improvement of character, mind, and limbs 
should be united the desire to elevate the vocation, 
and to study the employer's interest as a duty to one's 
own honor and unfolding, no less than in just fulfil- 
ment of agreements. 

Conscientious performance of obligations w^ill com- 
mand alike esteem and success. Failure arises from 
not doing work rather than not having work to do. 
Living in a poorer country than the United States 
Goethe says, " Ich habe gesehen, so lange einer lebt 
und sich rlihrt, findet er immer seine Nahrung, und 
wenn sie audi gleich nicht die reichlichste ist. Und 
wor Liber habt ihr euch denn zu beschweren." 

Hear Teufelsdrockh rant in Sartor Resartus. 
^' Tools! Thou hast no tools? Why, there is not a 
man or a thing now live but has tools. The basest 
of created animalcules, the spider itself has a spinning- 
jenny, and warping-mill, and power-loom within its 
head; the stupidest of oysters has a papin's digestion, 
with stone and lime house to hold it in. Every being 
that can live can do something ; this let him do. 
Tools? Hast thou not a brain furnished, furnishable 
with some o-limmerino's of lioht ; and three finorers to 
hold a pen withal ? Never since Aaron's rod went 
out of practice, or even before it, was there such a 
wonder- workings tool ; g^reater than all recorded mira- 
cles have been performed by pens." 

Let the young man remember he will be rated at 
his worth ; of this let him have no fear. Be the night 
never so dark in w^hich he does virtuously; be the 
solitude never so dense in which he performs more 
than his allotted task ; be the thoughts never so se- 
cret which come from a mind occupied with another's 
welfare, from a mind pondering on improvement, on 

164: WORK. 

the more complete surrender of self to a manly suc- 
cess; he need not fear lest any of these fall to the 
ground ; his own head and heart alone retain sufficient 
benefits from his high aspirations. 

To him who does his best life is no venture. Among 
human possibilities the youth may make of himself 
what he will. There is no uncertainty about it. It 
may be reduced to a simple mathematical or chemical 
proposition. To so many pounds of common-sense 
add so many ounces of honesty, mix it with a certain 
amount of energy, and bake it over a slow fire in the 
oven of human experience, and the bread so fermented 
shall make fat the nation. 

Still further may be discussed the benefits of labor 
apart from its fruits, its abstract qualities and its in- 
dividual relationship to human progress in the econo- 
my of the universe ; but enough has been said to show 
the fact that work of itself is a blessing rather than a 
curse. If it fall heavily at times the cause lies in 
man's ambition, and the artificial demands of society 
with its cumulating obligations. The civilization which 
has imposed the excess is also continually striving to re- 
duce it by means of inventions, of subdivision, coopera- 
tion, and other methods of organization. Machinery, in 
particular, has relieved man of the most severe and 
difficult tasks, and is daily lightening his toil. It has 
also lessened the hours of labor, giving wider oppor- 
tunity for the enjoyment of the fast multiplying com- 
forts and entertainments provided from that same 
source, and leisure for improvement in those arts 
which assist the individual to bear his burden better, 
and to advance society toward the millennial stage 
when work shall be generally appreciated as a bless- 
ing unalloyed. 


Non est ars, quae ad eflfectum casu venit. 


Success and failure in life are not accidents. Suc- 
cess springs from natural causes, and follows funda- 
mental rules. There must be the implanted germ 
and the developing environment. The necessary con- 
ditions are often deficient, but every person may suc- 
ceed to a greater or less extent in some direction. 

True success must be restricted to that which not 
only strengthens the mind and body and morals of 
the person directly seeking it, but which brings a 
benefit of greater or less degree to every member of 
the society in which that person lives. 

Success is not wholly free from its hypocrisies. 
Often it comes to us disguised ; often we pursue the 
shadow of it while the substance is with us. Many 
have achieved success who deemed their lives failures; 
many failures have been made by those who regard 
their lives successful. It is altogether as men meas- 
ure success; whether in wealth, virtue, fame, fashion, 
or wickedness. Aspiration leading to effort though 
attended by seeming failure, is sometimes success, 
while effortless success may be failure; for one carries 
with it improvement, development, increase of strength, 
the other weakness and decay. 

It is not unconniion to hear those who have 
achieved success in any one of the paths of industry 
rail at their less fortunate neighbor, and attribute the 
cause of disappointment to some radical defect of 


character. In their eyes defeat carries with it prima 
facie evidence of defect. The unfortunate man is a 
visionary, who dreams life away in idle speculation ; 
or an enthusiast, who, without fortifying his premises 
by sound common sense, rushes headlong on false 
conclusions ; or a schemer, wasting his time in 
futile attempts at great things, when moderate ef- 
forts would be attended by more beneficial results. 
Brimful of the elements of success themselves, it is 
impossible for them to comprehend a nature so organ- 
ized as not to possess these elements, or to restrain 
their virtuous indignation. A man has no business 
to be unsuccessful; failure is a fault, and penury a 

In one sense this is true, but seldom do these self- 
satisfied autocrats take the trouble to inquire what 
success is, and what failure. It is taken for granted 
that the prosperous issue of whatever they may have 
attempted, the attainment of whatever may have been 
their desires, is the sum of merited good fortune to 
themselves, and the best that could happen to man- 
kind. It is generally understood that the man makes 
the most of himself who, if he be a lawyer or a doc- 
tor, enjoys a lucrative practice ; if a clergyman, fills 
the largest church ; or, if a man of business, accumu- 
lates a fortune. This is true only in part; the speed- 
ing of our faculties is but a necessary preparation 
before we are entitled to a place even among the com- 
petitors for a prize. Were there no attempts except 
such as promised success ; were all non- successful ef- 
forts lost, this were a different world. Success, or 
what we have learned to look upon as success, is gen- 
erally so insignificant, so unsatisfying, so slight in 
value to ourselves or others — sometimes indeed the 
greatest evil — that if in the accomplishment of our 
desires, the consummation of our purposes, was found 
the only benefit, as well might the holder of the uni- 
verse withdraw his arm and let chaos come again, for 
in no surer way could mankind be sent swiftly to 


Well understood is the evil attending the attain- 
ment of his goal by the tyrant, the blindly ambitious 
soldier, the machiavellian statesman. In aggressive 
efforts the loser must suffer more or less severely, al- 
though the winner may find victory disastrous. Such 
struggles for mastery are constant in our midst, the 
roue and gamester in society, the unscrupulous spec- 
ulator in business, alike bringing suffering to others. 

Winning money at play ; gambling in mining stocks, 
in wheat or other merchandise, and in securities; origi- 
nating and manipulating monopolies which operate 
unjustly upon a portion of the people — these and the 
accomplishment of like impositions cannot be consid- 
ered in connection with true success, though they 
bring into the pocket their millions, and friends and 
sycophants by the thousands, and seek an atoning guise 
in the building of churches, hospitals, and other benevo- 
lent efforts. 

The politician who secures place at the cost of man- 
hood, and the teacher, clerical or literary, who pan- 
ders to popular taste instead of promulgating unpala- 
table truths, or parades dead forms in opposition to 
living facts, no less than the absorbed money-maker, 
sell their souls to slavery, and imperil the prospects of 
themselves and their neighbors for a momentary gain. 

Yet by the people these fools are flattered until 
they learn to despise their flatterers. The country, 
the world, is no better for their having lived in it. 
Men may acquire the power that money buys, but if 
their influence be such as to lower the standard of 
public morals, to forge fetters for unfolding intellect, 
or to advance mammon in opposition to mind, their 
broadest successes are but brilliant failures. From 
the puddles of politics, and mammon ditches and ec- 
clesiastic marshes, rise human insectivora with feelers 
and suckers and pincers ready for victims, most 
voracious in their appetite, preying on each other like 
men who eat men, for there are human insects in so- 
cial life as elsewhere. 


Even the general accomplishment of wishes by hon- 
orable and legitimate means would be equivalent to 
failure through the very universality of the success. 
If all obtained the riches sighed for, or the honors 
sought, these would become worthless and leave the 
gainer no better off than before. 

While considering the time honored way to success, 
we must remember that many have found what they 
sought, taking another course. Yet he who steps 
aside from the beaten path must expect a rough road, 
with brambles and pitfalls ; he may be many times 
discomfited, driven back, and perhaps, finally overcome; 
but this is progress. We of to-day are greatly in- 
debted to mechanical inventions ; our usefulness and 
our comfort are increased thereby a hundred fold. 
Yet the patent office shows that for every success 
there are a thousand failures. Success comes from at- 
tempts ; without attempts there could be no successes. 
Now in the very nature of things there must be more 
attempts than successes, so that, speaking broadly, 
every success is the result of a multitude of failures. 

Life consists, then, not so much in ends as in efforts ; 
and often less in what a man does than in what he 
attempts to do. The sum of human accomplishment 
bears but a small proportion to the sum of human 
efforts. All this is well for progress, for undertakings 
are more civilizing than successes. Attempts surpass 
results; this grand civilization of ours is a pressing 
forward, not a rest, just as philosophy is a search after 
truth, rather than truth itself 

He who fails in attempting great things often 
achieves the grandest success. It is not in doing 
some things as well as they have been done before 
that civilization is promoted, but in doing one thing 
better than it has ever before been done, or by doing 
something: that has never before been done. Colum- 
bus did not find the India he sought ; but were not 
his voyages a success ? 


After all it is hardly worth while to talk of the 
misery attending great failures. There is no higher 
happiness in store for certain souls with broad am- 
bition than these very embarrassments. Only ignoble 
attempts bring misery. There is a charm attending 
virtuous misfortune, by which the success of mere 
accident is shamed. 

Then let each have heart to labor while he may, 
knowing that not one jot shall fall purposeless to the 
ground; that every blow struck by his puny arm is 
felt in the vibrations of a universe ; that every thought 
of his poor understanding, every emotion of his loving 
and hating heart, sends a throb through the eternal 
ages of intelligence. For he, even he, is part of this 
great universe, an inseparable, ineradicable part ; mind, 
soul, being, one with the eternal. 

Science tells us that in the universe of matter there 
is never an atom made or unmade ; that the molecule 
no more than the mass can drop out of its place and 
be lost in absolute void ; that not an iota of force can 
be created or uncreated ; that there is no such thing 
as originating or annihilating potential energy any 
more than fundamental elements of matter. Force, 
then, is a positive existing something, incapable of ad- 
dition or subtraction. 

Following up this idea, and have we not every rea- 
son to conclude that the highest, the brightest, the 
most electric of all forces, life, soul, intellect, when 
properly exercised, live in their results ; that the con- 
sequent thought, motion, being, are indestructible 
and eternal in their essentials, come from some source 
and escape to some bourne. If misdirected, the effect 
of the emotion upon ourselves and others may be in- 
jurious or fleeting; the idea born of thought may dis- 
solve without leavinof a trace ; the celibate who neo-- 
lects to rear a progeny passes unevolved into food alone 
for lower organisms. A blow may spend itself in air, 
or it may cut off a dynasty or agitate a nation. The 
true idea is, emotion impresses itself from generation 


to generation in ever-widening expansion, the incen- 
tive to great achievements. Taking form, the idea 
transmits its germ for grander unfolding in future 
ages, even failures assisting by their pointed lessons 
to smooth the path for successes. The idea of the 
improved mind springs from a richer soil than that of 
the uncultured savage. 

How little of originality is contained in the so-called 
new ideas. At their best they seldom pass beyond 
an additional wing to the existing edifice. Yet, as we 
form new combinations of matter, and say we have 
caused these plants to grow or made this house or 
this machine, in reality we only change the form of 
particles already made, a few of the grander con- 
ceptions springing like new creations from the m!nute 
germs of the past. Originality in literature as else- 
where is therefore a re-arranging rather than a creating. 

How feeble, withal, is the unfolding! What are 
all our schools, our printing presses, our pulpits, but 
bellows for fanning the flame, which else would die ? 
With all the enginery of ages employed in inoculat- 
ing the young with what the dying old can by no 
shorter process bequeath to them, how slight the ad- 
vance ! Cease these means, and how rapid the retro- 
gression. Ignorance breeds. 

Nevertheless, advancement is assured, and its 
prospective grandeur may be judged by our present 
short-comings. Is the fair earth made fairer by man ; 
are prim orchards, and clean fields, and cold hard 
metals for use, ornament, and currency, recompense 
suflScient for mutilated forests and disembowelled 
sierras ? With all our boasted cultivating and refining 
we cannot improve upon the lily, nor make the sweet 
air sweeter, nor a ray of sunshine brighter. We 
meddle with the handiwork of omnipotence in a crude 
striving for perfection, to regain with Plato the ideal 
type. Herein lies power enough behind our intellect 
to drive it on to eternal activities, willing or unwilling. 
But there are also other impulses, without which few 


would move or become imbued with that loftier in- 

What home and foreign foes are to the life of the 
nation, so the daily struggles for existence, and the 
antagonisms which attend them, are to the life of 
the individual. Remove from humanity the atmos- 
pheric pressure of want and calamity, and the organism 
is straightway rent asunder. Nothing so closely 
cements one to his higher destiny as necessity, with 
its corroding care. Social phenomena, under whatso- 
ever form or phase manifested, while seeking their 
source in the intellectual force expressed by human 
societies and individuals of remote times, pass on to 
exert a moulding influence of perhaps still greater im- 
port upon the future. 

We have seen that the benefit of labor lies not more 
in the fruits of labor than in the effects of labor on 
the laborer. Gold's lustre comes from use. It is or- 
dained that in the use of our limbs and faculties, and 
in their use alone, there is develo|)ment. But whether 
direct or indirect the results, by these alone must every 
human life be measured. In the centre of an all- 
producing universe, man the fruit of all must yet 
bear fruit. It is the inexorable rule of perpetuation, 
bear or cease to be. Nor may we pass by as void of 
results the lives of that great army of workers who 
go down to their former dust, leaving their millions 
of unrecorded efforts, such as we are accustomed to 
term fruitless. No honest, well-directed effort is ever 
fruitless. We may not be able to see the results, yet 
the results exist; the fruit may not appear until cen- 
turies after the seed was planted ; yet all the experi- 
ences by which comes our later success are born, 
among others, of these so-called fruitless efforts, as we 
have elsewhere seen. 

Literature is the accident rather than the object of 
life, and being coupled with some collateral occupation 


by means of which Hvelihood and leisure are obtained, 
books are produced not in proportion to the demand, 
but in accordance with the will and ability of men to 
gratify their pleasure or vanity by thrusting their 
ideas upon the. public. Hence it is that literary labor 
is the poorest paid of all labor, and often a poorer class 
of labor is better paid than a superior kind. 

It is rash to talk of making literature a profession. 
Such as it is, it comes of its own volition, making its 
votary rather than being made by him. A journalist 
may write for one dollar or for ten dollars a day what 
certain people like best to read, and so make journal- 
ism a business. In certain quarters professorships of 
books and reading are spoken of. Instead of leaving 
the mind to the natural direction of its appetite, every 
particle of food must be prescribed by a physician. 
But who is to direct this director ? While guidance 
is well for the young and inexperienced, nothing 
sooner destroys healthy appetite and stifles the natural 
exercise of the faculties than undue interference. 

" The truth," says Hammerton, '' seems to be that 
literature of the highest kind can only in the most 
exceptional cases be made a profession, yet that a 
skilful writer may use his pen professionally if he 
chooses. The production of the printed talk of the 
day is a profession, requiring no more than average 
ability, and the tone and temper of ordinary educated 
men. The outcome of it is journalism and magazine 

Among those who claimed that literature should 
not be followed as a vocation, but rather as a pastime, 
were Scott, Southey, Beranger, and many others. 
This depends, however, on the strength of the writer. 
If one can write like Scott, one need not die in debt. 

Byron understood poetry to be an art, an attribute, 
but scouted the idea of calling it a profession. I do 
not say that mercenary bookwriting is not, or cannot 
be followed in some degree as a profession, but this 
is by no means the higher kind of authorship, Car- 


lyle says: "His is a high, laborious, unrequited, or 
only self-requited endeavor ; which, however, by the 
law of his being, he is compelled to undertake, and 
must prevail in, or be permanently wretched ; nay, the 
more wretched, the nobler his gifts are. For it is 
the deep, inborn claim of his whole spiritual nature, 
and will not, and must not go unanswered. His 
youthful unrest, that ^ unrest of genius,' often so way- 
ward in its character, is the dim anticipation of this ; 
the mysterious, all-powerful mandate, as from heaven, 
to prepare himself, to purify himself, for the vocation 
wherewith he is called." Few real poets have that 
insatiable craving for fame which has been so often 
attributed to them. A poet knows himself to be a poet, 
and therewith is usually content. The better class of 
them write as birds sing, because they cannot help it. 

Journalism and book- writing are different occupa- 
tions, and a person may be fitted for one and not for 
the other. The effort of the journalist is a play upon 
transient popular feeling ; it is momentary morning or 
evening gossip, to be read and forgotten ; the aim of 
the writer of books is to make a careful selection of 
his facts and to arrange them in a suitable form for 
permanent use. It does not follow that because a 
man has the ability and patience to gather, sift, and 
classify historical data, he can therefore write a good 
magazine article. The talents and training needed for 
one are different from those which find success in the 
other. Herein many have failed, not knowing why. 
There is a wide difference even in the qualities required 
for elaborating at leisure a review, and throwing off on 
the instant a leader or a local for a daily journal. 
Elaboration may be, perhaps, the merit of one and a 
fault of the other. 

In the first number of the Westminster Review is an 
analysis by James Mill of the more important writ- 
ings published in the Edinburgh Review from its be- 
ginning, which produced no small sensation at the 
time, Among other things he pointed out the fact 


that periodical literature, unlike books, must succeed 
immediately if at all, and hence must be of a popular 
rather than of a permanent character. It must, in 
general, pander to the public taste rather than attempt 
to reform it. Hence honesty must be sacrificed to 
policy, truthfulness to success. 

Compared with the number* of books written, but 
few of them are the products of what might be called 
skilled labor. Book- writing for the most part is the 
work of amateurs. Few write books who have not 
some other occupation ; few adopt authorship as a 
business ; few devote their whole time to the writing 
of books. ^'Oh thou who art able to write a book," 
exclaims Teufelsdrockh, "which once in the two cen- 
turies or oftener there is a man gifted to do, envy not 
him whom they name city-builder and inexpressibly 
pity him whom they name conqueror, or city -burner. 
Thou, too, art a conquerer and victor ; but of the true 
sort, namely over the devil. Thou, too, hast built 
what will outlast all marble and metal, and be a won- 
der-bringing city of the mind, a temple and seminary 
and prophetic mount, whereto all kindreds of the 
earth will pilgrim." 

Enthusiasm intense, in the eyes of some insane, 
underlies all great things, all good work. What will 
not fanaticism do for a man ? If he hungers, it feeds 
him ; if he be cold, it warms him ; if brought to mar- 
tyrdom, it bears him to happier realms. To good lit- 
erary work enthusiasm is essential ; fanaticism, fatal. 
To be buoyed up and carried happily forward above 
storms and bufFetings, and at the same time to have 
sufficient coolness, caution, and mental balance left to 
avoid the maelstroms of excess so destructive to ven- 
turesome voyagers on untried seas — this is to preserve 
the happy medium. Enthusiasm often supplies the 
place of genius, though many are fired by desire 
whose fuel burns out too soon. Provided he is not 
a fool, an enthusiast is always interesting. 


In crossing the Alps, Napoleon's artillery proved 
too heavy for the men. For a time it seemed that it 
must be abandoned. At length the general ordered 
a charge somided, when, inspired by the familiar tones, 
up went the heavy guns as if lifted by unseen powers. 
It is not, liowever, by spasms that great things in lit- 
erature are achieved. The fire which warms and 
purifies intelligence must be kept at a steadier glow. 

A central enthusiasm, indeed, is necessary to the 
well-being of every man and every woman. It mat- 
ters less what form it takes than that it should exist. 
Thank God, then, for ambition ! Without enthusiasm 
man is moveless mechanism, pistons and wheels and 
cogs without propelling power. Ambition is the 
steam that drives our human enginery, and the higher 
the ambition the nobler the man, though any desire 
is better than none. "Better far," as Mrs Browning 
says, ''pursue a frivolous trade by serious means than 
a sublime art frivolously." The moment enthusiasm 
dies the work ends. Every heart must have its wor- 
shipful ideal, else it is empty indeed. The lowest 
ordinary form of this inspiration is avarice, the high- 
est, faith. 

Take from the average citizen the passion for accu- 
mulating, and you deprive him of his manhood. Take 
from the bereaved Hindoo or Christian mother her 
faith, and you blot out to lier the stars of heaven. A 
wise enthusiasm brings witli it lasting benefits, but 
tlie enthusiasm of folly is better than none. A man 
is more a man who builds Pisa towers, or collects 
meerschaum pipes, than one who mopes in the chim- 
ney corner, or panders to animal appetites. 

The man of distemper or ennui should get a hobby 
and ride it, even though the thing itself be no more 
winsome than the plank to which the drowning man 
clings. If you would save your life you must anchor 
it to something more noble than yourself. 

He who from satiety, ill health, or other cause, has 
irrecoverably lost all interest in the affairs of this 


world, is no better than a dead man ; nay, he is worse. 
His mind, sapped of its ambitions, feeding on fancied 
misfortunes, becomes infected and infectious. It poi- 
sons every other mind coming under its influence. 
Woe betide him whose last great hope is gone. His 
sun is indeed set. Twice dead is he, dead to the liv- 
ing and dead to the dead. Worse than dead he seems 
to the actively living, his unappeased shade wandering 
amidst the tasteless things of earth as in a prison-yard 
beyond whose walls is endless desert. Occupation in 
purgatory were better than inability to forget the 
past or to improve the future. There are days and 
weeks and months with such an one when the sky is 
overcast with blackness, when the air is filled with 
harpies that play discordant tunes upon his nerve- 
strings, and steal his soul-sustenance as the food of 
blind Phineus was stolen. Storm and sunshine alike 
wage war upon his sensibilities. What wonder is it, 
then, that there appears between him and nature so 
deadly an antagonism that sometimes he deems it 
better for both that they should be divorced? From 
days barren of hope, from an old age in which the soul 
has nothing to look forward to, may the gods deliver 

The recluse habits of authors account for much of 
their natural shyness, though it may as truthfully be 
said that shyness smothering high ambition drives 
many to the study for the expression of irrepressible 
thought. Unable to mint the treasures of their minds 
into the rapidly circulating coin of conversation, 
they retire, and dive into profounder depths for 
pearls of greater price. Society talk is chiefly for 
pleasure or display, seldom for improvement ; he who 
is conscious of abilities above the average is unwilling 
to fling his best thoughts where they drop like bullets 
among the bubbles of the brilliant wit and shining 
conversational ist. 

Authors, as a rule, are not the best conversers. 
The cause is obvious. The best thous^hts of a careful 


writer come with long research and patient study. 
He whose only resource is the spontaneous flow from 
the accumulations of actual experience soon writes 
himself out. The mills even of genius refuse to grind 
unless grain be thrown in at the hopper. Days and 
nights of study breed habits of thought unfavorable 
to wise gossip and witty repartee ; and on the other 
hand, the brilliant conversationalist will seldom leave 
the fascinations of intellectual encounter and closet 
himself for a lifelong drudgery. The mind, roused to 
its utmost endeavor in the study, droops in the draw- 
ing-room. " While other men in society abandon 
their whole souls to the topics of the moment," says 
William Mathews, "and, concentrating their energies, 
appear keen and animated, the man of genius, who 
has stirred the vast sea of human hearts by liis writ- 
ings, feels a languor and prostration arising from the 
secret toil of thought ; and it is only when he has re- 
cruited his energies by relaxation and repose, and is 
once more in his study, surrounded by those master 
spirits with whom he has so often held celestial col- 
oquy sublime, that his soul rekindles with enthusiasm, 
and pours itself on paper in thoughts that breathe and 
words that burn." 

All work which benefits our fellows is entitled to 
recognition and remuneration, but literary work per- 
formed solely for such recognition or remuneration is 
seldom beneficial to them. It is not instructive to tell 
people what they like to hear rather than what is 
true. It is quite different, living to write and writing 
to live. "The want of money," says Hammerton, "is 
in the higher intellectual pursuits the most common 
hindrance to thoroughness and excellence of work." 
If a man can write honestly and nobly, and can find 
men who will buy his efforts, let him receive his pay 
as the price of precious merchandise ; but to counter- 
feit opinion and principle for pecuniary or other reward 
is to prostitute the soul, a crime as much greater than 
the prostitution of the body as the soul is above the 

Essays and Miscellany 12 


body. Indeed, such artifice almost always betrays 
the author; the hypocrite seldom long deceives in 
literature any more than elsewhere. 

The ordinary incentives to literary effort are found 
less in the promptings of necessity and profit than in 
pleasure, fame. These, or any one of them, are linked 
with a desire to say something to which the world 
will listen, a desire to give expression to pent-up 
thought, to find outlet for the surcharged heart or 

Love of distinction is but a love of self, and though 
it sometimes spurs the ardent aspirer to greater inter- 
est in mankind, and thence to generous sacrifices, self 
still is the song and the refrain. He who looks for 
a reward for his labor, other than that which satisfies 
the highest aspirations of the soul and fills the mind 
with fragrant thoughts, is apt to meet with dis- 
appointment. Unlike base earthly soil, it is only in 
the bestowal that love's field is fertilized ; a recompense 
required, and the garden moisture turns to ice. He 
who lives the intellectual life finds his reward not 
abroad, but in being ; he finds solace not in what men 
say of him, but in what he knows of himself His 
happiness is in ever drawing nearer that supreme in- 
telligence which he is destined never fully to attain. 

If happiness be the end of life the question is how 
most successfully to pursue it. He who is always 
thinking of his happiness is never happy. The healthy 
man is one who is never notified by his lungs or liver 
that all is well with him to-day. He knows not that he 
has an organism. He who would write and be happy in 
it, must not write for happiness, for fame, for fortune ; 
must write, not as a means to an end, but as finding the 
end in the means. Pursue pleasure and you will never 
find it; pursue duty and, whether it be pleasing or 
not, much pleasure may be taken on the wing. We 
all desire happiness, and yet so perverse and foolish 
are we, that unless secured in our own way we prefer 
being: miserable. The miser does not wish to be made 


happy by giving, nor the drunkard by abstinence. It 
is through the indulgence of those things which bring 
us woe that we wish to achieve happiness, else we 
prefer to hug our misery. Quiet, health-producing 
wisdom renders ardent temperaments only the more 

Up to his twentieth year it had been the life object 
of John Stuart Mill to be, as he expressed it, a re- 
former of the world. Such careful training had he 
received from his father that he was then the equal 
of most scholars at forty. One dull, insipid day he 
asked himself " Suppose all my objects in life were 
realized, would I be glad of it ? " And the irrepres- 
sible "No," that followed shivered his ideal structure. 
He thought himself living for an end ; he found him- 
self living only for present gratification. 

Nevertheless, whatever the other promptings, the 
desire for fame is undoubtedly present with the writer. 
Says Richard Henry Stoddard, ''The desire for fame 
is one of the highest by which man is actuated." And 
again: ''I can conceive of nothing grander than the 
love of fame by which so many are governed." Such 
words seem at variance with purity of ambition or 
elevation of feeling, for next to money fame per se is 
the lowest incentive to effort. 

What to the dead Achilles in his gloomy prison 
house should be the thought of the unfading glory 
that was to illumine his name, while in life, to Ulysses, 
who essayed him comfort, he made answer that he 
would rather be a churl's slave within the sunlight 
than lord of a universe of the dead. 

''A man's conviction that justice will be done to 
him in history," says Sir Arthur Helps, ''is a second- 
ary motive, and not one which of itself will compel 
him to do just and great things." Goethe during the 
latter part of his life was apparently as indifferent to 
fame as he was impervious to flattery. Probably he 
had had enough of both. 

Campbell professed to care nothing for his reputa- 


tion as a prose-writer, and appeared careless of fame 
even in regard to his poetry. To a Life of Mrs Sid- 
dons and a Life of Sir Thomas Lawrence^ the name of 
"T. Campbell Esq." was put as author, though that 
ease-loving genius had little else to do with the books 
than to look over the proof sheets as they passed 
through the press. 

But though fame is not the highest incentive to 
literary work, it is as high as most of us aspire to. 
As the younger Pliny expresses it: "Alius alium, 
ego beatissimum existimo, qui house mansuraeque 
famse prsesumptione perfruitur, certusque posteritatis 
cum futura gloria vivit." 

As a rule he who prints a book professing indiffer- 
ence to literary fame is a simpleton and a hypocrite, 
even though he lack the discrimination to perceive 
his own motives, and though honest in his assevera- 
tions of indifference to public praise. So coy and 
prudish may be his blushing modesty, that he sends 
forth his work anonymously; yet the omission from 
the title page of the author's name indicates a morbid 
sensibility upon the subject, which points to egotism, 
affectation, and hankering for that which he pretends 
to despise. For if his anonymous publication secures 
praise, is he not proud of it, and does he not tell his 
friend, and finally all the world ? 

He who works for fame alone deserves none ; he 
who is wholly indifferent to fame is already near the 
end of his labors. The moment a person finds greater 
pleasure in praise than in speaking the truth, he is 
fast losing his principles, if he ever had any. Low is 
the standard in anything, in literature no less than in 
morality, which is reached and governed by what 
people will say. But sham prevails, swaying most of. 
us, although we know its glaring transparency. 
^' Fame usually comes to those who are thinking 
about something else," says Holmes. Indeed, he who 
seeks fame can soonest find it by forgetting that he 
seeks it. Duty rather than praise should be upper- 


most in the mind of the writer ; the just rather than 
the expedient. Remember also that Hterary fame is 
seldom lasting and is scarcely worth the looking after. 
*' What do they think of Tapper ? " asked some one of 
Thackeray. '' They do not think of Tapper," was 
the reply. 

The trae writer writes not alone for fame or for money, 
he writes becaase he has something to say. Hanger 
is the incentive anderlying all literary activity. Bodily 
hunger has produced thousands of books; mind hun- 
ger, soul hunger, other thousands. 

Poor indeed is the ambition which cannot sink self 
in the object to be attained. Such is political ambi- 
tion, place-seeking, whose immediate and only desire 
is self-gratification. Such were not the missionary 
fathers' aspirations, willing to wait until after death 
for their reward. Political ambition is pure selfish 
ness. Yet the enthusiasm of politics is better than 
stale, flat emptiness. Above this is the ordinary 
traffic of the hour, in w^hich the pencil-maker, the 
clothier, and the tobacconist, more solicitous for the 
reputation of his wares than his own, spends his life 
in improving some trick or method which he may 
leave as an heirloom to his son. A forgetfulness of 
self is the direct means of attaining any object, even 
when that object is self-aggrandisement. 

There is somethhig better in this enigmatical exist- 
ence of ours even than well-deserved honor, and fairly 
earned fame ; for in the teachings of the Christ do we 
not read that in good deeds it is w^ell that the right 
hand should not know the doings of the left ? To 
embody in one's self the good, to burn away all hate- 
ful vice which as Cicero says, though it were con- 
cealed from the eyes of gods and men is most per- 
nicious ; to hold with Seneca that nobleness is none 
the less noble when prostrate in the dust; or with 
others of the porch-philosophers that virtue is better 
than fame, and that if a man does well it matters 
little whether he be known or not . 



No one, indeed, who is once led to dwell on the matter, can fail to see 
how absurd is the proposition that there can be a rational interpretation of 
men's combined actions, without a rational interpretation of those thoughts 
and feelings by which their individual actions are prompted. 

— Herbert Spencer. 

In California we behold the achievements of an in- 
telligent and exceedingly well-mixed jDopulation under 
conditions nowhere else existing. One result will be a 
people on this coast different from any other on the 
globe. The chosen specimen of manhood from among 
all nations, they have affirmed their exceptional quali- 
ties by achievements both novel and Titanic. Ra- 
diating from the central El Dorado, they have with 
unprecedented rapidity transformed the Pacific slope 
from a w^ilderness and hunting-field into a number of 
flourishing states, and have assumed the role of civil- 
izing mediums toward Spanish America and the trans- 
oceanic Orient. 

The combination of elements so powerful was ap- 
propriately effected by one of the strongest of 

All men love money ; some for money's self, others 
for the good or evil that money will accomplish. It 
is safe to say that all mankind, crave the power that 
money contributes. This is one of the deep-seated 
impulses everywhere found in nature, but made intel- 
ligible more especially in the mind of man. God is 
all-powerful ; nature is an eternity of contending 
forces; the lives of beasts are a struggle for the mas- 
tery, and man is ever in the fiercest of the contest. 

Taking it all in all, beginning early and continuing 


late, avarice is probably the strongest constant pas- 
sion that finds lodgment in the human breast. It is 
more general, being so far as we can discern equally 
powerful amongst all nations, castes, and conditions of 
men, ruling alike savage and civilized, young and old, 
high and low, learned and ignorant. The London 
banker covets Nevada's silver not less than the 
Asiatic launderer; pure patriotism demands pay for 
its services in gold as persistently as the commonest 
servitude; piety scorns it not, and even philanthropy 
esteems it for more than one reason. There are out- 
bursts of passion which for the moment tower above 
avarice, but there is no flame whicli burns so uniformly 
hot and steady. Love often rises superior to lucre, 
but is sure in the end to sink beneath it. And so 
with religious enthusiasm, mind-culture, and every 
other appetite and ambition, however conspicuous 
they may appear above the often hidden main incen- 
tive. Love of gold alone is all-powerful, and will so 
continue as long as gold remains the embodiment of 
human good and human greed. 

While not in itself lovely or lovable, the yellow 
metal is so intimately associated in our minds with 
the gratification of our desires as the means for ac- 
quiring the lovable and pleasurable, that we learn to 
love it for itself. The miser willingly denies himself 
the comfort it buys for the mere pleasure of possess- 
ing it. So with love of power and love of praise. 
Seeking these first for the benefits in their train, men 
soon learn to love them for their own sake ; like the 
eater of opium, who, partaking of the insidious drug 
first to allay the pains of disease, in time takes it for 
the happiness it directly gives. With rusting millions 
write they their names with faint fingers upon the 
seashore sands, where next morning their more 
thoughtful children will search in vain for any trace 
of them, save in hoarded wealth, which obscures 
rather than enhances their memory. 

Such were the motives actuating the early comers 


to California. And now let us examine the nature of 
the material for nation-making that came ; for thus 
shall we gain two things, a knowledge of what this 
society now is, and some idea of what it will be. 

Here was the final point of reunion for the human 
race, after the dispersion on the plains of Asia, when 
Aryans turned westward on their tour of conquest 
and colonization, leaving the Tartars to follow and to 
overrun the celestial and Indian empires. Now after 
a journey of four thousand years, during which time 
environment has been actively at work, coloring mind 
and warping manners, the same brotherhood, though 
severally changed by circumstances, meet upon the 
shores and islands of the Pacific, meet to restore the 
mental equilibrium of the race, and to unify society. 
No human event since the parting is pregnant with 
greater importance than the meeting. 

Incentive was added to the influx by, the expecta- 
tion of easy acquirement, without rendering the cus- 
tomary equivalent in time, talents, and labor. More- 
over, the period was ripe for such movements. Steam 
had elaborated a new and expeditious means for span- 
ning the oceans and overcoming many of their still re- 
pellent monsters. Political turmoils had roused the se- 
date nations of Europe to deeds and enterprise, and im- 
bued the youth with a thirst for adventure. In north- 
ern America the westward march of settlement had 
been given fresh impulse by the conquest of Mex- 
ican border lands. Disbanded soldiers stood eagerly 
prepared to enter and reap the result of their achieve- 
ments, and trappers and pioneers had opened paths 
across the trackless continent to a land already famed 
as flowing with milk and hone}^ 

Predominant was the English-speaking element — 
Anglo-Saxon blood and brains Americanized by a 
century or two of free thought and untrammeled ac- 
tivity. It was but natural that the masters of the 
soil, by conquest and gradual pioneer immigration, 
should excel in number as well as influence. Next to 


the Mexicans they were nearest to the borders, with 
two great routes at their command, one by sea, pro- 
vided with all essential facilities, the other by land, for 
which they above all other nations were well equipped. 
They possessed, moreover, a marked advantage over 
other nationalities for migration and colonization, by 
A'irtue of the century-training in backwood life, and 
expansion of the frontier settlements by constant ac- 
cessions from the seaboard states. Herein they had 
developed the practical adaptability and self-reliance 
inherited from the mother race, so much so as to 
surpass even that so far preeminent colonist element. 

Of the English themselves and their character, it 
is not necessary here to speak at length. The repre- 
sentative Englishman we know by his grave, taciturn, 
meditative demeanor, his strong intellect, his big, 
burly, awkward frame, and his overshadowing egoism. 
We know him by his sound mind soundly bodied ; by 
his coarse energy bordering on brutality; by his re- 
spect for law, for conventionalities and traditions ; by 
his hatred of cant, and his love of fairness even in 
the most brutal of his pastimes. Having a keen sense 
of their own rights, the English learn to respect the 
rights of others — particularly of the strong and well 
armed. They are self-willed, captious in their criti- 
cisms, jealous in their love of freedom, firm in the 
maintainance of general good conduct. In their 
treatment of conquered provinces, rights and human- 
ity are too often ignored, and while pretending to the 
highest benevolence no nation has ever surpassed 
them in acts of injustice and cruelty. Though forc- 
ing a deleterious drug on some, and firing others out 
of the mouths of cannons, they nevertheless were the 
first to take active measures for the abolition of human 
slavery, and many other good works. Their mer- 
chants are noted for fair dealing, their statesmen for 
a love of right, and their women for virtue. Of all 
nations they best know themselves, and are by no 


means disposed to place a low estimate upon their _ 
mental or physical capabilities. They have produced I 
some of the greatest men of genius the world has ■ 
ever seen, and more of them than any other people. 
They are an exceedingly busy people. As Montes- 
quieu says of them, "ils n'ont pas le temps d'etre polls." 
Being great eaters of flesh, they are somewhat fero- 
cious for a well-tamed people. Clearness of compre- 
hension characterizes all their investigations; utility, 
and strength, the products of their hands. Into their 
manufactured articles they put thought and substance 
as well as finish, and the consequence is that in every 
shop and household in Christendom, on every table, 
and in every wardrobe, we find something English. 

The British are a kingly race. A fifth of the globe 
and of its inhabitants they claim, and they have not 
a little to say about affairs and the general manage- 
ment of things on this planet. Broader in their pos- 
sessions than Borne in her palmiest days, they are 
stronger than Spain ever was, because more intelligent 
and free. Holding money and life in as high estima- 
tion as most other people, there are yet with them 
sentiments higher than these. Bather by their char- 
acter, than by force of arms, they give direction to 
the polities of half the world. 

These English traits were in a measure common 
with the Americanized Englishman. There were no 
greater number of real Englishmen in California than 
of several other nationalities ; not so many as of Irish 
or of Germans. Yet there were more than was 
apparent on the surface; for speaking the same lan- 
guage as that of the New Englander, the southerner, 
the western border man, there was less to distinguish 
the Englishman from the Anglo-American, more es- 
pecially as Californians, of whatsoever nationality, 
soon dropped into ways of their own which blinded 
the observer more or less as to their origin and early 

The British colonies contributed largely to the 


population of California ; but among these were Irish 
and Scotch as well as English ; yet they were usually 
regarded as one family. Furthermore, the colonial 
element, being made up largely of a criminal class 
from the British penal settlements, was not regard- 
ed as permanent inhabitants. Some few of them 
did indeed avail themselves of this new apportion- 
ment of providence, became respectable citizens, re- 
mained with us and found that where honesty was 
within the reach of all, demanding so little sacrifice 
from its votaries, requiring of them to be but reasona- 
bly correct, to be only superficially or pharisaically 
honest ; finding it so easy to be called great and good, 
and profitable withal, they placed themselves on the 
Lord's side, and became loudest in the denunciation 
of their old master the devil. Indeed, if many a good 
man has been hurried to perdition from California, 
many a bad one has ascended thence to heaven. 

Next to the English-speaking population in Cali- 
fornia, in early days, were the Spanish-speaking, native 
Californians, Mexicans, and South Americans. But 
these too, like the uncongenial elements from British 
penal colonies, were not destined to remain perma- 
nently, nor to any great extent to mix their blood 
with that of fresher arrivals from Europe, and from 
the eastern United States, in the engendering of this 
new nation. The new comers were too shrewd for 
them, too unscrupulous. They beat them at nionte, 
they surpassed them at cattle-stealing, at whiskey- 
drinking ; they swindled them out of their lands, se- 
duced their wives and daughters, and played the mis- 
chief generally. They were a wicked lot. Harassed 
and chagrined, many of these children of the Latin 
race gave the land over to the philistines, and de- 
parted for countries where wits were tamer, and early 
rising unfashionable. But out of no such precarious 
or coarse fabric as this mongrel stock was to be spun 
the warp and woof of our new civilization. There 


were Spaniards of pure blood, with their families al- 
ready upon the ground, destined to exercise no small 
influence in the formation of the government, and in 
the assimilations of society, but these were far differ- 
ent material from the dusky, mixed breeds, which dur- 
ing the past centuries have prevailed largely 
throughout the Spanish-speaking territories in the 
two Americas. 

After these I would place in numerical order the 
Germans, French, cockney English, and Italians, with 
a fair peppering of black men. Of Scandinavian and 
Slavonic stocks there were not so many. Asiatics, and 
South Sea islanders varied in number from originally 
few to latterly more than any other one race. 
Hawaiian islanders were plentiful at first, but too 
tender for the rough morals which obtained here at 
that time. 

None of the dark-skinned peoples have, from paucity 
of number or lack of recognition, been able to leave any 
marked impression on the social mixture. Selfish in 
his pride of race, the Anglo-Saxon is apt to scan 
closely any differentiation. While welcoming freely 
even low classes so long as they are white, he shrinks 
from the dusky hue which he has been taught to 
despise in the abject subordination and mental infe- 
riority of the African and Indian. Hence he also held 
aloof from the first from the Mongolian, and when 
the latter displayed his caliber in remaining at the 
mudsill and back door, the aversion grew. Political 
and economic reasons have widened the gulf, and the 
celestial dwells here a stranger, to add his leaven only 
as an industrial factor. The Indian does not wield 
even this influence, exiled as he is to secluded reserva- 
tions, or hovering an outcast along the frontier settle- 
ments. The negro rests content in his assigned sphere. 

For conspicuous traits and effects we must look to 
the inherited or adopted characteristics of the Teuton 
and Latin races. We love, and our older brothers of 


England love, to draw comparisons and parade each 
their fancied superiority. I must confess I fail to 
distinguish the radical differences many would make 
apparent. In physique we of the newer England 
have been made somewhat thinner and keener-edged 
by reason of our assiduous striving ; while they of the 
ancient isle, fattened under the paternal roof, and 
made less zealous by fewer ambitions, fewer responsi- 
bilities, assume sleeker and more oily proportions. 
Likewise with the swelling of their bodies their minds 
became somewhat inflated, while we of the untamed 
west, whatever our successes, have been kept humble 
by the very magnitude of our ventures, and by the 
democratic influence of the back-woods. 

As for our national brag, I think we Anglo-Ameri- 
cans may justly assert that the characteristic energy 
and penchant for utility of our forefathers has not 
diminished in our hands. As in a new country there 
is always more room for the exercise of native skill 
and enterprise than in satisfied societies with fixed 
habits, so we may safely claim to have employed 
faculties of no mean order, in no mean manner. We 
do not, however, now as formerly claim all the ad- 
vance made during this nineteenth century, but we 
are willing to give England, France, and Germany 
their share of credit. Great were our expectations 
and great our realizations ; as instanced by the un- 
paralleled growth and prosperity of the republic, the 
acquired excellence in so many branches of industry, 
and the success of democratic government — shining 
examples in all their essential features to the strug- 
gling masses of the world. Even the bloody struggle 
of the union war taught a lesson in pointing to the 
bravery and perseverance with which principle was 
upheld, the moderation with which victory was cele- 
brated, and the admirable recuperation following so 
great a struggle. 

Innumerable senseless forms in government, law, 
ethics, and everv-dav intercourse we have to some 


extent eliminated, and there are many more which 
a progressive people might dispense with ; but super- 
stition elsewhere has likewise been on the wane. Ours 
are not the only eyes from which have dropped scales 
during these latter days. 

Religion, or rather the lack of it, is having its influ- 
ence on California, no less than race agglutinations. 
Puritanism, the little of it that left New England, 
evaporated before reaching these shores, or else dwin- 
dled into cant, and was quickly expelled from good 
society. Sectarians put on a new face, and spoke low. 
Orthodoxy began to ask questions, and many gave up 
praying as senseless and unprofitable. Even Catholi- 
cism had to reform its diet, finding the richer food of 
fatted superstitions ill-agreeing with the new organism. 
The skies of California were too clear for the old 
mystic credulity, and its air too pure to harbor unseen 
hobgoblins. Hell was brought to the surface of 
things, where all might analyze, and then embrace or 
avoid according to inclination or character. Heaven 
dropped from the skies, and mapped its celestial city 
in the human heart, showing its presence by clearness 
of eyes, and by honest speech. 

But with our wide freedom of thought, and our 
spirit of toleration, we have opened the door to divers 
isms which creep snake-like about the heels of progress. 
For the most part they are fangless, however, and 
scarcely worth the trouble of crushing. It is a great 
comfort to most men to make fools of themselves in 
some way; and however sickening to sensitive minds 
may be spiritualism, salvationism, free-loveism, and 
the rest, they are here regarded as the foul wayside 
beast which the traveller, who holds his breath while 
passing, quickly leaves behind. The true philanthro- 
pist, the liberty lover, the promoter of tolerant ideas, 
may here find work enough to do without doing battle 
upon those social ulcerations which erratic physicians 
delight in. Better to give attention to the abnormities 
resulting from indiscriminate admission of low foreio^n 


elements into the population and participation in the 
government ; from the expansion of monopolies which 
suck the life-blood out of the people; and from the 
opposing organizations which, in their blind hostility, 
threaten to involve the country in disorders. 

Herein may be sought one reason for the spirit of 
discontent which marks the character of the Ameri- 
canized Englishman, as contrasted with his former self- 
satisfaction over the water. This is particularly 
observable in his social aspirations. He is less in love 
with his home, with the family mansion and its sur- 
roundings, particularly if it be dilapidated, and without 
revenue, takes less pride in the family portraits, espe- 
cially in faded photographs, and in family plate, which 
is too often pewter. He wishes to make his mark in 
the world, and is not so particular as to its color or 
significance, so long as it is loud and glaring. Old 
customs he cares little for, and still less for old cos- 
tumes. In buying and selling he likes quick trans- 
actions, preferring often a ready money loss to a 
long-winded profit. The Anglo-American is the 
Anglo-Saxon retorted and galvanized. 

The Yankee, with his practical sagacity and enter- 
prise, seasoned by a Puritanic spirit, and sustained by 
the bracing and frugal training of a less indulgent 
environment, finds a stronger contrast in the south- 
erner, with his tinge of affectation and chivalry, inher- 
ited to some degree from the French colonist neighbor, 
and with the Creole indolence born of a warmer climate 
and pernicious slavery. A representation of this type 
is the Virginian. 

Without the tincture of chivalry from Virginia, the 
social mixture in California would have been, perhaps, 
more muddy and mercenary than it was. F. F. V.'s, 
first families of Virginia, every one of these dubious 
scions dubbed himself So numerous were claimants 
to this distniction that one could but wonder if all the 
families of Virginia were first; for if the immigrant 
had been reared in a pigsty, and was unable to write 


his name, he still swore his blood was blue, while his 
breath told of its alcoholic warmth. Brave as were 
the Californians, there were none so daring as to deny 
to any the right of nominating himself F. F. V. 

It was from the withered and unseasoned hope of 
the Spendthrift Fathers of fifty years ago that Cali- 
fornia derived many of her first families. Sons of 
silk-stockinged sires, powdered and peruked old fel- 
lows, in buff vest, ruffled shirt, top boots, and shorts, 
of noonda}^ toddy -takers, of blood boasters pugilistic- 
ally proud of their lineage and of themselves, the 
young men from both north and south of Mason and 
Dixon's line came hither, bringing with them a crush- 
ing courtesy which savored strongly of rum, tobacco, 
saltpetre, and the stable. Their politeness was quite 
different from the French article ; it was more sincere, 
more real, but less artistic and finished. Their tongue 
betrayed their several places of birth, and though they 
called themselves educated, their knowledge had not 
much learning in it. Their culture had been empiri- 
cal, and their manner was now provincial. There 
had been hitherto nothing: broad or Parisian in their 
experiences, and their conceptions of greatness were 
narrowed to an idea. To have been born in this place 
or that was good luck enough for any man; and ex- 
cept, unfortunately, their native land was part of the 
world, they might decline relationship with the re- 
mainder of the race. 

If this intense egotism and provincial vanity can be 
called patriotism, then was this somewhat small and 
select class patriotic. They might travel, but not 
without carrying their birth-place with them, and if 
their whole state was too much for the measure of 
their intellect, then a piece of it, the particular and 
hallowed dirt out of which they were made, would do. 
Yet wherever they went, all the world must know 
where they were from. 

These scions of decayed gentility were themselves 
a little seedy in California. Though their manners 


never left tliem so long as they were sober, their 
clothes sometimes did. As they were not equal to 
Yankee shrewdness in traffic, and being constitution- 
ally opposed to manual labor, the black coat and 
gloves which they had brought from home soon be- 
came shabby, and in due time a gray flannel shirt was 
not unacceptable. 

In common with all first-comers, most of them were 
obliged to go to the mines. To root the ground like 
a rat, and cook beans like a wench were fearful humil- 
iations, but unavoidable. It was gold and not ruta- 
bagas they dug; and work over, was there not pleasure 
to be pursued in cards, horse-racing, and Sunday pis- 
tolings and bowie-knife practice? 

What many of them delighted in, what nature, in 
his own estimation, had best fitted them for, was to 
filU public offices. Ask one of them what business he 
best understood, and with Diogenes he would answer, 
"How to command men." The judicial bench he de- 
lighted in. He found it better to tend jail than to 
herd swine. The legislative hall, with a flush lobby, 
and scores of axe-grinding rooms contiguous, witii 
free liquors and cigars, was not the most disagreeable 
of places during the muddy winter ; nor did he disdain 
the gubernatorial chair. He was born to rule, and 
the chief utility of the rest of the race was to live 
that they might be ruled b}^ him. To smoke, and 
talk, to swear politely, and swing his dirk gracefully, 
to sit benignly in all the lucrative places of honor and 
trust, were the chief ends of man in California. 

Unfortunately for this class the Pike county miner 
and the New England trader, the men of Sydney, of 
Asia, and of Tipperary did not wish to be bothered 
with a too gentlemanly jurisprudence or excessive 
society rules during their dusty scramble. They had 
no use for a master. They v/anted gold, not govern- 
ment. So the American nobleman, finding his occu- 
pation gone, was constrained to remove his shabby 
black coat and kid gloves and go to work. But when 

Essays and Miscellany 13 


digging grew unprofitable, uninteresting, and monoton- 
ous ; or, rather, the moment he was able, he bought 
a new coarse white shirt, resumed his shiny black 
coat, thin tight boots, and shabby gloves, and mount- 
ing a city-bound stage again sought a position where 
he might fulfil his high destiny. 

But with all their intense egoism and patriotism, 
this class did much for California. Those from the 
south brought in their true chivalry and laid it beside 
the ill-favored beast, avarice. They brought us 
genuine, though somewhat slovenly politeness, and 
laid it beside the counterfeit though highly polished 
French article. They brought in deep human sym- 
pathy, which had it been broader would have been 

The true American man, from whatever quarter, 
displays kindness and consideration in many ways, 
and his words are not hollow. He has his own notions 
of thrift and labor, and he is not ostentatious in his 
morals ; on the other hand his features are not con- 
torted by prudish piety, and if he has less of the 
form of charity than Spaniards, we find in him more 
of the substance. Without the treacherous simplicity 
of the Mexican he can save himself from imposition ; 
he can exercise shrewdness without meanness. If 
the Mexican cheats you of your money he does it in 
a gentle way, such as borrowing without any idea of 
ever returning. He will lend to you with equal lib- 
erality — if he has it, which is seldom the case; but 
no matter how needy, he will not stoop to the low 
tricks of law-abiding swindlers. 

To California the Virginian brought with his vast 
store of unwritten politics his Richmond Wliig and his 
Richmond Enquirer, which he read and quoted as in- 
disputable authorities on all points of law, religion, 
and social ethics. So long as science and holy writ 
did not run counter to the assertions of these journals 
they might be believed, but not longer. The authors 
o^ the bible were not Yir<xinians, and all there was 


in science the Richmond journals knew and told; if 
the sun rose contrary to their calculations, there was 
something wrong about the sun; it surely had made 
some mistake in its reckoning. 

Moreover, for the patriots Virginia has given to the 
commonwealth, our country should be grateful. Her 
orators and statesmen were of a higher order than 
those from any other quarter. They were more mag- 
nanimous, more purely patriotic, less selfish, less hypo- 
critical and mercenary, were manly and noble. She has 
always talked wisely and well, better in fact than she 
has done. But her dilatoriness in action was not the 
result of deceit, but rather of indifference to money 
and material progress. 

In regard to their social propensities the Virginians 
were the same in California as at home, eminently 
humane, hospitable, and companionable. And by 
nature no less than by training were they proficient 
in the art of pleasing, high-spirited, and sensitive as 
to their reputation under the code, though exceptions 
might be taken to some of their ethical forms and 
doctrines. Most admirable in them is the genuine- 
ness of their character. Imperfect as it may be in 
many respects, they are never ashamed of it, nor do 
they try to hide or color any part of it. 

Of all men, most reverential were the Virginians; 
reverent as to law, divinity, medicine, and all the old 
customs and traditions. It is natural to those who 
are courteous and considerate toward humanity to be 
courteous and considerate in regard to all, human and 
divine. All things in the eyes of the reverential man 
are reverential. In California the law, though weak, 
was worshipful ; the doctor's pill-bag was worshipful ; 
and so was the minister's desk, the monte-dealer's 
table, and the counter over which fiery comforts were 
dispensed. The free-and-easy female flower of the 
city or camp was a Dulcinea del Toboso, beside whose 
virtue that of no one was more stainless. All women 
were angels; and if some were fallen, all the more 


need had they of a kind word from a live gentleman. 
The Virginian in California, or elsewhere, was never 
a quack, charlatan, or sham. 

To California the Virginians were sugar rather than 
salt. They acted as a fine flavor to a new settlement, 
but as practical pioneers they were inferior to worse 
men. Their early isolation, remote from any of the 
world's great highways of traffic, their lack of business 
experience, their credulity, which made them believe 
all men as honorable as themselves, their habits, tastes, 
and training, and the rosy hues in which their sanguine 
temperament colored schemes and speculations, made 
them an easy prey at once to their own illusions, and 
to the snares of designing men. 

At the heels of aspiring Irishmen clung closely a 
quality which, partaking of little of their good charac- 
teristics, displays to excess their inferior traits, and by 
virtue of its services in the political field clamors loudly 
for a share in the spoils. The Celts, so all-pervading 
in the United States, brought to the Pacific coast 
their pugnacious as well as vivacious mind, their ener- 
getic but also boisterous disposition. On the farm 
they contribute an admirable quota to development, 
but a large proportion lingers unfortunately in the 
towns to pollute the political arena, and to form in the 
low outskirts a social quagmire whence spreads foul 
disorders. The pungency of the Irish element per- 
vades too strongly even its many commendable fea- 
tures to make it so desirable as those from the other 
adjoining nationalities of Europe. 

Kousseau, who seems troubled that the English 
should prove so proud, pronounces the French vain. 
"L' Anglais a les prejuges de Torgueil" he says, ^'et 
les Francais ceux de la vanite." From which one 
would infer that this most chaste Swiss believed the 
pride of the English to rest upon something while that 
of the French did not. 

Now the English no doubt are a solid nation, disa- 


greeably substantial sometimes, and the French are 
superficial, effervescent, inconstant, fascinatingly so. 
Yet as this life goes, more particularly as life in Cali- 
fornia is shaping itself, we could not get along without 
the qualities supplied only by the mercurial Gaul. We 
do not want our mundane existence all cast iron and 
stone. Give us a little of the gilt and glitter that 
please children withal, and let our sunshine be softened 
by something less gloomy and opaque than London 


The world of humanity has been divided by certain 
home-fed philosophers into two parts, human nature 
and French nature. Now, if the Gallic people, in their 
rapidity of thought, their inflammable, tumultuous 
activity, their caprices, inconsistencies, and contradic- 
tions, display a variegated whole which might be called 
a distinct species of human nature, that species is re- 
quired in California, where we are planting a new and 
complete civilization. If the African and the Asiatic 
possess valuable qualities or characteristics which 
other nationalities cannot lay claim to, we might even 
wish the mass seasoned with these spices. English 
solidity and stolidity do well as a base, better by far 
than any other element evolution has yet revealed; 
but, good and invaluable as they are, no wise builder 
of a commonwealth would reject other material for 
his structure. 

Everything must be proportioned here for a future. 
We want under Californian skies some of the old 
Athenian flexibility of mind and heart found only in 
the French people. We want their refined manners 
with which to soften and tone common intercourse, 
and tinge with elegance social reunions. We want 
their gaiete de coeur, their happy manner, their lively 
pastimes, and their sprightly conversation. 

We will take lessons from them in soldiery if we 
descend to such brutalizing pastimes as war ; we will 
take lessons from them in the delicacy and finish of 
their manufactured articles, in the endurance of their 


drudgery, in the harmonious enjoyment of life, and 
in the cut of gear as well as gait. More grace may 
be seen in the costume and carriage of a French peas- 
ant woman than can be found in the average English 
woman of rank. These things are not to be despised, 
for women love them, and men love women. Next 
to the poetry of mind is the poetry of manners ; next 
to artless grace, graceful art. 

Heartless intrigue and virtue's masquerade we will 
do well to leave in France ; and with them the French- 
man's proverbial giddiness and insincerity. I do not 
say that as a race Frenchmen are frivolous or hypocrit- 
ical. But their politeness, or anything else about 
them, is not very deep, or earnest, or substantial. 
They are volatile, full of effervescent feeling which 
passes off with the effects of their claret. They are 
too apt to be carried away by whatever is nearest 
them. Yet with all their faults the French are greatly 
to be esteemed. 

With the inspiriting fumes of light-headed national- 
ities, the deep, phlegmatic humor of the German min- 
gles profitably. Amidst the intellectual convulsions 
of other nations, firm upon his broad platform of uni- 
versal knowledge, he stands secure. More than any 
other people the Germans separate facts from ideas. 
To their early love of nature and of physical enjoy- 
ment are now added mind culture and the refined 
subtleties of metaphysical speculation. Nowhere do 
we find more patient application, deeper study, broader 
intelligence, or more thorough learning. 

All our Yankee individualism and love of personal 
independence came to us through the British nation 
from Germany. For stolid bravery and stolid virtue 
we may safely commend the German nation. That 
which amuses, captivates the Italian; that which 
touches, affects the French ; that which instructs, 
moves the German. 

Then there is the proud, pompous Spaniard, who, 


if he be now of but little practical utility in the 
scheme of a progressive commonwealth, can at least 
boast of what he has been. He can point to his 
faded grandeur, to the land of lost greatness, where, 
if you have eyes for the teaching of human unfoldings, 
you may discover the reasons for Spain's unhappy 

More especially is this nation endowed with inter- 
est for Californians, as the source of our history. It 
was before the spirit of chivalry had wholly departed 
from her shores, when gallant men made love to 
graceful women, that under the banner of loyalty and 
superstition Spain sent forth her sons to deeds of 
New World daring. And in this New World are 
now many able minds and stout hearts, who regard 
with mournful regret the policy of short-sighted priests 
and rulers, which sapped the energy and ambition of 
the Spanish people, and left them bankrupt indeed, 
when progress stripped the black veil of bigotry in a 
slight measure from their eyes. 

In an eminent degree they may now boast of the 
two qualities which Spinoza denounces as the great 
banes of humanity, self-conceit and laziness. As a 
class they are far too unreliable for important under- 
takings. They are most pleasant companions socially, 
and manifest profound interest in what is said during 
conversation ; but the next moment all is forgotten, 
their protestations not more false than their promises. 

From Italy, the early patron of literature, and 
once the home of art, from skies as bright and air as 
balmy as our own, came many hither. And notwith- 
standing their languid nature, and their ancient repu- 
tation for cunning and treachery, they proved to be a 
quiet and industrious people, capable of teaching us 
many things besides painting and music. Those in 
California are more skilled in gardening, boating, fish- 
ing, and maccaroni-making than in the dark subtleties 
of political or social intrigues. 

Nor has the ancjent traveller, the Hebrew, been 


without liis inilueDce in California, where he re- 
mained true to his traditional pursuits. This may 
be accounted for on the ground that for centuries 
past, in fact since the destruction of their national- 
ity, almost every other avenue but commerce was 
denied them by the statutory provisions of the na- 
tions among w^hom they had found residence. But 
this commercial character of the Hebrew has become 
so recognized an element in the social and industrial 
development of a country, that the early entrance of 
Hebrews in California must have been considered as 
one of the sure indications of the country's future 
excellence and permanent prosperity. Those who 
found their way to the coast were sober, industrious, 
abstemious, for the most part of good family, and 
hence educated. They were as liberal in their re- 
ligious sentiment as in the methods of their business; 
hence they easily became prosperous, met with prompt 
and ready recognition, found many gentile doors 
opened to them, and secured for themselves the con- 
sideration of their fellow-immigrants. They shunned 
politics, without refusing to serve the people; some 
held public office ; the greatest number were content 
with pursuing their vocations, and assisting in the 
promotion of peace and the enforcement of law. As 
a direct result, the Hebrew communities of California 
are among the most prosperous of the world. 

Thus we see here in California a fusion of widely 
distant and often antagonistic elements, some of which 
blend quickly and some slowly. Besides these are 
redundant and heterogeneous qualities which do not 
assimilate, and which in time wither and finally dis- 
appear. In our streets are now heard spoken almost 
as many languages as there are nations under the 
sun, but the time will come when one language will 
suffice for men along these shores in which to commu- 
nicate their thoughts, when home-sickness for mother- 
lands beyond seas will be no longer felt, and national 


partition lines will be wholly wiped out. Among 
those who now drink to their fatherland, who now 
drink and sing their eyes dim, shortly there will be 
few who can trace the family name beyond the Golden 
Gate or tell from what country their great, great 
grandfather came. 

Though not of one root, of one stem this people will 
be ; and they will form collectively probably a finer 
race than any from which they individually sprung. 
The parent source represented the select manhood 
from the different nations ; for the remoteness of Cali- 
fornia, the cost and dangers of the voyage, and the 
presumed hardships of life here, kept back all save 
the more hardy, self-reliant, and provided classes, and 
drew in particular the dashing and adventurous spirits. 
This sifting continues to a great extent, although 
settled conditions and improved communications per- 
mit the introduction also of less choice specimens, and 
the climatic advantag^es attract a number of invalids 
and indolent villa-dwellers. The}^ bring compensation, 
however, in much needed culture and refinement, and 
in presenting for assimilation a superior class of 
women, so far kept back by the circumstances which 
eliminated all who were not prepared to contend with 
hard border life. The earlier female arrivals were of 
the robust mould, well calculated to bear a strong 
progeny; but mentally, and in social position and 
acquirements, they were inferior to the male pioneers, 
somewhat deficient in those finer qualities which above 
all win the admiration of the lover, the esteem of 
the husband, and the respect of the children; quali- 
ties which are particularly sought and expected no 
less in the mother than in the bride, since in the 
moral and intellectual home-training of the child lies 
the basis for its future unfolding and success. 

From such excellent sources there is every reason 
to expect a race no less well endowed. Environment 
is of the most favorable character. Resources are so 
varied and extensive that they promise to stimulate 


and reward for time indefinite the enterprise of the 
people. The soil is so fertile, and luxuriates in both 
choice and large specimens in almost every branch 
of culture ; animals as well as plants grow so rapidly 
and produce so fine a progeny, as noticed alike in the 
now famed horses, in the superior sheep and in the 
ever improving cattle, that there is every reason to 
hope for a similar unfolding in man. 

In the zoological unfolding may be sought an an- 
swer to the only questionable feature in the environ- 
ment, climate. This is undoubtedly warm, and some- 
what enervating in the interior valleys, and in the 
south where the main population will abide. Judg- 
ing from the effect of such temperature on the south- 
erners of the Atlantic states, for instance, there rises 
the spectre of a blunting indolence to thwart the 
efforts of the race. But the climate of California 
differs in many respects. The heat is modified in 
its depressing influence by daily breezes, during the 
season and hours when most required, and the sea 
winds are laden with tonic elements to which a varied 
mountain configuration impart variation. The as- 
sumed enervation is therefore counteracted here, and 
less applicable to the elevated table-land beyond the 
Sierra, or to the great Columbia basin, with its briefer 
summer and greater tempering rainfall. The dryness 
of California may prove another stimulant to nerve 
force. Her central position on the slope, the seat for 
an ever-expanding and vivifying commerce and for 
attendant industries, and also the vast extent of her 
sea coast, with broad avenues for interior traffic and 
alluring shores beyond the ocean, are all powerful in- 
centives to progress, which should more than counter- 
act the possibly opposing elements, to judge from the 
rise of Phoenicia and Carthage, of Athens and Rome, 
in a similar zone. 

In due time, then, we may confidently expect to 
behold here, as now in England, the best qualities of 
several kinds in a compact oneness, which shall be of 


such solidity, such raoral, intellectual, and physical 
force as to make its influence felt to the remotest of 
earth's corners. Certain elemental qualities of Slavs, 
Latins, and Teutons, have here married certain other 
elemental qualities of Teutons, Latins, and Slavs, and 
in the offspring we find a new diathesis. 

Henceforth Californians shall claim an original in- 
heritance, an original form of constitution. Her sky 
and soil suit certain temperaments, certain mental 
qualities, and bodily attributes. And the outcome 
will be a temperament something between the nervous 
and the sanguine, tinctured but slightly by the pru- 
dential qualities of phlegm. It is of no small import- 
ance for every nation to know its diathesis, whether 
gouty, as in the Teutonic races, or strumous, as in the 

By intelligent anatomy we may discover whence 
California derives her temperament. The nervous 
she imbibes with the quickening air ; the phlegmatic 
is clearly inherited from Teutonic ancestry, but from 
many a source does she derive her sanguine, buoyant, 
hopeful enthusiasm, such as predominates in south of 
Europe dreamers, in New England speculators, and 
French faro-dealers ; though ruinous loss taught many 
early lessons, and kept society weeded of its more 
venturesome gamesters. It is well to be sanguine ; it 
is better not to be too sanguine. For I have often 
remarked that those with whom success seemed a 
little doubtful were readier with their sacrifices to 
win it. The intemperately hopeful are apt to fall on 
grief Misfortune usually attends the irrationally or 
excessively sanguine. Fortune sometimes favors the 
reckless ; but he who plays his cards trusting his skill 
rather than chance, wins in the long run. Yet hope, 
although warping judgment, quickens energy. 

Onward shall flow the stream of successive genera- 
tions, tinctured as in times past by additions and sub- 
tractions, but midst all its eternal changes ever 
influenced by the original elements. CaUfornians, 


lapped beneath Italian skies in soft Levantine airs, 
will ever display the buoyant happy temper of the 
Greco-Koman races. To this will add his leaven the 
Spaniard, in lofty bearing and chivalrous honor; 
the Italian in happy contentment and love of art; the 
Frenchman in sesthetic tastes and grace, in delicate 
performance, etiquette, and bright mercurial man- 
ners; while the German and the Anglo-Saxon will 
infuse practical intelligence and enterprise and depth 
of knowledge into the fermenting mass. Meanwhile, 
the Anglo-American, by his shrewd common sense, 
sagacious adaptiveness, and far-seeing, far-reaching 
mind and ambition will make all his own. 

From such race varieties, with their diversified tal- 
ents, will spring painters and poets, inventors and 
statesmen. There will be multitudes in every depart- 
ment of letters and arts, industry and commerce ; men 
of impatient enterprise, who will not rest satisfied 
until they secure for themselves and these shores all 
the advantages that other nations possess over nature 
and over each other. They will form another Utgard, 
wherein, like Thor and his companions, the new-comer 
finds no admittance unless he excel in some one art. 
With the acquired insight and skill they will multiply 
knowledge, and add, century by century, to the store- 
house of experiences bequeathed by their forefathers. 



Da unten aber ist's fiirchterlich, 

Und der Menscli versuche die Gotter nicht. 

— Scliiller. 

As friction generates heat, so business activity 
generates creative force. Enveloping the commonest 
labor of the early California period was a glow of in- 
ventive thought, such as attends only the greatest 
strides of progress. It was not unlike those outbursts 
of genius which attend revolutions and reformations. 
The first question California put to the gold-seekers 
was not. Is it moral ? Is it legal ? But, is it rea- 
sonable ? Is it possible ? There never was a time or 
place where the people manifested in mind and body 
such general alacrity and vivacity. It seemed pre- 
ferable not to be, than to be inactive. The brain 
would work, if not in the right direction then in the 
wrong one. 

Children influence parents as well as parents the 
children. In lieu of the way of wisdom, or force of 
argument, or the matching of experiences, they exert 
a less perceptible though none the less certain reflex 
influence upon their elders. Soil and climate act on 
mind ; atmosphere, physical and social, acts on the 
manners and morals. On the sandhills round Yerba 
Buena cove, during the year of 1849, was hatched by 
artificial incubation a new species of society destined 
throughout all time to exercise an influence upon the 
whole human world. It was engendering which may 
in time prove to have been second to no event in his- 



tory. Some will smile at the idea, and point to the 
world's babel-buildings and Marathon-battles, to the 
advent of prophets, Confucius or Christ, Buddha or 
Mahomet, overturning or regenerating the world; 
nevertheless, the time may come when this sandy 
peninsula is surrounded by a hundred millions of the 
world's foremost men, that this human intermixture 
of 1849, the evaporation of feverish energy attending 
it, and the new coalescences and crystallizations that 
followed, will prove among the world's most import- 
ant events. 

With mind bewildered, the new-comer could feel 
hanging about him old ideas and instincts, some of 
which seemed out of place midst this novel environ- 
ment. Flung into the alembic of the nations, he was 
transmuted. Under a new revelation he was born anew. 
The old form brought hither was wholly or in part 
consumed ; certain parts of his nature, the unworthy 
parts, turned quickty to ashes. Hypocrisy and cant, j 
he quickly saw, must fade like a dissolving view;' 
therefore the cloak to vain and immoral propensities, 
whether it was religion, social standing, or other coun- . 
terfeit, was thrown aside, for directness of purpose and I 
honest wickedness were regarded with greater favor ^ 
than only the semblance of virtue. 

Trafficking in the cities, delving in the mines, travel- 
ling hither and thither, as their excited but not 
always intelligent fancy led them, by steamboat and 
stage, by pack-train and passenger animals, on foot 
over the dusty plains, or climbing snow-covered 
mountains, working, idling, praying, cheating, drink- 
ing, gambling, killing, curing, were representatives of 
the world's races hither drawn, and their actions to 
some extent harmonized by the only universal wor- 
ship under heaven, the worship of gold. 

There were those so sun-browned and bearded, so 
travel -stained and steeped in sin that the cunningest 
race-fancier might fail to designate the soil whence 
they sprang. Enough there were, however, and by 


far the greater part whose nationaUty betrayed itself 
either in form, feature, or dress ; for from early in- 
fluences, let him wander about the world as he will, it 
is impossible for man wholly to liberate himself The 
sharp-visaged Yankee in his several varieties does not 
present the blunt features and bullet-shaped head of 
the Dutchman, nor does the Kanaka from the 
Hawaiian islands carry the long cue of the Chinaman 
or the creese of the Malay. Whether Latin or Teu- 
ton, Slavonic or Jewish, African or Indian, the type 
was impressed by its representative character. 

That they were men of thought if not of culture is 
evident. First a man must be above the average in 
intelligence and energy to get to California at all. It 
required money, called forth self-denial ; it was a 
staking of comfort, health, life, for an uncertain bene- 
fit, and churls and clowns are not made of the stuff to 
take these risks ; then, what followed was of all pro- 
cesses most stimulating to the mind. A general cut- 
ting loose from old habits and restraints, new scenes, 
new countries, contact with strangers from different 
parts of the world; all the enlightening influences of 
travel tended to awaken the intellect and excite 
originality in thought and conduct. 

The magnet that drew men hither, the manner of 
their coming, the necessities thence arising, and the 
ways and means of meeting them, all exercised a 
powerful influence in the formation of manners 
and opinions. Far more pronounced and powerful 
than any laws, maxims, or other form of expression 
was this influence, which moulded the minds of men, 
and gave character and individuality even to modula- 
tions of voice, clothes, and carriage. 

Immigrants who arrived in California seemed to 
be seized with a sudden glow of animal spirits, and 
revelling in the exuberance of new life and the physical 
force thus infused, were carried safely over innumera- 
ble obstacles at which they otherwise would have 
stumbled. The effect was by no means fleeting, for 


the varying fortunes of mining life and the attendant 
speculations in all pursuits kept them in a constant 
tremor of excitement. This was marked in the gold 
region by continued rushes, and in the towns by the 
mad pursuit of business or pleasure. The inflamma- 
ble disposition ignited as readily as a tinder-box; a 
yell or pistol shot on the corner of a street would bring 
crowds from every direction, emptying stores, offices, 
and bar-rooms perhaps several times a day. 

This was but the scintillation of the fiery energy 
and impulsive recklessness wherein lay the greatest 
safeguards of the times. Swift and strong must be 
the current that should carry ofi" the moral impurities 
and social debris of that mad epoch. It was not the 
time for grave deliberation and cool reasoning. The 
blood of the people was on fire ; a moral chaos lay 
upon the land, imminent dangers threatened society 
and state, and prompt and determined action in the 
many crises that arose was the people's only safety, 
all entertaining alike the treacherous hope of sud- 
denly becoming rich. 

While mining camps were surcharged with industry 
and dissipation, in the cities was concentrated an 
activity more rapid and intense than even America 
had hitherto seen. There was an eagerness, a fever- 
ishness in every quarter, particularly in every kind of 
traffic, which only American nervousness was able to 

The road to success was traversed only by the self- 
reliant and independent, lightning thinkers and 
livers, strong in passion, weak in prejudice, keen at 
circumvention, lavish with money. It was no time or 
place for dally ings, even conscience must not be too 
troublesome. Thoughts of purity, of temperance, of 
home with its loved ones, softened the heart ; but, car- 
ried too far, such reflections brought painful exhaus- 
tion, and hence must not be indulged in. 

Few after coming to California failed in business 
from excessive conscientiousness. Yet there were 


those few, with refined sensibiUty, whose consciences 
had been educated into a state of fastidiousness which 
made them unfit to grapple with rude, profane labor, 
who, fearful of doing something wrong, did nothing. 
Few resisted long the temptation to drop into a gam- 
bling saloon, to take now and then a drink, to stay 
away from church and work or travel on a Sunday, 
to swear a little in cases of emergency, and finally to 
overreach their neighbor in a bargain when opportunity 
offered. No one was likely to know it, or, if so, 
everybody did it; in any event, the money was of 
more value than the morality — or at least, money 
after the return home would be worth more than a 
too strict previous honesty in California. Thus con- 
science was quieted. 

Once unquestioning believers in existing traditions, 
in old men's tales, and above all in whatever was 
stamped in ink on paper, gradually they began to in- 
quire, are these things true? While freely yielding 
to the fascinations of highly seasoned novels, with 
which mining camps were inundated, the minds of 
these uncouth students still continued their blind 
groping after truth. Prominent among the many 
dogmas early ignored was that special scheme of sal- 
vation, contrived for an elect few, which surrounded 
itself by an atmosphere of lofty spirituality, and com- 
placently regarded all without the little coterie as 
wholly reprobate. Farther and farther they wander 
from the tracks of their youth, until they find them- 
selves launched upon a sea of thought, bottomless and 
boundless. At first fearful, then joyous, in their new 
liberty, many of them become lovers and worshippers 
of nature, and almost everyone has his individual code 
of ethics. 

Thus, as they elbow their way through the world, 
knocking together their heads newly filled with ideas 
engendered from new conditions, with all their stored 
principles and prejudices, each for himself begins to 
think both of the present and of the future; begins 

Essays and Miscellany 14 


to question whether the institutions of his own coun- 
try alone are destined to last, and to last forever, 
whether his mother's and sister's bright and beautiful 
beyond is as real as he once believed it to be. He 
begins to see in the affected patriotism of politicians 
the lowest and most vulgar selfishness, and in his own 
patriotism a senseless instrument to be played upon 
for tlie benefit of office-seeking jugglers; he begins to 
see multitudes of opinions and beliefs held by slender 
traditions and supported by slim proofs. 

All ancient maxims, political and religious, that did 
not fit the occasion, be their origin whencesoever they 
■ miglit, were thrown aside, together with many of the 
superfluous forms of law and institutions. Not that 
former associations and instructions here suddenly lost 
all influence, but they were mixed, even at the first, 
and later there came still other elements, in different 
classes and aspirations, notably men with their fami- 
lies, having views of permanency. 

Class distinctions suffered above all a ruthless lev- 
elling. Never existed a varied community with such 
equality among its members socially and politically ; 
there were none rich, for the rich would not traverse 
thousands of miles of lands and seas to dig for gold, 
or to embark in uncertain traffic. There were none 
poor, for what we understand by poor men could not 
afford the journey, and once here no one was poor with 
the Sierra foothills as their bank of deposit. When 
some began to succeed and others to fail, neither need 
be too sure of their footing, for fortune's ways were 
slippery in those days. 

As for antecedents, they were utterly ignored. A 
man was valued only for his qualities. No assump- 
tion of aristocracy or pretended superiority was toler- 
ated ; there were no men and women in the country, 
but all, in their own eyes, were gentlemen and ladies. 

Blood, breeding, and education went for nothing, if 
the woollen shirt covered not genuine manhood; yet 
nowhere was the influence which, if attended by true 


manhood, culture carries with it, more quickly felt 
than here. Honor and virtue were respected, but 
they were looked for beneath the skin; dress could 
not conceal hypocrisy; affectation and dissimulation 
in any shape were ridiculed. 

In communities where the people are separated into 
distinct classes, there is a certain sacred restraint 
which prohibits free intercourse of speech and action 
between individuals of one class and those of another. 
It is only among associates where the veil of reserve 
is laid aside, that imposition is fathomed, and the 
intrinsic merit of the individual made to appear in its 
nakedness and purity. In California, with barriers 
of caste broken down, and all cloudy prestige of an- 
cestry, education, and social standing removed, it was 
easy to know men as they were. Accidentally thrown 
together for a brief term they would not take trouble 
to conceal feelings or hide deformities. There were 
here no conventionalisms of society in which its mem- 
bers are so accustomed to disguise themselves. 

So keen had become the insight into human nature 
of these horny-handed diggers, that to act naturally 
was soon discovered to be the only safe way. Un- 
fortunately, with the artifices of civilization many cast 
off also its decencies; from looseness in dress and 
manners rose looseness in morals. 

Among many original creations appeared a new 
vernacular. Thouglit crystalized into words uneven 
and sentences disjointed, which were jerked out in a 
logic eminently paradoxical. 

All legislation tending toward a forced morality 
was frowned down; under all attempts to inculcate 
puritanical habits by coercion, such as closing the 
theatres on Sunday nights, expecting thereby to drive 
the habitu(§s of such places into the churches, thus 
stimulating their piety as Falstaff would say on com- 
pulsion, they were stiff-necked and dogged. 

Politically free and socially untramelled, these new 
comers made rude labor the central figure, the ideal 


in their code of ethics; hence roughness and labor 
were not only honorable but virtuous, and often the 
only virtues. Contempt for dress, for personal ap- 
pearance, were in many directions followed by abjura- 
tion of everything refining, and attachment to what- 
ever brutalized; and this deification of labor must be 
sustained by bravado and lawlessness. 

It was not that money was sought for or worshipped 
with so much greater intensity on the Pacific coast 
than on the Atlantic. Nor was money-making meaner 
or more debasing here than elsewhere. Voyaging to 
California was no less respectable than voyaging to 
Europe or Asia, merchandising was no more merce- 
nary. Digging for gold was as honorable as digging 
for coal, or copper, and California street stock specu- 
lations were no more gambling than those of Wall 
street. It was the absence of counterbalancing influ- 
ences that made life more licentious, and gave Cali- 
fornia free and easy airs in respect to moral decorum. 

The general order of things incident to new settle- 
ments was reversed. There was none of the innocence 
and artlessness of youth ; there was no season of 
childhood, children were born men and women ; there 
was no period of healthy growth in which intellect 
might strengthen and purity and virtue bloom. En- 
ervating luxury and voluptuous pleasures accompanied 
self-denying effort, and severe hardships. Necessarily 
there must be here a reconcilement of incongruities 
following the meeting of extremes and the clash of 

Gold-seekers were adrift as upon an unknown sea. 
Expatriated by their ambitions they felt themselves 
almost beyond the world's confines, without youthfui 
associations, social obligations, or ties of kindred to 
impose restraint or guidance. The refined and the 
uncultured fell alike under the spell of disorder, and 
reveled like schoolboys in the novelty of the license. 

It was astonishing how quickly at the cry of gold 
clergymen among others hastened to California. 


Wherever the necessity existed, there the ministers 
of the gospel gathered, and there was scarcely a canon 
without its wickedness in those days. Preachers at 
first displayed freely their piety, and were as zealous 
for souls as ever they had been at home. More so, 
the field being new, and money and sin abounding. 
It soon became apparent, however, that their ancient 
labors were lost in these gold-made communities, in- 
tent on enjoyment for a season, and to compromise 
with conscience afterward. Even the gospel ministers 
came to the conclusion that it was precious time 
wasted fighting sin in the foothills ; so after holding 
divine service in tents or under the trees for a few 
Sundays, many turned to mining or other service of 

And the soft black raiment of sanctity being laid 
aside for the coarse gray shirt of sin, the influence of 
coddling elders, of prayer-meetings, of conference 
meetings, of holy meditations and brotherly visitations, 
of sermon-writing and fleshly wrestlings, and old 
women's soul-stirring tea-drinkings, and missionary 
stocking-makings — all this, these soul-subduing influ- 
ences, being absent, it was marvellous how quickly 
the flowers of piety so recently blooming under these 
showers of benevolent association became rank weeds, 
reeking with blasphemy, rum, and tobacco. As the 
leaven of sin began to work beneath these gray shirts, 
it is wonderful how quickly melted the thin shell of 
their religion. Many of the fallen ones stopped not 
on reaching the broad level of manhood, but fell far 
below it, and became gamblers, drinkers ; yet some 
remaimed honest and earnest, willing to take time 
and eternity at their word, and make the most of 

That which had hitherto been taught under the 
names of morality and good character was carefully 
laid away with the black coat and white shirt, to be 
again resumed on returning home. It mattered little 
what men were here, how they behaved, or how they 


were regarded, so that their parents and the friends 
of their childhood did not know of it. A husband 
might be faithless unblushingly, and a minister indulge 
hi a little Sunday gambling without exciting comment, 
and as nobody expected to remain here permanently, 
who cared? Even name and identity were willingly 
sunk in the new admixture. The public benefactor, 
the dispenser of justice, the doer of a daring deed, the 
hero or the bully of the camp, might have been 
known, even to his most intimate comrades, only as 
Sandy Jim, One-eyed Bill, Yank, Dutchy, or Long- 
legged Pete. The natural became here a disguise 
for artificial reality of the home country. Rags and 
undress in like manner covered the beautiful and 

The outward signs by which we are accustomed to 
read the soul are here obliterated. Beneath the 
broad-brimmed Mexican hat, and long, uncombed hair, 
the bushy beard and greasy shirt, intellect, humanity, 
and heart may be concealed, or hellish hate and loath- 
some lust. The true character is lost to visible sense 
in dirt. Still, let the begrimed one move about among 
his fellows, show his eye and open his mouth, and the 
character and calibre of the man will soon be weighed 
and measured. Where life or death is so often the 
penalty of ignorance or stupidity, insight into charac- 
ter becomes an instinct. 

There is always a deterioration in the social and 
moral qualities attendant upon a search for the precious 
metals, and upon the wild excitement which must 
sway a community in which it is carried on. Severe 
labor alone redeems it to some extent. With the 
flush-timer the supreme thought, aim, and hope cen- 
tred in gold. It was worshipped in one image alone 
by the rusty, ragged miners, with their thin, grizzled, 
unkempt visages, shaggy with weather-bleached hair, 
down in the dolorous canons, sweating, and smiting 
the rocks for gold, which if gained would yield only 


pleasures fitful as the garden of Adonis, buffeting 
misfortune with brawny arm and steady eye, many 
of them held for months and years in a limbo of sus- 
pense, with an aspect neither merry nor sad; many 
living along in a Virgilian hades, having no hope 
though consumed by strong desire. The town-dwellers, 
seeking the same object in more varied form, enjoyed 
a more diversified existence. Nevertheless, all was 
of a metallic brightness and a metallic ring; golden 
light and landscape, golden soil and golden compan- 
ionship, rationahstic thought, utilitarian ideas, material 
wealth. Gold was god. Like the one-eyed Arimas- 
pians, they could see only gold, and waste their lives 
quarrelling with the gryfons that guarded it. 

From this absorbing mania sprang a number of 
others. Passions were played upon ; irritations, toil, 
and hunger united even during the journey to stir up 
selfishness, meanness, and wickedness, so that when 
the gold seeker reached his destination, he was half 
the devil's, and ministering spirits stood ready and 
waiting to appropriate the other half Nor was he 
to be specially blamed for all this. Circumstances 
did it. If he stumbled not, it was due more to tem- 
perament than to merit. Indeed, an extraordinary 
exercise of cold, calculating selfishness is essential to 
success ; he would have been regarded as little better 
than a hypocrite or a fool who should have made the 
same display of his virtues on the forty-nine arena as 
in his own family or Sunday-school. 

Had California no other natural resources than her 
mineral wealth, she would be to-day one of the most 
sordid and insignificant of states. We have only to 
behold the stagnation of Nevada and the decline and 
desolation of mining districts in different directions. 
The mining for gold and silver is too near akin to 
gambling to be wholly free from excesses in tempera- 
ment and habits, and cognate abasements. It is or- 
dained that by work only shall man improve, either 
physically or mentally ; and by work is meant that 


kind of labor which tends to results beneficial to the 
human race. 

Most industries tend to this end, but gold mining 
ranks among the lowest in the grade. This can be 
best illustrated by a comparison with agriculture, 
wherein every application leaves a more or less tangi- 
ble improvement for the future, while the other leaves 
a trail of devastation in upturned valleys and desert 
river-banks, both rendered unfit for cultivation by the 
washing away of the soil, or by the superposition of 
bottom gravel or debris from hydraulic washings. 
With the exhaustion of the surface deposits, or of beds 
and quartz bodies, the settlements sustained by their 
exploitation sink to ruined hamlets or are abandoned to 
solitude. The mining of baser metals and minerals 
is attended by little or none of this harm, while 
yielding far more substantial blessings. Nevertheless, 
the extraction of the precious metals involves by no 
means the waste of labor and the deplorable results 
that' are so sweepingly ascribed to it. Under our 
present commercial system these metals have been of 
incalculable value as a medium of exchange ; numer- 
ous useful as well as ornamental arts require them, 
and their contribution to the enjoyments and delights 
of mankind is not to be despised. As a lever for 
starting civilization, for laying the bases of prosperous 
settlements, they stand almost unequalled. Without 
their aid the Pacific coast would present merely a few 
small and struggling seaboard states with a waste in- 
terior, instead of the series of rich political sections we 
now can boast, 

Gold in uncovering itself did great things for Cali- 
fornia ; it brought hither intelligence and culture, and 
speedily peopled the land with industrious, enter- 
prising men. In making its exodus, it left on the spot 
the more excellent of those it had enticed hither; left 
their minds free to engage in superior and more perma- 
nently profitable pursuits ; left them to occupy and 
subdue the land, to plant homes, to civilize, to refine. 


The mines of California bred less inactivity or indo- 
lence than perhaps any other gold field. The class 
that worked them had come too far, were too intelli- 
gent, energetic, and ambitious, and the development 
of the mineral resources of the country was too rapid 
to beget idleness. True, some ended their lives in 
dissipation, but this arose more from disappointment 
or lack of self-control, than from the usual enervating 
influence attending the uncertain and gambling-like 
occupation of mining. 

Had California given gold to the early adventurers 
without labor, as Mexico and Peru gave it to Cortes 
and Pizarro ; had there been an aboriginal race which 
civilized lords could have whipped into the mining 
service without immediately killing them as was the 
case in Mexico ; and had the Sierra drainage contin- 
ued to yield treasure as at the beginning, the worst 
results to the country might have followed. Gold is 
a Judas that betrays with kisses, a Will o' the wisp 
that leads its followers over bogs and fens to destruc- 
tion ; too much gold too easily obtained will ruin any 
man or nation, as Mexico and Spain were ruined. 
Gold engendered a mania for speculation, and emigra- 
tion to California ; this was well. Then it flitted 
hence, until it took a mine to work a mine ; this was 
better. Else what a delirious crack-brained country 
this would be to-day. I do not say that such riches 
are an inherent element of weakness in a country. 
Far from it. Wealth and leisure lie at the founda- 
tion of all culture ; but wealth to be of much benefit 
must come not as an inheritance or conquest, but as 
the fruit of labor, by which means alone an individual 
or a nation can become great. 

The man born to wealth is not wholly to be envied ; 
four fifths of his chance for manhood are gone. The 
youth whose money and position are already secured 
to him, lacks the incentive to work, and without work 
he never can be a man. His money will not put 
muscle on his arm, nor intellect within his head ; and 


though he be as rich as Croesus he will be but a puny 
idiot. Ten thousand dollars contain greater possibili- 
ties of comfort and contentment than ten millions. 

Some dispositions are demoralized by adversity. 
It is more difficult for a person pampered by wealth, 
and petted by society, to turn his back upon the 
allurements of prosperity, and rigidly pursue a life of 
regularity and self-abnegation, such for instance as is 
absolutely necessary for one who would achieve suc- 
cess in art or letters, than for one to work and im- 
prove who is driven on by poverty. But on the other 
hand, the shock of failure to one of a sanguine tem- 
perament, who has labored long for a competence 
which appeared just within his grasp, too often results 
in demoralization. 

The fire of religion burns fiercely when fanned by 
persecution, and dies away under the enervatiag in- 
fluences of prosperity. In times of peace pa.triotism 
lies dormant in the hearts of the people, and is 
awakened only by the approach of danger. Wealth 
in order to be highly prized must be hard to get and 
limited to a few. It is becoming commonplace for 
illiterate clowns by some lucky turn of the cards, or 
by some system of overreaching, to be able to write 
themselves down for two or twenty millions, and then 
buy a seat in congress, or secure some other place 
which only renders the more conspicuous their igno- 
rance and vanity. Fortunes and so-called honors 
thus obtained cheapen manhood^ and bring partici- 
pants into contempt. 

So far we have presented the more shaded aspect of 
California characteristics, which after all applied only 
in a degree. Excesses and eccentricities attract more 
attention because of their prominence above the broad 
current of ordinary occurrences, and are naturally 
seized upon by observers, who moreover emphasize 
them in order to impart a stronger outline to the 
peculiarities. A certain class of writers, each under 


the effort to outdo all predecessors, has gone further 
and exaggerated the eccentricities of the early ad- 
venturers. In the main they were not so very singular; 
most of them were quiet, orderly men. Some camps 
were worse than others, and nearly every camp had 
some eccentric characters. The fault is that the most 
extravagant descriptions of fictitious characters have 
been wrought up by sensational writers arid palmed off 
as representatives. 

Yet there was enough of the strange and fantas- 
tic, and that without adding to the coloring. The 
gathering was a rare novelty in its general aspect. 
For the moment a new experiment was undergoing 
trial — how civilized men of several nations would be- 
have when thrown promiscuously together, unre- 
strained by law, by society, by religious forms. 
Primitive men live without government ; each avenges 
his own wrongrs or leaves them unavenoed. Prosfres- 
sive men refer their troubles to rulers; in common 
v\dth primitive men they likewise weave around them- 
solves innumerable cords of restraint, such as religious 
teachings, moral precepts, fashion, public opinion, 
which act as fetters to mind and passion. Some of 
these are good, others bad; some are blessings at one 
time and evils at another. Let us hope that mankind 
some day will be so far advanced as no longer to require 
administrators only ; instead of rulers, abitrators ; 
but that time is not yet. These men being without 
law straightway became a law unto themselves. As 
it is impossible for them to escape form and fashion 
in some shape, their first decree that society shall be 
without trammels or traditions, absolutely free, inde- 
pendent, and individual, is but the casting of a new 
fetter which makes no fashion the fashion. 

The first use of their liberty or license is to make 
that license the law ; so impossible is it for men to fly 
the track of destiny, or progress faster or in any 
direction other than that predetermined! Keligious 
observances were no longer urged upon them by pre- 


cept and example ; so many became infidel to ortho- 
dox creeds; nevertheless they could not escape re- 
ligion. Death and eternity were before them; that 
they well knew, and each for himself must meet the 
issue. So each for himself struck out on some inde- 
pendent belief, tinctured more or less by former train- 
ing. Some professed to believe nothing ; this in itself 
then became their dogma or doctrine. Not a few 
turned philosophers; and far might be the search be- 
fore finding, within a given number, more or deeper 
thinkers on matters of religion and philosophy. In 
these, as in all other respects, they were thrown upon 
their own resources. They had all the essentials for 
deep thinking, an abrupt breaking loose from the 
past, a new interchange of ideas, with nature and 
their own hearts to commune with. Old moralities 
they threw away and established new maxims to meet 
the occasion. The aristocracy of dress and refine- 
ment they frowned down, and set up an aristocracy 
of democracy. 

In this way they soon perceived that humanity 
could not escape the shackles ; that as well might 
they struggle to be rid of their nature as of the in- 
fluence of physical and social surroundings. See 
how it works. No sooner do these gold-hunters cut 
loose from the trammels of home and of settled civi- 
lized society than they find themselves surrounded by 
new restrictions, held as if in a vise by the great law 
of necessity, growing out of their new situation. 
There is no escape from this law. Bands of outlaws 
are subject to severer restrictions by their own code 
than ever a lawful government imposed upon its sub- 
jects. The leader, in order to be leader, must gird 
himself and walk wisely, and the led must merge 
their will almost wholly in that of their leader, and 
keep a stricter guard upon their intercourse with the 
rough comrades with whom the knife and pistol are 
readier to hand than words to mouth. Wholesome 
law falls at once under the severest despotism. 


All of US, old and young, become subject to a 
master. We may get along with conscience, no mat- 
ter how we carry ourselves; either by compromising 
with the devil or putting it away to keep. But the 
omnipresent eye of our fellows we never can escape 
from. In the days of his budding genius Jean Paul 
Kichter affected certain singularities in dress, wishing, 
as he expresses it, to accustom himself to the censure 
of others, and appear a fool, that he might learn to 
endure fools. But though a Diogenes in philosophy 
he finally broke under it and gave up his fashion. 
Few theoretical or artificially formed societies stand 
the test of time. Communities are born and grow ; 
they are seldom made. 

From the first there have been in our midst men 
of sterling worth, reticent, modest, with brains more 
active than their tongues, men of wonderful and 
heroic lives, gems of manhood, whose quiet, gentle 
deeds go unheralded amidst the brass-and-cymbal 
soundings of the hurrying crowd. It was such men as 
these, a few of them, brought by fortune or circum- 
stance to the front, but for the most part remaining 
a power behind appearances, who fashioned society on 
these shores, and shaped the destiny of the nation. 

Under the slouched hats even of the miners were 
brains that thought, and beneath the long flowing 
unkempt beards shone faces of homely shrewdness. 
Observant yet visionary, some worked hard, striving 
to overrule the inexorable circumstances that ruled 
them, while others, notwithstanding their apparent 
recklessness, possessed of a calmer judgment, of 
sagacity and quickness of apprehension, seized the 
favorable opportunity, and improved it with persever- 
ing industry and wonderful power of endurance. 

A higher estimate w^as placed upon human nature 
by the experiences in California. Even the rough 
and unlettered workingman, without wisdom or moral 
excellence, such as are taught in the schools, displayed 
a native nobility of some form or consistence, which 


controverts the once-held doctrine of total depravity. 
None are so bad that no good can be found in them ; 
and the greatest whilom saint too often in the hour of 
trial is found to be the greatest sinner. 

Kind-hearted, benevolent, generous, they were as 
a rule ; although some of them could be as cruel and 
extravagant as Caracalla. Ready at any cost of time 
or trouble to rescue those in peril, to help the dis- 
tressed, they scorned pay for such services. Whether 
or not they possessed faith in God or their countr}^, 
they had faith in themselves, and depended upon them- 
selves alone for their success. With this faith they 
had no fear of misfortune or poverty. 

This was an age of ventures and pioneer plunges 
into the dark, an age of speculation and investigation, 
of exploration and opening of unknown wildernesses, 
in which restless schemers, confident in their own re- 
sources, stood ready to undertake anything, from the 
cutting of a ship canal to the conquest of a hundred 
thousand Sonorans with a handful of followers. 

Never was more versatility of talents, or more apt- 
ness in emergencies. As the richest placers were 
culled over and began to be exhausted, mining ma- 
chinery was invented with marvellous rapidity and 
efficiency, which made profitable more difficult dig- 
gings. There was not a social problem that could 
arise but was solved or cut upon the instant. Although 
a motley crew, without law or order, rights of property 
were defined and respected ; regulations were made 
concerning mining claims, thieves were shot, and 
ballot-box stuiTers hanged. The trammels of ancient 
forms, inapplicable to the present order of things, were 
flung to the winds. 

There was here manifest in early times none of that 
inequality between labor and capital common in older 
communities, where the poor are servants of the rich, 
and labor is ruled by capital. In California labor was 
not only on an equality with capital, but in many re- 
spects superior to it. He who had bone and sinew to 


sell was more independent than he who had money 
with which to buy. There was no cringing of tlie 
poor laborer before the rich employer. All started 
evenly ; all must work, rich and poor alike ; the rich 
of to-day might be the poor of to-morrow, the em- 
ployer of to-day to-morrow's laborer. For several 
years the prices of both labor and capital ruled high 
in California, because people at the east and in Europe 
lacked confidence in the stability of the country ; and 
when our prosperity became fixed, and men and money 
came forward liberally, resources inviting development 
kept so far in advance of the supply of the means of 
development, that the rates of five dollars a day for 
labor and three per cent a month for the use of money 
declined but slowly. 

As slavery shaped politics, the chivalric ideal, and 
domestic manners in the south, so did austere puri- 
tanism and the exaltation of labor in the north. In 
CaHfornia were both ; gold was slave, and the gath- 
ering of it labor, which became lord of all. The nat- 
ural and material predominated. Brains and blood, 
which are sure in the end to prevail over brute force, 
were for a ti^ie under ban. Unassisted by muscular 
energy, the intellect alone would not disembowel the 
earth, turn streams, or remove boulders. Pride must 
have a fall ; soft hands must be hardened. The aris- 
tocracy of intellect must give way before the aristoc- 
racy of muscle. The common laborer who at home 
hammered stones on the turnpike, or dug canals, was as 
good a man among the boulders as the statesman or mer- 
chant. The honest miner was lord of the land, and 
clergymen, doctors, and lawyers, who were obliged to 
drive mules or wash dishes, were his servants. 

Master and slave from the southern states Avould 
work and live together ; white and red would labor 
and lie down together. Failing in mining, the heter- 
ogeneous mass would segregate, individuals dropping 
off into pursuits more congenial, or better adapted to 
their money-making talents. One would take to law, 


another to medicine ; one would become an artist, and 
sketch claims and cabins and portraits for his com- 
rades, finding tlie new occupation more congenial as 
well as more profitable than the old. 

Conservative notions were cast to the winds; and, 
stripped of its folly and trumpery as well as of its 
more comely adornments, society stood naked ; all 
things seemed reduced to a state of nature, but the 
rapidity with which order, equity, and natural justice 
formulated themselves, with the balance of right and 
wrong restored, shows the inherent capabilities and 
good qualities of the founders of the new regime. 

Not only was labor made honorable, but there was 
a chivalry that enveloped all industry such as the 
marts of commerce had never before witnessed. For 
so small a community traffic was conducted on a grand 
scale, and the way of it was princely — more princely 
than the way of princes. Enter a shop ; it might be 
a wooden house, a tent, or an uncovered piece of 
street or sandy beach. If the owner regards you at 
all, it is with total indifference as to your wealth or 
your wants ; he is not at all tremulous a^to the dollars 
he shall make out of you. If you object to the price, 
you are at liberty to leave the article. The seller has 
no time for chaffering, the buyer has none for cheap- 
ening ; if they are old Californians, which term at 
this juncture implies three months in the country, 
neither of them will stoop to many words when gold 
can settle the difference. 

Circumstances cast business methods into a mould 
widely different from that prevailing in staid old com- 
mercial circles, and those who neglected to adapt 
themselves to it were more liable to be borne down by 
the current than those who abandoned themselves 
freely to it. Of the best class of business men — those 
of the most sterling integrity and soundest morals, 
and greatest perseverance — who arrived here first, few 
have been permanently successful. The reality so 


far exceeded the romance, that the wisest calculations 
and the wildest dreams were ahke one. He who 
should tell the truth regarding the future was a rav- 
ing maniac, while the imaginings of an Arabian story- 
teller might find credence. Brimful of health, hope, 
ambition, and enterprise, they failed more in overdo- 
ing than in lack of energy. 

Aspersions were freely cast upon the moral and 
mercantile reputations of Californians from abroad ^ 
some of which it must be admitted were true, but 
many of them wholly unjust. For the innumerable 
losses and failures which occurred to early shippers, 
they were themselves greatly to blame. As eager as 
any to make speedy fortunes in the golden wilderness, 
and ignorant of the country and of the necessities of 
its visitors, schemes the most visionary were thought- 
lessly concocted, the blame for the failure of which 
often fell alone upon the instruments selected for car- 
rying them out. A large amount of capital was 
thrown upon these shores, mostly in the shape of mer- 
chandise, some of which was wholly worthless. 
Money was advanced by capitalists at home to assist 
those who were to divide with them the gains ; and these 
speculators in the lives and labors of others were nat- 
urally disappointed if the pittance advanced for out- 
fit and passage did not bring them a fortune equal to 
that brought to Whittington by his cat. 

It is a conceded fact that personal honor ranked 
high in the mining community, and is so maintained 
during the present wider recourse to it by business 
men generally ; for, owing to the peculiar climate and 
other conditions, the credit system obtains here exten- 
sively. In the absence of law during flush times men 
prided themselves on their integrity, and to throw a 
man upon his honor was oftentimes the safest security 
in traffic. Hence honesty became a ruling propensity ; 
so that midst the hubbub of the maddest camp-life 
there was always found enough of righteousness to 
save the place. 

Essays and Miscellany 15 


Ill the manner of sustaining this independence and 
dignity at manual or head work, a vast difference ap- 
peared when comparing the several nationalities. 
With one an earnestness and zest for brute labor, witli 
another the adjuncts of observation and thought, lifted 
the arm to easier performance and wider scope ; botli 
in marked contrast to the desultory and less energetic 
efforts exhibited especially by Spanish- American and 
Latin races, which trusted more to good fortune than 
to personal force. These traits cropped out clearly 
on the minhig ground. A Frenchman, for example, 
lacked the independence and practical sagacity neces- 
sary for emergencies here. Had the country been 
peopled entirely by them, it would have taken ten 
times as' long to develop it. Frenchmen seemed 
afraid to be alone. Yet while essentially gregarious, 
they manifested little of that mutual confidence and 
cohesiveness necessary to self-government, and the 
prosecution of such mining enterprises as could be 
successfully carried on only by companies of twenty 
or more men. Scarcely half-a-dozen could work to- 
gether harmoniously for any length of time ; and yet 
a Frenchman was rarely seen prospecting or travelling 
in the mines alone, as was the common practice of 
Teutons and Anglo-Americans. The latter though of 
all men the most individually independent, can at the 
same time most perfectly unite and organize for the 
prosecution of a common object. 

Large mining companies always required a prepon- 
derant Anglo-Saxon element to give them consistency 
and cohesion. No matter how lawless and overbear- 
ing the respective members of these companies might 
be in an individual and private capacity, they were 
almost invariably quiet and orderly in their association, 
submitting cheerfully to the direction of their leader. 
This national idea of uniting for strength, merging 
the proud independence of one into the proud inde- 
pendence of the whole, is essentially American, and 
cannot be practised, even on so small a scale as a 


mining company, so successfully by Europeans, or by 
the subjects of any monarchy. Perfect equality was 
the fundamental principle, and in companies formed 
for mining, a doctor and a drayman, a lawyer and a 
hod-carrier, the educated the refined and the ignorant, 
worked side by side as men. Differences were laid 
aside, and a union complete was made under the 
banner of Mammon. 

Partnership was more than business association ; it 
was a union of all interests, social and physical. If one 
fell sick, the other took care of him; if one got drunk, 
the other helped him home ; if both fell by the way- 
side, they shared their misfortune together. 

These men whom avarice had drawn to this wilder- 
ness from comfortable homes were not altogether 
avaricious; not so avaricious as many they had left 
behind. If any stranger were hungry they fed him, 
if any comrade were in need they divided their pos- 
sessions with him. Notwithstanding the yellow tinge 
of their dreams and toils, nowhere could be found men 
more indifferent to gold, men who guarded it so care- 
lessly, who squandered it so recklessly, who parted 
from it with fewer pangs, than among these who had 
come so far and had denied themselves so much to 
find it. The humanity engendered by the gathering 
of the gold-diggers was crude and unique, but it was 
genuine and hearty. Social intercourse was pruned 
of its superfluous courtesies, and blunt goodfellowship 
took the place of meaningless etiquette. Greetings 
were frank and cordial, and the persistently morose 
and ill-tempered were cursed into kindness. No man 
of any parts who would then be called a man was 
long a stranger. Almost everyone had friends in the 
country, and he who had none made them, and pres- 
ently himself began to feel that everybody was his 

For cool courage, indifference to hardships, and the 
manliness with which they met the severest misfor- 
tunes, the world offers no such examples since the 


days of Cortes. The miner bore his ills with admi- 
rable indifference. Far from bemoanins^ his fate and 
linking under discouragement, and crying all is lost and 
no chance any more, he recommenced with the same 
energy and enthusiasm a new apprenticeship. If from 
master he became a simple workman, it did not mat- 
ter. If overtaken by death before rising again, the 
struggle was ended, and to death he resigned himself 
If a fire swept a town, and half the inhabitants were 
bankrupted, there was no repining, no mourning over 
the irretrievably lost; as if by magic buildings rose 
again and business proceeded as usual. A flood bore 
away in a single night the results of a summers 
labor ; straightway work was resumed with a persist- 
ency worthy a nobler cause. Not once or twice but 
ten times they fell and rose again, thousands of them 
dying in their endeavors. No wonder that some gave 
up the battle and succumbed, victims to intemperance. 
And let those blame them who will; for me there is 
no sight so pitiful, none that so draws upon my every 
sympathy, as that of a once noble man who from re- 
peated misfortune irrecoverably falls, and gives him- 
self up, body and soul, to the demon of drink. In 
his besotted insanity that man is ten times more my 
brother than the successful trickster or the untried 
sentimental moralist, who so scornfully pass him by 
on the other side. 

To this wrecking of humanity contributed not a 
little the wandering habits of miners, and their periodic 
idleness, largely compulsory, but developing therefrom 
into a custom with those predisposed to indolence. 
Thus was gradually unfolded the tramp in the country 
and the loafer in the towns ; and this in so marked a 
manner that it became necessary to coin a word 
which should express their character. The foremost 
feature of the bummer is his idleness. He is the 
drone of society. He may even be a man of some 
property ; but if he spends his time mainly in hanging 
about saloons, gossiping, smoking, playing cards or 


billiards, he is a bummer, and not entitled to the re- 
spect even of the professional gambler and saloon- 
keeper. He is not necessarily a vagabond, but he 
must be something of a sponge. He is the figure 
head of thriftlessness ; he lives without work, often 
dresses well, nobody knows how, is happy and jovial. 
Landing on these shores without money, without 
friends, with no definite purpose in view, wandering 
homeless about the streets from day to day, seeking 
rest and finding none, seeking occupation, seeking the 
means to relieve the day's hunger, the dream that 
lured men hither is soon dissipated, the charms of 
novelty fly before inexorable destiri}^, and the dazzling 
pictures of the past fade before unrelenting want. 
Some sink into vice, insanity, suicide, others chancing 
upon some lucky hit, or through their indomitable 
exertions overcoming the vicissitudes that beset their 
path, rise to eminence, an^ live to laugh at their former 
trials ; many, very many, go down to the grave alone, 
unknown, uncared for, with a dying curse upon the 
tinsel allurements that drew them from home and 
wrought their ruin. Yet those behind come crowd- 
ing on, the lessons of sad experience taught others 
having no meaning for them. Well, let them make 
the venture. Life, after all is but a wager, and he 
alone is sure to lose who will not stake it. 

Now that this grand festival is over, and the mor- 
row has come, stand on the corner of a street in 
cosmopolitan San Francisco and watch the faces as 
they pass. Behold what manner of men are these ? 
Out of great tribulation they have come, some of 
them unscathed ; or it may be they are yet in trouble. 
The once innocent, happy, and contented look lies 
deeply buried under business care and nervous striv- 
ing. You see forms bent by labor, limbs mutilated 
by accidents, faces furrowed by disappointment or 
disease, hair whitened by sorrow and remorse, eyes 
dimmed and bleared by sensuality, cheeks flabby and 


bloated by drunkenness, the spirit clouded with shame 
and the conscience seared with the cinders of hell. 
And amoncT those who have overcome, who have suc- 
ceeded in life's battle, you see their fossilized features, 
their intellectual inanity, and the gloomy light that 
glimmers from a hopeless heart, from hearts yet burn- 
ing in the unquenchable fire of avarice, each of which 
knoweth its own bitterness. 

How many wrecked lives are here ; how many have 
already gone down to perdition unknown and uncared 
for, buried beneath mountain snow, rotting at the foot 
of a precipice, devoured by wild beasts or laid under 
the ground by strangers who knew not even their 
names ! Nevertheless from behind these pain-chiselled 
features shines out many a noble soul, whose battlings 
and victories and defeats none but itself can ever 
know ; its blunted sensibilities and dead energies mak- 
ing it a thing objectionable to its fellows. Let him 
who would study the effect of mind upon body, the 
influence of the moral upon the intellectual, the sub- 
tle impress of wrong-doing and right-doing upon the 
human face, pause here a moment, for on no other 
corner in Christendom will he find such riddles to 

What were to them the attractions of climate, the 
seductions of scenery, the natural wealth and good 
qualities of the country ? Blinded by their losses and 
mishaps many saw neither beauties nor benefits. Dis- 
gust and home-sickness enveloped them like a cloud ; 
and not until they neared Sandy Hook on their re- 
turn did the sun seem to shine. The eyes of others 
were by their very successes so fastened upon the 
ground that they could not see the stars ; so absorbed 
were their minds in their various pursuits, that the 
beauties of earth were lost upon them. 

The thought of making in California a permanent 
home was at the first entertained by few. To achieve 
wealth, at least to gather gold enough to satisfy mod- 
erate desires, to pay off the mortgage on the old home, to 


shield the aged parents, or assist brothers and sisters to 
establish business, or peradventure to marry, and then 
to return — such was the ambition of nearly every man 
who entered California in 1849. To rear a family in 
such a place as the country where were neither 
schools nor churches, where, upon the surface at least, 
men were as uncouth as bears, and coarser and more 
brutal than the aboriginals before the charm of the 
wilderness was broken, was not to be thought of, and 
the towns, hot-beds of iniquity, were but little better. 

Meanwhile circumstances interposed to modify 
their views. Often is chronic home-sickness cured or 
at least alleviated by the receipt of letters and papers. 
Not that affection is thereby diminished, but being 
transported by these missives to familiar scenes, long- 
ings to be there are in a measure satisfied ; fears arise 
lest the prospects of success have been drawn in too 
high colors, and considerations arise as to one's condi- 
tion if at once returned thither. Hence the wealtli- 
seeker becomes more reconciled to wait a little longer 
and improve his prospects. 

The realization of such hopes was not frequent. Of 
all the first steamship pioneers, who deemed them- 
selves so fortunate in arriving at the new El Dorado 
before any of the thousands then preparing to follow 
them, how few succeeded in securing the coveted 
wealth or lived to enjoy the placid old age of opulence 
and ease so often dreamed of ! Bags of gold, wealth 
— all were but husks on which these prodigals fed. 

By autumn 1850 tlie character of the population 
was somewhat changed. The only object was no 
longer to delve for gold wherewith to buy pleasure at 
the east ; most of the class intent on that purpose had 
returned home or were stiL at work in the mines una- 
ble to return. Those who now came included many 
returned Californians bent on making California 
their permanent residence. With the arrival of vir- 
tuous women, and of men with their families, the 
moral aspect of California began to change, and the 


tendency at one time apparent of making women 
masculine was corrected. 

The influence of individuals grew fainter by degrees 
as society assumed form and comeliness, and began to 
issue its mandates as a concentrated and crystallized 
fact, based on the common-sense of rational commu- 
nities of intelligent men. But society had long to 
struggle with a lack of coherence; itb several elements 
required time to coalesce. There was too much 
change, too much competition, too much manifestation 
of the spirit of egoism; but to all of which time brought 
a remedy. 

It could already be seen that a brilliant society, 
composed of the intellectual and polished from all 
nationalities, was within the reach of San Francisco, 
and that this magnificent fusion of the elegant and 
refined, each contributing the best traits, would some 
day be achieved. As yet we find a marked contrast 
in the free and friendly mingling of men and women 
here and elsewhere. This is one phase of the restless- 
ness connected with migration fever that drove men 
hither, with the nomadic and desultory mining life 
and gambhng spirit, and the periodicity of farming 
and many other industrial operations. It is also at- 
tributable to the frivolous disposition of the women 
of an inferior class as compared with the males, under 
the eliminating influence of distance, difficulty of ac- 
cess, and frontier hardships, and too much intent on 
marrying money for enjoyment and display. Indis- 
posed for household duties, she has given an abnormal 
development to hotel and lodging-house life, with its 
ease and indolence, and has consequently widely 
undermined the taste for domesticity and for the 
home circle. Among other results is an increasing 
host of unmarried men, a forced recourse to public 
places of amusement, and a giddiness of temperament 
which is not conducive to the maintenance of the staid 
moral tone of puritan times. 

Neither separations nor great wealth are conducive 


to quiet marital relations. How many illiterate men, 
in times of early poverty married to illiterate women, 
when riches made them worshipful among their fel- 
lows, and redder lips and brighter eyes than those of 
their old and careworn helpmeets smiled upon them 
— how many has prosperity thus turned from the 
faithful partner of former days to fresher attractions, 
thus sowing seeds of dissension, soon growing into 
weeds of discord and divorce ! Moreover, in a country 
where women were comparatively few in number, the 
neglected wife always found friends of the opposite 
sex to lend their sympathy and advise separation. 
In California the ease in dissolving marriages was 
only equalled by the facility with which meretricious 
unions were pronounced legal. 

The world may look upon the graceless doings of 
the past and censure, but the soul of progress is not 
of that world. The prim and puritanical may regard 
the profligate acts of the pioneers, and heave a sigh 
of righteous wrath, but the prim and puritanical are 
blind to the great mysteries of civilization ; for at all 
epochs in the refining of the race, such deeds, and 
worse, are patent, and to these and kindred evils 
sanctimonious imprecators owe their very primness 
and purity. The achievement of great social results 
requires a deep stirring of the different elements, even 
to the noxious settlements at the bottom. These 
tunes, and the like, were the world's nurseries of free- 
dom. The knees of tyranny smote together, and all 
the world felt it, when France and 1792 made kings 
of the canaille. Does the world yet fully comprehend 
it? California and 1849 were the first to make capi- 
talists of the masses, the first to break down the 
flimsy fabric of caste and social duplicity, the first to 
point effectively the finger of scorn at time-honored 
cant, hypocrisy, and humbug. Here the nations of 
the earth met together and learned the first lesson 
of social freedom, freedom from that hateful] est and 
strongest of all tyrannies, the eye, not of God, but of 


conservative society. Then they dispersed, and came 
again, and again dispersed, and the winds of lieaven 
never scattered seeds further or more surely than 
these migrations and remigrations did the subhme and 
simple doctrines of social liberty without license, of 
individual self-restraint without social tyranny. 

In the admixture of races in California we have 
practically a congress of nations, whose effect upon 
the good-will and advancement of mankind will be 
felt more and more as the centuries pass by. In the 
interchange of mutual benefits which fuse under the 
influences of good government and free institutions, 
and the cords of sympathy radiating hence to every 
land, barriers of sectional jealousy and prejudice are 
broken down, national eccentricities are worn away, 
and every man begins to see something good in his 
neighbor. Nor is this all. This fusion of the races, 
this intermixture of the best from every nation rises 
and swells into a leaven, which reacts upon the origi- 
nal contributors, and leavens the whole mass of 



Have I not heard the sea puflfed up with winds, 
Rage like an angry boor, chafed with sweat ? 

— Taming the Shrew. 

Probably never was there so favorable an opportu- 
nity for working out one of the grandest of race 
problems as in the republic of the United States 
during the first half century of its existence. The 
people who declared separation from Great Britain, 
and fought out their independence with consummate 
courage and self-reliance, were among the noblest of 
the earth. There were none to be found, among the 
most favored nations, of higher manhood, of freer minds, 
or purer hearts. Intellectually emancipated above 
all others, their purposes were exalted and their lives 
heroic and virtuous. Trained in the school of adver- 
sity and forced to self-denial, forced to carve out their 
fortunes, to subdue the wilderness, to subdue their 
own passions, they had acquired a hardihood, a phys- 
ical and moral endurance, a self-adaptation to circum- 
stances, and the power of subordinating circumstances 
to an iron will, such as could be found in no other 
community. And as they themselves had been dis- 
ciplined, so they taught their children — to work, en- 
dure, worship God, govern themselves, and be intelli- 
gent and free. 

The material conditions were most favorable ; lands 
unlimited, prolific soil, temperate climate, with no de- 
moralizing metals or servile race. They had come 
for conscience' sake, for religious and political liberty, 



not for gold or furs. The native men and women 
they encountered were poor material for slaves, pre- 
ferring to die rather than work ; so they let them die, 
even helping them betimes. Wild men and wild 
beasts were in the way, and it was the will of God that 
both should disappear from the forest when the men 
of conscience laid their axe at the root of the tree. 

No start in the race of empire-building could have 
been better ; and had this course been preserved, all 
other nations would now be far behind. Had there 
been exercised less haste ; had the men of nerve and 
conscience, of muscle and morality, been less eager to 
get rich, less eager to see forests cleared, lands popu- 
lated, towns built, and government established ; had 
they been satisfied to be wise and prudent, rearing 
sons and daughters to work and abstain, to cultivate 
body and mind alike, expanding in strength, intelli- 
gence, and virtue, and reserve for them and their des- 
cendants the vast domain which has been given to 
others, tongue cannot tell the result. 

The mistake arose from lack of patience and foresight. 
The theory was that there was practically no limit to 
land. The watchword was freedom ; air and water 
were free, likewise religion and government, also land. 
All were the free gift of God, and should be free to 
all the children of God, to white and black, to Chris- 
tian and barbarian. The commonwealth should be 
erected on this basis, and all the nations of the earth 
should be invited to participate. All mankind should 
find on one spot of earth at least freedom in its fullest 
extent, freedom of body, mind, and estate. 

Here was truly great magnanimity displayed by 
our venerated forefathers, both in theory and practice; 
we will not inquire too closely as to the part, if any, 
played by an inordinate desire for wealth and progress. 
For a hundred years every possible effort was made 
to bring in population, fill up the country, and get rid 
of the land. Every possible inducement was offered ; 
all should be free to think and act and enjoy ; even 



our government we would divide with all the world. 
Little attention was paid to quality ; everything in 
the shape of a man counted, and one man was as good 
as another in the sight of God and under the banner 
of freedom. With some of fair endowment was gath- 
ered much of the world's refuse, and so the country 
was peopled. 

Nevertheless, in due time, the logic of our well- 
planned institutions became unreasonable and erratic 
in certain quarters, sometimes puzzling to the simple 
mind. There is the enigma of the African, who 
amidst a glorious exuberance of freedom is first made 
slave and then master, and seemingly as much out of 
place in one position as in the other. But while the 
black man has thus been made to undergo the irony 
of American liberty, the white European enters into 
the enjoyment of rulership at once, while the off-col- 
ored Mongolian is permitted to be neither slave nor 

It was natural to quarrel with Great Britain over 
the great Oregon game-preserve ; nations like men 
enjoy their disputes if by any twist they can found 
them on some fancied principle. When the great 
slice was secured from Mexico, the Americans who 
traversed the continent were angry to find the charm- 
ing valleys of California so largely occupied by Mexi- 
cans. And when gold was found in the Sierra foot- 
hills, the question immediatel}^ arose, Can foreigners 
carry away our nuggets ? 

American miners said No, but American statesmen, 
having before their eyes precepts and traditions, said 
Yes. Nevertheless, the Pike county men drove out 
Mexicans and frightened away Frenchmen, while the 
state legislature levelled its anathema at the Chinese 
in the form of a foreign miners' tax, of first twenty 
dollars, but finally reduced to four dollars, the former 
sum being more than could be extorted from poor men 
with poor implements working ground which had been 
abandoned by the superior race. 


Thus it occurred that not until the utmost hmit 
of their country had been reached by westward push- 
ing settlers, on the shores of the Pacific, did the people 
of the United States take thought of what they had 
been doing, California being the first to enter a prac- 
tical protest against the unlimited and indiscriminate 
admission of foreigners. 

But before this the evil had been done. The re- 
public had not posed before the world as the land of 
limitless freedom during a century or more for 
nothing. Low Europeans had come hither in droves, 
lowering the standards of intelligence and morality, 
and polluting our politics. 

Nor was the ground taken by California in opposing 
foreign immigration reasonable or tenable ; her atti- 
tude and action did not arise from the honest and sin- 
cere convictions of her best citizens. Instead of levelling 
her influence against the principle, she made war alone 
on an individual class, on a single nationality, not by 
any means the one that had done, was doing, or was 
likely to do, the greatest injury to the commonwealth; 
indeed, it was the most harmless class of all, its chief 
offence being the only one which was never mentioned, 
the fact that it would not and could not vote. 

The general government took the matter quietly. 
It could not yet see any great mistake it had made ; 
it would not see the cess-pools of immorality in all the 
larger cities, and how filthy had become its politics ; 
above all, it could not all at once turn its back upon 
tradition and give the lie to a hundred Fourth-of- 
Julys. But in time demagogism made an impres- 
sion, and a reluctant consent was finally secured to 
exclude from our shores any further accession of low 
Asiatics, while still permitting low Africans and low 
Europeans not only to come to their heart's content, 
but to mingle in our government and become our 
masters, attaining their ends by means so vile that no 
honest man can enter the lists against them. 


Few enjoy hearing the unpopular side of a question. 
Still fewer care to present the facts on both sides 
of a disputed proposition. It is a thankless task, 
bringing down upon the head that undertakes it the 
condemnation of all concerned. We prefer our preju- 
dices to facts ; we do not like enlightenment that dis- 
turbs our self-complacency. Nevertheless, every 
question has two sides, and it is not always time lost 
to calmly look a subject through, instead of shutting 
the eyes and surrendering to blind tradition, or bel- 
lowing for whichever proposition pays. 

The Chinese question rarely receives notice on more 
than one side, and at the narrowest part of that. 
Like almost every disputed point, it is not a point at 
all, but something wider and deeper than was ever 
dreamed of until it came to be sounded. As between 
the Chinaman *s side and that of other foreigners, 
there is indeed the point ; but it widens as we consider 
Asia's side and America's, man's side and God's. 

In passing upon, let alone proving, any one of the 
many propositions surrounding the main proposition, 
we encounter questions as difficult of solution as the 
main question itself For instance, it has been gen- 
erally held here in America, as we have seen, that 
immigration from Europe is desirable; that it is ben- 
eficial to have our lands occupied as soon as possible, 
reclaimed from savagism and placed under cultivation. 
If we ask why it is a blessing, the answer is, the more 
population the more wealth and development. But 
are population, wealth, and development desirable 
before every other consideration? Our large cities 
have population, wealth, and development, and they 
are hot-beds of corruption, morally and politically 
rotten. Is this state of things in every respect so 
much better than when the wild man chased the 
wild buck over these now incorporated grounds? 
Again, good lands are becoming scarce. The de- 
scendants of Americans are rapidly multiplying. 
Soon there will be no more new lands for them. Is 


it conducive to the highest good of the commonwealth 
so hastily to partition soil among strangers ? Or if 
it be best to have the land quickly occupied, should 
we not discriminate as to the quality of humanity 
admitted for colaborers in race and nation making ? 
We certainly do not want the yellow-skinned heathen 
to marry with our sons and daughters, and occupy 
our lands; but do we want the l)lack, bad-smelling 
African, or the quarrelsome European ? 

This, then, is one side of the question : that a low 
class of immigration is worse tlian none ; that it is 
better for a people to do their own work rather than 
hire it done ; that the Chinese are certainly objection- 
able, bemg heathen, filthy, immoral, and inexorably 
alien in heart and mind to all our institutions, social 
and political. The other side is : that even if no im- 
migration is desirable, if we admit any we should ad- 
mit all; that the Chinese are no more objectionable 
than others ; that laborers are required to develop 
agriculture and manufactures; and that it is not de- 
sirable that any low class of foreigners should amal- 
gamate with our people or meddle in our politics. 

If material development, the occupation, and culti- 
vation of lands, and the unfolding of mines and man- 
ufactures be most desirable, then we deceive ourselves 
and malign the Asiatic in repudiating him ; for he is 
the best man for that purpose, better than the African 
or the European. He works as the steam-engine, 
the cotton-gin, woollen-mill, and sewing-machine work, 
or as the mule or gang-plow — that is he does the 
most work for the least money, absorbs the least in 
food and clothes, and leaves the wealth he creates for 
general use, getting himself out of the country when 
the country has no further use for him, not stopping 
to agitate, or amalgamate, or try his hand at bribing, 
ruling, and demoralizing the too susceptible Ameri- 
cans, and carrying away with him the few metal 
dollars which he has justly earned. 

High wages may affect humanity, and raise the 


standard of comfort and intelligence in the community, 
but it is low wages that promote manufactures or 
other material development. It is idle to argue, as 
men will do, that the California raisin maker, or cigar, 
or cloth, or leather manufacturer, can enter the world's 
market and compete more successfully having to pay 
for labor two dollars than one dollar a day. 

For twenty years Chinese labor has acted as a pro- 
tective tariff, enabling California to establish wealth- 
creating industries, wliicli form the basis of her present 
and future greatness; and it would be about as sensi- 
ble to drive out all steam-engines or other machinery 
as for this reason alone to drive out the Chinese. 

Again, wages, the price paid for labor, is a relative 
quantity. Low wages, other things being equal, are 
no more detrimental to comfort and the general well- 
being of the community than high wages with the 
price of commodities correspondingly high, and the 
labor wage regulates the prices of raw material as 
well as of the manufactured article. Chinese labor 
is in some branches little cheaper than white labor. 
The variations of wages are affected by the efficiency 
and faithfulness of the laborer, and not by religious 
belief or the color of the skin. In California a Chinese 
cook now receives from twenty -five to thirty-five dol- 
lars a month, and is generally preferred to a white 
cook at the same rate, particularly on farms, because 
he will do more and better work, and with less com- 
plaining. But the Chinese are becoming every day 
more independent. They comprehend the situation 
fully. Labor has no more conscience than capital ; 
when there is a scarcity it raises the price. 

The European assumes that he is a better man 
than the Asiatic, in which position he is upheld by 
the politician seeking votes, by tradesmen desiring 
custom, and by newspapers desiring circulation. Yet 
he is unwilling to enter the arena beside the Mongol- 
ian, put his superiority to the test, and allow compen- 
sation to be measured hy merit. He is captious and 

Essays and Miscellany 1G 


critical, allesfingr that he is Immiliated and labor de- 
graded thereby, though he does not object to follow 
the horse or work beside a steam-engine. It is 
mainly an excuse with him. When offered work at 
good wages he too often demands yet higher pay and 
fewer hours, with the slowest possible movement of 
the pick and sliovel. He is quick to take offence, and 
ever ready to abandon work and smoke his pipe on 
the street corners among his growling companions. 
He does not want to be a laborer unless he can be at 
the same time master, and rule in labor as in govern- 

The solution of the new civilization's labor question 
is not to be found in Adam Smith or John Stuart 
Mill. There may be a return to New England's 
early ways, when the farmers' sons and daughters did 
the work, with or without a hired man or two, and 
in the town factories the native poor found a place. 
But if this is ever to be, something is to be done in 
the meantime. Farming lands west of the Mississippi 
are not laid out in New England proportions. There 
is more work than the sons can do, and the young 
lady daughters w^ill not cook and wash for the farm 
hands. A million laborers are wanted immediately 
west of the Rocky Mountains, not for purposes of 
purification, amalgamation, or social or political re- 
quirements, but to plant and gather, fence lands and 
tend stock, preserve products and develop manufac- 
tures. They must be had, or the industries of this 
country will suffer as never before. Where are they 
to come from? 

Hence it must be that in the minds of our enlight- 
ened advocates of immigration it is not material pros- 
perity alone that actuates them in helping hither one 
class of workers while repelling another and better 
class. Is it philanthropy, then, that broad benevolence 
which would bring in all the world to enjoy our liber- 
ties and our lands? It must be something of this 
kind. We seem to be sufferinf>; for amalgamation of 


some sort ; we have no desire to join hearts and minds 
with those of the steam-engine, the mule, or the Mon- 
goUan, and through union with these agencies hand 
down to posterity our time-honored institutions. 
Why not ? We might do worse. We have done and 
are doing worse. While one part of the common- 
wealth has hugged to its bosom the black African, 
who is not half so white as the half- white Mongolian, 
the other portion has been inviting equally objection- 
able elements from the east. We have made our 
master the low European, who has befouled our 
politics and demoralized the nation more than all the 
Mongolians or steam-engines therein. The cess-pools 
of Europe, which in the name of immigration we have 
been draining into our cities for the last century, have 
finally raised such a moral and political stench as 
should fully satisfy all lovers of America and haters 
of Asia. No I No Mono-olian amalgamation after 
this I Rather let celestials sit here quietly and smoke 
all the opium forced by England on China than make 
more American citizens of the world's refuse humanity! 
Leaving out our worthy colored citizens as not 
worth discussion, the comparison narrows to the good 
and bad qualities of low Asiatics and low Europeans; 
for the inflowing of one or the other of these classes 
may seriously affbct the future well-being and ad- 
vancement of these United States. The question 
after all has so far been, not which, if either, is the 
better or worse, but wherein lies expediency ? This 
is the aspect with our governors, legislators, and 
judges, likewise our demagogues and all who pander 
to selfish interests. Yet this is carefully kept in the 
background, and sound arguments arc seldom touched. 
In our government, the right of suffrage makes the 
man ; it does not matter if it be a lamp-post, or a sack 
of bran, if it votes it is as good an American citizen, 
so far as this great prerogative is concerned, as Daniel 
Webster or Abraham Lincoln. It is fortunate we 
have so many citizens already made, so much is de- 


pendent upon them. Could the Chinaman vote, there 
would be no Chinese question; could the European 
not vote, there would be no Chinese question. 

It is somewhat remarkable that our late im- 
ported brethren from Europe could in so short a 
time after coming to America, not only snugly estab- 
lish themselves as American citizens, and gain posses- 
sion of so large a part of the government, but could 
set the people at large barking against China, not 
only the newspapers and politicians, but all who read 
the newspapers and listen to the politicians. The 
politician readily perceives that by cursing China ho 
obtains votes, and the editor in like manner seeks 
readers. It is safe to say that there is not a single 
public journal or politician on the Pacific coast to-da}', 
our worthy regulators from Europe being present, 
that dare come out and speak in favor of the Chinese. 
It is remarkable, I say, such unanimity of opinion, 
and that too where in far more trifling matters it is 
the custom for these champions of free thought and 
progressive civilization to take sides and fight, doing 
it upon principle, and because in fighting is the great- 
est gain. Our masters from Europe are deserving of 
great credit in converting so thoroughly and universally 
our foremost men, opinion-makers, society-regulators, 
preachers, teachers, and whiskey-sellers. Such is the 
power of the ballot in this commonwealth, making 
meal-bags of men and men of meal-bags, and granting 
to all, wdth wonderful clearness, to discern the path 
wherein their true interest lies I 

At the beginning of the great influx into California 
the American miner prepared with knife and pistol to 
promulgate the doctrine of exclusion against all foreign- 
ers. Teutons and Celts escaped with a growl, w^hile 
the persecution fell heavily on Spanish- Americans 
and others whose hue stamped them conspicuously as 
aliens. They accordingly moved away by the thou- 
sands, leaving the more tenacious Mongolian to bear 
the brunt. As the gold placers were skimmed of 



their surface attraction the American turned to more 
profitable pursuits, and his wrath cooHng, made less 
objection to foreigners taking a share in the scrapings. 
Even the Chinaman obtained respite awhile, and was 
permitted to serve in humble capacity in the new in- 
dustries unfolded. Stumbling here against the low 
European, the jealousy of the latter revived the 
smouldering persecution. 

But aside from all this, and placing the low Euro- 
pean and Chinaman under analysis, what do we seel 

Little to choose between them. Neither are very 
comely, nor very clean. John boasts a few thousand 
years more of nationality than the European, but the 
latter has made the better progress. One shaves the 
head and braids the hair too much, the other too lit- 
tle. One has oblique eyes, the other an oblique 
mouth; one smokes opium and drinks tea, the other 
smokes tobacco and drinks whiskey; one is a peniten- 
tiary builder and police courtier, the other a high- 
binder and bone-shipper; and finally, one swears in 
one language and the other in another. 

As reoards relative enlightenment and debasement, 
that depends on ideas and standards. Asia was cul- 
tured while Europe was yet barbaric. There are few 
Asiatics in America who cannot read and write to 
some extent. To all appearances their intellect is as 
bright as that of the Europeans, both being far above 
that of the African. The Chinese quarter in San 
Francisco is more filthy than other parts of the city, 
and the low Europeans do not so herd here; but in 
New York and London the low European quarter 
far exceeds in fever-breeding foulness any thing in 
California. The Chinese are not always and alto- 
gether neat in person, orderly, docile, economical, in- 
dustrious, tractable, and reliable, but they are more 
so than any other working class in America. The 
low Europeans are not always and altogether turbu- 
lent, fault-finding, politically intermeddling, drunken, 


quarrelsome, brutal, blaspheming, but they are more 
so than any other work nig class in America. The 
Chinese have some prostitutes, but they are mostly 
patronized by white men, who themselves have ten 
to the cclcstiars one. 

All the world is bidding against us in the labor mart, 
offering work and its equivalent at far lower rates 
than are ruling here. Professor Levi shows that in 
1874 the common laborer received in England $22 a 
month; in Scotland $20; in Ireland $14; on the 
continent of Europe $10; in Russia $6; and in China 
$3. How can we expect to develop our resources on 
a large scale, when others are offering the products of 
labor at prices so much lower, and are growing rich 
tliereby ? Yet we are told not to avail ourselves here 
in Cahfornia of the low wages in China. 

There are many objections to the Chinese and 
cheap labor, for both, while conferring benefits, entail 
great curses. They make the poor poorer and the 
rich richer. Many producers and few consumers 
make a dull market. Better restrain industrial am- 
bition within prudent bounds and let our own chil- 
dren do the work, and let all foreigners stay at home. 
We cannot christianize these leathery Asiatics ; the 
other foreigners are too Christian. There are advan- 
tages in spending as well as in saving. 

If we want our cities quickly enlarged, 150,000 
European laborers imply 600,000 inhabitants, on the 
lasis of four to a family, with homes, schools, teachers, 
books, papers, churches, theatres, manufactories, arti- 
zans, traders, and professionals; 150,000 Chinamen 
signify merely that number of ignorant debased 
machine laborers, with very few of the elevating ad- 
juncts of culture upon which to spend their earnings. 
Moreover, the earnings of the latter do not remain 
in the country, but are forwarded to China, at the 
rate of several millions of dollars a year, thus causing 
an incessant drain on our resources, and that to a 


country which takes but httle of our exports, and sends 
us in return the staple articles of food consumed by 
the Chinamen on our coast. It were surely better 
that our cities should not be too rapidly enlarged, 
our manufactures increased, and our lands cultivated 
under such adv^erse conditions. 

Chinamen intrude on our trade offering to work for 
months without pay; but having learned the art, or 
stolen the inventions that have cost years of toil, they 
turn upon the over-reaching employer, reduce him to 
bankruptcy by competition and cheap imitations, cast 
the white workmen into the street, and force the ap- 
prentices into hoodlumism. The white man must 
subsist, but he is obliged to compete w^ith these cattle, 
and consequently to live as meanly, feed as cheaply, 
and leave his family in a like condition. - And society 
will brand him a worthless fellow, and treat him ac- 
cordingly if he fails to house and clothe the family in 
accordance with its rules of decency, or if he allows 
his children to grow up in ignorance and vice. Here- 
in lies the root of the evil. The Chinaman by neg- 
lecting to conform to our standard of life, undermines 
our civilization and infringes on our social and political 
laws. Other foreigners, of more cognate and sympa- 
thetic races, learn to conform to our customs, if only 
by assuming the duties of marriage. 

Behold the effect of debasing competition on the 
white population of the southern states, where a few 
grew wealthy at the expense of the community. The 
class known as *4ow whites" was once composed of 
happy family men and prosperous farmers, like those 
who make this occupation so honorable and wealth- 
creating in the northern states. The negro came, a 
cheap competitor. Labor was degrading. The mas- 
ter who formerly worked would no longer mingle at 
the task with the slave, to whom labor was now dele- 
gated. He grew rich and began to ignore his neigh- 
bor, his former equal, whose larger family, or smaller 
estate, forbade the hire or purchase of a negro, and 


obliged him to cling to labor, now already branded as 
slavery. Negro competition reduced the poor man's 
income until he could no longer afford comforts, barely 
necessaries, or education for his children. Bred under 
such circumstances the son remained ignorant, grew 
coarse, fell lower in the social scale, and was despised 
even by the negro, who fed well while he starved. 
The ** white trash" still remain in the position 
to which they were thus forced ; for although the 
negro is now free, and his labor the labor of the free 
man, yet it still bears the stigma of the lower race. 

The effect of progressive civilization has been to 
exalt. labor. Not hmg since the merchant was re- 
garded as a contemptible usurer, the chaplain and 
scribe as menials, the artisan and laborer as serfs, and 
as such they lived meanly. Every advance in culture 
has tended to increase wages, and to raise the classes 
to greater equality. The merchant is now among the 
foremost in the land, the chaplain, the writer, are 
prominent members of society, artisans and laborers 
share with others their comforts, luxuries, and insti- 
tutions, and are prepared to contribute their quota to 
sustain a civilization fraught with such blessings. 
Shall we, by receiving another low race, repeat the 
negro plague, and nullify these years of progress? 
The Chinese threaten to become even worse than the 
negroes, for they have stronger if not baser passions; 
they live more meanly, and have no family or interest 
in the country. Our boys are growing up and need 
a trade. The welfare of the community demands as 
strongly that this opportunity shall be given them, as 
it demands that children shall be trained in morals 
and given a common-school education. 

In building up industries by means of a low race, 
we establish them on an insecure footing, since an 
alien people without family ties, and without desire to 
remain, cannot become skilful enough to compete with 
the finished products of more hitelligent races, nor 
furnish the inventive spirit by which they shall pro- 


gress. One cheap industry demands another, based 
on similar labor ; one branch drags down the otliers. 
Imbued with our spirit, the youth objects to mingle 
with the class whose degradation pollutes every in- 
dustry. Hoodlumism and disorder are the result, 
leading to national deterioriation. 

A struggle of races might ensue, resulting not in 
the survival of the fittest, but of numbers ; for while 
the white man surpasses the Chinaman and negro in 
reasoning and invention they can outstrip him at lower 
work and overwhelm him by numbers. The Roman 
empire sank with its culture before barbaric invasions 
into the dismal slough of the middle ages. The vigor 
and intellect of the Anglo-Saxon cannot be sustained 
on a handful of rice. Blood intermixture is no less 
repugnant to the American mind than to the Asiatic, 
but should it ever come to pass, a mongrel race would 
be the consequence. The mulatto and the mestizo are 
unquestionably inferior to almost any unadulterated peo- 
ple. The mixed races of ^Mexico are probably the 
finest specimens of a hybrid population on the globe. 
Yet how inferior in enterprise, in originality, in pru- 
dence, in ability, to the Spanish ancestor, or in many 
respects even to the native Aztec. Social and politi- 
cal anarchy and intellectual stagnation have over- 
spread the land ; the spirit of progress has never truly 
overspread the land. 

Wages will adjust tlicmselves, and monopoly disap- 
pear. Limited prostitution is considered necessary to 
check yet darker crime; but general immorality is 
destructive. If Chinese, mules, or steam-engines are 
needed in certain industries, employ them, but with 
due precaution, within the reasonable limits of a pro- 
tective tariff wliich aims to foster the best interests 
of the nation. So argue many. 

Whatever may be said for and against tlie presence 
of the Chinese among us, it is but fair to state thfit 
the evil has been greatly exaggerated. The question 


is not treated with that judicial fairness which it de- 
mands; and it never has been. He wlio finds the 
Asiatic beneficial is Wind to the evils he brings upon 
others ; and he who suffers from his presence sees no 
good in him. The dark picture in the preceding pages 
applies only to continued immigration. So far the 
benefits received from the Chinese influx, in laying 
the foundation for many indispensable industries, such 
as vineyards, irrigation canals, and the overland rail- 
way, probably balance the evil inflicted in other 

But by those whose occupation it is to pander to the 
prejudices of the people ; by politicians, by legislators, 
by our governors, our representatives in congress, and 
especially by our printed exponents of public opinion, 
more than by those directly benefited or injured by 
the Mongolian immigration, are multitudinous warped 
facts and false statements brought forth. 

It is not the better class of laborers who most ob- 
ject to the presence of the Chinese. Good men, capa- 
ble and willing, can always find work, if not in the 
city then in the country. Tliere are no Chinese 
among the tramps that infest the country, begging, 
stealing, and burning. It is the idler and vagabond, 
who want two days' pay for one day's labor, who 
clamor loudly and get drunk regularly at elections ; 
these, and women who will not work at all unless 
everything exactly suits them, and will not go on to 
the farm scarcely at any price ; these are the trouble- 
makers. California is the tramp's paradise. In a 
land of freedom he is of all men most free, beinc 
bound neither by money, society, religion, honesty, 
nor decency. He is not forced by a rigorous climate 
into the settled habits required to secure heavy 
clothing and warm shelter. A blanket in a barn suf- 
fices throughout the year, and a little work here and 
there secures food. 

Much is said against peopling America from nations 
not cognate in thought, religion, and language. Why 


was this not thought of when we admitted infidel 
Europeans or Africans. True, these may assimilate 
in due time, whereas the Chinese never can. But 
assimilation with a bad element is demorahzation for 
the mass, which is certainly worse than no assimila- 

We rail against the Chinaman for lowering the 
tone of our morality. Yet for one of his hidden Cypri- 
ans, we have a score brazenly trailing their skirts 
among us. For one of his opium dens we boast 
whiskey-shops innumerable, spreading their curse over 
impoverished households, ruined constitutions, and 
debased minds, into future generations. And more ; 
China long since sought to suppress the opium evil, 
but was forced at the mouth of Anglo-Saxon cannon to 
stay the reform. 

And now again in 1878 an imperial edict goes forth 
prohibiting the cultivation of the poppy. Behold 
China struggling with her great curse I Behold 
civilized Christian nations lending their aid to the de- 
vouring drug, and then throwing it in the teeth of 
the Chinese that they are debased by it, and making 
of it a pretext for doing them yet greater injury I 

As for their filtli, slums, and disorder, as bad exist 
in most large towns. Their pagan ceremonies, their 
predilection for gambling and other weakness, do less 
harm than many of our spurious sectarianisms, our 
open races and pools, our veiled lotteries and games, 
our prurient books and cartoons. Let us cleanse our 
own skirts somewliat before we declaim so loudly up- 
on the contaminating influence of these heathen. 

Some couple with this line of complaint the argu- 
ment that the family is the center and ideal of our 
institutions, that all our refinement revolves round its 
hallowed altar; and because the Chinese do not estab- 
lish families among us — which, by the way, is not 
true — their presence is hurtful. 

Others declaim against them for not assimilating, 
for not marrying our daughters, forsooth. Do we 


wish tlicni to do so ? The ohjectioii tliat they do not 
come with their lares and pcnatos as imnhgrants 
seeking permanent homes should be put to their 
credit, for assuredly we do not covet more foreign 
ditch-water to be absorbed into our veins. They 
keep (mt otlier immigration, it is said; this is by no 
means an unmixed evil, I would ro[)ly. 

Wo hear much said about tlie degradation of labor. 
Our wives and daugliteis arc dc\graded by working in 
the kitchen with black or 3-ellow wenches; our hood- 
lumts are degraded by working in tlie fields and factories 
beside yellow and black men. But what shall we say 
as to the degradation of our politics, our free and 
noble institutions? In places where women vote, you 
may see the first man and matron of the common- 
wealth, a statesman and his wife for example, a man 
of means, having large interests in the community 
and a woman of culture, drive up to the polls and 
take their places beside a shock-headed greasy 
negro, and an illiterate foul-mouthed European, and 
so make their election, the vote of one of these 
American citizens being no whit better or worse than 
that of another. So with the thieves in our prisons 
it is degrading to associate, but with our monopoliz- 
ing and oflice-holding thieves we wine and dine with 
o-reat Gfusto. With such rank rottenness in social, 
political, and commercial quarters, it seems twaddle 
to talk of the degradation of labor. 

The quiet Chinese are by no means the worst class 
admitted, if restricted in number. All arguments 
tending to show the unfitness of the Asiatic to be 
entrusted with the ballot, such as the absence of any 
knowledge of our institutions, the lack of responsibil- 
ity or interest in them, the certainty that their vote 
would be bought with money, and the like, apply 
with equal force to the low European and the African. 
It is pure political pretence, and the argument offered 
in that direction verbiage, to say that the ballot can- 
not be confided to the Asiatic as well as to the 


African. The average Chinaman is far brighter, 
more iatelhgent, more energetic than the negro ; but 
no lover of his country desires by any means to see 
either of them ruling the destinies of this nation at 
the polls. Are we not governed to-day by the low- 
est, basest element of our commonwealth ; by machine 
voters under the control of politicians; by units under 
the sway of bosses and monopolists ; by a majority 
of all the people witliout regard to qualification of 
any kind? How long shall our pure democracy, our 
pure liberty, our pure license last ! As the Chinese 
will neither amalgamate with us nor accept the 
electoral franchise at our hands, the less can they 
drag us down, the less dauiaging their influence 
upon us. 

Unjust discrimination is marked. From the first 
occupation of California by Anglo-Americans, men 
of every nation were permitted to gather gold and 
carry it away. Thousands of English and Scotch, 
French, Dutcli,and Spanish came and went, leaving 
no blessing. And yet they were never greatly blamed. 
Many of our wealthy and respectable people spend 
more in useless extravagance abroad than in beauti- 
fying or benefiting California. Many of our rich 
men have carried off millions, and spent largely and 
invested largely at the east and in Europe, and yet 
no one ever questioned their right. Money tricked 
from the people by political knaves and stock gam- 
blers who never added a dollar to the wealth of 
California in their lives, may be lavishly emptied 
into the lap of pleasure abroad and no thought 
of complaint; but let the miserable Mongolian carry 
hence his hard-earned pittance, and what a cry is 
raised ! 

Further: that the Chinese spend so very much 
less of their wages than the European laborer is not 
correct. They patronize less the w^hiskey-shops, those 
bulwarks of American demagogism, it is true; but 
they buy flour, clothing, .thcis, dry-goods, groceries, 


meat, fruit, and many other articles, and they are 
great patrons of boats, stages, and railways. They 
pay their government dues, poll tax, and property 
tax, equally with tliose who are so eager to drive them 
out. With all the complaint of starving laborers 
seeking employment in our cities, it is a question 
if our average crops could be harvested without 
Chinamen ; and many a farmer's wife is saved a 
life of drudgery by Jolm's ever-ready assistance. 
There are a number of industries, particularly manu- 
facturing, wliich provide employment also for white 
men, but could not be sustained without the aid of 
cheap and reliable Chinese labor. Their suspension 
would throw out of work not alone the men con- 
nected therewith, but cut off a scries of dependent 

If there is any difference, the Chinese have greater 
cause of complaint from the unwelcome interference 
of Europeans in their system, than Europeans have cf 
the baneful influence of the Chinese upon their pros- 
pects in America. By force of arms Europeans enter 
China; by general invitation, and under treaty stipu- 
lations, the Chinese come to America. Forcing- 
themselves upon the Chinese, the Europeans estab- 
lished places of business, and began trading with the 
interior, greatly to the damage of native merchants, 
who, as they expressed it, *' suflbred fire and water," 
thereby. Hateful foreigners put steamers on their 
rivers, to the utter annihilation of fleets of native 
craft, thus reducing to starvation hosts of pilots, 
sailors, and laborers. Within a few years thirty for- 
eign steamers were placed upon the Yang-tse-kiang 
river alone, to the displacement of 30,000 wage- 
earners. And so it was with every material improve- 
ment Europeans sought to thrust upon them. 
Telegraphs and railways would deprive of employment 
thousands of worthy men, with wives and children 
depending on them for food. The mechanical con- 
trivances are the cheap-labor curse brought by for- 


eigners upon China. And have they not as much 
cause to complain of our inroads as we of theirs ? 

The United States are reaping their share from this 
invasion and longing for more. When California fell 
into the lap of the union, China was sending away in 
European vessels alone one hundred millions of dollars 
worth of teas, sugar, silks, opium, and other articles. 
In the same quarter looms the commerce of India, 
which, since the days of the Pharaohs, has enriched 
the emporiums of Egypt and of the shores of the 
Mediterranean ; also the important trade of Siam, 
Corea, and Japan, with America and Europe. Nature 
has given California the advantage over all the world 
in securing and centralizing the world's trade with 
China and Japan. Here may be gathered the rich 
products of eastern Asia, and hence distributed, passed 
on eastward over the continent by means of competing 
lines of railways, and over the Atlantic to Europe. 
California is the natural entrepot and distributing 
point of this valuable traffic. 

There is much to learn as well as gain in Asia. 
America may take lessons from this wrinkled and 
toothless grandame of civilization. The dusky, almond- 
eyed sons of the primordial east, w]io reckon their 
ancestry by scores of centuries, whose government and 
institutions were ages old before Mohammed, Csssar, 
or Christ, regard with not unreasonable contempt the 
upstart Yankee, with his European and African mas- 
ters, his inconsistencies of freedom, and his pretty 
new republican playtliing. In some things we are 
contemptible, even in the eyes of a heathen. Pro- 
fessing Christ, we play the devil. Swearing by God, 
we kneel before Satan. We talk much of justice 
— indeed, we have plenty; we buy it as required. 
We build an altar of equal rights, honesty, and patri- 
otism, and sacrifice upon it offerings of hollow mockery, 
deeming a lie with legality better than a lamb, and 
bribery better than the fat of rams. At the sight of 
our political higli priests, Confucius himself might 


well arise, make of the divine drug bread, and shave 
anew his people. 

There are unquestionable evils attending the pres- 
ence in a free government of a non-assimilative race 
to which the electorial franchise may not be safely 
confided, and I heartily agree with those who argue 
that because we have made one mistake in adopting 
Africa, it is no reason why we should make another 
and adopt Asia. We do not want the low Asiatics 
for our rulers ; we do not want them as citizens. Like 
the iow European and the low African they are our 
inferiors. The tone of our intelligence, of our politics, 
of our morality, is lowered by associathig with them 
on terms of intellectual, moral, and political equality. 
As human beings, with human rights, all men are 
equal. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of 
happiness is the same to all, though all do not make 
the same beneficial use of that right, and in so far as 
they fail in this they are not the equal of those who 
do not fail. 

There are some advantages and some disadvantages 
in non-assimilation. There can be no question that 
the low Europeans have been a greater curse to 
America than the Asiatic and the African combined. 
The electoral franchise which we have so freely given 
them has pluralized their power for evil. Had they 
never been permitted to vote, our politics had never 
been so prostituted. Citizenship would then have 
been a thing Americans might have been proud of 
Much corruption and many disgraceful riots would 
have been avoided, and more than all, we should not 
to-day be threatened with revolution and disruption 
by reason of our abased liberties. Because they can 
assimilate, because they can become blood of our 
blood and bone of our bone, they are the subtle poison 
in the veins of our institutions to-day. These aliens, 
while crying against the grindings of monopolists in 
railways and manufactures, would establish in our 


midst a monopoly of labor, and force us to employ 
them at their own price. They would ignore all 
rights in the premises save those conforming to their 
interests and prejudices. 

It is assumed by many that it is our duty not only 
to provide with remunerative employment all those 
who have come or who may come from Europe and 
from Africa, but that we are in duty bound to keep 
back those who would come from Asia lest they 
should interfere with the others. This has been the 
tendency of all our legislation, a protective tariff upon 
labor, discriminating in favor of the European and 
African, and against the Asiatic. I see no reason 
why we should provide for any of them. 

The claim advanced by low Europeans is somewhat 
audacious. They must be paid double the wages of 
Asiatics, and be fed while the latter may starve ; and 
what is most remarkable, they have their way. They 
have the whip-hand of California, the whip-hand of 
politicians and people, and make us do as they will. 
They form into endless labor leagues, say **boo" and 
** boycott," and instantly we beg for mercy. We must 
obey our masters or be punished. 

Social organisms develop, they are not created. 
And as every social element is the product of new and 
strange combinations, the results in individual cases 
can scarcely be foretold. Intelligent and thrifty men 
and wximen make a nation stronger ; ignorant and 
degraded men and women make a nation weaker. 
Base infusions are the bromine and chlorine which 
dissipate the gold of our morality that sulphuric fires 
cannot affect. If the Chinese lie an indigestible mass 
upon our national stomach, low Europeans have given 
us a worse political distemper. If the former, like 
many of our most thoughtful citizens, manifest in- 
difference in the exercise of the franchise, the latter, 
fresh from filth of poverty and ignorance, with no 
more knowledge of our ways or sympathy with our 
principles than their late stolid companions, with a 

Essays and Miscellany 17 


mental whoop plunge into our politics as if divinely 
commissioned to rule America. 

Health, in the body social, consists in the proper 
performance of its several functions. Society is 
sound only as the people are pure. When emerging 
from a savage state societies first began to crystallize, 
physical strength and skill were the central or wor- 
shipful ideal. Then intellect began to assume sway, 
and to some extent brute force gave way before rea- 
son in the settlement of disputes. But the success 
through intellectual craft and subtlety, by which busi- 
ness men, orators, and writers become wealthy and 
great, is but one remove from brute cunning and force, 
and must be subordinated to right and principle, to 
the sensibility and the will, before the highest moral- 
ity can be approached. 

There is no doubt that to any country, at any 
period of its history, and under almost any conceivable 
circumstances, the accession of men of learning, wealth, 
and integrity, of broad intelligence, skill, and energy, 
is a benefit. But with us the question has never as- 
sumed this shape. Men of such a stamp do not as a 
rule emigrate to new countries. They prefer the re- 
fined and settled society of their equals ; they prefer 
to live among men of cultivation and learning, and to 
buy luxuries in the cheapest market. Those who are 
successful at home seldom go abroad in search of ven- 
tures. Never have the rich or the learned as a class 
come to America ; never have those superior in skill, 
intelligence, and energy come hither from Asia, or 
from Africa, or from Europe. A few men of extraor- 
dinary intelligence and activity have undoubtedly ar- 
rived, but most of our best men, I am proud to say, 
are of home manufacture. We have no need of send- 
ing abroad for schoolmasters or for city-builders, and 
if we adopt an invention or a discovery from beyond 
any ocean, we are apt to improve on it, and also to 
return an equivalent in some invention or discovery 


of our own. Nor have well-to- do artisans and agri- 
culturalists left comfortable homes to embark in haz- 
ardous enterprise on these shores. Our better class 
of farmers and mechanics are not foreigners. 

The first great mistake of the English colonies in 
America, was the importation of Africans as slaves. 
That ever-to-be-abhorred Dutch craft which in 1620 
landed the first twenty black bondmen at Jamestown 
was the curse of God upon America. It was worse 
than the repartlmientos of the Spaniards ; for the en- 
slaved Indian would die, while the more stolid African 
would not. There was too much work yet to be done 
in America, too much need of that brain-force and 
muscle-force which only w^ork gives, for the colonists 
and their sons and daughters to fold their hands and 
depend solely upon others for supplying their wants. 
Hence the sting of the infliction. 

African slavery, aside from its inhumanity, was a 
curse. It blasted the soil and the products thereof; 
it blasted the air and all who breathed it ; it blas- 
phemed God and humanity, morality, religion, and 
all the institutions of progress. It had not even the 
excuse of the slavery of savagism, as these negroes 
were not prisoners of war, but were stolen ; civilized 
Christians stealing, and selling, and working human 
beings like cattle. 

For nearly two and a half centuries the evil grew 
until, midst mighty convulsions which well-nigh de- 
stroyed the integrity of the nation, the tumor burst, 
scattering its horrible stench far and wide, and in the 
cure engendering almost as great an evil as during its 
growth. Having these emancipated chattels on our 
hands, to the number of little less than four millions 
in 1860, and being moved with pity for the wrongs 
we had done them ; or, more truthfully stated, the 
dominant party needing votes with which to hold 
their power, this black and brutish horde was taken 
to our national bosom, which has been rank-smelling 
and sootv ever since. 


It was not until after the war of 1812 that large 
accessions were received from Europe, and as new 
western states were then rapidly springing up, the im- 
pure atmosphere thus engendered was carried off into 
the wilderness. 

The current of immigration rose midst fluctuations 
from about 4000 yearly between 1784 and 1793 to 
22,240, in 1817. The stream broadened and deep- 
ened until in 1875 not far from six millions of Europe's 
indigestible masses had been vomited on our shores, 
the rate being since 1820 over 100,000 per annum, 
not more than 300,000 having come over previously. 
Of these, over 2,000,000 were from Ireland, over 
1,000,000 from Germany, a quarter of a million 
English, 50,000 Scotch, and about 200,000 French. 
Whatever may have been the material advantages of 
these fuliginous clouds, the wholesale adulteration of 
Anglo-American blood has unquestionably resulted 
in tenfold as monstrous moral and political evils as 
Africa and Asia combined has brought or is likely to 
bring upon us. 

To large land holders who wish to build cities and 
sell the suburbs to manufacturers in want of artisans, 
to merchants in need of customers, to lawyers looking 
for clients, and doctors in quest of patients, to politi- 
cians hankering for office, to traffickers, schemers, 
and non-producers of every quality, the speedy peo- 
pling of this land, and every part of it, seemed of all 
policies the wisest and best, and of all things the one 
most greatly to be desired. 

It is only a question of time when America will 
recognize her mistake. To behold America as it will 
be, we have but to look at Europe and Asia as they 
are. Europe and Asia overcrowded and with no out- 
let ; Europe and Asia teeming with a rapidly multi- 
plying population of ignorant and diseased humanity 
with no America or Australia to empty it into. 
Westward civilization has crowded, until on these 


Pacific shores we front the east. The circle is com- 
plete. A few centuries, and in point of population, 
in point of packed and stifled humanity, America will 
be what Europe and Asia now are, only worse, in- 
finitely worse, in having no outlet, save through war, 
or pestilence, or other dire inflictions which shall cut 
ofl* before its time portions of the redundant race. 
Such inroads are contracted however by our civiliza- 
tion, which tends to the preservation of life, and to 
the speedier attainment of its geographical limit. The 
law of fecundity alone promises to increase our number 
with every successive generation, while the sources 
for food supply are correspondingly decreasing. 

However this may be, there is no danger of imme- 
diate distress, either from lack of land or increase of 
population. There is still left considerable good land, 
while in crowded and well-tilled countries like England 
agricultural products may readily be much increased. 
France does not produce proportionately as much as 
England, and America is far behind France in this 

This aspect renders only more glaring the huddling 
in our cities of hordes of hungry laboring men and 
women, especially inflowing foreigners, howling against 
the rich, when by scattering on unoccupied lands they 
might prove a blessing to themselves and to the 
country, and banish poverty from America these hun- 
dred years to come. From this gathering result the 
many uncalled-for strikes, riots, and disorders which 
have disgraced our republican organization before the 
world. They are due to such alien rabbles as in San 
Francisco meet upon the sand-lots and threaten fire 
and pistol to all who employ Chinese labor in prefer- 
ence to their own. 

Not long ago with pointed bayonet we demanded 
commercial relations with China ; now our bayonets 
are pointed against those whose friendly intercourse 
we so lately coveted. It is not the ultimate aim 
herein that we detest, as it embraces much good, but 


the means employed and the manner of it. In view of 
this, well might we exclaim with astounded Europe : 
Our civilization and Christianity, our boasted liberty 
and free enlightened institutions which aspire to set 
the world an example in progress and prosperity, 
what are they that they should fear the weak and 
inoifensive touch of paganism? What folly in us to 
heap curses on others for practising the very virtues 
we preach daily to our children I 

We have suddenly grown strangely concerned, 
fearful least a hundred thousand Asiatics, begging at 
our back door the favor of scrubbing our kitchens, 
that these shrinking, trembling creatures should at 
some day, not far distant, arise and with a wave of 
their hand overturn and scatter to the four winds the 
institutions of fifty millions of freemen. Fifty thou- 
sand Englishmen in Bengal hold in subjection one 
hundred million souls ; and here fifty million Ameri- 
cans tremble before a hundred thousand Chinamen. 

Asia and America acknowledged the right of uni- 
versal and unrestricted migration in the Burlingame 
treaty. In its fifth article both ^'cordially recognize 
the inherent and inalienable rig^ht of man to chancre 
his home and allegiance." After having trampled 
down the scruples of this mummyfied eastern civiliza- 
tion so far as to obtain this concession, we might 
blush to be foremost in breaking the compact, and ac- 
knowledging before the world that our institutions 
are unable to withstand the presence of heathenism 
among them. Our liberty, our Christianity, our intelli- 
gence, our progress are nothing if they do not offer 
mankind a fairer prospect, a brighter hope, a surer 
reward. No doubt we have been hasty in this as in 
many other measures; but if we wish to acknowl- 
edge the mistake, and revise our policy, then let our 
new ruling apply equally to all. 

One quality the people of the United States have 
developed in a remarkable degree — that of strain. 


And very properly we may catalogue it among our 
many virtues. We delight in the accomplishment of 
great things. ^ To accomplish great things we are 
willing to strain ourselves. Sometimes we strain our- 
selves over little things, thinking them great. Often 
we strain at the gnats of iniquity and swallow a 
camel. We strain at skepticism and swallow libertin- 
ism; we strain at political tyranny and swallow mo- 
nopoly; we strain at the low Chinese and swallow the 
low European. 

Perhaps the best way to exterminate a national or 
social evil is for all the people to rush upon it with 
one accord and stamp it out. It may sometimes be 
the only way. It may be the best way so to magnify 
this one evil, that all other evils, though there be 
among them some as great or greater than the one 
present pet evil, shall temporarily sink to insignifi- 
cance beside it. Perhaps this evil has become so rank 
that the united power of the people is required to put 
it down, and in no other way can the strength of the 
nation be so concentrated as by taking up one thing 
at a time, or perhaps two, leaving all the rest alone 
until these be extinguished. 

There must be some tincture of fanaticism on the 
subject in order to bring men's minds to the proper 
state of frenzy where they can strike quick and heavy 
blows, regardless of the consequences. Cool opinions 
quietly expressed are not sufficient to stop dram-drink- 
ing. The matron's scowl of superior virtue on meet- 
ing an erring sister, is not sufficient to put down 
prostitution. There must be thrown into the cause 
that fiery heat which can only be generated by con- 
gregations wrought upon by speeches and discussions. 
But as to these, our standard evils, gambling, drink- 
ing, and prostitution, which the world has tried so 
often and so unsuccessfully to eradicate, though there 
are still spasms of reform in these directions, we gen- 
erally have singled out some other monster to vent 
our righteous energies upon for the time. 


For fifty years the good people of the northern 
United States took soUd comfort in fighting the great 
dragon Slavery. In some sections this iniquity on 
the part of our neighbors stood out in such bold relief 
as to throw into the shade all the sins of the decalogue 
combined. In the eyes of the anti-slavery fanatics, 
nothing good could belong to any man who did not 
denounce slavery and the slave holders; and so filled 
with this frenzy were they, that no room remained in 
their minds or li carts for minor matters. And when 
the thing was dead they could not refrain from kick- 
ing the carcass for years afterward. Temperance 
zealots, too, sometimes forget that drunkards have 
rights, and may as justly prescribe what others shall 
eat, as to be by law restricted in their drink. Nor is 
it so easy a question to determine which of the two 
evils is the greater, negro suffrage or negro slavery. 

This may be the best way, the quickest way, the 
only way, even though it does lead to some excesses 
when the blood is up ; even though we are thereby 
thrown into some absurdities, and forget ourselves, 
forget to exercise that right and reason which we so 
much desire always to see in others, forget that we 
are all sinners, that none of us live up to our high 
privileges in every respect as social beings and citizens, 
and that if we punish some offences unduly while let- 
ting others run at large, we are committing two great 
wrongs, in punishing one wickedness more than it de- 
serves in comparison with another which is permitted 
to go unpunished, or so lightly corrected as to give 
the impression that it is only a small sin. 

Of late we have singled out two of our several 
great dragons, and are expending all our energies in 
their extermination. This is well; but it is well also 
not to lose our heads and fall into all manner of lyings 
and self-delusions. Probably there has never been 
as much nonsense written and spoken in America up- 
on any two subjects, as upon those of polygamy and 
mono'olianism. And in both cases the true cause 


of offense, the matter of suffrage, is in the main left 
wholly out of the discussion — one votes too much and 
the other too little. In both cases about the only 
persons affected are the demagogues, whose business 
it is to pander to the prejudices and depravity of the 
people. Nor is the strange part of it that in our free 
and easy government the management of affairs should 
be so largely in the hands of false and deceiving men, 
— some of them self-deluded, unquestionably — but that 
the people at large should be so easily and completely 

In concluding this expose of the Chinese question 
we may say then : That the presence in our midst, 
in ever- increasing numbers, of low Asiatics, is a 
palpable curse; and for the people of the United 
States to permit them to swarm here ad libitum would 
be about as sensible as to welcome a plague of locusts. 

They arc an abomination, worse than the gypsies 
in England or the Arabs in Spain. They lie, and 
steal, smoke opium, and gamble; they cheat, and 
swear in horrible heathen gutterals, to the horror of 
white Christians. The Chinese are clannish, crowd- 
ing themselves into close, filthy quarters ; they work 
too much, loaf about the streets too little, and do not 
spend money enough. They do not get up strikes ; 
they are not good stump-speakers, they do not care 
to cut a figure on the floor of the national senate cham- 
ber, they do not want to be governor or policeman. 
White men do and want all these things. The Chi- 
nese do not amalgamate ; they will not marry our 
daughters, or seduce our servants; they will not at- 
tend mass regularly, or be punctual at an orthodox 
bible class. They take the food out of the mouths of 
others lately imported, and now patriots at the polls, 
patrons of the corner grocery, curb-stone tenders, 
watchers of the public weal, and who very rightly 
scorn to shovel dirt never so slowly for less than two 
dollars a day, while the destinies of the nation are 
resting on their shoulders. 

Then again we are very sure that the four hundred 


millions of these people over the ocean, who have 
hardly standing room, have sent these fifty or a hun- 
dred thousand to our shores to open the way for the 
four hundred millions ; who are even now making and 
buying a million of ships wherein to come and capture 
us all, to seize our lands and make us slaves. It is 
too horrible to contemplate ; we must send those who 
are here back at once, and forbid the four hundred 
millions to come in their million of ships to capture us 
and make us slaves. 

It is quite different with the low African and the 
low European. They do not work too much, or at too 
low a wage, or economize too much, or pass by all the 
drinking shops without looking in, or neglect to run 
up a bill at the butcher's if they can get trusted ; they 
will amalgamate, make themselves at home in our 
houses, do our voting, beg, and steal, and breed beg- 
gars and thieves, build and fill our penitentiaries, go 
to congress, and read a newspaper. This is the kind 
of population we want; it is for the helping hither of 
such as these that we have immigration societies and 
secure large contributions. 

Perhaps it would be too much for me to assert 
that not one in a hundred of the intelligent men of 
California are really sincere in their tirades against 
the Chinese. No doubt they have acquired the habit 
of regarding these special people as an unmitigated 
evil, even while employing some of them as farm cooks 
and in like occupations, in which they excel, and white 
men and women do not care to engage in. But this 
I can say, that no clear-headed, unprejudiced, fair- 
minded and disinterested man can endorse the ship- 
loads of twaddle constantly being written and spoken 
by demagogues of every denomination about the dan- 
ger to our institutions, and the demoralization of our 
people by the Chinese. They are low, ignorant, de- 
based, and filthy heathen ; we likewise have low, ignor- 
ant, debased, and filthy Christians. Which are the 
worse? We want neither, but why single out the 


Asiatic to vent upon him this indignation, which is 
the result wholly of our own folly? As many sound 
arguments can be brought against tolerating here the 
African, and twice as many against the presence of 
the low European. 

In fact, sound arguments are seldom touched in 
this connection. The true cause of our special dislike 
for the Chinese is kept carefully concealed. The pol- 
itician does not mount the stump and say that the 
Chinaman must go because he has no vote, but my 
black brother and my white brother may stay because 
they have votes. The newspapers do not admit that 
they say the Chinese must go because it is easier and 
more profitable to foster current opinion than to en- 
lighten the people. The minister and missionary do 
not admit that they say the Chinese must go, because 
they would lose their situation if they preached against 
popular prejudice. 

It is becoming an apparently difficult matter for the 
American people to please themselves in every particu- 
lar. They seem quite satisfied to let the low European 
rule them through unprincipled demagogues, but they 
profess not to like the Chinaman because he will not 
amalgamate and meddle in politics. The Mormons, 
on the other hand, amalgamate too much, and are too 
many for their neighbors at elections; they vote only 
for their own candidates, and so politicians cry that 
they must go. Again, the Chinamen may have their 
Joss-house and secondary wives to their hearts' con- 
tent, but not so the Mormons. 

If, as I have said, we could go back fifty or a hun- 
dred years, and say to all low foreigners, white, black, 
and yellow, "This American land we want for our- 
selves and our children; we propose to breed here a 
superior race, and we cannot have our blood debased 
by constant intermixtures with the common stock of 
other countries ; hence you cannot come here," — such 
ground taken would have been clear, logical, and sen- 
sible. True, we might not have rolled up wealth and 


population so rapidly, but we would have had what is 
far better than wealth and population — a nobler race, 
a purer government, a less artificial society; we would 
have saved our lands for our sons and daughters, 
whom we might have taught to labor with their 
hands and brainy thus avoiding not one but a hundred 

But we did not do this. While one part of the 
commonwealth was hugging close to its heart that 
monster, slavery, with no small blood intermixtures 
of white and black, the other portion of the nation 
was spending time and money in bringing to our shores 
the lower classes of Irish, English, Dutch, Scandinav- 
ians, and others of Europe, who presently were put 
upon an equality, pohtically and industrially, with the 
highest, tlie most intelligent, learned, and wealthy in 
our land. The most illiterate and stupid dolt, lately 
from tlie bogs of Ireland or the coal-pits of England, 
who had scarcely more intelligent ideas about govern- 
ment and right-doing than a fence-post, could be 
brought over from Europe, and his vote at an election, 
which a drink of wliisky would buy, was estimated a 
fair offset for that of Daniel Webster ; three of these 
donkeys were equal to Webster, Clay, and Calhoun. 

We used to pride ourselves that here in America 
should be throughout all time the camping-ground of 
the nations. All the world were invited to come 
hither and be happy and be free. Our government 
was the best in the world ; it made all men free and 
equal, no matter how many slaves it fostered, or how 
many foreign vagabonds it made citizens. Whatever 
nature had done, the American constitution was su- 
perior to nature, and made Caliban the equal of Pros- 
pero. So high-minded and free were Americans, with 
their rich lands and unapproachable institutions, that 
they soon began to regard with disfavor the older and 
less open-handed nations, and even went so far some- 
times as to force the gates marked *'No Admittance." 
No nation had a right to fence off a part of this earth, 


which was made by the creator of all for the free use 
of all, and say, ''You shall not enter here." 

In all this a great mistake was made. Free religion 
is well enough, for heaven is large, and hell is larger 
still ; but lands are limited, and whatever may be said 
in our self-glorification assemblages, whatever we 
think we believe about it, our true opinion of our free 
and enlightened institutions is shown when we take 
by the hand and politically make first our equal, and 
then our master, ignorant and rank-smelling foreigners 
fit only for tending swine. 

But fortunately we have learned the lesson in time 
to apply it at least to the people of one nationality. 
If with the low A^siatic we could at the same time 
keep out the low African and the low European, it 
would be better still, but we should be thankful to 
have had our eyes opened at last, and have taken 
steps to keep away one bad clement, even if others as 
bad arc permitted to come. 

Had no low-born foreigners ever been admitted, 
our sons and daughters would have been obliged to 
work, and work is strengthening and ennobling. It 
develops body and mind as no other condition or in- 
vention can do. The highest and healthiest civiliza- 
tion is not found along the most fashionable streets of 
Boston and New York; it is in the more rural dis- 
tricts, where life is less artificial and hollow, and men 
and women work with head and hands, living piously 
and virtuously, and rearing sons to take the foremost 
places in the marts of commerce and the halls of legis- 
lation. Young men and women brought up in the 
hot-beds of our cities to do nothing but minister to 
their own selfish and too often sinful pleasures are as 
a rule of little or no value. They come and go like 
the soft south wind, leaving no mark. 

Now the Chinaman, howsoever degraded he is, is 
a thing that works ; he works diligently, and econo- 
mizes closely, so that he may have enough to buy 
himself a small-footed wife when he goes back to 


China. Rut however valuable such qualities may be 
regarded in our children, we do not like them in the 
imported heathen ; we do not want the Chinese here 
to deprive our children of the great blessings of labor. 
True, there is the African and European, who some- 
times work, and we permit them to come, but that is 
quite different. They do not work nmch, or very 
hard; and then, after due washings and bleachings 
they intermarry with us, and by and by go to congress. 

The resulting progeny, it is true, is not of the best 
stock ; there is too nmch mustang in it ; and dis- 
tributed generally througliout all the states of the 
union, with its never-ceasing inflowing current, it 
deteriorates and dwarfs the whole mass. But even 
if the eftect is bad, we like the disposition. We do 
not wish to have the heathen come here and look 
down on us, our daughters, and our institutions; we 
do not wish when they have washed our doorsteps, 
to have them take the half dollar and spend it in 
China, though speculating manipulators may swindle 
the people out of millions, and spend their ill-gotten 
gains at the east and in Europe and have nothing 
tliought of it. Speculating manipulators are not 
Chinese ; if they were, it would have been a great 
blessing to this coast. 

Hence I say that the rise and development of opinion 
in California on the Chinese question presents one of 
the most singular anomalies in the history of human 
societies. It is not so strange in the conclusions arrived 
at, that the Chinaman here is a nuisance, an unbe- 
liever, un-American, and altogether an unclean thing 
not wanted in our midst — this is not so strange as is 
the method by which we reach such conclusions. 
The arguments employed are so fallacious, the ground 
taken so fanatical, as to make a disinterested observer 
question our sincerity or sanity. 

Going back to the beginning of Anglo- American 
occupation in these parts, and the rush hither of men 
from every quarter upon the discovery of gold, and 



we find the great American miner promulgating with 
knife and pistol the doctrine — not that Asiatics alone, 
or more than others, should stay away, but that no 
foreigners should be allowed here. So they made 
raids on Chinese and Mexicans, Frenchmen and Eng- 
lishmen — in fact upon all foreigners, killing some and 
taxing all severely on the ground that we had beaten 
Mexico fairly out of these gold fields, and that conse- 
quentl}^ the gold was ours, and not to be scooped up 
and carried to England, or Egypt, or China. Whether 
right or wrong in this, they were at least reasonable 
and logical in their proposition and deduction, and 
that is more than can be said of our people to-day. 

The American miners, after some beating and kill- 
ing of Mexicans, Chinese, and Kanakas, with occa- 
sional growls at Englishmen, Irishmen, and French- 
men, the placer mines meanwhile having been skimmed 
of their surface richness, concluded that it miirht be 
just as well to let foreigners have a share in the scrap- 
ings, but to tax them royally for the privilege. Of 
course the persecution fell heaviest upon the weakest. 
Under this treatment the Kanakas soon withered; 
the Mexicans returned to their homes by the thou- 
sands, the Europeans gradually moved off, leaving 
the Chinaman to catch the full force of the blows the 
great American man continued striking in defence of 
his life, liberty, and sacred honor. 

It is just a little farcical to see our great American 
men fume and bluster over these little Asiatics, who 
with others came here by invitation, and tliat of not 
so very old a date, threatenhig to annihilate them, 
to '* chaw 'em all up," as did the giant to Jack, unless 
incontinently they go away and stay away ; especially 
when these same blusterers were so lately before t.he 
walls of China, in company with their English breth- 
ren, threatening to batter down their gates if they 
would not let them in. 

It is just a little comical to see the white skins of 
this exalted Christian civilization in deep disgust cry 


"pall I" to the smokers of the divme drug so lately 
forced upon the reluctant Asiatics at the point of the 

As the years passed by, time and whiskey weakened 
the arm of the honest American miner, so that the 
Chinamen, burrowing as harmless as mules hi thrice- 
worked-out river bars, found some respite. More of 
them came and entered upon other pursuits, such as 
washino; clothes, cooking, digging ditches, making 
railroads, and working in factories; for they proved 
to be handy and not much given to drunkenness. 

For all this the true American man cared nothing; 
he did not wish to cook, wash clothes, or work on a 
railroad; he could do better; in fact he was glad to 
get in this wilderness so docile and efficient a servant, 
to relieve himself and family from some portion of 
their drudgery. And had these two races been left 
alone in the matter, nothing more would have come 
of it. There would have been no bugbear talk of a 
Chinese invasion, for the American man well knew that 
he had no reason to fear that the Mongols who had 
walled themselves in for thirty or sixty centuries were 
all on a sudden to pour forth from their gates, buy a 
hundred thousand ships and come over and capture 
the United States. 

Had there been none to interfere between the great 
American man and the little China man, nothing would 
have been said about the pittance of gold the drudge 
carried away with him when he went home, leaving 
in its place the fruits of his labor in the form of a 
canal, or railroad, or other useful accomplishment, 
any more than we would think of complaining when 
the stock-jobber or monopolist carries away to the east 
or Europe his stolen millions, leaving along his trail 
thousands of shattered fortunes and moral and political 

Nothing would have been said about the poor pig- . 
tail's religion; let him have his little gods, and scatter 
papers to the devil; what harm can it do? Nothing 


would have been said about indifFerence to citizenship 
and amalgamation, or refusal to go to congress. Who 
wants that good and patient servant, the mule, to be- 
come an American citizen, and who w^ants his blood 
debased by mixture with that of the African or low 
European? And yet the mule, the negro, or the 
European were never so persecuted as the Chinese 
have been. And the Chinaman is more a necessity 
in California to-day than was ever the steam-engine 
or gang-plough. 

Whether or not a mistake was made fifty years ago 
in admitting freely a turbid stream of population from 
Europe, which our people had constantly to absorb, 
to their eternal debasement, it is very safe to say that 
it was a great mistake to let this element come in and 
become our rulers. To have made the mule a voter 
and our ruler would have been no more foolishly ab- 
surd than to make a voter and governor of shock- 
headed Africans just emancipated from slavery. For 
such privileges and offices the Indian has more rights 
and the Asiatic more intelligence. 

But call this black enfranchisement a piece of pleas- 
antry on the part of republican patriots — at which 
game they did not win largely — there is still a darker 
element in our politics. The greatest curse ever en- 
tailed upon our government and institutions was in 
giving the low European a hand in them. Herein 
lies the cause of most of the political vice and corrup- 
tion of our large cities; herein lies the cause of our 
prostituted rights of high-minded and honorable self- 
govermuent; herein lies the cause of all California's 
troubles over the presence of the Asiatics. Instead of 
cursing the Chinese for having no desire to meddle in 
our politics, we had better curse ourselves for ever hav- 
ing allowed the negro and the low European to do so. 

Pythagoras divides virtue into two branches, to 
seek truth and to do good ; whereupon we may con- 
clude that the person or people who do the contrary 
are vicious. Nor will ignorance or inexperience suf- 

EssAYS AND Miscellany 18 


fice as a plea for wrong-doing. The innnoralities of 
conventionalism are no less fatal in their effects than 
the immoralities of inherent viciousness and debase- 
ment. Good citizenship comes before pleasurable 
gratification or the indulgence of tastes; it begins 
with right conduct in the family, and ends in right 
conduct in the state. All rational human activities 
may be ranged under three classes, though not 
wholly separable: those which tend to the mainte- 
nance of life, those which tend to the highest social 
and political relations, and tliose which elevate tlje 
tastes and gratify the feelings. 

No doubt many of the champions of the anti-Chinese 
cause have been converted through their own per- 
sistent and dogmatical assertions. But they can 
hardly help knowing that the arguments they use 
in support of the cause are fallacious, and their state- 
ments are not always borne out by the facts. A dis- 
interested observer cannot but feel that nine tenths of 
these assertions are insincere, or if those who utter 
them really believe in what they say, then is the 
standard of intelligence low indeed, while humbug and 
hollow cant hold in subordination our politics, our 
morals, and our religion. 

It is not the Asiatic, but this same turbid stream 
from Europe that debases our blood, discolors our 
politics, makes of republican government a farce, stirs 
up strife, and lowers the standard of our morals. It 
is not the Chinaman who does this, for he will not 
mix himself up in these affairs. The mule, at work 
upon the highway, does not affect our standard of 
morals, no matter what may be its habits, however 
filthy, or however different from humanity. So with 
the Chinaman; because he is not one with us, because' 
he will not mingle or interfere in our affairs, because 
he likes his own gods better than ours, his own dress, 
his own food, his own customs — it is for these very 
reasons that, like the mule, for many purposes, he is 
our best and most patient drudge. 


In regard to relative morality; it is by no means 
a proved proposition that the Chinese are more filthy, 
or more immoral than Europeans. The great un- 
washed of Europe on their arrival here we take to our 
bosoms; come election day we give them rum to 
drink, place votes in their hands, install them in the 
various offices of our government, and make them our 
masters. And thus in proportion as we elevate them 
we abase ourselves. With regard to the Chinese it 
is not so. In the presence of the little almond-eyed 
pig-tail we will assert our great American manhood. 
He shall not vote. He shall not sit upon the benches 
of our supreme courts of justice ; he shall not be our 
master. Nay, we will drive him from our shores be- 
fore he shall do any of these things, before he shall 
swallow us up, before this little pig-tail shall swallow 
up our great American manhood I 

The Chinese in our small country towns are no more 
fifthy in their habits than the poor people there of other 
nationalities ; in all large cities of America and Europe 
there are quarters occupied by white people as filthy 
and as fever-breeding as any of the Chinese quarters. 
The Chinese do not steal, or kill, or commit adultery 
proportionately more than white people. They have 
some system of purchase and sale of women for vile 
purposes ; is that any worse than the American or 
European method of using women for vile purposes 
without bargain and sale, without ownership or pro- 
tection, but casting them out as men tire of them ? 
And in regard to opium ; will any one for a moment 
maintain that this drug is one tenth part so great an 
evil in America as alcoholic drinks and tobacco ? 

I can understand how the politician, pandering to 
foreign votes, w^hethcr as provincial demagogue or 
statesman standing on the floor of the national con- 
gres3, feels called upon, whatever may be his true 
opinion, to denounce in season and out of season the 
presence of Asiatics in America. He would not long 
be a place-holder otherwise. The newspaper that 


does not energetically and persistently denounce the 
Chinese, and denounce all who do not denounce them, 
and that without regard to any honest opinion of tlie 
editor, may as well close its office. Indeed our 
teachers and preachers are all personally interested. 
If they speak otherwise than against the Chinese, 
they could not retain their places for a moment. 
But that the intelligent masses should be so bought 
over, shows two things — the extent and quality of 
their intelligence, and also what effect years of strong 
and persistent assertion on the part of newspapers 
and politicians will have upon the public mind. 

As I have said, I do not advocate Asiatic immigra- 
tion, or European, or African, or any other immigra- 
tion, if only the lower classes come; I advocate here 
only common-sense and connnon honesty in dealing 
with this question. I would urge upon our leading 
men, whether of the press, the political arena, or the 
counting-house, to stop pandering to these low foreign 
voters by heaping odium, by false accusations, upon 
a class less offending, less meddlesome, less trouble- 
some, more industrious, and in many other respects 
better than their persecutors, and whose chief crimes 
are that they neither vote nor read the newspapers. 

In fine, from the presence of Asiatics in America 
flow essentially the same benefits and evils brought 
upon a superior people by base elements from any 
quarter. Even the irresponsible bachelorhood applies 
to large groups of white men. As the low European 
and the low Asiatic each differ in mind and body, in 
characteristics and customs, so their effect upon us, 
our society, our morals, our institutions, our agricul- 
ture, manufactures, and general development are each 
different from that exercised by any other people ; 
and this difference is one of kind rather than of extent. 

And when from our deep debasement we shall 
arise, peradventure, through fire and blood, and place 
under our feet political libertinism, when we shall 


restrict the ballot within wholesome limits, placing 
public affairs in the hands of men of integrity and in- 
telligence, who have a stake in the community, then 
should we write in the by-laws of our new incorpora- 

That the infusion into the ranks of an enlightened 
and progressive people of any foreign faex iiojpidi, or 
low element, from any source, is debasing to the su- 
perior race. 

But times and conditions may offer counterbalancing 
advantages rendenng their presence temporarily 

In no event, however, should a base foreign infusion 
be allowed to become citizens, or to participate in the 
government, though possibly their clarified children 
may be permitted to do so. 

The better class, the educated, the able and enter- 
prising, the wealthy, we may profitably welcome. 

The Chinese, such as commonly visit our shores, 
being a low foreign element, their presence is injurious 
to the general and permanent welfare of America. 

Africans as a class being base-minded and unintel- 
lectual, their presence among us is not desirable. 

The influx of ignorant and low Europeans is detri- 
mental to the highest well-being of America. 

In equity, all classes of our population should receive 
corresponding attention to their demands for restricted 
competitive immigration, and no nationality should 
be favored above another in the exclusion. 

Having reached the logical ending of the subject, 
we might let it there rest. But it will not rest. 
There is an aspect of the Chinese question outside of 
politics, outside of the demands of other foreigners or 
their tools, the demagogues, and outside of any social 
consideration. We may theorize as to what might 
have been, or what ought to be ; at the same time we 
may as well consider what must be, following the 
logic of necessity, Keturning to California, and view- 


incr the Chinese question from the quarter where the 
first hollow voice of office-seekers and politicians was 
raised against them, and we ask, What arc we to do 
without them? 

Take from California to-day Chinese labor and in- 
dustries will become paralyzed, commerce become stag- 
nant, and absolute ruin overspread vast agricultural 
areas. So long and so loud has been the cry that 
the Chinese must go, so blinded are the people to 
the most vital interests of the connnonwealth, that 
they will not see the approacliing danger, or listen to 
a word against their unreasonable prejudices. The 
time will come, and indeed is near at hand when there 
will be the most urgent necessity for many thousands 
of additional laborers. For unless we have several 
times more than are in the country now, we may as 
well stop planting trees, as there will be no one to 
gather the fruit ; we may as well abandon at once 
general manufacturing, and all those important indus- 
tries which make a nation prosperous, and sit down 
satisfied with our present condition with no hope for 
future progress — yet not our present position, but 
infinitely worse, retrogression, stagnation. Our land 
for grain is worked-out; we cannot return to cattle- 
raising; fruit-growing, the coming chief and higher 
industry, will alone require ten times as many labor- 
ers as are in the state at present, or the fruit from the 
trees lately planted never will be gathered. 

Where are the laborers essential to our prosperity 
to come from ? Not from the sons of the soil ; they 
are too independent ; they are employers, or labor 
only for themselves ; the few who will hire themselves 
out do not figure in the labor market. Not from the 
African, who, as a free man is trifling, lazy, without 
ambition, or any probable intellectual improvement, a 
disgrace to the country, a foul stain in our politics. 
His place is in the south, or in the jungles of Africa. 
Were he here in sufficient numbers, which is neither 
probable nor by any means desirable, he could not be 


depended on as a laLorcr in our fields and manu- 
factories. Mexicans and Indians of course are not to 
be mentioned; Mexico is paying a premium for 
Chinese labor to-day. The European : we have tried 
him, and know to what extent and in what ways he 
can and cannot be depended upon. Socially and 
pohtically ambitious, captious in his conceptions, 
wedded to Iiis chuch and to towns and cities, from 
this class some few are fv)und to work as mechanics, 
but there are not enough of them for successful manu- 
facturing, and in country labor they are but an incon- 
siderable factor. 

Wisely or unwisely we have placed ourselves in a 
position where certain work has to be done to avoid 
lamentable consequences. It is not a question of 
heathenism, amalgamation, politics, popularity, or 
what will please other foreigners; we require to 
have our fruit gathered, our shoes made, our wives 
relieved from the heavier household drudgery ; other- 
wise w^e w^ill have to take long steps backward in 
progress and prosperity, and organize affairs anew, and 
on a basis such as our foreflxthcrs should have done, and 
arc likely enough to find ourselves worse off at the end 
of another century than at present. It may be that 
our development would have been healthier and hap- 
pier if we had invented and empkn'cd less machinery, 
but we cannot throw away machines now without 
serious inconvenience. It is clearly evident that the 
Cliinaman is the least objectionable of any human 
machine wo have amonix ns. 



For twelve honest men have decided the cause, 
Who are judges alike of the facts and the laws, 

— PuUeneyy The Honest Jury. 

The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, 
And wretches hang that jurymen may dine. 

Do not your juries give their verdict 
As if they felt the cause, not heard it ? 


The mind of man, no less than the body, is bom 
under bonds. Thick black clouds of ignorance and 
superstition encompass and overshadow it from its in- 
cipiency. Not only docs darkness surround it, but 
the light of past ages itself gradually merges in ob- 
scurity before it. It sees nothing, feels nothing, hears 
nothing aright. Nature it misinterprets. Of its own 
self, its character, quality, origin, and destiny, it knows 
little. In the vain search for its maker and dominator, 
it sends forth dismal groans, fills earth, sea, and sky 
with fantastic forms, places here a heaven and there 
a hell, and in every thunder cloud and sighing breeze 
a deity. 

To emancipate itself from this thraldom is its 
eternal struggle. To ascertain truth and falsity, the 
real and the mythical, is progress. Often we see 
portions of the race proceeding far in some directions 
while lagging behind in others. Among wise men we 
find the greatest follies. Nowhere are displayed 
greater absurdities than in the writings of the ancient 
philosophers, the wisest among mankind in some 
things. What shall we say of men capable of fair 



reasoning who for wounds had recourse to invocations, 
and for the gout apphed a weasel's tooth wrapped in 
Hon skin — -though the doctors gravely quarreled, some 
holding that the covering should be deer skin? 
Common to every nation as household words are 
many such absurdities, to say nothing of the multitu- 
dinous minor superstitions of daily domestic life, all of 
which have not left mankind to this day. 

To free itself from the constraining covering the 
mind puts on when first perceiving its nakedness is 
the sum of all aspirations, the end of all activities. 
And in this effort to escape exposure, often it employs 
divers suits and makeshifts, quickly arraying itself in 
one before fairly casting off another. In jurispru- 
dence, and medicine, in merchandising and industries, 
as well as in religion, we see numberless infatuations 
from which the mind is gradually liberating itself, 
and in no age more rapidly than the present. 

These several makeshifts were not always unneces- 
sary. On the contrary there is no evil, or what we 
of to-day call evil, or any subterfuge under which 
progressive peoples have sought to hide tlieir intel- 
lectual nakedness, or any protection for their exposed 
condition but at the time was essential, if not to life 
itself, at least to progress. Unable all at once to cast 
off its sombre raiment, to stand forth and eye om- 
nipotence, to give unrestricted sway to expanding 
thought, the nascent intellect must blink, and stare, 
and creep, and lisp before it can see clearly, walk 
firmly, and reason intelligibly. War, worship, slavery, 
usury, and the like were once superstitions, were once 

The right of trial by jury sprang from the advance 
of physical and intellectual freedom. Its origin was 
in no one time or place. It was a necessity demanded 
in the dawning community of tyranny, of great-man 
worship, the moment the mind had reached a certain 
point in its progress. For several thousand years it 
has done good service ; but like many evils which were 


once blessings, society can now safely dispense with 
it, would indeed be better off without it. The cir- 
cumstances which called it into being have changed 
in most countries. The people do not now have to 
figlit with the sword for an acknowledgment of their 
rights to a hearing in questions of law, legislation, 
and government; they are the law and the govern- 
meiit. Between tliem and the judges tliere are not 
now, as formerly, antagonisms; the judges are the 
servants and representatives of the people, and not 
arbitrary or independent rulers, opposed in many 
respects to the welfare of the people. Therefore, as 
these conditions no longer exist, the necessities and 
benefits once arising^ from them no lonoer accrue. 
Progressive peoples may therefore look at the system 
of trial by jury apart from past benefits, considering 
alone its present usefulness, and in so doing, doubtless 
we shall find that the system may now be safely 

Under the patriarchal regime the pater familias 
was absolute ruler and the sole arbiter of disputes. 
Revenge, or the personal vindication of wrongs, was 
the primitive idea of justice; public crimes, and public 
punishment of crime were a later development. When 
patriarchal and roving bands united as nations and 
assumed despotism, with its attendant great-man wor- 
ship, of necessity courts were established; but the 
jury must not be confounded with the court, as is too 
often done by legal writers. Jurors are no part of the 
court. They consist of members of the community 
summoned to ascertain the facts in a disputed case, to 
which the judge applies the law and delivers sentence. 
When these chosen citizens have pronounced on the 
facts, they can return to their several vocations, having 
thenceforth nothing more to do with the court than 
others. While England was not wholly ignorant of 
the jury principle, the judicium dei and other ordeals 
and divinations were in vogue, in which fire, water, 
and red-hot ploughshares played conspicuous parts. 


It was not many centuries ago that any acknowl- 
edgment by a ruler of personal inherent rights among 
the governed was a great gain. Since the concessions 
wrung from despotism by the magna charta, trial by 
jury has been regarded as an inestimable boon, insep- 
arable from free institutions. So sacredly was this 
sentiment revered, which thus secured to every accused 
Englishman the judgment of his peers, the verdict of 
a jury, or the law of the land, that Lord Camden 
adopted as his motto the quotation from the great 
charter, "Judicium parium aut leges terrse." 

But long before magna charta was trial by jury. 
Indeed, in all civilized nations, before the existence of 
regular codes, cr of any theory of jurisprudence, we 
find the germ of the present jury system, since de- 
veloped and moulded to meet the exigencies of time 
and place. The system then has not one origin alone 
but many. Its appearing was spontaneous, and not 
the result of an^^ act of king or parliament. To the 
dicasts of Athens, to the corresponding judices of 
Rome, to the Rachinburgen or Scabini of the conti- 
nent, to the compurgators of the Saxons, to the Nor- 
wegian Gulathing, to the Gescliwornen-Gericlite of 
Germany, to the sectatores and pares of feudalism, 
and to other sources the system points for its origin. 
Under the systems of ancient Greece and Rome we 
see much in common with our own. 

The body selected from the dicasts of Athens for 
hearing and determining causes numbered sometimes 
five hundred jurors for a single case^ A Scandina- 
vian tribunal was usually composed of twelve or some 
multiple of twelve. Over the dicasts presided an 
archon; other deliberative assemblages had no pre- 
siding judge. There was a time when at a Roman 
trial the jury sat alone. No praetor or other officer 
presided to regulate proceedings and determine points 
of law, but in every jury was one or more lawyers 
who lent their aid to reach a verdict. 

The deliberations of such tribunals as the Athenian 


ekklesia and the Roman comitia were irregular, often 
violent, and their decisions were the results of appeals 
to feeling rather than to fixed principles. Tumultu- 
ous bodies of freemen having no presiding judge, 
governed by no rule or precedent, were poor places 
for justice. The first innovation on this method of 
adjudication in England was the introduction by the 
Normans of judges familiar with the forms of regu- 
lar procedure as practised in Roman tribunals. 

The right of trial by jury comes to Englishmen 
more directly in the form of a victory. During the 
dark centuries, prerogative or despotism denied such 
a right. Though in England under the Tudors and 
Stewarts the practice obtained for the most part as at 
present, yet the popular pulse was then too low to 
baffle the subtleties of the royal prerogative, or of 
learned malevolence. But later, with increase of in- 
tellectual strength and material stability, the people 
intrenched themselves in their rights, and since the 
magna charta this privilege has been held the dearest 
of a progressive people. It was a right guarded with 
vigilant care, and for which intelligent freemen every- 
where would fight and die. To America came this 
sentiment, and was embodied in the constitutions of 
the several states. 

The victory originally achieved by the people over 
the government by the establishment of the jury 
system was the right of participation in the adminis- 
tration of the law. No man might thenceforth be 
jeopardized in person or property without appeal to 
his fellows for redress. It was a sign of the increas- 
ing purity of political character, and growing love of 
honesty and fair play. When the government and 
the people were one the victory was complete. 

As with hero worship, the system with age and 
adulation became apotheosized ; since which time men 
have thoughtlessly and blindly worshipped it as com- 
plete, God-given, and eternal, — the English jurist, 
Adam, terming it '' of a perfection so absolute that it 


has remained in unabated rigor from its commence- 
ment to the present time." 

Often when the jury decided contrary to the wishes 
of the king, or rendered, in the opinion of the judge, 
an improper verdict, they were punished ; therein the 
irony of ancient jury -justice displays itself in scarcely 
less degree than in modern jury -justice, where mem- 
bers of a jury decide as they choose, without any fear 
of punishment from God or man. Many cases might 
be cited — instance the Throckmorton trial, in which 
three of the jurors were adjudged to pay each two 
thousand pounds, and the rest two hundred pounds 
each; the trial at the Old Bailey in 1670 of Penn and 
Mead, in which the jurors were fined forty marks 
each and imprisoned till they paid, and others of sim- 
ilar significance. Many cases are on record where 
the jury were convicted of perjury, forced to retract, 
and heavily fined or imprisoned. In a land case aris- 
ing under William the Conqueror, between the crown 
and the church, the jury first found for the king, and 
afterward acknowledged rendering a wrong decision. 
Such was the palladium of English liberty at that 

''It is not trial by jury tliat produces justice," says 
Herbert Spencer, **but it is the sentiment of justice 
that produces trial by jury, as the organ through 
which it is to act ; and the organ will be inert unless 
the sentiment is there." 

Trial by jury means, as Blackstone says, that a man 
"cannot be affected either in his property, his libert}^ 
or his person, but by the unanimous consent of twelve 
of his neighbors and equals." If it is intended that 
this sentiment should be construed literally, then like 
many legal maxims, age is its greatest merit. Of all 
men one's neighbors are least capable of judging fairly, 
are most liable to prejudice for or against the accused. 
To those nearest us we are never indifferent ; we are 
apt cither to love or hate them. One remove, and 
the feeling still exists, though not in so intense a form. 


On local questions the popular mind is always more 
or less inflamed. 

The arguments, or rather the palpable evidence in 
favor of trial by jury, are protection from arbitrary or 
despotic rule, protection from biased or unjust judges, 
repivscntation by the people in the administration of 
justice, the recognized right of judgment by one's 
peers, to which we might add the blessings arising by 
virtue of habeas corpus, and the advantage of equity 
from a standpoint of moral law and custom to oflset 
the harshness and errors of technical ruhng. It em- 
bodies the sentiment of fairness. It secures to the 
citizen a feeling of safet}^ in his riglits which cannot 
be disturbed by any fanaticism or mahce. If accused 
he may be sure of tlie same impartiality from his 
neiglibors that he stands ever ready to mete out to 
them. Furthermore, following M. de Tocqueville, it 
is an ever-open school instructing the citizen in his 
legal rights, giving manliness to cliaracter, and cloth- 
ing the citizen with a magisterial dignity. It draws 
the individual from his selfishness, which is the rust 
of society, and compels him to occupy his mind for 
the moment with other than his own affairs. To 
which might be added that it keeps the doings of the 
court directly under the eye of the people, and famil- 
iarizes them with judicial proceedings and the admin- 
istration of justice, keeps ever before them their duty 
and responsibility as members of a free and enlight- 
ened commonwealth. It surrounds the rights of lib- 
erty with the strongest safe-guards, and strips fiom 
judgment bigotry and legal technicality. 

On the other hand, the system is not without its 
evils, which at the present day, and in countries with 
representative governments, more than counterbalance 
all its benefits. 

The principle of the right of representation in ad- 
ministering justice is no longer pertinent as an argu- 
ment in the case, for the judge is now as much the 
representative of the people in courts of justice as the 


jury. Courts, people, judge, and jury are one, so far 
as power and representation are concerned. As to its 
fairness, one, or three good men may be as fair as 
twelve good men, and, indeed, experience proves that 
in numbers is confusion rather than clearer judgment. 
Meyer and others, while warmly upholding the 
system as applied to criminal cases, denounce it in the 
strongest terms in civil practice. And yet I find no 
arguments against the one which will not a.pply eq ually 
to the other. In fact, so glarino- are the evils of it in 
criminal cases, so rank the iniquity arising therefrom, 
tliat if it could be discarded only in one I should pre- 
fer to see that branch of jurisorudence relieved in 
preference to the other. 

Every good government is based upon despotism. 
The weakest and most worthless of all governments 
is that which depends alone upon its constitution and 
statutes for support. A single despot, if he be wise 
and good, governing with unlimited power, is the 
strongest, best, and most economical of all govern- 
ments. Such rule is most natural, and best accords 
with man's conceptions of supernatural rule. God is 
God, and Christ or Mahomet is his prophet. He is 
the one only all-wise and beneficent ruler of the uni- 
verse. The forces of nature appear more conflicting, 
yet one harmony pervades the whole. This world 
was not governed these thousands of years by tyrants 
and despots for nothing. Republics, in particular, 
should beware of the rule of the rabble. 

Next to the single despot is the despotism of the 
whole; that is to say where the governed, in their 
several castes, classes, occupations, and interests, are 
so thoroughly united in sentiment and purpose as to 
constitute one body, with one mind, arbitrary and ab- 
solute. This is the republican form of despotism ; and 
a republic without this species of despotism is the 
saddest of all pictures. In vigilance, in that rigid 
patriotism which sinks self in the general well-being 


of society, we see more vividly than elsewhere the 
part which discipline, and that reflection which accom- 
panies responsibility, play in securing the self-reliance 
which imparts soundness to the desposition of the 
united masses. The value and utility of despotism 
depend upon the moral character, the political poise, 
and the social organization of the people. As Horace 
expresses it, "Quid leges, sine moribus vanae pro- 

Apply these principles and virtues to the adminis- 
tration of justice, and leave it in the hands of properly 
vested despotism, instead of surrendering it to hap- 
hazard and vacillating ignorance. So long as it is 
necessary for men to fight for their rights and liber- 
ties, let them fight, but to thrust at the carcass and 
beat the air long after the enemy is dead is not wise. 
Nor is it at this late day an argument in favor of any 
polity or creed that it has been in force for centuries. 
Age no longer lends reason or respectability to error. 

We are taught to regard with horror the picture 
of a murderer in prison with a weapon or with poison 
taking his own life. Prison -keepers are held respon- 
sible for the lives of those the law reserves for its ex- 
amples ; and if unluckily the criminal commits suicide, 
and so cheats the gallows, censure follows. 

There are different lights in which any subject may 
be regarded. This popular idea of so carefully pre- 
serving life in order to take it artistically, legally, or 
for the entertainment or instruction of some, and as a 
warning to others, is not without its superstition. It 
is another of these cases in which the same result is 
obtained as when the law acts, but the law would not 
have its acts anticipated. If the law were a little 
more particular in arresting and punishing all who de- 
served it, there might be better reason to complain of 
infringements upon its monopoly. As the case pre- 
sents itself, the murderer in prison suffering the men- 
tal tortures incident to the commission of his crime, 
as an act of humanity to himself, a sentiment the law 
indulges when not in conflict with traditions, may 


naturally wish to anticipate the law's punishment. 
Or he may consider his crime sufficiently atoned, and 
in the desire to avoid further ignominy, kill himself. 
True, there is something repulsive in the idea of 
giving the criminal in his cell a knife or a pistol with 
permission to slay himself; but there is also much 
that is abhorrent in legal executions. We are told 
that the purpose of the law is to make a solemn ex- 
ample, not a revengeful or passionate manslaughter ; 
but what could be more solemn, were we accustomed 
to look at it from that side, than the felon by his own 
act satisfying justice, stepping of his own volition into 
the immediate presence of his maker, appealing at 
once to the higher tribunal. Such proceeding has 
surely some things in its favor. It saves the prisoner 
much anxiety ; it satisfies justice ; it saves the people 
much trouble ; the example is every whit the same. 
Nevertheless I am by no means desirous of seeing the 
hari-Jcari, or happy dispatch principle of Japan, in gen- 
eral practice in America, unless as there, it be confined 
to officials, when it would doubtless have a very good 
effect, the officers of the government being then obliged 
to eviscerate themselves whenever the people, that is 
to say the ruling power, ordered it done. 

It is the province and duty of a jury to hear the 

evidence, weigh the testimony, judge the credibility 
of witnesses, and determine the facts in the case. 
These functions must be exercised under the direction 
of the judge, who ij^so facto is better qualified to pass 
upon all the points himself than those to whom they 
are submitted. 

It is plainly apparent that men ignorant of the law 
are incapable of judging by the law. But may we not 
go a step farther and affirm that as society increases, 
and civil affairs become more intricate, and the ma- 
nipulations of law become a science, persons chosen 
indiscriminately, without regard to qualification or 
experience, are less competent to deal with questions 

Essays and Miscellany 19 


arising in courts, with guilt and evidence of guilt, and 
with the several biases the custom of courts permits 
to be thrown around them, than those trained by 
thoughtful study and constant experience to the task ? 
Then again, the wrong decision of a judge, involving 
reputation, and an honorable life-position, is far more 
to him who renders it, than in the case of the careless 
or indifferent citizen, forced, it may be from his busi- 
ness against his will, and where the responsibility and 
odium of a biased or passionate decision is divided 
among twelve. 

As in all matters relative to social and political 
ethics, practice is totally at variance with purpose. 
Take twelve intelligent men, enlightened by experi- 
ence, accustomed to close analysis of intricate subjects 
and to the subtleties of argument, w^ho will form their 
verdict from the evidence alone and after calm and 
close reflection, unbiassed by education, interest, pride, 
sympathy or any other sentiment or feeling, and they 
no doubt would prove of assistance to a judge. But 
never did twelve such men sit as jurors in a case, and 
never will there be such a jury. The judge himself 
comes nearer the proper qualifications than the jury. 

Not half the jurymen who serve, chosen as they 
are from among our free and enlightened American 
citizens, have adequate ideas of their duties. They 
may know they are to sit upon a bench and listen to 
the proceedings in court, and after that retire to a 
room and say guilty or not guilty. They may even 
remember to have been told that while the judge will 
expound to them the law they are to determine the 
facts. But do they know, w^hen rendering their de- 
cision, upon what they base it? Do they know 
whether they are deciding upon law, facts, or feelings? 

Not one juror in fifty has any true realization of his 
position, or what he has sworn to do ; or if aware of 
it he does not care. He does not stop to consider 
that to free the guilty is as bad as to commit the 
deed ; that to acquit a murderer is as bad as to com- 


mit murder — nay, that the moral effect upon the com- 
munity is worse, for to let escape one criminal is to 
invite a hundred others to become criminals. To 
prevent crime, punishment must be certain ; and not 
to prevent crime, when it lies in one's power, is to 
commit crime. Or as Seneca says, *' Cui prodest 
scelus, is fecit." 

It does not matter how excellent may be our judges, 
or how perfect our code of laws, so long as questions 
of fact even are left to a jury, no litigant, innocent or 
guilty, can know where he stands. It has become a 
by- word, that of all earthly things a jury is the most 
uncertain. And yet men reverentially cling to this 
shadow of support as to one of the greatest props of 

In early Saxon times jurors were witnesses as well 
as judges, and determined the law as well as the facts. 
Members of the tribunal were selected from the 
neighborhood where the crime was committed, and 
the more a juror knew of the affair the more compe- 
tent was he to serve. The principle of farna publica 
entered largely into jurisprudence, side by side with 
com})urgation by oath, and divers other divinations. 
At the present day any knowledge of a case is deemed 
undesirable. Ignorance of the facts is a recommenda- 
tion for acceptance as a juror ; yet it is knowledge alone 
upon which rational judgment is formed, and surely 
the evidence of one's own senses is as direct and con- 
clusive as that obtained through the senses of 

The sainted twelve must be docile, and profoundly 
impressed with the dignity of judges, the learning of 
counsel, and the sacredness of law. A keen practi- 
tioner deems his cause half won when he has his judge 
and jury satisfactorily selected and seated before him. 
Then comes lofty declamation, highly seasoned ap- 
peals, long and elaborate arguments, humor and pathos. 

The fictitious sentiment of privilege, inseparable in 


the minds of a liberty -loving people from trials by 
jury, is no less gratifying to the law, whose officers 
thereby have an opportunity for a display of learning 
and skill not otherwise within their reach, than to the 
citizens of the commonwealth, who fancy themselves 
to be the court, and that justice can be administered 
only by themselves. Anyone cognizant with the 
manner by which a trial is determined in the jury- 
room can know upon how frail a foundation this latter 
idea rests. 

In impartial results, trials by jury are little changed 
since the days of Cicero. In his treatise on Oratory 
one might almost imagine him speaking of a modern 
court of justice. " Men are influenced in their ver- 
dicts," he says, "much more by prejudice, or favor, or 
greed of gain, or anger, or indignation, or pleasure, 
or hope, or fear, or by misapprehension, or by some 
excitement of their feelings, than either by the facts 
of the case, or by established precedents, or by any 
rules or principles whatever, either of law or equity." 

'^It is lawful for you to use your gifts," said Sir 
Nicholas Throckmorton to his prosecutor when on 
trial for high treason in 1554, and better had not such 
use of gifts been lawful, '* which I know God hath 
largely given you, as your learning, wit, and eloquence, 
so as thereby you do not seduce the minds of the 
simple and unlearned jury to credit matters otherwise 
than they be. For, Master Sergeant, I know how 
by persuasions, enforcements, presumptions, applying, 
implying, inferring, conjecturing, deducing of argu- 
ments, wrestling and exceeding the law, the circum- 
stances, the depositions, and confessions, unlearned 
men may be enchanted to think and judge those that 
be things indifferent, or at the worst oversights, to be 
great treasons; such power orators have, and such 
ignorance the unlearned have." 

The special province of the jury lawyer is to move 
to mercy, to produce upon the minds of his hearers 
impressions favorable to the character and conduct of 


the accused, that he may appear to them a good but 
unfortunate man, deserving of generous pity, rather 
than a social viper such as he truly is. 

Under this system the worst element in the com- 
munity is preserved, and at the expense of the best. 
The wicked prosper in their wickedness, while the 
virtuous are slain for their virtues. 

^' Judex damnatur cum nocens absolvitur," says 
Publius Syrus. This is the dark side of the jury 
system. It is very seldom that a jury brings in a 
verdict of guilty where the accused is innocent ; but 
it is very common for them to fail to convict where 
guilt is plainly apparent. In answer, we fall back 
upon the amiable position that it is better to err upon 
the side of mercy, that it is better ten guilty should 
escape than one innocent be punished. This is not an 
altogether sound maxim. The injustice is as great 
which clears the guilty as that which punishes the 
innocent, whatever may be the humanity or sentiment 
of the case. Nevertheless, we would not punish the 
innocent; neither would we let the guilty go. Nor is 
it necessary. If juries, since these thousand years of 
trial, still find compassion overpowering duty, they 
had better step aside and make room for judges of 
sterner stuff, in the direction of whose certain judg- 
ments lies the true economy of mercy. 

Frequently jurors, when they first retire, stand 
eight or ten to four or two. Then begins the work 
of conversion, and the minority are badgered by the 
majority until finally opinion and conscience are sac- 
rificed by the former, who do contrary to what they 
have sworn to do. This is the process in the jury-room, 
and this the perjury which is undergone in four fifths 
of trials by jury 

The merest accident often determines the decision 
of a juror. Entering a room with eleven others, 
some of whom are strangers, with the mind oscillating 
between the arguments ingeniously urged on either 
side, the weak-minded juror would often rather jump 


at any conclusion than appear to have no substantial 
convictions. Hesitancy and suspense under such cir- 
cumstances are no less painful to him than to liis com- 
panions, and many times the word and the vote of 
some strong-minded, dogmatic juror influences the 
next vote, those two the next, and so on until the 
whole twelve are brought to ballot, not in accordance 
with their own private and well-considered views, but 
in such a manner as will best give them the appearance 
before their fellows of prompt, well-opinionated, and 
decisive men 

Modest or sensitive persons, finding themselves in 
a minority, suspect the validity of their opinions, and 
hasten to recant and join the opposite side. But this 
is not judging honestly, considerately, or according to 
oath. Few like to appear ungracious or obstinate, 
and will forswear themselves sooner than seem obnox- 
iously conspicuous. Thus it is in almost every jury, 
there are those who yield their honest opinion to the 
force of circumstance, just as in society fear of one's 
fellows is more terrible than the fear of government 
or of God. 

This is the reason why comparatively few juries 
fail to find a verdict althousjh men so seldom aojree on 
any one point. The jurors do not all of them vote in 
accordance with the oath which they have taken, do 
not vote their honest opinion, do not vote justly ac- 
cording to the evidence as they have sworn to vote. 
Individual obligation is shirked, and the palladium of 
all our liberties becomes a puppet-show, with consent 
and connivance of the judge, who may keep jurors of 
different minds imprisoned in a room until the work 
of coercion is accomplished. 

If the jury system be, indeed, a further necessity, 
then a majority should be permitted to find a verdict. 
There is no advantage in the enforced unanimity of 
twelve blockheads, and often great wrong is done. 
In the large assemblages of Greece and Rome a ma- 
jority found the verdict; and in the Scandinavian 


and Teutonic nations the agreement of the majority 
obtained. In Scotland, after an ineffectual three 
hours' deliberation, nine jurors may find a verdict, but 
in England unanimity in a traverse jury has prevailed 
from the earliest times. 

A forced unanimity is absurd upon the face of it. 
There never yet were found on earth a dozen intelli- 
gent, thoughtful men who fully agreed on every point. 
What folly then for a court of law to force men by 
starvation and other coercive measures to break their 
oath and render a verdict which may be contrary to 
their conviction. Perjury is the result of such unan- 
imity, and the sin of it is to be laid at the door of the 
law. Admit the jury system a necessity, and the re- 
quirement of unanimity yet remains a foul blot upon 
our legal practice. Aside from the objections already 
stated it gives one evil-minded or obstinate juror the 
power to invalidate a righteous verdict, and set at 
naught the efforts, perhaps, of eleven honest men 
laboring in the ends of justice. 

In an important land case in San Francisco, which 
lasted over a month, on retiring to the jury room 
probably not more than one or two of the twelve had 
determined on which side their vote should be cast. 
It happened that one of the jurors was agent for a 
line of steamers, and that the leading attorney for the 
defence was counsel for an opposition line. This 
wholly irrevelant circumstance prejudiced the case. 
The steamer agent determined that the attorney of 
his competitor should not triumph. Impetuous and 
plausible, he had, before many moments, more than 
half the jury his way of thinking, and the rest were 
finally brow-beaten into it, with the exception of one 
or two, who rendered the decision of the case 
impossible. In such instances men are compelled 
to leave their business, and devote time worth to 
them ten or a hundred dollars a day, in order to 
determine the private quarrel of two citizens, which 


the judge could liave iiiucli more riglitly and quickly 

Before court-houses, were courts. lu Mariposa, in 
1850, court was held under a tree, and the jury re- 
tired to another tree to deliberate. Under the classic 
shade was brought one day an American for assault- 
ing a Mexican. The trial over, the jury retired. 

" Let's hang him," said number one. 

*' Oh no," replied number two, *'he only stabbed a 
man ; we can't hang him for that." 

'' Send him to the state prison for life," put in 
number three. 

"That'll do," exclaimed half a dozen at once. 
And so it was concluded, all agreeing to it. 

^*It seems to me rather hard after all," ruminated 
number two, as the twelve started back for the court- 
tree, *' to imprison a man for life, for merely stabbing 
a Mexican; besides, where is your prison ?" 

•'Let's acquit him,' said number one. 

*'Ao^reed," exclaimed the rest; and so the man was 
set at liberty. 

Li July 1851, after the San Francisco vigilance 
committee had been in session several weeks banish- 
ing and hanging desperadoes, thereby setting as it 
was hoped a wholesome example to the officers of the 
law, the community was startled by a verdict before 
one of the courts, of twelve as enlightened and inde- 
pendent as any Gal way jury. A young man named 
Barnes was tried for robbinor a fellow-lodojer of 
seventy-eight dollars. He was caught in the act and 
the precise amount found in his pocket. The jury 
had no doubt of his guilt, but in consideration of his 
being a member of a " respectable family in the east," 
they brought in a verdict of not guilty. By askhig 
the judge to merely ''admonish the prisoner," they 
showed their belief in his guilt. The young man was 
turned loose to continue his chosen career ; and yet 
there were those who opposed the existence of a 
vigilance committee. 


It is not in America, as in some parts of Ireland, 
sympathy with crime which causes this failure to con- 
vict; it is a nobler sympathy, a sympathy with hu- 
manity, with misfortune. And yet, such sympathy 
is generally mistaken, and sometimes maudlin. 

One of the strangest things about the vigilance 
committee was the interest in and sympathy for the 
prisoner, manifested by those associated to punish 
crime. There is something in misfortune, whether 
deserved or not, which touches every generous heart. 
Here were strong men of the world, men of thought, 
of character, nerved to the work of punishment by 
threatened social anarchy, men determined to do their 
duty ; and yet in almost every instance where the 
good man and the bad man are brought together, the 
former soon learns to regard the crimes of the latter 
with toleration. Truett, among the foremost of 
Terry's captors, was the foremost of his liberators. 
From advocate and defender of the accused, he, 
the stern, self-constituted instrument of retributive 
justice, became the prisoner's trusted friend, believing 
him no more wortliy of punishment than his own 

So with regard to Smiley in his intercourse with 
one of the greatest villians ever hanged by a vigilance 
committee. '' Hethcrington w^as a man of great cul- 
ture," he says in his dictation, " one who was cut 
out for a parson, in my opinion. He had a strong re- 
ligious under-current in his inner man. I knew him 
very well. He did not deserve hanging much, and 
would not have been hanged in ordinary times. It 
was a sort of long fight between him and Randall in 
relation to property. They had quarreled and Heth- 
crington committed the first insult and Randall re- 
sented it." 

Here we see the inxeperienced judge, acting as coun- 
sel for the accused, pursuing unconsciously the same 
line of excuses as tlie criminal himself; he had lost 
himself and his sense of duty in his sympathy for the 


poor fellow. And yet Smiley was wkle-awakc and 
clear-headed, and Truett was far-sighted, shrewd, and 
a close reasoner. You could not make Smiley believe 
m Terry's innocence — Smiley prosecuted Terry — no 
more than you could convince Truett that Hetherin^- 
ton should not have been hanged. There were several 
in the counnittee who thought poor little Cora's pun- 
ishment too severe. 

Never were men more clear in their convictions; 
never were men more sincere, more determined to do 
right, more thoughtful, intelligent, and capable of dis- 
cerning the right. They were not jurors by compul- 
sion, but volunteers enlisted from an overwhelming 
sense of necessity. They had staked everything, 
honor, property, and life itself in order to accomplish 
what they deemed a paramount obligation resting on 
them as citizens of a moral and independent common- 
wealth. If with all these fires of patriotism burning 
within them, these earnest and honest endeavors after 
the virtuous, the right, the true, such men fail com- 
pletely the moment their feelings are touched, surely 
then, forced jurymen of lower intellect, of reason yet 
more easily bedimmed by sophistry, picked promiscu- 
ously from the mercantile or mechanical class, are no 
better fitted for sitting in judgment upon the life of 
a fellow-being. 

This Hetherington, when tried before a j ury for his 
first murder, was acquitted. Even the judge, a Cali- 
fornian judge, accustomed to liberating criminals, was 
so struck by the clearness of the case that when the 
jury brought in their verdict he could not hold his 

''Not guilty," was what they said, though why they 
said it, by what process of reasoning their consciences 
acquitted them of perjury, no one, not even they them- 
selves, pretended to know. "But the man has com- 
mitted murder!" exclaimed the judge, confounded at 
their wilful stupidity. Fifteen thousand dollars, Heth- 
erington complained, this killing cost him. For that 


sum the lawyers persuaded the jury that Hctherington 
couldn't help it; so they let him go and kill an- 
other man. 

It was an early and well-known maxim, *'ad quaes- 
tionem juris respondeant judices, ad quaestionem facti 
respondeant juratores," and the only basis upon which 
the system could rest. The judges might determine 
the facts as well as the law, but the jurors could by 
no possibility determine the law, for they knew noth- 
ing about it. And 3^et this simple and just rule is set 
aside or evaded in some manner almost every day. 
The jury nominally may not pass upon the law, but 
in reality they do so, in a greater or less degree, in 
every verdict rendered. In all their decisions they 
consider the penalty, which they, directly, have no 
right to do, and so render their verdict as to bring the 
accused under the punishment deemed by them most 
proper. They do not even restrict themselves to the 
law, but judge according to their ideas of what the 
law should be. 

True, it is expected of the jury in a measure to 
mitigate the severe technical interpretation of the 
law by interpreting the facts according to moral law 
and custom, and so temper decision with the applica- 
tion of equity ; but in America, juries altogether ex- 
ceed these limits of their functions. 

In all cases where popular opinion pronounces the 
law too severe, such as capital punishment for forgery, 
for theft, for irregularities incidental to popular move- 
jnents, and the like, in every such case the jury is apt 
to take the law into its hands, judging of the law as 
well as of the facts. Indeed, too often it ignores the 
facts entirely, accepts overruled evidence or false 
hypotheses, and not being able to mitigate the pen- 
alty and bring in sentence inflicting milder punishment, 
it boldly and untruthfully asserts that the accused 
is not guilty. Instance the usual verdict in the case 
of a legal charge of murder caused by fighting a duel. 


How often has guilty life been spared and the in- 
nocent made to suffer, even by our latter-day juries 1 
How often by reason of predilection or passion have 
excessive damages been awarded, and glaring abuses 
fostered, so that the higher courts have been obliged 
to set aside outrageous verdicts with reprimands, or 
to bolster this defunct S3\steni by establishing rules as 
to the measure of damages, or by defining and restrict- 
ing the duties of jurors. 

This is one of the many anomalies of the system. 
Maxims say, and the law says, the judge shall deter- 
mine the law and the jury the facts, and this will be 
reiterated in legislative halls and tribunals of justice 
century after century, and all the while tlie contrary is 
done with none of these Solons seemingly aware of it. 

The oath of a juror is of little value in restricting 
him to the evidence as tlie foundation of his verdict. 
The more stupid think themselves so restricted, think 
themselves under a load of responsibility, when in 
truth it is nothing but stone-blindness that affects 
them. Perjury is a crime of hourly occurrence in our 
courts. How easily an expert lawyer makes a wit- 
ness contradict himself. And do we not see in al- 
most every case brought up for trial the witness for 
the one side and the other flatly contradicting each 
other ? Men's consciences are elastic. Since among 
all classes the mind is being stripped by science of its 
superstitions there is little fear of divine wrath for 
swearing falsely. And of all men jurors seem to en- 
tertain the least regard for the oath they have taken. 
Some there are who hold out manfully against the im- 
portunities of impatient associates, but their motives 
are usually not directed by conscience. I do not say 
that there is much wilful perjury ; quite the contrary. 
But what is the difference, in reality, whether the 
system fails through wilful or unintentional perjury? 

In this connection the question arises: When the 
will of the people is against tlie law and judge that 
they have made, how should a jury decide, according 


to the evidence as they have sworn to do, or accord- 
ing to popular prejudice ? We know how they do 
decide in such instances. 

Ln every important criminal case the more intelli- 
gent part of such citizens as are competent to serve 
as jurors is rejected on the ground of bias. Those 
who read the newspapers, who keep themselves in- 
formed of passing events, who take an interest in the 
affairs of the commonwealth; those who love justice, 
who hate wrong-doing, who think, form opinions, and 
dare to speak their minds ; those in fact who alone 
are capable of weighing the evidence, determining the 
facts, and rendering a proper verdict, are too often 
ruled out as unfit to serve. It would seem at times, 
among a high-minded, active-brained community, 
tliat it was impossible to find twelve men sufficiently 
stupid to meet the requirements of those whose profes- 
sion it is to defeat the ends of justice. It would seem 
at times that recourse nmst be had to an inebriate or 
idiot asylum for jurymen sufficiently ignorant and 
leatlier-brained to satisfy the wise counsellors and 
learned judges who play fi\st and loose with vagabonds, 
and all who prey upon the industrious classes. As 
John T. Morse, Jr, of Boston, writing in the American 
Law Ixcvicw of July 1871 says of the jury in tlie 
Laura D. Fair trial, ** At last, after a long period and 
careful search, a dozen men were brought together, 
presumably the most unintelligent creatures in Cali- 
fornia, so exceptionably imbecile as to be unexcep- 
tionable. These worthies sat solemnly in the box, 
listening to the harangues and theories of the learned 
and eloquent counsel for the accused lady, until it 
may be supposed that their mental condition became 
more confused than hers was represented to have been 
at the time of the commission of the deed of killing. 
Indeed it is not satisfactorily shown that they had 
ever been educated up to the comprehension of the 
idea that to shoot a human being is really an objec- 


tionable act. Their finding was only what should na- 
turally have been anticipated ; and after all it was the 
law or the administration thereof which insisted upon 
having such men for jurors rather than the men 
themselves, that ought justly to be held answerable 
for their action." 

However this question may be regarded, of Ameri- 
can justice one thing can truly be said. Crime is 
here pampered beyond all precedent. A moneyed 
criminal is almost sure of acquittal at the hands of our 
honest and intelligent juries. The petty poor offender 
they do not hesitate to punish for example's sake. 
Sympathy for the criminal if he has a dash of heroism 
in him, or a mawkish sentimentality, shields the 
shedder of blood. Our juries seem to seize on any 
pretext to save the lives of those who so ruthlessly 
take the lives of others. Thus our courts are de- 
graded, society demoralized, and justice ridiculed. 
How often do we see the deliberate and proven mur- 
derer either wholly acquitted or else found guilty in 
the second degree and recommended to mercy. Says 
an editor on this subject '' Juries seldom visit the 
full penalty of the law on offenders, and often acquit 
those well known to be guilty." And thus a judge : 
''In this country crime and the legal penalties seldom 
meet. Too much is made out of juries and petitions 
for pardon. From these evils, long allowed, spring 
occasional necessities for vigilance committees. Hun- 
dreds of lives have been the price, in Idaho and Mon- 
tana, of a few which escaped the law in California." 

It would seem from the opinions and actions of our 
lawyers, judges, and jurors, that courts of law were 
established for the primary purpose of clearing crimi- 
nals. In almost every community we see for one 
prosecuting attorney in criminal cases five who gain 
their living on the other side. This is painfully sig- 
nificant. Crime abounds. Prisons and law courts 
are established and maintained, at the cost of the peo- 
ple, to suppress crime. Social vultures prey upon 


the people, and so obtain the means, not only to in- 
dulge in rioting and debauchery, but to purchase their 
freedom from punishment. With the money thus 
fraudulently obtained from the people, criminals em- 
ploy so-called respectable lawyers to procure their 
acquittal before tribunals likewise established and paid 
for by the people. 

To gain an unjust cause^ known to be such when 
undertaken, lawyers do not hesitate to wilfully mis- 
represent witnesses, distort evidence, pervert facts, 
and bring upon honest men the foulest imputations. 
To perpetrate the diabolical deed of letting loose upon 
society a human hyena, one known to them to be 
such, they do not hesitate to pour torrents of slander- 
ous invective upon the heads of the opposing counsel, 
the witnesses, and all who bar their progress in their 
infamous purpose. And all this with no loss of char- 
acter or caste. All is professional, and strictly in 
accordance with law and custom. Indeed, the attor- 
ney, it is said, does not earn his fee unless he employs 
his utmost skill in the conmiission of a crime, perhaps, 
as great as that for which his client is being tried. 

If the trial goes against the defence, a few excep- 
tions taken carries the case to the supreme court, where 
enough of them are usually sustained to secure a new 
hearing. If tlie verdict is for the criminal, and unsat- 
isfactory to the public, who cares? Vice with its 
putrifying breath bellows approval, and virtue must 
needs stomach it. The Rosicrucian maxim is applied 
of binding the wound and greasing the weapon, in the 
hope that by some sympathetic, magical reflex action 
the cause of the evil should be its cure. 

After all, the blame attaches mostly to the system 
which tolerates such practice rather than to the prac- 
titioner. All lawyers, judges, and court and jail offi- 
cials are supported by the people. This is bad enough 
to begin with. But when one sees half or three 
fourths of those so supported employing their time 
and talents in the promotion of injustice, in letting 


loose acrain the comparatively few criminals who arc 
broup'ht to trial, it becomes abominal^lu. 

The system of trial by jury certainly was once bene- 
ficial, but having served its purpose it is now unneces- 
sary, and even pernicious, wherever representative 
oovcrnmcnt exists to offer better substitutes. Like 
war, great-man worship, despotism, hun?an slavery, 
and all those savagisms which many still deplore, it 
was a necessary stci)i)ing-stono to a higher plane, to 
which it now clings a mere incumbrance. 

In its most important revival, the system marked 
the dawn of freedom. In as far as the spirit of liberty 
pervaded a people, in so far the principle of trial by 
jury is found enfolded in its legal forms. And almost 
everywhere the princii)le prevailed in a greater or less 
degree, for despotism is never absolute, any more than 
savagism can be fixed and complete. 

It would seem that justice niiglit gain much and 
lose nothing by now laying aside the jury system, 
and in its place let one judge liear and determine petty 
cases, and three or five, or more if necessary, adjudi- 
cate in matters of magnitude, while greatly restricting 

May not a judge, or a bench of judges, learned in 
the law, practised in the administration of courts, ex- 
perienced in listening to arguments, hi weighing tes- 
timony, and in determining truth from falsehood, rep- 
resent the people in their tribunals, and administer jus- 
tice more evenly, more surely, more dispassionately 
than twelve common-place, not to say ignorant and 
inexperienced men, chosen indiscriminately from va- 
rious trades and occupations? 

We are certain to come to some such plan sooner or 
later. Mr Forsyth says truly that 'Hhe machinery 
of our law is too complicated, and its working too 
expensive to suit the wants of the present age; and 
it must be effectually amended, or it will run the risk 
of being rudely overthrown." For as in mechanics 


the simpler the machine the less liability to derange- 
ment, so in government, the fewer the laws the less 
the inertia and friction in courts of justice, and the 
less tlie evils to society. 

The responsibility is too great, some say, to entrust 
to so few. But surely it is not in numbers that jus- 
tice is found. Besides, the purity of the court can as 
well be guarded when under the sole direction of 
competent judges, aye, and nmch better, than when 
civilians attempt to interfere. King Alfred used to 
hang judges for false judgment; are the people of our 
republic less potent than King Alfred? 

Tlie law in every trial pre-supposes controversy, and 
men of average intelligence can determine most facts 
as well as tlie astute. But can they do so better? 
Forsyth contends that they can. "No mind feels 
the force of technicalities," he says, " so strongly as 
that of a lawyer. It is the mystery of his craft, 
which ho lias taken nmcli pains to learn and which he 
is seldom averse to exercise. He is apt to become 
the slave of forms, and to illustrate the truth of the 
old maxim, *qui lueret in litera hjuret in cortice/" 
One can easily understand how a mind may be en- 
slaved by educating and drilHng it in forms and tech- 
nicalities, but that brain must be weak indeed which, 
once educated in the intricacies of tlie law, cannot 
comprehend and determine facts. Such is not the 
talent intelligent communities place upon their judicial 

The lowest average of such judges could hardly be 
inferior to the ordinary jury. Twelve men, the 
thicker their heads tlie better, are taken from their 
farms and from their merchandise, and placed upon 
the judgment-seat. What can they do that competent 
paid judges cannot do better? Unaccustomed to the 
weighing of evidence or to logical sequences, they are 
easily swayed by frothy ai)peals to their passions or 
prejudices^ and in the hands of skilful lawyers are of 
all others the greatest bar to correct decisions. 

Essays and Miscellany 'iO 


The recognition of their incapacity hes in the cus- 
tom of the judge to review for them in plain language 
the evidence and explain the application of the law to 
the case. The jury, after all, is but a smaller edition 
of the popular tribunal which jurists so strongly con- 
demn, only in many instances it is much worse, doing 
deeds which would put to the blush any western 
frontier lynch court. What justice might Socrates 
expect before a jury of five hundred and fifty-seven 
Athenian citizens, whose knowledge he had impugned 
and whose folly he had reproved? Such juries are 
simply mobs. If I am guilty, try me before a jury; 
if innocent, before a judge. 

The system seems unjust, also, in that it exacts 
from the citizen a service without adequate compen- 
sation. As well might the state take property with- 
out paying for it, as to take the time of the citizens, 
paying them for only a tenth of its value. But, say 
the supporters of this system, w^ill not the unselfish 
and patriotic citizen cheerfully and gratuitously render 
his neighbor that service which he is liable at any time 
to be obliged to ask at his hand ? No ; why should 
he? President, legislators, judges, soldiers, are all 
necessary, and might as equitably be asked to serve 
without pay. There is no reason why any person 
should serve the country in one capacity more than in 
another without just compensation. The pittance 
awarded first-class citizens by the law is no compen- 
sation for time taken from their business; and yet 
even this is often a heavy burden to litigants. Jus- 
tice should be absolutely free; and the most efficient 
and economical plan would be administration by judges 
alone, which would greatly simplify as well as cheapen 
court procedure. 

It must be admitted that reformation embracing 
the excision of the jury system must also extend to 
other branches of the administration of justice. This 
involves the question in how far the purity of the 
bench can be assured by higher pay, life-tenure of office, 


and other measures. Whether the popular election 
for term-tenure be retained or not, the election system 
needs above all to be reformed, for herein lies the root 
of all administrative ills. So long as a low foreign 
rabble, and the ignorant and vicious scum of the pop- 
ulation, with little or no tangible interest in the com- 
munity, are permitted under the leadership of unscru- 
pulous and scheming politicians to control our ballots 
by their creatures, so long will corruption reign in 
judicial as well as political circles. 

A purified constituency will produce able and up- 
right judges, to whom can be safely entrusted the 
entire responsibility hitherto shared with more im- 
mediate representatives of the people. The advantage 
of a jury composed of such official professionals will 
lie not alone in their special training and experience, 
but in their being, more than ordinary jurors, account- 
ably responsible to the public for acts and decisions ; 
subject to daily criticisms by lynx-eyed rivals and 
party press, and liable to indictment and disgrace and 
other punishment. The dignity and isolation of their 
office, moreover, exposes them less to those maudlin 
and baneful sympathies, and other objectionable in- 
fluences, which sway the average juryman. 

Man hi his proximate relations is not wholly fit to 
judge his fellow-man. He cannot do it fairly, dispas- 
sionately. He must first become somewhat of a ma- 
chine, must go by the book, must acquire full control 
of the sympathies and feelings of humanity, and exer- 
cise mainly his reasoning faculties, regarding guilt in 
the abstract, in its effect on society, weighing calmly 
the plea of individual or circumstantial extenuation. 
He must be blind to partiality, yet not wholly so to 
pity and benevolence. The mother who commits a 
crime for a starving or injured child should not be 
punished in the same degree as the professional crim- 
inal. The youthful culprit must be reclaimed, not 
cast forth midst hardened offenders. Crime is a poison 
to be removed from the body politic not by cruel ex- 


cision alone. The judge should weigh, although dis- 
passionately, the fathomless depth of man's love and 
hate, his ignorance and environment, his weakness and 
temptation. Above the letter of the law should pre- 
vail the spirit of the law; above adamantine justice, 



When the multitude hate a man, it is necessary to examine into the case. 
When the multitude like a man, it is necessary to examine into the case. 

— Confucius. 

At first it was regarded as a novelty, and most 
amusinor to the curious Californians, the coniinoj of the 
Asiatic. He added picturesqueness to the population. 
With Greek, Turk, and Egyptian, African, Indian, 
and Kanaka, all perambulating the streets and wan- 
dering about the mining districts, the fresh- imported 
and cleanly scraped Chinaman, with his half-shaven 
head, his long braided queue, his oblique almond eyes, 
his catgut voice; his plain blue frock, or, if a man of 
consequence, arrayed in a flashy silk tunic, with red 
sash, clean white stockings, and shining satin and 
wooden shoes, followed by a sleek little marketable 
wife with silver anklets and other jingling ornaments, 
and perhaps a demi-John or two — it was quite amus- 
ing to see them here and there and everywhere, and 
to show them to strangers as one of the many unique 
features California could boast. It put one quite in 
good humor with one's self to watch them waddling 
under the springy pole sustaining at either end a huge 
and heavil3^-laden basket; it made one quite feel one's 
superiority to see these queer little specimens of pet- 
rified progress, to listen to their high-keyed strains of 
feline conversation, and notice all their cunning curi- 
osity and barbaric artlessness. It was easy to distin- 
guish the new-comer from the old resident. The 
former appeared at first lost in amazement, bewildered, 
stunned by the stran^>-e sio-hts; then as his senses 

(W9 ) 


slowly came to him, he manifested the greatest curi- 
osity at everything that met his view, eager withal to 
know the meaning of things. The latter assumed an 
air of sedate superiority, as if familiar with San Fran- 
cisco scenes from childhood. Yonder is an ancient — 
not many such are seen — with white hairs scattered 
over the chin, and covering the squint of the obtuse- 
angled eyes a pair of enormous spectacles, ugly beyond 
the power of words to express. These varieties mingle 
with other varieties of different origin and manufac- 
ture, giving color and odor to new compositions. 

The similarity in dress, and the want of beard, give 
them to inexperienced eyes a sameness of appearance, 
as if they had all been cast in one mould. This re- 
mark has also been applied to the Indian, whose re- 
semblance to the celestial has been the frequent theme 
of travellers and scientists. It does not appear that 
the red man is flattered by the comparison, to judge 
from the abuse he is so ready to lavish on his rival. 
It is related that when John Young was once taking 
some monkeys to the museum at Salt Lake City, 
several Reno savages approached and examined them 
with characteristic gravity. Young asked them if 
they knew what they were. The chief looked up as 
if surprised at the simplicity of the question, and re- 
plied, "O, yes, me know well; China pappoose !" 

This may not be fair to the celestial urchins, who 
are really attractive and intelligent in eyes and features. 
With increasing years they retain a certain simplicity 
of expression, a childlike innocence, and a ready smile, 
which becomes somewhat spasmodic if forced into a 
laugh ; but a characteristic and repulsive stolidity and 
unconcern settle upon them, as if the bright, unsophis- 
ticated mind had been rudely cramped within the 
narrow compass of bigoted custom and hopeless bond- 
age before it had gained time to develop. They stand 
before us now, a mixture of the child, the slave, and 
the sphinx. The eye in particular is cold, meaning- 
less, yet cunning in expression, and with a European 


growth of hair the low forehead would probably in- 
crease this repulsive feature. Intelligent Chinamen 
have with frequent intercourse caught a gleam of 
Caucasian animation, but the almost slavish quietude 
of gait and manner is never laid aside. Many, espe- 
cially among the better class, can be termed good- 
looking, even by a fastidious European. 

They are shorter than Americans, and less muscular, 
but possessed of considerable endurance. The women 
are proportionately lower in stature, and more squat 
of build. The monotony of figure is increased by the 
conservative dark blue dress, which adds neither to 
stature nor to grace. 

The laborers so frequently seen in our streets have 
made us familiar with the wide cotton trousers, barely 
reaching to the ankle ; the equally wide and shape- 
less blouse which terminates above the knee, fits close 
around the neck, unprotected by any collar, and over- 
laps about four inches in front, where it is fastened 
with loops and small brass buttons. The sleeve wid- 
ens gradually from tlie shoulder and reaches below 
the hand, but is rolled up above the wrist by the 
workman, or secured by a plaited rush cuff. The 
white underclothing of Canton flannel or cotton falls 
over the trousers and gleams below the blouse. In 
cold weather a sleeveless, quilted jacket, somewhat 
shorter than the blouse, is worn as an overcoat, or 
the quilted blouse is used. 

The rich dress of the wealthy is of flowery silk and 
fine cassimere, with less amplitude, and unrolled 
sleeves ; the trousers, of equally rich material and 
often of gray color, are gathered and tied at the 
ankle. This strang:e costume does not altoo*ether de- 
tract from the dignity, which, added to a polite man- 
ner, readily distinguishes the upper classes, whence 
the vulgar are barred by a rigid exclusiveness. A 
further indication of high caste is the long finger- 
nails, with which manual labor can have no connection. 

A low cloth shoe, with its white band of pig-skin 


round the sole, and its frequently eml^roidered cover, 
forms a neat foot-dress for all seasons. The sole is of 
wood, cork, or layers of felt, or paper, the final layer 
being leather. It is about three quarters of an inch 
in thickness, follows the outline of the foot, is devoid 
of heel, and tapers somewhat at the toe, as it turns 
slightly upward. A loose, white, shapeless stocking 
protruding at the instep, is worn by the town-folk. 

The most common hat is the black or gray Ameri- 
can felt, with straight rim and low flat crown ; but 
field laborers use a wide umbrella-shaped structure 
of split bamboo, or rushes, gathering into a cone. 
Occasionally may be seen a short felt hat with the 
rim turned vertically up, even with the rounded 
crown. The wealthy wear a close fitting, stiff skull- 
cap, without rim, surmounted by a bulb, the color of 
which is regulated by the rank of the wearer. 

Women use the blouse and trousers, but of greater 
amplitude. The plain -colored silken under- robe of 
the female of higher degree, has a narrow embroidery 
at the bottom which touches the feet, and over this a 
shorter satin skirt, entirely covered with fine embroi- 
dery. The waist is often bound by a silk sash, with 
trailing ends. 

It is the ambition of parents to achieve social im- 
portance, as indicated particularly by the size into 
which they can afford to compress the feet of their 
girls, in order to render them as helpless as possible, 
fit only for a wealthy husband. In early childhood 
the four small toes are folded against the sole, so as 
to grow into it, leaving the big toe to form a part of 
an elongated shrunken hoof of some three inches, 
which results from the treatment. The pain at first 
is severe ; and though suffering in due time disappears, 
the gait always remains tottering. The Canton 
river women in America are not marked with this 
index of gentility, but imitate the gait by using a 
rounded sole which tapers at the toe. 

Their neck is bare and unadorned, like that of the 


men, but the wrists and ankles are clasped by ivory 
or other rings. Ear-rings are also worn ; bat the rest 
of the jewelry is reserved for the hair; and the silk 
kerchief, which constitutes the only head-dress, is 
seldom allowed to hide the artistic rings and knots 
into which married women arrange their back hair, 
with the aid of gold bodkins, ribbands, and wax, sur- 
mounting the whole with artificial flowers. Girls 
wear plaits. The face is cunningly enamelled, red- 
tinged lips and cheeks, and the evident artifice is not 
unattractive. The fan, also carried by men of quality, 
is never absent. 

The circumscribed taste for finery finds a broader 
field in the child, on whom the mother lavishes color, 
bracelets, bells, and ribbands in profusion. 

Most striking is the shaven head of the men with 
the queue dangling obtrusively to the heels. There 
is no religious significance in this, for it is merely an 
innovation of the Tartar conquerors, forced upon the 
people in the middle of the 17th century. Great 
was the struggle to maintain the long heavy locks 
which prior to their subjugation they often gathered 
into a knot upon the crown ; but gradually they be- 
came resigned to the innovation, and that which was 
once the symbol of enslavement became the most 
cherished appendage of their dress ; so much so that 
the loss of it is considered a disgrace, and few can 
even bear to coil it up, although it is often in the way 
while working. Many would be glad to adopt our 
fashion, but prejudice is too strong even for the 
religious convert. 

The English government at Hong Kong took ad- 
vantage of this feeling to punish culprits with loss of 
queue in addition to imprisonment; and this measure 
was also adopted at San Francisco in 1876, after a 
failure to introduce it in 1873. The victims shrieked 
with horror at the sacrilege, and never recovered their 
former self-respect — in this displaying the quality of a 
manufactured conscience. 


Whatever neglect the body may suffer, the head 
receives frequent and rehgious care, as may be judged 
from the large number of barber signs displayed in 
their quarter. Here we have, instead of the striped 
pole of the ancient blood-letters, a green frame with 
four legs, each tipped with a red ball, in imitation of 
their washstands. The shop is generally a basement 
room, furnished with a stool for the victim, a wash- 
stand before it, and a bench for waiting customers. 
Every part of the skin above the shoulders is washed 
in warm water, without soap, and shaved, all except 
the small patch on the crown where the queue is 
rooted ; for, until the youth attains the magic age of 
forty, he is not supposed to cultivate a mustache and 
goatee, which by that time may be induced to struggle 
into existence. As for whiskers, they are never seen, 
even on the rare individual who happens to possess 
indications of a crop. After scraping, polishing, and 
carefully inspecting the skin, the barber trims the 
eyelashes, tinting them at times, and probes, shaves, 
and scrapes the ears, nose, and tongue. Still greater 
attention is given to combing, cleansing, oiling, and 
inter-plaiting the queue with a long silk tassel. The 
Chinaman issues refreshed in spirit, and confirmed in 
his hopes of heaven. The abolition of the queue 
would be a great stride toward breaking the barrier 
of Chinese conservatism, and of opening the way for 
western civilization. 

The care given to the head is by no means extended 
to the body, although the dress indicates neatness. 
Among the Chinese in San Francisco there has not 
been found a sufficient number to support a single 
bath-house; one which was opened by a rash specula- 
tor had to close its doors. Nor are the accommoda- 
tions of the lodging-houses of a character to admit 
even of a sponge bath. 

The favorable impression made at the first by the 
China boys, as they were called, was not destined to 
last. If John was mild-mannered, he was also artful 


and insinuating. Although he was so inoffensive, so 
unobtrusive and retiring, yet he was soon found to 
be no less positive than he was exclusive. To his 
unique dress and customs he had clung so long that 
he could not in a moment shake them off. The pro> 
gress which two thousand years ago was arrested in 
him, made frigid by the ghosts of his own conjuring, 
could not be immediately thawed even by a Californian 
sun. There was in him no sentiment or sympathy 
that Christianity could reach. Offer him what we 
most highly prize, he had better. Our clothes were 
bungling beside his. In eating, what is the use of 
so much clatter of knives and forks, when chop-sticks 
answer every purpose? Offer him our alphabet, and 
he shows us one his forefathers used when ours were 
yet savages. Offer him our religion, our God, our 
heaven, he has scores of his own manufacture better 
and cheaper. Offer him silver and gold, and there 
you touch him ; that is his only vulnerable point. 

With the sudden arresting of his material progress, 
his mind likewise seems to have become fossilized. 
But not so his passions. Or if they were brought to 
a pause, it was after being thoroughly roused. For 
such unruffled outwardness when at rest, John has a 
most ungovernable temper when stirred. You may 
call it courage or desperation, but when once com- 
mitted, he cares no more for his life than you for 
your little finger. He will not willingly rush into 
danger; in fact he will go far out of his way to 
avoid it; but once entangled there is no tiger more 
savage. It is when he has given up all hope that he 
is strongest. 

We like things because they are new ; the China- 
man likes them because they are old. Water when 
immersed in sulphurous acid will freeze if thrown on 
a hot iron plate. So with the Asiatic, coated by the 
unwavering customs of centuries, when suddenly 
thrown into the furnace fire of the Californian Inferno. 
His traditions froze to him all the closer. Change 


might be the only fixed phenomenon of the miiverse; 
it might apply to mountains, and seas, and planets, 
but the word had no significance for John. Like om- 
niscience, he IS unchangeable. 

Neither have the Chinese been fortunate in convert- 
ing America. Though they brought hither their 
gods, and erected temples, our priests were obdurate, 
and our people profane. Hard were our hearts, into 
which the truths of their ancient culture and their 
blessed religion would not sink. Our hoodlums made 
martyrs of some of them, or at least mince-meat ; many 
of them we reviled, and some we crucified. 

The Asiatic olfactory organs were early educated 
to smells repugnant to the uninitiated ; and the Chi- 
nese cuhnary and tonsorial arts, the chop-sticks exer- 
cise, and the vermin-hunting, as witnessed from the 
sidewalk, to say nothing of the winning wiles of cat- 
voiced sirens, by which were enticed from the paths 
of virtue the noble hod-carrier, the restaurant cook and 
the sailor, and the thick, putrid atmosphere which 
issued from opium and gamljling dens — these and like 
infelicities turned the European stomach. 

And most unkind of all, most ungrateful, most dia- 
bolical, John would not become a Melican man. Af- 
ter all the advantages given him to cease his swinish- 
ness, and rise to the dignity of a member of this 
greatest of commonwealths, to become the first of 
created things under the first of creators, an American 
citizen, a voter, with the privilege to manipulate pri- 
maries, to stuff ballot-boxes, to fight and get drunk 
gratis at elections, to dodge his taxes, and swear big 
round Christian oaths; aye, and with the privilege 
even of holding office, with all its glorious honors and 
perquisites, such as bestowing favors and granting 
contracts, half the proceeds from which by some mys- 
terious process should find their way into his own 
pocket ; and accepting bribes, and punishing all honest 
effort made for the good of the country — as he declined 
all these blessings and privileges, the great American 


heart became estranged from its Asiatic brother, and 
we cursed him. 

Now, John might go to the devil ; nay, he must go 
there. It became the immediate duty of every Amer- 
ican citizen to send him there. Sunday-school teachers 
might make an angel of him if they liked, and give 
him wings; there was no special objection to that; 
but out and away, any whither, John must go ; for in 
California he had sinned unpardonably, he would 
not be a voter. He would not spend his mone}^ drink- 
ing bad whiskey ; opium was good enough for him. 
Horse-racing, midnight roarings, faro, monte, poker, 
or seven up, he did not care to cultivate, preferring the 
old gambling games his mother tauglit him while yet 
a little boy in China. A half-century of steady 
cursing confirms the habit. 

The miners were the first to see that John would 
not do for America. For a time the Asiatic was a 
favorite along the foothills as in the cities. He used 
to build his little hut under the bank down by the 
stream, away from the rude noise of the camp, and at 
a respectful distance from the six-foot-four men from 
Kentucky and Missouri. Seeing the Melican men go 
forth to prospect, he, too, sought the ravines and upper 
forks of the streams which drained the Sierra slopes; 
and being as artless as he was innocent in those days, 
whenever he was successful he did not hesitate to dis- 
play the results of his good fortune to his big brother 
of the free and great republic. But when told to 
leave the rich digging which he had found; when he 
saw outstretched from the brawny Tennesseean's fist 
a mighty finger, pointing away from his claim toward 
the old worked-out bars and river banks below, and 
heard the classic ejaculations, " Git I Vamouse ! Go I " 
then the single heart became twenty, and the single 
eye saw divers ways, and John grew sly and cunning, 
and thenceforth would not tell his grcat-souled brother 
all he knew. The more the western border man 
abused the Asiatic, the more he hated him ; and 


thenceforth t(3 this day Jolin has scarcely had a friend 
in this all-cnibrachig rcpubhc. 

In 1860 came from Japan distinguished visiti^rs; 
and in truth it made the gods on high Olympus laugh 
to see these so lately white-skinned growlers toasting 
themselves drunk at public expense over Asia's latest 
sent, and all l)ecauso they were not laborers who 
would interfere with the rights of our European mas- 
ters. It was well to honor these great ones of Asia; 
and yet the gods did laugh 1 Were not these very 
islander-worshippers grinding their neighbors of the 
mainland day by day into the very dust, stoning them 
in the street, dogging them in legislative halls, and 
cutting their tails in court, and all because they were 
poor, and the uncombed voters from Europe demanded 
it? To the naked eye there is little in point of merit 
to distinguish between these men of Asia. One is a 
newer convert than the other; one wears the hair 
mixed with silk in a long pendant braid, the other 
docks the well-greased tail and points the stub for- 
ward ; one shaves all but the crown, while the other 
shaves the crown and nothing else ; one wears wooden- 
soled shoes, the other sandals. Surely these grave 
distinctions should be sufficient to satisfy reasonable 
gods why men display worshipful afiection for one 
copper-colored Asiatic and such diabolical hatred for 

A visitor to San Francisco's Chinatown feels as if 
he had been suddenly transferred to another land. 
Yet he finds no pagodas with curved eaves and number- 
less stories, no oriental palaces with gardens and cool- 
ing fountains, no picturesque bamboo huts with 
trailing vines, but only a series of dingy brick build- 
ings in American style, mingled here and there with 
some old-fashioned frame house, but the whole bears, 
nevertheless, an outlandish look. Balconies abound, 
running either the whole length of the house, or 
appearing in detached fragments at the windows on 


different stories. They are frequently of a clumsy 
construction, like coops, and disfigure the buildings 
with their superstructures of boards and trellis-work 
serving for pantries, and with their lines and poles 
whereon dilapidated garments are fluttering. Their 
chief use, however, is for holding plants, w^hich relieve 
the dingy exterior with streaks of bright green, shed 
illuminating rays of beauty, and refresh the stale at- 
mosphere. They form the sole adornment of the 
windows, whose curtains are the incrustated dust, 
draped in cobwebs and red paper charms. Many 
doors and windows, even in the upper stories, are pro- 
tected on the outside with heavy wooden bars, form- 
in^j souvenirs of the oft-threateninsr outbreaks against 
the occupants. Huge and tiny signboards, all length 
and no breadth, with vertical inscriptions in red, 
black, or gold, on red or green, white or black ground, 
flaunt their moral and florid titles in all dh^ections. 
Often the board combines all the colors of the rain- 
bow, as well as fret-work, and is surmounted by a 
canopy of red cloth. Every house in Dupont street, 
the central artery of this network of Mongolian veins, 
bears a number of these si^^ns, indicatinjy one continu- 
ous line of stores and workshops, whence issue the 
blows of hammers, the rasp of files, the click of sew- 
ing-machines, to mingle with the tramp of feet. The 
fountain-head of wealth and center of trade lie in Sac- 
ramento and Connnercial streets, which are almost 
entirely occupied by tlie stores and offices of wholesale 
merchants, guarded by strong iron doors in green and 
black. The approaches are clean, and the interior 
woodwork has generally a yellow grained surface. 
Huge piles of rice bags and tea chests fill one side of 
the store, while the others are covered with pigeon- 
holes and drawers containing silks, drugs, fancy goods, 
and samples. On one side of the entrance stretches 
a counter, behind which is seated a number of clerks 
in small, dark blue caps, with a red button in the 
crown, who regard the visitor with calm indifference, 


while near the window, brliind a nd and ;^reen raihng, 
is the book-keeper, busily paintini; hicroi^lyphics with 
liis nimble brush. Numbers of loungers occ'uj)y the 
benches outside tlie counter, and cliat or gaze with 
placid contentment on the scene before thrin. The 
retail stores are nearly all in ]^u[>ont street, and uo- 
ticeable by their motley disjilay in th<^ window of 
white-soled slippers, opium and tobacco pipes, dom- 
inoes and markers, chinaware, from small tea bowds 
to stately vases, dolls, and images of fat-bellied gods 
and draped babies, charms, sham jewelry, fans, Japan- 
ese ware and cabinets, artificial boutjuets illuminated 
with tinsel and set with images, and other strange 
gimcracks. TIk^ pigeon-holes within are closely filled 
with packages in curiously figured characters. Some- 
times an entresol is to be seen, with a crowd of busy 
workmen, while below sit the usual loungers, mingling 
their tobacco smoke with the whiffs of the equally 
languid men behind the counter. From an adjoining 
store comes an unintermitting click, and within are a 
dozen Chinamen in dark blue habiliments bending each 
over a sewing machine, and turning out in rapid suc- 
cession overalls and slop goods, shirts and embroidery, 
a work at \vhich they have surpassed the white mother, 
encumbered with her troop of children, and are out- 
stripping her delicate daughters. A little beyond is 
a cigar factory, still more crammed w^ith a busy crowd, 
which, seated at a long table, roll soothing Habanas 
for raving anti-coolie men. On the opposite side are 
several tinsmiths, doing a large business not only for 
their own people, but for those enter})rising white men 
who always seek the cheapest market. Here and 
there a watchmaker occupies a portion of a store, and 
finds good employment in mending alarm clocks for 
laborers, or watches for departing miners. 

At the entrance to a lodging-house a cobbler has 
installed himself with a stool and some implements, 
and is bending over his horn spectacles, intent on a 
boot of suspiciously wdiite-foot dimensions. Just out- 


side, a fruit vender has erected his stall, glad, perhaps, 
to pay a rental for the privilege of obstructing the 
narrow sidewalk. The fruit is divided into tiny lots ; 
leaves are rolled into cornucopias to hold a mixture 
of fig cake, almond, and melon, all cut into the small- 
est of slices. Dried fruits of uninviting aspect and 
strange appearance fill various compartments ; greasy 
cakes in yellow papers and of rancid taste mingle with 
buns find confectionery in towering pyramids. Near 
by stands a crowd, entranced by the celestial strains 
of twanging guitars and cla.shing cymbals, which issue 
from a gaudy building in front of them. The facade 
is painted in imitation of gray-streaked marble, which 
sinks in a bright green toward tlie upper story, and is 
covered with aral)esque decoration here and there, 
surmounted l)y a gaudy cornice. It has two long low 
balconies of wood, witli railing in red and green, and 
with iimumerable fringes and fret-work in a medley 
of colors. Fanciful lanterns of paper and of figured 
glass, round and octangular, hang from the blue ceil- 
ings of the balconies, while tlie floors are set with 
long-leaved plants and dwarfed trees. Some of the 
windows have stained glass, and one in the center is 
circular. This is one of the half dozen good restau- 
rants in the quarter, doubly interesting from the fact 
that they are the only buildings of a true Chinese as- 
pect, forming a most agreeable l^reak in tlie monotonous 
dingyness around. The lower story is used as a store 
for the sale of crockery and dried, preserved, and 
cooked articles of food. The regular provision stores 
are met with at frequent intervals along the street, 
appealing to eyes and nose with squalid stalls and 
half putrified delicacies; disjointed pieces of meats are 
cast in all directions, and suspicious looking carcasses 
of smoked pig dangle from the hooks. Pigeon-holes 
and stands are filled with fresh, salted, and prepared 
vegetables, fish, and fruits ; while a role of poles and 
strings in the ceiling suppoi-t dried fowl, roots, and 
flitches of bacon. 

Essays AND Miscellany 21 


Every now and then a jmpercd and lighted passage 
may be seen, turning oft' at an angle, and with a 
watchman at the entrance. They are approaclies to 
the notorious gambling dens from which Caucasians 
have long since been excluded, owing to race antij^a- 
thy and fear of denouncement. Almost side b}^ side 
of them are worksho[)s where there is no cessation of 
toil even on the Sabbath, and where Chinamen may 
be seen manufacturing boots and shoes or cigars, or 
bending low over their sewing machines, with backs 
that never tire. 

The sidewalks teem with life, particularly in the 
evening, when the workmen flock in from factories 
and shops, and on Sundays, when the outlying 
Mongol settlements contribute their quota to amuse- 
ment-seekers and market-folk. It is then that the 
celestial cuticle most expands and adds to the odorif- 
erous medley of burning sandal-wood and singed pig, 
of nmch-used gutters and reeking cellars. Despite 
the throng the order is admirable, and the almond- 
eyed glide noiselessly along in their peculiar single 
file, winding in and out between stalls and lookers-on, 
or, stopping occasionally to listen to the falsetto which 
wails to the twang of the guitar from the attic, or to 
the din of the orchestra from tlie theatre. With 
these vie the yells of the cake and nut pedlars, pro- 
claiming the excellence of their wares, which for 
greater eftect are stowed in a glaring red toy junk, 
illuminated fore and aft. Occasionally a rival shouter 
flits past with a board on his head, supporting a lot 
of tin cups with nondescript delectable compounds. 

Scarcely less crowded are the by-streets, where the 
roofs wave with showy linen, and where the sky is 
almost hidden by clouds of laundry- stuff*; but all are 
hurrying along, for no show-windows, no illuminated 
restaurants, allure them. The most noticeable feature 
is, perhaps, the well-known sign of washing and iron- 
ing, painted in red letters on white ground, evidenth' 
by some Chinese artist, to judge from the wavy out- 


line of the letters, and the precedence accorded to 
some among them, which rise above the level of the 
rest. A gust of wind comes laden with the peculiar 
odor of a Mongol laundry ; a mingling of vapors from 
drying clothes, wasted opium, and singed linen. The 
interior has a tinge of the oriental in its bronzed 
figures, robed in short flowing drawers, and over them 
a wide blouse, both of spotless white cotton, an ad- 
vertisement of their craft. Some are spouting a fine 
rain upon the petticoats before them, others are busily 
passing and repassing the irons which have been 
heated on the stove in the center of the room, wliile 
a few idlers who probably form a part of the night 
gang of the scrubl^ing brigade, are smoking in dreamy 

At short intervals in the lane a gap invites into a 
labyrinth of alleys blocked by superstructures, frail 
corridors of wood which run along the upper stories, 
and form an elevated thoroughfare, after the fashion 
of Chinese cities, while the ground beneath is bur- 
rowed into a maze of cellar habitations. You shrink 
from one slimy, greasy wall only to encounter its 
neighbor; you step hurriedly off the rotten plank, 
spurting its mire, only to land in a cesspool ; sleek rats 
cross lazily before you; pufl's of fetor greet you from 
every opening; unhinged doors disclose rickety stair- 
ways to squalid lodgings, or dismal entrances to fetid 
cellars. Here, in Bartlett alley, the thieves and 
ragpickers hold their sessions ; further on, in Stout 
alley, bedizened females beckon to the visitors from 
the square port-hole. The smoke from kitchen fires 
at the doors spread a haze around, as if to dim the 
glare of vice and shame. 

You gaze at the mass of humanity, you think of 
the narrow limits of the quarter, and you are puzzled 
to know how and where it lives. But John has 
thoroughly studied the economy of space, and worked 
hard on the problem of compressing the largest num- 
ber into the smallest compass, Nothing is wasted. 


Every r.ook, from garret to cellar, which can b}" any 
possible means be made to receive the body of a man, 
is made available. Every breath of air is pressed 
into service to fulfill its vitalizing functions. Yet tlie 
supply is here so restricted as to raise the question 
whether a Chinaman's lungs are not fi^rmed on a 
different principle from ours, or changed in accord- 
ance with the doctrine of adaptation. He rertainly 
seems to thrive in stench where others would suffocate. 
This immense connnunity of men, as it may be termed, 
is composed chiefly of the peasant class who knows 
little or nothing of luxuries or even comforts. They 
ask for bare subsistence and a nook, two feet by five 
— anywhere. 

It was not unusual to find a dozen men enojaf^ed in 
various industries, all within the confined space of as 
many feet square; and where the floor could not ac- 
commodate them, an entresol was constructed, so that 
the men lived literally on the top of one another, 
working and cooking on tlie benches by day, smoking 
and sleeping on or beneath them at night. 

In the alleys were rooms six feet square, and of 
the same height, containing five to six sleepers. Dur- 
ing two months of 1875, 800 Chinamen were arrested 
underthe cubic-air ordinance, and 75 of them were taken 
from one room in the Globe hotel, which contained a 
superior class of tenants, and was occupied by only 
about seven times the number intended to fill it. To 
secure them against police raids, many rooms were fitted 
with traps, in floor or ceiling, by which the occupants 
might escape before the door could be broken in. 
Yet policemen might daily be seen driving a team of 
]\Iongolians by their queues to the prison where they 
had to practise respiration in a still smaller cubic area 
till the fine of ten dollars was paid. 

The fire ordinance is infringed to a more dangerous 
extent. The chief safe-guard against a general con- 
flagration lies probably in the filthy and moist condi- 
tion of the buildings. An army of police would be 


required to enforce the various sanitary and safety 
regulations. As it is, hardly a due proportion, out of 
the police force of the city, has been stationed 
here, aside from the few specials employed by the 
Chinese. The proximity of the City Hall is regarded 
as a sufficient offset, particularly since the Chinese 
rarely attack white men. 

I have already dwelled on the ropulsivencss of the 
streets and alleys ; but the neglect and squalor on the 
outside, the dust-encrusted windows, the stained and 
cracked walls, the cornices fringed with dirt, are as 
nothing compared with the interior. The walls ooze 
a fetid slime, the passages reek, the bannisters have a 
clammy touch. A dusky nmltitude crowds round 
the stairs ; faces swarm at every door, inhaling poison, 
exhaling worse ; eyes stupefied with drugs peer from 
every opening. At intervals, in passages, or in alleys, 
are small hearths, more or less rude, serving for 
kitchens. Chimneys are not regarded as needful, 
even in the rooms, and their absence may, indeed, be 
applauded as a sanitary measure. 

If the passages have repelled you, how much more 
will the rooms, if you can but nerv^e yourself to en- 
dure for a moment the concentrated odor from opium, 
putrific'd food, and human effluvia which belches forth 
on opening the door. The walls are lined with bunks, 
or rather shelves, about four feet wide, fixed or hang- 
ing, and one above the other. A straw mat forms 
the bed, for the celestial has a contempt for effiminat- 
ing bolsters, and in this breath-heated place he needs 
but little covering, other than the underclothing which 
is retained for the night. At the head is a narrow 
bar, fixed a little above the shelf, or else a wooden 
block, to ser\^e for pillow. A cross-piece holds the 
lamp, at which the occupant lights his never-failing 
pipe of oi)iuni or tobacco, wherewith he seeks the 
gates of paradise, and then the oblivion of sleep, for 
which he shows wonderful powers. In the centre of 


the room is a table, and on it a lamp, consistini^ of a 
glass tumbler filled with oil, in which a peculiar Chi- 
nese weed supports the wick. Around this the occu- 
pants chatter and gamble, lounge and smoke. On 
Sundays washing and mending are the rule, for despite 
liis surroundings the Chinaman endeavors to present 
a tidy person. There is often no room for a stove, 
and the fire for cooking is held in a brazier or dish. 
The Mongolians congregate no less for society than 
for purposes of economy. One dollar a month is 
ample to pay the rent, and yet he will divide this ex- 
pense by subletting his bunk to another lodger during 
the day, a la Box and Cox. It is not rare to find one 
bunk occupied by three lodgers, each for eight hours. 
Such extreme economy, such misery, is not compul- 
sory, even were he doubly the slave we suppose him 
to be. He evidently delights to burrow. If a town 
has a low, filthy quarter, he is sure to ferret it out 
and occupy it. He would revel in the Five Points 
of New York, in the Seven Dials of London, in the 
Marinella of Naples, and speedily render them doubly 
repulsive with crowds and odors. Belonging as he 
does to a water population at home, it is strange that 
he has not sought the North beach of San Francisco, 
with its congenial scents. 

His den has also its attractive features. The 
peculiar lily bulbs, set in a saucer half filled with white 
stones, and fed by capillary attraction on the water 
beneath, flourish and expand their emblems of purity; 
but in what an atmosphere I Strips of soiled red 
paper, with moral maxims for the practice of virtue 
and equity, flutter on the walls in all directions, and 
in many a bunk and window a bunch of joss-sticks, 
with red and gilt papers, burn to propitiate the 
household patron, and to exorcise the presence of evil. 
But what eflect can these maxims have, what power 
this god, when sunk so low in material corruption ? 
A talented companion will often discourse with plain- 
tive strain on the guitar, and lead his listeners to 


scenes of happy childhood, recall the gentle admoni- 
tions of a mother, and the pure emotions of younger 
days; but alas, deep, dreamy reveries seem to be the 
only fruit of these efforts. 

All homes are not like these, however. The wealthy 
merchant is content with the one small room behind 
the store, but it is the embodiment of neatness. 
Matting or carpets cover the floor; the walls are 
adorned with landscape sketches on scrolls, in black 
and colored ink, as well as with American pictures. 
On one side stands a cushioned platform, about two 
feet in height, with red cushions, enclosed by damask 
curtains, and within a smoking-tray with all acces- 
sories. In this sanctum the proprietor may be found 
during a great part of the day, seated cross-legged, 
like a tailor, to enjoy his siesta and his pipe. Ranged 
along the wall are a series of straight-backed chairs 
and stools of hard shining wood, covered with loose 
red cushion mats. At intervals are small tables of 
the same material, and at their feet stand high, nar- 
row, brass spittoons. Several cases of shelving may 
be seen, some for books, paper, and small hat-holders, 
others for tableware, wine, and fruit. Behhid the 
door is the bed, with mat or blanket layers in lieu of 
bolsters, whereon the white sheets and blanket covers 
lie rolled up against the wall, and at the head a 
wooden neck-pillow. This is often devoid of a cushion, 
but has a slight indentation for the neck, and is par- 
ticularly prized by women to keep their complicated 
hair structure intact. A few images, artificial bou- 
quets, and other ornaments are scattered about, and 
among them distorted roots bearing the form of 
dragons, which were probably installed during the 
house-warming ceremony, and have since remained as 
guardian patrons of the house. Married people in- 
dulge in a little more room than the bachelor of the 
same class, but the furniture even of the merchant's 
family home is of the simplest, and more limited than 
at the store establishment, save an extra plant or so. 


Indeed, the wife is kept so secluded that all show 
may be dispensed witli. 

On the whole we may conclude that the Mongolian 
shares with the antiquarian his superstitious venera- 
tion for dust, with the toper his hiveterate fear of 
water, with the bat its dislike for light. To clean the 
steps and walls would be a loss of time and labor, 
which represent money, and his economic ideas recoil 
at the mere mention of such extravagance. To stop 
the innumerable rat-holes would result in opening 
fresh outlets. His considerations for health have 
brought him to the conclusion that the opening of 
doors and windows for ventilation might expose him 
to the danger of a cold, and disturb his privacy, for 
John is fond of this luxury in his own way. This 
desire has doubtless led him to discover that the in- 
crustated dust on the window panes forms a cheap 
and effective blind against the bleaching sunlight,as 
well as against the prying eyes of neighbors. Nor 
could he endure to make himself conspicuous by a 
proceeding so unusual and extraordinary as cleaning. 

Indeed, when we consider the combination of cir- 
cumstances by which he is surrounded, living in a 
lodging house, and sharing his room with a dozen 
strangers, it is almost impossible for him to make 
even an attempt at cleanliness. Besides, the close 
air of a crowded room is far less objectionable than 
the stench of human effluvia, to which his olfactories 
have longed been trained. The dirty floor, the oozing 
walls, are purity compared with the vermin-covered 
garments, the leprous sores, to which his eyes and 
touch have long since become familiar. Yes, he shuns 
not daily, close contact with men suffering from hor- 
rible diseases, and with lepers rotting away piecemeal 
before him. His pores, his throat, have probably 
become equally inured to the rank effluvia which 
would breed pestilence in anyone else. Perhaps the 
ever-present smoke which almost suffocates others, 
the smell of loathsome dishes, and tlie nondescript 


odors generally which fill us with nausea, may be pre- 
ventives of the threatening pest; the very rats that 
scamper impudently before us, may prove to be the 
blessed scavengers they need. 

The peculiar rules of economy to which the Asiatic 
submits for shelter, are also made to regulate his 
palate. He is not particular as to the quality of his 
food, and of this the provision stores afford ample 
proof The butcher who flourishes under the sign of 
Ten Thousand Harmonies, or some equally euphonious 
title, scouts the idea of scraping his block, or w^iping 
his knife, as unproductive labor, and devotes the time 
instead to plucking the minutest morsel of meat from 
the bone before him. The mangled evidence of his 
efforts is exposed on the dingy board, where the pur- 
chaser may thumb and knead each piece to his heart's 
content, in order to convince himself of its quality. 
Beef is not nmch in vogue, for the Chinaman regards 
it as a sin to kill beasts that are of value for labor 
and trade. His religious tradition teaches that the 
slayer of an ox shall suffer torments in the world to 
come, and if i)ermitted to be born again it will be 
only in the form of his victim. Pork is the favorite 
meat. Indeed, it is believed that the Chinese were 
the first to discover its excellencies, and the taste 
appears to be all-pervading, for every food, nay, almost 
every object among them has a larded taste, a greasy 
touch. Whole pigs are roasted and displayed from 
butchers hooks in smoky, shining repulsiveness. 
Poultry alone, however, satisfies the highest quality 
of appetite, and many are the tricks to which the 
celestials will resort to secure the bird. Split and 
flattened ducks and birds are imported from China, 
whence comes the greater part of their luxuries, but 
the American markets also receive a share of their 
earnings. Fish of all kinds are acceptable, and some 
are even brought in a fresh condition across the 
Pacific, with the aid of a paste in which they are 


dipped. The Cliiiiainan is quite expert at drying, 
curing and preserving food, in his way, for exact 
freshness is not regarded as essential ; he has an innate 
respect for the antique, whether it is represented by 
a venerable gray head, or by a decayed chicken. 
Tlie statement that he has a predilection for rats 
arises probably from an account of tlie extremities to 
which a famine-stricken district may be driven. The 
prisons of the confederate states during the war for 
the union furnished similar stories. If he likes dogs, 
surely we snail-eaters have no riglit to object. 

Whatever may be the truth of such insinuations, 
it is certain that the staple food of our Chinese is 
boiled rice, which constitutes their bread. With this 
they often mix the less favored potatoes, and flavor 
the whole with pork, fish, or spice. A bowl of this, 
toi^ether with the never-failinix tea, suffices for a meal. 
Tea is drunk at all times, for water is rarely taken, 
and tlien only when warmed. 

The food is cooked on a brazier with an absurdly 
small amount of fuel. The produce-dealer often 
unites a kitchen with his business, w^here the customer 
may prepare his food ; merchants have usually their 
own kitchen. 

A large patronage is diverted to the various board- 
ing houses, w^hich graduate from well-appointed res- 
taurants to filthy cellars. At the latter the accommo- 
dation is of the meanest kind : a bare plank table 
surrounded by benches ; a big bowl of rice and pork 
in the center of the mess, each of whose members is 
provided with a pair of fai-tje nimble lads, or chop- 
sticks, about six inches in length, and with two small 
bowls, one for tea, the other for the rice. Scooping 
a bowlful from the common dish, and holding it with 
one hand to the lips, with the other the Chinaman 
grasps the fait-je between the fore-finger and thumb, 
supporting their center with the tips of the middle and 
ring-fingers, and sweeps the contents into the mouth 
in one continuous stream. Tea follows. The board 


at the cheapest restaurants costs from eight to tea dol- 
lars a month ; but this is considered extravagant by 
the new-comer, whose means are not yet assured. By 
acting as his own cook, sleeping in the smallest bunk, 
and wearing the cheapest clothes, he reduces the month- 
ly expenses to six dollars, but this does not include the 
cherished whifF of opium. As his savings increase he 
becomes more indulgent, and even ventures to patron- 
ize the superior class of restaurants, where good living 
may be had for from fifteen to twenty dollars a month, 
and where he speedily develops the national taste for 
a variety of dishes and deceptive mixtures, not unlike 
that of the French. He must have everything cut 
and minced, ready for the stomach. He objects to 
act as butcher at the table, like the European, or to 
leave to teeth and digestive organs the work which 
may as well l)e done by chopper and masher. An 
indication of his culinary skill is the cunning with 
which he obliterates the original taste or essence of a 
food with condiments and processes. In the prepara- 
tion of sauces he even surpasses Soyer's countrj^men. 
The art with which Chinese washermen regulate the 
fineness and direction of the spray from his mouth 
upon the garments, has been a source of admiration 
to the uninitiated. Their admiration would increase 
were they to witness the dexterity with which the 
cook would mix the various condiments by blowing 
from his mouth the exact quantity needed by the dish 
before him. Many dishes depend entirely on adjuncts 
for savor ; and the taste as a rule inclines to rancid oil 
and doubtful lard. 

In order to full}^ appreciate celestial cookery we 
must visit a leading restaurant. The outside beams 
with attractions : the facade is a gorgeous medley of 
C(^lors, wherein red and green predominate ; and bal- 
conies are filled with flowers, lanterns, and flashy tin- 
sel. The ground floor is used as a provision store; on 
the second floor are the common dining-rooms, and on 
the third, the grand saloon for parties and first-class 


customers. It has false arcliways, with an alcove for 
musicians, and is furnished with carved and richly 
polished stools, round or square, and ponderous, and 
with tables both of mahogany or dark Chinese wood, 
inlaid with marble, and the stools covered with small 
mats. This saloon is at times formed into numerous 
small divisions by screens or trellis-work, ornamented 
with foliage, birds, and monsters in various colors. 
Round the walls are lacquered boxes, and cabinets, 
musical instruments, and bills of fare ; the whole pre- 
sided over by the idol Kwan Sing. This is the place 
where the grand banquets are given, in honor of prom- 
inent men, on the inauguration of an establishment, 
or on the occasion of a windfall. Associates at a fac- 
tory will meet here once a year and testify their grat- 
itude to a kind employer by a supper, which often 
costs from two to ten dollars each. 

In case of an invitation by wealthy merchants, pink, 
gilt-edged notes of invitation are sent, with two en- 
closures, one presenting the compliments of the hosts 
or their proxy, the other announcing that a slight re- 
past awaits the light of the guest's presence. The 
reception-room is furnished w^ith tables, bearing trays 
with cups and smoking material, from which the ar- 
rivals are offered tea and cigars. 

The dining-room is all aglow with lanterns and 
teeming with waiters. The circular tables, with 
snowy covers, accommodate four to twelve guests, be- 
fore each of whom stands a pile of tiny plates and 
saucers of fine porcelain, and a saucer of flowers 
which are at their disposal. By their side lies a white 
silk napkin, a porcelain spoon, and a pair of ivory 
chopsticks. Every guest, or set of two to four, is 
provided with two metal tankards, holding each a pint 
of warm tea and liquor respectively. The latter is a 
white brandy, or a red liquor, rauo qui lo, distilled 
from rice and flavored with attar of roses. No spices 
are provided, since the food is supposed to be duly sea- 
soned. Circular wafers, about two inches in diameter, 


are often used to envelop niouthfuls of food. Many 
dishes are arranged in earthern bowls round the soup. 

When all are seated the host returns thanks to the 
guests for their attendance, and invites them to par- 
take of the appetizers, which usually consist of cucum- 
bers, pickled duck, eggs, and ginger, salted almonds, 
melon-seeds, celery, and a variety of nuts, not forget- 
ting the muo qui lo, which is sipped between each 
dish after a seriatim bowing all around, and amidst a 
hubbub of conversation. 

The dinner proper now opens with, say, fried 
shark's fin and grated ham ; stewed pigeon with bam- 
boo sprouts ; roast sucking pig ; boned duck stewed 
with grated nuts, pearl barley, and nmshrooms; fish 
sinews with ham ; stewed chicken with chestnuts or 
water-cress ; dried oysters boiled ; bamboo soup ; 
sponge, omelet, and flower cakes ; banana fritters ; and 
birds-nest soup, made with minced ham and chicken- 
breast, and particularly with that rare delicacy, the 
mucilaginous sea-moss, picked from the waves by a 
species of swallow which frequents the coasts of Ma- 
lacca and the Indian archipelago. Their nests are 
found on the sides of precipitous cliffs to which access 
can be gained only by lowering a rope from the sum- 
mit. Their rarity, and the trouble of gathering, make 
them worth their weight in gold by the time they 
reach San Francisco. The taste of the soup is not 
unlike that of vermicelli. There are also other dishes 
which cost up to a dollar a mouthful. A sip of tea 
concludes the first course ; and whatever the objec- 
tions may be to many of the dishes, the stranger can- 
not but admit the superiority of this beverage, con- 
sisting of the first light infusion from the most 
delicate leaves, which cost not less than ^ve dollars a 
pound. Green tea is avoided as being artificially col- 
ored. Tea is served in tiny blue-flowered cups, with- 
out milk or sugar. The tea leaves are probably sent 
to the lower stor}^ to surrender the second and less 
delicate effusion to the servants. 


Each dish is served cut and minced in quart bowls, 
many of which are silver-plated and provided with a 
metal heater in the centre, filled with coals to keep 
the food warm. From this the guests help themselves 
to one mouthful, with the aid of a spoon or chop- 
sticks, and eitlier transfer it directly to the lips or 
nibble it from the tiny plate before tliem. The host 
will sometimes honor the guest by conveying to his 
mouth a choice morsel with the chopsticks just re- 
moved from his own lips, or he will place his own cup 
of liquor to his friend's lips. 

After the first course the company retires to the 
anteroom for half an hour to chat, smoke and gather 
inspiration from the cymbal clash, the twang of gui- 
tars, and the shrill strains of the singers, preparatory 
to another onslaught. After this first course the 
chief men retire, in accordance with celestial etiquette; 
after the second course those next in rank or import- 
ance drop off ; and so the diminishing continues until 
none but the connnoner class remain during the fol- 
lowing one or more courses, each of at least a dozen 

The second course opens with tea and liquor, fol- 
lowed by lichens ; terrapin-shells, flavored with onion 
and seasoned with water chestnuts ; mushrooms with 
hundred-layer leek ; Chinese quail ; brochettes of 
chicken hearts ; more shark-fins, fungus, nuts, and 
mince pies ; rice soup, stewed mutton, roast duck, 
pickled cucumber, and so on till the stranger gasps for 
breath, while the initiated, who knows what is before 
him, reserves his powers, and by only nibbling at 
each, manages to taste of all. After the second 
course there is an exchange of complimentary speeches. 

The desert presents an equally long series of fancy 
dishes, of rather delicate cakes and nuts of all kinds, 
and in the form of birds or flowers ; water-lily seed ; 
jelly of sea-weed ; oranges apparently fresh, but filled 
with a series of jelly layers of different colors ; the 
whole concluding with a variety of fruit; and the tea. 


At the close of the long banquet it may happen 
that the liquor has affected the otherwise temperate 
Asiatic, who accordingly retires to the cushioned 
alcove in the adjoining opium room, either to sleep off 
the fumes or to seek the paradise hidden within the 
divine drug. 

The opium habit is fully as prevalent among the 
Chinese as smoking is with us, although the better 
class pretend to condemn it as severely as we do hard 
drinking. The annual import of the drug in San 
Francisco is over 45,000 pounds, retailing for nearly a 
million of dollars, and half as much more is probably 
smuggled in by steamboat employes and immigrants, 
despite the vigilance of the custom-house officials. 
The Chinaman is generally content to smoke in his 
own bunk, yet large numbers of public resorts are 
patronized. The common den is not like the neatly 
cusliioned alcoves of the better restaurants, where 
each may have a bunk to liimself and an attendant. 
A dingy barrenness is apparent in the rooms of the 
lower class, despite tlie hazy atmosphere, and among 
the oppressive odors of the confined room tliat of pea- 
nut seems to predominate. In tlie centre is a table 
with a light, and the walls are lined with bunks or 
shelves, one above the other, furnished with a mat 
and wooden pillows, or at most with a suspicious 
looking blanket or mattress. Each shelf receives two 
men, wlio lie face to face, head to the wall, and share 
between them a peculiar lamp with a small flame. A 
fixed charge is made for tliis accommodation, with a 
pipe, but not including the opium, which may be pur- 
chased at any store. The pipe consists of a bamboo 
or wood stem, nearly two feet long, with a half inch 
perforation. To the side, near the foot, is screwed a 
covered bowl of stone, clay, or hard wood, nearly two 
inches in diameter, with a small orifice on the cover 
for the reception of the drug. This is kept in a tiny 
horn box, in the form of a thin black paste, from which 


the smoker takes a drop on the tip of a wire pin, 
turns it over the flame for a couple of minutes, when 
it bubbles and hardens somewhat, after which he 
pushes it into the orifice of the bowl. He then liolds 
the pipe to the lamp, and placing tlie lips agahist the 
end of the tube, he takes a deep pull, the pellet his- 
sing in response, and the tube gurgling. The smoke 
is drawn into the lungs, retained for a moment, and 
expelled in a white cloud through nostrils and mouth. 
It takes but a few whiffs, and about one minute, to 
exhaust the charge, and the smoker proceeds to re- 
plenish it, meanwhile growing more and more hilari- 
ous or sullen, according to his temperament. At 
last after half a dozen or a dozen charges, with an ex- 
penditure at times of nearly an ounce of the drug, the 
smoker becomes stupified, the liand and pipe drop, 
the head falls back, the body relaxes, and the spirit 
wings its way to realms of bliss. Mundane realities 
fade ; a paradise reveals itself wherein fairy-like pal- 
aces invite the sleeper to enter, and briglit fresh gar- 
dens allure him to repose ; where the air vibrates with 
melodious strains ; where angel forms float upon an 
ether of delicious perfumes. After a feast of nectar 
and ambrosia, the soul meanwhile revelling in joys 
which words cannot describe, he awakes nervous and 
uncomfortable, with a yet stronger desire for a renewal 
of the debauch. 

Many use opium in moderation, as a soothing re- 
laxation after the fatigue of the day, and as a panacea 
for the ills of the flesh ; but the drug is most insidious, 
and more apt to gain ascendency than alcohol. By 
inhaling the smoke the system becomes saturated 
with the poison ; and as the victim becomes lost to its 
influence he passes the day in listless misery, waiting 
only for night when he may escape it by another 
trance. He takes up his abode in the den, and lies on 
the bunk a ghastly pale figure, heaving spasmodically, 
and with glassy vacant eyes. He sinks into physical 
and mental imbecility, and hurries to an early grave. 


Good opluin costs as much as twenty-five dollars a 
pound, but the scrapings from the pipes are mixed 
with the cheaper kind sold to the impecunious. 

Numbers of strictly guarded dens were kept es- 
pecially for the accommodation of white men of all 
classes, and of abandoned women, who mingled in 
reckless disorder. The municipality of San Francisco 
was finally induced to repress this growing danger by 
imposing heavy fines on keepers and frequenters; but 
Chinese servants nmst have aided to spread the vice, 
for large quantities of opium are bought by others 
than Cliinamen. The not uncommon habit of eating- 
it is still more dangerous, as the poison then enters 
directly into the blood, and is almost certain death. 

The Chinese also are great smokers of tobacco. 
They use an aromatic tobacco for cigarettes, and also 
for pipes. Their tobacc()-})ipes are ponderous metal 
cases of square or fancy shape, with a receptacle for the 
weed on one side, and a pocket for water on the other. 
A small narrow tube fits into the pocket, and into this 
the tobacco is placed so tliat the smoke may pass 
through the water. On the side of the pipe are 
sheaths for holdino; trinnninir and cleanino^- sticks. 
Betel nuts are chewed by many. 

The most conspicuous evidence of the Mongolian's 
presence among us, next to his own striking person, 
are probably the signboards with their persuasive in- 
scriptions of Shun Wo, Hang Ki, Ah Lin, and the 
like, w^hich stare us in the face at every turn. The 
laundry-keeper who appeals to our patronage has so 
far infringed upon his conservative principles as to 
announce his calling in a style suited to our barbaric 
ideas, but not so in his own quarter. Here the pres- 
ence of another civilization is at once made manifest 
in the orientalism of the gaudy red and gilt letter- 
ing on the black signboard, which hangs vertically, 
significant of the isolated and stationary character of 
that culture. The words may not sound musical to 

Essays and Miscellany 22 


our ear, but wlicn translated they certainly are most 
flowery, partaking indeed of the subhnie and heavenly. 
Wo, for instance, with its doleful reminder of terres- 
trial misery, becomes ''harmony" in their languaL^e, 
and is a favorite denomination witli merchants. The 
mean sounding Tin Yuk is transformed into ''heavenly 
jewel." Each place of business or abode has its motto 
or title, wliich is chosen with the most careful consid- 
eration of its lucky import, denoting some cardinal 
virtue, wish, or phrase of welcome, and couched in 
classic or poetic terms. The sign is duly installed 
with religious ceremonies and conjurations, and be- 
neath its potent charm, for the invocation of higher 
powers, and for the allurement of weak mortals, does 
the merchant hide his own cognomen, in accordance 
with the code of celestial humility. Every object in 
the establishment is blessed in the same way, amid 
appeals to various idols, and in particular to Psoi Pah 
Sliing Kwun, the god of wealth, to whom all address 
their prayers for prosperity and riches. The motto 
is often made to denote the object of the establish- 
ment. Thus, Fragrant Tea Chambers, Balcony of 
Joy and Delight, or Chamber of Odors of Distant 
Lands, are applied to restaurants. Hall of Joyful 
Relief, Great Life Hall, or Everlasting Spring cannot 
fail to indicate an apothecary shop. Clothiers sport 
the elegant and ornamental, and, to make doubly sure 
of recognition, the weaving or embroidery of the let- 
tering is made suggestive. The jeweler's sign is 
Original Gold, or Flower Pearls. The butchers hang 
their notice, "we receive the golden hogs," beneath 
the motto of Virtue Abounding, or Brotherly Union. 
Lottery establishments allure with Winning Hall or 
Lucky and Happy, while Fan Fan saloons urge you 
to Get Pich and attain Heavenly Felicity. Besides 
auspicious signs of this character, stores have another 
board with notices of the goods they sell. The interior 
is also decorated with a profusion of red slips bearing 
moral quotations, good wishes, or exhortations, where- 


with to inspire the visitor with confidence in the vir- 
tues of the place. Over the door may be the an- 
nouncement Ten Thousand Customers Constantly 
Arriving, and immediately after this patent falsehood 
he reads the assurance that Neither Old nor Young 
will be Deceived ; but, of course, if he is a Chinaman 
he knows better than that — or if he knows that he 
will be deceived, then he is not deceived, and the 
motto holds good. Nor is he likely to abate one iota 
of his chattering before the notice, One Look, One 
Utterance Will Settle the Business. Safes, scales, 
and other articles bear such talismanic inscriptions 
as Amass Gold, Be Busy and Prosperous. 

Private houses are eijually well provided with 
wishes. The entrance bearing such words as May the 
Five Blessings Enter; the stairway, Ascending and 
Descending Safety and Peace ; the room, Old and 
Young in Health and Peace, or May Your Wishes be 

One more they miglit have added. Familiarity 
breeds Contempt, and then have thrown away the 
whole. For here we have the explanation, why the 
celestial always remains so passive and devoid of 
reverence in face of the array of sacred and social 
admonitions. Nevertheless,- they serve a purpose in 
the code of oriental politeness, for he of our western 
east does not plunge at once into business on making a 
call. Time is taken to exchange compliments, par- 
take of refreshments and to chat, during which the 
maxims frequently serve as a theme. 

Shrewd as the Chinese traders are supposed to be, 
they have none of the enterprising spirit of our dealers. 
No attempt is made to display goods. The few arti- 
cles exhibited in the windows incHcate no attempt at 
tasteful arrangement, and no care is taken to allure 
the customer who enters. Everything is packed so 
as to occupy the least space possible, although in ad- 
mirable order, and but little room is left to move in. 
Several branches of business are often carried on in 


the same shop, earli with its desk, where the clerk is 
busy painting letters on their light brown paper with 
brush and Indian ink. His system of book-keeping 
appears somewhat complex to the uninitiated, but is 
doubtless as clear and correct as the method of calcu- 
lating on the abacus by his side. Among his duties 
is to send around advertisements of new goods, and 
for this purpose almost every place of business is pro- 
vided with a limited set of types, engraved on pieces 
of wood, one and a half inches long by three eighths 
of an inch square. In printing, each type is separately 
pressed on an ink-pad and stamped on red paper, one 
sign below the other, according to the Chinese mode 
of reading. 

This is the limit of their enterprise as traders, for 
although merchant and clerk are profuse in expressions 
of welcome and offers of refreshment and services, yet 
the moment business is entered upon they assume a 
dignified nonchalance that is truly discouraging to the 
stranger. Only the goods demanded are produced, 
and this in abstracted manner, as if their thoughts 
were bent on other subjects. 

There is a number of firms who have amassed 
fortunes, chiefly by saving, although a few have fallen 
naturally into a large share of the China trade, wherein 
several millions have gradually been invested. These 
great merchants keep their goods stored near the 
wharves, and have merely an office for the transaction 
of business in Sacramento street or elsewhere. To 
facilitate affairs they erected a kind of merchants' ex- 
change as early as 1854, but no other banks exist than 
the counting-houses of the different merchants, to 
whom savings are intrusted on interest, and who issue 
checks. Where they keep the large sums which are 
so readily forthcoming when called for is not revealed. 
Money- brokers exist who are prepared to grant loans 
to w^ell-known merchants on their word alone, which 
is never broken. Indeed, these men have a better 
reputation for honesty than the Americans. At New 


Year books are balanced, and all debts settled. Fail- 
ing in this they are cancelled or grace is offered, but 
with loss of credit to the non-payer, who is henceforth 
dishonored, unless his efforts to retrieve himself are 
successful. It seems to be a matter of honor with 
insolvent debtors to kill themselves, for death alone 
cancels unpaid debts. It is a pity this rule does not 
obtain in America and Europe. The six companies 
wield power over all, and permit none to leave the 
country who have not settled their debts. 

Mine uncle, the pawnbroker, likewise is John, and 
drives a thriving business among the poor opium- 
smokers. His dealings are regulated by a guild, and 
licensed by American authorities. Everything on 
which a bit can be loaned is found hypothecated by 
needy persons and gamblers; even prospective wages 
are pawned, and in return for the deposit, besides the 
money loaned, they receive a ticket corresponding to 
the tag attached to the article. 

If they do not possess all the various adjuncts of 
our enterprising commerce, they at least learn quickly 
enouc^h to take advantage of them. It is related that 
a Chinaman had insured his life for a considerable 
amount, and on being brought near to death by an 
accident, his friends sent to the insurance company to 
say that the man was half dead, and that they wanted 
half tlie money. Bcliind the innocent exterior of the 
celestial is hidden much cunning, and the white men 
wlio are tempted by this appearance to make him the 
butt of their jokes^, or to take an unfair advantage, 
often find themselves the victims. One day a China- 
man entered a Cheap John shop on Commercial 
street, and picking up one boot of a pair examined it 

"How muchec?" at length he inquired. 

'*Five dollars," replied the sliop-keeper. 

*'I give you two dollar," said the Chinaman. The 
shop-keeper looked at the heathen for a moment 
in mingled disgust and contempt; his features and 


lips then wroatlied themselves into what by some 
miglit be called a smile. 

"All ni^ht, take it," he at length replied. 

The Chinaman paid the money, and was about 
picking up the other boot to make the pair com[)lete 
when the shop-keeper laid his hand on him, and break- 
ing into a loud laugh exclaimed, "No you don't, you 
heathen ! I sold you one boot only. Pay me three 
dollars more, and you may have the other. Ha I ha ! 

Not a muscle in the Mongolian's face moved, but 
the coppery tincture common to his features changed 
to a brassy hue, so deeply stirred was he ; then draw- 
ing from his pocket a knife, he opened it, and before 
the faintest suspicion of what he was about to do 
crossed the mind of the shop-keeper, the Chinaman 
cut the boot he liad bought into shreds, threw it on 
the floor, and walked out of the shop, thus spoiling 
the pair for any future sale, 

Chinese merchants form partnerships, often of a 
dozen members, who live in their store, where they 
keep a cook and other servants, and maintain a strict 
exclusiveness from the common people. Their edu- 
cation, refined manners, and liberality have gained for 
them great esteem among our merchants. Prominent 
among them was Chung Lock, a member of the firm 
of Chy Lung & Co. since 1850, who died August 30, 
1868, and whose funeral was attended by many 
Americans. Their largest dealings are in rice, tea, 
opium, silk, clothing, and fancy goods. The extent 
of the wholesale trade may be judged from the cus- 
toms duties, which in 1877 amounted to $1,756,000. 
From these houses are supplied hundreds of retail 
stores, many of which, especially those keeping fancy 
goods, appeal to American patronage. Many of them 
are branches of the wholesale establishments. In 
contrast to the fancy goods warehouses, and remark- 
able chiefly for their odor and filth, are the provision 
stores, with their mangled chunks of meat on dingy 


boards, floor, furniture, and walls smeared with blood, 
dark holes filled with suspicious-looking food, vege- 
table and nondescript. Poles and strings cross one 
another with repulsive loads of fish, pork, and ducks, 
undergoing a curative process in the smoky atmos- 
phere, and adding to it their quota of putridity. 

To become a shopkeeper appears to be as much an 
object of the Chinaman's ambition as the Americans, 
but the main point is to get rich, as indicated by their 
New Year's salutation. If he has not the means to 
open a shop and await patronage with dignity, he can 
at least stock a peddler's basket, and armed with the 
license issued by the municipality for ten dollars per 
quarter, he braves the raw morning, the hoodlums 
and the dogs, to offer vegetables, fish, fancy goods, 
matches and other articles at the doors of tlie people. 
The Ihnited use of beasts in China has habituated the 
inhabitants to carrying; and however large the busi- 
ness may be of the peddler or laundryman, no wagons 
are used. The vegetable venders may daily be seen 
panting at a swinging and never-relaxing gait, beneath 
150 pounds, all packed and arranged with admirable 
care. They are under control of certain associations 
or masters, some of whom have an arrangement with 
market-dealers to receive all unsold and rejected stuff. 
Faded vegetables are sometimes taken to a cellar, 
where tliey are freshened with water and picked. In 
187G tlie number of Chinese peddlers in San Francisco 
and Oakland was estimated at three hundred. 

And not alone vegetable peddlers are thus controlled, 
but dealers in all branches of trade; tea merchants, 
washermen, shoemakers, cigar manufacturers, and rag- 
pickers are likewise subject to guilds and trades unions, 
whose rules modify competition, fix prices, and deter- 
mine other matters. 

The industries of the Chinese in California were 
chiefly of the ruder kind, as the immigration comprised 
for the most part unskilled laborers; hence the rail- 


ways came in for a lari^c share of their attention, so 
much so that iu 18GG more than one fourth of all the 
Chinese in California were cnn)loyed on them. Every 
railroad on the coast has used their labor, thus hasten- 
ing the completion of their roads. Their efKcioncy as 
pick-and-shovel men has been tested also on wagon 
roads; on the Pacific ALiil Steamsliip Company's dep6t, 
where tliey cut away the hill and filled in the bay; 
on the Pilarcitos creek reservoir which was chiefly 
constructed by them ; and above all by large extent 
of reclaimed land and irrigation canals. For this 
work they were particularly fitted by their training in 
the native rice fields, and for its cultivation they have 
shown themselves ecjually well suited. Among the 
large Chinese contractors was the Quong Yee Wo Co. 
of San Francisco, wliich underbid eleven tenders for 
the ditch of the Truckee and Steamboat Springs Canal 
Co., offering to dig it for $30,000. The company 
keeps an army of laborers on the various contracts 
held by it. 

Their value as farm laborers has been generclly re- 
cognized; and but for their ready and cheaper labor 
the farmer would often have been at a loss to clear 
his field or gather his crop. Whole parties flock to 
the potato diggings and help to clieapen this needful 
food. Most of the small fruit is gathered by them. 
Indeed, the long belt of orchards along the Sacramento 
and its tributaries in 1876 employed over 2,500 of 
them to a score or so of white laborers The stoop- 
ing posture the European cannot so well endure, and 
the neat handlingr and trimminor he does not attain 
to. Often the small value of the crop will not permit 
the payment of high wages for gathering it. For the 
cultivation of sandy and less productive soil, and for 
the hot and marshy valley of San Joaquin, they prove 
more efficient than white men; and in particular for 
the introduction and cultivation of rice, cotton, coffee, 
tea, sugar, and similar products for which southern 
California is admirably suited, but for which she must 


have cheap and experienced labor in order to compete 
with countries whence we now import them, they are 
indespensible. Rice has not succeeded as yet, but 
silk culture is promising, and in 1869 a firm at San 
Gabriel contracted for forty Chinese families to attend 
to its mulberry plantations. Tlie contract was for 
four years ; but if tlicy remained permanently they 
were to receive as a gift a house aiid garden for each 

As vegetable gardeners the Chinese were scarcely 
excelled. They had regular plantations on the Sac- 
ramento and elsewhere, where they worked for the 
proprietor, who furnished teams and some implements, 
and attended to the sale of the produce in return for 
his half share of vegetables and grain, and three-fiftlis 
of the fruit. The tenants employed countrymen la- 
borers at from ten to sixteen dollars a month, with 
board. Others leased land for a money rental, and 
some even ventured to purchase farming land. Above 
Rio Vista was a rancho of 21G5 acres which was 
l)ought by a Chinsse joint stock company for thirty 
dollars per acre, stockc^d and improved. Another 
tract of 1000 above Benicia was purchased for 
twenty-seven dollars an acre by Chinese. That favor- 
ite connnodity of the fruit-dealer, peanuts, was 
largely produced by Chinese. In 18G8 one man made 
$1500 by employing his countrymen to pick wild 
nmstard in Monterey county. They also had exten- 
sive arrangements for the hatching of eggs by artifi- 
cial heat. Wood-cutting, clearing fields of stubble, 
and burning charcoal were branches of work under- 
taken by them. 

Until stopped by trades unions, manufacturers were 
glad to employ them, particularly since contractors 
were willing to guarantee them from loss by pilfering, 
for which they liave a penchant There was scarcely 
a trade into which they did not enter in competition 
with white men whon\ they sometimes succeeded in 
ousting. They were to be"^ found in lumber, paper, 


and powder mills, tanneries, rope-walks, lead-works, 
tin-shops, and fiictorios for jute, oakum, sack, bag, 
blacking, soap, and candles. Some were employed as 
cabinet-makers and carvers, others as brick-makers, 
competing with the convicts, and in condensing salt 
from the sea. At Isleton near the mouth of the 
Sacramento, they w^orked in a beet-root sugar refinery. 
At ^larysville a number of broom and sack makers 
employed them, and the woollen-mills in San Fran- 
cisco had about IGO. The three woollen-mills in San 
Francisco employed about 700 in 1876. The Eureka 
hair factory could not maintain itself but for their 
cheap labor to gather and prepare the soap root ; they 
also assisted in making curled hair and coir for uphol- 
sterers. There were at this time thirty Chinese cloth- 
ing manufactories with male and female employes, 
the females doing tlie light finishing work. Overalls 
and underwear for men and women could not be made 
here so as to compete with eastern maimfactures 
except with the cheap and efficient aid of Chinese, of 
whomever 1000 used to ply the sewing machine. 

In 1876 there were seventy Chinese establishments 
for tlie manufacture of boots and shoes, and to com- 
pete with them the American firms were obliged to 
employ a large proportion of Chinese, especially for 
making women's and children's shoes. Some of the 
largest manufacturers, who employed Chinese and 
white men in about equal proportion, were in conse- 
quence exposed to great danger at the hands of agi- 
tators ; but recognizing their inability to maintain 
their establishments with exclusively white labor, 
their own white employes organized into a force to 
guard the factory during an excitement. The shoe- 
makers' union presented a dark picture of the distress 
among its members, and said that the Chinese work- 
men, of whom there were 3000, had deprived more 
than half of the 1200 members of work, besides 
monopolizing the slipper trade. 

These men forget, however, that were the Chinese 


labor dispensed with, the factories would succumb be- 
fore the eastern trade, and the white men employed 
by them would be added to the idle. In this light 
the Chinese may be considered, as before remarked, 
rather as benefactors to industry. This argument ap- 
plies to a number of other industries such as the 
woollen-mills, sack, jute, and hair factories, which 
could not be maintained, and perhaps could never 
have been established, but for the cheap labor which 
enables them to compete with the rest of the world. 
The prices paid to Chinamen are, as a rule, less than 
for wliite labor, the former receiving in San Francisco 
woollen mills §1 a day, against $1.75 to §2 for skilled 
white operatives, and from $1 to $1.60 for women and 

If the Chinese encroached largely on the shoe 
trade, they nearly appropriated the cigar manufacture. 
The cigar-makers swarmed between Sansome and 
Front streets, and in the loathsome dens of the Chi- 
nese quarter, where the cheap weeds patronized by 
the hoodlums were chiefly manufactured. They num- 
bered from 4000 to 7000, and nine-tenths of the 
cigars and cigarettes were from their hands. Germans 
introduced them to the business, and had later reason 
to dread their rivalry. In 1862 the white cigar- 
makers rose to drive them out, but failed. 

A room fifteen feet wide and twenty in length, with 
a gallery for greater economy of space, would hold 
nearly fifty men, who worked under a foreman ; they 
smoked and talked at pleasure, for the work was by 
the piece, at from five to fourteen dollars a thousand, 
according to quality. The average earnings were one 
dollar a day. The tobacco passed through three pro- 
cesses, after being moistened by a fine spray from the 
mouth. The stems of the leaf were extracted by one, 
another rolled up the filler, while a third enveloped 
the whole in a wrapper, pasted it, and twisted the end 
into shape. Cigar stumps from the streets formed a 
part of the filling for cheap cigars, Besides the legit- 


imate manufacturers, tlicre was a number of illn it 
makers, whose wares were hawked by peddlers, wlio 
kept the cigars hidden in their sleeves or close to their 
bronzed skin. The Chinese dealer was constantly 
evading the tax by omitting to destroy the stamp on 
the box ; they got rid of low grade ware by placing a 
few good cigars on the top in the box. 

In the laundry bushiess tlie Chinese gained as strong 
a footintj: as in the ci^ar trade. In 187G San Fran- 
cisco alone contained some 300 Chinese laundries, 
employing on an average five men each, and 1,500 
more were employed at w^hite establishments. Almost 
every block in the city had one or more laundries; 
hotels, boarding-houses, and other institutions had 
generally one of their own. There is scarcely a vil- 
lage on the coast without them. Altliough not very 
enterprising as business men, they have acquired to 
some extent the American art of soliciting orders, 
and families are sometimes applied to with the not 
very clear inquiry, *'You dirty?" followed by the 
explanation, " Me w^ashee belly clean." They are not 
particular as to the quality of the work, but with im- 
pressive persuasion they may be made to understand 
that spots and wrinkles do not add to the finish of a 
shirt-front ; still more difficult is it to prevail upon 
them to spare the material, which rapidly decays 
under their s^'Stem of pounding and the use of acids 
for bleaching. The sprinkling process is most effect- 
ively performed with the mouth, and ironing is often 
done with hollow irons containing glowing coals. 
Arsenic is said to be added to the starch to give a 
gloss. The economic principle is carried so far that 
the proprietor will employ two gangs, one for the day, 
the other for the night, in order to utilize the shop 
and its stock in trade to the fullest extent, or two 
washing companies will alternate. Their laundry 
rental for 1877 was $152,000 and the water tax 
$68,800. Laundries are not desirable in any locality, 
for people naturally object to such neighbors, and wfll 


not take adjoining houses except at a lower rent. 
The odor is objectionable, and the danger from fires 
is increased, owing to the crudeness of the fire-places, 
and the absence or defect of the chimney. In a Chi- 
nese song of the shirt to his cousin at home the wash- 
man in California thus complains : 

Workee, workee, Washee, washee, Chinee countree, 

All same workee. All day washee, All one samee, 

No time thinkee, All day gettee, John have pickee. 

No time see, One rupee, Big ladee, 

Me no likee, No buy smokee. Here no likee, 

Why for workee, All dam boshee. Big damsliamee, 

Dampoor ricee, No buy drinkee. All John havee, 

Dampoor tea. Poor whiskee. Ono Paddee. 

Another work extensively engaged in by the 
Chinese, and for which their home training on the 
river has particularly fitted them, is fishing. In 1857 
we find them employing twelve vessels and several 
hundred men in the pearl oyster fishery to gather 
auloncs, as tlie meat of this oyster is termed, for the 
San Francisco and China market. The Chinese fisher- 
men spread rapidly along coast and inlets, and carried 
on their (|uest with such energy that the legislature 
of 1859 was induced to impose a tax of four dollars 
per month. 

In various parts of the bay a series of piles or 
sticks may be seen rising from the water to which 
nets are attached. At the turn of the tide the junks 
or sampans come round with their queer cross-ribbed 
sails to receive the catch, including the thiiest min- 
now, for before the law was passed regulating the size 
of their meshes nothing was allowed to escape them. 
The haul is sorted on shore, and the big fish placed 
in perforated boxes and kept in the water till the 
market boat leaves. The minnows, which include 
our choicest food fishes, are dried in the sun and 
shipped to San Francisco and China. Shrimps are 
also caught and dried, and beaten with sticks to release 
the shell ; both meat and shell are then packed for 
export, the latter being used for fertilizing purposes. 
The manifest of the steamer for China, m May 1877, 



showed an export of 045 sacks of shrimp sliclls, 600 
of shrhiips and 7G5 of minnows, valued at §l!2,000. 
Other steamers took similar lots, showing a total 
export for tlie year of nearly one million dollars worth 
of tliis article alone 

This wholesale extermination has made the fish 
scarce; for notwithstanding the law regulating the 
size of the meshes, the Chinese readily i)ay the fine 
and repeat the oftence. Between Yallejo and Sau- 
zalito alone about one thousand Chinese prey upon 
the fish, and obstruct navigation with their piles. 
Under such circumstances it is useless to plant ova. 

Near Point Pinos, two miles from Monterey, was 
a colony of 400 or 500 fishermen, with women and 
children, who made a good living by catching And 
drying smelts and shell fish, with occasionally some 
cod and other species. AVhaling was not indulged in, 
behig too dangerous. The settlement consisted of 
about 100 frail shed-dwellings, with gardens, pig- 
sties, hen-roosts, and drying-poles, guarded by dogs 
no less tlian by the usual odors of celestial quarters, 
among which that of dead fish here predominated. 
Yet the huts were rather tidy, and protected by 
moral inscription and an idol patron before which 
joss-sticks and prayers were constantly oflered. It 
needed but a small portion of the revenue from 
fish and fish oil to supply the few extra articles re- 
quired by these temperate people, such as rice, tea, 
opium, and joss- wood, for the sea and garden supplied 
the rest. 

The Chinese were not content with wao^ingc war 
upon the labor of white men, but arrayed themselves 
also against the women, the number of house servants 
furnished by them amounting to 5000 in San Fran- 
cisco alone. A Chinese servant is as a rule more 
willing to do what is required of him than a white 
woman who is apt to offer objections at every turn, 
insisting on superior accommodation and inconvenient 
privileges. Asiatic servants are generally neat in 


person, quiet, and not at all objectionable in their 
habits. Their wages were maintained through all the 
raids against them, and in 1887 were nearer those of 
white women than in 1857, many housekeepers prefer- 
ring them to Irish or German girls at the same rate. 
Rag-picking rose into a profession in Little China, 
and was of considerable benefit to manufacturers. A 
large building on Yerina street, formerly used as a 
church, became the headquarters of perhaps two hun- 
dred vagabonds, who increased their revenue by rob- 
bery and murder. They worked in squads, under the 
direction of a chief for whom a corner was set aside 
at the alcove consecrated to the idol patron. The 
rest of this abode w^as filled with a miscellaneous as- 
sortment of dilapidated household ware, apparel, 
pieces of food, and scraps of every imaginable material. 
Tlie filth was repugnant, the odors overpowering, and 
vice and disease reigned in the most loathsome form. 

So far the Chinese are principally confined to the 
lower walks of our industries ; but here their lack 
of originality and inventive ingenuity is very con- 
s[)icuous for such apt imitators, and militate against 
them. Their mechanical contrivances at the mines 
and elsewhere liave been elaborate, but wasteful and 
inefficient. The Cornell watch factory at Berkeley 
introduced their labor with most flattering results. 
Indeed, there was a number of watchmakers in the 
Chinese quarter to whom any work might be safely 
intrusted. Still, the genius of the Mongolian does 
not rise above imitation, and at this he probably sur- 
passes the white man, for he masters a trade in a few 
weeks, which the other requires months or years to 

On the first entry of the Chinese colony into San 
Jose, the head man, who wanted ten houses, liired a 
carpenter to erect one. While he was constructing it, 
the Chinamen lay around, smoking and idling, but not 
without an object. No sooner was the first house 
ready than the carpenter was dismissed with the dec- 


laratioii tliat the ''Cliinamaii sabee all same Melican 
man," and would now build the rest witliout his aid. 
The stone for a corner building on Montgomery and 
California streets, San Francisco, was brought from 
China, where the granite blocks were cut and fitted, 
the Chinese workmen accompanying the cargo and 
aiding to erect the building, in 1852. It is not exactly 
a model of beauty or of skill, but did good service. 
The cost was $117,000, and it rented at first for about 
$40,000 per annum. 

A Chinaman at the machine shops of the Pacific 
Mail Steamship Company in San Francisco had not 
been there long before he made a working model of a 
locomotive, which was exhibited at the Sacramento 
fair. Their skill at carving is too well known to re- 
quire comments; a Chinese portrait-painter established 
himself on Kearney street in 18G9, and received many 
orders. A sea-captain sent a picture injured by a 
rent to a painter at Hongkong, requesting him to 
make a copy. In due time he received the work, but 
was amazed to find that the rent and stitches had 
also been reproduced with such exactness that it re- 
quired a close examination to discover whctlier the 
rent was real or not. Chiar-oscuro, perspective, and 
other principles are little understood, and brilliancy 
of coloring constitutes the chief merit of the art, as 
illustrated in the well-known rice pictures. Besides 
these, the most common products of the Chinese easel 
are plain and colored outline sketches on silk, similar 
to the lantern patterns, mounted scroll fashion on the 
walls, and representing chiefly landscapes, wherein a 
fair linear perspective is noticeable. Straight lines 
and uniformity are carefully avoided, and elaborate 
maze-like and symbolic lines enter as the favorite mode 
of decoration, reflecting the instability of the national 

Europeans in China are obliged to be painfully 
cautious in dealing with them, and if the traders here 


observe good faith, it is ascribed to self-interest and 
fear. The same motives may rule engagements 
among themselves, but they are well observed. The 
regular payment of debts at New Year, and the fear 
of the disgrace which attaches to a defaulter, are ad- 
mirable features that do not conform to our general 
experience of them ; but the barbarian may be regarded 
as fair prey. With us they overthrow a contract or 
break an engagement on the least whim, listen un- 
moved to our remonstrances, and as soon as we have 
finished they turn their back and walk away. While 
they are at work for you, however, they generall}^ 
attend closely to their duties, and there have been 
found among them rare instances of disinterested 
fidelity under trying circumstances. 

After all the yellow man is not so very different 
from the white man or black man, whether their cre- 
ators are the same or not, the chief characteristics of 
the Asiatic in America being a sliglitly surly and reti- 
cent timidity overlying a disposition easily roused to 
reckless revenge, but always preferring peace, and of- • 
ten displaying happy content and attachment. There 
are many honest Chinamen, and there are Chinamen 
who steal. 1 do not know that the yellow man in 
this respect is any worse than the black or the white 
man. Indeed our greatest thieves are found among 
the rich manipulators ; after them the politicians 
and office-holders, and lastly the low foreigners, in- 
cluding celestials. The thieves' repositories in the 
Chinatowns are protected by every inhabitant, out of 
pure anti-barbaric spirit. Occasionally the police are 
enlightened by a "ghost" or a spy, and swoop down 
to pry into corners. 

The inmates are profuse with bland smiles and ''no 
sabbe ", and when the spoils are uncovered under their 
eyes, they still maintain their blandness and denial. 
It is hard to say what will ruffle their equanimity. 
An expose of baseness or rascality raises no blush; a 
grotesque exhibition draws but a smile; an event 

Essays and Miscellany 23 


which would create a ferment of excitement among 
white men does not stir them. The nonchalance of 
their death-condemned is well known. They chat and 
smile, eat heartily and sleej) soundly, without a thought 
apparently of the scaffold and its dread beyond. The 
unconcerned exterior betokens an unsympathetic na- 
ture ; yet while laughter and chat are freely indulged 
in round a funeral bier, sympathy and self-denial are 
common. The neglect of the sick, and the exposure 
of dying persons, who are allowed to starve to death 
beneath their eyes, indicate a heartless indifference, 
but this after all displays a fatalism, a resignation 
to the inevitable which helps them through their own 
dark hours. Men overtaken by reverses, struck down 
by disease, or pursued by justice, yield to fate, and do 
not hesitate to turn upon themselves, ]jlunghig into 
the unknown. 

Indifferent to their surroundings here, the memory 
of home fills their bn^ast ; and formal as may be their 
worship of the gods, fervor creeps over the soul as 
they bend before the ancestral tablet. The maxims 
of the Great Sage rest upon their lips ; the gentle ad- 
monitions of the mother dwell in the heart. The duty 
toward their fellow-creatures, inculcated from early 
childhood, is centred in the sacred obligation toward 
their aged relatives, which extends into a commenda- 
ble respect for those old enough to be their parents, 
and declines into a feeble clannishness for their imme- 
diate district folk. The latter may depend on their 
aid for certain occasions ; patriarchs commend their 
deference; but the respect for parents deepens into 
adoration. For them the son's toils are pleasure; for 
them he sacrifices luxuries ; for them he saves from 
his pittance ; and on their graves he sheds his only 
tears of pure grief and sympathy. 

With this absorbing virtue are bound three others, 
patience, industry, and economy. The former are im- 
pressed on them in school, the latter at home. They 
become, in consequence, regular, precise, and plodding, 


and these are qualities which the contractor appre- 
ciates in connection with their temperate disposition, 
adaptable nature, admirable imitative powers, and 
nimble deftness; while the housewife delights in their 
noiseless step, quiet conduct, polite and unobtrusive 
manner, and neat appearance. But, alas! even in 
their virtues the enemy finds stains. Beneath the 
Mongol lurks the Tartar. The neatness is allowed 
to be superficial only ; politeness covers deceit ; meek- 
ness is but cowardice, and an index of slavish subjec- 
tion. Their economy sinks either into miserly greed, 
or springs under the promptings of vanity into extrav- 
agant recklessness. Their imitative powers are but 
mechanical, and have never risen to the inventive 
spirit of the Americans. Their stunted minds have 
failed to grasp the progressive enterprise of our insti- 
tutions. Their speculative ideas are spurred to action 
by the gambling table. Their energy never rises 
above a sluggisli perseverance which sinks into iner- 
tia when the task is done. Like a child they learn 
rapidly the rudimentary principles, but the effort 
seems to exhaust them. Herein lies a clue to the sta- 
tionary condition of their empire, awed by the an- 
tiquity of its civilization, trannneled by its unwieldy 
system of education, and overwhelmed by an exces- 
sive populace which, absorbed by the struggle for ex- 
istence, has sunk into superstition, and writhes beneath 
the iron heel of an autocratic despotism. So write we 
them down, good and bad, particularly bad : when we 
cross the water to work for them what will they 
gay of us? 

Queen of the Celestials in the golden mountains of 
California, during the year 1851, was Miss Ah Toy, 
though the mountains proper she never saw, her 
Olympus being tlie Dupont-street hill. There she 
reigned, white men kneeling at her shrine, and fright- 
ening back birds of darker hue — white men presently 
to shout "the Chinese must go! " Aye, the lovely Miss 


Toy must go. The glories of this Eden reaching the 
ears of the sisterhood at home, soon the pathway of 
the Pacific was strewed with frail fair ones from the 
Flowery Kingdom. Women are cheap hi China. 
Poor indeed is he who, wanting more, has but one 
wife ; thougli prostitution is not held in great disre- 
pute, the men very justly ruling that the women's sin 
cannot be greater than their own. Indeed, if many 
of the female infants were not drowned at birth, Mon- 
golian millions would long since have smoked opium 
in American wigwams. 

It was a fine traffic, bringing peris to Paradise, and 
the honorable Hip Ye Tung company, heaven-com- 
pellers and highbinders trading into San Francisco 
bay, were rich men before the end of 1852, since which 
time 6000 of these delectable chattels have been 
brought hither at a good profit, thus proving the taste 
of the people. 

Immediately on landing they were taken to the 
house of the company. If introduced on speculation, 
they were placed on sale at from 100 to 300 per cent 
profit on cost in China, and were critically examined 
by purchasers from town and country. If introduced 
for account of others, the women were held till their 
owner paid the initiation fee of $40, in return for 
which the company agreed to defend his rights to the 
chattel against American authorities, rival slave deal- 
ers, and lovers, the latter being particularly danger- 
ous. A regular weekly or monthly tax was further- 
more levied on every prostitute for the same purpose. 

It was through no fault of theirs that they were 
what they were. Omnipotence must be questioned 
about it. The poor creatures were generally obtained 
by purchase among the large-footed river population ; 
many were decoyed by dealers under false promises, 
or forcibly abducted. The famine-stricken parents 
found it hard to resist the temping bait, and many 
were only too glad to secure for the child the prom- 
ised comforts. 


They were little more than children, these girls, 
say from twelve to sixteen, many of them, and they 
knew as much of the world as kittens — as much of 
what were their rights here in America, and of what 
was morality throughout God's universe. 

They used to stand at the open door, enameled, 
bedizened, and in gaudy apparel, to invite the passer-by; 
but the municipality shut the door, whereupon they 
showed their faces at a wicket or window, proclaim- 
ing their presence by voice and taps when the police 
were not too near. Within was a front room, relieved 
occasionally with flowers and drapery, occupied by 
from two to six, or even more, women ; and behind 
were a number of tiny rooms, or frail partitions with 
a rough alcove bed provided with a mat, pillow, and 
chintz curtain ; a chair, perhaps a cupboard, with a 
lamp, some chinaware, and tinsel completed the fur- 
niture. Some brothels supported on an upper floor 
boudoirs with rich furniture, where brilliant robes and 
perfumed air charmed the more fastidious patrons. 
Chinamen did not usually consort with the class de- 
voted to the Melican service, but visited a special set. 

Celestials share fully in tlic general weakness of the 
lower strata of mankind for holidays, and possessing 
no such blessed institution as the Sabbath, they have 
supplied the deficiency by a scries of festivals in honor 
of deities, heroes, ancestors, stars, seasons, and ele- 
ments, which embrace one third of the year, and form 
the movable feature in the fixed institutions of the 
Flowery Kingdom. The ofiicial almanac gives due 
notice of their approach, as well as of lucky and un- 
lucky days, changes in dress, regulations, and other 
matters, for no step of importance may be undertaken 
without consulting its rules. Not content with the 
formidable list of prescribed holidays, the priests ar- 
range celebrations from time to time with a view of 
increasing the sale of prayers, incense, and candles, a 
scheme for which they find a powerful ally in the 


popular superstition. There are besides birthday 
fetes, not only in honor of living friends, but of de- 
ceased ancestors ; and steamer days on which to greet 
arrivals with news from home, or to take leave of de- 
parting friends who shall bear messages to the old 
folk. Hence, any person with the will and the means 
can always find an excuse for recreation ; but since 
this inclination is not prevalent among our Chinese, 
owing to the restless strife for the dear dollar and 
the restraint of our customs, only a few of the most 
prominent festivals are observed, and generally in a 
quiet way, the rest being abandoned to the care of the 
temple assistants, who occasionally^ honor them by 
lighting a candle or two and hoisting a flag over the 
edifice. It was found necessary to conform to a 
great extent to our usages, and adopt Sunday as the 
day of rest, and for it have been reserved the various 
functions of washing and mending, marketing and 
promenading, visiting and gambling. A number de- 
vote the day to reading and writing, and several hun- 
dred attend our Sunday-schools. Laundrymen, min- 
ers, and traders, are less yielding in this respect, 
except in so far as to indulge the appetite with a few 
delicacies. This enjoyment occurs more particularly 
during their own fetes, and a sure indication of their 
approach is afforded by the demand on pork butchers 
and poultry dealers. 

The New -Year festival overshadows all the rest in 
solemnity as well as fun, and none, however poor, 
busy, or friendless fail to celebrate. Families, laun- 
dries, factories, and railroads are all left by servants 
and employes to shift for themselves, mission schools 
are neglected, and outlying settlements, mining camps, 
and ranchos, are abandoned, if possible, for the cen- 
tral settlements, where a round of pleasure awaits 
them for a week or more. When the thing was pos- 
sible they used to prefer a trip to the home country, 
to attend the family gathering, and witness the grand 
celebrations at the capital of the provinces, which 


continue for three weeks. Hence the China steamers 
that left San Francisco during the latter part of the 
year were well filled with passengers. 

The Chinese year begins with the first new moon 
after the sun has entered Aquarius, between January 
2 1st and February 1 9th. The year has twelve months, 
which correspond to the moons, and are designated as 
the first, second, or third moon, as the case may be. 
This gives the year six months of twenty-nine days, 
and six of thirty days, leaving a surplus of days to be 
combined into an intercalary month, in order to 
regulate the year with the sun. The intercalation 
takes place about once in three years, by doubling or 
repeating one of the spring months. The years are 
named according to their position in the cycle of 
sixty years, a computation which began 2637 years 
B. C. They are also formed into epochs, each of 
whicli corresponds to the reign of an emperor, a sys- 
tem introduced in 1G3 B. C. The year 1870 would 
correspond to the seventh of the seventy-sixth cycle, 
and the ninth of the emperor's reign. 

The preparations for the festival arc most elaborate. 
House, body, and clothing undergo a general cleans- 
ing and renewal ; useless or worn-out household arti- 
cles, clothes, and rubbish are consigned to the bonfire 
with prescribed ceremonies, and a fresh supply pro- 
cured. Scrolls of joy-portending red paper are pasted 
over entrances and shrines, on walls and furniture, 
bearing moral inscriptions, and talismanic mottoes, 
especially the word fuh, happiness, and the five bless- 
ings of health, riches, long life, friends, and prosper- 
ity. If the past year has been prosperous, the old 
mottoes are retained ; if not, others are selected in 
the hope of propitiating fortune or exorcising ill-luck. 
Rooms, windows, and balconies are hung with bright 
paper, tinsel, bunting, and lanterns of slight bamboo 
frames covered with transparent paper, bearing fanci- 
ful inscription and drawings of birds, flowers, and 
other fiizures. For the amusement of the children 


transparencies are attached so as to revolve by the 
flow of the heated air. Natural and artificial flowers 
form a great part of the decorations, particularly the 
lily bulbs in white saucers, the emblem of purity, 
which it is sought to bring into bloom for this season 
of renovation. The fagades of restaurants and stores 
are gorgeous in the extreme, and generally repainted 
for the occasion. 

The person must be thoroughly bathed even at the 
risk of a cold, the head shaven, the queue rebraided, 
and the richest attire procured that means will buy 
or hire ; for not only has the season to be honored, 
but family pride must be upheld, with respect for 
superiors, to the confusion of rivals and the awe of 
inferiors. The inner man also participates in the 
general change, and eschewing the frugal diet of rice 
and tea the palate shall revel in the choicest viands, 
to which the ambrosial flavor of the idol's benediction 
has been im})arted. 

No joy is unalloyed, how^ever. Bills must be paid, 
and all accounts settled before the great day, and 
this at a time when so man} demands are made on the 
purse. Merchants make preparations for the emer- 
gency, and stock-taking w^ith balancing of books, is the 
rule during the final month. Collectors are despatched 
even to the most remote corner of the country, 
and expressmen groan under the pressure of business. 
A few persons who find themselves unable to pay 
their creditors, or to make satisfactory arrangements, 
will hide till the old year has expired, for during the 
New -Year's season there must be no intrusion of 
business. Of course, there are disagreeable persons 
who will forget good manners and mortify a debtor 
by appearing at his door on New -Year's morn, with 
lantern in hand to indicate that they are still engaged 
on the old-year errand. But as a rule nothing but 
good wishes and joy are manifested at this season; 
old rancor must be buried and friendship renewed; 
friends may die by the score, yet no allusion must be 


made to anything which might cast a gloom over 
the festivities — private sorrow may not intrude on 
pubHc happiness. 

Not only temporal affairs are settled at this time, 
but tradition has it that the gods also balance ac- 
counts with men, and pass before the close of the 
year with their statements into the presence of the 
supreme ruler, tlie Pearly Emperor, whence they re- 
turn on New- Year s day or shortly after. It behooves 
the multitude therefore to look to their spiritual debts, 
so that they may not be represented as defaulters, 
and, truly, the temples are crowded by old and young 
of both sexes, bearing offerings of prayers, incense, 
food, and toys. 

As the eventful midnight approaches, the people 
bid farewell to the old year with prescribed ceremo- 
nies, giving thanks for blessings received; and then 
the new year is ushered in with a toast in wine. 
Occasional discharges of fire-crackers have betokened 
the impending demonstration ; the streets are filled 
with people, windows teem with expectant faces bent 
toward the rows of fireworks which, suspended on 
poles, protrude from windows and balconies, ready 
not only to greet the dawning year and to manifest 
the general happiness, but to give a wholesome warn- 
ing to bad spirits, to drive cff the evil influence of a 
past year, and to propitiate tlie gods. No sooner has 
the witching liour struck than a deafening explosion 
succeeds, one house opening the fire and the rest follow- 
ing in close succession, so as to allow no cessation of 
the noise. It is like a rattling fusilade amid the 
boom of cannon. The streets seem to be ablaze, 
and soon a dense smoke settles on the neighborhood, 
while the ground becomes matted with red and brown 
remnants of fireworks. Neighbors appear to rival one 
another in departing as much as possible from their 
usual quiet life, and in creating the longest and loudest 
uproar. If ordinary means of explosion do not effect 
this, they discharge the bombs in barrels and tin cans. 


Patriarchs vie with youngsters in pitching stringed 
explosives from roofs and balconies upon tlie heads of 
the scampering throng, or in firing a bomb at tlie feet 
of staid citizens and demure matrons. The charac- 
teristic economy appears to have been discarded with 
the departing year, and wealthy establishments ex- 
pend several hundred dollars on fireworks, besides 
large amounts on decorations and for hospitality dur- 
ing the festival. Tlie first morning of the year is 
fraught with the greatest din, but explosions are fre- 
quent all through the week, if the police permit them, 
and when they cease at intervals, the ear is assailed 
by booming drums, clashing cymbals, and squeaking 
fiddles, as if, as with us, enthusiasm were measured by 
noise, and patriotism by burned powder. 

In the early part of the morning every household 
assembles in holiday attire to assist at religious ser- 
vice, directed by the head of the family. Heaven 
and earth are first adored, then the various gods of 
wealth, war, hearth, mercy, and other departments 
before whom offerings of incense, candles, food, and 
toys are placed, to remain for several days. Ances- 
tral tablets, and senior members of the family are 
adored with low prostrations, and all join in spreading 
choice viands for the departed, who are implored to 
grant their mediation and protection. The next duty 
is to visit the temples, which are constantly filled with 
a devout multitude of praise-givers and favor-seekers, 
adding their quota to the mass of offerings. Almost 
every day during the first half of the month has its 
specified ceremonies, for different classes of society. 
The pious set aside the greater part of the first day 
for worship, reserving feasting and rioting for other 
days, but there are not many of our Chinese who 
overburden themselves with devotion to peaceful 
deities, and since the rioting itself keeps off the fiends 
and imps they feel safe in abandoning themselves to 

The early crowd of merry-andrews, spectators, and 


temple-visitors is soon varied by a throng of silk- 
decked callers, and of servants who rush to leave 
cards of congratulations on those friends of their 
masters whose inferiority of rank or age obliges them 
to make the first call. ^'Kunghi, kung hi!" ''I wish 
you joy/' or the phrase ''new joy, new joy ; get rich, 
get rich ! " is on everbody's lips, in street or house. 
To this is added a wish for increased prosperity, con- 
tinued health, and other blessings appropriate to the 
condition of the person addressed. To merchants the 
wish is expressed tliat lie may strike good bargains 
and make large profits ; to officials, that they may 
advance in rank witli increased pay; to old folks, that 
their years may be numerous ; to married people, that 
a son may come to them. When a visitor arrives, 
the host advances toward him more or less, in accord- 
ance with his rank, each one grasps and shakes his 
own hand as he bows, and then follows a series of the 
many observances of etiquette in gesture and lan- 
guage with which these people are afflicted. Elegance 
of com])liments and extreme self-deprecation are the 
main propositions. If one inquires, " How fares your 
illustrious consort?" the other replies, ''The mean oc- 
cupant of my miserable hovel is well." The question, 
"Is your noble son doing well?" solicits the answer 
that "the contemptible dog is progressing." Inferiors 
bow their deepest and drop on one knee, while cliil- 
dren prostrate themselves and press the ground with 
the head before their parents and elders. The house- 
wife, if there is one, appears at intervals to challenge 
admiration with the minarets and wings which crest 
her elaborate hair structure, while demi- Johns toddle 
around in spangled cap and bright clothes, protected 
by amulets innumerable. Every caller is expected to 
implore the pot-bellied idols for their blessing on the 
house, and to honor the lavish hospitality by tasting 
of paste, fruit, or sweetmeat, sipping a tiny cup of tea 
or liquor, and taking a cigarette, all of which stand 
prepared on lacquered trays. Liquors and cigars are 


chiefly reserved for white caUers, who receive a poUte 
welcome, despite tlie well-known anti-cooHe character 
of the majority of these thirsty souls. Cards of neat 
red paper, with stamped name, are exchanged, and 
their number and class exliibited witli considerable 
pride, and even kept permanently on view. Presents 
of fancy articles, toys, and sweets are also customary. 

At night the Chinese quarter assumes a brilliant 
aspect, with the rows of fanciful lanterns, the glitter- 
ing tinsel, and the windows ablaze with liglit. The 
streets are almost deserted, but from the homes come 
the sounds of music, chat, and merriment, particularly 
from the restaurants. The great efibrt is to crowd all 
possible amusement into this season. A holocaust of 
pigs and poultry, liquor and betel-nuts, opium and to- 
bacco, tempt the palate and ()i)]) tlie stomach, 
create hilarity, and lead to ebullition. Theatres open 
in the morning and keep the l)lay going till past mid- 
night, w^ith brief intervals for refreshments, while the 
gambling-hells allow no rest whatever. The delirium 
lasts a week, and then conies the awakening, with 
aching heads and empty pockets. The younger mem- 
bers of the community overcome the weakness of the 
flesh with more natural diversion. 

In the alleys may be witnessed the favorite game 
of shuttle-cock, played w4th an elastic ball, one inch 
and a half in diameter, miade of dry, scaly flshskin, 
weighted with a copper coin, and set with a few 
feathers three to four inches in length, to give it 
poise. The players form a circle and seek to keep 
the ball from touching the ground, by batting it with 
toe and knee ; or sometimes only with the sole of the 
shoe, a movement which requires a peculiar and agile 
twist of the leg. Kite-flying is also a popular amuse- 
ment, the kites representing the forms of birds, fishes, 
and ot?ier creatures. Crowds of boys may be seen 
marching from house to house with a huge dragon of 
bamboo frame covered with cloth, borne aloft on sticks, 
which are raised and lowered to impart motion to the 


monster. With this sacred image they offer to drive 
out evil spirits from any locaHty for a small con- 

The next festival of note is the Feast of Lanterns, 
in honor of the first full moon of the year, which is 
extensively participated in, since it takes place in the 
evening. The houses are illuminated, within and 
without, by fancifully colored lanterns, and adorned 
with scrolls, and a procession parades the streets with 
banners and lights, discharging fireworks and discours- 
ing celestial music. The moon is again the object of 
adoration during the harvest festival ; but since this 
concerns chiefly the agricultural -classes, it is not 
closely observed in California. There is a considera- 
ble immolation of pigs and fowls, however, on the 
Epicurean altar, and out-door gatherings, with Dian 
worship and stellar observations, which bring revenue 
to astrologers and butchers. The four seasons of tlie 
equinox and solstice are observed with more solenmity, 
and a well-clad nmltitude throngs the temples with 
offerings to propitiate the idols during these moment- 
ous turning-points of nature. 

Shortly after the spring festival of the Feeding of 
the Dead, described under burial, a temple celebration 
takes place. The abodes of the deities are adorned 
with the usual tinsel, streamers, and symbolic banners, 
and before the chief idol a roast pig is presented amid 
bursting bombs and orchestral din. Meanwhile a pro- 
cession is formed, and presently the van-guard appears, 
bearing poles strung with fire-crackers which maintain 
an incessant rattling, each pole being remounted with 
fresh explosives for a new fusilade, while the others 
are taking their turn. Musicians follow with drums, 
cymbals, and stringed instruments ; then a band of 
women with lanterns, leading a display of gigantic 
animal figures, and carcasses of consecrated pigs, the 
fumes from which allure a jaunty personage behind, 
arrayed in rich and ancient costume, and attended by 
a long retinue bearhig embroidered banners, fans, 


curious weapons, and flowers. Behind them march 
the representatives of various guilds, and last of all a 
number of giants of astounding make, who do not fail 
to attract a crowd of admiring followers. After hold- 
ing religious exercises before the temple an exhibition 
is given on consecrated ground. Bombs are exploded 
containing small parachutes, and whosoever is able to 
secure one of these as they descend is assured of good 
fortune. There is quite a crowd of aspirants, and 
the struggle is awful to behold : clothes go to wreck, 
physiognomies are ruined, yells rend the air, and 
after all his exertions the victor may not gain 
more than a tattered remnant as an evidence of his 

The chief attraction for the amusement-seekers is 
the drama, the taste for which nmst be stronger than 
with us, since a community so poor and small compar- 
atively as the Chinese can support two theaters with a 
large force of artistes, devoted almost wholly to what 
may be termed legitimate drama. The drama is of 
celestial origin, as may be expected, although tradition 
has failed to shroud it in the customary mist of an- 
tiquity. Only some eleven centuries ago, during a cel- 
ebration in honor of the moon, an imperial servitor 
became so fervent in his adoration, that he flung his 
staff" as an offering to the luminary. But lo 1 the staff* 
was transformed into a bridge, upon which the servitor 
and his exalted master passed from our planet to the 
pale satillite. A garden and palace of wondrous 
beauty opened before them, and beneath a cinnamon 
tree they saw a bevy of noble-looking women seated 
on white birds which warbled the most delicious 
strains in response to still sweeter melody from un- 
seen lips. On their return to earth, the imperial com- 
poser was charged to reproduce the lunar music, and 
this was performed by 300 singing girls in dithyram- 
bic form, in the emperor's pear-orchard. Play-actors 
are for this reason known also as the pear-orchard 


The first of these celestial performances, which, like 
our Bacchanalian chorus, have gradually developed 
into romantic drama, was given in San Francisco at 
the American theater, and then in a building brought 
from China, which was erected on Dupont street, near 
Green, and opened on the 23d of December, 1852. 
The interior was ornamented with paintings, lighted 
by twenty -two variegated lanterns, and fitted with all 
the paraphernalia incident to their play-acting. Since 
then various localities served for the drama till 1868, 
when the first one of two theatres was erected on 
Jackson street. The second rose in 1877 in Wash- 
ington street under the title of Look Lun Foong, Im- 
perial Show House. Both have a large troop of 
actors, who are provided with board and lodging in 
the building. The exterior presents the usual dingy 
brick facade of the quarter, with a simple name sign 
over the entrance. The passages leading to the inte- 
rior are lined with stalls for the sale of fruit, sweet- 
meats, betel-nuts, and other delicacies. The audito- 
rium is even more dingy and unpretentious than the 
exterior, devoid of decorations, save a scroll here and 
there, and not even on a par with a travelling circus 
for comfort. The ornamental lanterns have been re- 
placed by bare gas-fixtures. There are two divisions, 
a pit and a gallery, both fitted with rough, uncush- 
ioned benches with back-rests, rising one above the 
other. The gallery extends on both sides, the whole 
length of the room, the extreme left of it being set 
aside for women, and the right fitted with three boxes, 
equally comfortless. The parquette of the largest 
theater, on Washington street, holds 600 persons, and 
the gallery accommodates two-thirds more. They 
are generally well filled, and present one sombre mass 
of black hats and dark blouses, without a relieving 
streak, save where a visitor lifts his hat for a moment 
to air his shining pate, or where some comfort-loving 
spectators have kicked off their shoes and planted 
their feet against the backs of their neighbors. 


The stage consists of an open raised platform, like 
that of a lecture hall, without wings, shifting scenes, 
drop-curtain, or stage machinery. In the rear are the 
doors, closed by red curtains, the right to enter by, 
the left for exit, both leading to the green-room, which 
is also the property-room, although a part of the 
paraphernalia and wardrobes is kept in big boxes on 
the side of the stage. By the side of these stand 
some chairs and tables, which serve for scenery as • 
required, but are at other times used by the actors to 
lounge- upon while waiting for their cue. Deprived 
of the pleasing delusions of curtain and scenery, the 
audience is obliged to rely on the imagination to cover 
the glaring incongruities and supply the many defi- 
ciencies. Change of dress is often made in full view 
of the spectators ; a warrior will fall, undergo the ter- 
rific death struggles, give the final throes, and rise the 
next moment to join his chatting and smoking con- 
freres on the side of the stage. Actors, and even 
spectators, who are allowed on the stage, will cross to 
and fro between the players, and perform other im- 
proper acts during the most interesting part of the 
drama. Scene-shifting is replaced by posting placards 
giving notice that the scene is a city, farm, forest, or 
interior of a building. To increase the effect, a box 
or stool is added to represent a mountain or a house. 
Occasionally an imaginary line is drawn in the air to 
denote a wall, against which the actor will kick with 
ludicrous earnestness. If the playwright wishes to 
represent a man going into a house and slamming the 
door in the face of another, the serving-man hands a 
chair to one actor, who walks across the stage and 
plants it violently at the feet of another player, taking 
his stand beside it to intimate that he is now within 
the house. To represent the crossing of a bridge, the 
ends of a board are laid on two tables, which stand a 
short distance apart ; an actor mounts with the aid of 
a stool, crosses on the board, or imaginary bridge, 
from one table to another, and thence steps to the 


floor. A horseback ride is pictured by mounting boy- 
like an imaginary steed, and applying an equally un- 
substantial whip. Giants and other figures are 
introduced with but little effort to deceive the audi- 
ence as to their composition. However crude aud 
grotesque such representations may appear to us, they 
are quite comme il faut to the children of the Flowery 

Equally different are their ideas of music. The 
orchestra is placed in the background of the stage, 
between the doors, and consists of four or six per- 
formers, who keep up an incessant extempore jumble 
of banging, scraping, and piping, as terrific as it is 
unique, varying from a plaintive wail to a warlike 
clash as the play demands, and as the individual taste 
of the musician may dictate. When the actor spouts 
his part there appears to be no abatement of the noise, 
but rather an effort to drown his words, which he re- 
sists by shouting at the top of his voice. The more 
excited the actor becomes, the more earnestly the 
musicians puff their cigarettes and strive to do justice 
to the strength of their arms and the material of their 
instruments, without any other method apparently 
than to break the musical bars, to blend all discord 
into one, and to run riot generally. During certain 
recitatives and arias the violin is allowed to predomi- 
nate, and a melody is produced which would not be 
unpleasing were it not for the jarring plaintiveness of 
the tones, which reject the sensuous element, and are 
devoid of graceful modulation. They possess an im- 
perfect system of notation for melodies, but no knowl- 
edge of harmony and other important elements. The 
musical and dramatic arts are equally backward, and 
have probably made no advance for a millenary under 
the sumptuary laws which hamper all development in 
the orient. A retrogression may just as likely have 
set in, for although musicians are raising themselves 
to high honors and imperial favor, our ears cannot 
discover the charm and influence by which they do it, 

Essays and Miscellany 24 


and on which their Great Sage has so loftily dis- 
coursed ; nor can we find any relic of the skilful artists 
spoken of by tradition, who, like Orpheus and AnipLion, 
moved the very stones with their strains, and cast a 
spell upon the organic creation. The musical instru- 
ments are quite numerous, however, and each member 
of the orchestra is required to manii)ulate several, at 
one time or successively. The percussion instruments 
which form the pieces de resistance, consist of a big 
tomtom standing on its end, another, small and flat, 
like a covered tambourine, a tambour, a gong sus- 
pended by a cord, a small, sonorous mortar of wood, 
having the rounded upper side covered with skin, and 
a tiny square sounding-board, fastened to the side of a 
stick, all of which are beaten with drumsticks. There 
are also the cymbal and castanet, the latter being a 
heavy black piece of wood, some nine inches in length, 
which is held in the hand while the other piece, con- 
nected with it by a cord at the top, is made to fall 
against it. The stringed instruments embrace guitars 
of several varieties, one being a flat, solid, pear-sliaped 
sounding-board, with a short neck, curved at the head, 
and bearing four strings, which are fingered in pairs; 
another kind has a smaller, circular board, with a long 
neck and two strings. Some have bodies of small, 
flat tomtoms with long neck and one to three strings, 
but with less frets than our guitars. They are usually 
struck with a bone or flint. The violin is a small, 
heavy tambourine, with a long neck, upon which two 
strings cross one another, holding between them, be- 
low the crossing, the bowstring, which accordingly 
touches one string on the upper the other on the lower 
side. Wind instruments consist of trumpet, two con- 
nected hautboys, like the Greek double flute, and 
bamboo flutes, some with lateral blow-hole, and about 
six finger-holes. 

The play appears to be a mixture of melodrama, 
farce, and circus performance, representing a train of 
events or an epoch from ancient history, with love 

THE PLAY. 371 

incidents and battles, rendered in dialogue, recitative, 
and pantomine. Modern events are not in favor with 
this antiquated people. One drama continues for 
weeks or even months, and is given in nightly install- 
ments of a few scenes, or an act, like the serial in a 
magazine, taking up the hero from the hour of his 
birth and giving his career as doughty warrior, or 
pompous emperor, till he descends into the grave, 
laden with glory. There is no condensation or rapid 
development of plot, as in our modernized drama, but 
every puerile triviality, obscene detail, and revolting 
deed, is elaborately portrayed, and nothing is left to 
the imagination except scenery and artistic effect. 
Purely pantomimic passages are not frequent, for voice 
and mimicry generally combine, the sharp falsetto 
predominating to a disagreeable extent, both in male 
and female parts, mingled with screams and shouts. 
At intervals a force of dignitaries, soldiers, and de- 
pendents enter in procession to display their rich 
dresses of costly fabrics and embroidered dragons, 
birds, flowers, and tracery in gold, silver, and silk of 
all colors. The face is often enamelled, or smeared 
with paint, especially for grotesque characters, and 
warriors strut in plumed helmet and fierce mustache. 
Women are excluded from the scenic boards, their 
part being assumed by men who are trained from 
childhood to the gait, manner, and voice, and deceive 
even a close observer by their disguise. The fingers 
are often tapered from infancy, and the feet confined 
in small boots, or stilts are used when they act, the 
feet of which resemble ladies' shoes. 

Dancing is occasionally introduced by actors, but it 
is not much in vogue, for Chinese regard it as a vul- 
garit}^ and a fatiguing exercise, and leave it almost 
entirely to the Tartars. In tlie early days of Cali- 
fornia, the latter gave special exhibitions of the po- 
etry of motion, wherein men and women appeared, 
advancing and receding with an ambling gait, chang- 
ing sides and bowing, but without joining hands. 


During the course of the play a band of warriors 
enters the scene, capering and frisking on imaginary 
chargers, standing at times on one leg and whirling 
around, at others dashing headlong forward. Sud- 
denly the men throw one foot into the air, wheel 
round and waft their prancing steeds into vacuum. 
They then form in line and begin the onslaught in 
earnest, dealing spear-thrusts, sword-cuts, and blows, 
with a rapidity that betokens long practice and extra- 
ordinary skill. Combatants fall fast and thick during 
the action, but rise the next moment to restore the 
vital spark with a cup of tea, and be ready fcjr a sec- 
ond extinction. Blood and thunder realizations are 
evidently in favor among the timid celestials, and 
probably not one of the original characters remains 
aliye at the end of the piece. After awhile the strug- 
gle becomes hot, and the men strip to the waist. 
Warriors pursue warriors ; high tables are cleared in 
a bound, and the performers land on the bare floor, 
falling heavily on the flat back or side with a shock 
as if every bone has been broken ; but ere the inex- 
perienced visitor has time to make an exclamation, 
the men are up, and pirouetting wilder than ever ; per- 
forming somersaults one over the other, spinning like 
tops, wheeling on hands and feet, doing lofty tum- 
bling, and concluding with extraordinary contortions — 
all in confused medley, yet in eager rivalry to surpass 
one another. This is the most interesting part of the 
entertainment to a stranger, who is apt to conclude 
that the strongest dramatic power of the Chinese actor 
lies in his feet. The imitative propensity of the peo- 
ple is not displayed to full advantage on the stage, 
for although the mimicry is excellent at times, and 
assists the tongue to render the acting more lively 
and suggestive than with us, yet there is a lack of 
soul, of expression, a failure to identify one's self with 
the role, to merge the actor in the character. The 
degraded position of actors has tended to oppose ad- 
vancement in the histrionic art ; but another cause 


may be found in the undemonstrative nature of the 
people. The incident depicted may be ever so excit- 
ing or ludicrous, the character ever so grotesque, yet 
the audience manifests neither approval nor dissatis- 
faction, beyond a quiet grin of delight, to which the 
actor responds with interest. Trivialities do not ap- 
pear to tire it, as they would us ; cruelty is witnessed 
without a thrill, and obscenities pass as a matter of 
course. All is not riveted attention, however, for 
when ears and eyes fail to convey the full measure of 
interest, the other senses come to the rescue. Loud 
talk is unconcernedly indulged in, and pipes, tea, 
sweetmeats and the like, are generally discussed, as 
if it were resolved to make the most of every moment, 
and let no pleasure escape. 

The play usually begins at seven in the evening 
and continues till one or two in the morning. Those 
who come early pay twenty-five to fift}'' cents, at ten 
o'clock half price is charged, and towards midnight 
the price of entrance falls to a dime. The length of 
the drama makes it almost impossible for even the 
most devoted theatre-Moer to follow the whole rendi- 
tion, and submitting to the inevitable he is content to 
catch a glimpse of a scene or an episode. 

If you desire to witness one of these plays, and can 
make up your mind to endure six hours a night for a 
month or two, a mixture of the vilest stenches that 
ever offended civilized nostrils — opium effluvium, to- 
bacco-smoke, pig-pen putridity, and rancid asafoetida, 
step with me and seat yourself on any of those board 
benches. But first, and as a means of self-defence, 
light a cigar and smoke, for by so doing alone can you 
clear a cubic foot of space about your head of its in- 
tolerable odor. 

The portion of history played to-night is entitled, 
'' The Return of Sit Ping Quai." Many, many years 
ago there lived in the Empire of the Sun a poor 
young man named Sit Ping Quai, who had married a 
young wife, likewise poor save in beauty and accom- 


plishments. Her name was Wong She. Sit Ping 
Quai was noble though poor, and Wong She had a 
pure and faithful heart. 

Happy were the days the gods granted them each 
other's society. But hunger pressed heavily. Wong 
She faded. The color fled from her face affrighted. 
Sit Ping Quai could not endure the sight. He joined 
the army of the great emperor, determined to win 
Wong She a happier lot or die. Rising rapidly he 
was made general, and sent at the head of a large 
army against the King of the East. 

Sorrowful was the leave-taking and inconsolable 
was poor Wong She ; but Sit Ping Quai must depart. 
Hastening hence he fought and won a great battle ; 
but by some mischance, separating from his army, he 
was captured by the princess Linfa, only child and 
heir to the King of the East. Linfa loved her cap- 
tive, who durst not tell her he was wedded; for in 
love the free find favor while enthralment makes its 
victim uninteresting. 

Tlie rich, the beautiful, the powerful, the suscepti- 
ble Linfa caged her loved one in her castle, drove back 
his army with great slaughter, and then wedded him. 
Sit Ping Quai, though honest as married men go was 
mortal ; and to tell the truth he began to like it. 
With the dove-eyed Linfa to love him and minister to 
his wants it was easy to forget poor Wong She. A 
letter, however, brought by a messenger revived his 
former love and patriotism, and set his brain at work 
devising means of escape. 

Now none might leave the Kingdom of the East 
save by royal permission. Linfa, however, always 
had in her possession a copy of the king's license, but 
how should Sit Ping Quai obtain possession of it? In 
vain he begged it of her, first under one pretense and 
then another; love was quick-witted and suspicious. 
Finally he made her insensible with wine, and while 
in that condition he seized the license and mounting 
his horse rode rapidly away. The servants told their 


mistress, who roused herself and rushed after her 
faithless spouse. 

And now behold the flourish of the whip and spur 
about the stage and the plunging of invisible chargers 
as Linfa overtakes her lord and demands his destina- 
tion. ''I am only riding over the hills for pleasure," 
Sit Ping Quai replied, but meanwhile he gave his 
words the lie by driving his spurs into his horse and 
breaking away. But the princess was not to be baf- 
fled. After him she rode fleeter than the wind, and 
catching by the tail of his horse she held to it as only 
a wife can hold to a renegade husband. At last he 
was obliged to yield himself her prisoner. 

Then when all else failed he began to beg. Dis- 
mounting he told her all his heart, told her the story 
of his former life and love for Wong She, showed her 
the letter, and begged, begged like a beaten husband. 
Love and duty struggled in Linfa's bosom, and draw- 
ing her sword she prayed her lord to liberate her soul. 
Then, sorry unto death, both fell flat on their backs 
and mourned their sad lot. 

Sit Ping Quai was first to revive. Starting up he 
sprang upon his horse, promised faithfully to return, 
and soon was out of sight. Then repented Linfa; 
with ^vomanly repentance she cursed herself for per- 
mitting the recreant's escape. As quickly as she 
could she followed him. Perceiving the princess 
pressing upon him, he dashed across a bridge, that is to 
say, the board resting on the two tables, and throwing 
it down after him, he watched with much complacency 
the princess tear her hair and rend her garments. 
Then she throws herself from the table, falls full five 
feet, and strikes upon her back with a force sufficient 
to dislocate the joints and maim for life any white 
princess in Christendom. Thus ends the first part of 
the story of the Return of Sit Ping Quai. 

The second part of the drama details the sorrows 
of Wong She, who, left alone to grapple with penury 
and mourn a husband dead, became reduced to need- 


ful extremities. The tidings of her hero-husband's 
capture and probable death struck Wong She from 
the high estate in which her lord had left her, ar- 
rayed her in widow's weeds, and tuned her voice to 

Secluding herself, and nursing her affliction, she 
refused to see her friends, and gave herself up to grief. 
Messengers were dispatched to learn his fate, but failed 
in their endeavor. Thus years rolled on ; spring 
flowers bloomed and withered, and autumn fruit 
ripened and fell, and still Wong She mourned faith- 

Saint-like and efl*ulgent grew her beauty under her 
great grief, so much so that the poor simple-minded 
people who saw her come and go in her daily search 
for food well-nigh worshipped her as a being not of 
earth. Many offers of marriage were made her, but 
she treated them all with scorn ; yet so straitened in 
her condition was she that she was obliged to dig 
roots by the roadside to support life. 

While thus engaged one day, a man of noble bear- 
ing, but dressed like a courier, accosted her as he was 
passing by. Sit Ping Quai, through his unwonted 
dress and bronzed, thick-bearded visage, was not rec- 
ognized by her who loved him, though instantly he 
knew Wong She. Scarcely could he refrain from 
clasping her to his heart as she modestly drew back 
from him, but as she did not know him, he thought 
to practice a little upon her before he declared himself. 

First he represented himself as a messenger from 
her captive husband, but when she demanded his cre- 
dentials he could not give them to her. Then he de- 
clared himself a rich nobleman, praised her beauty, 
and offered her money, all of which advances she re- 
jected in disdain. Then he swore he knew her hus- 
band, swore he was false to her, but when he pressed 
her hand she threw dust into his eyes and flying to 
her house shut herself in. 

Half blinded, Sit Ping Quai followed and loudly 

GAT^lBLINd. 377 

proclaimed himself through the bolted door. Faith- 
ful Wong She thought this another subterfuge and 
would not let him in. He protested, entreated, 
stormed ; all was of no avail. The insulted and en- 
raged wife did not believe him to be her husband, 
until at length he drew forth her letter to him and 
threw it in at the lattice. 

And now comes a scene eminently oriental. Wong 
She had grown suspicious. This man had come to 
her in the form of a fiend incarnate, in the shape of a 
libertine and a liar. This letter might be another de- 
ception, a forgery. But, heaven be praised, she had 
the means at her command of testing it. In lands 
celestial letters are often written on linen or satin. I 
have said Wong She was poor; cloth she had none 
suitable on which to write to her lord. But there was 
the fine inner garment she wore, relic of more opulent 
days; and in her strait she cut from it a piece on 
which to write to her husband. And now is she not 
supposed to be within her own chamber ? With be- 
witching naivete the chaste Wong She — remember, 
she is a man — raises her skirts, and fits the returned 
epistle to its former place. Heaven be praised, 'tis 
the very same! This was indeed her husband. The 
door was opened ; husband and wife are reconciled, 
and the entertainment ends. 

Evidently the Chinese dramatist throws himself 
upon the pure-mindedness of the audience, for he 
scruples at nothing that nature does not scruple at, 
and the birth of a child, and like scenes, are of 
common occurrence. 

More attractive than the drama, and more absorb- 
ing than any other vice, to the Chinese, is gambling, 
in which probably not one of them fails to indulge to 
some extent. Thousands economize and begrudge 
themselves even necessaries, in order to save where- 
with to pander to a passion which appears so opposed 
to their usually prudent habits. They number proba- 
bly more professional gamblers than any other nation, 


and despite tlie raids upon them in tliis country their 
dens flourish in large numbers. 

In early days white folk were freely admitted, but 
as the gap widened between the races, Caucasians 
came to be excluded as unruly and not to be trusted. 
Under the alluring motto of Riches and Plenty, or 
the Winning Hall, hung a signboard that the game 
was running day and night. Within were further 
attractions in the shape of half a dozen male and 
female musicians, who aided a richly dressed singer in 
creating celestial symphony. Cigarettes were freely 
supplied, and a huge tea kettle, with tiny cups by its 
side, stood prepared to minister to the refreshment of 
victims, many of whom were tlie dupes of oracular 
utterances of idols and fortune-tellers pretending to 
reveal a lucky combination. 

The former commodious hells with several tables, 
brilliant lights, and gaudy decorations, declined under 
the pressure of police and hoodlums into dingy garrets, 
hazy with smoke. Access was had, by Chinese only, 
by means of a long passage, with perhaps a rickety 
stairway and a second passage after that. At the 
entrance, on the street, stood a dreamy-looking yet 
lynx-eyed sentinel, who on the least suspicion of 
danger pulled a hidden cord to warn the inmates. 
In a twinkling one or more heavy plank doors with 
sturdy bars closed before the intruder, and ere the 
police could force their way to the den, the occupants 
had disappeared through openings in the floor and 
wall. They had little to fear, however, for the 
weekly fees given to the police made it to their inter- 
est to shield them, and raids were made only on de- 
linquents for the sake of appearance, since not Ameri- 
cans only, but the six companies repeatedly urged the 
restriction of a vice which creates so much misery, 
idleness, and crime. Beside the weekly fee of five 
dollars to the special police of the quarter for immu- 
nity and guard, the gambling and lottery establish- 
ments paid a large tax to one who raised himself to 


the superintendency of their guild, and professed to 
protect them against raids by means of bribery, by 
despatching informers, and by engaging counsel. 
He was said to receive $3000 a month, and to ac- 
count for less than half of it, the remainder going to 
swell the large fortune which became his within a 
few years. 

Nearly all the dens were devoted to the favorite 
game o^ tan, or fan-tan, meaning "funds spread out." 
There was rarely more than one table in the room, 
which was illuminated by a tong toy, a candlestick 
supporting a bowl with oil, on the rim of which was 
a series of wicks. A wire frame was attached, bear- 
ing a paper shade, four inches in width. At the head 
of the table sat the banker and croupier, with a heap 
of buttons before them, or more usually bronze coun- 
ters, known as clilns, or cash, being coins of about the 
size of a cent, but lighter, and only one tenth in 
value. A square hole in the centre, surrounded by 
Chinese characters, served for stringing them together 
ill bunches of 100 to 1000, for the convenience of 
trade in China. From the heap of cash the croupier 
separated a part at random, and covered them with a 
bowl, w^hercupon the gamblers began to bet against 
the bank by placing their money on a square mat 
with marks and numbers on the centre of the table. 
The croupier then lifted the cup and counted the cash 
deliberately, raking them in fours to one side with a 
stick slightly curved at the end. On the last four 
counters, or the fraction thereof, depended the issue. 
The majority of the gamblers bet on their turning out 
odd or even, while the others wager with smaller 
chance on the final number being one, two, three, or 
four, whereby they made larger winnings if successful. 
The game seemed fair, yet the chances were greatly 
in favor of the banks, since they were not only able 
to pay heavy bribes to police and highbinders, but 
grew rich. It is hinted that in Chinese gambling 
when the bets are heavy on one side, the croupier is 


able to make the counters odd or even as he pleases 
by dropping one from his sleeve, or by other sleight 
of hand. The fear of raids gave rise to a more inno- 
cent game, known as sick, wherein four or five dice 
were thrown in turn by different players. They bet 
on the larger result of certain throws, and settled 
their losses chiefly with drafts on Chinese bankers 
representing certain amounts. 

Dominoes were in great favor, each player taking 
six from the well-mixed heap, after determining the 
turn of playing by dice-throws. The first choice 
placed the first domino, and then followed the usual 
matching of pieces. Cards were narrow strips of 
pasteboard about three inches long by three quarters 
of an inch wide, marked with circles and peculiar 
hieroglyphics, and were not so easy to handle as ours. 
Cash or counters were regarded as indispensable to 
make the game interesting. 

Lotteries were numerous, and conducted on differ- 
ent plans, with drawings as often as twice a day. 
Agents for the sale of tickets were to be found at 
almost every Chinese cigar-store and laundry. 

It must not be supposed that the Chinese in general 
have been ready to appeal to our courts. Their con- 
servative spirit, the antagonism of races, their non- 
acquaintance with our language, and the striking 
difference between our liberal institutions and their 
autocratic system, have held them back. Nor have 
they felt inspired with the necessary confidence in 
our tribunals, on finding that their right to testify 
against white persecutors was restricted, and on ob- 
serving that law-makers united with law-dispensers 
to falsify, distort, and evade the ends of justice. 
Their only remedy was to protect themselves, and in 
this they merely followed the example set them by 
our own society, first by miners, and then by the 
committees of vigilance. 

The Chinese companies and guilds combine not only 


the benevolent, social, and political phases of our own 
numerous societies and trades-union, but also to some 
extent the military character of our guards, and the 
judicial power of our popular tribunals. Their rules 
prescribe for the settlement of disputes, the holding 
of courts, and the arrest of offenders, the levy of as- 
sessments to provide for rewards to captors, for law- 
yers' fees, and for bribes, the lending of weapons to 
responsible members, and so on. They claim, of 
course, that the system indicated is merely a persua- 
sive arbitration, and that the parties whose case is 
brought before the company may appeal to the Amer- 
ican courts, to which heavy offenders are handed over, 
but the evidence is strongly against this plea. It is 
rare for them to bring a case before our courts unless 
the police have gained notice of the affair. We also 
learn that they have secret tribunals and inquisitions 
which overawe their whole community, and which are 
composed of the leading members of guilds and com- 
panies, men who control coolies and manage the asso- 
ciations with an iron hand. 

It was not unusual to find posted on some street 
corner, in the Chinese quarter, a notice on red paper, 
subscribed by a firm, offering a reward, generally of 
$500 or $600, for the murder of a designated person. 
Such notices were produced before the congressional 
committee in 1876, and witnesses testified that, in case 
the assassin was arrested by American authorities, it 
was understood he should be provided with good 
counsel; if sentenced to prison, an extra recompense 
would be paid, and if doomed to death, the reward 
would be paid to his relatives. These inducements 
were strong enough to prevail on any number of men 
to undertake the task, and the fate of the objectiona- 
ble person was regarded as sealed. It was still more 
common for associations to issue death-warrants to 
their own members, or to call directly upon assassins 
and arrange the deed. Although Chinamen as a rule 
confine quarrels to angry words and gesticulations, 


yet they have an extreme disregard for life when bent 
on a purpose. 

The men usually charged to carry out the decrees 
of the secret tribunals were known as Highbinders, 
who form several associations in different parts of the 
country, of varying strength, but all subject to the 
rules of the guild. They were also called Hatchet- 
men from their most common weapon, a six inch 
hatchet with a short notched handle. Many of them 
were engaged at honest work, but ever ready to obey 
the call of their leaders, who protected the interests of 
women-venders, attended to the collection of debts, the 
levy of blackmail, robbery, pillage, and nmrder. Their 
weapons were pistols, hatchets, and daggers, the long, 
keen blade of the latter being sheathed in a layer of 
cloth, by which the tell-tale blood might be at once 
removed. The name of the chief company was Hip 
Ye Tong, or Temple of United Justice, numbering 
some 300 desporadoes, whose chief revenue was de- 
rived from a $40 fee from every prostitute, besides 
the regular tax and extraordinary assessments where- 
with to bribe Christians, fee lawyers, spirit away wit- 
nesses, and check interference generally. 

Little attempt was made to suppress vice in China- 
town, for that would have required an army of police. 
As it was, both the Chinese and the police engaged 
in the quarter submitted to circumstances, and the 
latter accepted not only a regular pay from all classes, 
but found it profitable, as well as safer, to receive 
bribes from highbinders and others in return for non- 
interference. Occasionally the American courts were 
employed to assist at wreaking vengeance on obnox- 
ious Chinamen, surrendered on some trumped-up 
charge, and the crime fastened on them by means of 
hired witnesses. 

The manner of administering the oath to Chinese 
witnesses in American courts was to cut off the head 
of a fowl, and as the blood dripped the witness would 
swear to speak the truth, invoking upon himself a fate 


like that of the bird in case he spoke falsely. The 
fowls thus consecrated to heaven could not be eaten 
by Chinamen, but were given to less scrupulous white 
persons. A saucer was sometimes broken, or salt scat- 
tered on the ground, with a similar invocation; or all 
the three rites combined were employed. Finding 
that even the triple oath was disrgarded, the Confu- 
cius formula, so called, was tried in 1861. A slip of 
yellow paper with the oath inscribed in Chinese char- 
acters, and signed by the witness, was set on fire. 
Taking the slip in his left hand to waft the spirit of 
the oath to the gods, the witness raised his right arm 
and repeated the oath, calling on heaven to crush him 
in case he failed to speak the truth, and declaring 
that in testimony of the promise made he offered the 
burning paper for the perusal of the imperial heaven. 
A criminal was not unfrequently personated by an 
innocent person for a pecuniary consideration. Wit- 
nesses were readily obtained to testify as desired. The 
restraint and seclusion of the prison offered little ter- 
ror to him who had been used to the confinement of a 
crowded workroom by day, and to the narrow space 
of a bunk at night ; nor could its regime prove very 
objectionable to the hard-worked coolie who subsisted 
on a cup of tea and a bowl of rice. The proxy artifice 
was once exposed in the case of a prisoner who had 
been sentenced to a term of three years, and served 
two. Owing to good behavior he gained promotion 
in the prison service, whereby he learned the art of 
cooking, received good clothes, and enjoyed comforts 
which he would not otherwise have expected. On 
his release he found himself possessed of a fair knowl- 
edge of English, and a good occupation, besides a sum 
of money paid him by the real culprit. 

Not withstanding the foul atmosphere of their quarter, 
no epidemics can be traced to them. The death rate 
there is smallerthan in any other part of thecity; butthey 
have few ch ildren, which weakens the com parison. That 


the small-pox has been spread by their infected immi- 
grants may be true ; but America suffered more from 
this disease before the arrival of Chinese, as shown 
by the records of the decimation among our Indians 
on this coast and elsewhere. A physician, who has 
resided a long time in China, declares that inocula- 
tion, which is a surer prophylactic than vaccination, 
is almost universally practised there ; others qualify 
this statement by asserting that the inoculation is 
faulty and has often spread the very disease it is in- 
tended to check. There is no doubt that the steamers 
from China have frequently brought infected passen- 
gers, and that hidden sufferers have been unearthed 
in the Chinese quarters. The prevalence of the scourge 
is shown by the large number of pock-marked China- 
men. It w^as testified before the congressional com- 
mittee in 1876 that of 800 passengers brought by a 
China steamer a few years before, 740 were found by 
the examining physicians to have had the disease at 
some time, chiefly in a mild form. 

A scourge much more feared, owing to its insidious 
approach and effect on future generations, was syphilis, 
which existed very generally amongst Chinese females, 
who with their cheap allurements attracted silly boys 
and sowed in their system the germ of this malignant 
disorder, which may overwhelm a whole race. A 
prominent physician testified that the large majority 
of our youth aflflicted with the taints, received it 
from these women, and many is the life which has 
been ruined thereby. 

A third disease prevalent among them was leprosy. 
There are several degrees of the malady, all incurable 
and some very contagious, particularly if the virus 
happens to touch a delicate or sore part of the body. 
Some persons have been infected for years, without 
being aware of it, till the taint w^as found in their 
offspring. The police could readily point out any 
number of lepers in the Chinese quarter of San 
Francisco, in various stages of the disease, from the 


simple white or red spots, and swollen flesh, to the 
blue lumps, dark ulcers, and putrified sores eating 
away the flesh and leaving sickening gaps. Few per- 
sons can endure the shock to sight and feelings, or 
venture to come in contact with these unfortunates. 
In an alley on Pacific street were two cellars wherein 
lepers and incurables congregated, were left to struggle 
for life as best they might, and die the death of a 
dog. Contributions from visitors formed their chief 
means of subsistence. There were a few in the 
American pest-house, eight of thirty-six Chinese 
inmates in April, 1876, being lepers, the rest suffering 
chiefly from syphilis. The less afflicted were scattered 
through the quarter, and finding no commiseration 
among their countrymen, they were driven to seek Chris- 
tian charity, either by begging or by peddling their 
tainted cigars and matches under the cover of night. 
In China they are dreaded as much as here, but are 
permitted to wander around in bands to scatter terror 
and extort tribute. Wherever Chinamen have immi- 
grated leprosy appears to have developed. On the 
Sandwich Islands the scourge carried off* large num- 
bers. The white race cannot be regarded as exempt 
from the contagion, for English sailors have several 
times been stricken, and it has prevailed in Lorabardy. 
In view of our intimate relation with the race which 
washes our clothes, manufactures our cigars, and cooks 
our food, a certain degree of apprehension is justifiable. 
In case of a slight indisposition the Chinaman is 
content to seek that panacea for physical and mental 
ills, the opium pipe ; but if the symptoms assume the 
least complication he hurries to seek more reliable 
nostrums; and to judge by the quantity he consumes, 
he is evidently not in favor of homoeopathic doses, 
even if that system is upheld in other respects. The 
first recourse is probably to Wah To, God of Health, 
whom he approaches with offerings and propitiatory 
rites, asking him to designate a remedy or a doctor. 
The framer of the oracle has not been a whit less 

Essays and Miscellany 25 


zealous of the influence of his god than Pythia of 
the Olympian deity, and gives only the vaguest of 
answers, unless the bribes of some particular member 
of the Esculapian fraternity have overcome the scruples 
of the priest, and make him designate with greater 
exactness who the healer is in whom the gods delight. 
When gods and god-keepers must have money for 
their favors, we should have more charity for men. 
The more prudent sufferer applies directly to one of 
the 280 works containing the medical lore of the 
celestial kingdom, with full description of herbs and 
drugs, their property and mode of application, the 
regime to be observed by patients, the influence of 
natural and supernatural causes on different portions 
of the body, and how to court or avoid them, the 
internal structure of the body, and other useful 

Despite the deep study given to medical art, its con- 
dition is lamentably backward ; and although theories 
on diseases and remedies are numerous and elaborate, 
they are founded on a wrong basis, and their practice 
is pampered by the most absurd superstition. The 
study of physiology and the art of dissecting are not • 
in vogue, and glands, nerves, ducts, the organs, the 
circulation of the blood, and other features, are there- 
fore misunderstood or entirely unknown. It is taught 
that different parts of the body require distinct treat- 
ment, and that the drugs destined for them are con- 
ducted there with the aid of particular medicines, by 
means of certain channels or cords. The condition 
of the body is determined by the state of the several 
pulses, making, with their several forms of develop- 
ments, twelve in all, which, again, are classed under 
several heads. Some medicines are supposed to drive 
out diseases, others to coax them away; and if one 
kind fails the other must be tried, according to the 
indications of various natural and supernatural influ- 
ences, behind which the doctor finds convenient refuge 
in a dilemma. Similia similibus curantur is a favorite 


idea; again, members and organs from a sound indi- 
vidual and animal, or matter relating thereto, are pre- 
scribed for those who are weak therein. Among the 
curious remedies obtained from the human body are, 
the placentae, ashes of nails pared from a pregnant 
woman, woman's milk, plasters of hair cut fine, a hair 
from a mustache, a bone from the forehead, and other 
matter taken from felons or young children, whose 
remains are not sacredly guarded like those of re- 
spectable adults. From animals are taken such arti- 
cles as the hoof of a white horse, bull's excrement, 
the tip of deer horns, the hair of a cow's tail, dragon's 
bones. The bulk of the medicines are obtained from 
plants, however, many of them unknown to us. The 
ngau tzat root, which runs deep into the earth, is 
frequently administered to guide to the lower extrem- 
ities such medicines as are destined to act there. 

A famous prescription invented by a distinguished 
individual reads as follows : Frankincense and myrrh, 
one mace (one tenth of an ounce) each ; one dog's gall 
dried in the sun; one carp's gall dried in the shade; 
sal ammonia, two mace; striped frog's spittle, two 
mace ; dog's bezoar, one mace ; musk, one and a half 
mace ; white cloves, forty-nine berries ; seven centi- 
pedes dried and pulverized; beeswax, three mace; 
black gold stone, one mace ; one gill of the milk of a 
woman after the birth of her first child, which must 
be a boy; king fun (a stone), powdered, one mace; 
hung wong (also a stone), one mace; quicksilver, 
roasted and powdered till made white, three mace ; 
to be mixed and made into pills, the size of the green 
bean, and administered in doses of one pill for a child, 
and three to five for an adult, in cases of chills and 
fever, ulcers and swellings, and in violent attacks of 
sickness. The patient must be put to bed and per- 
spiration induced. The sick man who after all this 
refuses to revive deserves to die. 

Like all the prayers of man to his gods, like all the 
appeals of man to the supernatural and unknowable, 


the more mysterious the virtues of these remedies, 
the more inexplicable their effect, the greater the de- 
mand for them, and not a shipment of importance 
leaves San Francisco for the interior of which they 
do not form a considerable proportion. They are 
mostly prepared at one of the dozen apothecary shops 
in the Chinese quarter, where several men are con- 
stantly employed to dry, peel, crush, distill, and mix 
from 500 to 1000 varieties of medicinal substances, 
according to the prescriptions of the books, but with- 
out an attempt to form anything like a scientific com- 
pound or extract, for chemistry is an unexplored field 
to the Chinese. Apothecaries may be found at any 
large settlement under the suggestive names of The 
Hall of the Approved Medicines of every Land, 
Great Life Hall, or Hall of the Hill with Two Peaks, 
referring to a famous doctor of a past age. There is 
humbug enough among our own medicine men, but 
those of the Asiatics are, if anything, worse. 

The Chinese have an infinite subdivision of branches 
in all trades, including the medical profession, and 
more reliance is placed in those who modestly pro- 
claim themselves as specialists. Some among them 
offer to cure certain diseases for a fixed sum, including 
the cost of medicines. The intricacy of the branch 
requires deep study, and this in itself indicates suffi- 
cient learning to assure the practitioner of an honored 
position among his countrymen. Political as well as 
guild regulations have in China aided to check re- 
searches tending to advance their art, and the profes- 
sion is restricted to antiquated methods, with heavy 
penalties for the bad results that may follow innova- 
tions. Experience has, of course, led them to discover 
many eflScient methods, and they are quite expert in 
the treatment of simple ailments, but superstition 
enters largely into all operations, even of respectable 
physicians. The condition of the patient is determined 
by feeling the pulses for the different parts of the 
body, under varying circumstances, a task which re- 


quires some time, despite the wonderful accuracy and 
fineness of touch of the experienced doctor. The or- 
gans are also examined, and aided by the statement 
of the patient, the diagnosis is formed and the remedy 
prescribed with due regard for the state of the 
. weather, the moon, planets, and various other subtle 
and occult influences. Gods good and evil must be 
continually invoked and spirits exorcised to comfort the 
sufferer. While the examination progresses the doctor 
does not fail to impress the patient with his profound 
knowledge of the disease and its treatment by reciting 
the wonderful cures effected by him, as many of our 
own doctors do. 

Counter-irritants, such as rubbing, pinching, pricking, 
and applying caustics are much used, particularly by 
barbers ; and the victim submits with unflinching 
stolidity to the most severe torbures. Surgery is not 
understood, for Chinese have a decided objection to 
cutting or amputating ; hence they have few of our 
numerous surgical instruments, and none of the ap- 
paratus for the cure of deformities and kindred treat- 
ments. In cases of broken limbs, simple bandages 
and poultices are applied. Of most operations they 
have peculiar ideas. For a female suicide from an 
overdose of opium a live kid was procured, into whose 
throat an incision was made, and the warm blood 
caught in a syringe and thrust down the throat of the 
dead. She did not, like Lazarus, return to life. 
Obstetrics is left to women, whose chief fitness lies in 
tact and experience. 

Liberal in the use of drugs, the Chinaman is also 
free in the employment of doctors ; and since different 
parts of the body require different treatment, he will 
often seek several doctors to prescribe in their respec- 
tive departments ; and if the desired effect is not ob- 
tained, he is quite ready to bestow his confidence on 
other healers who offer to cure all diseases, even those 
unheard of, and whose sole claims to the profession 
are the possession of a few medical books and a ready 


wit for mummery, so soothing to the feelings of the 
poor. At one time there was quite a mania among 
white women to test the skill of the mystic oriental. 
Clairvoyants prescribe in accordance with the revela- 
tions they receive in their visions. Anotlier class of 
men frequently consulted is students whose enthu- 
siasm has led them to dip into Esculapian lore, and 
being more disinterested than prefessionals, they en- 
joy the confidence of the prudent. 

The regulations of the Chinese companies provide 
for the care of sick members ; the first regular hos- 
pital established in San Francisco was the Chinese 
asylum on Union street, for which the city granted a 
lot. Two or three other hospitals were supported by 
the companies, whose sick members were there made 
to work as long as they could move a limb. These 
establishments were situated in back-rooms and cellars 
without furniture save a few thin mats, and where no 
regard was paid to cleanliness and comfort, or even 
to the sustenance of the helpless and often famishing 
patients. The charge at these places was extremely 
moderate, and even among those belonging to the very 
lowest order, who were friendless and entirely desti- 
tute, there was always room for the sick and dying in 
the out-of-the-way corners of Little China, where were 
always found some neglected by all, lingering in filth 
and misery. This was particularly the fate of the 
women, who were less esteemed than men, and less 
apt to have relatives here to care for them. It would 
seem a good business for the boastful doctors, buying 
sick women to cure and sell, but for the rule that if 
they should prove obstinate, all flesh having some- 
time to die, the funeral expenses must be borne by 
the person at whose house the death takes place. 
And if the body be not properly cared for by the un- 
lucky landlord, the spirit returns to haunt the place. 
Another sensible view taken was in their fatalism. 
Of course every one knows what is to be will be; 
and what the Chinaman knows he usually acts upon. 


So when once in the thin waters of a mountain lake, 
some fisherman might easily have saved a drowning 
comrade, and did not, their maxim was proved cor- 
rect, for thus the fates had ordained. 

The Chinese may be economical in thi^ life, but 
they are liberal enough in regard to the life to come. 
And indeed it costs but little more to have many gods 
and several souls, than one of each. After death the 
body is laid on the floor to be more under the protec- 
tive influence of earth, the universal mother ; and 
while in this position the three spiritual and seven 
animal souls are liberated, one of the spiritual souls 
passing at once to the eternal judge, the second into 
the ancestral tablet, and the third remaining to hover 
round the tomb. The corpse is washed, dressed in its 
best clothes, or in rich new garments, paper clothing 
being used by the poor, and placed in the coffin, to- 
gether with some rice, fruit, and tea by its side, and a 
bonne boucJie between the lips, whereupon it is covered 
with a pall of white cloth, the mourning color. Cof- 
fins, or "longevity boards," are made of the most dur- 
able material, generally rosewood and at times richly 
mounted, In China they often form a favorite pres- 
ent with children and are placed in the ancestral room 
as an assurance to the parents that their remains will 
be properly cared for. Colored candles and incense- 
sticks burn round the pall to light the soul on its 
journey, and propitiate the inhabitants of the spirit 
world to accord the new-comer a friendly reception. 
A quantity of choice offerings is displayed beside the 
coffin on several tables, guarded by two small figures, 
male and female, which stand beside a miniature 
mountain, covered with trees that bear red leaves and 
silvered -paper fruit. Huge platters support whole 
carcasses of pigs and sheep, grotesquely ornamented, 
and flanked by chickens and ducks in strangely dis- 
torted shapes. Five kinds of the meat must be cooked 
and five uncooked. Around these stand rows of choice 
dishes in great variety, with cups of wine and tea, and 


pyramids of cakes and fruit, artistically prepared and 
arrayed, and interspersed with flowers, ornaments, pa- 
per toys of all description, and make-believe money to 
pay the way in spirit-land. 

While these preparations are going on, a priest in 
yellow robe with black stripes chants the ritual, with 
several assistants dressed in simple white surplices, 
tied at the waist, and with white strips round their 
heads. There is kneeling and bowing, gesticulation 
and grieving, accompanied by shrill and clashing mu- 
sic, and the explosion of fire-crackers, to keep away 
the ever-watching imps of evil. Still louder rises the 
wail of paid women, and well-simulated sobs, some- 
• times accompanied by the genuine article. Words of 
lament over the irreparable loss sustained by surviv- 
ing friends are spoken, and eulogies on the deceased, 
in improvised or prescribed form ''Alas! alas! why 
was it not I that had died rather than be doomed to re- 
main in the land of the living, an inheritor of trouble 
and grief, while thou art removed. Thou, so talented 
and wise; thou shouldst have been spared to become 
an officer of the empire, even a pillar of the royal pal- 
ace. In the parting our heart is torn ; but we hope 
that after death thy soul has joy and peace, having 
ascended to the heavenly palace, there to confer pros- 
perity on thy children and grand-children." White 
men are less selfish in this respect, being willing to 
undergo the trials of earth a little longer and let 
others die. 

Neighbors flock in to respect and criticize the dis- 
play for the dead, to whom they refer as having de- 
parted, passed from this world, ascended to the sky; 
yet with all this respect for the deceased they laugh 
and talk unconcernedly among the mourners. They 
know that funeral faces, and sighs, and groans will 
make no diflerence. 

Soon the wailing is interrupted by the arrival of the 
hearse, carriages, and wagons, and the procession starts 
for the cemetery, attended by the imp-scaring music, 


and the scattering along the road of colored bits of 
paper with square holes, representing money where- 
with to buy the right of way from the spirits. In the 
front carriages may be noticed the female mourners 
in white robes and hoods. If the deceased was an old 
or a prominent man, the pomp is proportionately 
greater, and one or more young men are engaged to 
walk behind the hearse, bare-footed and in coarse, 
dirty, white garb, with the head deeply bent over a 
cane, and supported by a person on either side. They 
represent sons of the dead, and their appearance is 
emblematic of the sorrow caused by the bereavement. 
Humbler acquaintances bring up the rear in wagons, 
several of which are laden with the offerings. The 
procession is received at the cemetery with a volley 
of crackers, and the body is placed before the grave, 
surrounded with burning candles, and incense-sticks, 
and platforms set with the offerings. Incisions are 
made in the meats for the spirits ; some rice is scattered, 
and wine and tea poured out while every one present 
bows profoundly and goes through certain pious gyra- 
tions. The various to^^s consisting of tiny chests of 
clothing, furniture, horses, servants, ornaments, all 
made of paper — a flimsy trick of celestial economy, 
which goes so far as to pass forged checks on the help- 
less spirits — together with tobacco, flowers, and cer- 
tain clothing, are now burned and transmitted to 
spirit land for the use and service of the departed, 
amid a rattling discharge of crackers to speed the part- 
ing soul of things. After several prayers and acts of 
devotion, the body is deposited in the grave, and on 
the mound is placed a board with an inscription, to- 
gether with the remnants of candles and incense-sticks. 
More tea and wine are poured out, and rice scattered 
for the benefit of other hovering souls, whereupon 
the company return to town, bringing away the 
food of which the spirits have inhaled the essence, 
to serve for a riotous feast. It is even stated that 
some of the pigs and fowls probably find their 


way back to the seller from whom they had been 

Each of the six Chinese companies has a special 
section at the cemetery, with an altar here and there 
for ceremonies. The courtesans' graves have a sepa- 
rate altar, with a tablet before which expensive 
offerings are at times made, generally by keepers of 
brothels, who by these ministrations to the dead hold 
their influence over the living. Having no descend- 
ants, these women cannot hope for greater post mortem 
care in China than here, and their bones are, there- 
fore, as a rule left to moulder in the foreign soil. 

The belief that spirits have the same need for food, 
clothes, shelter, and anmsements as the living, is 
somewhat akin to the Christian's idea of earning here 
glory and happiness for heaven ; and as they cannot 
rest in peace in a foreign land, the Chinese are ex- 
tremely anxious to have their bones sent home, where 
friends will provide for their wants in spirit-land, 
either from love, or from fear that the neglected soul 
may haunt tliem. In early days it was not unusual 
to send home the whole body in a leaden coffin, 
but now it is rare to send anything more than the 
bones. Rather more than half of the number who 
have died on the coast have so far had their remains 
sent back. An account is kept of the time required 
for the body to decompose. The grave is then opened, 
the bones collected, scraped, dipped in spirits and 
water, well rubbed with a brush, without being 
touched by the hand, and packed into as small a box 
as will hold them. This duty is performed by special 
societies. In China the site for the grave must be 
carefully selected by diviners, who usually choose hill 
slopes facing a bend in a river, which is supposed to 
bring good influences to the spot. All the hills round 
the cities are dotted with tombs, which must on no 
account be disturbed. There are also ancestral tem- 
ples, where the tablets of the family or clan are erected, 
lights kept burning, and festivals held at certain in- 


tervals. A substitute for these may be found at the 
company houses in San Francisco, where the names 
of deceased members are inscribed on an altar, illumi- 
nated by a constantly burning light, and provided 
with a table for offerings. At the home of the de- 
ceased a tablet is also erected with his name, and per- 
haps with his image, bearing a panegyric phrase. If 
the family is wealthy, a niche or room is devoted to 
dead members. Before these tablets the descendants 
bend in adoration, keep the lamp burning to light the 
path of the spirits and to honor them, and make fre- 
quent offerings of food and toys Lengthy eulogies 
are suspended in the bereaved home for forty-nine 
days after death, wherein the spirit is implored to 
leave his blessing. 

On the fourteenth day after the funeral, on every 
thirtieth day thereafter, and on the anniversary of the 
death, prescribed mourning ceremonies, with offerings, 
are observed. On the fourteenth day the mourners 
repair with temple assistants to the grave, where food 
is presented and paper offerings are burned, attended 
by the pretty conceit of liberating four song-birds, to 
speed the soul of the offerings and cheer the spirit 
with their warbling. The moon-eyed priest rings a 
bell, mutters an incantation amid responsive groans 
from the assemblage, w^hich thereupon marches round 
the grave, the priest leading with his bell. 

Parents are most deeply lamented and cared for, 
and honored by the children with a three years* 
mourning in white or slate-colored clothes, with collar 
and white cord in the queue. Other members of the 
family receive much less attention, and young women 
and infants are scarcely accorded a thought after the 
meagre funeral rites have been rendered. 

Filial devotion is manifested by the prominence 
given to the Festival of the Tombs, or the Feeding 
of the Dead, also called Tsing Ming, the Pure and 
Eesplendent Festival, which takes place usually in 
the end of March, and forms, next to New Year, the 


most sacred celebration in the Chinese calendar. All 
who can by any possibility suspend work do so, and 
abandon the abode of the living for the precincts of 
the dead, to worship the ancestral manes who on this 
day are released from the world of spirits that they 
may mingle with their descendants on earth. In a 
continuous throng they proceed to the cemeteries 
with baskets full of delicacies which they share with 
the hovering souls, giving them the essence while re- 
serving for themselves the substance. The smoke of 
burning incense-sticks and tapers, lighted from the 
consecrated ten] pie fire, curls upward in fantastic fig- 
ures, and rises jointly with the prayers of the devout 
and tlie fragrance from flower-decked graves to honor 
and appease both gods and spirits. A clod of earth 
is added to the mound, and a paper affixed to com- 
memorate the visit. A second feeding of the dead 
takes place about August, at which spirits having no 
living kindred receive special attention. They, as well 
as other neglected souls, are otherwise under the pro- 
tective care of Kwan Yin, the goddess of mercy. 
Food and presents are displayed at the windows and 
balconies, or hung on lines across the street, and left 
at the graves, so that the roaming phantoms may 
feast and be merry. A procession adds lustre to the 
festival with nmsic, banners, and idols. Prominent 
among the latter may be seen the ten-foot-high image 
of Kwan Yin, bristling with armor from head to foot, 
and looking like anything else than a goddess of mercy ; 
but the hungry spirits are apt to quarrel over the 
feast, and to keep them in check it is necessary for 
her to assume this fierce guise. When the offerings 
are burned, the image ascends the pyre also, and the 
stern warrior passes again into the form of the gentle 
spirit which superintends the distribution of the gifts 
that are to last the hungry souls till the next festival. 
After the lapse of from three to seven years, a pub- 
lic ceremony, called the Universal Rescue, is held for 
a^ week for the benefit of all spirits not yet released 


from earthly bonds, and notice of this is sent to them 
by burning messages on yellow paper. Altars and 
rooms are purified, incense burned, and propitiatory 
offerings made, amid the chant of priests and the 
clash of music. On concluding, the priest burns paper 
images of certain idols, the names of interested spirits, 
and certain records. 

The imperturbable disposition of the Chinese admits 
little or none of the spiritual exaltation or sectarian 
fanaticism so prevalent among other nations. Their 
religion is rather a teaching and a formalism than a 
faith and divine bond. They have a trinity, but it is 
one of systems, moral, metaphysicah and materialistic, 
represented by the doctrines of Confucius, Lao-tze, 
and Buddha respectively, which exist commingled and 
coordinate without rivalr}^ Although every person 
is allowed to give prominence to the cult chosen by 
his inclination, yet few have adopted any one system 
exclusively, while all combine in the observance of 
certain features, such as the worship of heaven and 
earth, particularly at New Year, of the kitchen god, 
whose only temple is the shrine in the household cor- 
ner, and especially of ancestry, which may in one 
sense be regarded as the basis of the combined S3^s- 
tems, since the gods and genii are nearly all apotheo- 
sized rulers, heroes, and men who have earned popular 
gratitude and esteem. 

Confucius, or Kong-fu-tze, is, however, the control- 
ling power in Chinadom. All its social and political 
institutions are founded on his teachings, which are 
identical with the" main principles of the leading reli- 
gions of the world; and his simple, practical code of 
ethics is the officially recognized guide of every China- 
man, for Kong the Teacher, as the name signifies, 
taught and practiced a moral philosophy combined 
with a mystic cosmogony which avoids all inquiry 
into theologic dogmas, and commits itself to no creed, 
except in promoting ancestral worship. Yet he be- 


lieved in omens and advocated divination, and numer- 
ous stories are told of his superstitions and eccentric 
habits. No images desecrate his temples, but a plain 
tablet faces the worshipper, with the simple yet grand 
inscription. The Great and Holy Sage. 

Contemporary with the youth of Confucius was 
Lao-tze, the founder of the Taouists, or Rationalists, 
born in the year 604 B. C, whose transcendentalism 
proved too abstruse for the masses, and forced the in- 
troduction of many superstitions until the system be- 
came transformed into a gross, confused, spiritualistic 
idolatry, largely mixed with Sabianism, and suited 
ratlier for the ignorant. Many traditions are current 
regarding Lao-tze, depicting him as a pantheistic es- 
sence, a spirit who assumed the forms of deities, kings, 
and teachers, and at one time descended from heaven 
on a sunbeam, fell into the mouth of a virgin, and 
after eighty-one years' gestation, was born in the form 
of an old, white-headed man, whence his name, which 
signifies Old Boy. Himself too exalted to be the 
immediate object of worship, prominence is assigned 
to the medicine god, the dragon, and a host of other 
euphemistic gods and genii presiding over inferior de- 
partments. The system concerns itself less with prepa- 
rations for a future life than with the requirements of 
the present, and its temples, idols, and worship are 
therefore insignificant compared with those of the 

Buddhism with its meditation, its practice of virtue 
and self-abnegation, its belief in a final ideal uncon- 
sciousness, a Nirvana, miglit never have become es- 
tablished in China but for the leaven of superstitious 
rites and beliefs, partly the remnants of a former 
national religion, which was added to suit the popular 
taste. In this corrupted form it filled a void in the 
yearning spirit of the celestials, and spreading rajoidly 
from the time of its introduction in the beginning of 
the Christian era, it became tolerated, and even gen- 
erally accepted, despite the persecution of alternate 


rulers and the sneers of the learned at the incongruous 
idolatry wherein the masses had engulfed both this 
and the Taouistic religion. 

Materialistic in his tendencies, and devoid of rev- 
erence, the Chinaman is prone to neglect the superior 
deities, to whom his mind cannot so readily be lifted, 
who, absorbed in their grandeur, concern themselves 
little w^ith insignificant humanity, and who will not 
harm him, since they are the embodiment of goodness 
and mercy. But yielding to his fear, he cringes be- 
fore the minor gods and spirits who may injure him, 
and with whom he has filled every earthly object. 
Nature is to him a sealed book, and having nothing 
wherewith to replace these childish fancies, phenomena 
and incidents appear but as the sport of imps and 
deities. The more wonderful and inexplicable their 
manifestation, the more readily he yields them wor- 
ship. It is by offering the means to avert or control 
the ever-threatening prodigies that Taouism has man- 
aged to sustain itself, despite the encroachments of 
Buddhist ideas. Belief influences the Chinaman less 
than fatalistic adherence to custom, and thus we find 
even the superior mind bending to the inevitable, and 
accepting not so much the gross superstitions as the 
higher principles and the hopeful prospect of a future, 
painted by the Taouist in the existence of genii, and 
by the Buddhist follower in a more ideal absorption. 
Confucius also speaks in his book of heaven, but the 
references are too vague for definition, and many 
scholars give them a pantheistic significance, which 
appears supported by the worship of heaven and earth, 
evidently as a dual, all-pervading essence. Others 
recognize in these phrases the acknowledgment of a 
supreme being. The worship of heaven is regarded 
as pertaining rather to the superior dignity of the 
emperor, as the son of heaven, and as ruler not only 
of men but of spirits ; as the embodiment of universal 
will, acting on individual and inexorable destiny, and 
as the unified spirit of the familv, which is the state, 


wherein patriotism takes the form of family piety and 
'ancestral worship. 

The future existence of the soul depends upon the 
purity of its mundane career, or rather, it would seem, 
upon the amount of incense and offerings wherewith 
the gods have been propitiated. It is believed that 
the jpoosali, the minor gods of various departments, 
keep account of the actions of men, and pass annually, 
at the close of the year, to report to the supreme 
ruler. The god of the hearth is even supposed to 
render a monthly balance sheet, and the divinity occu- 
pying the cynosura to take account thereof, and 
shorten the thread of life in proportion to the deficit 
The three spiritual and seven animal souls of the body 
represent the male and female principles respectively 
of the dual power of nature. What becomes of the 
animal spirits or senses is not defined, but of the male 
principle, or souls of reason, one remains by the body, 
the second enters the ancestral tablet, and the third 
speeds to the other world to be arraigned before the 
ten judgment gods. His good and evil deeds — as 
represented by the bribed divinities below — appear as 
defenders and accusers, and sentence is passed in ac- 
cordance, condemning him to a higher or lower form 
of existence, to the sphere of gods and genii, or to the 
circle of suffering wretches and abhorred beasts. 
There is generally a probationary gradation to either 
destiny, but he may attain bliss or misery at once. 
The punishment accords with the crime; gluttons 
may be plunged into lakes of blood and filth, or 
changed to starving wolves; liars have the tongue 
pierced with scorching pincers ; and the most wicked 
are cast into burning furnaces. There are many in- 
congruities in the system, and to account for the mul- 
titude of hovering spirits is a puzzle even to the priests ; 
they may belong to beings who have not yet been 
assigned forms wherein to be reborn. Whether the 
souls become gods and genii or not, they still continue 
to crave for the same wants as the living, apparently 


unable to help themselves to anything that is not 
specially offered to them. When the offerings are 
burned, and the soul of things despatched to them by 
loving friends, their attention must be called to the 
consignment. The custom of offering food and other 
gifts to the ancestral tablet and at the grave indicates 
either that the spirits inhabiting these places have 
separate wants, or that they conmiunicate with the 
soul in the spirit world, who is allowed to mingle with 
his living friends only on certain occasions, during the 
festivals to the dead. 

There was quite a number of temples in the Chi- 
nese quarter. Five of the six companies had one 
each, and several of the guilds had others, which as a 
rule occupied a room in the upper story of their build- 
ings. They owed their existence to small subscriptions 
from the members of the associations, who were glad 
to contribute a dollar or two for the privilege of hav- 
ing their names inscribed on the registers posted 
round the temple walls ; but the piety of liberal pa- 
trons was also evident, and speculators were not 
wanting to invest money in a scheme which promised 
good returns. Many years ago, when the region be- 
yond Union square, in San Francisco, was yet a mass 
of sand and brush, an enterprising celestial resolved 
to stimulate individual piety to aid him in making an 
investment of this kind, whereby he might live at 
ease and grow wealthy by the sale of prayers and 
candles. The corner of Post and Mason streets was 
the site chosen for the divine abode, and there it rose, 
facing the rising sun, though hidden from eyes pro- 
fane by a high board fence. The initiated recognized 
the place by the Chinese characters over the gate, 
which announced that the Imperial Heaven spreads 
out to these remote lands, which were indeed de- 
pendencies of the Flowery Kingdom. Nevertheless, 
the intrusion of barbarians compelled the removal of 
this divine advance post, and it was left to other 
speculators to rear the monuments of devout enter- 

£ssAYs AND Miscellany 26 


prise within the precincts of their quarter. There was 
nothing grand or awe-inspiring about these edifices ; 
quite the reverse. A few were situated on the main 
streets, with tolerably decent approaches, but tlie 
rest must be sought in a labyrinth of noisome alleys, 
as if to illustrate the apothegm that it is not a broad 
pleasant path which leadeth to heaven. 

The most extensive temple, with the largest con- 
stellation of divinities, was in a narrow passage con- 
necting with Dupont and Jackson streets, and pre- 
senting a most uninviting aspect of greasy, smoky 
walls and shaky superstructures, with odors puffing 
from every door and window. Tearing himself loose 
from the importunities of a fortune-teller, and a series 
of bedizened females who blockaded the approaches, 
the visitor reached a dingy brick building, the two 
lower stories of which were occupied as workshops 
and dwellings. Ascending an outside stairway of the 
most rickety description, he came to the third and 
highest floor, where dwelt the gods in gloomy sol- 
emnity, and in an atmosphere laden with odors of 
sandal- wood, smoke, and incense. If cleanliness is 
akin to godliness then assuredly Satan reigns in 
pagandom. The only notification of the sacred prox- 
imity was afforded by a small gilt sign over the en- 
trance. Just inside stood a huge plain screen with 
inscriptions to exclude the intrusive glare of daylight, 
and before it hung a three-foot wide tablet, with 
gilded figures of men, animals, foliage, and pagodas, 
in high and demi-relief, depicting incidents from the 
lives of the gods. The right-hand corner throned an 
idol in a rather flimsy shrine, surrounded by a few 
scroll decorations, and with a case of extinguished in- 
cense tapers before him. This position is often as- 
signed to Thing Wong, god of the wall and moat, or 
lord of the province, whose image rises in every 
town in China, to defend it from enemies, and to pro- 
mote its welfare, to control the spirits of the dead, and 
to regulate the rains. In time of drouth, the image 



is exposed to the scorching sun, that it may feel the 
heat and observe the neglect it has been guilty of. 
To aid the god in retrieving his error, food is cast in- 
to the rivers to feed the waters and appease their 

In the opposite corner, to the left of the entrance, 
stood a platform, seven feet high, resembling an office- 
stool, which supported a tomtom, and beneath it a 
bell of bronze, both serving to rouse the gods when 
special appeals or offerings were made. Behind this 
was a brick oven, wherein were burned the toy pres- 
ents for gods and spirits, releasing their souls from 
the earthly substance that they might pass to spirit 
land and serve its inhabitants. A small dust-cov- 
ered skylight allowed a dim light to penetrate into 
the temple, and revealed in the center of it a cabinet 
of dark wood, three feet and a half in height and four 
feet in length, with an elaborately carved front, pro- 
tected by glass and wire, and representing figures like 
those on the tablet by the entrance, but finer and on 
a larger scale. Upon the cabinet stood a dozen neatly 
moulded vases of zinc, or pewter, and brass, holding 
bouquets of artificial flowers mingled with tinsel and 
dolls, and candlesticks in the form of carved and col- 
ored tubes, all guarded by a dragon of bulldog as- 
pect. Dragons also occupy a prominent position in 
the Taouist worship as rulers over seas, rivers, and 
ponds, and are, therefore, appealed to in rainless sea- 
sons. Immediately beyond this cabinet, stood an- 
other of plainer construction, with similar vases, a few 
tiny images, and a bronze bowl nearly filled with 
ashes, wherein was stuck a number of burnt sticks 
which had once supported colored candles and incense 
tapers. The tapers were made of sandal wood rolled 
in paper. The walls were covered with a bountiful 
sprinkling of long, narrow tablets and gay -looking red 
and yellow paper scrolls, occasionally set with cotton 
strips and fringes, and all inscribed in characters of 
scarlet, blue, and gold, formhig panegyrics on the gods, 


and with prayers for worshippers, and lists of sub- 
scribers, with the amounts donated for the erection 
and maintenance of the temple. A few lanterns of 
glass and of paper, with an oil lamp chandelier, 
adorned the center of the room, but were lit only on 
festive occasions. Above the second cabinet rose a 
false arch of scroll and fret-work, with gilt and col- 
ored surfaces, forming an alcove of the inner depart- 
ment, and bearing the inscription Shing Ti Ling Toi, 
spiritual gallery of the all-powerful gods. Behind 
this was a silken strip with the words Shing Shan 
Mo Keung, gods whose holy age is perpetual. 

In the recess of the alcove were three cabinets sur- 
mounted by elaborate frames of scroll work and 
arabesque, gilt and colored, over which hung red 
canopies, drawn back and knotted. These were the 
shrines, guarded by sitting dragons. In the central 
shrine, which was larger and finer than the rest, 
three idols were enthroned with sceptres and other 
insignia in their hands. Heavy, black mustaches and 
imperials ornamented their faces, and long, red veils fell 
from their heads to either side. Above their heads 
were symbolic characters, representing their attributes, 
and before and around them was a profusion of 
ornaments of artificial flowers, brass, and tinsel. The 
central and larger idol was Quong Muh Tien Wang, 
tlie clear-eyed heaven king, trampling on snakes and 
reptiles, who with the aid of his two companions pro- 
tected the people from ills. This central place was 
often given to Yum Ten Tin, god of the sombre 
heaven, who also guards against conflagrations. At 
his feet stood several cups with cold tea to prevent 
the pangs of thirst from ruffling the divine temper, 
and by their side a bronze bowl with the stumps 
of tapers, one of which was still smouldering and 
oflering its incense to the august nostrils. Above 
this hung a lantern of figured glass, set in a black 
frame, wherein burned the vestal fire which cast a 
perpetual although dim light on the path of the gods. 


Before the other idols hung simple glasses with oil, 
not always lighted, however, and equally neglected 
were their incense bowls. 

In the shrine to the right sat the god of wealth, 
Tsoi Pah Shing Kwun, grasping a bar of gold, which 
attracted the frequent invocations of his lucre-lovino* 
people ; and to the left was Wah To, the god of medi- 
cine, with a pill between his eight fingers. He flour- 
ished two millenaries ago as a great scholar, possessed 
of wohderous healing power, which he exercised 
among the poor. Having on one occasion adminis- 
tered a wrong medicine with fatal results, Wah To 
became so stricken with grief that he disposed of his 
worldly affairs and followed his patient, only to be 
raised to godship, and be forever pestered with appeals 
for the preservation of health and the cure of diseases. 
His prescriptions were obtained by means of the 
divining slips to be found in an urn on one of the 
tables, the characters of which were explained by the 
temple servants with the aid of the mystery books ; 
and they also sold medicines prepared according to 
the recipes therein. Pin Tseuh is the name of 
another deified physician. 

Ranged along the wall between the arch and the 
shrines were the eight precious emblems, in duplicate, 
one set on either side of the room, mounted on poles 
and having the appearance of imperial insignia. By 
their side were a few shabby standards and bannerets 
of silk, with gold and colored embroidery. Several 
plain deal tables were placed here and there to receive 
oflerings, but were seldom used except at festivals. 

Passing through a side door to the right, the visitor 
entered a second room, more scantily furnished than 
the preceding. A few scrolls of paper and cotton 
adorned tlie walls here and there ; two dark paper 
lanterns hung from the ceiling ; and on the floor 
stood a plain cabinet with zinc vases for candlesticks 
and bouquets, and a few common deal tables for pro- 
spective offerings. This chamber was consecrated to 


Kwan Yin, the goddess of mercy, a princess whose 
origin is lost in the mist of antiquity, but of whom 
tradition relates that her opposition to a marriage, 
arranged by the king, her father, so enraged him that 
he ordered the Buddhist convent whither she had 
fled to be set on fire. Her prayers turned aside the 
flames from herself and companions, and they escaped, 
while all around them crumbled into ashes. This 
miracle caused her to be adored under the title of 
Savior from Distress. She is generally represented as 
a maiden, seated in a lotus flower, the emblem of 
purity, with a roll of prayers in her hands, round her 
head a halo, and over it a cloud with a flying parrot 
which holds a rosary in its beak. Sheets were sold 
at the temple bearing this representation of the 
goddess, together with several prayers, an extract from 
which read as follows: "Revolving, shining goddess, 
goddess of repeating goodness, great heavenly king. 
Ah Nan, goddess of the well-ordered palace, mo yau 
mo yau, tsingtsing, pi yau ; cause litigations to be 
quieted, and deliver us from all courts and judicial 
business. All ye great gods, all ye five hundred dis- 
tinguished disciples of Buddha, save me a true be- 
liever, and deliver me from distress and trouble; 
then will I make mention of Kwan Shi Yin ; without 
laying aside the ceremonial cap, diligently will I re- 
hearse this formula a thousand times, and then of 
necessity calamities and troubles will be dissipated." 
Another of the forms assigned to this goddess is 
that of a mother dressed in white and holding a child 
in her arms. To her appeal the young wives who de- 
sire issue. She also appears in the garb of a fishmaid, * 
as the patroness of fishermen ; or in the form of a 
monster with four faces and eight arms, significant of 
her protean attributes. Twenty days a year are set 
aside for her worship, and her festivals occur on the 
18th day of the second and sixth months. On all 
souls' day she is borne in procession in the guise of a 
gigantic and fierce warrior, to keep order among the 


hungry spirits. Despite the prominence of her divin- 
ity, the shrine was not carefully tended, for a common 
oil lamp glimmered feebly on nothing but cold tea, and 
extinguished the incense tapers at her feet. On the 
other side of the room, in a plain niche, was the only 
other idol in the room, a dark, erect, little man, gaz- 
ing forlornly on the extinguished lamp and taper- 
stumps before him. 

The third and innermost room was filled with smoke 
and odors from an adjacent kitchen, and was of still 
meaner appearance. The wall ornaments were rarer, 
and the cabinet of the plainest. Facing the side en- 
trance was Tu Ti, god of earth in a poor shrine, or 
box, level with the floor, and arrayed in a miserable 
cotton blouse ; yet this idol had great influence, owing 
to his supposed power to grant prosperity, and to pro- 
tect houses and streets from evil spirits. He was 
originally a prefect, in which capacity he managed to 
procure the emancipation of his department from a 
yearly slave levy; and in recognition of this service a 
grateful people raised him to godship and spread his 
worsliip all over the empire. Deceased heroes and 
honored residents of a place are often exalted to local 
proxies of tlie god, and receive honors during his fes- 
tival on the second day of the second month. 

In the recess of the alcove stood a large shrine, 
plainer than the alcove shrines in the other rooms, 
and containing the image of Wah Kwang, the giver 
of wisdom, with three eyes, whose festival takes place 
on the 28th day of the ninth month. With the third 
and never-slumbering eye in the forehead, he is able 
to see 1000 miles around him, and protect his adhe- 
rents against conflagrations. On his left stood two 
smaller idols, the nearest having three eyes like himself, 
and on his right is a black-faced deity, with a roughly- 
made tiger by his side, before which was an egg and 
some scattered rice to appease the evil propensities 
that seem to lurk in its eyes. 

The idols were draped statuettes of wood or plaster, 


one and a half to tliree feet high, accordinor to their 
importance; usually fat, grotesque, and often cross- 
eyed and inane in ap})earance. The complexion was 
in conformity with its character, and the males usually 
wore nmstache and imperial. The sculptured dress 
was made conspicuous by paint in imitation of em- 
broidered silk ; glass and tinsel ornaments were added. 
Few wore any other fabrics than a long red cotton 
veil, which fell from both sides of the head over the 
shoulders ; and although most of them were flimsy af- 
fairs, there were a few images in the quarter arrayed 
in costly, embroidered silk robes and jewels, one in 
Doctor Li-po-tai's tem})le costing several thousand 
dollars. They were brought from China where their 
consecration is attended with elaborate ceremonies to 
induce the deity to occupy the image with a portion 
of his spirit. Through a hole in the back are inserted 
the heart, lungs, and intestines, of silver or zinc, with- 
out which the idol cannot live and be effective. The 
local idol manufacturers confine their skill to the pro- 
duction of images for household use, of shrines, cloth- 
ing, and presents of paper, which are sold by the tem- 
ple servants, w^ho keep in their office a large stock of 
candles, chiefly of red color, tapers, incense, and printed 
prayers. Paper money and certain other offerings re- 
quire to be consecrated with prescribed ceremonies, 
including a long array of prayers, in order to have 
effect. Of course, a large quantity is consecrated by 
one process. 

The neatest of the several temples in San Francisco 
was that of the Hop Wo company, on Clay street, 
which occupied the front portion of the top story. 
Attention was called to the building by a clean, 
painted balcony, with two gilded signs and a couple of 
lanterns, backed by windows of tinted glass. There 
was only one room, but it was clean and comparatively 
bright, enabling the visitor to examine to his satisfac- 
tion the red silk bannerets, standards, and ceremonial 
umbrella with heavy curtain fringes, all richly em- 


broidered with gold and silk of different colors, repre- 
senting dragons, birds, and foliage. The carved 
cabinets and shrines, with gilt figures, were finer than 
those already described, and the wall-tablets were 
neater. This abode was dedicated exclusively to 
Kwan Tai, the god of war, whose image, with red 
face, glaring eyes, and red flannel surtout, was en- 
throned in the gaudy shrine. He was powerful not 
only in settling riots and disputes, in conferring 
bravery and intimidating the enemy, but also in finan- 
cial matters, and might consequently be found presid- 
ing at almost every store. Sixteen centuries ago 
Kwan Tai played the role of a successful general, who, 
on the conclusion of a long war, declined all honors 
and rewards, and joined a holy order for the practice 
of benevolence. Formerly a leader of bloodthirsty 
soldiers for the relief of towns and government, he 
now led pious monks to the relief of the poor and sick. 
Once only he left this duty to save the enipire from 
the rebels, but returned immediately afterward to his 
task of mercy. While so employed, there appeared 
at the convent a distressed and wounded pilgrim, in 
whom he recognized the defeated rebel chief The 
duty of the soldier struggled with the spirit of charity 
and succumbed. The wanderer was .relieved and sent 
on his way rejoicing, while Kwan Tai surrendered 
himself to the unyielding law to sufter death. The 
grief-stricken emperor did not interfere with the course 
of justice, but he exalted him to the ranks of the gods, 
and as the patron of the ^lanchu dynasty Kwan Tai 
has often appeared to aid the imperial arms. 

A few other temples in San Francisco were conse- 
crated to special divinities. That which once stood 
on Post street was originally dedicated to Tien Han, 
queen of heaven, the comforter in trouble, especially 
of sailors. In conformity with the euhemeristic ideas 
of the Chinese, she is traced to a common mortal who 
lived about eight centuries ago at Po Tin, on the sea- 
board of Tukien, the daughter of a seafaring family. 


Her extraordinary beauty and talent drew a liost of 
admirers, but they vowed in vain, for heaven itself 
had selected her for a bride, and removed her early 
from their midst. She had been subject to ei)ile})tic 
fits, during which her spirit was said to fiy to the 
rescue of storm-ridden crews. This belief gained ac- 
ceptance among her countrymen, who speedily exalted 
her to a divinity, and raised temples for her along the 
seashores and river banks, whence they invited the 
worship of passing mariners. A favorite eml)lematic 
adjunct of the idol is a full-rigged junk, with eyes in 
the bow wherewith to find its way across the pathless 
ocean. To her tem])le in San Francisco was afterward 
added the image of KinWah, the guardian of children, 
to whom pretenders to motherhood made apjx^als. 
The Traviatas had also a patroness. For so little 
religion, the Chinese had niany gods. 

In the temple building of the six companies might 
be found altars bearing the names of deceased mem- 
bers, and tablets were erected in the households to 
receive the adoration and offerings of loving descend- 
ants. Several traditions exist to account for this the 
most sacred and widespread worship among tlie Chi- 
nese. One relates that many centuries ago an officer 
who was travelling with his prince through a famine- 
stricken district of the empire cut off a piece of his 
own flesh to sustain his beloved master. This so ex- 
hausted him tliat he died by the way, and the prince 
on hearing of his devotion erected a tablet to com- 
memorate it. Another story runs that a man who 
had been in the habit of ill-treating a female relative 
became so repentant after her death that he raised an 
image to her in the household. On one occasion 
when the man was beating his wife, in pursuance of 
the old habit, the latter pricked the image, in anger 
or appeal, whereupon the statuette manifested her 
sorrow at the family feud by shedding blood as well 
as tears. This miracle was noised abroad, and it came 
gradually to be a custom to erect images or tablets to 


ancestors, whose spirits were evidently watching over 
the household. 

The guardians of the temples are not regular priests 
but merely attendants, who wait upon the idols, trim 
the lamps, supply incense tapers, sound the tomtom, 
keep clean, and aid in ceremonial acts. They are 
supported by the revenue which results from the sale 
of incense, candles, prayers, toys, and talismans, and 
assist to dispose of the choice food offerings presented 
to the gods. They also act as diviners and exorcists, 
and if the attendance becomes slack at any period, a 
miracle is readily invented to stir the slumbering piety 
into activity, or little festivals are extemporized to in- 
duce guilds or particular classes to patronize them. 
The attendants as well as the temples may be hired 
by the day or hour for the performance of special ser- 
vices, when tlianks liave to be rendered for favors, or 
appeals made for divine aid. 

The ceremonies for special services vary but little 
from those observed daily during the festivals. At 
certain intervals during the day the attendants appear 
in robes of dark and light blue silk, and march round 
the idol-chamber chanting a hymn. They then kneel 
before the idol, bowing a certain number of times, rise 
and circle round, and halt before the hicense-table, 
where the arms are extended in ceremonial gesture. 
A third march round brings them once more to the 
idol, to whom food is huml)ly offered after a seriatim 
bow to one another. Having propitiated the deity 
they return to the incense table to consult the divin- 
ing urn, and the book of mystery, a task which is 
Iternated with several more processions, attended by 
L hants and orchestral music. The music has in view 
the twofold object of rousing the drowsy god, and 
keeping liim in good humor. 

On ordinary occasions little or no reverence is 
shown to the gods, probably because they are sup- 
posed to be napping, and attendants move round in 
their sacred duties of lighthig tapers, placing otlerings, 


and so forth, as unconcernedly as if they were per- 
forming a liouseliold task. Worshippers are equally 
nonchalant. The hat is retained on the head, the 
cigar is not removed, and talk as well as laughter are 
freely indulged in. On approaching the idol to make 
an offering, they place it on the table or altar, light 
the incense taper, and retire without more ceremony 
than a quick, careless chin-chinning, that is, three 
low bows. It is only for special reasons that they 
exhibit more devotion. If health has been restored, 
a journey safely accomplished, or a fortunate bargain 
made, then may they consider it prudent to return 
thanks in order to insure the continuance of divine 
favor. Still more devout in prayers and offerings do 
they become when a favor has to be sought, the care- 
less bow is then replaced by humble prostration, 
wherein the head strikes the floor before the shrine, 
and prayers are repeated on the rosary beads. This 
devotion is particularly noticeable among the women, 
who appear to feel their inferiority. If the wor- 
shipper has a request to make, he turns from the god 
whom he has propitiated to the divining urn, which 
contains a score or more of bamboo strips, and either 
picks one, while muttering his wish, or shakes the 
urn, until a strip falls out. The mark on this strip 
refers him to the yellow book of oracles, wherein lies 
the answer of the god, worded in parables, or mystic 
sentences, which may be construed into almost any 
form. For instance, *' The ancient man Luk Shun 
suftcred captivity in a labyrinth. Like a person in 
his cups, he sees forms confused and deceptive. Sud- 
denly he meets with an honorable man who leads him 
safely out. This person, thereupon rejoicing, escapes 
from the net." Another may read: '* Desiring one, 
he obtains two. Venturing little and gaining much. 
Both public and private business mutually aid each 
other. There is extreme profit in asking for wealth." 
The former reply is evidently favorable, while the 
latter appears like an admonition not to feel de- 


spondent, but to try again at a future time. An- 
other and simple mode of questioning the gods is to 
appeal to the divining blocks. These consist of a 
pair of wooden half-moons, round on one side, and 
flat on the other, representing the male and female 
principles of the dual power in nature. Framing his 
wish, the worshipper drops them on the floor, and if 
one falls flat, while the other remains on its rounded 
surface, then the answer is favorable. If this happens 
twice out of three times, he is satisfied; if not, he 
stru'jjtrles witli fortune thrice the sacred three times ; 
or, if the enterprise is of great importance, he will 
consult the gods and the blocks for three successive 
days. It is also tlie custom to seek divine answers in 
a dream, and after propitiating the god the worshipper 
will spread his mat on the temple floor, praying for a 
whisper from spirit land. This ceremony is frequently 
performed at home, where the kitchen god is the usual 
personage addressed. 

The direction of all aftairs in life does not pertain im- 
mediately to the gods, however, but falls under the 
control of imps or spirits, whose disposition must be 
studied before an enterprise can be carried out. The 
almanac, issued under the auspices of the combined 
wisdom of imperial counselors, is an indispensable 
guide in these matters. It points out the lucky and 
unlucky days and signs ; wlien a man should or 
should not enter on official duties or important trans- 
actions, when it might bo disastrous to engage in a 
battle, when risky to speculate or gamble, when dan- 
gerous to slaughter or to apply certain remedies, and 
so on. Rules like these may cause expense, incon- 
venience, and misery, but they also aflbrd a good ex- 
cuse for ignoring the calls of duty. Every unusual 
phenomenon, every accident, every peculiar occur- 
rence, is fraught with portentous significance. If a 
cloud assumes a strange form, if the candle is extin- 
guished bv a gust of wind, if the wick curls, or a 
spark falls, if a umscle twitches, then may good or 


bad fortune be expected, according to the hour and 
circumstance. If a crow or hawk flics over one's 
head, it is a bad omen ; but a singing bird is a har- 
binger of joy. To overcome or to neutraUze the ills 
which beset the path of life at every step, becomes a 
serious business. Fortunately there is that com- 
pendium of wisdom, the almanac, to consult. It di- 
rects that if a house suffers evil by being overshadowed 
by a tree, or by the higher dwelling of a neighbor, 
then a flagstaff may be erected of a certain length, 
and in a certain positic^n, or a lantern may be sus- 
pended, bearing the hiscription, ** peace," and the di- 
vine name of Tz-mi-yuen, and the influence will be 
neutralized. Houses and furniture may be made of 
a peculiar form, to attract fortune or repel evil. 
Doors, walls, and effects may be charmed with sacred 
inscriptions, dragons, or other figures. Charms also 
protect the person, and the ankles of children and 
women are encircled by ivory rings ; round the neck 
hang amulets of sandal-wood, archaeological relics, or 
a gilded bag ; in the ears are talismanic rings ; and 
bells and imasres clinoj to the dress. 

In matters so momentous which concern health, 
prosperity, and life itself, the Chinaman dares not, of 
course, trust to his own judgment, aided only by the 
limited rules of the almanac and the vague oracles of 
gods ; he must hie to one of the numerous professional 
mediums, astrologers, and sorcerers, who are deeply 
read in spirit lore, and hoary with experience. They 
will call any given spirit to lift the veil of the future, 
consult the Fung-shwui, or wunds and waters, sketch 
a career, guide to fortune, and surmount obstacles. 

Mediums who commune with spirits are generally 
old women, called Kwai-ma, and the most popular 
are those, who, anterior to being reborn in this world, 
are supposed to have allied themselves by friendship 
and gratitude with a soul yet awaiting birth, and which 
hves in their body, aiding them to confer with other 
spirits. Some mediums acquire control over a spirit 


by placing an image among the graves, and seeking 
by long prayers and attractive offerings to induce a 
wandering soul to enter therein and become their aid. 
Others fasten their evil eye on some person of ability, 
and seek to cast a spell over his soul, obliging it to 
take up its abode in the image after his death which 
is said to follow very quickly with such practices. 
No subject is too trivial or too vast for the greedy 
medium, and she is prepared to act for anyone who 
brings the necessary adjuncts of a little rice, three 
incense sticks, and, above all, some money, wherewith 
to allure the spirit. She endeavors to learn as much 
as possible of the history of the applicant, in connec- 
tion with his wishes, and then, lighting the sticks and 
placing them in her hair, she scatters some rice about 
her, closes her eyes, and mutters words of mystic im- 
port as her head droops over the table before her. 
After a while the spirit appears, and addresses the 
applicant through the unconscious medium. If the 
s})irit is not in a favorable mood, it may be necessary 
to appease it with a choice meal. While discussing its 
steaming essence, the mutterings may assume vague 
reference to the wishes of the dupe, who is usually 
recommended to perform certain religious rites, in 
order to attain his object. Even the temple and the 
class of oflcrings are indicated to gain for the medium 
the additional profit of a percentage from the priests. 
A favorite mode of spirit communication, even with 
the intelligent, is for two persons to hold a stick, with 
pencil attached, vertically on a board covered with 
sand, and invoke the spirit to write the oracle under 
their tremulous hands. 

Fortune-tellers arc more patronized than mediums, 
and may be found in considerable number, prepared 
to write out the past and future, disclose the prospects 
of an undertaking, and point out the way to employ- 
ment, to investments, and to happiness. Their stock 
in trade consists of a table ; an urn containing divining 
sticks, which are strips of wood with characters in- 


scribed ; a slate and some paper, with pencil and India 
ink; and a tew books w^tli explanations of various 
methods of divination, including phrenology, pahnis- 
try, theomancy, sciomancy, and sortilege, illustrated 
with diagrams. The principal method is by aid of the 
Confucian system of the dual principles of nature, male 
and female, tlie former representing the heavenly at- 
tributes of liglit, heat, and perfection, the latter, the 
earthly, of darkness, cold, and imperfection, symbolized 

respectively by — and . By forming these lines 

into parallel couples, four combinations are obtained, 
to wliich have been applied the names of the cardinal 
virtues, piety, morality, justice, and wisdom. By 
forming them into triple parallels, eight combinations 
result, which symbolize heaven, earth, fire, air, water, 
mountains, thunder, moisture. By further combina- 
tion of the virtues and elements sixty-four aphorisms 
result, on which have been framed not only the an- 
swers of diviners, but a system of ethics and a cosmog- 
ony. The applicant for mystic glimpses draws one 
or more divining strips, the characters on which are 
noted by the fortune-teller, and combined with the 
above symbols according to a prescribed form. The 
result is conveyed generally in an abscure, non-com- 
mittal answer, which is greedily puzzled over by the 
dupe, and twisted into the most flattering versions 
possible. Instead of the strips, three copper cash, 
marked with similar characters, may be used by the 
applicant. Shaken in a box, they are cast by him 
thrice three times, and the diflerent combinations of 
characters formed into a diagram by the numismancer, 
who, as a close observer of human nature, also calls his 
penetration to aid in framing the answer. He further 
discovers the cause of diseases and their remed}", and 
keeps a supply of medicine to palm off upon his im- 
pressible patients, or throws custom into the hands 
of certain doctors and apothecaries. Spare moments 
are besides devoted to writing letters for the illiterate. 
In the upper strata of the divining profession stands 


the astrologer, who paves his way to respectabiUty by 
charging from one to five dollars for what the hum- 
bler brother will do for as many dimes, and who sus- 
tains his reputation by a larger collection of books, 
treating on soothsaying, cosmogony, and stellar in- 
fluence. The dual character of the hours, days, 
months, and years of a cycle, are formed into eight 
diagrams, each having several scores of combinations, 
some marked with lucky red, others with ominous 
black. With these are connected the ethic diagrams 
of the fortune-teller, and the kings of the four seasons, 
represented by four figures, on the various parts of 
which are marked characters denoting the different 
hours of the day and night, changed in position on 
each figure. If a person has been born under the 
character marked on the head or hand of the king, 
prosperity awaits him; under other characters his 
prospects are more or less favorable, but the sign on 
the foot bodes misfortune. Provided with the hour, 
day, month, and year of birth, the astrologer forms 
the horoscope by connecting their characters with 
those of the five elements, the zodiac, and the kings, 
till the diagram develops into a perfect chart, gene- 
rahzing destiny for decades, or detailing the prospects 
of every month, if the fee is large enough. The 
periods are pointed out which fall under the influence 
of evil stars and phenomena, and the course of con- 
duct indicated wherewith to pass safely through the 
danger. The happy epochs are also marked with pre- 
cautionary regulations for neutralizing the appearance 
of a crow or other evil omens that may cloud the hor- 
izon. The best year is pointed out for making a for- 
tune ; wlien to build a house and where ; when a son 
will be born, and so on. Palmistry, phrenology, and 
pliysiognomy are frequently made use of to perfect 
the diagrams. 

Many revelations of diviners attribute the cause of 
troubles to some of the evil spirits which haunt the 
children of heaven on every side. When a house is 



built, a new lodging occupied, or a new suit of clothes 
put on, an imp is sure to inveigle himself into some 
cranny, and being aware of this the Chinaman has 
timely recourse to exorcism and charms, in order to 
secure himself. A common method is to take a tray 
with some rice and three cups of liquid, place a burn- 
ing incense-stick at each corner, light some paper of 
the yellow, talismanic color, and empty the three cups 
upon the flaming paper, while scattering the rice. 
This has the effect of driving away demoniac spirits 
and of appeasing the good. But there are unguarded 
moments when a charm may have been neglected, and 
free entry allowed to the ever-lurking spirits, whose 
second entry is far more serious than the first, as the 
holy book teaches. In such cases it is safer to call 
in the experienced aid of one of the professional 
exorcists, known as Nam Mo. If a house is haunted, 
for instance, the charmer commences by burning in- 
cense before the family gods and mumbling incanta- 
tions, while preparing a sacred liquid consisting of 
water mixed with ashes from yellow charm scrips, 
which bears a curse in vermilion or red letters. 
Armed with a sword and a magic wand engraved 
with three stars and the name of the Thunderer, he 
proceeds to rave and stamp, to brandish and whirl his 
implements, and to squirt in every direction from 
his mouth the sooty liquid, yelling to the demons 
to depart in a manner that makes it appear as 
if they had possession of him rather than of the 
house. A similar procedure is used to relieve a 
possessed person. If the diviner finds that an ances- 
tral spirit troubles the afilicted, the cause must be 
looked for and remedied by more liberal offerings, or 
chang^e of tomb. 



Of man's injustice why should I complain ? 
The gods and Jove himseif, behold in vain 
Triumphant treason, yet no thunder flies. 

— Collins' Vij-gil. 

There is something in the handhng of money for 
gain that tends to the demorahzation of the finer 
faculties. It sears the more generous feehngs, and 
makes the heart hke the metal, cold and hard. There 
is a difference in manipulating one's own money or 
another's, the former tending to the higher selfishness. 
There is a difference in this respect even between the 
commercial banker and men of the savings bank, 
to the disadvantage of tlie former, in whose occupa- 
tion there is less of the sentiment of benefit to others. 

There are few positions more unfavorable for mind 
and soul development than that of bank-teller, where 
the man becomes a counting-machine, the mind being 
forced to fix itself attentively on the work in order to 
avoid mistakes, while ground down by dead monotony. 
This, however, is totally different from the occupation 
of the manager, who is obliged constantly to arbitrate 
between the interests of the bank and the necessities 
of applicants for loans. The aristocracy of England, 
when ruling trade and money-making from their 
higher atmosphere, could hardly have selected less 
improving occupations to be followed with some 
degree of respectability by necessitous lordlings than 
those of banker and jeweller. 

Monopoly exercises a more vicious reflex influence 
upon the man than usury or any other form of exact- 



ing gain from one's fellows. The system of slavery is 
demoralizing to the master, because no man can prac- 
tice injustice toward his fellow-man without being 
himself injured and debased thereby. So it is with 
the gambler, whether in the shares of the broker's 
board, or in the cornering of wheat for an advance, or 
at the faro-table in the club-room, — any system of ex- 
tortion, or obtaining from or forcing persons to pay 
money unjustly, and without giving full equivalent, is 
not only injurious to the victim and the public, but 
most of all to him who pockets the spoils. 

Tv/enty years ago half a million of dollars was con- 
sidered quite a fortune ; ten years ago three or five 
million-dollar men were becoming plentiful ; to-day 
for a person to be remarkably rich he must have from 
ten to fifty millions. Some of these large fortunes 
have been legitimately made, others of them have not; 
hence, not unfrcquently we hear the question asked 
regarding a rich man and his money, Did he come by 
it honestly ? 

During these days of strong competition and well- 
defined business channels, the largest fortunes are not 
made by merchants or manufacturers, but by manipu- 
lators of mines, railways, or grain. The lands of a 
large holder may so increase in value as to make him 
enormously wealthy, and there are many cattle-kings 
among the millionaires; but as a rule the great for- 
tunes come from gambling ventures, trickery on a 
mighty magnificent scale, or downright rascality 
barely shielded by all-accommodating law, but all 
under various degrees of indirection. 

The manipulation of capital in a speculative manner, 
and the making avail of opportunity, which in the 
Pacific States have led to so many large fortunes, were 
primarily due in a measure to the placer-mining occu- 
pation which predominated throughout the Pacific 
coast. The pursuit, with its chance results, now a 
competency, now a sudden fortune, but usually blanks, 
with its desultory work, its wandering life, and its 


loose habits, all tended to confirm the restless and 
gambling propensities of the adventurers who flocked 
hither. The example of those who returned, the 
news and fancies spread from the enchanted shores, 
and the marked effect of the new region on our trade 
and industries, filled others with speculative ideas. 

Then, with the opening of the Nevada silver de- 
posits, came regular gambling in mining stocks at 
special exchanges, hi which all classes frantically par- 
ticipated, to the impoverishment of thousands, whose 
investments and assessments disappeared into the 
capacious pockets of unscrupulous managers. East- 
ern men caught the infection, which received no small 
stimulus from the fluctuations in gold values during 
the war, and was marked subsequently by the trans- 
planting of western mining stock deals into their 
midst, in fitting association with corners, rings, trusts, 
and other vicious devices. 

We pass laws to suppress gambling with cards 
where the chances are fair and the game honestly 
dealt, and call it vice, and so it is; but we not only 
tolerate but patronize mammoth gaming establish- 
ments where the poor and hiexperienced are regularly 
victimized by rich and reputable sharpers. We are 
shocked to see a man enter a club-room and lay his 
money on a moiite -table, but prim matrons and 
puritanical preachers and churchmen can bet with 
respectable impunity on what shall be the value of 
stocks or grain a week or a month hence. 

In the race for wealth loftier aspirations are too 
often trampled under foot, many devoting themselves 
heart and soul tliroughout life to the fascination of 
gambling and cheating within the pale of law. Barren 
in all the nobler attributes of intellect, and in heart 
and feeling cold as ice and hard as stone, the souls of 
these imuvres riches are shrivelled to slag, their con- 
sciences utterly benumbed. Selfish and unprincipled, 
they play upon the necessities of others, using the 
power their wealth gives them to increase its already 


enormous bulk, by impoverishing poor producers ; 
by lying in wait for opportunities to get something 
for nothing ; by regulating elections so as to put their 
tools in power ; by originating plausible schemes to 
rob the people; by inflating or breaking the stock- 
market at pleasure, so as to gather at one fell swoop 
the small accumulations of those thousands of smaller 
gamblers who are foolish enough to stake their all on 
games beside which faro and three-card monte are 
honorable and fair ; by bribing assessors so that the 
burden of taxation shall fall on the laboring classes 
and honest merchants. 

Whipple says of them: ''Such men we occasion- 
ally meet in business life ; men who have not one 
atom of soul, but have sold the last innnortal grain 
of it for hard cash. They have received the millions 
they desired, but have they made a good bargain? 
The difficulty with their case comes from their having 
no capacity for enjoyment left after the sale. Coarse, 
callous, without sympathy, without affection, without 
frankness and generosity of feeling, dull even in their 
senses, despising human nature, and looking upon 
their fellow creatures simply as possible victims of 
their all-grasping extortion, it would seem as though 
they had deliberately shut up, one by one, all the sources 
of enjoyment, and had, coiled up in their breasts, a 
snake-like avarice, which must eventually sting them 
to death. Some men find happiness in gluttony and 
in drunkenness; but no delicate viands can touch their 
taste with the thrill of pleasure, and what generosity 
there is in wine steadily refuses to impart its glow to 
their shrivelled hearts." 

But preaching against the passion has little effect. 
Some worship wealth with greater intensity than 
others, but all love money. Every man thinks if he 
had it he could master it. He is quite sure it would 
not master him. As the adage says '' Qui uti scit, ei 
bona." To him who knows how to use them, riches 
are a blessing; to those who do not, they are a curse. 


What power of gold that can make of hell a heaven, 
or of heaven a hell 1 Whether a curse or a blessing 
to the possessor is of small moment as compared to 
the effect on the community at large. And this we 
know, that great wealth in the hands of individuals 
does not usually redound to the greatest good of the 
greatest number. 

In the decay of the republic, says Plato, an intem- 
perate thirst for wealth and the licentiousness and 
extravagance resulting therefrom, breed in the state 
a race of grasping misers and ruined spendthrifts. 
The first stage of decay is a timocracy marked by 
ambition and love of gain ; the second step in its de- 
cline and fall is an oligarchy ^' where gold is all pow- 
erful and virtue is depreciated ; and the state becomes 
divided into two hostile classes, one enormously rich 
and the other miserably poor; and in it paupers and 
criminals multiply, and education deteriorates." 

In monopoly 'per se there may be nothing wrong. 
There are various kinds and phases of monopoly. 
Monopoly, in and of itself, signifies simply exclusive 
right or sole ownership. This sole possession or ex- 
clusive right to buy, sell, or enjoy may have been ob- 
tained honestly and exercised justly. The law gives 
authors and inventors the monopoly of their works 
for a time that they may secure proper remuneration 
for their labors. So if with his own money a man 
buys a right of way and builds a road he may monop- 
olize traffic, but he cannot rightly employ money to 
prevent other roads from being made, or other per- 
sons to engage in the traffic. It is a swindle upon 
the public for a steamboat company to pay money 
obtained from the public to a rival craft in order to 
get more from the public than is fair for the people 
to pay. It is impossible for a monopolist who stoops 
to any indirection to be anything but a dishonest man, 
and a curse to the community. 

Further than this, the sudden acquisition of great 


wealth is usually attended by fraud. How do presi- 
dents and directors of great corporations, beginning 
on nothing, by simply manipulating other })e()ple's 
money, so quickly make it their own? Or, as the 
Roman once more pointedly })ut it to Lucius Cornelius 
Sylla, ''How can you be an honest man who, since 
the death of a father who left you nothing, have be- 
come so rich ? " 

True, in some instances, public benefactions flow 
from these large accumulations, to the applause of the 
thoughtless and dazzled masses; but as a rule the 
greedy monopolist hugs his ill-gotten gains with 
miserly tenacity, or spends it in infamous ways for in- 
famous purposes. Even if large sums are sometimes 
spent in charity, or in the erection of some conspicu- 
ous institution and benefaction by those who cannot 
carry their wealth into the other world, how much of 
thanks sliould be given them by those from whom 
they fraudulently obtained this wealth, and who per- 
adventure w^ould prefer distributing their own gifts 
rather than liave it done by robbers? Then, too, we 
might ask. How much restitution of stolen wealth 
does it take to condone the off*ence? 

Knowing themselves to be frauds, knowing that 
all men are aware of it, and knowing that all men will 
bow down and worship a wealthy fraud, such men can 
at least console themselves in the reflection that how- 
soever they may rank in knavery, they are envied 
rather than despised by the great majority of tbeir 
neighbors. Yet there are men in this world who will 
not worship besotted wealth. Let Croesus with his 
ground-out gains build him a Galiana palace ; let him 
fill it with rare and costly furnishings, and invite his 
parasites to enter and eat with him ; nevertheless, like 
the soulless monster made by Frankenstein out of the 
fragments of men gathered from dissecting tables and 
churchyards, and imbued with life by galvanism, his 
first consciousness being a longing for companionship, 
he is shunned by every true man. 


By a lucky stroke of fortune, not by industry, not 
by merit, not by mind, the man of nothing yesterday 
is to-day the man of millions. The individual himself 
is in no whit changed ; he is just as ignorant or learned, 
just as stupid or intelligent, just as vulgar and ras- 
cally, or as refined, pious, and honest as before. Yet 
some resplendent virtue seems, in the eyes of his fel- 
lows, suddenly to have taken possession of him, and 
his every movement is watched by eager admirers — 
of his money. These doff their hats and bend their 
backs, and he, poor idiot, thinks it to himself and not 
to his lucre the time-servers do obeisance. 

Mind bows before money. Brave, indeed, must be 
the striTggles that overcome the allurements of luxury, 
the subtle, sensuous influence of wealth, entering as it 
does the domains alike of intellect and the affections, 
opening nature, widening art, and filling enlarged ca- 
pacities for enjoyment. Yet he who would attain the 
highest must shake from him these entrancing fetters 
and stand forth absolutely a free man. I cannot but 
choose to say to poverty, witli Jean Paul Bichter, 
whose thoughts roll off in swells of poetry, "be wel- 
come, so tliou come not too late in life. Biches weigh 
more heavily upon talent than poverty. Under gold 
mountains and thrones lie buried many spiritual 
giants. When to the flame that the natural heat of 
youth kindles the oil of riches is added, little more 
than the ashes of the phoenix remains, and only a Goth 
has had the forbearance not to singe his phoenix wings 
of fortune." 

It is not a pleasing feature of the existing condition 
of things for an intelligent and fair-minded freeman to 
contemplate, that a few selfish and grasping men, rat- 
ing as respectable — that is, as more respectable than 
the swindlers whom the law punishes — are ever plot- 
ting to gain some undue advantage over their fellows, 
over those less cunning and unscrupulous than them- 
selves. Pursuing the even tenor of their way, pres- 
ently tliese citizens of simpler minds and more contented 


hearts feel themselves and tlie whole conununity to 
be enfolded in the suflbcating grasp of some demon 
monopoly. They awake, perhaps, to find seized every 
avenue of approach to the city, by land or by water, 
to find every traveller and every article of merchan- 
dise that comes to the country taxed to support the 
monster, their own money being taken, first to make 
ricli tlie monopolists, anrj then to buy ofl' legitimate 
competition, so that more money may be wrongfully 
extorted from them ; to find merchants made serts by- 
tricksters who lord it more bravely than ever did 
feudal baron, to the everlasting shame of those who 
endure it. 

It is worse than the autocratic tyrant, who perpe- 
trates his abuses openly, while this insidiously attacks 
us under the guise of conferring benefits, attacking us 
indeed through the very benefactions bestowed upon 
it by ourselves. 

If we must have kings to rule over us, better feudal 
kings than modern money-kings, one-eyed cyclops 
who can see nothinor but gold, and in whom with 
their retainers, their courtiers, lawyers, legislators, 
and judges, the interest of the people are sunk in a 
close corporation with a one-man power for its center, 
and for whose sole benefit the property is 

My friend Charles NordhofF sends me his little book 
Politics For Yoiuig Americans. I open it and read: 
** Napoleon III. held France by the throat ftjr eigh- 
teen years, and all the meaner sort of mankind glori- 
fied him as the wisest of rulers." This is the tone we 
love to assume in teaching our children, in comparing 
our governmeut with that of other nations. No 
wonder we are puffed up and ignorant. When I look 
upon the prostitution of principles in my own coun- 
try ; when I smell the rank corruption of our legisla- 
tive assemblies and nmnicipal halls, when I see vil- 
lainy, in the similitude of men, bought and sold as in 
the rankest days of licentious Rome, when I see 


disease creeping toward the vitals of this intellectually 
young and strong commonwealth, and thousands of 
black African and parasitical European patriots with 
their vile leaders feeding the plague instead of stop- 
ping it, then I must confess, with no small thanks 
for the enlightenment acquired, that I am one of the 
meaner sort who prefer honest despotism to rotten 

Men have always depended too much on govern- 
ment and too little on themselves. Setting up judge, 
governor, and legislature, they call upon these crea- 
tures of their own creating as on gods, begging to be 
delivered from wrath of every kind. Looking upon 
our legislators and our governors, and knowing noth- 
ing of the gifts of gold so freely passed to them by 
those who would buy justice or injustice, both of 
which are always for sale, we feel with Oxenstierna 
when he exclaimed, ** See, my son, by how little 
wisdom we are governed 1" 

What we want is more of the old-fashioned despot- 
ism ; not the duspotism of the mob, or of money, but 
of the despotism which punishes rabble outbreaks, and 
bribery, tlie despotism which hangs iniquitous mo- 
nopolists and unjust judges ; for when the cohesive 
force of desi)otism is absent from the government, and 
the cohesive force of virtue is lacking in the people, 
beware of trouble. We may be very sure, that with- 
out intelligence and morality, despotism or anarchy 
are inevitable, and of the two I prefer the former. 

Nevertheless, monopoly is too prominent a feature 
of that selfishness which forms the chief motive for 
our actions, and consequently for progress, to be ut- 
terly decried. It is condemned merely m the abuse, 
especially as manifested by soulless corporations- 
soulless in their acts as well as in the sense of Chief 
Justice IManwood's demonstration that God alone 
creates souls, not political authorities to whom cor- 
porations owe exiiitence. Abuse began with the very 


first strife in the chase between savage men, when 
the winner secured for himself the entire body or the 
larger proportion. It assumed magnitude witli inva- 
sion and conquest, when the source for wealth and 
subsistence was seized upon in the land, which in it- 
self was an enslavement of the inhabitants. 

The iniquitous monopoly is evidently objectionable 
in every respect, while the just and legitimate spe- 
cies implies a bargain of one favor for another, a 
reward for benefits received or to be conferred. 
The strongest illustration hereof appears in patents, 
which grant to the inventor the sole control of his 
idea or machine for a term, as compensation for 
sharing their advantages with the public. Similar 
benefits are expected from charters conceded for rail- 
ways, manufactures, and other commercial and indus- 
trial purposes. But for the expected blessings to flow 
therefrom they would not be allowed to spring into 
existence ; for the attendant evil, aside from the exac- 
tion of the reward or price, is signified by the stipula- 
tions, especially as to term of life, which varies ac- 
cording to the magnitude of the concession. A 
patent endures for only a few years, but the piece of 
land is given in perpetuity, in return for settlement 
and cultivation, while the railway charter embraces 
certain facilities which yield to the holders a mo- 
nopoly dependent on circumstances. Long before the 
expiration of the terms, the impatient public, with 
poor memory for past favors, begins to growl at the 
exclusiveness and the consequent restriction or burden 
on itself, and this becomes louder as the holders, by 
means of their prerogatives and acquired strength, seek 
to extend and prolong their power, or take additional 
or undue advantages. The murmur should be equally 
directed against the king or government or system 
which make concessions without due foresight as to 
equivalents and results. 

Monopoly has borrowed its main strength from the 
organization and cooperation which form such important 


factors in civilization. Its growth indeed has been 
apace with progress, and with the expansion of free- 
dom. The success of man in shaking off poUtical des- 
potism and attaining to greater Hberty of thought and 
action, has brought to the surface or intensified a 
number of hitherto suppressed evils — the usual result 
of all experiments, as the republic still is in a measure, 
and as the present industrial development is in partic- 
ular, with novel steam-powder, machinery, and railways, 
which form the great implements for monopoly. Un- 
der a despotic government such outcropping is readily 
checked; but in overthrowing the political autocrat 
and distributing his prerogatives among themselves, 
the people gave power to this and other obnoxious 
elements. Instead of one tyrant rose many. Midst 
the scramble for position and wealth the strong and 
the supple elbowed their way forward, pushing the 
weaker to the wall. The very privileges vested in 
them for the general welfare they diverted to their 
own purposes. 

The faculty to associate for the achievement of 
great enterprises, which must have had its greatest 
impulse in the need for protection, especially against 
hostile neighbors, was particularly well developed 
among the Aryans, nourished by their system of 
kinship, property-holding, and adoption of new mem- 
bers. The practical Roman attained to preeminence 
in this respect. The collegium rose as the ar- 
tificial substitute for the Aryan household, to unite 
religious and political bodies, commercial and indus- 
trial, social and benevolent. The most useful forms 
of it were adaptations of Punic institutions, notably 
from Carthage, which in itself presents a prototype 
for the later India companies of Dutch and Enghsh. 
In the universities we behold a corporation of corpor- 
ations, of which the Christian church exhibited in due 
time the most extensive consolidation, with spiritual, 
social, and material aims. 

Among the early Teutons the faciUties for combi- 


nation were inferior, partly from their scattered condi- 
tion, with Httle concentration in towns. Trade, 
nevertheless, asserted its influence in this direction, 
and with the growing abnormities of feudal times, 
merchants and artisans were obliged to elaborate the 
guild for the protection especially of labor, and with 
regulations of prices as well as methods and appren- 
ticeship, and social and charitable performances. In 
England it assumed formal shape only after the Nor- 
man invasion, although based on Saxon customs. In 
France the Roman model prevailed, and here mer- 
chants early separated into a distinct class from that 
of crafts or metiers, with their o^rades of petty masters, 
companions or journeymen, and apprentices. Early 
monopolies were almost always beneficial. 

liecognizing these corporations in a measure as the 
stomach of the body social for the employment of es- 
pecially skilled labor in tlie transmutation of raw labor 
and raw resources or capital into new forms, sover- 
eigns found it to their interest to favor them, partly with 
a view to reduce the power of the nobility ; so guilds and 
barons w^ere pitted against each other. The former, 
as a fulcrum for the autocratic lever, received a num- 
ber of privileges, notably for municipal government. 
The Germanic independence of character which as- 
serted itself in the strife for a share in sovereignty 
and administration by nobles and commoners, lords, 
and tribes, and municipalities, stood manifest in the 
socio-political nature of the guilds, on which, indeed, 
local administration mainly rested, guided by guild 
laws. Sometimes a merchant guild alone held sway. 
The parish corporations of England display the relics 
of the system. 

At one time all classes were embraced therein, Lon- 
don, for instance, conferring the full enjoyment of cit- 
izenship only on members. In China the system of 
associations is widely diffused among all social branches, 
but with a slavish conformity to habit rather than 
to utility, while the latter motive forms the chief in- 


centive among Americans, who rank as the foremost 
practical organizers. 

Organization and cooperation have been great levers 
of progress, for elevating the masses, yet their very 
success breeds elements of corruption. The leading 
bodies in a certain branch, incited by greed and am- 
bition, seek to crush minor competitors; others grow 
exclusive, and render admission difficult for apprentices. 
In other cases more prosperous and shrewder members 
will absorb the shares or influence of others, and with 
growing strength oust obnoxious partners by means 
of assessments, manipulations, and other trickery. 
When the successors of Charlemagne united state and 
church to crush the peasantry, the towns' guilds were 
implored to aid their brethren. They selfishly re- 
fused, and looked calmly on, confiding in strong walls 
for their own safety. Similar was the attitude of 
the burghers and craftsmen of England. These 
classes, indeed, joined in oppressing the classes below 
them. In this manner were developed the objection- 
able features of the manse organization, whereby 
barons and abbots reduced so large a proportion of the 
peasantry to a serviKi condition, with the aid of a war 
corporation of knightly adlierents, while in the towns 
the guild leaders unf )l(led into a moneyed aristocracy, 
wliicli was courted to sustain the other wing of state 
and cimrch. 

The invention of the steam-engine, and its vast 
train of novel machinery for all branches of industry 
and trade, proved the means for cheapening food, for 
increasing creature comforts, for opening fresh and 
readier outlets for a surphis population, for elevating 
intercourse, and otlier benefits calculated especially to 
improve tlie condition of the masses. Nevertheless, 
out of these very blessings capital snatched its strong- 
est means for oppression. Instead of petty masters 
working at home with their small band of journey- 
men and apprentices, as in weaving, labor-saving 
machinery called for united operations at one locality. 


Factories wore erected witli a lar^e plant rccjuiriiiL; 
capital; ricli men and corporations come into control of 
enterprises hitherto divided among a large number of 
small bodies or individuals, and petty masters \V( r(; 
reduced to wage-workers. Macliinery tended, njore- 
over, to a wider subdivision of labor, wherein lay both 
economy and i)erfection, but it also made factory hands 
more helpless and dependent on their employers. 
Economy in working and cheapness of results being 
usually in proportion to the magnitude of operations, 
monopoly was hereby fostered by forcing minor and 
weaker establishments from the field. Improved 
comnmnication lent its aid to extend the influence of 
the larger concerns to remote localities. In trade, 
likewise, the larger sliops undermined the small shop- 
keeper by economy of service and by offering a greater 
variety of goods. 

Comj)etition and overstocked markets give em- 
ployers frequently no alternative save to reduce wages 
or suspend work, and the existence of a small body of 
idle men in a tow^n suffices by the consequent demand 
for enq^loyment to lower the earnings of entire classes. 
In both cases the blame for the reduction lies mainly 
with the laborers, wdio crowd into cities and offer 
themselves as willing tools to capital, instead of striv- 
ing, in America at least, to build up their fortunes 
in the country. The prospect of temporary hardship 
repels most of them, and improvidence tends to dis- 
able them. 

The w^ielding of power is too enticing to be resisted 
by the employer, and shielded from public gaze or 
personal responsibility by the mask of corporation, and 
by the paid manager, his scruples readily vanish before 
the visions of enrichment. 

The conscience of a corporation is remarkable only 
for its absence ; where such a tiling as a corporate 
conscience exists at all it is extremely callous. The 
individuality which loses itself in the body corporate 


does not scruple to receive the cruelly or illicitly 
extorted gains of the corporation. 

Here is their creed. Let your watchword be 
expediency. Policy is the best honesty. Strict in- 
tegrity does not pay; a little of it, mixed with policy 
will suffice as leaven for a large loaf of appearance, 
which may be fed to those from whom favors are 
desired. Thus credit may be established, and credit 
is money — especially wliere one can cheat one's credi- 
tors without too much damage to reputation. In 
principles, winding cross-paths, though longer than 
straight ones, are safer and more attractive, and 
hence in reality are the shorter. Love yourself; hate 
your enemies; let neither friends nor sentiment stand 
in the way of success. Keep within the pale of the 
law; forgive your creditors. Finally, clothe your 
misbeliavior in sanctimonious garb, and thus be happy 
and virtuous. 

Such are the principles by which corporations allow 
themselves to be guided in extortion and nefarious 
transactions. Emplo3'es are oppressed, the public de- 
frauded, and the authorities hoodwinked. Legisla- 
tors are bribed to promote or cover up tlieir schemes; 
rivals are absorbed or subsidized to neutrality ; em- 
ployes are subjected to coercion. Combinations and 
corners, trusts and other iniquities are imposed upon 
the helpless masses. In one instance outlets and 
means of communication w^ill be closed or obstructed 
to check the competition of rivals, as in the infamous 
tactics of the notorious eastern oil company; in an- 
other, access to raw resources or finished material will 
be impeded by lease or purchase, without intention to 
utilize them until the holder finds it convenient. In 
this way salt and coal fields have been taken up and 
kept closed for the benefit of a few firms in distant 
states ; small stock-raisers have been cut off from 
water as well as markets ; and so with other branches 
of industry. The absorption of competitors is con- 
stantly illustrated by railway, steamer, stage, and 

Essays and Miscellany 28 


telegraph companies. Combinations of different firms 
in a trade, for sustaining prices and taxing the people, 
are no less frccpient, and are even formed in oixii 
conventions. Tlie modern * trusts ' find it profitable 
to pension into idleness a number of mine and fiictory 
owners out of the gains extorted from the trade. In 
this manner may be extended the list of gigantic 
frauds practised upon the public. 

Unless restriction is imposed, none can tell where 
monopoly impositions may stop. They extend not 
alone over all industrial and commercial enterprise, 
but to the surface and bowels of land and sea, and 
may embrace the very atmosphere and sunlight, as 
illustrated by Congressman l^hillips in an oriental 
story. A speculator applied to a monarch for a lease 
of the wind witliin his domains. This was granted, 
much to the anmsement of the people. The laugh 
was soon turned against them when a notice appeared 
forbidding the use of the breezes for navigation, 
windmills, winnowing, and other purposes, except 
under license or sub-lease, in accordance with the 
contract. A general murmur ensued, followed by 
appeals for a revocation of the absurd lease. The 
speculator entered a counter-protest against a repeal 
without due compensation for his expenses and pros- 
pective profits, as an infringement on one of the 
dearest privileges of man, property rights. The sov- 
ereign recognized the validity of the objection. Yet, 
as it did not answer to drive the people to desperate 
measures, a tax was levied to buy off the claimant, 
or rather to swell the royal purse. 

Aware of the indignation tli at would fall upon tliem 
if their transactions were made public, many corpora- 
tions keep secret their real accounts, and make reports 
to suit their purposes. Few iniquitous schemes could 
be floated without such precautionary deception. 
What a host of mining and other companies have 
drained the pockets of dupes through their fictions I 


Society has a right to investigate all concerns which 
affect its well-being. This indeed is applied by the 
granting of charters and licenses for railways, tele- 
graphs, banks, insurance companies, manufactures, 
and other industrial purposes, as well as for trades- 
unions, military, fraternal and benevolent associations. 
The rights and duties of corporations, whose object it 
is to bestow the character and properties of individu- 
ality on a changing body of men, are by this charter 
restricted to the purposes for which they were for- 
mally organized. They may conduct operations under 
their own proclaimed by-laws, but as creatures of the 
government they remain subject to its laws, and may 
be restricted or dissolved when found injurious to 
pul)lic wx'al, or when failing to fulfil the obligations 

Kail way companies present the most conspicuous 
form of incorporation in the United States for public 
benefit, but they have too often proved vampires as 
well. The value of railways stands demonstrated in 
the building up of states and cities, as the main chan- 
nels of interior traffic, cheapening food on one side and 
opening avenues for enrichment on the other, and as the 
great medium for beneficial intercourse. They were 
chartered to construct a public highway and to act as 
public carriers, and so high an estimate was placed upon 
the advantages thereby to accrue to the people tliat the 
government gave not alone liberal land grants but oc- 
casionally advanced money wherewith to aid the con- 
struction, while states, counties, and towns each 
contributed funds and lots. In many cases the money 
thus obtained sufficed to build the road, so that the 
company without any real outlay came into the pos- 
session of immense tracts of land and a valuable busi- 
ness, both rajMdly increasing in revenue. 

Not contc>nt with such easy acquisition, such mu- 
nificent rewards, the managers, once in possession, 
turn alike on immediate associates and on the pub- 
lic, to plunder friends and patrons either by insidious 


manipulations or brazen trickery and extortion. To 
this pernicious end is used the very money and 
power entrusted to them for individual and general 

Both public and private morality have been ruth- 
lessly trodden under foot by these unscrupulous men. 
The rising generation is taught that any rascality 
short of that which reaches the prison-cell or the hang- 
man's rope, may properly be resorted to in order to 
insure success. Truth, honor, honesty, morality, fair- 
mindedness, and good citizenship, are obsolete terms, 
not to be employed by men in life's battle, but fit 
only for the nursery and the Sunday-school. Thus is 
iniquity sown broadcast throughout the land. 

Before the great modern development in railway- 
building there were few of those stupendous frauds in 
manipulation and management so common afterward. 
The enormous wealth rolled up by government sub- 
sidy, stock inflation, and discrimination, aroused of 
course the cupidity of imitators. All over the land, 
not only in railroads but in all kinds of business, there 
was a universal decline in commercial morals. 

It is well known that many roads have been 
built by construction companies, on the credit mo- 
bilier plan, upon a nominal investment, the greater 
portion of the shares being distributed as dividends. 
Of the capitalization of these roads, not one dollar in 
ten represented actual investment. Sometimes all 
the resources of the company were protected by the 
buildel-s, who made construction contracts with them- 
selves at three times the actual cost. And when the 
road was thus finished they would continue the same 
course, bleeding the public and leaving the govern- 
ment to pay their debts. 

Such dealings with a government which had loaned 
them the money with which to build the road, and with 
the people, can be designated but by one word — swin- 
dling. The government debt from year to year they 
would sometimes alter and manipulate in congress. 


evading their agreements, pocketing everything, pay- 
ing httle or nothing, and never intending from the 
first to pay a dollar out of the ample dividends on the 
roads which cost them nothing. We teach our chil- 
dren that he who borrows without reasonable prospects 
of repayment, borrows dishonestly ; how, then, is it 
with those who borrow with the deliberate intention 
of never paying ? 

Corruption and spoliation attend almost every meas- 
ure of such companies. Congressmen are bribed to 
obtain valuable concessions from the general govern- 
ment; local legislators and lesser officials are enlisted 
in like manner to beguile states, counties, and towns 
with delusive promises; all this tending to gild the 
bait held out to the general public. Then, in connec- 
tion with the fraudulent construction contracts by the 
managers with themselves, additional debts are accu- 
mulated to pass straight into the pockets of the con- 
trolling clique. This is a good opportunity to fright- 
en undesirable shareholders, and force them to sell 
really valuable stock at a discount; or, as happens 
in some cases, to sell out to a confiding public before 
it becomes aware of the depreciated character of the 
paper, and then probably purchase at ruinous rates 
for further manipulation. Watered and other fictitious 
stock facilitate subsequent speculation, cover up du- 
bious transactions, and provide a plausible excuse for 
the next raid on the public, in the shape of exorbi- 
tant rates. 

In this kind of railway building, however, the peo- 
ple, stupid and long-suffering as they are, do in time 
begin to feel that the roads which their money have 
constructed are not operated in their interest, but in 
the interest of the agents with whom they had en- 
trusted their funds. Tariffs of fares and freights are 
established, based, not on the cost of tranportation, 
but on the amount that passenger traffic and the freight 
on each article will bear without ruling the same en- 
tirely off their lines. 


Remote regions, where there can be no competition, 
are left entirely at the mercy of the managers, while 
districts accessible to other roads, or near water routes, 
secure transportation at rates which seem barely to 
pay expenses. Discrimination is also shown toward 
persons and places from which the managers expect 
other advantages. Corporations follow a similar 
practice against interior manufacturers in order to re- 
strict their operations, or kill incipient industries, so 
that the traffic of the road may not be injured by such 
local sources of supply. Nor do they hesitate to re- 
sort to persecution where their profits or feelings are 
concerned. Has any town or individual offended, woe 
be to them; the town shall be passed by and another 
built in its place; the individual shall be crushed. 

Since the first days of the republic there has been 
no such iniquity attempted by one class of citizens 
against another, no such indignity endured by a free, in- 
telligent people, pretending to independence and self- 
government. It is an insult and an outrage upon a 
city or a country, upon the merchants, manufacturers, 
and consumers thereof, upon all the people who are 
thus placed under tribute, to pay an unjust tax on 
every article of dress, every mouthful of food, every 
thing that is bought, sold, or used. 

Competition might remedy many of the evils, but 
it is the special policy of such railway management to 
prevent competition by combinations and pools, with 
the special object of putting under foot all the laws 
of trade. To this end the assets of the corporation 
are freely used in buying a controlling interest in rival 
lines, and then absorbing their traffic, often to the 
destruction of districts which had sprung into existence 
under the early favoring auspices of these roads. 
James F. Hudson characterizes the ^^policy of buying 
up or bringing competing roads to an agreement," as 
the ^'perfection of tyranny." 

It is claimed that the pooling system carries advan- 
tages to the public in improved service. And further, 


says the railway manager, have we not the same right 
as the merchant to seize advantages and opportunities, 
and to charge one customer one price and another 
customer another price ? Decidedly not. A private 
merchant is not a public carrier. But were it so that 
the discriminations of the merchant affected the rights 
and welfare of a community to as great an extent as 
that of a feudal baron, then such merchant should be 
put down, even as the feudal baron was long ago put 
down. The public benefit derived from pooling is 
slight as compared with the abuses which it covers. 

No one denies the right of persons to build railways 
with their own money, over lands fairly bought from 
the owners, and to charge what they choose ; but it is 
a moral, and should be a legal, crime to interfere with 
others who likewise desire to do business in the same 
section ; it is a moral, and should be a legal, crime for 
the railways to bribe transportation companies or other 
competitors to charge advance rates in freight so as 
to force from the people illicit gains. 

On the occasion of collisions between capital and 
labor, railroad men complain of secret, oath-bound 
organizations, under despotic officers, refusing to work 
themselves and preventing others from doing so, even 
resorting to violence and murder when so ordered. 
It is an absolutism in a republic, they say, which seeks 
to control both capital and labor. This seems to be 
the position of the railroads as well — absolutism, and 
not only the control of capital and labor, but the con- 
trol of all traffic, of all commerce and manufactures, • 
of all rights of way, avenues of business, and liberties 
and rights of man. 

''No one denies the right of the laborer to cease 
work," continue these railway logicians, "when terms 
are not satisfactory, but it is a moral, and should be a 
legal, crime to interfere with others who desire to 
work. The use of force or other wrongful act to pre- 
vent the earning of property does not differ in princi- 
ple from the forcible taking of property." This is 


very true, and applies admirably to the position taken 
by the railroad men in the management of railroads. 

If the people call upon the authorities to redress 
the evil, the railway magnates laugh their efforts 
equally to scorn. Not only are public and private 
rights made subordinate to railway influence, but 
honesty and morality are thrown to the winds. 
Bribery and corruption are openly and unblushingly • 
practised. All over the United States these manipu- 
lators seem to have no moral sense ; they profess to 
have none ; they glory in having none. They openly 
boast that when they want a legislature they buy it. 
When they want a judge they buy him. If a com- 
mission be appointed to investigate or regulate their 
acts, they buy it. And as their wealth and power 
increase, the cheaper becomes the price of officials, of 
public morality and private honor. 

There are many ways of bribing without actually 
handing over the money. Judges and legislators are 
mortal like other men. They all want something. 
They are no more satisfied with what they have than 
the bonanza or the railroad men. One aspires to 
high political preferment, and would so warp the law 
as to enable him to decide almost any way for the 
votes of a vast corporation. Another covets lesser 
distinction — a dinner with Croesus, various uncom- 
mon courtesies, a few shares in something profita- 
ble. There are a hundred ways to offer a bribe ; and 
if of suitable quality and tendered in the right way, 
there is slight chance of its being refused. There are 
many who like Paris scorn the power of Juno and the 
wisdom of Minerva for the fascinations of a Helen, 
be she lobbyist or siren. Others, like Danae, are too 
willing to receive the visits of Jupiter in a shower of 

It seems strange sometimes that the people will 
tamely submit to it. Time was when they were 
quick to discover fraud and insult, quick to rise in the 
defence of their rights and honor. And even now, 


should the hupositions of monopoly be put upon the 
people in the name of unrighteous rule or foreign in- 
terference they would shed their last drop of blood in 
opposing it. But, done by neighbors, and in the name 
of commerce, of progress, their own money being em- 
ployed to forge the fetters, to rivet chains on them 
more disgraceful to wear than any which ornamented 
the serfs of feudalism, they bear it, pusillanimously 
licking the hand that smites them. 

The fact that great benefits flow from the building 
of railroads, does not make right a system of whole- 
sale robbery. If railways are a benefit conducted on 
discriminating and unfair bases, would not a greater 
public benefit accrue if they were conducted on hon- 
est principles ? With all great blessings, railways 
are all the more a curse when turned from their 
proper uses. Whatever their benefits, if they make 
a hundred new states, and a thousand prosperous 
cities, if at the same time they bring demoralization, 
decay, and death to the body politic and the body so- 
cial, they are a curse. The theory of our government, 
that all power is lodged in tlie people, and is to be 
used only for the equal benefit of every individual, is 
perverted by the discriminations of corporations made 
and supported by the government. 

The railway owes its existence to and is the crea- 
ture of the government, and should be promptly 
checked in a course so glaringly in opposition to laws, 
morals, and public weal. In the right of eminent 
domain is an implied principle that the land of a 
private individual, condemned for public use, must be 
used in the interests of the public, and not for the 
exclusive benefit of another private individual. The 
railroad is a public liighway, built largely at the ex- 
pense of the public, and sulDJect to regulation by the 
public in rates and other respects, in consideration of 
the privileges and grants accorded to it. When this 
creature of the government becomes a conspirator 


against the community, it is time the people should 
assert their sovereignty in the matter. 

"Every man in the nation ought to know," says 
Hudson, ** how public rights are affected by the abuses 
of the existing system. To know that corporations 
are powerful and that individuals are weak, will not 
suffice. It should be as familiar to the public mind 
as the multiplication table, how the monopoly of the 
railways in transportation enables them to discrimi- 
nate in rates, to crush out independent trade, to ex- 
tinguish small merchants, and to dominate great com- 
mercial interests; how their combinations to con- 
trol industries tend to oppress production and to keep 
down wages ; how they suspend work through in- 
definite periods for selfish ends; how their efforts to 
establish a centralized control over the entire trans- 
portation of the land, by a single unauthorized and 
irresponsible agency, has resulted, and may again 
result, in oppressing the consumer of the great agri- 
cultural staples while impoverishing the producer, by 
imposing artificial burdens upon the interchange of 
products ; and, finally, how the tendency of their 
practices, as a system, is to concentrate all the profits 
and rewards of industry in the hands of a few, while 
the people at large have little share in the benefits 
accruing from the march of improvement. If the 
railways go on as they have begun ; if they continue 
to purchase legislators, to count seats in congress as 
their property, and to nominate judges to the higher 
courts ; if they continue to warp legislation to the 
support of railway supremacy ; if they continue to 
erect artificial barriers to the free operations of great 
industries, and to concentrate the profits of commerce 
by their favors to the privileged few ; if they continue 
to secure the enforcement of laws which protect their 
privileges, and to nullify those which restrict them ; 
if they delay and prevent the passage of laws to regu- 
late them and restrain their power, and cozen the 
public with deceptive measures — in a word, if all the 


features which now mark the influence of great cor- 
porations in politics are maintained and perpetuated, 
in defiance of efforts to restrain them by peaceful 
means, the result will inevitably be, that one day 
their injustice and usurpation will be punished by a 
revolt of the classes they have wronged, beside which 
the French revolution wdll seem an equitable and 
peaceful reform." 

The franchise of a railway, as a public highway, 
should not be used for gain save for public benefit. 
The road should remain subject to the supervision of 
the government, and be used by all citizens on equal 
terms, without discrimination or respect to places or 
persons to and from which business is tendered. 
Nevertheless, there is a loophole for excesses in the 
latitude to accept low rates in order to secure business, 
and to levy higher rates on a costly road than on one 
of comparatively easy construction. These points 
alone, together with the need in general for super- 
vision of so important a public institution, call for 
government interference of more effective character 
than has so far been displayed. 

Among proposed remedies is government ownership 
of railways, as existing in some parts of Europe. But 
until our politics are purified, monopoly is the lesser 
evil. The worst feature of government management 
in this republic, which is less strict than in France, 
would arise in rings, jobberies, and other corruption 
by unscrupulous politicians imbued with the spoil sys- 
tem. When we consider the extent of the present 
bribery, vote-selling, spoliation, and other infamies 
among officials and legislators, what might not be ex- 
pected when the control of additional interests, in- 
volving thousands of millions of property, were sur- 
rendered to such hands? Other reasons might be 
adduced to stamp the plan as hopeless under existing 

This is the view taken by Mr Hudson, who pro- 
posed, instead, the opening of railways, like turnpike 


roads, for free public use, the railway companies con- 
structing and maintaining the lines in good order, with 
repairing and inspecting forces, signal-men and the like, 
leaving to any public carrier to operate passenger and 
freight trains, each competing with the other for pub- 
lic patronage by offering special dispatch and handling, 
superior comfort and attractions, as in the case of 
stages and steamers. This system looks plausible; 
but the objections are that the railway company would 
retain as much latitude as ever in favoring certain 
carriers, with profitable connivance, and with less re- 
sponsibility for obstructions and accidents, when these 
could so readily be shuffled from one shoulder to an- 
other. Moreover, the company which controls the 
road could clearly enough, with its primary advan- 
tages, operate trains with greater dispatch and clieap- 
ness, and would do so surreptitiously to the disadvan- 
tage of ordinary carriers and consequently to the pub- 
lic. The restriction of companies to mere road toll 
would check enterprise and retard the extension of 
such costly work to remote or isolated regions, and 
hinder the development of settlements. Finally, this 
system has been tried elsewhere, not alone in the par- 
tial degree occasionally practised in this country, where 
several companies use one line for a certain distance, 
and it has not been found to answer. 

Another remedy is suggested in a freer competition, 
even within the limits assigned to certain railways, 
when these fail to conform to stipulations. Such 
competition has unfortunately not proved enduring, 
for the stronger company has generally succeeded in 
crippling or driving into bankruptcy the obstinate 
rivals by a prolonged reduction of rates below a re- 
munerative basis, or it has persuaded the others to 
enter into secret or open combination, unless it could 
acquire a controlling interest in their management by j 
purchase. ' 

Railway commissions have been appointed to fix 
rates, to enquire into discrimination, and to watch 


over public interests generally, but how unsatisfactory 
their ministration has been is attested by the frequent 
and wide condemnation of their acts and attitude. It 
is most difficult to ensure such a body against the in- 
sidious approaches of a powerful corporation. 

Official weakness and corruption stand in the way 
of all public reforms. To the government musfc we 
nevertheless look for redress, whatsoever the proposed 
plan of reform may be. More effective laws must be 
passed to regulate traffic on railways, and a special 
department at Washington, removed from local in- 
fluences at least, should be entrusted with the task of 
watching over their observance and applicability, in 
order to report amendments for eliminating obstruc- 
tions and improving the valuable features of such 
laws. Its power could probably not be extended over 
state commissions and state regulations, but the re- 
form achieved in inter-state communication alone, the 
most important under consideration, would be of great 
benefit, and serve as a standard for inter-state man- 
agement, so patent to all as to greatly enforce com- 
pliance, even with a corrupt local commission. 

Reform is needed also in other directions. Besides 
the three great monopolies, which are fast uniting 
into one, railroad, telegraph, and express — there 
are other monopolies with power likewise unscrupu- 
lously wielded, which is dangerous to the American 
people. In the great corporations constituting these 
monopolies is every essential element of despotism — 
permanent privileges, with legal rights and accumu- 
lated powers, superior to law and society. It is the 
lust for power, the most ominous among humanity's 
vices, a power which shall make one man master and 
many men slaves, that is the governing principle in 
all iniquitous monopolies. 

Fastening themselves on federal, state, county, and 
town governments and courts, like leeches they suck 
the life's blood of the nation, leaving it a weak, inert, 



and flabby thing. Worse than this. Into the aper- 
ture thus made they inject a subtle poison, which, 
though it may work slowly, works surely. The time 
will come when this truth will be recognized by all: 
these iniquitous monopolies must die, or the nation 
will die. The people of the United States are a pa- 
tient, long-suffering race, but when fairly aroused no 
social, political, or industrial enormity can stand up 
against them. It is for the people to look for them- 
selves into all these matters, and determine whether 
they will be bond or free. 

Society has a right to enforce the doctrine of per- 
fect equivalents in all bargains affecting its interests, 
be it in charters, patents, licenses, in the manufacture 
and disposal of wares, in the intentional or accidental 
control of large resources, natural or artificial, or in 
the aim and attitude of all manner of associations. 
Corporate privileges are a public trust, to be resumed 
by the people when detrimental. Hence all public 
organizations should be under supervision of the au- 
thorities, with free access to their books, so as to pre- 
vent all confidence operations, misrepresentations, 
and inflations. Disbursements should be duly ac- 
counted for, as well as the reason for loans and the 
application of profits. In many instances interfer- 
ence may not be advisable until a sufficient number of 
members demand investigation. In other cases the 
investigation should be periodical. Regulations 
should embrace the suppression of stock-gambling, 
and all business conducted on bases of chance or mis- 

Mill objects to the concentration of manufactures 
and other industrial branches in the hands of a few. 
Equally undesirable is the accumulation of immense 
wealth by individuals. To place a limit on acquisition 
might deal a blow to enterprise, but taxes could be so 
regulated as to fall heaviest on those best able to bear 
them, that is, they could be increased in proportion 


to the fortune possessed, without hampering the 
talented and industrious, or unduly burdening corpora- 
tions that have worthy objects in view. This idea is 
applied in many countries in the exemption of incomes 
below a certain amount, and in the usual subjection 
of luxuries to duties in preference to necessities. 
Nevertheless the enforcement might be widened and 
made stricter. The ease with which assessors at 
present allow rich men to escape from paying their 
rightful share of taxation is shameful. 

It is becoming a serious question in this country, 
how much wealth it is safe for one man to control. 
If with five millions legislators may be corrupted, 
judges and juries bought, the laws trampled under 
foot, as is done before our eyes every day, how much 
of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness may be 
diverted from constitutional channels by the possessor 
of a hundred millions? How many white, freeborn 
American citizens does it take to make a million of 
dollars? When we consider that the majority of 
immense fortunes have been accumulated by specula- 
tion, tinged, more or less, with pernicious gambling 
and fraud, to the impoverishment and oppression of 
thousands, and when we behold capital resort to 
practices damaging to the citizen; when it resorts to 
unjust monopoly, bribery, and moral, political, and 
commercial corruption, practices more damaging to 
the commonwealth a hundred fold than murder, high- 
way robbery, and all the rest combined, may not 
those who made the laws change them to meet the 
emergency ? 

As a rule, inequalities in fortunes receive a natural 
readjustment in the distribution among children. Yet 
this is not effective in all cases. A tendency is mani- 
fested among rich men in the United States to imitate 
the primogeniture system of Europe. France struck 
a mortal blow at this custom during the revolution, 
as the basis for the maintenance of an objectionable 
aristocracy of nobles and drones. Primogeniture and 



class pri-vileges are utterly inconsistent with republican 
ideas, and indeed with social interests. Some theorists 
advocate the reduction of hereditary fortunes by tax 
on legacies which should be so increased with each sub- 
sequent transmission as to leave comparatively little, 
say for the fourth generation. Enforcements would 
be difficult, yet some such remedy would be welcome, 
for it is undeniable that idlers, supported by inherited 
wealth, set a bad example to society, and form a 
phase of monopoly, exacting a tax from their neigh- 
bors for the use of land, houses, money, or other pos- 
sessions, of which an accident of birth has made them 
masters. What most grates upon the feelings of the 
less fortunate is this acquisition by accident, in per- 
petuity, of what is denied or meagrely accorded to 
worth and ability. They desire that all citizens 
should do their share of labor and produce something. 

The most objectionable feature of accumulation 
consists in the monopoly of land. As the main 
source for the food of all, it should apparently be for 
the benefit of all. Its primary acquisition rests upon 
unjust might, upon the sword between nations. Con- 
querors apportioned between themselves the subju- 
gated territory, even if they did not also enslave the 
people. In Egypt the humbler and conquered classes 
never were allowed to regain any portion of the soil, for 
it remained with the king, priests, and soldiers, the 
vitality -absorbing drones of the nation. The Span- 
iards in America held largely this position, and the 
Anglo-Saxon has been free with the sword if not 
with the yoke. In India, where no proprietory rights 
in land existed, they have sought to create a land- 
holding aristocracy. 

The ownership of land is dear to our race, and has 
proved one of the strongest incentives to progress. 
Nevertheless, the time may come when exclusive 
rights therein may be declared detrimental to public 
weal. The crofter troubles in the northern part of 
Great Britain have created a general sentiment that 


good land should not be withheld for useless personal 
purposes, where the community requires it for sub- 
sistence. It also seems unreasonable that one man by 
virtue of accidental discovery, or first occupation, 
should claim exclusive right to large tracts for his 
family, in perpetuity, when future generations may 
be sorely in need of a share. 

Tiie acquisition of land should undoubtedly be re- 
stricted to limited holdings. The rule enforced by the 
republic for homestead and preemption grants, this 
century and more, which concedes a title only upon 
proofs of occupation and cultivation, might well be 
extended to all land-holders. Indeed, that rule points 
to the communal interest in the soil, by requiring a 
good use to be made of it. It is the patrimony of the 
nation for the benefit of all its children, not of a few. 
Most reprehensible and injurious is therefore the loose 
system in the United States which has permitted rich 
men, foreigners, and speculators, to absorb so much of 
the richest lands in areas unlimited, while the poor 
man has been kept strictly to the letter of the law. 

The remedy for this abuse lies in equalizing the 
taxation, or rather unjust assessment, so that holders 
of uncultivated tracts in a cultivated district may be 
forced by the burden to make good use of it or sell it 
to those who shall do so. It may be well also to 
hasten the reduction of large estates, especially inher- 
ited, by increasing the taxation with the size of the 
tract, as Mr Phillips proposes. In common with Mr 
George he is opposed to ownership in land, and urges 
that it be merely leased to the highest bidder, with 
transmission of possessory rights under condition of 
good use. Taxation would as a rule enforce the 
latter stipulation. 

In England taxation has of late assisted in reducing 
holdings, and augmenting the shares of the masses. 
In France the law against primogeniture has hastened 
the distribution, and the increased prosperity resulting 
from a large class of peasant proprietors, numbering 

Essays and Miscellany 29 


about four millions, demonstrates the advantage of 
small holdings alike to the country and the individuals. 
They promote also better cultivation and improvements, 
increased production, and higher wages, the latter by 
the constant advance of laborers to proprietorship. 
The elevation of labor by this means is one of the most 
promising phases of American progress. The greater 
the number of land-owners, the greater the interest 
in the nation's weal and in the preservation of peace. 

It may be objected that our improved machinery 
and methods render cultivation cheaper on large 
tracts. Where this becomes evident, as in large val- 
leys, farmers may unite in cooperative efforts as well 
as purchase of improved machines. Experimental 
efforts on a small or large scale may be entrusted to 
agricultural societies. Such combination of interests 
cannot fail to benefit everyone concerned, by incentive, 
method, and increased profits, besides achieving all the 
advantages claimed for large operations. 

Judicious taxation for the purpose of reducing large 
holdings is evidently in favor of the masses and of 
general prosperity. Nevertheless I cannot agree with 
Mr George's scheme of burdening the land alone with 
the entire tax levy of the country, for such a tax would 
fall heaviest on the main necessaries of life, and con- 
sequently on the poor. Luxuries can better sustain 
a larger share of the burden, as under our present 
system, and should do so, if only for the moral benefits 
thereby attained. 

In connection with the general reform must enter 
a number of accessory or subordinate regulations, 
such as the restoration and extensionof timber regions, 
in return for access to their resources ; and the appor- 
tionment of pastures so that scanty water deposits 
may not fall to a few. Water should even more than 
land be for the general benefit. This has been recog- 
nized by several nations in enactments which reserve 
for the public not alone navigable rivers but all run- 
ning streams. In England riparian laws prevail, and 


have been adopted in the United States, because the 
problem of irrigation has not entered into serious con- 
sideration until lately. Now, the conditions are 
changing with the occupation of the Rocky mountain 
region and the Pacific slope, once regarded as deserts, 
but proved to be rich land if reclaimed by irrigation. 
This requires free access to water. It becomes evi- 
dent that laws framed for a country not dependent on 
water-channels for cultivation should not be applied 
to a region which is so dependent, owing to scanty or 
unequally distributed rain-fall. The aim of laws 
is to promote the common good, and must naturally 
be adjusted to suit changing conditions. Rules gov- 
erning a nomad people or regulating slavery are in- 
appropriate for settled freemen. Where laws have 
become injurious they must be amended. The ob- 
jections of a few riparian property-holders must not 
stand in the way of the prosperity of entire districts, 
or imperil the existence of entire communities. Else- 
where I have considered the reasons and local prece- 
dence for amending riparian laws, and the methods for 
arriving at a proper distribution of available waters. 

The most encouraging phase of progress since 
mediaeval times has been the elevation of the masses, 
to which the invention of gunpowder, compass, and 
printing-press gave the great impulse. This amelio- 
ration is constantly augmenting under the daily addi- 
tions to ideas, methods, and machinery, for cheapening 
food, increasing comforts, and spreading enlighten- 
ment. The transformation has been especially marked 
during the last half century, and to the suddenness of 
the change, beyond all expectations, and in advance of 
knowledge wherewith to frame restrictive laws, must 
be ascribed such attendant evils as monopoly, oppres- 
sion of factory hands, and the like. The greater the 
present excess, however, the quicker will come the sur- 
feit, and the swifter the scattering and the deliverance. 

Mill believes that the relation of master and work- 


men will be gradually superseded by partnerships, by 
associations of workmen with capitalists, and of work- 
men alone, the latter to predominate in due time. 
As the toiling labor of to-day is entitled to greater 
consideration than the capital of yesterday, so itseems 
just that labor should by preference be controlled by 
organized labor— be independent, self-governed. Co- 
operation has so far not succeeded well in industrial 
branches, from a lack of the necessary training in 
self-control and self-reliance. The solution lies cliTefly 
with such associations as the trades -unions, wliicli 
sprang up among the working people when the guilds, 
undermined by capital, fell into exclusive hands.' 
They have of late assumed huge proportions, corres- 
ponding to the growth of antagonistic monopoly. 
Harmony and proper organization are still the ele- 
ments wanting for success. A great stride forward 
has been taken in the federation of hitherto scattered 
unions, for mutual relief as well as more effective 
action. The absurdity and failure of so many strikes, 
even when encouraged by the federation, indicate 
the lack of an efficient head. The members of unions 
should learn a lesson from the administration of the 
republic, with its representative and legislative coun- 
cils and its executive, and the patient submission of 
the people to their directions, which constitute the 
supposed wish of the majority. Dissatisfaction with 
existing enactments can be expressed in the election 
of better representatives. With intelligent considera- 
tion of pending questions by a council^ sustained by 
harmonious cooperation among the members, errors 
will be avoided and satisfactory success achieved. 
Discord must above all be eschewed in the face of the 
stupendous struggle before them. Nationalities have 
been undermined thereby no less than social and in- 
dustrial bodies. 

Such an organization, when duly perfected, could 
aid the establishment of cooperative works in different 
branches and localities, and issue general rules for their 


guidance. It could, like any government, call for 
levies or loans wherewith to provide plant and work- 
ing capital. Proposed cooperations might for that 
matter obtain credit from outside sources, when once 
confidence has been infused by judicious and respon- 
sible organization, whether this be of federal or cen- 
tral type, under the direct supervision of one general 
council, or of special councils for each branch of in- 
dustry. Under the guidance of similar assemblies 
may be adjusted the relations between employers and 
employed, or between associated workmen and capi- 
talists. The interior management of cooperative con- 
cerns should in turn be subject to its own elected 
council and constitution, with the necessary officials. 
In fine, a good republican form of government ap- 
plies admirably to industrial organizations. Without 
wise rule and due submission arise corruption and 
anarchy. But even here, as in any well-regulated 
republic, there should not be indiscriminate voting. 

Association of this character would be able to study 
markets, methods, and other conditions with great 
effect, by maintaining exchange of ideas with similar 
foreign bodies, as merchants and manufacturers en- 
deavor to do under present defective arrangements. 
One good result would be to check the over-produc- 
tion which now manifests itself in periodic stagnation, 
bankruptcies, and distress, with occasional severe 
panics. Another would be to obviate suffering among 
operatives by pointing out the condition, avenues, and 
prospects of trade. For that matter cooperation or 
protective associations could readily be extended to 
the pension system now organized by the German 
government, and, farther, to an equable division of 
labor and profits, with a corresponding reduction in 
working hours and increased leisure for improving 
and enjoyable entertainment. The constant invention 
of labor-saving machinery tends naturally to such re- 
duction, and the growing ease of intercourse assists to 
weld the nations into one brotherhood. Similar mil- 



lennial though by no means visionary methods can 
evidently be applied to commerce, agriculture, and 
other industries. 

The objection rises that such combinations tend to 
tlio perpetuation of new phases of monopoly, as ex- 
hibited in fact by trades-unions in many directions, by 
injurious strikes and other arbitrary proceedings. 
But the remedy lies with the government, whose 
anticipated measures may, as we hope, soon relieve 
us from the present abuses by capital monopoly. 
Questions not readily reached in that manner can un- 
doubtedly be settled by appeals to the intelligent 
councils and heads of the coming corporations and 
federations, with settlement by common-sense and by 
the simple arbitration which is rapidly gaining favor 
among all classes. 

The foremost consideration must of course be for 
the interest of the greatest number, for the common 
good, and to this must be subordinate the aspirations 
of mere classes, although with due regard for minority 
requirements. Inventions are hailed by all, as tend- 
ing to increase the general well-being and enjoyment. 
When machinery revolutionizes a certain branch of 
industry and throws a number of people out of work, 
a class must suffer for the public welfare, and adjust 
itself to new conditions. The strong and rich likewise 
must restrain tlieir aspirations for excessive wealth and 
power, and for the enjoyment of luxuries which may 
injure other classes, or come in conflict with the re- 
formed national principles. To such sacrifice and ab- 
stenance may in due time be accorded rewards beyond 
the pleasing consciousness of social duty performed, to 
the furtherance of happiness and of general progress. 



Tout homme est forme par son siecle ; bieu peu s'elevent au-dessus des 
moeurs des temps. 

— Voltaire. 

Under the heading of Uterature I propose to em- 
brace not alone the elegant and imaginative, but to 
some extent the scientific and instructive branches 
of the subject, in order to convey a clearer view of 
the progress made in this farthest west toward the 
higher realms of authorship. This becomes particu- 
larly desirable in tlie infancy of literature, and in coun- 
tries where the practical and didactive predominates; 
where unsettled conditions permit little attention 
to arts that depend for perfect development on the 
leisure and refinement centring in great cities. In 
Mexico we behold one such centre, for Spanish Amer- 
ica; in San Francisco another is forming for the An- 
glo-Saxon possessions. In both, the fostering co-effi- 
cients have encountered formidable obstacles. 

The cultivation of letters has here been spasmodic 
and erratic. In Latin America a long period of colo- 
nial tutelage, with rigid censorship, followed by dis- 
tracting civil wars, has had a retarding effect, aug- 
mented by the indolence and superficiality prevailing 
among the people. North-w^estward, the youthfulness 
of the states, the pre-occupation with mines and other 
industrial resources, home-building, and the eager 
pursuit of trade and speculation in the metropolis, 
preclude so far any wide efibrts to set aside the over- 
shadowino; influence of the eastern states. 

O (455) 


On the other hand exist many favoring elements. 
In Spanish America the rehgious orders, as elsewhere, 
became the depositories of knowledge and the trainers 
of a host of orators and writers, from among whom 
issued many a brilliant light to illuminate every de- 
partment of literature. The most interesting feature 
is the presence of an aboriginal factor, which in time 
left its impress on the productions of anew, composite, 
and vivacious race, tending to a departure from Ibe- 
rian models by presenthig new themes and fresh in- 
spiration, patriotic and social, and by adding a leaven 
to the admixture of central and w^estern European 
styles, wherewith to foster the creation of a new 

Northward the favoring causes must be sought in 
strange environment, peculiar incidents, and abnormal 
development, which, acting on a cosmopolitan medley 
of select representatives from different nationalities, 
have unfolded a dash and energy unparalleled, as 
manifested in great ideas, novel experiments, and vast 
undertakings. These traits have extended to litera- 
ture, and the success achieved in several directions 
hold out the most flattering promises for the future, 
in original and varied as well as prolific efforts. 

The minds of both regions have been primarily cast 
in eastern moulds, those of California mainly in the 
Atlantic states centring round Boston and New York, 
which again draw no little inspiration from the trans- 
oceanic shores. The Hispano-Americans yielded for 
centuries a slavish adherence to the one mother coun- 
try, whose sources and models still remain their prin- 
cipal shrines, notwithstanding the influence of varied 
intercourse during the last six decades, and the ad- 
mission of other types. 

In both regions the early dabbling in literature, and 
indeed much of the subsequent performances, were 
necessarily due to immigrants, so that the local claim 
to their ownership stands in questionable light. Those 
efforts do, nevertheless, belong largely here, inspired 


and framed as they were by new environments in 
nature and society, without which they would never 
have become manifest. Each formed besides an in- 
centive and standard for succeeding productions, which 
rapidly followed amid new interests and new homes, 
in no contemptible rivalry with the exhibits of the 
mother soil. 

Mexico, as the capital from the beginning of a vast 
and rich state, became the political head of all Spanish 
America north of the Isthmus, and continues the 
social and intellectual centre. Nevertheless, the 
region between Panama and Guatemala takes prece- 
dence in both chronologic and geographic order for 
review, as the fountain if not the scene for historical 
and scientific reports, oratorical and theological pro- 
ductions, and even poetic effusions, for about two 
decades prior to the discovery of New Spain. 

The novelties of aspect and circumstances cropping 
out at every turn were a constant source of inspira- 
tion. And what a panorama is presented to the 
historian as well as the poet in Central America, with 
its varied fields for conquests, its diversity of phys- 
ical conditions, from miasmatic coast lands to high 
plateaux and lofty ranges crowned by smoking volca- 
noes ; a region often stirred by eruptions and earth- 
quakes, while nature otherwise lies masked in all the 
luxuriance of tropic vegetation, alive with song from 
birds of brilliant plumage, aglow with brightness from 
a sunlit sky, and fanned by etesian zephyrs. Two 
vast oceans bathe the winding shores, on one side with 
quickening currents from the orient, the cradle of civ- 
ilization, which seem to evoke a response in the 
numerous evidences of life and culture, while the com- 
paratively inferior types and less alluring features of 
the eastern slopes reflect rather the dark continent 
fronting it. Thus we find here the ruder, naked fisher 
tribes, largely mixed with negro blood, while in the 
adjoining Take-dotted Nicaragua flourishes a people as 
advanced as any in Spanish America, Further north 


this race has inherited tlie glorious prestige of such 
ancient nations as the Quiches and Cakchiquels, famed 
for high culture and great achievements. 

This culture is above all indicated in the phonetic 
elements of the picture-writing with which priestly 
chroniclers recorded myths and rites, heroes and rulers, 
incidents and institutions. Of a more complex form 
than the Nahua hieroglyphics, the Maya books have 
unfortunately remained sealed to us, despite the efforts 
made by Landa and Brasseur de Bourbourg toward 
deciphering them.^ The esoteric nature of these 
records, however, tended to strengthen traditional 
knowledge among the people, and to this we are in- 
debted even in Aztec matters for most of the informa- 
tion relating to times before the conquest. 

A type of Maya writing is presented in the Popul 
Vuh of the Quiches, transcribed from memory in the 
vernacular, but in Roman letters, by one or more 
well-informed natives. It tells of the creation of the 
world, as understood by this people, the progress of 
culture, the wanderings and struggles of their own 
national heroes, and the growth of the Quiches. The 
religious element predominates throughout, with a 
striking intonation of the mysterious, the terrible, 
which form the chief characteristics of the worship. 
These features, indeed, seem to cast their dread spell 
on the narrators, who tell the story with a marked 
awe that weighs heavily upon their spirits, and allows 
little of the lofty soaring that allures and transports 
the reader of similar Hellenic lore. There is more 
approximation to the sterner, cold-blooded incidents 
in the Scandinavian mythology, yet without the bold 
and grand conceptions of the free and hardy North- 
men. A sadness pervades every page, denoting less 
the regretful musing of a conquered race, fallen from 
high aspirations, and deprived of its cherished institu- 
tions, than one whose spirit has been broken under 
long centuries of despotic rule and cruel rites. The 
trait is strongly marked to this day. 


Not only is the diction rather bald throughout, but 
the phraseology is stilted. The writer appears too 
deeply impressed by his facts to permit much digres- 
sion toward either dramatization or embellishment. 
The inferiority in these respects is due greatly to the 
influences already mentioned, and it becomes more 
marked by comparison with the traits of northern 
Indians, free in their vast hunting-grounds and less 
dominated by the terrible in religion. Limited as 
their vocabulary may be, it finds a ready flow in dig- 
nified and even majestic harangue, full of beautiful 

Nevertheless there appear scenes in the Popul Vuh 
which stir even the grovelling serf. The first dawn- 
ing of the sun evokes for instance an effort to depict 
its splendor. ^' Great is my brilliancy. Before me 
have men to walk and to stand still, for my eyes are 
of silver, resplendent like precious stones, stones which 
are green like the heavens.' My nostrils gleam like 
the moon. My throne is of silver; and the earth 
brightens as I advance. I am sun and moon for the 
enlightenment of my vassals." 

In the very first line we perceive the bending of 
the awe-stricken adorer instead of the lofty psean of 
the inspired admirer. The similes have a barbaric 
and circumscribed stamp instead of soaring grandeur, 
and poverty of language is indicated in repetition as 
well as in the use of green for blue or azure. Select 
paragraphs like the above are not very frequent, still 
a certain poetic originality shines forth now and then, 
and the strides toward eloquence, while short and 
unsustained, and due largely to the translator, are 
perceptible also in the emphasis so frequently though 
crudely employed, notably in the addresses and 

Whatever may be the faults of style, the native 
records are full of themes as varied and alluring as 
those that stirred the mediaeval romanciers and trou- 


badours. We find indications enough in the pages of 
Oviedo, Las Casas, and other early writers on aborig- 
inal times, but they are mere glimpses, and to the 
efforts of later resident authors are we chiefly hi- 
debted for a fuller display of the subject. It is by 
no means so thorough however as in many Nahua 
records. These men came too late to rescue more 
than fragments of either records or traditions from the 
ravages of time and fanaticism. The inroads have 
continued to our days. Religious biogotry yielded 
the foremost place to military marauders and pre- 
judiced chroniclers, and the result is a deficiency of 
public and private archives that is appalling. Guate- 
mala alone presented at the close of the colonial period 
a collection at all worthy of such a term, and this had 
to suffer at the hands of invaders under Iturbide, 
Morgan, and others, with foreign relic hunters in the 

Such general neglect could bo associated only with 
a criminal indiffarence for literary treasures; and this 
has been the case until recent times, when men like 
Squier and Brasseur de Bourbourg set a beneficial 
example in research and in collecting. Similar pre- 
vious attempts were isolated, and as a rule directed 
toward some special object, as writing a history or 
elaborate report with a view to personal fame or profit. 
The repeated demands from Spain for historic mate- 
rial gave no doubt an impulse, but it was almost 
wholly confined to colonial incidents and conditions, 
with little or no regard for aboriginal times ; and 
European Spaniards obeyed the call more than 
Creoles, who should have manifested the greater 
interest. * 

The intellectual revival inaugurated toward the end 
of the century in the colonial possessions of Spain, and 
which in Guatemala received its cue from Mexico, 
was directed almost wholly to the acquisition of new 
scientific and philosophic learning by the higher classes, 
with a slight general dissemination of more practical 


knowledge. In Andhuac aboriginal subjects received 
very naturally a good deal of attention at the same 
time ; but in Central America the efforts in this field 
were comparatively feeble, partly because the field 
proved less varied, partly because less material ex- 
isted to form a base for research, and to allure and 
guide the investigator. There were also less popula- 
tion, wealth, and emulation to encourage antiquarian 
and historic labor. 

The scattered and fragmentary nature of the con- 
tributions to the colonial history should have proved 
incentive enough for a more complete and comprehen- 
sive account, replete as those writings are with stir- 
ring incidents, often related in a manner botli graphic 
and eloquent. For instance, in the Relacion of Pedro 
Alvarado which presents the first view of Guatemala, 
we find a vivid description of scenes and events con- 
nected with the conquest, and this by a leader famous 
alike for his daring exploits and his cruel disposition. 
The latter stands forth in bold relief above every 
other trait, though closely linked with restlessness 
and ambition, with an indomitable will that supersti- 
tion alone could bend. Simple is the diction of the 
soldier, and terse like his words of command, while 
an admirable clearness pervades the whole. 

Equally stirring though less revolting are the 
Cartas of his chief, Cortes himself, whose famous 
march to Honduras and operations there occupy a 
large space in his letters. While the lieutenant de- 
lights in slaughter and wades in blood, the chief ex- 
hibits his endurance and ingenuity in transporting a 
great army across vast marshes and over mighty 
rivers, guiding it through trackless forests and arid 
deserts, and climbing cloud-clapped ranges. The lat- 
ter struoorles atrainst the forces of nature, against 
sickness and hunger ; now to set the example in tor- 
titude, encouraging the faint-hearted and succoring 
the feeble ; now to circumvent a treacherous foe ; 
again to quell a conspiracy, or to overcome some for- 


midable barrier. Never did this man appear a greater 
hero ; never did his varied talents shine to greater 
advantage. The subtlety of the diplomatist combine 
with the energy and resources ot the leader and the 
frankness of the soldier, while religious fanaticism is 
softened by a naive reliance on providence. All these 
qualities are displayed in his writings, which rise far 
above the average of the time in purity and clearness, 
fluency and conciseness ; evincing also a training in 
rhetoric, legal forms and business habits. His Latin 
is introduced with taste, mingled with courtly phrases, 
and occasionally an ornamented sentence reveals a 
pen which had oft enough dabbled in verse. Even 
the easy flowing diction of Gomara, his biographer, 
sometime professor of rhetoric, pales before the out- 
pouring of this great mind moulded in experiences so 

What a contrast do we find in the pages of the con- 
temporary Oviedo, who covers more particularly the 
southern provinces of Central America, where he 
himself figured. He had a passion for writing which 
gratified itself in bulky folios, but he lacked the power 
to plan and to generalize, and the aptitude to profit 
by his manifold lessons. Thus, while aiming at judi- 
cious treatment he loses himself in the vastness of his 
subject, and presents a series of versions as they reach 
him ; often repeating, now entering into tiresome de- 
tails, now skimming the surface or making mere use- 
less allusions. While striving to be concise, he be- 
comes verbose and rambling, yet he redeems himself 
somewhat in occasional displays of eloquence and 
purity of style. While possessing no less literary 
education than Cortes, he shows less ability and taste 
in using it, in criticism and diction. Later his inclina- 
tion for gossip and moralizing was allowed freer range 
than ever. 

Unscrupulous, like the rest of the early colonists 
and conquerors, the cavalier Oviedo attracted the 
frown of the ecclesiastic Las Casas, the champion of 


oppressed natives, whose tongue and pen were equally 
absorbed by his noble cause, to defend his charge and 
to lash the persecutor. But his fiery zeal too often 
carried him away. While Oviedo used little discrim- 
ination in accepting any version, or incident, or nat- 
ural phenomenon, Las Cases as readily listened to ac- 
cusations which national pride alone should have urged 
him to sift ere he used them to damn his countrymen. 
Intent chiefly on his great cause, he was easily 
swayed in most directions by partiality, and his ab- 
sorption promoted carelessness in diction as w^ell as 
facts and treatment. All this tends to detract from 
the vigilant subtlety attributed to him by his learned 
opponent Sepulveda ; but his fluency of thought and 
expression is evident, and marked by frequent out- 
bursts of stirring eloquence and strains of biting irony. 

Gomara availed himself of these preceding authori- 
ties to form a general, concise work, wherein, however, 
he sacrificed truth and research to style and partisan 
spirit in the effort to please his patron and to court 
popularity. This roused the ire of the soldier, Ber- 
nai Diaz, jealous for the prestige of himself and his 
comrades. Printed books, private memoranda, and a 
somewhat treacherous memory, all serve him in his 
striving for truth, and in contrast to his opponent he 
sacrifices for this, style, and to a certain extent, popu- 
larity. But it is not a voluntary surrender ; for per- 
sonal vanity, and a sympathy for broth ers-in-arms, 
prompt him to sturdily vindicate his own party. 
Though others suffer somewhat, yet he is not ungen- 
erous. As for style, this has been irremediably 
neglected, amid the toils of the campaign and pioneer 
life. He is graphic, however, in bringing before us 
scenes and adventures from camp and field, and grows 
animated and pathetic by turns; but the garrulous 
tendency is strongest, and leads to wearisome details 
and digressions. 

In the Italian, Benzoni, we find a less generous and 
frank spirit. His motive for writing was chiefly per- 


sonal spite, which peers forth in sarcasms and exagge- 
rations, or even falsehoods, while a ready credulity 
allows free entrance to vague gossip, quite in keeping 
with his uncultured style. But he is \'aluable in pre- 
senting testimony not partial to the Spaniards. 

Toward the end of the first century, Herrera, the 
royal historiographer, appears to combine all these 
and other narrations into one general history, and to 
become the standard historian for his field and period. 
But his examination of material is not careful, and 
his method is faulty. A slavishly chronological treat- 
ment interferes with the spirit of the narrative, and 
breaks the interest; religious and patriotic zeal over- 
rule truth and humanity, and a bald and prolix style 
tires the reader. 

What an opportunity is here among so many frag- 
mentary and faulty versions to complete, to compile, 
to summarize, to restudy and comment, with such 
varied models, and attain results prominent for sim- 
plicity and clearness, for purity and eloquence, for 
conciseness and discrimination, for truth and order, 
while the contrasting and more general defects serve 
for the same end by warning the student! The appeal 
was not unheeded by colonial men, but they were 
cramped by false training, and party spirit ruled high, 
so that models and warnings served to stimulate zeal 
rather than direct the method.^ 

The first to awake to the necessity for a special 
work on Guatemalan history were the Dominicans, 
who from their centre in Chiapas exercised a wide 
influence. Antonio de Remesal was intrusted with 
the task of compiling the records of their religious 
provincia, interweaving it with secular events. He 
proceeded with extraordinary diligence to ransack 
different archives which were then, in the opening of 
the seventeenth century, in good condition, and he 
was also exact, as may be noticed in both facts and 


style ; yet the latter is clear and pleasing, and com- 
paratively free from redundancy. The bias of the 
zealous friar is strikingly apparent wherever his order 
is concerned, and here coloring and assertion are made 
subordinate to feeling, and to what he deems duty, 
while the imagination is largely drawn upon for 
speeches and conversation wherewith to uphold Do- 
minican prestige. On the other hand he strives, in imi- 
tation of Las Casas, as champion of the Indians, to 
lash their oppressors, and this with a fearlessness that 
evoked a storm against his book before it was pub- 
lished. Otherwise he upholds the colonists, and 
shows often a graceful forbearance that covers many 

For a whole century did the Historia de Chyapa of 
Remesal flaunt before the world the supremacy of the 
Dominicans in this region, to the ill-suppressed anger 
of the Franciscans. At last, in 1714, the latter gave 
vent to their feelings in the Chronica de la Provinda 
del Santissimo Nombre de Jems de Guatemala, by Fran- 
cisco Vazquez, printed at Guatemala, a circumstance 
which renders it more thoroughly a part of Central 
American literature. It lacks, however, the ability 
and pertinent research manifest in many preceding 
works. It displays, no doubt, a certain amount of 
investlo^ation, but also a lar^e amount of cullincr from 
Remesal, and other ready sources, without giving due 
credit, and it dwindles in the main features rather 
into an argument against the claims of the opposite 
order, taking, on every possible occasion, a contrary 
view. In this effort on behalf of his brotherhood, 
Vazquez shows as little hesitation as the other party 
to exaggerate and misinterpret, and he freely upholds 
the Franciscan plea for cooperation of the cross and 
sword, by stoutly defending the conduct of the con- 
querors, and declaring the Indians undeserving of the 
sympathy lavished upon them by artificial piety. 
These weaknesses are not redeemed by literary treat- 
ment, for the arrangement is defective, guided greatly 

Essays and Miscellany SO 


by unreflecting imp.ulse, and a large part of »the work 
is occupied with verbose details concerning obscure 
friars, which reflect on the discrimination of the writer, 
as compared with the more clear-sighted and concise 
Remesal. The latter opens his volume with appro- 
priate directness, while Vazquez begins with a conven- 
tional preamble of the pulpit order. The phraseology- 
is rambling and involved, and the diction florid, 
with a frequent parade of Latin and scholastic quota- 
tions. The latter features are by no means regarded 
as blemishes among Spaniards, with whom the inflated 
cultismo was still at its height, never, indeed, to be 
wholly eradicated from the language, for it accorded 
with the very traits of the people. 

The same observations apply almost exactly to the 
Recordacion Florida de la Historia de Guatemala, written 
two decades before by Fuentes y Guzman, but never 
published. It forms the first recognized secular his- 
tory of Guatemala, and has for us the additional in- 
terest that the author is not only a Creole, but a de- 
scendant of the soldier chronicler Bernal Diaz, who 
settled in the old city of Guatemala where Fuentes 
was born. With such family traditions one cannot 
expect from him anything but a blind advocacy of 
the acts of the conquerors, and the policy of the colo- 
nists ; he not only disregards testimony and suppresses 
damaging facts, but he inserts statements to suit his 
aim. The style shows a ready appreciation of G6n- 
gora's school ; but it is redeemed by considerable 
descriptive power, with not infrequent elegance of 

While Fuentes y Guzman is entitled to the repre- 
sentative place as historian of Guatemala, it has been 
occupied before the world by Domingo Juarros, whose 
Historia de Guatemala is the only well-known work on 
this country for colonial times. He came across the 
manuscripts of his predecessor, and perceived at once 
his opportunity. The country was ripe to receive 
such revelations, for the wave of intellectual awaken- 


ing had rolled across the Atlantic, and aroused a 
more vivid interest in history. He had the tact,how- 
ever,to create a special interest in his book by call- 
ing it a history of the capital, and by the clever 
manoeuvre of devoting a large space to the biography 
of her notable men. *'No existiendo su historia, 
sino es en el deseo de los verdaderos patriotas," he adds. 
He recognizes geography and chronology as the ''two 
eyes '* of history, and promises to use both. He ac- 
cordingly opens the volumes with the aid of the 
former, applying it successively to every province in 
Central America; for Guatemala, as the leading 
state, was often assumed to comprise those to the 
south. The capital, the cherished city of his birth, 
receives special attention in her buildings, institutions, 
and renowned children and leaders. This has evi- 
dently been a labor of love, for a good deal of inves- 
tigation is exhibited in connection with archives of 
church and state, to which his position as synodal 
examiner procured his ready access. In the second 
volume he confines himself more particularly to his- 
tory, beginning with pre-con quest times, which apply 
only to Guatemala for want of even traditional 
records elsewhere. In taking up the account of sub- 
jugation and settlement by Spaniards he passes from 
one province to another, and seeks to complete the 
narrative by adding institutional matter and curious 
items. The book is just what one might expect for a 
country little written upon, and from a man eager to 
tell all about it. Not that he is exhaustive, for he 
fails to present any adequate view of society and in- 
dustrial condition, and in the history he follows the 
unreliable Fuentes without exercising due care or 
discrimination, or supplementing with sufficient addi- 
tional investigation. This, together with the lack of 
sequence and symmetry, imparts a fragmentary and 
unsatisfactory character to the w^ork, which is besides 
unrelieved by any beauty of diction ; yet the style 
possesses a conciseness and clearness that is remark- 


able for a preacher of Spanish America. Equally 
refreshing is the comparative freedom from bigotry 
and credulity in a Koman catholic priest of this 
remote corner, except when treading on scientific or 
other new ground. He rarely intrudes his pulpit 
sentences, and if he occasionally upholds miracles 
and asceticism, it is but duty to his profession.'' 

Among representative historical writers of the pres- 
ent century, must be placed Doctor Francisco de Paula 
Garcia Pelaez, archbishop of Guatemala, whose Memo- 
Tias para la Historia de Guatemala present the most 
complete account of colonial times in Central America. 
He treats less of ancient history and conquest, which 
more than one accessible author has fully spoken of, 
but displays close observation on subsequent matter, 
with particular attention to institutions and society, 
to government policy and the unfolding of trade, in- 
dustries, education, thus approaching closely to later 
ideas as to what should constitute material for the 
history of a people. To this end he has applied re- 
search of no slight extent, and a careful arrangement, 
without pretending to offer a history in the proper 
sense of the word. Indeed, the work is rather a series 
of collected statements from different authorities, ar- 
ranged under topics and in historic sequence, with lit- 
tle or no attempt to present or to reconcile differences, 
or to combine scattered facts or hints in explanatory 
or complimentary shape, or to offer conclusions which 
should result from analysis and comparison. Nor has 
any use been made of foot-notes, wherewith to relieve 
the text from trivial details and bare references, which 
are therefore left to interfere with the connection and 
obstruct the style. There is no effort in the latter di- 
rection, however, and even stirring incidents are related 
without the least animation ; yet the language is pure 
and clear, and the sentences smooth. 

The valuable features of Palaez' work become more 
conspicuous when contrasted with other contributions 
in this field, of the same period. These are chiefly 


political pamphlets by leaders or hangers-on in defense 
of parties or individuals, full of loud assertion and 
bombast, sustained by fiery emphasis, and disguised 
by rambling digression. Occasionally the compact 
yet disjointed style, with its forensic stamp, drifts into 
reiteration and mere bombast, with faulty punctuation, 
revealing in both forms the crudeness of diction and 
phraseology. The use of foot-notes is little understood, 
but there is usually an appendix with corroborative 
documents. Superior to these in style are the produc- 
tions of such men as Alejandro Morure, though occa- 
sionally marked by ill-sustained efforts at florid decla- 
mation.^ As for sifting of evidence, study, and 
deduction, there is little or none. The domination of 
idea, party, or passion is almost everywhere glaringly 
apparent, together with a glossy superficiality that 
shields the unstable reasoning of the polemic, and the 
lack of profundity in his attainments. 

The scantiness and defects of Central American 
literature are greatly due, as I have intimated, to the 
paucity and scattered distribution of the population, 
and in modern times above all, to the continual 
civil wars which have absorbed the attention of 
the superior classes, and created such disorder and 
neglect of progressive measures as to keep the masses 
in abject ignorance, and greatly to diminish the means 
for instructing the rest. Spain was ever the classic 
country from which the colonists drew their knowledge 
and obtained their models, and so it still remains, wide 
as the political and social gulf may be between them. 
With so small a circle of readers, those fitted and called 
to wield the pen found little encouragement, at least 
for works of an ambitious character. Heavy as well 
as light literature was brought from across the sea, 
and from Mexico, a fair proportion coming from France, 
for whose people and productions a warm sympathy 
has always existed, and whose language found ready 
learners from its similarity to the Spanish. 


The backward condition of literature can be readily 
understood when it is learned that the printing press 
was not introduced at Guatemala until 1660, when 
Joseph de Pineda Ibarra figures as the first printer." 
The first publication is said to have been a letter by 
President Caldas to the king concerning the conquest 
of the Lacandon country ; but the claim to be the first 
book is made for Relacion de la Vida y Virtudes del V. 
Hermano Pedro de San Joseph Betancur, Guatemala, 
1667, by Manuel Lobo/" After this, publication be- 
came not infrequent; for works from all parts of Cen- 
tral America, hitherto sent to Spain or Mexico to be 
printed, were now forwarded to Guatemala, which has 
ever maintained the lead over the other states, owing 
to its greater population and interests. Some of the 
provinces to the south did not obtain presses till long 
after the independence. 

Guatemala early followed the example set in Mex- 
ico of issuing a periodical, a monthly Gaceta, started 
in 1729 by Sebastian de Arevalo, which has amid 
different suspensions and revivals managed to pass 
into the present century, and to sustain itself later as 
a weekly, and generally as the official organ." In 
1797 Villaurrutia began to publish a weekly paper in 
connection with his Sociedad Economica, devoted to 
general advancement, both of which suffered tempo- 
rary suppression as too advanced in spirit for the 
Spanish government. In 1820 two journals appeared, 
and after this new ones spring up almost every year, 
occasionally as many as ten within the twelve months, 
although few survive. Among the other states Sal- 
vador follows with about twenty-four journals within 
eighteen years, beginning in 1824, less than half the 
number issued in Guatemala. Honduras has eleven 
within thirteen years, and Nicaragua nine, both be- 
ginning in 1830 ; Costa Rica falls to seven between 
1832 and 1842, and Panama declines to even less.'' 
They were with rare exceptions political organs, full 
of polemics and stale news, with occasionally scien- 


tific articles, and feuilletons translated or copied from 
foreign papers. 

Liberty of the press entered with the independence, 
only to find itself obstructed or suppressed now by 
some dictator, anon by formal law from legislatures, 
yet with intervals of absolute freedom. The most 
severe legislative measure appeared in 1852, when 
close government censorship was established." 

One effect of the independence, and the dissemina- 
tion of liberal ideas from France, manifested itself in 
a lessened religious feeling among the educated 
classes, which has finally led to the suppression of 
convents, and to a diminished influence for the clergy 
with every successive effort of theirs to assert them- 
selves. This is only too apparent in the bulk of po- 
litical pamphlets which in modern times form the 
main feature of publications, replacing the former 
excessive production of theological treatises, sermons, 
and saintly biography. 

Of the last class we find good specimens in Lobo's 
Relacion de la Vida de Betancur, already mentioned as 
the first book proper issued in Central America, in 
Antonio de Siria's Vida de la Venerable Loiia Ana 
Guerra, and in such works as Eemesal and Vazquez. 
The latter, for that matter, rewrote Lobo's Relacion, 
and made copious additions to the biography of Be- 
tancur, who was highly venerated in the country as a 
religious founder and humanitarian.^* This work is in 
the usual exalted, visionary spirit of the seventeenth 
century, with special prominence to abstract and as- 
cetic features, the monotony of which Vazquez has 
increased with his verbose inflation, rambhng phrase- 
ology, and florid diction. Yet the last would no 
doubt add to the interest for lovers of such lore, 
while the earnestness pervading every line, and the 
mysticism, serve to impress on the devout the lesson 
intended to be inculcated. 


In colonial times the oratory of the bar and pulpit 
was never allowed the full range accorded in protes- 
tant Europe, where appeals reached the head as well 
as the heart. With the liberty conferred by revolu- 
tion and fostered by the debates of assemblies and the 
demand of elections, the pent-up spirit found free vent, 
and astonished itself by its rapidity of progress in this 
new path. A vivacious temperament, a ready flow of 
words, and the stirring subjects of national birth and 
men consecrated to the people as heroes and martyrs, 
all assisted to impart an eloquence which met with 
prompt response among an emotional audience. 
Depth and logical sequence were lacking, however, and 
rules of elocution were not allowed to interfere greatly 
with the natural flow and the impulsive rather than 
studied emphasis so frequently employed, and so char- 
acteristic of the oratory. 

The revival in learning, which became manifest 
toward the end of the eighteenth century, naturally 
gave an impulse to the demand for works of a scien- 
tific nature, notably in connection with industrial arts, 
as indicated by the reports of the Sociedad Economica 
begun in 1797 ; but the disorders under repubhcan 
rule have allowed far less room for progress in this 
direction than could be expected from the promising 
number of names which, during the later colonial 
period, are connected with similar topics. 

Bias de Pineda y Polanco had, in beginning of the 
eighteenth century, collected 27 volumes of material 
on natural history and geography, in dictionary form, 
with illustrations. The most ambitious efforts were 
by Juan de Padilla, a presbyter, who wrote on mathe- 
matics and astronomy, the latter subject embraced in 
a bulky manuscript folio of 585 pages entitled Teorica 
y prdctica de la astronomia. He was long an authority 
in this branch for Guatemala. Fuentes speaks of an 
earlier student in the field, Juan Jacinto Garrido. 
The Creole friar Joaquin Calderon de la Barca figured 
as a mathematician about 1735; while Ignacio Ceballos 


of Guatemala became an academician of Spain and 
assisted in forming the first great dictionary/' 

The great variety of Indian tribes in this extensive 
region, which attrac^ted the missionary zeal, gave rise 
to a number of linguistic productions, wherein Friar 
Francisco Jimenez shines with particular lustre. I 
have collected a number of these works, vocabularies, 
grammars, and religious text-books, in connection 
with my studies on aboriginal languages as expressed 
in my Native Races, but Brasseur de Bourbourg applied 
himself more especially to the subject, as indicated 
in his several writings. 

In this connection must be mentioned the Historia 
de la Creadon del Cielo y de la Tierra by Ramon de 
Ordonez, presbyter. Assisted by the aboriginal rec- 
ords and traditions and the hieroglyphics and sculp- 
tures at the then recently discovered Palenque, the 
author attempts to explain the Maya theory of the 
creation, and to follow the wanderings and adventures 
of the founders of the cultured nations in this region. 
Guided by the scripture, he finds no difficulty in con- 
necting them with Chaldea, and in supporting this 
assumption by a comparison of rites and customs. 
The ingenuity and boldness of his interpretations are 
as striking as the transparency of his arguments. 
But the mystic nature of the subject, the evident re- 
search, and the profusion of reference and learned 
allusions, all lend a glamour to the book that sustains 
the earnestness and high character of the author. ^^ 

Spanish poets have not failed to seize upon the 
grand achievements connected with discovery and 
conquest in America, unsurpassed for range, interest, 
and beauty. Nevertheless these themes have been 
left in a great measure to the conquerors themselves, 
such as Castellanos, who, in his Elegias de Varones^ 
Ilustres de Indias, ambitiously seeks to cover the whole 
field, and to commemorate the glories of all the lead- 
ing heroes from Columbus' time far into the opening 


century of Spanish rule. His is rather a versified 
narrative, however,of varying form, with vivid descrip- 
tion of incidents and novelties, yet combined with a 
great smoothness and rare purity of diction. The stir- 
ring deeds of the Castilian invaders are related by 
him in a very incomplete manner, yet the Creole de- 
scendants of those invaders have not felt moved to 
continue the song of the soldier bard. Their versifi- 
cation was confined chiefly to odes and sonnets on the 
occasion of birthdays and other celebrations in honor 
of royalty or high officials, and more ambitious efforts 
sought rather a foreign and seemingly more alluring 
though well-worn topic. 

La Thomasiada of Friar Diego Saenz is a passable 
epic on the angelic doctor, and noticeable here rather 
as one of the first publications of Guatemala. Of 
greater interest is Raphael Landivar's Rusticatio Mexi- 
cana, a didactic poem in initation of the Georgics, em- 
bracing natural features, resources, and industries of 
Central America as well as Mexico. Landivar wasa 
native of Guatemala, and professor there of rhetoric 
and philosophy in the Jesuit college. On the expul- 
sion of the society in 1767, he proceeded like most 
of the members to Italy, there to seek consolation in 
literary labors. The Rusticatio contains the outgrow- 
ing of his very soul, while reviewing scenes dear to 
his memory, and displaying to the world the wealth 
and beauty of his native land. In the dedicatory 
verses to Guatemala, the longing of the exile and the 
love of the patriot find a touching expression. The 
selection of Latin instead of Spanish must be attrib- 
uted both to his environment while writing, and to 
the pride of the scholar, who entertained a hope that 
the v/ork might be adopted as a text book in his own 
country — an expectation not unfairly based on an 
appropriate subject, a pure diction and classic form. 

The ready adaptation of the Spanish language to 
classic verse has led to several minor imitations, nota- 
bly in Virgil's vein, but they are seldom above the 


barest and dullest mediocrity. Instance the eclogue 
of Ruiz y Lara in honor of the prominent Nicaraguan, 
Larreynaga, of 1834. The glorious memories of the 
independence have provided appropriate and freer 
topics, to be revived at the annual celebration, largely 
in satiric form. The feelings of the vanquished patriot 
and exile seek utterance at every turn of fortune's 
wheel, while woman reigns supreme above all in her 
power to inspire, as may readily be understood with 
regard to a people so devoted to gallantry and other 
amenities of society. 

The ode and the elegiac strain appear to be the 
happiest efforts, and octaves of undecasyllabic triple 
measure the most common form. A poetry which, 
like the Spanish, so readily admits the free, irregular, 
improvisatory verse known as silvas, must not be 
scanned so rigidly as ours. The metre, for that mat- 
ter, retains to a certain extent the classic features of 
emphasis and idiomatic rhythm, and the mixture ac- 
cords well with the impulsive, declamatory bent of 
the Hispano- American. It requires often an inter- 
pretation of its own, and this individualit}^ is also 
marked in elocution generally. While the method 
may be erratic, it must not be supposed that the 
theme is such, although the Spaniards are somewhat 
addicted to broad allusions. The tone of the amatory 
pieces before me is most chaste, and the similes be- 
long, as a rule, to the sweeter and grander elements 
in nature. 

As specimens of elegiac pieces I will cite from the 
recollections of an exile : 

Venid con la luna Es pintada mariposa, 

Y estrellas brillantes, Que vagando eiitre las florea 

Cual ricos diamantes Roba de ellas los olores, 

Tambien rutilad. Que nos brinda carinosa. 

El recuerdo es mi perfume Es un eco desprendido 

Con que el alma se adormece: De concierto misterioso; 

Tierno lirio que aparece Blando, suave, melodioso, 

Cuando el tedio nos consume. Y entre sombras escondido. 

This is from the pen of Juan de Canas, which also 


contributes a number of odes and sonnets, the latter 
less happy. Another poet of Salvador, Carlos Bo- 
nilla, sings at the tomb of a wife : 

Tan solo de inmortal, seca corola, Una arboleda plantarecon ellos, 

Del Saucey,del cipres las tristes hojas Melancdlica al par que funeraria, 

Me quedan, en lugar de flores rojas, Que circunde la fosa cineraria 

Para adornar tu losa sepulchral. Que encierra tu despojo terrenaL 

And farther: 

Antitesis dolorosa, Eu esa cuna me queda 
Que el corazon ha sufrido, El pimpollo de una rosa, 

Cual arbolillo batido Y en esta sombria fosa, 

Por furioso vendabal. Queda seco mi rosal! 

Here it must be admitted that the oral ballads 
of the populace are not so pure as might be desired. 
And this observation leads me to a few closing re- 
marks on the songs of the Indians. While undoubt- 
edly retaining many aboriginal features, they have 
been greatly influenced by Spanish subjects, melodies, 
and rhythm, under constant association with the con- 
quering race, and diligent training of priests and 
church choirs, whose art entered also into secular 
pastimes. The theme concerns the duties of the hus- 
bandman, the hunter, the fisherman, and the attendant 
adventures or dangers, or it dwells on the charms of 
budding woman, with many a broad reference to the 
snares laid for her by strangers. Only too frequently 
the vagaries and weaknesses of the parish priest meet 
with sarcastic exposure, and the slumbering feeling 
against the ruling class, with its Castilian pride and 
affectation, is still nursed in the popular verse, which, 
moreover, displays a lingering predilection for ancient 
rites and superstitions, midst covert sneers at Chris- 
tian dogmas. Both subject and form are simple, of 
an improvised character, with frequent repetition of 
lines, generally in antithetical and paraphrastic form: 

He roamed through the forest with axe on the shoulder, 
With axe on the shoulder he roamed through the forest. 
It was night — deep night; in the sky not a moon! ' 

Not a moon in the sky; it was night — deep night! 


In the distance rolled the sea, the great sea; 
The sea, the great sea, was heard from afar. 
As it sadly groaned, like a wounded deer, 
Like a wounded deer, which sadly groans. 

With axe on the shoulder he roamed through the forest, 
He roamed through the forest with axe on the shoulder. 

The iteration is undoubtedly effective despite its 
frequency, but the poetic imagery occasionally indi- 
cated is rarely sustained. In alluding to the charms 
of maidens, flowers, and gold, sunlight and birds are 
generally used to form the simile, although not 
always appropriate. 

Tula, the pretty one, with teeth so white, with eyes of gold,. 
Loved to roam in the forest ; around in the forest to roam, 
The flowers she gathered to adorn her long tresses 
Appeared in the gleam of her eyes so much brighter. 
And little birds from trees around, all robed in sunlight. 
They flew when she came, to perch on her lips so pretty, 
And sweetly carolling on her shoulder they nestled. 

Satiric compositions, with their short round stanzas, 
contain at times very neat epigrammatic lines, but as 
a rule form is sacrificed to the subject and euphony. 

Sweet girls and young maids, Sweet girls and young maids, 
Place buds in your hair. Show pesos and gold, 

But let them have thorns, And priests will display 
The curate to sting. Their old paradise. 

The refrain is not always fit to translate. 

The stanzas close with a couplet in which the au- 
dience joins. It is usually taken from the opening 
lines, or consists of a meaningless jingle. 

A striking feature is the sad strain which enters 
into nearly all these songs, especially toward the 
close, and which pervades most of the melodies. 
This predominant tinge has not failed to reach the 
poetry generally of Central America, to judge by the 
prevalence and success so far of elegiac verse. The 
satiric and mystic elements of the aboriginal have also 
left their impress; the former accords well with the 
sly, retiring disposition of the Indians as compared 
with the other castes, their suspiciousness and as- 
sumption of even more than their natural stolidity, 
while it also points to a lack of power for loftier ex- 


pression. Similar remarks apply to the mystic form, 
which supplies with vague allusions what utterance 
fails to convey. The impulsive intonation and bom- 
bast manifested in odes and oratory is, on the other 
hand, from a Spanish source, evolved under congenial 
circumstances with the new race, and given free sway 
by the revolution. 

The independence opened wide the door for foreign 
influence toward research, method, style, in all 
branches of knowledge and art, and the press seeks 
to extend it, although as a rule, indirectly, through 
the medium of Mexico, which, under improving com- 
munications is rather strengthening her authority as 
the chief source, model, and market for Central 
American readers and writers. Paucity of popula- 
tion, and ignorance, and lack of ambition among the 
large proportion of Indians, add obstacles which it 
will take long to overcome. The people must learn 
above all, however, that peace is required to establish 
the secure prosperity which alone can give a fostering 
impulse to art and literature. 

^ There is some reason to believe that the Mayas attained even to an al- 
phabet. The sculptured hieroglyphics in regular compact squares, at both 
Copan and Palenque, seem identical with the written characters of surviving 
manuscripts, and bear a stamp superior to those of the Aztecs. The failure 
of the several attempted solutions has not dampened zeal in this direction ; 
in California alone more than one student has taken up the problem. Las 
Casas touches upon the subject eloquently in his Hkt. Apolog., MS., iv. 
367. The manuscript Troano published by the French government, the 
Dresden Codex, included in Kingsborough's work, and one other document 
in a European library, are the only written specimens left to us. 

2 Scherzer points out that the Quiche language does not distinguish be- 
tween green and blue. Xinienez, Hist. Orig. fnd., 15. 

^Brasseur de Bourboarg joined in the rush for relics, but his effort was to 
save from destruction, and nobly has he proven his intent in publications as 
priceless as they are interesting. Pelaez, Squier, Stephens, and Scherzer fig- 
ure by his side in rescuing and supplementing the earlier labors in this field 
of such men as Jimenez. Panama lost its archives chiefly by fires, which 
involved also to a great extent those of Nicaragua and other provinces de- 
pending on Guatemala and Lima. In Salvador earthquakes engulfed much 
material, while everywhere civil wars by invaders or factions assisted con- 
flagrations and neglect in completing the destruction. Thus it is that records 
of the early history of Central America must be sought chiefly in works 
written beyond its limits, in Spain and England, and above all in tlie manu- 
script and printed collections of documents issued from peninsular archives, 
where copies and originals of letters, reports, and even elaborate books on 

NOTES. 479 

the provinces accumulated, partly in the ordinary course of official routine, 
partly in obedience to repeated orders for transmission of material for the use 
of royal chroniclers, ' Para que se pueda proseguir la historia general de las 
Indias.' Eecop. de Ind., i. 629. 

*The incentive to collect historic material lay in the duty and personal 
motives prevailing among the European Spaniards who held nearly all the 
offices. Specimens of their reports have been frequently cited by me through- 
out these volumes in the original or copied manuscripts of Alvarado, Mon- 
te jo, Gil Gonzalez, Cerezeda, Estrada Gallego, Cadena, Miranda, Niebla, 
Castello, Avila, Duarte, Aninon, Izaguirre, Hermosillo, Velasco, biaya, and 
more from the Squier collection ; in the printed accounts issued in the col- 
lections by Pacheco and Cardenas, Squier, Ternaux-Compans, Arevalo 
and others. 

^ For an account of the life and works of the chroniclers of Central Amer- 
ica, I refer to the bibliographic notes scattered throughout the first two vol- 
umes of my histories of Central America and of Mexico. 

^Fuentes' Norte Politico forms a suitable adjunct to his history in giving 
an account of the duties, privileges and ceremonies of the ayuntamiento of 
Guatemala, whereof he was a member. Allusion is made to this manuscript 
in the records of the city council for 1700, which refer a dozen years pre- 
viously to Fuentes' researches in the local archives. While his history is the 
fir^it recognized as such, Beristain refers to an earlier Historia de Guatemala 
by Friar Estevan Aviles, which remained in manuscript, and has disappeared. 
It may have been used by Fuentes. Contemporary with him were the mili- 
tary leaders Nicolas de Valenzuela and Pero Ursiia, engaged in the conquest 
of the Itza country, of which the former in particular wrote a very minute 
account. This and other material was used by Villagutierre Soto-mayor 
relator of the India Council, to form a very complete Historia de la Conquista 
de Itza, with the necessary information concerning the discovery and features 
of the country. The book opens in a most direct manner, but drifts gradu- 
ally into trivial details. The author has evidently no aptitude for florid cul- 
tismo ; but while the diction is not inflated, the phraseology is loose and in- 
volved, so that altogether interest finds little means to sustain itself. The 
work is rather on than of Central America. More in the style of Vazquez ia 
tlie Informe sohre la Suhlevacion de las Zendales, a manuscript of 78 folios, by 
Friar Pedro Marselino Garcia. The Creole, Jose Sanchez, wrote a history 
of Guatemala, MS., dated 1779, but it is little known and by no means the 
connected or complete review of events and institutions indicated by the 
title. Father Ramon Leal, of the Dominican order, wrote at the end of the 
seventeenth century the G uatemalensis Ecclesice Monumenta, which relates more 
particularly to the capital. 

' Similar to Juarros in its descriptive features is the little Memoria His- 
toiica de Chiapa, by Mariano Robles Dominguez de Mazariegos, deputy to the 
cortes for his province, which shows a clear, plain, business-like hand. 

^ For an account of these dififerent grades of historical writings and their 
authors, I refer to the bibliographic notes of my historical volumes. There 
1 have shown that however defective the style and treatment may often be, 
the value of the contributions to the investigator is not overlooked, particu- 
larly in such instances as Manuel M. de Peralta, who modestly confines him- 
self to an able presentation of original documents on the history of Costa 
Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama, rather than to strive for the more ambitious 
efi"ort of using them for historic dissertations. His merit shines no less 
brightly, however, in the \ ast research, the careful arrangement, and the 
appropriate notes. 

'The name of the first printer in Guatemala appears by a slip as Sbarra, 
in Pelacz, Mem. Giiat., ii. 2G0. Ternaux writes Francisco de Pineda. Nouv. 
Annales des Voy., xciii. 25. According to Echevero, the first matrices for 


type made in America must be credited to the printer Arevalo of Guatemala, 
ill 1742. 

I-' Of the first Guatemalan work there is a copy in my library. Ternaux 
has an epic, La Thomasiada by Diego Saenz, printed the same year. Uld sup. 
Pelaez mentions some later books, and one for 1GG3, which seems to be Lobo's. 

1^ Arevalo was evidently a relative of the contemporary Mexican journal- 
ist, who in 1731 alludes to this journal. Arevalo, Compendio, preface, 2. The 
first suspension occurred in 1731. Valdes dates its existence about 1740. 
GazeUis de Mex. (1784), i. 3; Id., x. 207; Mex. Diano, vi. 20G, etc. 

i^Marure gives a list of journals published between 1821 and 1842 in five 
of the Central American states. Efememles, 77-9. His number for Guate- 
mala is 57. Reichardt states that Nicaragua had in 1 852 only one press and 
one journal. Nic, 222. In 1872 the Porvenir de Nicaragua of Dec. 8th, 
enumerates four, while Guatemala possesses ten and Salvador fifteen. Of 
the four, two are supported by the government, and the other two barely 
manage to exist. La Universidad Nacional, begun in 1875 at San Salvador, 
is one of the brightest of the few literary and scientific journals of Central 
America. During the California gold excitement, and for some time after, 
polyglot journals appeared in Nicaragua and Panama, with the aid of Eng- 
lish editors, or even French, and at Panama this feature has proved perma- 
nent. Instance the Panama, Echo of 1850, and the surviving Star and Herald. 

"The final abolishment of censorship in the northern states took place 
in 1871. Guat. Recap. Leyes, i. 4; iv. 240-7. Yet in the following year an 
outcry was raised against Costa Rica for prohibiting, under imprisonment 
and other penalty, any strictures on the authorities. Nic. Sewanal, Oct. 31, 
1872; Porvenir JVic, Nov. 10, 1872. See also Pacha, Codhjo Nic, i. 173-6; 
Gaceta Guat, June 18, 1849; El Sigla, May 15, 1852; Gac. Ofic. Hand., May 
30, 1852, Jan. 20, 1853; Nic, Decret. y Acuerd.. 1860, 140-2; 1872, 34-40; 
Nic Liforme Min. Gab., v. 2-3; vi. 16. Bonds were generally demanded 
from editors. Notwithstanding the decline of ecclesiastical influence en- 
actments have appeared against impious as w^ell as pernicious books. Guat. 
Recap. I^eyes, iii. 286-7; Cent. Am. Pamphlets, v. pt. vi. 

1* The original manuscript of Vazquez, a closely written volume of over 
200 folios, in double columns, dated 1724, is in my library. It was never 
printed. Siria's work was issued at Guatemala in. 1716 in 4*' form of 330 
pages. To these may be added the Vida de la Vmjen and other religious 
treatises by the Jesuit Juan Antonio de Oviedo, a native of Bogota, educated 
in Guatemala but chiefly connected Mdth Mexico. He died in 1757. The 
Dominican Father Leal who wrote the Ecclesic Manumenta, containing the 
lives of the bishops of Guatemala, was a Peruvian; and the Jesuit Jose 
Ignacio Vallejo, author of Vida de S. Jas6, came from Guadalajara. 

1^ Friar Pedro Sapien, Pedro Jose Arrece, a presbyter. Friar Pedro Mari- 
ano Iturbide, and Friar Juan Lerrasa, all of Guatemala city, wrote on 
philosophic subjects; and Friar Miguel Frausesch, Friar Jose Antonio Goi- 
coechea and Friar Matias de Cordova on educational topics. 

16 The work never saw the press, but the contents were plagiarized by 
Doctor Pablo Feliz Cabrera and published in condensed form, with certain 
new interpretations, under the title of Teatro Critico, in connection with 
Ria's Description of an Ancient City, London, 1822. Both translated into 
German, Berlhi, 1 832. Besides these I have in my library one of the two 
or at the most three copies extant of Ordonez' work. Moreover, a great 
portion of the bulky tome before me is in the original, marked by frequent 



Nescire autem, quid antea, quam natus sis, acciderit, id est semper esse 

— Cicero. 

Mexico was the first city on the American conti- 
nent to own a printing-press and to pubhsh a book, a 
claim that adds not a Kttle to the prestige of the Aztec 
capital. The press came out with Viceroy Mendoza, 
who arrived in October 1535, and appears to have 
been in charge of Juan Pablos from Lombardy, acting 
for Juan Cromberger, the owner of a printing-house 
at Seville. Cromberger died in 1540, and although 
permission was granted for the widow and children to 
continue his business, Pablo must have bought their 
interest, for after 1544 he obtained royal permission 
to carry on printing exclusively for a term of years/ 

The first book issued was the Escala Espiritual 
para llegar at Cielo, Traducidode Latin en CasteUano por 
el Venerable Padre Fr. Ivan de la Madalena, Religioso 
DominicOy in 1536. The work had been originally 
written in Greek by San Juan Climacus, the hermit. 
Madalena was the cloister name for Estrada, the son 
of Governor Estrada, the successor of Cortes, a feature 
which lends additional interest to the work.^ 

The Escala no longer exists, and the history of its 
immediate successors on the press is involved in doubt. 
Only two books of the fourth decade are said to sur- 
vive — the Breve y Mas Compendiosa Doctrina Christiana 
en Lengua Mexicana y Castellana. At the end, ^'By 
order of Bishop Zumd-rraga, by Cromberger, 1539/* 

Essays and Miscellany 31 (481) 


12 leaves in 4to. The other is a Manual de Adultos,m 
by Logrono, printed by Cromberger, December 13,] 
1540, which recently found its way to London/ Half 
a score of other books printed before 1550 are nov 
known to bibliographers, one of them in my library,] 
and about six dozen more exist with dates of the| 
sixteenth century. 

Of these Icazbalceta gives a catalogue of 44, whichl 
are nearly all in Mexico, several in his own possession.! 
Harrisse presents a fuller list, and less complete ones! 
have been printed in several works. Those issued 
before 1550 are, besides the three enumerated above, 
Relacion del espantahle terremoto. . ,el Guatimala, 1541, 
Cromberger ; Doctrina breue of Bishop Zumdrraga, 
1543; Tripartito del, , , luan Gerson, 1544, Cromberger ; 
Compendio hreue que tracta . , .de hacer las processiones, 
1544, Cromberger; another fuller edition of same 
year; Doctrina expiana . . .por Pedro de Cordoua, 1544, 
Cromberger; Doctrina Christiana, 1546, Cromberger 
is not mentioned; Cancionero Spiritual of Las Casas, 
1546, Juan Pablos here affixes his first imprint; Regla 
Christiana breue, 1547 ; Si Doctrina of 1548, Juan Pablos; 
another Doctrina, of doubtful date ; Ordenac^as y copi- 
lacion de leyes: hechas por, . , Antonio deMedoca, 1548, 
Juan Pablos.* 

A few more sixteenth century tomes may no doubt 
be brought to light, particularly in the Mexican con- 
vents. Among the existing number, twenty-seven 
are minor ecclesiastical works, such as manuals of 
church ceremonies, catechisms, and doctrinas, reprinted 
for the most part from Spanish editions, and of no 
value save as rare samples of New World typography. 
Of the remainder, thirty-seven are works similar to 
the above, but partially translated into various native 
dialects, chiefly the Aztec, together with a few vocab- 
ularies and brief grammatical rules. 

Ten others are ecclesiastical works of a somewhat 
higher class, notably regulations of the religious 
orders. There are two medical treatises, and two 


classical commentaries. Two present secular laws 
and the ordenanzas of the Viceroy Mendoza, one an 
account of a terrible earthquake in Guatemala, and 
another an account of the funeral ceremonies of 
Philip II. These first fruits of the American press 
were many of them issued in several editions. 

Among the authors figure such notable men as 
Zumdrraga, the iconoclast, first bishop of Mexico; 
Father Gante, the first teacher in New Spain ; Father 
Veracruz, the zealous missionary ; Molina, who formed 
the first Aztec vocabularly, even now a standard work. 
Latin is the most frequent medium after Spanish, 
then come Aztec, Tarascan, Otomi, Miztec, and 
Zapotec. The type is Gothic, Italic, and Roman, 
with frequent abbreviations and rare woodcuts of a 
rude character, re-introduced into different works. 
The size varies from folio to octavo, the small quarto 
predominating. The binding is usually the plain 
vellum wrapper. 

Printing was hampered by too many restrictions to 
attain any flourishing condition, and only the leading 
towns like Puebla, Guadalajara, and Vera Cruz could 
exhibit presses. At Mexico it appears there were 
six in 1761 ; but at the beginning of this century only 
three remained.^ These printers had to obtain licenses, 
not being allowed to print without official sanction. 

The introduction of books was rigorously supervised, 
so as to exclude anything that savored of heresy, or 
too great liberty of thought and speculation ; and 
even books authorized in Spain were often excluded 
as dangerous to the loyal or moral tendency of the 
more unsophisticated children beyond the sea.* While 
the inquisition possessed the main censorship, inter- 
ference came also from other quarters to protect the 
public. Notwithstanding this strictness, many books 
were smuggled in and read even by prelates, as 
appears from charges made. Latterly the govern- 
ment became more induls^ent. 


Periodicals were ever strictly watched, even so far 
as to frequently exclude from their columns narratives 
of ordinary events, and to render them of compara- 
tively small value to the historian. A sort of special 
journal was issued in early times on the arrival of the 
fleets, with accounts of important occurrences, of 
appointments, and the like, but the first issue of a 
regular periodical was begun at Mexico in 1693, with 
the Mercurio Volante of Sigiienza, which reached four 
volumes. In 1722 Juan Ignacio Maria de Castorena 
y Ursua, precentor at Mexico, and later bishop of 
Yucatan, presented in the Gaceta a publication more 
in accordance with our idea of a journal. The issue 
stopped for some reason the same year, but was re- 
sumed in 1728 by Arevalo.' It continued monthly 
until 1739, reporting events in different provinces and 
towns and in Europe, and giving notices of fleets, 
books, and curious things. Then came a long in- 
terval until 1784, when the Gaceta de Mexico reappeared 
permanently in about the same form, in semi-monthly 
numbers, occasionally weekly, and with supplements 
and illustrations. In 1805 it expanded to semi- 
weekly numbers.* 

Meanwhile the Mercurio had been twice revived, in 
1772 by Bartolache who issued a few numbers on 
scientific subjects. This higher sphere of periodicals 
received its first reliable support from the learned 
Alzate in his Gacetas de Literatura, devoted to arts, 
science, and critical reviews. In 1805, about ten 
years after Alzate' s paper stopped, a similiar daily 
publication, the Diario de MexicOy made its appearance, 
with preference for light literature, yet with a small 
proportion of political matter. It continued for sev- 
eral years, and consisted generally of two small quarto 
sheets. The projector was the alcalde de corte. Villa 
Urrutia. Reports of transactions by societies became 
not infrequent even before the independence. 

The revolution gave rise to a number of small 
sheets, and the greater liberty accorded to the press 


after 1810 gave impulse to all classes of literature. 
Periodicals were issued also at a few other places, as 
Guatemala and Vera Cruz, but these could not in- 
fringe on the exclusive rights granted to the official 
paper at Mexico to publish certain foreign and local 

With the limited range of education and the re- 
strictions on literature it can readily be supposed that 
collections of books were not numerous, beyond the 
convents, where more or less extensive libraries very 
naturally collected, almost wholly of a theological 
nature. To these, different chronicles of the orders 
refer as the source for their data. The chief collec- 
tions were at the head convent of the provincia, to 
which flowed all reports, and where the chief school 
of the order was situated. 

The few colleges accumulated sets, as in San Juan 
de Letran, the Jesuit institute, and the university. 
The churches had also respectable libraries formed by 
donations from chapters and prelates, and so had the 
public offices, notably the audience court from which 
the royal chronicler drew his data.^' 

From what has been said about the strict exclusion 
of foreign books and the zealous efforts of churchmen 
to banish also light Spanish literature, it may be as- 
sumed that the collections were even more national in 
their character than would be expected in a colony ; 
that is, composed of works written within the country, 
and vastly preponderating in theologic lore. True, 
the standard authors of Spain, scholastics, legal lights, 
chroniclers, poets, dramatists, formed the gems, the 
nucleus, of the sets ; but we can readily imagine the 
proportion of local writers and of subjects for the rest, 
when it is shown that merely the Franciscan authors 
of New Spain, who until 1800 inflicted their verbose 
and monotonous narratives and dissertations on a sub- 
missive people, numbered over four hundred,'' and 


when it is considered that the religious teachers 
guided pubUc taste, and strove to obtain a circulation 
for their own productions. 

This feature is of certain significance, since it 
stamped to a great extent the literary taste in all di- 
rections. The friars were not what were called well- 
read men. Many missionaries in the out-lying prov- 
inces, who have contributed so much to history, pos- 
sessed a merely rudimentary education ; others had 
taken degress at their colleges without dipping into 
other lore than that furnished by the fathers of the 
church. Medina points out that his order heeded 
well the exhortation of St Francis to his followers — 
not to profess sciences and books, but to study humil- 
ity." Such writers as Torquemada, whose knowledge 
of Greek and Latin classics created some attention 
for him, were therefore rare ; yet even this class had 
been so moulded in the religious element of their 
studies, and by the ascetic influence around them, as 
to leave the impress thereof on every page. 

Since every work had to pass through the hands of 
censors, notably the rigid inquisition, it became al- 
most necessary to give a pious tinge to the pages in 
order to secure permission to publish, and above all 
to suppress whatever savored of acquaintance with 
works not favored by the church. Ever}^ book, even 
the petty pamphlet, is prefaced with a host of certifi- 
cates to vouch for its orthodox and local sentiments, 
and the absence of anything that might disturb the 
desired frame of the public mind. 

Add to this the control of schools and colleges by 
ecclesiastic teachers, bound by training and duty to 
leaven the youthful mind with religious dogmas and 
forms, discouraging physics and cognate subjects, 
and strictly excluding speculative thought of a liberal 
character ; even the study of medicine would probably 
have been frowned down but for the exigent demand 
of health. Thus bigotry stifled intellectual life. A 
lamentable superstition is apparent in the works even 


of later writers, who, like Yeytia, had travelled and 
dipped widely into foreign literature. Critical and 
satiric writings were banished, the eloquence of the 
bar and pulpit depressed, and didactic works circum- 
scribed, a certain outlet being permitted only in 
poetry and the drama, which from the pressure of 
pent-up feeling in this direction became tinged with 
undesirable elements and colors. 

All this was but a reflection of the influence at work 
in Spain, intensified here where the people for various 
reasons must be held in stricter pupilage. Born amid 
the strife of battle, literature had sprung forth endowed 
with the strength of its mountain home, and fired 
with the enthusiasm of heroic spirits. Similar influ- 
ences fostered it also on the Anahuac plateau, where 
the chivalry romances, with Amadis in the lead, urged 
the conquering hordes to fresh deeds and wider roam- 
ing. Yet this early period was one of transition from 
a decline to a revival of letters, whereof even Bernal 
Diaz, with all his crudities, affords an indication. The 
new impulse came from Italy, to which the gilded 
youth of Spain had been led under the victorious ban- 
ners of the Great Captain, only to fall captive in the 
meshes of an intellectual influence that was slowly to 
change the national form ; a form hitherto colored 
only by Moorish sources, from which the ballads in 
particular had borrowed so much material. Although 
the new school met with strong opposition in certain 
quarters, and failed to find root for all its branches, 
the effect was wide-spread and vivifying, even to the 
conservative faction. This is instanced by the splen- 
dor of the Yega-Calderon period, and even in such prose 
writers as Solis, wherein, however, affectation and 
floridity reach a degree that is unendurable to the 
Anglo-Saxon ear, though not equal to the still wilder 
revelling of the Concettisti. Among these our Sala- 
zar y Olarte may well figure as a representative, and 
their spirit has found only too wide a response in 


American literature, with its extravagant and unsus- 
tained soarings in fancy and diction. 

What was excusable in poetry became a glaring de- 
fect in prose. The latter indeed received compara- 
tively little study in historic and didactic branches, 
and fell far behind poetry in appropriate development. 
Not so, however, romance, which continued to flourish, 
intimately connected as it was with the prevalent bal- 
lad spirit so rooted on the peninsula. But it took a 
departure from chivalry romance in the picaresco, rogu- 
ish novels, which are distinctively Spanish, yet owe 
their rise greatly to Italian fiction. A high standard 
was reached in those wherein Cervantes has challenged 
universal admiration. 

The establishment of the Bourbon dynasty prepared 
the way for another change where Italian influence 
was displaced by French. This met with similar op- 
position from the national party and affected literature 
in a less radical manner than the former, yet it infused 
everywhere a more classic and sedate tone, even when 
direct application failed. It seems, however, as if the 
bridle proved also a check on genius, for the eighteenth 
century produced no poet at all comparable to those 
of the preceding period ; but prose was lifted to a 
higher level, and early national literature came into 
favor transformed to some extent after the new models. 
The royal academy, founded in 1714, sougth to confirm 
the taste by praiseworthy efforts in different directions, 
notably in the dictionary, its crowning task. Gallic 
influence is above all to be accredited with assisting 
to break down the barriers so long maintained by big- 
otry ; and herein the Benedictine Feijoo proved an 
admirable instrument by his long and persevering on- 
slaught against the prevailing dialects and scholasti- 
cism, and by his exposition of scientific studies. 

That this sketch of peninsula literature applies to 
New Spain is evident from the fact that foreign books 
were excluded, while teachers and guides had nearly 
all been trained in Spain. The difference lay in the 


slower introduction of changes, in their greater cur- 
tailment, and in the modifications imparted by a var- 
iety of races. The Creole was precocious and impul- 
sive, but unsustained, non-persevering, and his indo- 
lence of spirit, added to the non-reflective bent of the 
Castilian, imparted a shallowness to his efforts. Nev- 
ertheless, the catalogue of prominent writers contains 
a large proportion of local names, many of which cast 
a lustre that has obtained for them a trans-oceanic 

Among the Indians also a long array of writers 
stands forth to redeem the race from the obloquy with 
which caste, distinction, and short-sighted policy have 
assisted to cover them ; and while their mind is almost 
wholly imitative, lacking in breadth and subtlety, 
and strikingly devoid of imagination and invention, 
yet their aptitude for mastering mechanical details 
tends to hide many imperfections. It would seem as 
if the bloody rites, monarchial despotism, and popular 
serfdom had from remotest times left an impression 
on their literary efforts. 

In aboriginal times they were naturally hampered 
by the imperfect system of writing, which consisted 
chiefly of figurative and symbolic characters, with a 
mere admixture of phonetic elements. It was fully 
understood alone by the priesthood who kept the 
records, and by the select educated few, while another 
less advanced class comprehended the more common 
signs, with their narrow range of exoteric subjects, 
and stood in this respect above the mass of the 
people. The Nahuas, and perhaps even more so the 
Mayas, stood conspicuously forward as the most ad- 
vanced in culture on the American continent ; and 
nothing so strikingly illustrates this superiority as 
their picture-writing. Rising above the use of repre- 
sentative and symbolic pictures as adequate only for 
temporary purposes, they conceived the idea of per- 
manent records, and consequently developed and per- 


fected their hieroglyphic system until they had added 
a phonetic element. The realization of the want was 
the true beginning, was almost the accomplished fact; 
all the rest followed as naturally as the plant germi- 
nates from the seed. With them the painted like- 
ness of glistening drops no longer signified, as in more 
primitive stages, simply the pictured substance atlj as 
it would have signified, with equal clearness, water, 
eau, or agua to the Englishman, Frenchman, or Span- 
iard ; but it conveyed to the reader's mind the sound 
or syllable atl, or even a, in many words which retain 
in their meaning and derivation no reference what- 
ever to the fluid depicted by the character. The 
transition to the phonetic element is strikingly illus- 
trated in the illustrated rebuses — children's hierogly- 
phics — as when charity is written by drawing in suc- 
cession a chair, an eye, and a chest of tea, chair-eye- 
tea. The sounds of the word have their meaning. 
To the Frenchman the same pictures, chaise-oeil- 
the would have no significance. One stage of de- 
velopment only, that from representative syllabic 
character to an arbitrary literal alphabet, remained, to 
which the native American litterateur might aspire. 
But we must not picture too broad the gulf that sep- 
arates Aztec literature and its aboriginal amateurs 
from the writer and printer of the present day. The 
future scribe, seated on the pedestal of the centuries, 
may consider the difference slight, and condemn our 
signs as crude. 

Every phase of human knowledge is a development 
from a germ, a result, grand or otherwise, built by 
gradual accumulation upon small beginnings. The 
wheel of progress, now whirling with such lightning 
speed through the nations, accomplished but slowly 
and with frequent rests its primary revolutions. And 
yet the first triumphs of our race were the most glo- 
rious and the most important. From these have 
sprung all subsequent conquests of mind over matter. 
The naked, primitive man, who, threatened by superior 


animals, first defended his life, and opposed brute 
force by intelligent cunning in the use of a projectile, 
became thereby a just claimant to some part of the 
honor due the inventor of the rifled cannon. The 
aboriginal who first bethought him to call into requi- 
istion a floating log for crossing the river, was the true 
originator of the ocean steamer. In painting and 
sculpture, the actual old masters were those whose 
latent power revealed itself by caricaturing in lines 
of coal or berry-juice, or rudely modelling in river- 
bank mud the forms of familiar objects. In literature, 
as in all art and science, "c'est le premier pas qui 
coute." The first wild bohemian who, by a mark on 
a forest tree indicated to him who came after the 
route taken, was the founder of written language. 
He who signed the tree record with his name, ' The 
Panther,' by an outline carving of the beast whose 
appellation and qualities he had assumed, achieved a 
greater triumph than did in later times the inventor 
of movable types ; and the first faint conception of a 
phonetic in addition to a purely representative use of 
the native pictures was one more pregnant with re- 
sults in the interests of progress than was that of the 

Every wild tribe from Alaska to Panamd, before 
its obliteration, had made more or less progress in 
representative picture-writing. Their primitive pages, 
carved or painted on wood or stone, are open to in- 
spection in every one of the Pacific states. Some of 
the pages doubtless contain also symbolic writing; 
surely many of the figures represent no natural object 
in the heavens above or the earth beneath. The sav- 
age who, to save labor, gradually omits features, 
limbs, and body from the picture by which he indi- 
cates 'a man,' until nothing is left but a line arbi- 
trarily crooked, certainly makes no small advance in 
the direction of shorthand. His idea is a grand one; 
not that it enlarges greatly at first the scope of his 
recording abilities, but by reason of the possible re- 



suits to which it may lead. Symbolic writing, in its 
abandonment of clues for general interpretation, often 
leaves no positive proof of being a class of cipher; not 
a few of the curious characters that so sorely puzzle 
antiquarian investigators may be fairly attributed to 
the propensity possessed by savages, in common with 
children, to seek amusement in the tracing of mean- 
ingless lines. 

These picture-pages of American savagism, proving 
as they do that their authors were on the road to let- 
ters, are, nevertheless, utterly devoid of meaning to 
us. Enthusiastic attempts to explain their significance 
have signally failed, and theories reared on the Digh - 
ton rock inscription have proved inapplicable. The 
ludicrous failure of Domenech's Book of Savages has 
dampened the ardor of many. Representative and sym- 
bolic hieroglyphics, unaided by the phonetic or alpha- 
betic element, may rarely be handed down to a follow- 
ing generation. Left alone the native germ would 
have developed, but it was not so decreed. All honor 
nevertheless to the dusky scribes I They did what 
they could before us in trying to decipher the mystery. 
Thanks to the efforts of our ancestors for hundreds 
of centuries past, rather than to any merit of our 
own, we are enabled to work systematically for the 
attainment of a desired end, and by means and devices 
which shine in comparison with those of the remote 
past, as they will pale before those of the less remote 

The Aztec system of writing, although imperfect, 
was adequate enough to their by no means small or 
simple necessities. By its aid they could intelligibly 
commit their language to sheets of cloth or skin, but 
chiefly to long strips of the native metl, or agave-paper, 
rolled or if preferable folded fan-like into a form con- 
venient for use Thus they recorded the laws of their 
complicated code, the tribute-rolls of their conquered 
domains, ritual tables of feast-days, and sacrifices 
appointed to honor the divinities of an over-crowded 


pantheon, genealogic lists of kings and noble families, 
with the chronology of their succession, and the 
events of their respective reigns; in fact their history 
— for they, like Europeans of the same age, deemed 
the deeds only of kings and priests worthy of the 
recorder's notice. 

Over this magic hieroglyphic art a veil of mystery 
was cast. The priesthood controlled it as they did 
all else in this American Middle Age, and only a 
chosen few could aspire to fathom its secrets. The 
million could only stand aloof and wonder as they 
listened to the vague rumors afloat respecting the 
wonderful powers of the god-like literati with their 
charmed scrolls. 

The last native triumph in letters was won. Fate, 
envious of their indigenous success, refused to the 
Americans a few centuries more in order to enlarge 
and perfect what they had so nobly accomplished. 
Their literature and civilization, their priesthood and 
religion, withered at the touch of foreign interference, 
never to revive. Not only was the further unfolding 
of Nahua letters effectually checked, but the light 
which the Aztec records might have shed on the 
American past was in a great measure extinguished 
in the flood of foreign fanaticism. Before the coming 
of the Europeans the native documentary records, 
comparatively few in number, were collected in the 
principal religious centres, and locked in the archives 
of the capital cities, there to be seized and destroyed 
by order of catholic bishops. Not alone to the barba- 
rian invasions, civil broils, or Roman catholic zeal is 
due the infamy of book-burning, an infamy as much 
more odious than human slaughter as knowledge is 
better than life. The calif Omar burns the writings 
of the Greeks lest they should not agree with his 
holy book ; the catholic fathers burn the writings of 
the heathen lest they should not agree with their 
holy book ; and later and stranger infatuation than 
all, protestants burn the books of the catholics be- 


cause in their opinion they do not fairly represent the 
faith which both accept. In the reign of Edward IV. 
the reforming visitors of the university of Oxford 
purged the pubHc hbrary of popery ; leaving only a 
manuscript of Valerius Maximus, they burned the 
remaining writings in the market-place, or sold them 
to low artificers. A cartload of manuscripts, including 
even mathematical figures, rubrics, and astronomical 
demonstrations, was thus taken from the library of 
Merton college. 

The Reverendissimo Senor Don Fray Juan Zumdr- 
raga, a most venerable and illustrious Franciscan, was 
a man of great learning, as learning then went. A 
native of Durango, a city of northern Spain, his early 
life was devoted to the strict observances of the rules 
of his order, which led to his appointment as guardian 
of the convent of Concepcion, and later of Abrigo, a 
convent near Valladolid, whither Charles V. was wont 
to retire during holy- week; and so greatly pleased 
was the monarch with the priest's devotion, that when 
Cortes captured Montezuma, Zumdrraga was made 
first bishop of Mexico. His zeal was surpassed only 
by his bigotry ; and for this the natives had reason to 
curse, while blessing him, because he discouraged their 
indiscriminate abuse. 

Zumdrraga was a good man, a pious man, an honest 
man. His was an enlightened conscience in so far as 
light had as yet reached this planet. His trouble 
was excess of conscience. His piety overwhelmed 
his humanity. He would do men good if he had to 
torture or slay in order to accomplish it. 

Because, forsooth, the Christian's devil lurked be- 
tween those barbaric pages ; because characters unex- 
plainable by papal Daniels must be scrawls of Satan, 
traced by pitchy fingers to the eternal confounding 
of these poor heathens; because of a learned infatu- 
ation well nigh incomprehensible to us of the present 
day, there must be sacrificed and lost to progres- 
sive man treasures inestimable, pictures of primitive