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University of California • Berkeley 

The Peter and Rosell Harvey 
Memorial Fund 




—t^^-L^^ <L^^ 

















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

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 

All Rights Resei-ved. 



THE FIELD , o 1 























MY rmST BOOK 277 














HOME 446 























BURNED OUTI •••. 769 






Which gives me 
A more content in course of true delight 
Thau to be thirsty after tottering honour, 
Or tie my pleasvire up in silken bags, 
To please the fool and death. 


This volume closes the narrative portion of my 
historical series ; there yet remains to be completed 
the biographical section. 

It is now over thirty years since I entered upon 
the task to-day accomplished. During this period 
my efforts have been continuous. Sickness and death 
have made felt their presence; financial storms have 
swept over the land, leaving ghastly scars; calamities 
more or less severe have at various times called at 
my door; yet have I never been wholly overwhelmed, 
or reached a point where was forced upon me a cessa- 
tion of library labors, even for a single day. Nor has 
my work been irksome ; never have I lost interest 
or enthusiasm; never have I regretted the consecra- 
tion of my life to this cause, or felt that my abilities 
might have been better employed in some one of the 
great enterprises attending the material development 
of this western world, or in accumulating property, 
which was never a difficult thing for me to do. It 
has been from first to last a labor of love, its im- 
portance ever standing before me paramount to that 
of any other undertaking in which I could engage, 
while of this world's goods I have felt that I had 


always my share, and have been ready to thank God 
for the means necessary to carry forward my work to 
its fall completion. And while keenly alive to my lack 
of ability to perform the task as it ought to be done, 
I have all the time been conscious that it were a thou- 
sand times better it should be done as I could do it 
than not at all. 

What was this task ? It was first of all to save 
to the world a mass of valuable human experiences, 
which otherwise, in the hurry and scramble attend- 
ing the securing of wealth, power, or place in this 
new field of enterprise, would have dropped out 
of existence. These experiences were all the more 
valuable from the fact that they were new; the con- 
ditions attending their origin and evolution never had 
before existed in the history of mankind, and never 
could occur ao^ain. There was here on this coast the 
ringing-up of universal intelligence for a final display 
of what man can do at his best, with all the powers 
of the past united, and surrounded by conditions 
such as had never before fallen to the lot of man to 

Secondly, having secured to the race a vast amount 
of valuable knowledge which otherwise would have 
passed into oblivion, my next task was to extract 
from this mass what would most interest people 
in history and biography, to properly classify and 
arrange the same, and then to write it out as a his- 
torical series, in the form of clear and condensed 
narrative, and so place within the reach of all this 
gathered knowledge, which otherwise were as much 
beyond the reach of the outside world as if it never 
had been saved. Meanwhile the work of collect- 
ing continued, while I erected a refuge of safety for 
the final preservation of the library, in the form 
of a fire-proof brick building on Valencia street, in 
the city of San Francisco. Finally, it was deemed 
necessary to add a biographical section to the history 
proper, in order that the builders of the common- 


wealths on this coast miofht have as full and fair 
treatment as the work of their hands was receiving. 

Not that the plan in all its completeness arose 
in my mind as a whole in the first instance. Had 
it so presented itself, and with no alternative, I 
never should have had the courasre to undertake it. 
It was because I was led on by my fate, following 
blindly in paths where there was no returning, that I 
finally became so lost in my labors that my only way 
out was to finish them. Wherefore, although I am not 
conscious of superstition in my nature, I cannot but 
feel that in this f^reat work I was but the humble in- 
strument of some power mightier than I, call it provi- 
dence, fate, environment, or what you will. All the 
originatings of essential ideas and acts connected with 
the work grew out of the necessities of the case, and 
were not in the main inventions of mine, as this volume 
will show. That I should leave my home and friends at 
the east and come to this coast an unsophisticated boy, 
having in hand and mind the great purpose of secur- 
ing to a series of commonwealths, destined to be sec- 
ond in intelligence and importance to none the sun 
has ever shone upon, more full and complete early 
historical data than any government or people on earth 
enjoy to-day, is not for a moment to be regarded as 
the facts of the case. It was the vital expression of 
a compelling energy. 

Nor is it out of place, this referring of our 
physical unfoldings to the undeterminable for expla- 
nation, for it is only since the world has been so 
plainly told that it sees somewhat of the action and 
effect of environment. The individual entity, if it be 
an intelligent, thinking entity, does not now imagine 
itself either its own product or the exclusive product 
of any other individual entity. The unthinking thing 
acts and is acted on by universal regulation, passively, 
unknowingly. Even the natural selections of progress 
are made in accordance therewith, and seldom artifi- 
cially or arbitrarily. Underlying all phenomena is 
the absolute, the elemental source of vital knowledge; 


and thus all the grand issues of life are referred back 
to a matter of carbon and ammonia. 

And now, while presenting here a history of my 
history, an explanation of my life, its efforts and ac- 
complishments, it is necessary first of all that there 
should be established in the mind of the reader a good 
and sufficient reason for the same. For in the absence 
of such a reason, to whose existence the simple appear- 
ino* of the book is ex hypothesi a declaration, then is the 
author guilty of placing himself before the world in 
the unenviable light of one who appears to think 
more highly of himself and his labors than the world 
thinks, or than the expressions and opinions of the 
world would justify him in thinking. 

In any of the departments of human activity, he 
alone can reasonably ask to be heard who has some 
new application of ideas; something to say which has 
never been said before; or, if said before, then some- 
thing which can be better said this second or twentieth 
time. Within the last clause of this proposition 
my efforts do not come. All ancient facts are well 
recorded; all old ideas are already clothed in more 
beautiful forms than are at my command. It there- 
fore remains to be shown that my historical labors, 
of which this volume is an exposition, come prop- 
erly within the first of the categories. And this I 
am confident will appear, namely, that I do not only 
deal in new facts, but in little else; in fiicts broug-ht 
out m this latter-day dispensation as a revelation of 
development as marvellous in its origin and as magi- 
cal in its results as any appearing upon the breaking 
up of the great dark age preceding the world's un- 
covering and enlightenment. Every glance westward 
was met by a new ray of intelligence ; every drawn 
breath of western air brought inspiration ; every step 
taken was over an untried field; every experiment, 
every thought, every aspiration and act were origi- 
nal and individual; and the faithful recorder of the 
events attendant thereunto, who must be at once 


poet and prophet of the new dispensation, had no 
need of legendary lore, of grandfather's tales, or of 
paths previously trodden. 

And not only should be here established a proper 
reason for the appearance of this volume, as the re- 
sults of a life of earnest endeavor, but all its predeces- 
sors should be reestablished in the good opinions of 
the learned and intelligent world, of all who have so 
fully and freely bestowed their praise in times past ; 
for the two propositions must stand or fall together. 
If my historical efforts have been superfluous or un- 
necessary; if it were as well they had never been 
undertaken, or little loss if blotted out of existence, 
then, not only have they no right to exist, to cumber 
the earth and occupy valuable room upon the shelves 
of libraries, but this volume must be set down as 
the product of mistaken zeal commensurate with the 
ideas of the author in regard to the merit, original- 
ity, and value claimed for the series. In a word, if 
the work is nothing, the explanation is worse than 
nothing; but if the work is worthy of its reputation, 
as something individual, important, and incapable of 
repetition or reproduction, then is this history and 
description of it not only not inopportune or superflu- 
ous, but it is a work which should be done, a work 
imperatively demanded of the author as the right of 
those whose kindness and sympathy have sustained 
him in his lonoj and arduous undertakino^s. 

The proposition stands thus: As the author's life 
has been mainly devoted to this labor, and not his 
alone but that of many others, and as the work has 
been extensive and altogether different from any w^hich 
has hitherto been accomplished in any other part of 
the globe, it was thought that it might prove of inter- 
est if he should present a report, setting forth what he 
has accomplished and how he accomplished it. Com- 
ing to this coast a boy, he has seen it transformed 
from a wilderness into a garden of latter-day civiliza- 
tion, vast areas between the mountains and the sea 


which were at first pronounced valueless unfolding 
into homes of refinement and progress. It would 
therefore seem, that as upon the territory covered by 
his work there is now being planted a civilization des- 
tined in time to be superior to any now existing; and 
as to coming millions, if not to those now here, every- 
thing connected with the efforts of the builders of the 
commonwealths on these shores will be of vital inter- 
est — it seems not out of place to devote the last vol- 
ume of his historical series, proper, to an account of 
his labors in this field. 

It was rather a slow process, as affairs are at pres- 
ent progressing, that of belting the earth by Asiatic 
and European civilization. Three thousand years, or 
we might say four thousand, were occupied in making 
the circuit now effected daily by the conscious light- 
ning; three or four thousand years' in finding a path- 
way now the thoroughfare of the nations. Half the 
distance— that is, from the hypothetical cradle of this 
civilization eastward to the Pacific and westward to 
the Atlantic — was achieved at a comparatively early 
period. The other half dragged its slow course along, 
a light age and a dark age intervening, the work be- 
ginning in earnest only after the inventions of gun- 
powder, printing, and the mariner's compass, the last 
permitting presumptuous man to traverse the several 
seas of darkness. Even after Mediterranean navi- 
gators had passed the Pillars of Hercules, and ven- 
tured beyond the sight of land, several hundred years 
elapsed before the other earth's end was permanently 
attained by way of the east and the west on the Pa- 
cific shores of America. 

As the earth was thus disclosing its form and its 
secrets, men began to talk and write about it, saying 
much that was true and much that was false. First 
among the records are the holy books of Asia; holy, 
because their authors dwelt little on the things of 
this world concerning which they knew little, while 


they had much to say of other worlds of which they 
knew nothing. Then came Homer, Herodotus, and 
others, who wrote of the classic region on the central 
sea and its inhabited skies; and who, because they 
told more of truth, were pronounced profane. For 
fifteen hundred years the Ptolemy ^geographies and 
the standard cosmographies kept the world informed 
of its progress, filling the blank places of the universe 
from a fertile imagination. Following the works of 
the wise men of Egypt, India, and China were a mul- 
titude of histories and geographies by the scholars of 
Greece, and Rome, and western Europe. 

The finding of the cape of Good Hope route to 
India, and the discovery and occupation of the west- 
ern hemisphere, gave a mighty impulse to histories 
of the world, and their several parts became rapidly 
complete. Ail the grand episodes were written upon 
and rewritten by men of genius, patient and pro- 
found, and admiring thousands read the stories, be- 
queathing them to their children. By the middle of 
the nineteenth century there was scarcely a nation or 
a civilized state on the globe whose history had not 
been vividly portrayed, some of them many times. 
That part of the north temperate zone, the illuminated 
belt of human intelligence, where its new western end 
looks across the Pacific to the ancient east, the last 
spot occupied by European civilization, and the final 
halting-place of westward-marching empire, was ob- 
viously the least favored in this respect; while the 
tropical plateaux adjoining, in their unpublished an- 
nals, offered far more of interest to history than many 
other parts of which far more had been written. A 
hundred years before John Smith saw the spot on 
which was planted Jamestown, or the English pil- 
grims placed foot on the rock of Plymouth, thousands 
from Spain had crossed the high sea, achieved mighty 
conquests, seizing large portions of the two Americas 
and placing under tribute their peoples. They had 
built towns, worked mines, established plantations. 


and solved many of the problems attending European 
colonization in the New World. Yet, while the United 
States of North America could spread before English 
readers its history by a dozen respectable authors, the 
states of Central America and Mexico could produce 
comparatively few of their annals in English, and little 
worthy their history even in the Spanish language. 
Canada was better provided in this respect, as were 
also several of the governments of South America. 
Alaska belonged to Russia, and its history must come 
through Russian channels. British Columbia still 
looked toward England, but the beginning, aside from 
the earliest coast voyages, was from Canada. Wash- 
ington, Oregon, and the inland territory adjacent were 
an acknowledged part of the United States, whose 
acquisition from Mexico, in 1847, of the territory lying 
between the parallels 32° and 42" left the ownership of 
the coast essentially as it is to-day. Enticingly. stood 
these Pacific states before the enlightened world, yet 
neglected; for it is safe to say that there was no part 
of the globe equal in historic interest and importance 
to this western half of North America, includinof the 
whole of Mexico and Central America, which at the 
time had not its historical material in better shape, 
and its history well written by one or more competent 
persons. Before him who was able to achieve it, here, 
of all purposes and places, lay The F'ield. 

Midst the unfoldings of my fate, I found myself in 
the year of 1856 in the newly Americanized and gold- 
burnished country of California, in the city of San 
Francisco, which stands on a narrow peninsula, about 
midway between either extreme of the mighty stretch 
of western earth's end seaboard, beside a bay un- 
equalled by any along the whole seven thousand miles 
of shore line, and unsurpassed as a harbor by any in 
the world. Out of this circumstance, as from omnipo- 
tent accident, sprang the Literary Industries of which 
this volume is a record. 


California was then a-weary. Young, strong, with 
untouched, undreamed of resources a thousand-fold 
more dazzling than any yet uncovered, with a million 
matchless years before her during which to turn and 
overturn the world's great centres of civilization, pene- 
trate the mysteries of time, and bring to pass the 
unknowable, she was a-weary, spiritless as a sick girl 
after a brief and harmless dissipation, and suffering 
from that txdium vitx which comes from excess. 

Reaction after the flush times had fairly set in. 
Agriculture had not yet assumed great importance; 
still more insignificant were manufactures. Placer 
mining returns had fallen from an ounce of gold to 
half an ounce, then to a quarter of an ounce a day to 
the digger; quartz mining was as ruinous as gambling. 
Most of the merchants had already failed once, some 
of them several times. As a rule they had begun busi- 
ness on nothing, had conducted it recklessly, with large 
profits expecting still larger, until, from overtrading, 
from repeated fires and failures, they were awaking as 
from a commercial delirium to find themselves bank- 
rupt, and their credit and original opportunities alike 
gone. A maladie die pays seized upon some, w4io there- 
upon departed; others set about reforming their ideas 
and liabits, and so began the battle of life anew. 

There was little thought of mental culture at this 
time, of refinement and literature, or even of great 
wealth and luxury. The first dream was over of ships 
laden with gold-dust and of palaces at convenient inter- 
vals in various parts of the world, and humbler aspi- 
rations claimed attention. Yet beneath the rufi^led 
surface were the still, deep waters, which contained as 
much of science and philosophy as the more boisterous 
waves, commonly all that we regard of ocean. 

Slowly as were unlocked to man the wealth and 
mysteries of this Pacific seaboard, so will be the in- 
tellectual possibilities of this cradle of the new civili- 
zation. As a country once deemed unproductive can 


now from its surplus feed other countries, so from 
our intellectual products shall we some day feed the 
nations. In the material wealth and beauty with 
which nature has endowed this land we may find the 
promise of the wealth and beauty of mind. The 
metal-veined mountains are symbolic of the human 
force that will shortly dwell beneath their shadows. 
.And what should be the quality of the strength so 
symbolized? Out of terrace parks rise these moun- 
tains, lifting their granite fronts proudly into the 
ambient air, their glittering crests sporting and 
quarrelling with the clouds. Their ruggedness, now 
toned by distance into soft coral hues, time will 
smooth to nearer inspection, but even ages cannot 
improve the halo thrown over slopes covering untold 
milhoiis of mineral wealth by the blending of white 
snow-fields with red-flushed foothills. In further 
significance of aesthetics here to be unfolded we might 
point to the valleys carpeted with variegated flowers, 
golden purple and white, and whose hilly borders are 
shaggy with gnarled trees and undergrowth; to 
higher peaks, with their dense black forests, from 
which shoot pinnacles of pine, like spires of the green 
temple of God; to oak-shaded park lands, and islands 
and shores with bright-leaved groves, and long blue 
headlands of hills sheltering quiet bays; to dreamy, 
soft, voluptuous valleys, and plains glowing in sum- 
mer as from hidden fire, their primitive aspect already 
modified by man; to the lonely grandeur of craggy 
cliffs bathed in blue air, and deep gorges in the foot- 
hills seamed with fissures and veiled in purple mists; 
to winds rolling in from the ocean leaden fog-banks, 
and beating into clouds of white smoke the powdered 
flakes of snowclad summits, and sending them in whirl- 
winds to the milder temperatures below ; to lakes and 
watercourses lighted by the morning sun into lumi- 
nous haze; to summers radiant in sunshine, to winters 
smiling in tears; to misty moonlights and clarified 
noondays; to the vapor-charged elliptic arch that 


bathes the landscape with reflected light; to the pun- 
gent ocean air and the balsamic odor of canons; to 
these, and ten thousand other beauties of plain and 
sierra, sky and sea, which still encompass secrets of 
as mighty import to the race as any hitherto brought 
to the understanding of man. 

Civilization as the stronger element supplants sav- 
agism, drives it from the more favored spots of earth, 
and enters in to occupy. The aspects of nature 
have no less influence on the distribution or migrations 
of civilized peoples than upon indigenous unfoldings. 
It is a fact no. less unaccountable than pleasing to 
contemplate, that these western shores of North 
America should have been so long reserved, that a 
land so well adapted to cosmopolitan occupation, which 
has a counterpart for all that can be found in other 
lands, which has so little that is objectionable to any, 
which presents so many of the beauties of other climes 
and so few of their asperities — that so favorable a 
spot, the last of temperate earth, should have been 
held unoccupied so long, and then that it should have 
been settled in such a way, the only possible way it 
would seem for the full and immediate accomplishment 
of its high destiny — I say, though pleasing to con- 
template, it is passing strange. Here the chronic emi- 
grant must rest; there is for him no farther west. 
From its Asiatic cradle westward round the antipodes, 
to the very threshold of its source, civilization has 
ever been steady and constant on the march, leaving 
in its track the expended energies of dead nations 
unconsciously dropped into dream-land. A worn-out 
world is reanimated as it slowly wanders toward the 
setting sun. Constantinople shrivels, and San Fran- 
cisco springs into being. Shall the dead activities 
of primordial peoples ever revive, or their exhausted 
soil be ever re-created and worked by new nations'? 
If not, when our latest and last west is dead, in what 
direction lies the hope of the world ? 



The true, great want is of an atmosphere of sympathy in intellectual aims. 
An artist can afford to be poor, but not to be companionless. It is not well 
that he should feel pressing on him, in addition to his own doubt whether he 
can achieve a certain work, the weight of the public doubt whether it be 
worth achieving. No man can live entirely on his own ideal. 


Often^ during the progress of my literary labors 
questions have arisen as to the influence of California 
climate and society on the present and future develop- 
ment of letters. Charles Nordhofl* said to me one 
day at his villa on the Hudson, ^'The strangest part 
of it is how you ever came to embark in such a labor. 
The atmosphere of California is so foreign to literary 
pursuits, the minds of the people so much more intent 
on gold-getting and society pleasures than on intel- 
lectual culture and the investigation of historical or 
abstract subjects, that your isolation must have been 
severe. I could not help feeling this keenly myself," 
continued my entertainer, " while on your coast. 
With a host of friends ready to do everything in 
their power to serve me, I was in reality without 
companionship, without that broad and generous sym- 
pathy which characterizes men of letters everywhere; 
so that it amazes me to find a product like yours ger- 
minating and developing in such a soil and such a 

While it was true, I replied, that no great attempts 
were made in the field of letters in California, and 
while comparatively few of the people were specially 
interested in literature or literary men, yet I had 
never experienced the feeling of which he spoke. 


My mother used to say that she never felt lonely 
in her life; and yet she was most companionable, and 
enjoyed society as much as any one I ever knew. 
But her heart was so single and pure, her mind so 
clear, intelligent, and free, that to commune with her 
heart, and allow her mind to feed on its own intel- 
ligence, filled to the full the measure of her soul's re- 
quirements. A healthy cultivated mind never can be 
lonely; all the universe is its companion. Yet it may 
be alone, and may feel that aloneness, that natural 
craving for companionship, of which it is not good for 
man long to remain deprived. Though for different 
reasons, I can say with her that I never have ex- 
perienced loneliness in my labors. If ever alone it 
was in an atmosphere of dead forms and convention- 
alisms crushing to my nature, and where something 
was expected of me other than I had to give. Thus 
have I been lonely for my work, but not in it. 
Once engaged, all else was forgotten; as the sub- 
lime Jean Paul Richter expresses it, "Ein Gelehr- 
ter hat keine lange Weile." Nor can I truly say 
that I have ever felt any lack of appreciation on 
the part of the people of California. As a matter 
of fact, my mind has had little time to dwell on 
such things. What chiefly has concerned me these 
twenty or thirty years has been, not what people 
were thinking of me and of my efforts, but how I 
could best and most thoroughly perform my task. I 
have never stopped to consider whether my labors 
were appreciated by my neighbors, or whether they 
knew aught of them, or concerned themselves there- 
with. I have never felt isolation or self-abnegation. 
To be free, free in mind and body, free of business, 
of society, free from interruptions and weariness, these 
have been my chief concern. 

True, I could not overlook the fact that in the 
midst of many warm friends, and surrounded by a 
host of hearty well-wishers, my motives were not 
fully understood nor my work appreciated. Had it 


been otherwise I should not entertain a very high 
opinion of either. If that which engaged me, body 
and soul, was not above the average aspiration, or 
even execution, there was nothing flattering in the 
thought, and I had better not dwell upon it. I was 
an individual worker, and my task was individual; 
and I solaced myself with the reflection that the 
ablest and most intelligent men manifested most in- 
terest in the work. I had never expected very wide 
recognition or appreciation, and I always had more 
than I deemed my due. Surely I could find no fault 
with the people of the Pacific coast for attending to 
their business, each according to his interest or taste, 
while I followed what best pleased me. Further than 
this, I did not regard my fate as resting wholly in 
their hands; for unless I could gain the approval of 
leading men of letters throughout the world, of those 
wholly disinterested and most competent to judge, my 
eflbrts in my own eyes would prove a failure. Thus, 
from the outset, I learned to look on myself and the 
work, not as products of California, or of America, 
but of the world; therefore isolation signified only 
retirement, for which I felt most thankful. 

Perhaps men of letters are too critical; sensitive 
as a rule they always have been, though less so 
than men in some other professions. Hawthorne 
complained of a lack of sympathy during twelve 
years of his young manhood, in which he failed to 
make the slightest impression on the public mind, 
so that he found '' no incitement to literary eflbrt 
in a reasonable prospect of reputation or profit; 
nothing but the pleasure itself of composition — an 
enjoyment not at all amiss in its way, and perhaps 
essential to the merit of the work in hand, but which, 
in the long run, w^ill hardly keep the chill out of the 
writer's heart or the numbness out of his fingers." It 
is scarcely to be expected that the unappreciative 
masses should be deeply interested in such work. 
And as regards the more intelligent, each as a rule 


has sometliing specially commanding his attention, 
which being of paramount interest to himself, he 
naturally expects it to command the attention of 
others. He who makes the finest beer or brandy, 
or builds the largest house, or fills the grandest 
church, or sports the largest stud of horses, holds 
himself as much an object of consideration as he 
who engages in important literary work. The atten- 
tion of the great heedless public will invariably 
be caught by that which most easily and instantly 
interests them, by that which most easily and in- 
stantly can be measured by big round dollars, or by 
pleasures which they appreciate and covet. 

I can truthfully say that from the very first I have 
been more than satisfied with the recognition my 
fellow-citizens of California have given my attempts 
at authorship. If, by reason of preoccupation or other 
cause, their minds have not absorbed historical and 
literary subjects as mine has done, it is perhaps for- 
tunate for them. Indeed, of what is called the cul- 
ture of letters there was none during my working 
days in California. The few attempts made to achieve 
literature met a fate but little superior to that of a 
third-rate poet in Home in the time of Juvenal. 

Peoples rapidly change; but what shall we say 
when so esteemed a writer as Grace Greenwood adds 
to the social a physical cause why literature in Cali- 
fornia should not prosper? ''I really cannot see," 
she writes, '' how this coast can ever make a great 
record in scientific discoveries and attainments, and 
the loftier walks of literature — can ever raise great 
students, authors, and artists of its own. Leaving 
out of consideration the fast and furious rate of busi- 
ness enterprise, and the maelstrom-like force of the 
spirit of speculation, of gambling, on a mighty, mag- 
nificent sweep, I cannot see how, in a country so 
enticingly picturesque, where three hundred days out 
of every year invite you forth into the open air with 
bright beguilements and soft blandishments, any con- 


siderable number of sensible, healthy men and women 
can ever be brought to buckle down to study of the 
hardest, most persistent sort; to ^poring over miser- 
able books'; to brooding over theories and incubating 
inventions. California is not wanting in admirable 
educational enterprises, originated and engineered by 
able men and fine scholars; and there is any amount 
of a certain sort of brain stimulus in the atmosphere. 
She will always produce brilliant men and women of 
society, wits, and ready speakers; but I do not think 
she will ever be the rival of bleak little Massachusetts 
or stony old Connecticut in thorough culture, in the 
production of classical scholars, great jurists, theo- 
logians, historians, and reformers. The conditions of 
life are too easy. East winds, snows, and rocks are 
the grim allies of serious thought and plodding re- 
search, of tough brain and strong wills." 

On the other hand, the author of Greater Britain, 
after speaking of the weirdly peaked or flattened hills, 
the new skies, and birds, and plants, and the warm 
crisp air, unlike any in the world but those of South 
Australia, thinks ''it will be strange if the Pacific 
coast does not produce a new school of Saxon poets," 
affirming that ''painters it has already given to the 
world." " For myself," exclaims Bayard Taylor, " in 
breathing an air sweeter than that which first caught 
the honeyed words of Plato, in looking upon lovelier 
vales than those of Tempe and Eurotas, in v/andering 
through a land whose sentinel peak of Shasta far 
overtops the Olympian throne of Jupiter, I could not 
but feel that nature must be false to her promise, or 
man is not the splendid creature he once was, if the 
art, the literature, and philosophy of ancient Greece 
are not one day rivalled on this last of inhabited 
shores !" Mr John S. Hittell thinks that "California 
has made a beginning in the establishment of a local 
literature, but that her writers were nearly all born 
elsewhere, though they were impelled to it l3y our in- 
tellectual atmosphere;" by which latter phrase I un- 


derstand the writer to mean an atmosphere that 
excites to intellectual activity rather than a social 
atmosphere breathing the breath of letters. 

''What effect the physical climate of California 
may have on literary instincts and literary efforts," 
says Walter M. Fisher, ''I am afraid it would be pre- 
mature, from our present data, exactly to say or 
predict. Its general Laodicean equability, summer 
and winter through, may tend to a monotony of 
tension unfavorable to that class of poetic mind de- 
veloped in and fed by the fierce extremes of storm or 
utter calm, of fervent summers, or frosts like those of 
Niffelheim. It is generally held, however, that the 
mildness of the Athenian climate had much to do 
with the 'sweet reasonableness' of her culture, and it 
is usual to find a more rugged and less artistic spirit 
inhabit the muses of the Norse zone; while the lilies 
and languors of the tropics are doubtfully productive 
of anything above the grade of pure 'sensuous cater- 
wauling.' Following this very fanciful line of thought 
the Golden State should rejuvenate the glories of the 
City of the Violet Crown and become the alma mater 
of the universe. As to the effects of the social 
climate of California on literary aspiration and effort, 
little that is favorable can be said for the present, 
little that is unfavorable should be feared from the 
future. California pere is a parvenu, making money, 
fighting his way into society, having no time or taste 
for studying anytliing save the news of the day and 
perhaps an occasional work of broad humor. It is 
for his heir, California /t/.9, to be a gentleman of leisure 
and wear ' literary frills.' For the present, a taste in 
that direction is simply not understood, though it is 
tolerated, as the worship of any strange god is. The 
orthodox god of the hour is Plutus: sanctiis, sanctus, 
sanctiis, dominus deus sahaoth: exaltai cornu populi 
sui: selah! All this, however, is but for a moment. 
Let us put our fancy apocalyptically, after the fashion 
of Dr Gumming : ' And the first beast was like a lion, 

Lit. Ind. 2 


and the second beast was like a calf, and the third 
beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was 
like a flying eagle !' California past, present, and to 
come. The lion-hearts of reckless '49 are cold. The 
golden calf bestrides the land, belittling man. To- 
morrow they will make it a beast of burden, not a 
god. And when the lion's heart is joined to riches, 
and riches to pure manhood, and manhood to a high 
and far-reaching culture in letters, and science, and 
art, then no symbol of eagle eye or eagle wing will be 
unapt to the sunward progress of the state." 

Returning east from the Pacific coast in 1882, 
Oscar Wilde reported: ''California is an Italy with- 
out its art. There are subjects for the artists; but it 
is universally true, the only scenery which inspires 
utterance is that which man feels himself the master 
of. The mountains of California are so gigantic that 
they are not favorable to art or poetry. The scenery 
for definite utterance is that which man is lord of. 
There are good poets in England, but none in Switzer- 
land. There the mountains are too high. Art cannot 
add to nature." 

So might we go on with what twenty or fifty others 
have imagined regarding the effect of social and 
physical surroundings on literature and art in Cali- 
fornia or elsewhere, and be little the wiser for it all. 
With the first coming to Oregon of divinely appointed 
New England propagandists, books began to be 
written which should tell to the east what the un- 
revealed west contained. And this writing continued 
and will continue as long as there are men and women 
who fancy that knowledge as it first comes to them 
first comes to the world. 

We may fully recognize the mighty power of en- 
vironment without being able to analyze it. As 
Goldoni observes, ''II mondo e un bel libro, ma poco 
serve a chi non lo sa leggere;" and as Hegel says, 
"nature should not be rated too high nor too low. 
The mild Ionic sky certainly contributed much to the 


charm of the Homeric poems, yet this alone can pro- 
duce no Homer." While literature is an increment 
of social intelligence and the resultant of social prog- 
ress, it is certainly influenced through the mind of man 
by climate and scenery, by accident and locality, which 
act both positively and negatively, partly in harmony, 
partly in antagonism. Some atmospheres seem to 
absorb the subtile substance of the brain ; others feed 
the mental powers and stimulate them to their utmost 

The idyllic picture of his life at Scillus, as pre- 
sented by Xenophon, not wholly in the bustling world 
nor yet beyond it, is most charming. Sophocles re- 
tired from busy Athens to lovely Colonus. Horace 
in gay luxurious Rome renounced wealth and social 
distinction, preferring few friendships and those of 
the purest and best— -Msecenas, Virgil, Varius — pre- 
ferring pleasures more refined, and which might be 
bought only by temperance in all things, and content- 
ment, that content which abhors the lust of gain and 
the gnawing disquietudes of social envy. 

Msecenas loved the noisy streets of Rome, but 
Horace doted on his little Sabine farm, the gift of 
his devoted friend. It was there in free and undis- 
turbed thought he found that leisure so necessary 
to his soul's health. Yet sometimes he felt the need 
of the capital's bustle and the stimulus of society, 
and then aofain he lonsfed for the stillness of the 
country, so that his ambling mule was kept in exer- 
cise carrying him forth and back. The gentle satirist 
puts words of ridicule into the mouth of his servant 
Davus, ridicule of the author himself, and his rhap- 
sodies of town and country. 

"At Rome you for the country sigh; 
When in the country, to the sky 
You, flighty as the thistle's down, 
Are always crying up the town." 

Dugald Stewart clung to his quiet home; Scott 


found repose among his antiquated folios; but Jeffreys 
disdained literary retirement, and sought comfort in 
much company. Pope loved his lawn at Twickenham, 
and Wordsworth the solitude of Grasmere. Heine, 
cramped in his narrow Paris quarters, sighed for trees. 
Dr Arnold hated Rugby, but, said he, ''it is very 
inspiring to write with such a view before one's eyes 
as that from our drawing-room at Allen Bank, where 
the trees of the shrubbery gradually run up into the 
trees of the cliff, and the mountain-side, with its infi- 
nite variety of rocky peaks and points, upon which 
the cattle expatiate, rises over the tops of the trees." 
Galileo and Cowper thought the country especially 
conducive to intellectual culture ; Mr Buckle preferred 
the city, while Tycho Brahe, and the brothers Hum- 
boldt, with shrewder wisdom, established themselves 
in suburban quarters near a city, where they might 
command the advantages and escape the inconven- 
iences of both. 

Exquisite, odd, timidly bold, and sweetly misan- 
thropic Charles Lamb could 'not endure the glare of 
nature, and so must needs hide himself between the 
brick walls of busy London, where he lived alone 
with his sister, shrinking alike from enemy and 
friend. ''To him," says a biographer, "the tide of 
human life that flowed through Fleet street and Lud- 
gate Hill was worth all the Wyes and Yarrows in 
the universe; there were to his thinking no green 
lanes to compare with Fetter Lane or St Bride's; no 
garden like Covent Garden; and the singing of all 
the feathered tribes of the air grated harsh discord in 
his ear, attuned as it was only to the drone or the 
squall of the London ballad-singer, the grinding of 
the hand-organ, and the nondescript London cries, set 
to their cart-wheel accompaniment." And Dr John- 
son, too, loved dingy, dirty Fleet street and smoky 
Pall Mall above any freshness or beauty nature could 
afford in the country. " Sir," he says, after his usual 
sententious fashion, " when you have seen one green 


field you have seen all green fields. Sir, I like to 
look upon men. Let us walk down Cheapside." 

How different had been the culture of Goethe, less 
diversified, perhaps, but deeper, if instead of the busy 
old Frankfort city his life had been spent in the rural 
districts. What would Dickens have been, confined 
for life to the mountains of Switzerland? or Ruskin, 
shut between the dingy walls of London ? No St 
John would find heaven in the New York of to-day ; 
nor need Dante, in the California Inferno of 'forty- 
nine, have gone beneath the surface to find hell. A 
desultory genius is apt to be led away by city life 
and bustle; a bashful genius is too likely, in the 
country, to bury himself from necessary society and 
knowledge of the world; a healthy genius finds the 
greatest benefit in spending a portion of the time in 
both city and country. Blindness seems often an 
aid rather than a drawback to imao^inative writino^. 
Democritus is said to have even made himself blind 
in order the better to learn; and it w^as only when 
the light of the world was shut from the eyes of 
Milton that the heavenly light broke forth in the 
Paradise Lost. 

Thus we find that different conditions best suit 
different temperaments. Some enjoy scenery, others 
care little for it; some prefer the country, others the 
city. To many, while ardently loving nature, and 
having no predilection for coal smoke and the rattle 
of vehicles, being wholly absorbed during active occu- 
pation, time and place are nothuig. Scenery, other 
than the scenery within, has little to do with true work. 
If not called to consciousness by some external agent, 
the absorbed worker hardly knows or cares whether he 
occupies a tent in the wilderness or a parlor in the city. 
Nothino: can exceed the satisfaction, if indeed conofe- 
nial and comfortable, of a room in a country cottage, 
where the student may spread his books upon the floor, 
shut out superfluous light, and when weary, step at 
once into the warm glowing sunshine to stretch his 


limbs and smoke a cigar. On the whole, the country 
offers superior advantages, but more on account of 
freedom from interruption than any other cause. 

Change, almost always beneficial, to many is essen- 
tial. Often many a one with an exquisite sense of 
relief escapes from the din and clatter of the city, and 
the harassing anxieties of business, to the soft sensuous 
quiet of the country, with its hazy light, aromatic air, 
and sweet songs of birds. Thus freed for a time from 
killing care, and reposing in delicious reverie in some 
sequestered nook, thought is liberated, sweeps the 
universe, and looks its maker in the face. Sky, hill, 
and plain are all instinct with eloquence. And best 
of all, the shelter there ; no one to molest. All day, 
and all night, and the morrow, secure. No buzzing 
of business about one's ears; no curious callers nor 
stupid philosophers to entertain. Safe with the 
world walled out, and heaven opening above and 
around. Then ere loner the bliss becomes tame ; the 
voluptuous breath of nature palls, her beauties be- 
come monotonous, the rested energies ache for want 
of exercise, and with Socrates the inconstant one ex- 
claims, "Trees and fields tell me nothing; men are 
my teachers ! " 

Yet, after all, the city only absorbs men, it does not 
create them. Intellect at its inception, like forest- 
trees, must have soil, sunshine, and air; afterward it 
may be worked into divers mechanisms, comfortable 
homes, and tough ships. The city consumes mind 
as it consumes beef and potatoes, and must be con- 
stantly replenished from the country, otherwise life 
there exhausts itself. Its atmosphere, physically and 
morally deleterious from smoke and dust and oft- 
repeated breathings, from the perspirations of lust 
and the miasmatic vapors arising from sink-holes 
of vice, exercises a baneful influence on the young 
poetic soul, as do the stimulating excesses of business 
and polished life. The passions of humanity con- 
centrated in masses, like ill cured hay in the stack, 


putrefy and send forth, in place of the sweet odor of 
new-mown grass, a humid, musty smell, precursor 
of innumerable fetid products. In the country the 
affections harmonize more with nature, engender purer 
thoughts, and develop lovelier forms than in the 
callous-shouldered unsympathetic crowds of a city. 

A life in closets and cloisters leads to one-sided 
fixedness of ideas. Yet, though retirement often pro- 
duces eccentricity, it likewise promotes originality. 
But for his dislike for general society Shelley would 
have been a commonplace thinker. To thoughtful, 
sensitive natures, retirement is absolutely essential. 
Every man must follow his own bent in this respect. 
Method is good in all things, but it is perhaps better 
to be without method than to be the slave of it. Dis- 
tance from the object dwelt upon often lends clear- 
ness to thought. Distinctly audible are the solemn 
strokes of the town clock beyond the limits of the 
village, though near at hand they may be drowned by 
the hum of the moving multitude. 

There are minor conditions peculiar to individual 
writers which stimulate or retard intellectual labor. 
There is the lazy man of genius, like Hazlitt, who 
never writes till driven to it by hunger; unless, indeed, 
bursting with some subject, he throws it off on paper 
to find relief Hensius says: "I no sooner come into 
the library but I bolt the door to me, excluding 
lust, ambition, avarice, and all such vices whose nurse 
is idleness, the mother of ignorance and melancholy. 
In the very lap of eternity, amongst so many divine 
souls, I take my seat with so lofty a spirit and 
sweet content, that I pity all our great ones and 
rich men that know not this happiness." Rooms are 
frequently mentioned. If favorable surroundings are 
so necessary, what shall we say of the great works 
engendered under unfavorable conditions? But for 
the imprisonment of Cervantes, who can tell if ever the 
world would have known the inimitable Don Quixote 
and his servant Sancho? Bunyan's grand allegory 


was likewise a prison plant, with the Bible and Fox's 
Martyrs as the author's library of reference. The 
studios of artists are usually remarkable for nothing 
but their plain or slovenly appearance, dusty walls, with 
cobwebbed corners, and floor ar.d furniture smeared 
with paint. Leslie and Turner both painted in very 
plain rooms. Gustavo Dorc's studio was furnished 
with nothing but easels, a ^^lain table, and two cheap 
chairs. Goethe's study was exceedingly plain. Scott 
could compose very well in the sitting-room, surrounded 
by his family, but of all the elegant apartments at 
Abbotsford he preferred a small, plain, quiet room in 
which to Avrite. In the main, while it makes little 
difference to the head whether the feet rest on an 
Axminster carpet or on rough boards, everything 
else being equal, a plain room is preferable to one 
elegantly furnished. Plain, hard, practical furniture 
seems best to harmonize with plain, hard, practical 
thought. Writing: is not the soft, langjuid reverie 
that luxurious fittincrs and furnishino-s suo'u'cst: it is 
the hardest and most wearing of occupations, and it 
seems a mockery, when the temples throb and the 
bones ache, for the eye to meet at every turn only 
invitations to idleness and ease. It strikes a discord 
and jars the sensibilities when the lifted eyes meet 
objects more beautiful and graceful than the flow of 
thought or the product of the overworked brain. 
A plain table, a cane-bottomed chair, and good writ- 
ing materials are the best. So much for immediate 

To the critics previously quoted I would say that 
it is folly sweepingly to assert of this or that strip of 
temperate zone that it is physically conducive to the 
growth of letters or otherwise. Variety of food, of 
scenery, of entertainment is the essential need of the 
mind. As for the stone fences and east winds of Mrs 
Lippincott, I never knew them to be specially stimu- 
lating to brain work; no better, at all events, than 


the sand and fog of San Francisco, or the north 
winds and alternate reigns of fire and water in the 
valley of California. If to become a scholar it re- 
quires no discipline or self-denial greater than to 
withstand the allurements of her bewitching climate, 
Cahfornia shall not lack scholars. When most rav- 
ished by the charms of nature many students find it 
most difficult to tear themselves from work. Invigor- 
ating air and bright sunshine, purple hills, misty 
mountains, and sparkling waters may be enticing, 
but they are also inspiring. 

Where were bleak Massachusetts and stony Con- 
necticut when Athens, and Kome, and Alexandria 
flourished? If barrenness and stones are more con- 
ducive to literature, the Skye Islands may claim to 
be the best place for notable men of letters. I can 
hardly believe that unless culture is beaten into us 
by scowling nature we must forever remain savages. 
Oxygen is ox3^gen, whether it vitalizes mind on the 
Atlantic or on the Pacific seaboard; and to the 
student of steady nerves, absorbed in his labors, it 
matters little whether his window overlooks a park 
or a precipice. If I remember rightly the country 
about Stratford- on -Avon is not particularly rugged, 
neither is London remarkable for picturesque scenery. 
And surely there can be little in the climate of Cali- 
fornia antagonistic to intellectual attainments. In 
San Francisco there is no incompatibility, that I 
can discover, between philosophic insight and sand- 
hills. On the other hand, throughout the length 
and breadth of these ^Pacific States there are thou- 
sands of elements stimulating to mental activity. 
If the mountains of California are too gigantic for 
Mr Wilde's present art, may not man's capabilities 
some day rise to meet the emergency? May not 
intellect and art become gigantic? 

Agassiz insists that the climate of Europe is more 
favorable to literary labors than that of America. 
This I do not believe; but, if admitted, California is 


better than Massachusetts, for the chmate of Cali- 
fornia is European rather than eastern. It is a 
thinking air, this of CaUfornia, if such a thing exists 
outside of the imagination of sentimentahsts; an air 
that generates and stimulates ideas; a dry elastic air, 
strong, subtile, and serene. It has often been noticed 
in going back and forth across the continent ; and may 
be safely asserted that one can do more and better 
work in California than in the east. At the same 
time another might prefer the eastern extremes of 
heat and cold. The temperature of the Pacific slope 
is slightly raised, the thermal lines bending northward 
as they cross the Rocky mountains. Extreme cold 
we never have, except on alpine altitudes. On the 
seaboard the atmosphere throughout the entire year 
is uniform, cool, and bracing. There is little difference 
between summer and winter, between night and day; 
one can here work all the time. Indeed, so stimu- 
lating and changeless is this ocean air that men are 
constantly lured to longer efforts than they can en- 
dure, and a sudden breaking up of health or a softened 
brain is in many instances the end of excessive and 
prolonged labor. In the east men are driven from 
their work by the heat of summer, and the cold of 
winter compels some to rest; here, while nature rests, 
that is during the dry season, man can labor as well 
as at any other time, but when driven on by ambition 
or competition he is almost sure to lay upon his body 
and mind more than they can long endure. 

I do not think there is anything in the climate that 
absorbs strength unduly, or that breaks up the con- 
stitution earlier than elsewhere ; the system wears out 
and falls to pieces. If this happens earlier in life 
than it ought, the cause is to be found in continuous 
and restless application, and not in the climate. Ante- 
auriferous Californians uniformly attained a ripe age ; 
in many cases four, five, and six score years being 
reached after bringing into the world from fifteen to 
twenty-five children. In the interior, during the 


rains of winter, the climate is similar to that of the 
coast — fresh and bracing; in summer the air is hot 
and dry during the day, but cool and refreshing at 
night. A moist hot climate is enervating; if the air 
under a vertical sun is dry the effect of the heat is 
much less unfavorable. In the warm valleys of the 
Coast range students can work without discomfort 
from morning till night throughout the entire sum- 
mer, while in the east, the temperature being the same, 
or even lower, they would be completely prostrated. 
Yet, from the whirling rapidity of our progress, the 
friction of the machinery wears heavily upon the 
system. There is little danger for the present of 
rusting out, with such an exhilarating climate to feed 
energy, and such cunning ingenuity to direct it. 
Extremes, the bane of humanity, are here as nicely 
balanced as in the classic centres of the Old World. 
Excessive heat and cold, humidity and dryness, re- 
dundancy and sterility, are so far uncommon as not to 
interfere with progress. 

With reference to the oft-repeated objections against 
the pursuit of wealth because of its influence on letters, 
much may be said. From necessary labor, and from 
the honorable and praiseworthy enterprise incident 
to life and independence, to an avaricious pursuit 
of wealth for the sake of wealth, the progress is so hn- 
perceptible and the change so unconscious that few 
are able to realize it. And if they were, it would 
make no difference. All nature covets power. Beasts, 
and men, and gods, all place others under them so far as 
they are able ; and those so subordinated, whether by 
fair words, fraud, or violence, will forever after bow 
their adoration. Money is an embodiment of power : 
therefore all men covet money. Most men desire it 
with an inordinate craving wholly beyond its true 
and relative value. This craving fills their being to 
the exclusion of higher, nobler, and what would be to 
them, if admitted, happier sentiments. This is the 


rule the world over; the passion is no stronger in 
California than in many other places. But it has 
here its peculiarities. Society under its present regivie 
was begun on a gold-gathering basis. In the history 
of the world there never was founded so important a 
commonwealth on a skeleton so exclusively metallic. 
Most of the colonial attempts of Asia and Europe have 
been made partly with the object of religion, empire, 
agriculture, commerce. It is true that these avowed 
objects were often little more than pretences, money 
lying at the root of all; yet even the pretence was 
better in some respects than the bald, hard-visaged 
fact. But during the earlier epoch in California's 
history three hundred thousand men and women came 
hither from various parts of the world with no other 
object, entertained or expressed, than to obtain gold and 
carry it away with them. Traditionary and conven- 
tional restraints they left at home. They would get 
money now, and attend to other things at another 
time. Nor has the yellow ghost of this monetary 
ideal ever wholly abandoned the San Francisco sand- 
hills; some have secured the substance, but all round 
the Californian amphitheatre, since 1849, penniless 
misers have been hugging, not gold, but the empty 
expectation of it. 

Some degree of wealth in a community is essential 
to the culture of letters. Where all must work con- 
stantly for bread the hope of literature is small. On 
the other hand excess of wealth may be an evil. The 
sudden and enormous accumulation of wealth exer- 
cises a most baneful influence. Brave indeed must 
be the struggles that overcome the allurements of 
luxury, the subtle, sensuous influence of wealth, enter- 
ing as it does the domains alike of intellect and the 
affections, commanding nature, expanding art, and 
fining enlarged capacities for enjoyment. Yet he who 
would attain the highest must shake from him these 
entrancing fetters, if ever fortune lays them on him, 
and stand forth absolutely a free man. Poor as was 


Jean Paul Richter, he deemed his burden of poverty 
less hard for genius to bear than the comparative 
wealth of Goethe. 

Drop in upon a man given body and soul to busi- 
ness, a man who has already a thousand times more 
than ever he will rightly use; visit him in his hours 
of business; he calls his time precious, and knits his 
brow at you if the interruption lasts. His time 
is precious? Yes. How much is it worth? Fifty 
dollars, five hundred dollars an hour. How much 
are fifty or five hundred dollars worth? Go to, blind 
maggots! Will you not presently have millions of 
years of leisure? Oh wise rich man, oh noble mind 
and aspiration, to measure moments by money! 

The remedy lies in the disease. Excess of avarice 
that sinks society so low, nauseates. Thus the right- 
minded man will argue : If Plutus is always to re- 
main a pig in intellect and culture, is alwa3^s to be 
a worshipful pig, the only adorable of his fellow-pigs, 
to his marble-stepped gilded sty with him and his 
moDcy. I'll none of him. God and this bright uni- 
verse beaminix with intellio^ence and love; mind that 
lifts me up, and makes me a reasoning creature, and 
tells me what I am, witliholding not the sweet per- 
fume thrown round me by the flowers of unfolding 
knowledge; immortal soul, breathing upon mind the 
divine breath; and its mortal casement, the body, 
limited to a few short days of this blessed sunlight, 
of drinking in soft, sweet air and nature's many melo- 
dies — these will not let me sink. The commercial or 
mechanical plodder again will say: What are these 
pitiful thousands, or tens or hundreds of thousands, 
which by a lifetime of faithful toil and economy I 
have succeeded in getting together, when men infinitely 
my inferior in ability, intellect, and culture, by a lucky 
stroke of fortune make their millions in a month? 
Surely money is no longer the measure of intelligent 
industry ; it is becoming a common and less creditable 
thing : I'll worship it no longer. Even envy is baffled, 


overreached. These many and mammoth fortunes 
made by stock-gambhng and railway manipulations so 
overshadow and belittle legitimate efforts that accu- 
mulators are constrained to pause and consider what 
is the right and destiny of all this, and to begin com- 
parisons between material wealth beyond a competency 
and that wealth of mind which alone elevates and 
ennobles man. 

Midas of the ass's ears is dead, choked on gold 
given him by offended deities; but Midas of the ser- 
pent, Midas of the slimy way, still lives, and is among 
us, sapping our industries, monopolizing our products, 
glutting himself with the hard-earned gold of our work- 
inof men and women. Let him take warnino^: let him 
go bathe in Pactolus and cleanse himself withal. 

The time will surely come in California when some 
will surfeit of wealth and hold the money struggle 
in contempt. They will tire of the harpies of avarice 
who snatch from them the mind-food for which they 
pine, even as the fabled harpies snatched from the 
luxury- loving monarch Prester John the food for 
which his body hungered. This western spurt of 
enterprise is a century- step backward in certain kinds 
of culture. 

San Francisco has absorbed well-nigh all that is left 
of the Inferno. Take the country at large, and since 
the youthful fire that first flashed in our cities and 
canons California in some respects has degenerated. 
Avarice is a good flint on which to strike the metal 
of our minds, but it yields no steady flame. The hope 
of sudden gain excites the passions, whets the brain, 
and rouses the energies; but when the effort is over, 
whether successful or otherwise, the mind sinks into 
comparative listlessness. It must have some healthier 
pabulum than cupidity, or it starves. The quality of 
our Californian mind to-day may be seen displayed in 
our churches and in the newspaper press. The most 
intellectual and refined of our pulpit orators are not 
always the most popular. Clerical jolly -good-fellow- 


ship covers barrels of pulpit stupidity, and is no less 
effectual in the formation and guidance of large flocks 
than it is agreeable to the shepherd. Hard study, 
broad views of life and the times, thorough investi- 
gation of the mighty enginery that is now driving 
mankind so rapidly forward materially and intel- 
lectually, deep and impartial inquiry into the origin 
and tendency of things, do not characterize clergymen 
as a class. There are, however, some noble exceptions 
in California as well as elsewhere ; but there must be 
many more if Christians would retain their hold on 
the minds of men, and stay the many thinking per- 
sons who are dropping off from their accustomed 
places in the sanctuary. 

One other influence adverse to the higher intellectual 
life I will mention, and that is promiscuous reading — 
not necessarily so-called light reading, for there are 
works of fiction in the hisfhest deofree beneficial, 
more so than many a true narrative; but reading in 
which there is neither healthful amusement nor valu- 
able instruction. There is too much reading of books, 
far too much reading of newspapers and magazines, 
for the highest good of exact knowledge, too much 
pedagogic cramming and windy sermonizing, too little 
practical thought, too little study of nature, too little 
cultivation of germ -intelligence, of those inherent 
natural qualities which feed civilization. 

There is a vast difference between what is called 
deep thinking and right thinking. Thought may dive 
deep into Stygian lakes, into opaque pools of super- 
stition, so that the deeper it goes the farther will be 
the remove from intellectual clearness or moral worth. 
What to the heathen are the profound reveries of 
the Christian? what to the Christian the mytlis and 
doctrines of the heathen? A mind may be talented, 
learned, devoted, and yet unable to find the pearls 
of the sea of Cortes in the brackish waters of the 
Utahs. One may be blind, yet honest; purblind, yet 


profound. It is a mistaken idea that clear convic- 
tions spring from deep thinking. Decided opinions are 
oftener the result of ignorance than of right thinking. 
Particularly is this true in regard to the super- 
natural and unknowable. Here clear thinking tends 
to unsettle pronounced opinion, while study, research, 
profound learning and deep thinking only sink the 
inquirer into lower depths of conviction, which may 
be false or true, not as investigation is profound, but 
as it is rightly directed. Impartiality is essential to 
right thinking; but how can the mind be impartial upon 
a question predetermined ? Right thinking comes only 
where love of truth rises above love of self, of country, 
of tradition. Convictions, so called, arising from the 
exercise of will power are not convictions, but merely 
expressions of will power. Of such are the rank 
weeds of prejudice overspreading the fertile fields 
of literature, politics, and religion. Deep thinking 
is subtile and cunning; right thinking simple and in- 
genuous. The surface thoughts of clear, practical, 
uncultivated common-sense often lie nearer the truth 
than the subtilties of the schools. Intellect and edu- 
cation may create profound thinkers, but not always 
right thinkers. Absolute freedom from prejudice and 
absolute indifference as to the ultimates attained b}^ 
freedom of thought are impossible, but the nearer an 
inquiring mind approaches this condition the more 
ready it is to receive unadulterated truth; and truth 
alone, irrespective of hopes and fears, is the only ob- 
ject of healthy thought. In study, to every height, 
there is a beyond; round every height a border of 
opaque blue, and to clear thinking direction is more 
than distance. 

Pure unadulterated truth is not palatable to the 
popular mind. In politics we would rather believe 
the opposition all corruption, and our own party all 
purity, than to believe the truth. In religion we 
would rather believe ours the only road to heaven, 
and all those who differ from us doomed to a sure 


eternal perdition. In society we enjoy sweet scandal 
far more than honest fairness; and if we could drive 
our unfortunate brothers and sisters, all of them 
about whose skirts are the odors of vice — if we could 
drive the vicious, with hateful ways, and all those 
who differ from us as to the best mode of extermi- 
nating vice, down to the depths of despair, it would 
suit our temper better than manfully to recognize the 
good there is in Lucifer, and lift up those that have 
fallen through no special fault of their own. 

Newspapers have become a necessity to our civili- 
zation, and though they are bad masters they are 
good and indispensable servants. As a messenger of 
intelligence; as a stimulant to industry and knowl- 
edge — though not as knowledge ; as an instrument for 
the enlargement of intellectual vision, enabling it to 
belt the earth and take in at one view all interests 
and civilizations; as promoting toleration in opinions, 
breaking down prejudice, and keeping alive the inter- 
ests of individuals and nations in each other; as a 
terror to evil-doers, a lash held over political hounds — 
too often the only one they fear, without which our 
present liberal system of government could not stand ; 
and as the exponent of current thought and culture, 
the newspaper is indispensable. The newspaper is 
no evil, but there is such a thing as reading it too 
much. When deeply absorbed in work the true stu- 
dent will not look at a journal for weeks, preferring 
rather to let his mind pursue its course day after day 
without being disturbed by passing events. "Among 
modern books avoid magazine and review literature," 
is Ruskin's advice; yet magazines and reviews are 
much more instructive reading as a rule than news- 
papers. In moderation they are beneficial to the 
student, being the media which bring the world as 
guests to his closet and keep from him the evil of 

We may safely say that in the hands of honest and 
independent men, an untrammelled press is the very 

Lit. Ind. 3 


bulwark of society; in the hands even of men un- 
sainted, who are not immaculate in their morals nor 
above reproach, of men no more honest than the times 
admit, who talk much of the virtue and of the purity 
of their sheet, but nevertheless love lucre — in the 
hands even of these the public press is a power in- 
dispensable to liberty and social safety. 

Most writers and speakers are unfair in contro- 
versy. Newspapers are specially so. As a rule, in 
political affairs they do not expect to be believed by 
any but their own party. In matters of public inter- 
est or utility, what is printed must first be strained 
through the colander of self-interest before it can 
be allowed to go forth. This self-interest is a beam in 
the editor's eye which hides the largest fact likely to 
interfere with it. 

The editor of a popular monthly will tell you that 
the reading of periodicals does not interfere with 
thorough systematic study. He will say that there 
never were more books bought and read than now; 
that transient literature excites a taste for studv, and 
that science and progress are fostered and stimulated 
by newspapers. All of this may be true, and yet 
the assertion hold good that he who spends much 
time in skimming the frothy political decoctions of 
the ephemeral press never can reach the profounder 
depths of science and philosophy. Nine tenths of 
w4iat is printed in newspapers consists of speculations 
on what may or may not happen. By waiting we can 
know the result, if it be worth knowing, without 
wasting time in following it through all the incipient 

But this is not the worst of it. Editorial com- 
ments on people, parties, and passing events are 
seldom sincere. There is too often some ulterior in- 
fluence at work, some object in view other than that 
of simply and honestly benefiting their readers, minis- 
tering to their intellectual necessities, and giving them 
the highest possible standard of right, irrespective of 


prejudice, popularity, or gain. Too often is public 
opinion palpably and absurdly in error; and too often 
the editor combats or pampers public opinion, not in 
accordance with what he believes to be right, but 
accordinof to the direction in which his interest lies. 
Frequently a policy is marked out, and, right or wrong, 
it must be maintained. The journal must be con- 
sistent with itself at all hazards, truth and justice 
to the contrary notwithstanding. The modern Bo- 
hemian will write up or down either side of any party 
creed or principle with equal willingness and facility. 
It Avould be deemed presumption for an employe of 
the press to attempt to change the traditions of the 
journal that employs him. Says Noah Porter, ''the 
modern newspaper, so far as it is insincere, is immoral 
and demoralizing." If a newspaper fails fully and 
unequivocally to correct an error as soon as known; 
if carried away by partisan temper or tactics it states 
a fact unfairly, tells part of the truth and keeps back 
part; if it indulges in the vilification of an unpopular 
though not guilty person ; if for the sake of money, or 
pride, or hatred, it advocates a cause knowing it to be 
contrary to public weal; if honest convictions are 
subordinated to popularity or the interests of the 
journal; if it resorts to devices and sensational reports 
in order to call attention to its columns, and thereby 
increase its importance and circulation, then is it in- 
sincere, and consequently immoral. Few approach 
even a fairly commendable standard; but then books 
are often as bad. What shall we say of a history of 
Christianity written by a bigoted churchman, or a 
history of America by a strong partisan, or an at- 
tempt to establish a scientific theory or hypothesis 
when facts are collected on one side only? These 
are not history and science, but only pleas for one 
side of the question. As from the days of Patristic 
discussion to the present time theologians have 
deemed it necessary to keep back all the truths of 
God not consistent with their dogmas, so writers for 


money will send forth nothing to the confusion of 
their deity. 

Lies, humbug, hypocrisy: these are what the 
people want and will buy; and such being the case, 
they are what our honorable journalists are bound to 
furnish. Nor should I be disposed to censure them 
severely if they would honestly own to their charla- 
tanism, and not make foul the air by their professions 
of honesty and integrity, for the chief fault is with 
the people who demand such villainous literature. 
With an old English divine the journalists may say, 
"It is hard to maintain truth, but still harder to be 
maintained by it;" or as La Fontaine more tersely 
puts it, " Tout faiseur de journaux doit tribut au 
Malin;" all editors of newspapers pay tribute to the 
devil. ' 

Waves of opinion roll over the community, and 
reason is powerless to check them. Not until they 
have spent themselves, one after another, do men take 
the trouble to consider their good or evil effects. 
The cunning journalist lets his boat ride these waves, 
well knowing the impolicy of any attempt to buffet 

That the editor's life is hard no one for a mo- 
ment doubts. '' Consider his leading articles," says 
Carlyle, "what they treat of, how passably they are 
done. Straw that has been threshed a hundred times 
without wheat; ephemeral sound of a sound; such 
portent of the hour as all men have seen a hundred 
times turn out inane; how a man, with merely 
human faculty, buckles himself nightly with new 
vigor and interest to this threshed straw, nightly gets 
up new thunder about it; and so goes on threshing 
and thundering for a considerable series of years; this 
is a fact remaining still to be accounted for in human 
physiology. The vitality of man is great." Of all 
kinds of literary labor, writing for newspapers is the 
best paid, pecuniarily, partly because that class of 
literature is bought and read by the people at large, 


and partly in consequence of the impersonality of the 
writer, whose productions bring him little pleasure or 
gratified vanity. 

Taken as a whole, and as it is, the effect of the 
newspaper press on the mental temperament of the 
United States is to excite rather than instruct. 
The morbid appetite with which men and their 
families devour scandal and the squabbles of politi- 
cians is not favorable to wholesome literature. 
There may be entertainment in criminal trials, in 
columns of editorial vituperation, in details and dis- 
cussions on insignificant and local events, but there is 
little instruction. Some of the ill effects arising from 
an inordinate reading of newspapers are to lower the 
intellectual tone, to influence the reader to shirk the 
responsibility of independent thought, to receive 
information in the shape of garbled and one-sided 
statements, to attach undue importance to novel and 
sensational events, to magnify and distort the present 
at the expense of the past, to dwarf abstract concep- 
tion, and to occupy time which might be better em- 

" The greatest evil of newspapers, in their effect on 
intellectual life," says Hamerton, ''is the enormous 
importance they are obliged to attach to mere novelty. 
From the intellectual point of view, it is of no conse- 
quence whether a thought occurred twenty-two cen- 
turies ago to Aristotle or yesterday evening to Mr 
Charles Darwin; and it is one of the distinctive marks 
of the truly intellectual to be able to take a hearty 
interest in all truth, independently of the date of its 
discovery. The emphasis given by newspapers to 
novelty exhibits things in wrong relations, as the 
lantern shows you what is nearest at the cost of 
making the general landscape appear darker by the 
contrast." Auguste Comte not only religiously ab- 
stained from newspapers, but from holding conversa- 
tion with men of ordinary intellect. 

Newspapers are not intended to educate so much 


as to enlighten; giving only the current gossip of the 
day throughout the world, they do not pretend to 
carry their readers through a course of study. The 
events recorded by the ephemeral press are most of 
them forgotten as soon as read; they leave nothing to 
enrich the mind. I do not say that it is better not to 
read at all than to read periodical literature. Maga- 
zines and newspapers are undoubtedly doing as much 
in their way to break down the black walls of igno- 
rance and stupidity, and to advance science and exact 
knowledge, as books, and perhaps more. The world 
is kept alive, is kept charged with electrical progress- 
ive energy, by newspapers, telegraphs, and railroads, 
but these are neither history, nor science, nor any 
other' part of serious study. 

There is as much original thinking in California, in 
proportion to the population, I venture to assert, as 
anywhere else on the globe; yet even here what worlds 
of empty words for atoms of inspiration! What we 
want is a thinking-school for teachers, for learners, for 
writers, for readers, and for all who cultivate or ex- 
press opinion. More than in most places, public 
opinion here rules the press instead of being ruled 
by it. There is here more life and activity in the 
newspaper press than in most older communities. 
Since the gold-discovery there have been published 
on this coast more newspapers in proportion to the 
population than the world has ever before seen. 

Half a century ago, when one weekly journal was 
considered sufficient for that kind of intellectual re- 
quirement, the members of a household having books 
at its command were more thoroughly trained in litera- 
ture and general knowledge than now. He who reads 
only newspapers never can be generally intelligent, 
not to say learned. The culture of the early Greeks 
has in some respects never been equalled. What 
must have been the mental condition of a people 
whose masses could delight in^schylus? American 
masses think Shakespeare's tragedies dry and severe; 


with their superlative beauties and their simple plots, 
they are too difficult for their untrained minds to fol- 
low. Yet ^schylus, which an Athenian of ordinary 
intelligence enjoyed at the first hearing, is as much 
more difficult of appreciation than Shakespeare as 
Shakespeare is more difficult than a dime novel. In 
what lay the mental superiority of the Athenians in 
this direction, unless it was that, being less trammelled 
with the multiplicity of exciting interests and events, 
such as an undue study of the newspaper fosters, 
their minds were occupied with purer learning? The 
Athenian had few books and few models, but these 
were of great excellence. 

The newspaper is blamed because its readers like 
disgraceful scandals, highly wrought accounts of de- 
falcations, suicides, conjugal infidelity, and murders; 
and because to them the records of virtue are tame 
and vice alone is spicy. This is foJly. Everybody 
knows that a newspaper is published to make money, 
and the proprietor is no more to be censured for 
adopting the profitable course than the prostitute, 
the politician, the clergyman, or the man of merchan- 
dise. Here, as everywhere, when evil stalks abroad 
the people are ready to blame any but themselves, 
who are alone to blame. Women will be as virtuous as 
men permit them to be, and not more so. Theatres 
will produce such spectacles as the public wish most, 
and will pay most, to see. Books or newspapers will 
be moral or immoral, honest or dishonest, as the 
people are moral and honest. To see in any commu- 
nity a vulgar mendacious sheet with a large circula- 
tion is sure evidence that a large part of the people 
are low and lying. The fastness of our fast life is 
increased tenfold by the newspapers. They keep the 
minds of men and women in a constant ferment, 
and create a morbid appetite, which, as it is indulged, 
settles into a fixed habit, so that to sit down to study, 
to the steady perusal of history, or science, or any 
book which will really improve the mind, is not to be 


thought of when three or four unread newspapers and 
magazines he upon the table filled with the doings of 
the day, political battles, local quarrels, and scandal, 
with flaunting essays for the mother, flashy poems for 
the sentimental daughter, and unhealthy tales for the 
aspiring youth. 

The beneficial influence of intelligent homes should 
be extended in order to eradicate the evils of omnivo- 
rous reading. Home and contentment are in them- 
selves elements of intellectual strength. The home of 
the provident man is more than a well built and 
furnished house; it is to wife and children a daily 
oblation significant of his being and doing. The house, 
and all its belongings, rooms, furniture, pictures, and 
books, bear upon them his own stamp, breathe upon 
him their sympathy, tender him a mute farewell when 
he goes, and welcome him when he returns. 

In reviewing the effect of California social atmos- 
phere on intellectual culture we should glance at the 
body social, its origin and its destiny, the character 
of the first comers, the cause of their coming, the 
apprenticeship to which they were subjected on their 
arrival, and finally the triumph of the good and the 
confusion of the evil. It was no pilgrim band, these 
gold -seeking emigrants, fleeing from persecution; it 
w^as not a conquest for dominion or territory; nor 
was it a missionary enterprise, nor a theoretical 
republic. It was a stampede of the nations, a hurried 
gathering in a magnificent wilderness for purposes 
of immediate gain by mining for gold, and was un- 
precedented in the annals of the race. Knowing all 
this as we now do; knowing the metal these men 
were made of, the calibre of their minds, the fiery 
furnace of experience through which they passed; 
knowing what they are, what they have done, w^hat 
they are doing, is it not idle to ask if men like these, 
or the sons of such men, can achieve literature ? They 
can do anything. They halt not at any obstacle sur- 


mountable by man. They pause discomfited only upon 
the threshold of the unknowable and the impossible. 
The literary atmosphere of which we speak is not here 
to-day ; but hither the winds from the remotest corners 
of the earth are wafting it; all knowledge and all 
human activities are placed under contribution, and 
out of this alembic of universal knowledo^e will in due 
time be distilled the fine gold of Letters. 



On fait presque ton jours les grandes choses sans savoir comment on lea 
fait, et on est tout surpris qu'on les a faites. Demandez a Cesar comment il 
se rendit le maitre du monde ; peut-etre ne vous repondra-t-il pas ais6ment. 


Sermonize as we may on fields and atmospheres, 
internal agencies and environment, at the end of life 
we know little more of the influences that moulded 
us than at the beginning. Without rudder or com- 
pass our bark is sent forth on the stormy sea, and 
although we fancy we know our present haven, the 
trackless path by which we came hither we cannot 
retrace. The record of a life written — what is it? 
Between the lines are characters invisible which 
might tell us something could we translate them. 
They might tell us something of those ancient riddles, 
origin and destiny, free-will and necessity, discussed 
under various names by learned men through the 
centuries, and all without having penetrated one 
hair's breadth into the mystery, all without having 
gained any knowledge of the subject not possessed by 
men primeval. In this mighty and universal straining 
to fathom the unknowable, Plato, the philosophic 
Greek, seems to succeed no better than Moncacht 
Ape, the philosophic savage. 

This much progress, however, has been made; 
there are men now living who admit that they know 
nothing about such matters; that after a lifetime of 
study and meditation the eyes of the brightest intel- 
lect can see beyond the sky no farther than those of 


the most unlearned dolt. And they are the strongest 
who acknowledge their weakness in this regard; they 
are the wisest who confess their ignorance. Even the 
ancients understood this, though by the mouth of 
Terentius they put the proposition a little differently : 
'' Faciunt nse intelligendo, ut nihil intelligant;" by too 
much knowledge men bring it about that they know 
nothing. Confining our investigations to the walks 
of literature, surely one would think genius might tell 
something of itself, something of its inceptions and 
inspirations. But what says genius? " They ask me," 
complains Goethe of the perplexed critics who sought 
in vain the moral design of his play, "what idea I 
wished to incorporate with my Faust. Can I know 
it? Or, if I know, can I put it into words?" A similar 
retort was made by Sheridan Knowles to a question 
by Douglas Jerrold, who asked the explanation of a 
certain unintelligible incident in the plot of The 
HunchbacJc. "■ My dear boy," said Knowles, '' upon my 
word I can't tell you. Plots write themselves." 

Why we are what we are, and not some other 
person or thing; why we do as we do, turning hither 
instead of thither, are problems which will be solved 
only with the great and universal exposition. And 
yet there is little that seems strange to us in our 
movements. Things appear wonderful as they are 
unfamiliar; in the unknown and unfathomed we think 
we see God; but is anything known or fathomed? 
Who shall measure mind, we say, or paint the soul, or 
rend the veil that separates eternity and time? Yet, 
do we but think of it, everything relating to mankind 
and the universe is strange, tl^e spring that moves the 
mind of man not more than the mechanism on which 
it presses. " How wonderful is death!" says Shelley; 
but surely not more wonderful than life or intellect 
which brings us consciousness. We see the youth's 
bleached body carried to the grave, and wonder at 
the absence of that life so lately animating it, and 
question what it is, whence it came, and whither it 


has flown. We call to mind whatever there may have 
been in that youth's nature of promise or of singular 
excellence; but the common actions of the youth, the 
while he lived, we deem accountable, and pass them 
by because of our familiarity with like acts in others. 
We see nations rise and die, worlds form and crumble, 
and wonder at the universe unfolding, but the minutiae 
of evolution, the proximate little things that day by day 
go to make up the great ones, we think we understand, 
and wonder at them not at all. It was regarded an 
easy matter a century ago to define a mineral, plant, 
or animal, but he is a bold man indeed who attempts 
to-day to tell what these things are. Then, as now, 
only that was strange which people acknowledged 
they did not understand; and as there was little which 
they would voluntarily throw into that category, each 
referring unknowable phenomena to his own peculiar 
superstition for solution, there was comparatively little 
in the universe wonderful to them. 

Therefore, not wishing to be classed among the 
ignorant and doltish of by- gone ages, but rather 
among this wise generation, in answer to that part of 
Mr NordhofF's wonderings why I left business and 
embarked in literature, I say I cannot tell. Ask the 
mother why she so lovingly nurses her little one, 
watching with tender solicitude its growth to youth 
and manhood^ only to send it forth weaned, perhaps 
indifferent or ungrateful, to accomplish its destiny. 
Literature is my love, a love sprung from my brain, 
no less my child than the offspring of my body. In 
its conception and birth is present the parental in- 
stinct, in its cultivation and development the parental 
care, in its results the parental anxiety. There are 
those, says Hammerton, "who are urged toward the 
intellectual life by irresistible instincts, as water- fowl 
are urged to an aquatic life. ... If a man has got 
high mental culture during his passage through life, 
it is of little consequence where he acquired it, or 
how. The school of the intellectual man is the place 


where he happens to be, and his teachers are the 
people, books, animals, plants, stones, and earth round 
about him." 

There are millions of causes, then, why we are what 
we are, and when we can enumerate but a few score 
of them we rightly say we do not know. In my own 
case, that I was born in central Ohio rather than in 
Oahu is one cause; that my ancestors were of that 
stern puritan stock that delighted in self-denial and 
effective well-doing, sparing none, and least of all 
themselves, in their rigid proselyting zeal, is another 
cause; the hills and vales around my home, the woods 
and meadows through which I roamed, my daily 
tasks — no pretence alone of work — that were the be- 
ginning of a life-long practice of mental and muscular 
gymnastics, were causes; every opening of the eye, 
every wave of nature's inspiration, was a cause. And 
thus it ever is. Every ray of sunshine thrown upon 
our path, every shower that waters our efforts, every 
storm that toughens our sinews, swells the influence 
that makes us what we are. The lights and shades of 
a single day color one's whole existence. There is no 
drop of dew, no breath of air, no shore, no sea, no 
heavenly star, but writes its influence on our destiny. 
In the morning of life the infant sleeps into strength, 
and while he sleeps are planted the seeds of his fate; 
for weal or woe are planted the fig-tree and the thorn- 
tree, fair flowers and noisome weeds. Then are born 
cravings for qualities and forms of existence, high 
aspirations and debasing appetites; the poetic, the 
sacred, the sublime, and love^ and longings, are there 
in their incipiency; hate, and all the influences for 
evil mingling with the rest. Wrapped in the mys- 
terious enfoldings of fate are these innumerable 
springs of thought and action, for the most part dor- 
mant till wakened by the sunshine and storm wherein 
they bask and battle to the end. 

And later in the life of the man, of the nation, or 


the eTolution of a principle, how frequenfcly insignifi- 
cant is the only appearing cause of mighty change. 
Mohammed, a tradesman's clerk, was constrained to 
marry his mistress and turn prophet, and therefrom 
arose a power which wellnigh overwhelmed Christen- 
dom. Luther's sleep was troubled with impish dreams, 
and his waking hours with the presence of papal in- 
dulgences, from which results of indigestion, brain op- 
pression, or extrinsic pressure of progress, the church 
was shorn of a good share of its authority. Frog 
soup was one day in 1790 prescribed as a suitable diet 
for a lady of Bologna, Signora Galvani; and but for 
this homely incident the existence of what we call 
galvanism might not have been discovered to this day. 
Joseph Smith's revelation put into his hands the 
metal-plated book of Mormon, though unfortunately 
for his followers it was some three centuries late in 

Lucian's first occupation was making gods, a busi- 
ness quite extensively indulged in by all men of all 
ages — making deities and demolishing them; carving 
them in wood, or out of airy nothings, and then set- 
ting them a-fighting. Lucian used to cut Mercuries 
out of marble in his uncle's workshop. Thence he 
descended to humbler undertakings, learned to write, 
and finally handled the gods somewhat roughly. Thus 
with him the one occupation followed closely on the 
other. Thomas Hood's father was a bookseller, and 
his uncle an engraver. Disgusted first with a mer- 
cantile and afterward with a mechanical occupation, 
Hood took to verse-making, and finally abandoned 
himself wholly to literature. And there is at least 
one instance where a young scribbler, Planche, re- 
solved to be a bookseller so that he mio^ht have the 
opportunity of publishing his own works; in accord- 
ance with which determination he apprenticed him- 
self, though shortly afterward, not finding in^ the 
connection the benefits imagined, he took to play- 
acting and writing. An author of genius sometimes 


rises into notice by striking accidentally the key-note 
of popular fancy or prejudice which sounds his fame. 
Until Sam Weller, a character which genius alone 
could construct, was brought before the world, the 
Pickwick Pcipers, then and for five months previous 
issued by Chapman and Hall as a serial, was a failure. 
John Stuart Mill claims to have been not above the 
average boy or girl in natural mind powers, but 
credits his talents to his father's superior manage- 
ment of his youth; indeed, until so told by his father 
he was not aware that he knew more than other boys, 
or was more thoughtful, intelligent, or learned, and 
accepted the information as a fact rather than a com- 
pliment. And so we might study life's mosaic forever, 
here and there finding — though more frequently not — 
what appears the immediate agency that wrought in 
us the love of letters, or any other love. In my own 
case I may further surmise with Sir Thomas Browne 
that I w^as born in the planetary hour of Saturn, 
and was ever after held a victim to his leaden sway, 
by which pernicious influence the stream of my life 
was perverted from plain honest gold-getting into 
the quicksands of literature. 

My father was born in Massachusetts; his father's 
great -great -grandfather, John Bancroft, came from 
London in the ship James in 1632. My father's great- 
great -grandparents were Nathaniel and Ruth Ban- 
croft, whose son Samuel was born July 8, 1711, 
and died July 6, 1788. Sarah White was Samuel's 
wife; and their son Samuel, my father's grandfather, 
was born at West Springfield, Massachusetts, April 
22, 1737. His father, Azariah' Bancroft, the eldest of 
nine children, was born in Granville, Massachusetts, 
April 13, 1768; and on the 25th of January, 1799, my 
father was born in Granville, the fourth in a family 
of eleven. His great -grandparents removed to 
Granville, Massachusetts, in 1738, when Samuel 
Bancroft was a year old — the first settlers coming to 


Granville the year he was born. In the book entitled 
A. Golden Wedding my father says : '' My recol- 
lections of my grandfather are vivid and pleasant. 
He was a tall, thin, voluble old gentleman, fond of 
company, jokes, and anecdotes. He served in the 
French and Indian war, and afterward in the Revo- 
lutionary war with the rank of lieutenant. He was 
paid off in continental money, receiving it in sheets, 
which he never cut apart. He was very fond of re- 
lating incidents of the war, and was never happier 
than when surrounded by old comrades and neigh- 
bors, talking over different campaigns, with a mug 
of cider warminof before the fire." 'Slim-legs' he w^as 
called by the soldiers. He married Elizabeth Spel- 
man, and died January 2, 1820. 

From my grandfather, Azariah Bancroft, who 
married Tabitha, daughter of Gerard Pratt, and from 
the wife of the latter, sometime called Dorcas Ashley, 
my father derived his name Azariah Ashley. This 
Gerard Pratt was quite a character, and displayed 
enough peculiarities, which were not affected, to en- 
title his name to be placed on the roll of great men 
or men of genius. For example, constantly in season 
and out of season he wore his hat, a broad -brimmed 
quakerish-looking affair, although he was no quaker. 
It was the last article of apparel to be removed at 
night, when he placed it on the bedpost, the first 
to be put on in the morning when he arose, and it 
was removed during the day only when he asked 
the blessing at table, which was done standing, and 
during that time he held it in his hand, replacing 
it before beginning to eat. Half a mile from the old 
town of Granville, Massachusetts, lived these great- 
grand-parents of mine, on two acres of good garden 
land, with a small orchard in which were six famous 
seek -no -farther apple-trees, reserved from the old 
family farm, afterward owned by their son-in-law, 
James Barlow. They were aged and infirm when my 
father, then a small boy, came every year to help his 


grandfather dig and store his potatoes, and gather 
and sell his apples, the fine seek-no-farthers readily 
bringing a cent apiece by the dozen. His grand- 
mother met her death from an accident at ninety-five. 
A mile and a half from this Pratt farm lived my 
grandfather Bancroft, a man of good judgment, active 
in light open-air work, though not of sound health, 
for he was afflicted with asthma. My grandmother 
was a woman of great endurance, tall and slender, 
with a facility for accomplishing work which was a 
marvel to her neighbors. " She did not possess great 
physical force," says my father in his journal, ''but 
managed to accomplish no inconsiderable work in 
rearing a large family, and providing both for their 
temporal and spiritual wants — clothing them accord- 
ing to the custom of the time with the wool and flax 
of her own spinning. The raw material entered the 
house from the farm, and never left it except as 
warm durable garments upon the backs of its inmates. 
The fabric was quite good, as good at least as that of 
our neighbors, though I ought to admit that it would 
not compare with the Mission woollen goods of San 
Francisco; still, I think a peep into my mother's 
factory as it was in the year 1800 would be found 
interesting to her descendants of the present day. 
This was before the day of our country carding ma- 
chines. My mother had nine operatives at this time, 
of different ages, and not a drone among us all. All 
were busy with the little picking machines, the hand- 
cards, the spinning-wheel, and the loom. It can be 
well imagined that my mother was much occupied 
in her daily duties, yet she found time to teach 
her little ones the way to heaven, and to pray with 
them that they might enter therein. And such 
teaching! such prayers! What of the result? We 
verily believe those children all gave their hearts to 
the Savior, either early in childhood or in youth. 
She had eleven children; two died in infancy. The 
remaining nine all reared families, and a large propor- 

LiT. Ind. 4 


tion of them are pious. May a gracious God have 
mercy upon the rising generation, and in answer to 
the prayers of a long line of pious ancestry save their 
children. My mother died in Granville, Ohio, Jan- 
uary 29, 1842, in her seventy-first year." 

It seemed to me that boys in Ohio were early put 
to work, but they used to begin earlier in Massachu- 
setts. A boy, or rather baby of five, could ride horse 
to plow, a line for guiding the animal being then used 
less than at present. He could gather surface stones 
into little heaps, drop corn, and pull flax. During 
the next year or two, in his linen frock, he performed 
all kinds of general light work; among the rest he 
would walk beside the ox team while plowing. The 
farm on which my father worked at this tender age 
was quite rough and stony, and before the plowing 
oxen was sometimes hitched a gentle horse without 
a bridle, guided, like the oxen, with the whip. My 
father had not yet reached the end of his sixth 
year when, toward the close of a long hot summer 
day, during which he had trudged manfully, whip in 
hand, beside these cattle, he became exceedingly tired, 
and the silent tears began to fall. Noticing this 
the father asked, "What is the matter, my child?" 
'^Nothing, sir," was the reply, ''only I think this is a 
pretty big team for so small a boy to drive all day." 
"I think so too, my son, and we will stop now," said 
my grandfather. After his seventh birthday my 
father was withdrawn from school during summer, 
his services on the farm being too valuable to be 
spared. In 1809 my grandfather Bancroft removed 
his family to Pennsylvania, where Yankees were then 
eyed suspiciously by the Dutch, and in 1814 he emi- 
grated to Ohio. 

My mother was a native of Vermont. Sibyl 
Phelps was her mother's maiden name, and the 
Phelps family at an early day removed from the 
vicinity of St Albans to Ohio. My mother's parents 
were both originally from Massachusetts, Sibyl 


Phelps leaving Springfield about the time Curtis 
Howe, my mother's father, left Granville, the two 
meeting first at Swanton, Vermont, in 1797, their 
marriage taking place the following year. Curtis 
Howe was one in whom were united singular mild- 
ness of disposition and singular firmness of character, 
and withal as lovable a nature as ever man had. He 
lived to the age of ninety-eight, a venerable patriarch, 
proud of his numerous descendants, who with one 
accord reofarded him as the best man that ever lived. 
Like a shepherd amidst his flock, with his white hair, 
and mild beaming eye, and quiet loving smile; with 
sweet counsel ever falling from his lips, Sabbath days 
and other days, his simple presence blessed them. In 
the consciousness of duty well performed, with a firm 
reliance on his God, a faith deep-rooted in his bible, 
which though the mountains were upturned could not 
be shaken, a trust that the sweet Christ on whom he 
leaned would guide his steps and smooth his path daily 
and hourly so long as life should last, and give him 
final rest, the good man brought dowa heaven and 
made the world to him a paradise. And when earthly 
trials thickened, he lifted his soul and soared amidst 
the stars, and made the saints and angels his com- 

Ah! talk not to me of living tten and now. We 
plume ourselves, poor fools, and say that more of life 
is given us in the short space we run it through than 
was vouchsafed our ancestors a century or two ago in 
thrice the time. Puffed up by our mechanical con- 
trivances which we call science, our parcelling-out of 
earth and ores which we call wealth, our libertinism 
which we call liberty; casting ourselves adrift from 
our faith, calling in question the wisdom and goodness 
of our maker, throwing ofl* all law but the law of lust, 
all affection save avarice and epicurism, we plunge 
headlong into some pandemonium or cast ourselves 
under some soul-crushing juggernaut of progress, and 


call it life, and boast one year of such hurry-skurry 
existence to be worth ten, ay, a hundred, of the old- 
time sort. 

Lacrymse Christi! What, then, is life? To swine, 
a wallowing in the mire; to the money -getter, a 
wrangling on the mart; to the brainless belle, a beau, 
dancing, and dissipation; to the modern young man, 
billiards, cigars, and champagne cocktails — and if he 
stops at these he does well. To the woman of fashion 
life is a war on wrinkles; to the epicure, it is frogs 
and turtles; to the roud, women and fast horses; to 
the politician, chicanery, cheatings, and overreachings ; 
to the man of science, evolution, universal law, and a 
dark uncertain future. Away with aged father and 
tottering mother! hence with them, coffin them, wall 
them in, send their souls quick to heaven and let their 
names be canonized, so that they depart and give their 
ambitious children room. So swiftly do the actions of 
modern fast livers follow their swift thoughts that the 
recording angel must be indeed a good stenographer to 
take down all their doings. " Think of the crowning 
hours of men's lives," exclaims Thomas Starr King, " if 
you would learn how much living can be crowded into 
a minute; of Copernicus, when he first saw the sun 
stop in its career, and the earth, like a moth, begin to 
flutter round it; of Newton, when the law of gravity 
was first breaking into the inclosure of his philosophy, 
and at the same glance he saw his own name written 
forever on the starry sky; of Le Verrier, when from 
Berlin word came back that a new planet had been 
evoked by the sorcery of his mathematics, to spin a 
wider thread of reflected light than had ever before 
been traced; of Washington, when the English gen- 
eral's sword was surrendered to him at Yorktown ; of 
Columbus, when on his deck ' before the upright man 
there arose a light,' when San Salvador lifted its 
candle to his sight and shot its rays across on Castile ; 
and for the jeers of a continent, the mutiny of his 
men, he was repaid as he saw that the round idea that 


haunted him was demonstrated. To pictures like 
these we must turn to understand the untranslatable 
bliss of which a moment is capable, to learn what 
fast living really is." 

To few, however, is given the happiness of thus 
hanging the results of a noble life on a point of time, 
but to all is given the privilege of making somewhat 
of life. Our life is but one among millions of lives, 
our world one among millions of worlds, our solar 
system one among millions of solar systems. '^ La 
plupart des hommes," says La Bruyere, '' emploient 
la premiere partie de leur vie a rendre I'autre miser- 
able." Nevertheless it is safe to say that every man 
receives from the world more than he gives. These 
so-called fast livers do not live at all, do not know 
what life is. They act as though they imagined it to 
be a gladiatorial show, in which each was called to 
be an actor, a thief, and fierce butcher of time, when 
in reality they are but spectators, the creator pro- 
viding the entertainment, which is not a gladiatorial 
show, but a pastoral feast, where nature herself pre- 
sides and distributes the gifts. Let it be inscribed 
on the tombstone of him whose fastness of life lies 
in money, wine, and women: — Here lies one to whom 
God had given intellect and opportunity, who lived — 
nay rotted — in an age which yielded to inquiry the 
grandest returns, doubly rewarding the efforts of 
mind by blessing him who gave and him who re- 
ceived; but who in all his threescore years lived not 
an hour, being absorbed all that time in hurried 
preparations to live, and who died laboring under the 
strange delusion that he had lived half a century or 
more. There is about all this bustle and business the 
stifling vapor of merchandise, town lots, and stocks, 
which, as one says truthfully, ^Meoxygenates the air 
of its fair humanities and ethereal spiritualities, and 
the more one breathes of it the less one lives." What 
recompense to mummied man for overheated brain, 
withered affections, and scoffing distempers? Can 


wealth atone, or even knowledge? Vain simpleton! 
^et money if you will, and with it buy desolation, 
heart -weariness; with fame buy shipwrecked faith 
and blasting winds, which, sweeping over the gardens 
of the soul once joyous in their fresh bloom, leave 
behind a withered desert. Wealth, fame, and knowl- 
edge, and these alone, bring neither faith, hope, nor 
sweet charity. 

Life is but the glass upon the quicksilver which 
mirrors thought. As has been fitly said, one may 
see in the filthy stagnant pool the effulgent clouds 
rolling in an abyss of blue, or one may see — only 
a filthy pool. We may fix our eyes forever on the 
figures of our ledger, our minds on sordid dust^ and 
hug to our selfish souls a consuming fire; or we may 
lift our eyes and look God in the face, take him by 
the hand, walk with him, and talk with him of his 
wonderful works, and begin our eternity of heaven 
by making a heaven of our hearts and filling them 
with the inspirations of beauty and contentment. 
Such was the life of my grandfather; and, say I, give 
me out of this old man's ninety-eight years one poor 
day, the poorest of them all, and I will show you 
more of life than the modern Dives can find by 
diligent search in ninety-eight such years as his! 

From a family sketch written by Curtis Howe in 
1857 I quote as follows: ''My grandfather, John 
Howe, was born in London in the year 1650, and 
remained there through his juvenile years. Nothing 
is known of his parents, and very little of him, only 
that some time after he became a man he came to 
this country with a brother whose name is not 
known. He purchased a farm in New Haven, Con- 
necticut, acquired a handsome property, and married 
at the age of sixty a girl of nineteen. My father, 
Ephraim Howe, was their youngest, born in April, 
1730, his father being at that time eighty years 
old. December 2, 1756, my father married Damaris 


Seaward, he being twenty-seven and she seventeen. 
According to the family record I was born May 10, 
1772; I remained very small and grew but little until 
I arrived at my teens, and reaching my full size, I 
suppose, only when nearly twenty-one." 

Things changed as time went on ; the world bustled 
forward and left my grandfather behind. His children 
to the third and fourth generations became scattered 
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and as he advanced 
in years there was a growing desire in him to see 
them all and leave with them his blessing ere he died. 
Many of them he did see, making long journeys in 
his wagon rather than trust himself to a railway. 
Queer caution this, it always seemed to me. The 
good patriarch could trust his God implicitly in most 
matters; indeed he was confident of his ability to 
protect him everywhere except on steam -cars and 
steam -boats. He could go to him in trouble, he 
could leave his cares with him, knowing that what- 
ever was meted out to him was right and best; but he 
was a little doubtful about the newfangled, rattling, 
screeching, bellowing method of travelling, and he 
preferred the old and sure way, horses and wagons, 
such as had brought him and his household safely 
from St Albans to Granville and such as he had ever 
since employed. The spirit of steam had not yet 
fallen on him. Nevertheless, so great was the desire 
to see his children in California, that he finally sum- 
moned courage or faith sufficient to brave both rail- 
way and steam-ship, making the fatiguing, and for 
him dangerous passage by the Isthmus at the advanced 
age of ninety-four. 

From family records I have ascertained that a 
grandmother of my father and a grandmother of my 
mother were born in the same town the same year; 
both died the same year at the advanced age of 
ninety-six. My grandfathers Bancroft and Howe were 
both born in Granville, Massachusetts; the former 
died in Ohio, the latter in Kansas. 


Both of my parents were born in the year 1799. 
I was born in Granville, Ohio, on the fifth day of 
May, 1832, just two centuries after the arrival of my 
ancestor John in America. The town of Granville 
was settled by a colony from New England, and took 
its name from Granville, Massachusetts, whence many 
of its settlers came. It was in 1805 that a company 
was formed in Granville, Massachusetts, to emigrate 
to the far west, and two of the number went to search 
the wilderness for a suitable location. They selected 
a heavily timbered township in Ohio, in the county 
of Licking, so called from the deer-licks found there. 
They secured from the proprietors, Stanbury and 
Kathburn, this tract, and it afterward took the name 
of Granville, as before mentioned, from their old 
home. The year following the colony was organized, 
not as a joint-stock company, but as a congregational 
church. At starting a sermon was preached from 
the text: ^'If thy presence go not with me, carry 
us not up hence." Then, after baking much bread, 
a portion of which was dried to rusk and coarsely 
ground at the flouring mill, the cattle were hitched 
to the wagons, and driving their cows before them 
they moved off in the direction of the star of empire. 
It was quite a different thing, this New England 
colony, from an ordinary western settlement. Though 
eminently practical, it partook rather of the subjective 
and rational element than of the objective and ma- 
terial. Though unlike their forefathers fleeing from 
persecution — only for more and better land than they 
could find at home would they go — they nevertheless, 
with their households, transplanted their opinions and 
their traditions, without abating one jot or tittle of 
either. With their ox teams and horse teams, with 
all their belongings in covered wagons, these colonists 
came, bearing in their bosoms their love of God, their 
courageous faith, their stern morality, their delight in 
sacrifice; talking of these things by the way, camping 
by the road side at night, resting on the Sabbath when 


all the religious ordinances of the day were strictly 
observed, consuming in the journey as many days as 
it now occupies half-hours, and all with thanksgiving, 
prayer, and praise. 

Quite a contrast, this sort of swarming, to that 
which characterized the exodus to California less 
than half a century later, wherein greed usurped the 
place of godliness, and lust the place of love. The na- 
tion had progressed, it was said, since Ohio was the 
frontier — crablike in some respects, surely; neverthe- 
less there was more of 4ife' in it, that is to say ebulli- 
tion, fermentation, called life, as brainless boys and men 
doomed to perdition call their fopperies, harlotings, 
and drunken revelries life. There had been a grand 
broadening since then; Yankeedom now stretched, if 
not from pole to pole, at least from ocean to ocean, 
and scarcely had the guns ceased braying that added 
to our domain the whole of Alta California when the 
chink of gold was heard upon our western seaboard, 
and thither flocked adventurers of every caste, good 
and bad, learned and unlearned, mercantile, mechan- 
ical, and nondescript. The sons of the puritans, in 
common with all the world, rose and hastily departed 
on their pilgrimage to this new shrine of Plutus. 
Eagerly they skirted the continent, doubled Cape 
Horn, crossed the Isthmus, or traversed the plains, 
in order to reach the other side. The old covered 
wagon was again brought out, the oxen and the 
horses; wives and little ones were left behind, and so, 
alas ! too often were conscience,' and honesty, and hu- 
manity. Not as their forefathers had journeyed did 
these latter-day men of progress migrate. Sacrifice, 
there was enough of it, but of quite a different kind. 
Comfort, society with its wholesome restraints, and 
Sabbath were sacrificed; the bible, the teachings of 
their youth, and the Christ himself, were sacrificed. 
Oaths and blasphemy instead of praise and thanks- 
giving were heard ; drunken revelry and gambling took 


the place of psalms and sermons. Playing-cards were 
the gold-seeker's testament, rum the spirit of his con- 
templations, and lucre his one and final love. The 
rifle and the bowie-knife cleared his path of beasts 
and native men and women, and the unfortunate 
' greasers,' by which opprobrious epithet the Anglo- 
Saxon there greeted his brethren of the Latin race, 
fared but little better. Here was a new departure 
in colonizing; nor yet a colonizing — only a huddling 
of humanity, drunk from excess of avarice. 

It was late in the week that the New England 
emigrants to Ohio reached their destination and 
camped on a picturesque bench, the rolling forested 
hills on one side, and on the other a strip of timbered 
bottom, through which flowed a clear quiet stream. 
Arranging their wagons in the way best suited for 
convenience and defence, they felled a few of the large 
maple and other trees and began to prepare material 
for building. Then came the warm Sabbath morning, 
when no sound of the axe was heard, and even nature 
softened her shrill music and breathed low as arose to 
heaven the voice of prayer, and praise, and thanks- 
giving, nevermore to be new or strange among these 
consecrated hills. A sermon was read on that first 
Granville Sabbath, and never from that day to this 
has the peaceful little spot been without its Sabbath 
and its sermon. Houses were quickly erected, and 
a church, Timothy Harris being the first pastor. 
Schools quickly followed; and all thus far being from 
one place, and of one faith, and one morality, no time 
was lost in sage discussions, so that Granville grew 
in solid comforts and intelligence, outstripping the 
neighboring communities, and ere long sending forth 
hundreds of young men and women to educate others. 

The Phelps family was among the earliest to leave 
Vermont for the Ohio Granville, thus established by 
the Massachusetts men. Then came the Bancrofts 
from Pennsylvania and the Howe family from Ver- 


mont. Among the first acts of the colonists was to 
mark out a village and divide the surrounding lands 
into hundred-acre farms. Now it so happened that 
the farms of Azariah Bancroft and Curtis Howe 
adjoined. Both of these settlers were blessed with 
numerous children ; my father was one of eleven, four 
boys and five girls reaching maturity. It was not 
the custom in that slow age for parents to shirk their 
responsibility. Luxury, pleasure, ease, had not yet 
usurped the place of children in the mother's breast ; 
and as for strength to bear them, it was deemed dis- 
graceful in a woman to be weak who could not show 
just cause for her infirmity. As I have said before, 
work was the order of the day — work, by which means 
alone men can be men, or women women; by which 
means alone there can be culture, development, or a 
human species fit to live on this earth. Men and 
women, and boys and girls, all worked in those days, 
worked physically, mentally, and morally, and so 
strengthened hand, and head, and heart. Thus work- 
ing in the kitchen field and barn-yard, making hay and 
milking cows, reaping, threshing, spinning, weaving, 
Ashley Bancroft and Lucy Howe grew up, the one a 
lusty, sinewy, dark- eyed youth, the other a bright 
merry maiden, with golden hair, and the sweetest 
smile a girl ever had, and the softest, purest eyes that 
ever let sunlight into a soul. Those eyes played the 
mischief with the youth. Sly glances were given and 
returned; at spelling-school, singing-school, chestnut- 
ting, and sleighing, whenever they encountered one 
auother the heart of either beat 'the faster. And in 
the full course of time they were married, and had 
a hundred -acre farm of their own; had cattle, and 
barn, and farm implements, and in time a substantial 
two-story stone house, with a bright tin roof; and soon 
there were six children in it, of whom I was the 
fourth ; and had all these comforts paid for — for these 
thrifty workers hated debt as they hated the devil — 
all paid for save the children, for which debt the 


parents ceased not to make acknowledgments to al- 
mighty God morning and evening to the end. 

Writing in his journal at the age of eighty-three, 
just after the death of my mother, in 1882, my father 
tells the story thus: "Well, a long time ago a little 
stammering boy" — my father had a slight impediment 
in his speech — ''turned up from the rocks and hills 
of Massachusetts, who might eventually want a wife ; 
and Infinite Benevolence took the case into His own 
hands, and being able to see the end from the begin- 
ning, by way of compensation, perhaps, for the griev- 
ous affliction entailed upon him. He was graciously 
inclined to bestow upon him one of the very best 
young women in His keeping, and in accordance with 
His plan he caused the damsels of His mighty realm 
to pass before Him, and strange to relate, near the 
Green Mountains of Vermont one was found with 
whom He was perfectly acquainted, and whom He 
knew would be the right person to fill the place. Now 
the parties were far removed from each other, and still 
farther removed from the scene of their future desti- 
nation. And as the time drew nigh when these young 
persons were to be brought together, discipline and 
counsel were preparing them; for good parents had 
been given by the great Moving Power, who could 
clearly see that they would rear a family of children 
that they would not be ashamed of And now, in 
accordance with the great plan, I was sent out to 
Ohio a few years in advance of my mate; and four 
years later there was a movement in a family in 
Vermont, who bade farewell to friends and started 
for the west. The second day after their arrival I 
was walking from father's toward town, when I met 
two persons, one of whom was my sister Matilda 
and the other Miss Lucy D. Howe. My sister lightly 
introduced us, and we all passed on, but not until I 
had seen a great deal; my eyes were fixed upon this 
new object; and I could not tell why, nothing escaped 
me, not even her dress, which I should think was of 


scarlet alpaca, and well fitted. I do not know exactly 
how it was, whether the dress became the person, 
or the person the dress, but taking them together I 
thought them the finest affair I had ever seen." 

They were then in their sixteenth year, and seven 
years were yet to elapse before their marriage. My 
father was what people in those days called a good 
boy, that is he was scarcely a boy at all — sober, sedate, 
pious, having in him little fun or frolic, though pos- 
sessing somewhat of a temper, but for which his father 
would have pronounced him the^best boy that ever lived. 
The immaculate youth had not yet won his bride, who 
was as clear-headed and single-hearted as he, and joy- 
ous as a sunbeam withal. What could he do, extremely 
sensitive and bashful as he was; how could he bring 
his faulty tongue to speak the momentous w^ords? 
There was a way in old-time wooings not practised so 
much of late. Listen. "Poor Ashley!" continues 
my father, " he was indeed smitten, though he could 
not make a move. But he had one resource. He 
knew the way to a throne of grace, and his prayer 
for months was that God would give him a companion 
that should prove a rich and lasting blessing to him. 
And how Avonderfully that prayer has been answered. 
Miss Howe when she started out from her home that 
morning did not know she was going forth to meet 
him w4io had been appointed to be her companion 
during a pilgrimage of sixty years." They joined the 
same church at the same time, after which, like her 
father before her, my mother taught school, some- 
times at Granville and sometimes at Irville. It was 
on one of these occasions, when she was absent, that 
my father summoned courage to write her a proposal, 
which after much delay resulted in the bright con- 
summation of his hopes. But before marriage my 
mother assisted her father from her owm earnings in 
building his farm-house, and by further teaching and 
making bonnets of straw she accumulated enough for 
her wedding outfit. A few months after their marriage 


they removed to Newark, Ohio, where my father had 
taken a contract to build a large brick residence for 
William Stanbury. This work occupied him two 
years, and when completed was the finest residence 
in Licking county. In part payment he took the 
Granville farm, the childhood home of his sons and 
dauQ^hters. He also built locks for the Ohio canal, 
under contract. " During the year 1840," writes my 
father, 'Svhile travelling south on business, I encoun- 
tered a fine rich farming country in Missouri, and in 
the following year reaaoved my family thither, in 
company with some of my Granville neighbors; but 
after a sojourn of about three years we were driven 
back by the unwholesomeness of the climate. In 1850 
I joined a company from Licking county bound for 
California. We went out by steamer to Chagres, 
and from Panamd by sailing vessel. Accidents and 
delays so retarded our progress that our voyage 
occupied over six months. I returned to Ohio in 
1852. In 1861 I received an appointment from Gov- 
ernment as Indian Agent for the Yakima nation, 
at Fort Simcoe, where I remained for nearly. four 
years. I returned to San Francisco in November, 
1864, and since then have lived quietly and happily 
among my children and my children's children." 

My parents were married in Granville, Ohio, on 
the 21st of February, 1822, the Reverend Ahab 
Jenks officiating; the 21st of February, 1872, at my 
house in San Francisco, they celebrated their golden 
wedding, probably the most joyous event of their 
long and happ}^ lives. Two of my father's brothers 
have likewise celebrated their golden weddings, one 
before this and one afterward. While I am now 
writing, my father of eighty-five is talking with my 
children, Paul, Griffing, Philip, and Lucy, aged six, 
four, two, and one, respectively, telling them of things 
happening when he was a boy, which, were it possible 
for them to remember and tell at the age of eighty- 
five to their grandchildren, would be indeed a col- 


lating of the family book of life almost in century- 
pages. Living is not always better than dying; but 
to my boys I would say, if they desire to live long in 
this world they must work and be temperate in all 

Thus it happened that I was born into an atmos- 
phere of pungent and invigorating puritanism, such as 
falls to the lot of few in these days of material pro- 
gress and transcendental speculation. This atmos- 
phere, however, was not without its fogs. Planted in 
this western New England oasis, side by side with the 
piety and principles of the old Plymouth colony, and 
indeed one with them, were all the antis and isms 
that ever confounded Satan — Calvinism, Lutheran- 
ism, Knoxism, and Hussism, pure and adulterated; 
abolitionism, whilom accounted a disgrace, later the 
nation's proudest honor; anti-rum, anti-tobacco, anti 
tea and coffee, anti sugar and cotton if the enslaved 
black man grew them, and anti fiddles and cushions 
and carpets in the churches, anti-sensualism of every 
kind, and even comforts if they bordered on luxury. 
Thus the fanatically good, in their vehement attempts 
at reform, may perchance move some atom of the pro- 
gressional world which of inherent necessity, if left 
alone, would move 'without their aid or in spite of 
them. Multitudinous meetings and reforms, high- 
pressure and low-pressure, were going on, whether 
wise or unwise, whether there was anything to meet 
for or to reform, or not. As my n^other used to say, 
''to be good and to do good should constitute the aim 
and end of every life." Children particularly should 
be reformed, and that right early; and so Saturday 
night was 'kept,' preparatory to the Sabbath, on 
which day three 'meetings' were always held, besides 
a Sunday-school and a prayer-meeting, the intervals 
being filled with Saturday-cooked repasts, catechism, 
a>nd Sunday readings. 

Preparations were made for the Sabbath as for a 


solemn ovation. The garden was put in order, and 
the sheep and kine were driven to their quiet quarters. 
The house was scrubbed, and in the winter fuel pre- 
pared the day before. All picture-books and scraps 
of secular reading which might catch the eye and 
offend the imagination were thrust into a closet, and 
on the table in their stead were placed the bible. 
Memoirs of Payson, and Baxters Saints Rest. The 
morning of the holy day crept silently in; even nature 
seemed subdued. The birds sang softer ; the inmates 
of the farm-yard put on their best behavior ; only the 
brazen-faced sun dared show itself in its accustomed 
character. Prayers and breakfast over, cleanly 
frocked, through still streets and past closed doors 
each member of the household walked with down- 
cast eyes to church. Listen and heed. Speak no 
evil of the godly man, nor criticise his words. 

Not only is religion, or the necessity of worship, 
as much a part of us as body, mind, or soul, but 
ingrafted superstition of some sort so fastens itself on 
our nature that the philosophy of the most skeptical 
cannot wholly eradicate it. 

Often have I heard latter-day progressive fathers 
say: "For myself, I care not for dogmas and creeds, 
but something of the kind is necessary for women and 
children ; society else would fall in pieces." Without 
subscribing to such a sentnnent, I may say that I 
thank God for the safe survival of strict religious 
training ; and I thank him most of all for emancipa- 
tion from it. It may be good to be born in a hotbed 
of reverential sectarianism ; it is surely better, at some 
later time, to escape it. 

Excess of any kind is sure, sooner or later, to de- 
feat its own ends. Take, for instance, the meetings 
inflicted on the society into which destiny had pro- 
jected me. There were pulpit meetings, conference 
meetings, missionary meetings, temperance meetings, 
mothers' meetings, young men's meetings, Sunday- 
school meetings, inquiry meetings, moral-reform meet- 


ings, ministers' meetings, sunrise and sunset meetings, 
anti-slavery meetings — these for the ordmary minis- 
trations, with extra impromptu meetings on special 
occasions, and all intermingled with frequent and 
fervid revivals. The consequence was that the young 
men of Granville were noted in all that region for 
their wickedness. Home influence and the quiet but 
efl*ectual teachings of example were overshadowed by 
the public and more active poundings of piety into the 
young. The tender plant was so watered, and digged 
about, and fertilized, that natural and healthy growth 
was impeded. A distaste for theological discourse 
was early formed, arising, not from a distaste for re- 
ligion, nor from special inherent badness, but from the 
endless unwholesome restraints thrown upon youth- 
ful unfoldings, which led in many instances to the 
saddest results. '' Born in sin !" w^as the cry that first 
fell on infant ears, and "brought forth in iniquity!" 
the refrain. This beautiful world that thou seest is 
given thee, not to enjoy with thankful adoration, but 
as a snare of Satan. Do penance, therefore, for sins 
which thou wilt be sure to commit if thou livest. Let 
thy mind dwell little upon the things thou canst see 
and understand, and much upon what is beyond the 
sky, of which thou canst know nothing. By prayer 
and propitiation peradventure thou mayest induce om- 
nipotence to avert from thine innocent head some of 
its premeditated wrath ; or, if there must be a dis- 
play of the creator's power let it fall on our neighbors 
and not on us. So the heaven that my kind heavenly 
father throws round my earthly habitation is turned 
into furnace-fires to melt the metal of self-abnegation 
into coins with which to buy the heaven hereafter. 

What then shall be the coming religion? The 
prophet has not yet arisen to proclaim it. Whatever 
else its quality, sure I am it will not be a religion of 
creeds, dogmas, or traditions. We have had enough 
of the teachings of twilight civilization, of being told 
by the ignorant and superstitious of by- gone centuries 

Lit. Ind. 5 


what we must believe, by those whose occupation and 
interest it is to instil ignorance and befog the intel- 
lects of men. Whatever else it may contain, the new 
religion will be founded on reality and common-sense. 
It will, first of all, discard such parts of every religion 
as are unable to bear the test of reason, and accept 
such parts of every religion as are plain, palpable 
truths. It will look within and without; it will search 
for knowledge to the uttermost, not ignoring inten- 
tions and spiritual aspirations, but vain speculation 
it will leave to the winds. 

It is not to be wondered at that, after such an ex- 
cess of piety and exalted contemplation, to the young 
elastic mind an interview with the devil was most re- 
freshing; and as these boys were taught that in to- 
bacco, small-beer, and the painted cards that players 
used, he lurked, there the pious urchins sought him. 
Clubs were formed — rough little knots, for polished 
wickedness had as yet no charm for them — and meet- 
ings held for the purpose of acquiring proficiency 
in these accomplishments. Often after leaving our 
'inquiry' meeting — that is to say, a place where young 
folks met ostensibly for the purpose of inquiring 
what they should do to be saved — have I gone home 
and to bed; then later, up and dressed, in company 
with my comrades I would resort to a cellar, garret, 
or barn, with tallow candle, cent cigars, and a pack of 
well-worn greasy playing-cards, and there hold sweet 
communion with infernal powers; in consequence of 
which enthusiasm one barn was burned and several 
others narrowly escaped burning. Strange to say, 
later in life, as soon as I learned how playing-cards 
were made, and that no satanic influences were em- 
ployed in their construction or use, they ceased to 
have any fascination for me. 

The spirit of mischief broke out in various ways, 
such as unhinging gates and hiding them in the grass, 
rousing the inmates of a house at the dead of night 
on some frivolous pretext; sometimes choice fruits 


would be missing, and a farmer would find his horses 
unaccountably used up some morning, or his wagon in 
the neighboring town. .Hither with their noble ethics 
these New England emigrants had brought their fierce 
bigotry, which yielded fruit, the one as well as the 

But on the whole, excess of what we call goodness 
is better than excess of wickedness. A French writer 
complains, '' Tous les vices mediocres sent presque 
generalement approuves; on ne les condamne que dans 
leur exces." Now excess per se I hold to be the 
very essence of evil, the sura of all evils, the sole evil 
incident to humanity. ^^ Virtus est medium vitiorum 
^t utrinque reductum," says Horace. Virtue is al- 
ways found lying between two vices. Those very 
excellences, moral and intellectual, which cultivated 
in moderation tend to happiness, if cultivated to an 
extreme tend to misery. Plato had the idea, though 
it is somewhat confusedly expressed when he says, 
'^Slavery and freedom, if immoderate, are each of 
them an evil ; if moderate, they are altogether a good. 
Moderate is the slavery to a god; but immoderate to 
men. God is a law to the man of sense; but pleasure 
is a law to the fool." Dr Young remarks, "When 
we dip too deep iti pleasure we always stir up a 
sediment that renders it impure and noxious." We 
can but notice in the history of high attainments 
reached by various ages and nations, culminating 
points, in leaping which progress dpfeats itself Un- 
due culture in one direction retards advancement in 
another. Intellectual excesses, of all others, tend to 
drive a man to extremes. The higher a brain worker 
is lifted out of or above himself, the lower he sinks in 
the reaction; for to ignore himself, his human and 
material nature, is impossible. A strain upon those 
exquisitely delicate organs essential to the higher 
chords of genius produces discordant results. The 
temptation for refined and intellectual men to pe- 


riodical coarseness and immorality is far greater than 
persons of less delicate organizations can imagine. 
Thus beyond a certain line the intellectual in man 
can be further developed only at the expense of the 
physical, or the physical only at the expense of the 
mental. The intensity of force arising from alco- 
holic stimulants results in subsequent exhaustion. 
Consulting Dr Fothergill on this subject, we are told 
that '' where man is left too much to his mere muscu- 
lar efforts, without the mind being engaged, we find 
disease engendered, and that, too, to a decided extent. 
The monotonous occupation entailed by the division 
of labor, and the mental lethargy entailed by a form of 
labor making no demand upon the intellectual powers, 
leave the persons engaged in such labor a prey to 
every form of excitement when the work hours are 
over. Drunkenness, political and theological agitation, 
bursts of excitement, and a sensational literature of 
the lowest order, are the price mankind pays for the 
development of industrial enterprise. Insanity dogs 
the neglect of the intellect even more than over-use 
of it, and the percentage of insanity among field 
laborers is much higher than among the professional 

It is by the development of all our faculties simul- 
taneously that perfect manhood is attained. For in 
this simultaneous development the true mean asserts 
itself and subordinates excess. The moment one faculty 
is taxed at the expense of another both cry out for re- 
dress ; one by reason of the too heavy burden laid upon 
it, and the other under the sufferings of neglect. Ex- 
cess pays no attention to these cries, but abandons its 
victim to passion ; while temperance heeds and obeys. 
Hence excessive so-called goodness becomes in itself a 
great evil, and excessive so-called evil is sure in the 
end to react and to some extent right itself, or rot and 
fall in pieces. Abstract evil without some amalgam 
of good to give it form and consistence cannot hold 
together. It is like a lump of clay fashioned in the 


image of man, but without life or motive principle ; or 
like man fashioned after the image of his maker, with- 
out the soul of the creator's goodness. We are not 
invited into this world to be angels or demons, but 
simply men ; let us strive never so hard to be one or 
the other, and we signally fail. Coupled with the 
superlative, "Pray without ceasing," is the caution, 
''Be not righteous overmuch." Avoid irreligion, 
atheism, soulless nescience; avoid likewise supersti- 
tion, fanaticism, and pious brawlings. May not our 
ills be merely blessings in excess? And the higher 
and holier the good, the greater the curse of it when 
we swallow too much. I know of no such things as 
' vices mediocres.' To sin against my body, be it ever 
so little, is to sin, for it is written, '' Thou shalt do 
no murder;" to sin against my mind, my soul, is to 
sin against mind immortal, the soul of my soul. This 
it is to be born in sin, and nothing more; to be born 
unevenly balanced, so that throughout life we are 
constantly vibrating, ever verging toward one extreme 
or another. 

In the broader view of man and his environment, 
in watching the powerful influences that govern him, 
and his almost futile efforts to govern himself or 
his surroundings, one cannot but be struck by the 
self-regulating principle in the machinery. We walk 
through life as on a tight -rope, and the more evenly 
we balance ourselves the better we can go forward. 
Too much leaning on one side involves a correspond- 
ing movement toward the other extreme in order to 
gain an equilibrium, and so we go on wriggling and 
tottering all our days. Hence, to avoid excesses of 
every kind I hold to be the truest wisdom. We have 
before us, in the history of mankind, thousands of 
examples if we would profit by them, thousands 
of illustrations if we will see them, wherein excess of 
what we call good and excess of what we call evil both 
alike tend to destruction. The effects of excessive 
piety are before us in forms of morbid asceticism, with 


self-flagellations, and starvations, and half a nation 
turned beggarly monks, to be kept alive at the ex- 
pense of the other half or left to die; in persecutions 
and slaughters, which for centuries made this fair 
earth an Aceldama, whence the smoke from reeking 
millions slain, ascending heavenward, called aloud for 
vengeance. ^' Crucify thy body and the lusts thereof," 
cries the ascetic; until, alas! the knees smite together, 
and the imbecile mind, deprived of its sustenance, 
wanders with weird images in the clouds. *^ Give us 
meat and drink; let us be merry," says the sensualist; 
and so the besotted intellect is brought down and 
bemired until the very brutes regard it contemptu- 
ously. Away with effeminate sentimentality on the 
one side and beastly indulgence on the other! Away 
with straining at gnats and swallowing camels ! Use, 
but do not abuse, all that God has given thee — the 
fair earth, that wonderful machine, thy body, that 
thrice awful intelligence that enthrones thy body 
and makes thee companion of immortals. Given a 
world of beings in which mind and body are evenly 
balanced, and the millennium were come; no more 
need of priest or pill- taking; no more need of propa- 
gandist or hangman. Olympus sinks to earth, and 
men walk to and fro as gods. 

It is the will of God, as Christianity expresses it, 
or inexorable necessity, as the Greek poets w^ould say, 
or the tendency of evolution, as science puts it, for 
goodness on this earth to grow; for men to become 
better, and for evil to disappear. Self-preservation 
demands moderation in all things, and it is ordained, 
whether we will it or not, that temperance, chastity, 
frugality, and all that is elevating and ennobling, shall 
ultimately prevail. Not that we are passive instru- 
ments in the hand of fate, without will or power to 
move. We may put forth our puny efforts, and as 
regards our individual selves, and those nearest us, 
we may accomplish much; and the more we struggle 
for the right, whether on utilitarian or inherent mo- 


rality principles, the more we cultivate in our hearts 
the elements of piety, morality, and honesty, the 
better and happier we are. This the experience of 
all mankind in all ages teaches, and this our own ex- 
perience tells us every day. Whatever else I know 
or am doubtful of, one thing is plain and sure to me : 
to do my duty as best I may, each day and hour, as it 
comes before me; to do the right as best I know it, 
toward God, my neighbor, and myself; this done, and 
I may safely trust the rest. To know the right, and 
do it, that is life. Compromises with misery-breeding 
ignorance, blind and stupid bigotry, and coyings and 
harlotings with pestilential prudences, lackadaisical 
loiterings and tamperings with conscience, when right 
on before you is the plain Christ- trodden path — 
these things are death. He who knows the right and 
does it, never dies; he who tampers with the wrong, 
dies every day. But alas I conduct is one thing and 
rules of conduct quite another. 

Nevertheless, I say it is better to be righteous 
overmuch than to be incorrigibly wicked. And so 
the puritans of Granville thought as they enlarged 
their meeting-houses, and erected huge seminaries of 
learning, and called upon the benighted from all parts 
to come in and be told the truth. Likewise they com- 
forted the colored race. 

The most brilliant exploit of my life was performed 
at the tender age of eleven, wheri I spent a whole 
night in driving a two-horse wagon load of runaway 
slaves on their way from Kentucky and slavery to 
Canada and freedom — an exploit which was regarded 
in those days by that community with little less ap- 
probation than that bestowed by a fond Apache 
mother upon the son who brandishes before her his 
first scalp. The ebony cargo consisted of three men 
and two women, who had been brought into town the 
night before by some teamster of kindred mind to my 
father's, and kept snugly stowed away from prying 


eyes during the day. About nine o'clock at night 
the large lumber-box wagon filled with straw was 
brought out, and the black dissenters from the Ameri- 
can constitution, who so lightly esteemed our glorious 
land of freedom, were packed under the straw, and 
some blankets and sacks thrown carelessly over them, 
so that outwardly there might be no significance of 
the dark and hidden meaning of the load. My care- 
ful mother bundled me in coats and scarfs, to keep me 
from freezing, and with a round of good-bys, given 
not without some apprehensions for my safety, and 
with minute instructions, repeated many times lest I 
should forget them, I climbed to my seat, took the 
reins, and drove slowly out of town. Once or twice I 
was hailed by some curious passer-by with, "What 
have you got there?" to which I made answer as in 
such case had been provided. Just what the answer 
was I have forgotten, but it partook somewhat of 
the flavor of my mission, which was more in the 
direction of the law of God than of the law of man. 
Without telling an unadulterated Ananias and Sap- 
phira lie, I gave the inquirer no very reliable informa- 
tion; still, most of the people in that vicinity under- 
stood well enough what the load meant, and were in 
sympathy with the shippers. I was much nearer 
danger when I fell asleep and ran the wagon against 
a tree near a bank, over which my load narrowly 
escaped being turned. The fact is, this was the first 
time in my life I had ever attempted to keep my eyes 
open all night, and more than once, as my horses 
jogged along, I was brought to my senses by a jolt, 
and without any definite idea of the character of the 
road for some distance back. My freight behaved 
very well; once fairly out into the country, and into 
the night, the 'darkies' straightened up, grinned, and 
appeared to enjoy the performance hugely. During 
the night they would frequently get out and walk, 
always taking care to keep carefully covered in passing 
through a town. About three o'clock in the morning 


I entered a village and drove up to the house whither 
I had been directed, roused the inmates, and trans- 
ferred to them my load. Then I drove back, sleepy 
but happy. 

Once my father s barn was selected as the most 
available place for holding a grand abolition meeting, 
the first anniversary of the Ohio State Anti-Slavery 
society. Rotten eggs flew lively about the heads of 
the speakers, but they suffered no serious incon- 
venience from them until after the meeting was over 
and they had begun their homeward journey. Beyond 
the precincts of the village they were met by a mob, 
and although spurring their horses they did not escape 
until the foul flood had drenched them. Those were 
happy days, when there was something to suffer for; 
now that the slavery monster is dead, and the slayers 
have well-nigh spent their strength kicking the carcass, 
there is no help for reformers but to run off into 
woman's rights, free-love, and a new string of petty 
isms which should put them to the blush after their 
doughty deeds. There are yet many souls dissatisfied 
with God's management of things, who feel them- 
selves ordained to re-create mankind upon a model 
of their own. Unfortunately the model varies, and 
instead of one creator we have ten thousand, who 
turn the world upside down with their whimsical 

I cannot say that ray childhood was particularly 
happy; or if it was, its sorrows are deeper graven 
on my memory than its joys. The fault, if fate be 
fault, was not my jDarents', who were always most 
kind to me. Excessive sensitiveness has ever been 
my curse; since my earliest recollections I have 
suffered from this defect more than I can tell. My 
peace of mind has ever been in hands other than my 
own ; at school rude boys cowed and tormented me, 
and later knaves and fools have held me in derision. 

How painful to a sensitive mind is the attention 


drawn by personal peculiarity; how powerful the in- 
fluence of external trifles! Instance B3rron, with his 
club-foot; and the pimpled Hazlitt, as his Tory critics 
called him, his morbid imagination haunted by the 
ever present picture of himself, the sinister effects of 
which governed well-nigh every action of his life. 
Then there was the dusopia of Plutarch's which con- 
sisted in the inability of saying no; and the shyness 
that subordinated judgment to fear, such as that 
manifested by Antipater when invited to the feast of 
Demetrius, or that of young Hercules, Alexander's 
son, who was browbeaten into accepting the invitation 
of Polysperchon, which, as the son of Alexander had 
feared, resulted in his death ; worst of all is the bash- 
fulness of dissimulation, and that counterfeit of shy- 
ness, egoism. I never had any difliculty in saying no, 
never lacked decision. No matter at what expense of 
unpopularity, or even odium, I stood always ready to 
maintain the right; and as for the diffidence of dis- 
simulation, I was frank enough among my friends, 
though reserved with strangers. By nature I was 
melancholy without being morose, affectionate and 
proud, and keenly alive to home happiness and the 
blessings of every- day life. So far as I am able to 
analyze the failing, it arose from no sense of fear, 
inferiority, or vanity; it was simply a distaste or dis- 
incli:T:.tion to feel obliged to meet and converse with 
str mgers when I had nothing to see them for, and 
nothing to converse about; at the same time, when 
urged by duty or business, my mind once made up, 
I could go anywhere and encounter any person with- 
out knee-shaking. My trouble partook more of that 
nervousness which Lord Macaulay ascribes to Mr 
Pitt, who always took laudanum and sal- volatile before 
speaking, than of that shyness complained of by 
Bulwer, who said he could resist an invitation to 
dinner so long as it came through a third person, 
in the form of a written or verbal message, but 
cnce assaulted by the entertainer in person and he 


was lost. It is true, a simple invitation to a general 
assemblage oppressed my spirits, yet I would go and 
endure from a sense of duty. I was timid; others 
were bold. Conscious of merits and abilities, superior, 
in my own opinion at least, to those of the persons I 
most disliked to meet, I would not subject myself to 
the withering influences of their loud and burly talk- 
ing. With the natural desire for approbation mingled 
a nervous horror of shame; with aspirations to excel 
the fears of failure ; and I felt a strong repugnance to 
exposing myself at a disadvantage, or permitting such 
merit as I possessed to be undervalued or overmatched 
by the boisterous and contemptible. Yet I will con- 
tend that it was less pride than a morbid excess of 
modesty curdled into a curse. 

The author of Caxtoniana says in his essay on shy- 
ness: '^When a man has unmistakably done a some- 
thing that is meritorious, he must know it; and he 
cannot in his heart undervalue that something, other- 
wise he would never have strained all his energy to 
do it. But till he has done it, it is not sure that he 
can do it; and if, relying upon what he fancies to be 
genius, he does not take as much pains as if he were 
dull, the probability is that he will not do it at all. 
Therefore merit not proved is modest; it covets 
approbation, but is not sure that it can win it. And 
while thus eager for its object, and secretly strength- 
ening all its powers to achieve it by a wise distrust of 
unproved capacities and a fervent admiration for the 
highest models, merit is tremulously shy." It is by 
no means proven that modesty is a mark of merit, or 
shyness a sign of genius. On the contrary we might 
as naturally ask of the bashful person what he has 
done that he is ashamed of But without theory, 
without knowing or caring what was the cause, all 
through my younger days to meet people was dis- 
tasteful to me; so I threw round myself a wall of 
solitude, within which admittance was gained by few. 
This state of things continued until some time after 


I had arrived at the age of maturity, when it grad- 
ually left me; enough remaining, however, to remind 
me of the past. 

It is one of the saddest processes of life, this of 
tanning the heart and turning the seat of the affec- 
tions into a barb-proof ball; but there is no other way 
of warding off those untoward accidents and incidents 
which peril the sensitive angles of the many-sided 
bashful man, and of keeping back affliction that con- 
stantly pours in upon him. To absorb and digest all 
the infelicities that press round us is like going to sea 
in a worm-eaten boat; despite our best efforts the bitter 
waters will come in and overwhelm us. From the 
day of our birth till death gives us rest, ills hover 
over us and crowd round us, fancied ills most of them, 
or misfortunes which never happen, but to the timid 
more fearful than real ones. There are more of 
these than we are able to bear, and if we would not 
sink into the depths of despair we must fill our hearts 
with that which will turn the tide of unhappiness. 
Pitch will do it to some extent, though it may not be 
handled without defilement. Charity absorbs troubles 
rather than sheds them. Nevertheless, whatever the 
cost, some portion of the frowns of our fellows and 
the evils anticipated by the fearful and sensitive must 
be flung off. We suffer infinitely more in the antici- 
pation than in the reality, and then not more than 
one in a hundred of our anticipated evils ever reaches 
us. Like Pyramus, who prematurely stabbed him- 
self because he thought his Thisbe slain by a lion 
when she was safe, or Pomeo, who might have had 
his Juliet here had he not been in such haste to meet 
her in heaven, we are driven to despair by the evil 
that never touches us. Throw off evil, then; and 
above all, throw off the fear of possible or probable 
evil. When it comes, turn your craft to meet the 
storm as best you may, but do not die a thousand 
times before death comes. 

And thus it was that later in life, as I wandered 


among the scenes of my childhood, sadness stood 
everywhere prominent. I seemed to remember only 
the agony of my young life, and every step I took 
wrung from my very soul tears of sympathetic pity. 
The steed well fed and warmly housed at night will 
stand the keenest, coldest day unflinchingly; give to 
the boy a happy life, and the man will take care of 
himself. Let him who will, after arriving at maturity, 
defy opinion and the contempt of the world, but do 
not ask the child to do it. Nothing exceeds the 
misery suffered by the sensitive youth from the jeers 
of companions. Let the boy be a boy during his 
youth, and as far into manhood as possible. The 
boyish delight of Lamartine as he revelled among the 
mountain's sparkling streams, breathing the flower- 
scented breath of May, was to his ascetic father-con- 
fessor, Pere Varlet, almost a crime. I was reared in 
that saturnine school which teaches it to be a sin 
for the insulted boy to strike back; and often in my 
school-days, overwhelmed with • a sense of ignominy 
and wrong, I have stolen off to weep away a wounded 
spirit. The fruit of such training never leaves the 
child or man ; its sting penetrates the blood and bones, 
and poisons the whole future life. Yet for all that, 
and more, of puritan Granville I may say, it was well 
for this man that he was born there. 

My boyhood was spent in working during the 
summer, and in winter attending school, where I 
progressed so far as to obtain a smattering of Latin 
and Greek, and some insight into the higher mathe- 
matics. No sooner had my father placed in a forward 
state of cultivation his hundred acres, and built him 
a large and comfortable stone house — which he did 
with his own hands, quarrying the blocks from a hill 
near by — and cleared the place from debt, than, seized 
by the spirit of unrest, he sold his pleasant home and 
moved his family to the ague swamps of New Madrid, 
Missouri, where rich land, next to nothing in price, 


with little cultivation would yield enormous returns, 
worth next to nothing when harvested, through lack 
of any market. 

After three years of ague and earthquake agita- 
tions in that uncertain-bottomed sand-blown land of 
opossums and puckering persimmons, fearing lest the 
very flesh would be shaken from our bones, we all 
packed ourselves back, and began once more where 
we left off, but minus the comfortable stone house and 

Call it discontent, ambition, enterprise, or what you 
will, I find this spirit of my father fastened somewhat 
upon his son; though with Caliph AH, Mohammed's 
son-in-law, I may say, that ^'in the course of my long 
life, I have often observed that men are more like the 
times they live in than they are like their fathers." 
It is characteristic of some people that they are never 
satisfied except when they are a little miserable. Like 
the albatross, which loves the tempest, sailing round 
and round this life's- waste of ocean, if perchance he 
crosses the line of calm, he straightway turns back, 
suffocated by the silence, and with much contentment 
commits himself to new buffetings. Philosophically 
put by Herbert Ainslie, '^ Self-consciousness must in- 
volve intervals of unhappiness ; not to be self-conscious 
is to be as bird or beast, living without knowing 
it, having no remembrance or anticipation of joy or 
sorrow. Self- consciousness, too, must involve the 
consciousness of an ideal or type; a sense of that 
which nature intended us to be, and how far we fall 
short of it. To finish my homily, if man be the 
highest result of nature's long effort to become self- 
conscious, to 'know herself,' not to be self-conscious, 
that is, to be always happy, is to be not one of na- 
ture's highest results. The 'perfect man,' then, must 
be one 'acquainted with grief" Often in the simple 
desire for new companionship we tire of unadulter- 
ated good, and communion with some sorrow or the 
nursing of some heartache becomes a pleasing pas- 


time. There are persons who will not be satisfied, 
though in their garden were planted the kalpa-tarou, 
the tree of the imagination, in Indian m}rthology, 
whence may be gathered whatever is desired. To 
natures thus constituted a real tangible calamity, such 
as failure in business or the breaking of a leg, is a god- 
send. Pure unalloyed comfort is to them the most 
uncomfortable of positions. The rested bones ache 
for new hardships, and the quieted mind frets for 
new cares. So roam our souls through life, sailing 
eternally in air like feetless birds of paradise. 

After all, this spirit, the spirit of unrest, of discon- 
tent, is the spirit of progress. Underlying all activi- 
ties, it moves every enterprise; it is the mainspring 
of commerce, culture, and indeed of every agency that 
stimulates human improvement. Nay, more : that fire 
which may not be smothered, that will not let us rest, 
those deep and ardent longings that stir up discon- 
tent, that breed distempers, and make a bed of roses 
to us a couch of thorns — religion it may be, and ideal 
national morality, or sense of duty, or laudable desire 
in any form — is it any other influence than Omnipo- 
tence working in us his eternal purposes, driving us 
on, poor blind cogs that we are in the wheel of destiny, 
to the fulfilment of predetermined ends? It is a law 
of nature that water, the life-giver, the restorer, the 
purifier, shall find no rest upon this planet; it is a 
law of God that we, human drops in the stream of 
progress, shall move ever onward — in the bubblings, 
and vaultings, and pool-eddyings of youth, in the suc- 
cessive murmurings, and roarings, and deeper afiairs of 
life, and in the more silent and sluggish flow of age — 
on, never resting, to the black limitless ocean of the 

Nor may our misery, our nervous petulance, our 
fretful discontent, our foolish fears, and all the cata- 
logue of hateful visitations that grate and jar upon 
ourselves and others, and make us almost savage in 
our undying hunger, be altogether ficcounted to us for 


ill. That divina particula aiirce, the one little particle 
of divine breath that is within us, will not let us rest. 
As Pierre Nicol has it, ''L'homme est si miserable, 
que I'inconstance avec laquelle il abandonne ses des- 
seins est, en quelque sorte, sa plus grande vertu; 
parce qu'il temoigne par la qu'il y a encore en lui 
quelque reste de grandeur qui le porte h. se degotiter 
des choses qui ne meritent pas son amour et son 

Lovely little Granville I dear, quiet home -nook; 
under the long grass of thy wall-encircled burial- 
ground rest the bones of these new puritan patri- 
archs, wiiose chaste lives, for their descendants, and 
for all who shall heed them, bridge the chasm between 
the old and the new, between simple faith and soul- 
sacrificing science, between the east and the west — • 
the chasm into which so many have haplessly fallen. 
Many a strong man thou hast begotten and sent 
forth, not cast upon the world lukewarm, character- 
less, but as sons well trained and positive for good 
or evil. 

Lovely in thy summer smiles and winter frowns; 
lovely, decked in dancing light and dew pearls, or in 
night's star-studded robe of sleep. Under the soft 
sky of summer we ploughed and planted, made hay, 
and harvested the grain. Winter was the time for 
study, while nature, wrapped in her cold covering, lay 
at rest. Fun and frolic then too were abroad on those 
soft silvery nights, when the moon played between the 
brilliant sky and glistening snow, and the crisp air 
carried far over the hills the sound of bells and merry 
laughter. Then winter warms into spring, that sun- 
spirit which chases away the snow, and swells the buds, 
and fills the air with the melody of birds, and scatters 
fragrance over the breathing earth; and spring melts 
into summer, and summer sighs her autumn exit — 
autumn, loved by many as the sweetest, saddest time 
of the year, when the husbandman, after laying up his 


winter store, considers for a moment his past and 
future, when the squirrel heaps its nest with nuts, 
and the crow flies to the woods, and the cries of birds 
of passage in long angular processions are heard high 
in air, and the half-denuded forest is tinged with the 
hectic flush of dying foliage. 

I well remember, on returning from my absence, 
with what envy and dislike I regarded as interlopers 
those who then occupied my childhood home; and 
child as I was, the earliest and most determined ambi- 
tion of my life was to work and earn the money to 
buy back the old stone house. Ah God 1 how with 
swelling heart, and flushed cheek, and brain on fire, I 
have later tramped again that ground, the ground my 
boyhood trod; how I have skirted it about, and wan- 
dered through its woods, and nestled in its hedges, 
listening to the rustling leaves and still forest mur- 
murings that seemed to tell me of the past; uncov- 
ering my head to the proud old elms that nodded to 
me as I passed, and gazing at the wild -flowers that 
looked up into my face and smiled as I trod them, 
even as time had trodden my young heart; whis- 
pering to the birds that stared strangely at me and 
would not talk to me — none save the bickering black- 
bird, and the distant turtle-dove to whose mournful 
tone my breast was tuned; watching in the little 
stream the minnows that I used to fancy waited for 
me to come and feed them before they went to bed; 
loitering under the golden-sweet appletree where I 
used to loll my study hours away; eying the ill- 
looking beasts that occupied the places of my pets, 
while at every step some familiar object would send a 
thousand sad memories tugging at my heartstrings, 
and call up scenes happening a few years back but 
acted seemingly ages ago, until I felt myself as old 
as Abraham. There was the orchard, celestial white 
and fragrant in its blossoms, whose every tree I could 
tell, and the fruit that grew on it; the meadow, 
through whose bristling stubble my naked feet had 

Lit. Ind. G 


picked their way when carrying water to the hay- 
makers and fighting bumblebees ; the cornfield, where 
I had ridden the horse to plough; the barnyard, 
where from the backs of untrained colts I had en- 
countered so many falls; the hillock, down which I 
had been tumbled by my pet lamb, afterward sacri- 
ficed and eaten for its sins — eaten unadvisedly by 
youthful participants, lest the morsels should choke 
them. There was the garden I had been made to 
weed, the well at which I had so often drunk, the 
barn where I used to hunt eggs, turn somersets, and 
make such fearful leaps upon the hay; there were 
the sheds, and yards, and porches; every fence, and 
shrub, and stone, stood there, the nucleus of a thousand 
heart throbs. 

From the grassy field where stands conspicuous 
the stone-quarry gash, how often have I driven the 
cows along the base of the wooded hill separating my 
father's farm from the village, to the distant pasture 
where the long blue-eyed grass was mixed with clover, 
and sprinkled with buttercups, and dotted with soli- 
tary elms on whose limbs the crows and blackbirds 
quarrelled for a place. And under the beech-trees 
beneath the hill where wound my path, as my bare 
feet trudged along, how boyish fancies played through 
my brain while I was all unconscious of the great 
world beyond my homely horizon. On the bended 
bough of that old oak, planted long before I was 
born, and which these many years has furnished the 
winter's store and storehouse to the thrifty wood- 
pecker, while in its shadow lies the lazy cud-chewing 
cow, there sits the robin where sat his father, and his 
father's father, singing the self-same song his grand- 
father sang when he wooed his mate, singing the 
self-same song his sons and his sons' sons shall sing; 
and still remains unanswered the question of the boy: 
Who gives the bird his music lesson? 

Dimly, subduedly sweet, were those days, clouded 
perhaps a little with boyish melancholy, and now 


brought to my remembrance by the play of sunshine 
and shadow in and round famihar nooks, by the leafy 
woodbine under the garden wall, by the sparkling 
dewy grass-blades, and the odor of the breathing 
woods, by the crab-appletree hedge, covered with 
grape-vines, and bordered with blackberry bushes, and 
inclosing the several fields, each shedding its own 
peculiar fragrance; by the row of puritanical poplars 
lining the road in front of the house, by the willows 
drinking at the brook, the buckeyes on the hill, and 
the chestnut, hickory, butternut, and walnut trees, 
whose fruit I gathered every autumn, storing it in 
the garret, and cracking it on Sundays after sunset, 
as a reward for 'keeping' Saturday night. Even the 
loud croaking of frogs in the little swamp between 
the barn and meadow thrilled me more than did ever 
Strauss' band. 

There is something delicious in the air, though the 
ground be wet and the sky murky; it is the air in 
which I first cried and laughed. There, upon the 
abruptly sloping brow of the hill yonder, is where I 
buried myself beneath a load of wood, overturned 
from a large two-horse sled into the snow. And in 
that strip of thicket to the right I used to hide from 
thunder -showers on my way from school. Behind 
that stone wall many a time have I crept up and 
frightened chanticleer in the midst of his crow, rais- 
ing his wrath by breaking his tune, and thereby in- 
stig^atinof him to thrice as loud and thrice as lonof a 
singing the moment my back was turned. The grove 
of sugar-maple trees, to me a vast and trackless forest 
infested with huge reptiles and ravenous beasts, when 
there I slept all night by the camp-fire boiling the 
unsubstantial sap 1:o sweeter consistency, it is now all 
cleared away, and, instead, a pasture tempts the 
simple sheep. Away across the four -acre lot still 
stands the little old bridge wherefrom I fished for 
minnows in the brook it spans, with pork-baited pins 
for hooks. 


There is something painfully sweet in memories 
painful or sweet. How sorrows the heart over its lost 
friendships; how the breath of other days whispers of 
happiness never realized ; how the sorrowful past plays 
its exquisite strains upon the heartstrings! Things 
long gone by, deemed little then and joyless, are mag- 
nified by the mists of time and distance into a mirage 
of pleasurable remembrances. How an old song some- 
times stirs the whole reservoir of regrets, and makes 
the present well-nigh unbearable! Out of my most 
miserable past I draw the deepest pain-pleasures, be- 
side which present joys are insipid. There is no sadder 
sound to the questioner's ear than the church bell 
which sometime called him to believing prayer. At 
once it brings to mind a thousand holy aspirations, 
and rings the death knell of an eternity of joy. 

Like tiny tongues of pure flame darting upward 
amidst the mountain of sombre smoke, there are many 
bright memories even among the most melancholy 
reveries. The unhappiest life contains many happy 
hours, just as the most nauseating medicine is made 
up of divers sweet ingredients. Even there, golden 
run life's golden sands, for into the humble home 
ambition brings as yet no curse. 

But alas ! the glowing charm thrown over all by the 
half-heavenly conceptions of childhood shall never be 
revived. Every harvesting now brings but a new crop 
of withered pleasures, which with the damask freshness 
of youth are flung into the storehouse of desolation. 
Therefore hence! back to your hot-bed; this is a lost 
Eden to you ! 

Thus wrapped in dim vistas, forgetful of what I am, 
of time, and age, and ache, I light a cigar and throw my- 
self upon the turf, and as through the curling smoke I 
review the old familiar landscape, the past and present 
of my life circle round and round and mount upward 
with visions of the future. With triple sense I see 
fashioned by the fantastic smoke ghosts of cities, seas, 
and continents, of railways, grain-fields, and gold-fields. 


Through the perspective of impassioned youth I see 
my bark buoyant on burnished waters, while round 
the radiant shore satisfying pleasures beckon me, and 
warm friendships await me, and the near and dear 
companions of my childhood, the hills, the trees, and 
sky, with whose hebate soul my eager soul has often 
held communion, imparting here alone the secrets of 
my youthful phantasy, they whisper the assurance in 
my ear that every intense yearning shall be rocked to 
rest, and every high hope and noble aspiration real- 
ized. Then with the eye of mature manhood I look, 
and experience reveals a charnel-house of dead am- 
bitions, of failures chasing fresh attempts, of lost 
opportunities and exploded honors, with all the din 
and clatter of present passionate strife; and along 
the crowded pathway to Plutus' shrine are weary, 
dusty pilgrims, bent with toil and laden with dis- 
appointment. Out upon this so swiftly changing 
earth there are the rich and the poor, the righteous 
and the wicked, the strong and healthy, the sick and 
suffering, advancing infancy and departing age, all 
hustling each other, and hurrying hither and thither, 
like blind beetles following their blind instinct, not 
knowing the sea or city, grain-field or gold-field, not 
knowing their whence or whither, not knowing them- 
selves or the least of created or uncreated things. 
Once more I look, and behold, the flattering future is 
as ready as ever with her illusions, and men are as 
ready as ever to anchor to her false hopes! 

Smoke here seems out of place. Its odor is strange 
and most unwelcome in this spot. It savors too 
strongly of the city and artificial life, of business, 
travel, and luxury, to harmonize with the fresh 
fragrance of the country. Let it not poison the air 
of my early and innocent breathings, laden as are such 
airs with the perfumes of paradise. Billowy sensations 
sweep over the breast as, standing thus alone amidst 
these memory surges, the thickly crowding imageries of 
the past rise and float upon the surface of the present. 


How ticklishly fall the feet of manhood on paths its 
infancy trod ! There is a new road through the beech 
woods yonder which I shun as possessing no interest ; 
I have had enough of new roads. Then I ask myself, 
will the old elms never wither? will the stones never 
decay about these spots? Who would have all the 
farms bounded by this horizon as a gift? Yet people 
will be born here ten thousand years after I am dead, 
and people must live. 

Lingering still; the uprooted affections hugging the 
soil of their early nourishment. Here, as nowhere on 
this earth, nature and I are one. These hills and 
fields, this verdant turf and yonder trees are part of 
me, their living and breathing part of my living and 
breathing, their soul one with my soul. For all which 
expression let Dante make my apology: ''Poiche la 
carita del natio loco, mi estrinse, raunai le fronde 
sparte;" because the charity of my native place con- 
strained me, gathered I the scattered leaves. 

It is a maddening pleasure thus to conjure from the 
soil the buried imageries of boyhood. At every step 
arise scores of familiar scenes, ascending in sequent 
pictures that mingle with the clouds and float off a 
brilliant panorama of the past. The very curb-stones 
of the village streets stand as monuments, and every 
dust particle represents some weird image, some boyish 
conceit, which even now flits before me, racing round 
the corners and dancing over the house-tops. 

The pretty village has scarcely changed within the 
quarter century. The broad, dusty streets, bordered 
by grass and foliage, half burying the white and 
brown houses that lie scattered on either side; the 
several churches, the two great seminaries, the school- 
houses, and the college on the hill, are all as when I 
left them last. 

Here is the ill kept graveyard, the scene of all my 
youthful ghost stories, with its time-eaten tombstones 
toppling over sunken graves, and its mammoth thorn- 
tree, beneath whose shadow the tired hearse-bearers 


set down their dingy cloth-covered burden on the way 
to the newly made grave, while the bell that strikes 
its slow notes on the suffocating air warns all flesh of 
coming dissolution. 

Down below the bench yonder winds the wooded 
creek, where in my summer school-days we used to 
rehearse our exhibition pieces, and bathe. On the 
other sides of the village are Sugar-loaf and Alligator 
hills. I grow thirsty as I drink the several scenes. 

How distances lessen ! Before eyes accustomed to 
wider range than the village home and farm adjoining, 
the mists and mirage of youth disappear. I start to 
walk a block, and ere aware of it I am through the 
town and into the country. After all, the buildings 
and streets of my native town are not so grand as my 
youthful mind was impressible. 

How the villagers come out of their houses to stare 
at me ; and the old stone house, how rusty, and rugged, 
and mean it looks compared with the radiance my un- 
hackneyed brain clothed it in, though the tin roof 
glitters as brightly now as then, and in its day shel- 
tered a world of love. 

Never is there a home like the home of our youth; 
never such sunshine as that which makes shadows for 
us to play in, never such air as that which swells our 
little breasts and gives our happy hearts free expres- 
sion, never such water as the laughing dancing 
streamlet in which we wade through silvery bub- 
blings over glittering pebbles, never such music as 
the robin s roundelay and the swallow's twittering 
that wake us in the morning, the tinkling of the 
cow bells, the rustling of the vines over the window, 
the chirrup of the cricket, and the striking of the old 
house clock that tells us our task is done. The home 
of our childhood once abandoned, is forever lost. It 
may have been a hut, standing on the rudest patch 
of ground the earth affords, yet so wrapped round the 
heart is it, so charged with youthful imagery is every 
stick and stone of it, that the gilded castle built in 


after life, with all the rare and costly furnishings that 
art and ingenuity can afford, is but an empty barn 
beside it! 

What restfulness, what heartfelt satisfaction, what 
exquisite joy, in returning to one's childhood home, 
with its dear inmates, father, mother, and all the an- 
cient and time-honored belongings, still there, with all 
those familiar objects which so wrap themselves round 
our young affections, and live within us, yielding joy 
if not enjoying, and gladdening the light of day with 
their presence. These gone, and joy and beauty are 
entombed, and the returned wanderer walks as one 
waked from the dead. How soothing and how happy 
it would be could I but return, and after the long 
weary battle of life rest here the remainder of my 
days, grow young with age, become a child again, and, 
lapped by my first surroundings, lay life down in 
nature's arms where first I took it up. Then should 
my hot brain be cooled by the cool air of moonlights 
long gone by, and my sinking soul revived by the 
sunlights of memory and hope. 

Thus glided magic, mysterious childhood. Pass 
me Hebe's cup, and let me be young again, that I may 
try this mystery once more. 



No man is born into the world whose work is not bom with him ; there is 
always work and tools to work withal, for those who will. 


Crossing a muddy street one rainy day on lier way 
to school, my eldest sister, dark- eyed and tender of 
heart, encountered a sandy-haired but by no means 
ill-looking youth, who made way for her by stepping 
back from the plank which served pedestrians. The 
young man was a member of the Derby family of book- 
sellers, afterward noted for their large establishments 
in various cities. Of course these two young persons, 
thus thrown together on this muddy crossing, fell in 
love ; how else could it be ? and in due time were mar- 
ried, vowing thenceforth to cross all muddy streets in 
company, and not from opposite directions. And in 
this rain, and mud, and marriage, I find another of the 
causes that led me to embark in literature. The 
marriage took place in 1845, when I was thirteen 
years of age, and the hap^Dy couple made their home 
in Geneva, New York, where Mr Derby was then 
doing business. Subsequently he removed his book- 
store and family to Buffalo. 

On our return from the laiid of milk and honey, as 
we at first soberly and afterward ironically called our 
southern prairie home, my father entered into copart- 
nership with one Wright, a tanner and farmer. The 
tasks then imposed upon me were little calculated to 
give content or yield profit. Mingled with my school 
and Sunday duties, interspersed with occasional times 



for shooting, fishing, swimming, skating, sleighing, and 
nut and berry gathering, was work, such as grindino- 
bark, sawing wood, chopping, clearing, fencing, milling, 
teaming, ploughing, planting, harvesting, and the like, 
wherein I could take but little interest and make 
no progress, and which consequently I most heartily 

To my great delight, a year or two after the 
marriage of my sister, I was offered the choice of 
preparing for college or of entering the Buffalo book- 
store. The doctrine was just then coming into vogue 
that in the choice of a profession or occupation 
youthful proclivities should be directed, but the youth 
should not be coerced. This, within the bounds of 
reason, is assuredly the correct idea. 

Here was quite a modification of the strait-laced theo- 
ries prominent in this community in morals and religion. 
Yet in spiritual affairs, those pertaining to the remote 
and indefinite future, the strictest rules of conduct were 
still laid down, the slightest departure from which en- 
tailed social death. Heaven and hell remained fixed 
in their respective localities, weighed and measured, the 
streets of gold laid out, and the boundaries of the lakes 
of sulphuric fire defined. All were accurately mapped, 
the populations were given, and available accommo- 
dations estimated for future applicants. Moreover, 
there were the roads plainly distinguishable to the one 
and to the other, the one narrow, rugged, and grass- 
grown, the other broad, and dusty from much travel. 
This the parent knew; of it he was sure though sure 
of nothing else ; though not sure of anything relating 
to this world, such as the earth, the trees, his senses, 
himself — for so his parent had told him, and his 
grandparent had told his parent, and so on back to 
the beginning, and therefore it must be so; and the 
heir to such a long and distinctly defined inheritance 
must be required to live up to his high privileges. 
The dim and indistinct future was thus by faith 


brought near, materialized, nieasured, and fitted to the 
actions of every-day life. But the more proximate 
and practical future of the child, that alone of which 
from his own experience the parent could speak, that 
which might teach the child how best to live in this 
world, that was left chiefly to the rising generation. 
In other words, concerning things of which the child 
knows as much as the parent, the severest rules of 
conduct are laid down; concerning things of which the 
child knows nothing, and of which the parent, by the 
practical experiences of his life, should have learned 
something, profound attention must be paid to the 
opinions of the child — as if the vagaries of the youth 
were a surer guide to ultimate success than the maturer 
judgment of the parent. 

In ancient times, as to some extent at present in 
the older countries, custom forbade children any will 
of their own, and almost any identity; till nearly of 
mature age they were kept in the background, hidden 
from the world as if not yet born into it. In Spain 
the son, with head uncovered, stands speechless in the 
father's presence until permission be given him to sit 
or speak, and the daughter is kept secluded in the 
nursery or confined to the women's special part of the 
house until a husband is brought her and she is told 
to marry. Of a wealthy Californian lady living in 
Los Angeles I was told that, in the good old time 
when Anglo-Americans were few in the land, at 
the age of thirteen, on entering the church one 
day in company with other members of the family, 
according to their custom, a gentleman was pointed 
out to her as the one destined to be her husband; 
and she was directed by her father, without further 
notice, to step up to the altar and be married, which 
she did accordingly, ''thinking nothing of it," as 
she affirms. In France and elsewhere it is some- 
what similar, but not quite so bad. Now, and par- 
ticularly in new and rapidly developing countries, 
custom in this regard is drifting toward the opposite 


extreme. In the eastern states of America there is 
a perpetual loosening of parental authority; and in 
California, if the fathers and mothers escape entire 
overthrow they do well. The wilful maiden who 
would marry the unapproved object of her fancy 
steps aboard a railway train, is whisked away to dis- 
tant parts, and soon a letter comes back asking par- 
don and a reconciliation, which are usually granted 
in time. Surely simple justice would seem to demand 
that those who had brought a daughter into being, 
nursed her through infancy, watched over her in 
childhood, tenderly feeding and clothing, educating 
and loving her, should have their wishes and their 
judgment respected in so important a step as mar- 
riage. None should marry without mutual love. The 
parent has no right to compel the daughter to marry 
against her will; neither has the daughter a right to 
marry against the will of her parents, except in cases 
most extreme. There should be love; but love may 
be directed. It is not necessary when falling in love 
to fall out with reason and common -sense. Love 
based on judgment is the only sound and lasting love. 
To marry for wealth is the most contemptible of all, 
but better it is that a woman should sell herself for so 
much money to a man of worth than fling herself 
away for the worthless love of a worthless fellow. It 
is no credit to a good woman to love a bad man. 
Marry for love as you live by your conscience, but 
let it be an enlightened love, neither ignoble, nor 
base, nor heathenish. Consult the eternal fitness of 
things; let the worthless mate, but let not the girl 
of cultivation, beauty, intelligence, and refinement 
throw herself away on a brainless, shiftless, or dis- 
solute young man, because she happens to fancy the 
color of his eyes or the curl of his mustache. And 
of this fitness who is the better judge, the experi- 
enced parent, solicitous for the welfare of the child, 
or the lovesick girl, fancy- ridden, and blinded by 
passion and intriguing arts? The days for blind 


cupids have passed; the world has so far progressed 
that the son of Aphrodite may now, with safety to 
the race, open his eyes. 

For the protection of worthy unsophisticated young 
men, so that they may not be seduced to their de- 
struction by designing maidens or their mothers, a 
Babylonian marriage -market would not be out of 
place, such as Herodotus spoke of, where young 
women may be put up at auction and sold as wives 
to the highest bidder, and the premium brought by 
the beautiful be given as a dowry with the ill-favored, 
so that each may give her husband either beauty or 
wealth, for there should be equity and compensation 
in all such dealings. 

In all this the fault lies chiefly with the parents, or 
with the state of society in which the family dwells. 
The young may b j reared as well in California as else- 
where, the maide::s may be as modest and the young 
men as respectful, but in a new community, where all 
is haste and freeness, it is more difficult for the heads 
of families so desiring it to make their children de- 
corous and retiring than in older and more settled 
states. This, however, will right itself in time. There 
is no place in the world where the rising generation 
bids fair to obtain so high a development as in Cali- 
fornia; let us hope that simplicity, refinement, and 
respectful obedience may accompany it. 

A wise parent will study the idiosyncrasies of the 
child, and before permitting a son to adopt a profession 
or embark in a pursuit he will analyze his character 
and consider the qualities of mind and body, setting 
apart temper, mood, and talent, one from the other, 
and then determine from the nature and quality of 
the material before him what sort of man, under given 
conditions, it will make, and how it can be best moulded 
and directed so as to achieve the highest success. And 
if the parent is correct in his judgment, and the child 
is not swayed by passion or prejudice, both will ar- 
rive at about the same conclusion as to what is best 


to be done. Talk with the boy about his future 
occupation, and with the girl of the lover whom she 
would make her husband; then let the j)arent decide, 
and not the child. This is the office of the parent; 
to this end young men and maidens were given 

The two courses in life at this time offered me were 
each not without attractions, and for a time I hesitated, 
thinking that if I adopted one it would be well, and 
if I adopted the other it would be better. Nor should 
I feel much more competent to decide a similar case 
at present. To have the elements of success within 
is the main thing; it then does not import so much 
in what direction they are developed. "Non quis, sed 
quomodo;" it matters little what one does, it matters 
everything how one does it. Napoleon used to ask, 
'' Qu'est-ce qu'il a fait?" not ^•' Who is his father?" To 
be a good brick- maker is infinitely better than to be 
a bad book-maker. If the inherent elements of suc- 
cess are present they are pretty sure to find a channel. 
As Kuskin says of it, "Apricot out of currant, great 
man out of small, did never yet art or effort make; 
and in a general way, men have their excellence nearly 
fixed for them when they are born." 

Emerson is of the opinion that "each man has his 
own vocation. The talent is the call. There is one 
direction in which all space is open to him. He has 
faculties silently inviting him thither to endless exer- 
tion. He is like a ship in the river — he runs against 
obstructions on every side but one; on that side all 
obstruction is taken away, and he sweeps serenely 
over God's depths into the infinite sea. This talent 
and this call depend on his own organization, or the 
mode in which the general soul incarnates itself in 
him." And more beautifully than any of them Jean 
Paul Richter remarks, "Whoever is not forced by 
necessity, but feels within him, growing with his 
growth, an inclination and declination of his magnetic 


needle, let him follow its pointing, trusting to it as to 
a compass in the desert." 

This marriage of my sister's changed the course not 
only of my own destiny but of that of every member 
of my family. It was the hinge on which the gate 
swung to open a new career to all of us. Puritan 
Granville was a good place to be reared in, but it 
was a better place to emigrate from. It was in the 
world but not of the world. Success there would be 
a hundred acres of land, a stone house, six children, 
an interest in a town store or a grist-mill, and a dea- 
conship in the church. 

But how should I decide the question before me? 
What had I upon which to base a decision? Nothing 
but my feelings, my passions, and propensities — un- 
safe guides enough when coupled with experience, but 
absolutely dangerous when left to shift for themselves. 
By such were guided the genius that made Saint Just 
and Robespierre, Alcibiades and Byron, Caligula and 
Nero; and the greater the talents the greater the 
perversion of youthful fire and intelligence if mis- 

Merimee, when about ten years of age, was deceived 
by his elders, whereupon he adopted for his maxim, 
"Remember to distrust," and retiring within himself 
he incrusted his sensibilities with indiiference and 
maintained a cold reserve forever after. Yet beneath 
this cynical crust burned love and sentiment, burned 
all the fiercer from confinement, and finally burst 
forth in his Lettres a une inconnue, whether a real or 
a mythical personage no one seemed to know. In 
his youth he had lacked wise counsel and kind con- 
siderate direction; that was all. 

Study had always strong fascinations for me, and 
the thought of sometime becoming a great lawyer or 
statesman set heart and head rapturously a-twirl. I 
cannot remember the time when I could not read, 
recite the catechism, and ride and drive a horse. I 
am told that I was quick to learn when young, and 


that at the age of three years I could read the New 
Testament without having to spell out many of the 
words. If that be true the talent must have ended 
with my childhood, for later on taking up study I 
found it almost impossible to learn, and still more 
difficult to remember, whatever talent I may have 
possessed in that direction having been driven out of 
me in the tread-mill of business. 

One winter I was sent to the brick school-house, a 
rusty red monument of orthodox efforts, long since 
torn down. There presided over the boys at one time 
my mother's brother. The Howes engaged in school- 
teaching naturally, they and their children, boys and 
girls, without asking themselves why. The family 
have taught from the Atlantic to the Pacific, in New 
York, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, Oregon, and California. 
They were good teachers, and they were good for 
nothing else. Take from them their peculiar knack 
of imparting knowledge and there were left only bones 
and nerves kept in motion by a purposeless brain. 
The one who taught in Granville had written a 
grammar, and all the boys were compelled to study it. 
It consisted chiefly of rules which could not be under- 
stood, and contained little of the kind of examples 
which remained fastened in the mind to be afterward 
of practical value. It is safe to say that children now 
learn twice as much with half the trouble. Then the 
study of grammar under a grammar- making uncle did 
me iittle good. 

Those Howe grammar lessons were the curse of 
that winter. Often I wept over the useless and dis- 
tasteful drudgery, but in vain. Tears were a small 
argument with my parents where they deemed duty 
to be concerned; and the brother made my mother 
believe that if I failed in one jot or tittle of his 
grammar there would be no hope for me afterward 
in any direction. Mathematics I enjoyed. Stretched 
on the hearth before a blazing fire, with book and 
slate, I worked out my problems during the long 


evenings, and then took the Howe grammar lesson as 
I would castor-oil. 

My studies were mixed with house and barn duties, 
such as paring apples, pounding rusk, feeding and 
milking the cows, and scores of like occupations. Long 
before daylight I would be called from my slumber 
to work and study, a summons I usually responded 
to with alacrity. Then my mother called me good, 
and my home life was happy. Soon after breakfast, 
with books, and tin pail well stored with luncheon, 
I was out into the snappish air and over the hill to 
school. But still the Howe grammar hung over all 
my joys like a grim shadow, darkening all delights. 
For, in that I did not love the grammar, the Howe 
did not love me, and he made the place exceedingly 
uncomfortable, until finally my mother became satis- 
fied that I was injudiciously and unfairly treated, and 
to my great joy took me from the purgatory. 

I was passionately fond of music, not so much of 
listening as performing. The intensest aspirations 
of my life seem to have taken this form ; I longed to do 
rather than to enjoy. Purposeless pleasure was not 
pleasant to me. To-day I find neither satisfaction nor 
profit in reading or writing, or doing anything for my 
own personal enjoyment. There must be an aim, and 
a high, immediate, and direct one, if in my doing or 
being I am to find pleasure. 

In the matter of music, there was within me some- 
thing which sighed for expression, and to throw it off 
in song or through the melodies of an instrument was 
the simplest method of relief. This restless desire to 
unburden my breast was present in my earliest con- 
sciousness. It was always in some way stifled in my 
younger days. There were singing-schools which I 
could and did attend, but bleating in concert with a 
class of boys and girls was not what I wanted. By 
saving up dimes and half-dollars I succeeded in bu3dng 
an old violin. I paid four dollars for it; and I re- 
member with what trepidation I invested my entire 

Lit. Ind. 7 


capital in the instrument. For several years I scraped 
persistently and learned to play badly a few vulgar 
tunes. I had no teacher and no encouragement; I was 
laughed at and frowned at, until finally I abandoned 
it. Fiddling in that saturnine society was almost as 
much a sin as card-playing; for if cards were for 
gamblers, fiddles were for dancers, and dancing was a 
devilish pastime. Christ never danced ; and although 
David did, our minister used to apologize for him by 
saying that his was a slow, measured, kingly step, 
something of a Shaker dance — at all events nothing 
like the whirling embracements of these later times. 
To return to the matter of choosing between study 
and business. Finding myself possessed of these and 
many other burning aspirations, without stopping to 
count the cost, childlike I struck at once for the prize. 
If self-devotion and hard study could win, it should 
be mine. So I chose the life of a student, and spent 
another year in preparing for college. There was an 
academy as well as a college in the place; indeed, as 
I have before remarked, my native town, in its way, 
w^as quite a seat of learning. 

It was now the winter of 1847-8, and bravely I set 
about my self-imposed task, studying hard, and for a 
time making fair progress. I was still obliged to work 
morning and evening, and, with now and then a holi- 
day, during the vacations. I was much alone in my 
studies, although I attended my teacher as zealously 
as if I had been under competitive influence. My 
nearest and indeed almost the only companion I had 
at this time was my cousin Edgar Hillyer, afterward 
United States judge for Nevada. In age he was a 
year my senior, but in ability and accomplishments 
many years. He was a good student, apt in debate, 
well read in classical literature, nimble on the violin, 
a rollicking, jolly companion, muscular, active, and 
courageous, and could hold his own with the best of 
them on the play-ground. When violin-playing be- 


came fashionable in churches he sawed away at a 
base-viol behind the church choir, reading a novel 
under cover of his huge instrument during the sermon. 
He was given a little to sarcasm at times, which cut 
me somewhat; otherwise we were true and stanch 
friends. He it was who aided and influenced me 
more than any other in many things. In advance of 
me in studies, he entered college and I was left alone. 
Still I toiled on, notwithstanding occasional letters 
from Buffalo which tended to unsettle my plans. Be- 
fore the time for entering college arrived I had lost 
somewhat of my interest in study : without the stimu- 
lus of sympathizing friends and competition, the unfed 
fire of my ambition died away. 

Meanwhile Mr Derby, who was an enthusiast in his 
business, had made occasional visits to my father's 
house, and in listening to his conversation I became 
attracted toward Buffalo. There was, moreover, in me 
a growing desire for independence; not that I was 
dissatisfied with my home so much as with myself. 
I longed to be doing something that would show re- 
sults; I wanted to be a man, to be a great man, to be 
a man at once. The road to learning was slow and 
hard; besides, my father was not rich, and although 
ready to deny himself anything for me, I could see 
that to continue my plan of study would be a heavy 
tax on him. Yet I loved it, and, as the sequel will 
show, left it here only to take it up at a future time. 
Now I wanted money, I felt the need of money, and 
I determined to have money. Not to hug and hoard, 
not to love and cherish as a thing admirable in itself, 
not as a master to bid me fetch and carry all my days, 
nor as a god to fall before and worship, sealing the 
heart from human sympathy, but as a servant to do 
my bidding, as an Aladdin lamp to buy me indepen- 
dence, leisure, culture. 

Contented poverty, cheered by the sweets of medi- 
tation and the play of intellect in friendly converse, 
the priceless wealth of mind drawn freely and with- 


out cost from books, which are the world's storehouse 
of knowledge, this has found its devotees in all ages. 
Most of the thouQ^hts and words thus enofendered have 
been idle; some little of such intercourse, however, has 
been productive of the greatest results. 

But this would never satisfy me. Mine must be a 
fruitful life, as I have said. And at the portal of 
every ambition, even of intellectual ambition, if it be 
high or rich in results, at the door of every soul 
aspiration, of every taste and tendency, of every 
moral and social sentiment, stands money. Even the 
doors of love, and of heaven itself, are opened by 
money. To the mere money-grubber intellectual joys 
are denied. His money is useless to him when he 
gets it. Of his scholarly friend Iccius, who sold his 
library and went to Arabia Felix, the El Dorado of 
the day, Horace asked if it was true that he grudged 
the Arabs their wealth. Like many a scholar in Cali- 
fornia, this Roman Iccius was grievously disappointed. 

How marvellous is money! each dollar thrown into 
the mill of successful business becoming the grandsire 
of many dollars. As society is organized, a moneyless 
man is scarcely a man at all, only a beast of burden, 
fortunate if he attain the position of hireling, even 
as in the time of Socrates, who said, "Nowadays 
he is wisest who makes most money." In common 
with others, this moneyless man entered the world 
with a body and a soul, since which time he has 
made no addition to his entity; he has body and soul 
still, perhaps a mind, and these are his stock in trade 
on which he must subsist. To feed his senses some- 
thing must be sold, and having nothing else he sells 
himself He may sell his body to save his soul, or 
sell the soul to save the body, or sell intellect to 
keep the rest together. To all our great cities, from 
farm and hamlet, mind by want or ambition pinched 
is driven to market, offered for sale to the highest 
bidder, and sold and slaughtered like cattle in the 
shambles. Culture and refinement are for sale; and 


too often, as Whipple complains, at ruinously low 
prices. '' To a man of letters, especially, who may be 
holding off in hope of a rise in the article, nothing 
can be more irritating than the frequent spectacle of 
authors whose souls are literally 'not above nine- 
pences' — who will squander honor, truth, perception 
of character, sympathy with all that is pure and high 
in ideal being, in short, a writer's whole stock in 
trade, on the cunning hucksters of ninepenny pam- 
phlets, thus running the risk of damnation in both 
worlds for the paltriest consideration, when a little 
judgment might have given them the chance of a life, 
death, and burial in octavos." .,. 

I do not know which is the more deplorable, to be 
without money or to be its slave. Money is the best 
of servants, but the worst of masters. As a servant 
it is the open sesame to all the world, the master-key 
to all energies, the passport to all hearts ; as a master 
it is a very demon, warping the judgment, searing the 
conscience, and fossilizing the affections. Wrapped 
by cold Selene in an eternal slumber deep as that 
of Endymion, its victims are lost to the beauties 
of earth and the glories of heaven. Give me the in- 
dependence, the command of myself, of my time, my 
talents, my opportunities, that wealth alone can give, 
but save me from the gluttony of greed, the fetters of 
avarice, the blind beastliness and intellectual degrada- 
tion engendered by an inordinate heaping up of riches. 

We are born under the domination of nature, serfs 
of the soil, and under this suzerainty we remain 
until the intellect rises up and to some extent eman- 
cipates us. Nevertheless, like crystals, the constitu- 
ents of our being are self-existent and perfect, how- 
ever minute, and we assume volume and importance 
^by accretion alone. To the penniless young man 
who would cultivate his talents and make somethinof 
of himself I would say, at the outset or as soon 
as practicable, get money wherewith to buy time. 
This is the order of natural progress : first the 


physical man, then the intellectual. Civilization 
does not bloom on an empty stomach. Get gold ; not 
like the one-eyed Arimaspi, who could see nothing 
else, but accumulate something, however little; then 
shun debt, and, although your liberty necessitates 
your dining on a crust of bread, you are on the royal 
road to manhood. It matters less how much you 
have than that you have something. There is more 
difference between a thousand dollars and nothing 
than there is between a thousand and a hundred 
thousand. There is such a thing as too much money. 
The young student of unlimited wealth and liberty 
has liiore to contend with in holding to his purpose 
than the poorest scholar, for the temptation to spend 
and enjoy is so much the greater. Too much wealth 
is poverty: too much wealth leads to a loss of time, 
of heart, of head — the only true wealth. 

Adopt a calling, if it be only for a time, and labor 
in it for your liberty; labor diligently, as if your life 
depended on it, as indeed it does. Serve that you may 
command. Get money, but get it only in order that 
you may ransom mind, for it is mind and not money 
that makes the man. As Bulwer says of it, " Keep to 
the calling that assures a something out of which you 
may extract independence until you are independent. 
Give to that calling all your heart, all your mind. 
If I were a hatter, or tailor, or butcher, or baker, I 
should resolve to consider my calling the best in the 
world, and devote to it the best of my powers. In- 
dependence once won, then be a Byron or Scott if 
you can." 

This competency, moreover, is within the reach of 
all able-bodied young men. It consists less in what 
one has than in what one need have; less in large re- 
sources than in moderate desires. It takes but little, 
after all, to satisfy our actual requirements ; but once 
embarked upon the sea of artificial wants or fancied 
necessities and there is no haven. He who earns or 
has an income of a dollar a day and spends but half 


of it is independent, and if satisfied, rich. He who 
spends all his earnings or income is poor, though he 
has a thousand dollars a day; doubly poor is he, in 
that he must needs waste his life to spend his money. 
He who spends all is the slave of his own fortune; 
he who lays by something every day is always his 
own master. And more; in making and saving there 
is a double profit: the addition of skill thus called 
forth to one's stock of experience, and the addition of 
money thus earned to one's stock of cash; this point 
reached, it makes a vast difference whether the time 
at one's command be spent in fruitful study, which costs 
nothing, or in squandering one's accumulations, which 
costs time and too often yields nervous prostration and 
mental debasement. This weaving during the day, 
only like Penelope to unravel at night, is one of the 
worst features attending the efforts of our young men. 
" Qui perd peche." He who loses, sins. Whether 
a man be in the wrong or not, if unsuccessful he is 
blamed. But no man in this age is uniformly and 
permanently unsuccessful unless there be something 
wrong about him, some glaring imperfection of com- 
position or character. The rule is that success at- 
tends merit; the unsuccessful is pretty sure to be 
faulty. No one has a right to be poor in California. 
Unaccompanied by ill health or other misfortune, 
poverty is a sin. It is true that wealth is not always 
a mark of merit. Jove made Plutus, the god of 
wealth, blind, so that he should not discern knaves 
from honest men. Nevertheless, no boy or man true 
to himself, who does his duty, laboring with his hands, 
or head, or both, as God ordains that men, and beasts, 
and birds alike shall labor, practising meanwhile rea- 
sonable economy, will for any length of time, except 
under extraordinary circumstances, remain depend- 
ent. Though born naked, providence furnishes the 
means w^ierewith to clothe ourselves. If we refuse 
to stretch forth our hands and make use of them, we 
rightly suffer for it. In all this I am speaking of 


simple independence, rather than success and failure 
resulting from attempts to achieve great things, to 
which I shall have occasion to allude hereafter. 

Thus unsettled in my mind by the allurements of 
active business and city life, my attention distracted 
from studies, discontented in the thought of plodding 
a poverty-stricken path to fame, and unwilling to 
burden my father for a term of years, I asked and 
obtained leave to enter the shop; selling books, for 
the nonce, offering stronger attractions than studying 

Nor am I now disposed to cavil over the wisdom of 
my final decision. Commercial and industrial training 
offers advantages in the formation of mind, as well as 
scientific and literary training. School is but a mental 
gymnasium. Little is there learned except the learn- 
ing how to learn; and the system that aims at this 
gymnastic exercise of mind, rather than cramming, 
is the best. He who studies most does not always 
learn most, nor is he who reads most always the 
best read. Understanding, and not cramming, is 
education. Learn how to form opinions of your 
own rather than fill your head with the opinions of 
others. What a farce it is, on commencement or 
examination day, to parade a crowd of boys or girls, 
after three or four years' skimming through school- 
books, upon a stage before friends and sjDectators, and 
with music and flourish of trumpets to make a grand 
display of their acquirements, and end by giving them 
a certificate of learning which shall forever after set 
at rest the question of their education! When just 
ready to begin to learn, the diploma intimates that 
their studying days are over; those, consequently, 
who make the loudest noise on exhibition days are 
seldom heard from afterward. Even if in following 
a collegiate course the student learns fairly well how 
to study, if this acquisition is not combined with 
habits of industry and application it avails little. 


In regard to education, there is too much, teaching 
from books and too little from nature. Books are 
useful to supplement the instructions of nature, not 
to forestall them. Early training should be such as to 
instil a taste for study, rather than a studying; such 
as teaches how to learn, rather than an attempt to 
acquire knowledge. This done, that is, the taste ac- 
quired and the knowledge how to get knowledge 
gained, every hour of life thereafter will be a gar- 
nering of knowledge. Hence if I might have another 
chance at life, with my present ideas I w^ould pay the 
most careful attention to three things: I would bend 
all the powers within me to learn how to think, how 
to write, and how to speak, for I could then command 
myself and others. The highest teachings are those 
of truth; the highest morality that which springs 
from simple truth. To love the right for its own 
sake is the only sure ground on which to build a 
moral fabric. To hate knavery, licentiousness, and all 
iniquity because they are hateful, because they are 
low, vulgar, debasing, and misery-breeding — this is a 
healthful and hopeful moral ideal. 

In business, plodding industry and steady applica- 
tion lie at the foundation of all success. Though in an 
economic sense credit is not capital, in a commercial 
sense it is. Brilliant talents and extraordinary shrewd- 
ness as often outwit the possessor as others. There 
is no field in commerce for a great display of genius. 
To buy, and sell, and get gain is the object; he w^ho 
fancies himself a prophet able to solve business rid- 
dles of the future becomes a gambler, and oftener 
loses than wins. Speculation there may be, but it 
must be speculation backed by capital, and conducted 
on sound business principles rather than on flights of 
fancy or theoretical schemes. 

Though few trades are without their tricks, the in- 
dustrial life, on the whole, tends to accuracy and 
veracity. The man of business adopts honesty as a 
calling; it is at once the capital he employs in buying 


and the guaranty he offers in selhng. Wealth being 
the object sought, character is credit, and credit money. 
No merchant can long cheat his customers and live; 
no manufacturer can make and sell a spurious article 
for any length of time. Dishonesty in business not 
only does not pay, but, if continued, it is certain and 
absolute ruin. Trustworthiness usually attends ap- 
plication. Among the laboring classes, as a rule, 
skilful workmen are moral men. The habits neces- 
sarily growing out of continuous mental or physical 
application are such as promote moral growth. He 
w^ho is deeply occupied in a worthy calling has little 
time for wickedness. 

The political life, on the other hand, tends to arti- 
fice and circumvention as the bases of success in 
that direction. All is fair in war, and while honor 
must be maintained among thieves, opposite parties 
and the public may be fleeced with impunity. The 
conscience of a merchant is in his pocket, that of a 
politician is in his popularity; with the one interest 
is almost always identical with honor, but with the 
other success is oftener the result of chicanery or 
bribery than of honest merit. And yet it does not 
speak well for commerce when we see the leading 
manufacturers of the United States combining for 
purposes of wholesale bribery, and merchants gener- 
ally allowing officials commissions on goods bought for 
the government. 

At an early date in his public career Cicero dis- 
covered that the people of Rome had dull ears but 
sharp eyes. The unprecedented honors devised for 
him by the Sicilians were little talked of at Rome, 
whereupon he determined that thenceforth the eyes 
of the Romans should ever behold him. Daily he 
frequented the Forum; no one was denied admit- 
tance at his gate, and even sleep was never made an 
excuse for not granting an audience. In this Cicero 
w^as serving Cicero and not Rome. If they were 
seized, these woi'thy patriots, with honesty enough to 


say with Voltaire, ''Le peuple n'est rien," immedi- 
ately their occupation was gone. Theirs is not the 
simple ingenuous love that makes the land their 
fons et origo, the soil that fostered them their parent. 
Neither is it love of countrymen or loyalty to rulers. 
There is no passion in their patriotism. 

Our country is not ruled by its best and wisest men, 
nor under its present regime will it ever be. The good 
and wise are few; the irrational and prejudiced are 
many, and as long as the majority rule, office can be 
obtained only by pandering to the lower passions. In 
this senseless display of party pride and prejudice, 
which men call patriotism, it is not liberty itself that 
is worshipped, but the tinsel and paraphernalia of 
liberty. As in the cunning days of sleek lago, pre- 
fermeot goes by letter and affection, and not by fair 
gradations where each second stands heir to the first. 

Opposing parties are a necessity in any free politi- 
cal system ; not because one side is better or worse than 
the other, but as stimulants to advancement, checks 
on premature progress, and as a means of preventing 
that demoralization which always attends unlimited 
or irresponsible power. But the machinery of gov- 
ernment must be worked on some other principles than 
those of lying and cheating before it can be very wor- 
shipful. The people, who are the government, must 
awake and act. The wildest delusion of our day is 
that good legislation can come from the representa- 
tives of an ignorant and immoral people, who at pres- 
ent are, to a great extent, our voters; or that arguing 
with the bad agents of a bad government will make 
them better. '' Opinions are numbered, not weighed," 
said Pliny, "there is nothing so unequal as equality." 
The specious fallacy of universal suffrage was better 
understood by the Romans than by us, it seems. This 
state of things will cease only when politics cease to 
be a trade followed for gain, and when both the trade 
and the hucksters who follow it shall be diss^raced in 
the eyes of all good men. Before our government can 


settle upon an enduring foundation it must be recon- 
structed in form and in execution. Young as it is the 
elements of decay are plainly apparent; our popular 
liberty is being consumed by what it feeds on. But 
before the end there will be wars, political and com- 
mercial wars, for the people will not always submit to 
the tyranny of monopoly, iniquitous trusts, and other 
impositions of combined capital. More than once in 
the history of despotism have the feuds of Roman 
Orsini and Colonna, of Grecian Isao-oraidse and Ale- 
mseonidse, given birth to freedom. "A superior man 
indeed is Kea Pihyuh!" says Confucius; "when a 
good government prevails in his state, he is to be 
found in office. When a bad government prevails, 
he can roll his principles up and keep them in his 

What in these latter days should be the prayer of 
the patriot having the true interests of America and 
of mankind at heart? From our friends, from those 
who would serve us, who would lay their invaluable 
lives on the altar of their country, from political dema- 
gogues, political libertinism, political peculation, from 
excess of voting and constant rotation in office, from 
legislators who spend in personal and party strife, 
to keep themselves in office, the people's time and 
moi^cy which should be spent in the study of the 
nation's welfare — from cant and corruption of every 
kind, good Lord deliver us! particularly from the 
humbug and hypocrisy of political journals; ay, 
from the journals themselves, as well as from the 
parties, and principles, and persons they advocate, 
deliver us, we beseech thee, lest we be tempted with 
'The Man without a Country' to exclaim, ''Damn 
the United States !" The politician is usually as lean 
as Cassius in patriotism, and as hungry for place. 
The professional man, if with his broader philosoph}'" 
and deeper insight into certain secret phases of 
human nature he escape laxity in great things, and 
exaggeration in little things, does well. 


The law as a profession holds up its glittering prize 
to the youth burning for distinction. Its labors are 
arduous; its fortunes precarious. One in a hundred, 
perhaps, attains some degree of local eminence; not 
one in a thousand achieves a national reputation; 
ninety-five of every hundred secure in return for long 
and expensive preparation nothing further than a life 
of drudgery, fortunate, indeed, if they escape disrepu- 
table penury. 

In the commercial spirit there are two oppugnant 
elements, boldness and conservatism, which underlie 
all advancement, and act as powerful stimulants in the 
strengthening and developing of mind. These prop- 
erly united and nicely balanced produce the highest 
type of intellect, whether for action in the field of com- 
merce, or of law, or of letters. In the absence of 
either quality, or if disproportionately joined, discom- 
fiture is inevitable. The industrial spirit, perhaps 
more perfectly than the professional, engenders pa- 
tience, sobriety, self-control, which tend to thrift and 
respectability ; at the same time there can be no great 
things accomplished in business without risk or spec- 
ulation. Now, the principles that lead to success are 
identical in all human activities, in letters, law, and 
philosophy, as well as in industry and commerce — 
originality of thought, a letting-fly of the imagination, 
a restless impatience over meaningless forms and 
empty traditions, and bold independence in action 
united with caution and a love of truth for truth's 
sake. Speculation and conservatism: the one the 
propelling power which sends forward the machine, 
the other the brake that saves it from destruction. 
One is as necessary as the other; and the two prop- 
erly united, under ordinary circumstances, are as 
certain to achieve success as the absence of these con- 
ditions is certain to result in failure. 

About the 1st of August, 1848, I left Granville 
for Buffalo, where I arrived on the 9th. I was now 


sixteen years of age, and this may be regarded as my 
starting out in life. Then I left my father's house, 
and ever since have I been my own master, and made 
my own way in the world. There was no railway from 
my native town, and my journey was made in a canal- 
boat as far as Cleveland, and thence by steam-boat 
over Lake Erie to Buffalo. The captain of the canal- 
boat was a brother of my uncle Hilly er, and permission 
was given me to ride horse on the towpath in lieu of 
paying fare. I gladly availed myself of the oppor- 
tunity, and took my turn night and day during the 
whole journey. The day after my arrival in Buffalo 
I was permitted a view of the bookseller's shop. It 
would not be regarded as much of a store nowadays, 
but it was the largest establishment I had ever seen, 
and the, to me, huge piles of literature, the endless 
ranges of book-shelves, the hurrying clerks, the austere 
accountants, the lord paramount proprietor, all filled 
me with awe not unaccompanied by heart-sinkings. 
A day or so was spent in looking about the city, accom- 
panying my sister to the market, and attending a great 
political convention which was then in full blast. On 
the Monday following my arrival I was put to work 
in the bindery over the counting-room, and initiated 
into the mysteries of the book business by folding and 
stitching reports of the aforesaid convention. There I 
was kept, living with my sister, and undergoing in the 
shop a vast amount of unpalatable though doubtless 
very necessary training, till the following October, when 
the bindery was sold. I was then left for a time in an 
uncertain, purgatorial, purposeless state, with noth- 
ing in particular to occupy me. After being given 
plainly to understand by my brother-in-law that my 
person was not at all necessary to his happiness, I was 
finally thrust into the counting-house at the foot of 
the ladder, as the best means of getting rid of me. 

The fact is, I was more ambitious than amiable, and 
my brother-in-law was more arbitrary than agree- 
able. I was stubborn and headstrong, impatient 


under correction, chafing over every rub against my 
country angularities ; he distant, unsympathizing, and 
injudicious in his management of me. I felt that I 
was not understood, and saw no way of making my- 
self known to him. Any attempt to advance or to 
rise above the position first assigned me was frowned 
down; not because he hated, or wished to injure, or 
persecute me, but because he thought boys should 
not be presumptuoup, that they should be kept in the 
background — especially pale, thin, thoughtful, super- 
sensitive brothers-in-law. 

For some six months I held this anomalous posi- 
tion, till one day the chief book-keej)er intimated to 
me that, in the opinion of the head of the house, 
nature had never designed me for a bookseller — a 
species of divinity in the eyes of these men born but 
not made — and that should I retire from active duty 
no one about the premises would be overwhelmed 
with sorrow. In plain English, I was discharged. 
The blood which mantled my face under a sense of 
what I deemed indignity and wrong was my only re- 
sponse; yet in my heart I was glad. I saw that this 
was no place for me, that my young life was being 
turned to wormwood, and that my bosom was be- 
coming a hell of hatefulness. 

I have never in my life, before that time or since, 
entertained a doubt of reasonable success in any rea- 
sonable undertaking. I now determined to start in 
business on my own account. Since I could not work 
for the Buffalo bookselling people, I would work for 
myself I was entirely without money, having re- 
ceived nothing for my services — which indeed were 
worth nothing — yet I borrowed enough to take me 
back to Ohio, and Mr Derby, it appears, had suffi- 
cient confidence to trust me for a few cases of goods. 
Shipping my stock up the lake to Sandusky, and 
thence by rail to Mansfield, the terminus of the road, 
I hurried on to Granville for a horse and wagon, 
with which I proceeded back to Mansfield, loaded up, 


and began distributing my goods among the country 
merchants of that vicinity. For about four months 
I travelled in this manner over different parts of 
my native state, selling, remitting, and ordering more 
goods, and succeeding in the main very well; that is 
to say, I paid my expenses, and all the obligations I 
had before contracted, and had enough left to buy a 
silver watch, and a suit of black broadcloth. Never 
was watch like that watch, fruit as it was of my first 
commercial earnings. 

Winter approaching, I sold out my stock, paid my 
debts, and went home. Owing to my success, it seems, 
I had risen somewhat in the estimation of the Buffalo 
book magnates, and just as my mind was made up to 
enter school for the winter I was summoned back to 
Buffalo, with instructions to bring my youngest sister, 
Mary, afterward Mrs Trevett. We embarked at 
Sandusky, encountering the first night out a storm, 
and after beating about among the short jerky waves 
of the lake for two days, we reached Buffalo on the 
8th of December, 1849. This time I was to enter 
the store as a recognized clerk, and was to receive a 
salary of one hundred dollars a year from the first of 
January, 1850. 

I now began to look upon myself as quite a man. 
A hundred dollars was a great deal of money; I was 
over seventeen years of age, had travelled, had been 
in business, and was experienced. So I relaxed a little 
from puritanical ideas of propriety. I bought a high 
hat and a cane; smoked now and then surreptitiously 
a cigar; a gaudy tie adorned my neck, and a flashy 
ring encircled my finger. I do not think I ever held 
myself in higher estimation before or since; at no 
time of my life did I ever presume so much on my 
knowledge, or present personally so fine an appear- 
ance. On the street I fancied all eyes to be upon 
me; the girls particularly, I used to think, were all 
in love with me. 

Honored and trusted, my moroseness evaporated at 


intervals. Soon I found myself more in sympathy 
with my employer, and felt that he now began some- 
what to understand me. And here I will pay my 
tribute of respect to the memory of George H. Derby. 
He was of unblemished reputation, thoroughly sound 
in morals, sincere in religion, honest in his business, 
kind in his family, warm and lovable in his friend- 
ships, patriotic as a citizen, and liberal, chivalrous, 
and high-spirited as a man and a gentleman. He was 
among the best friends I ever had — he, and his wife, 
my sister. He seemed to repose the utmost confidence 
in me, trusted me, a green boy in the midst of the 
whirlpool of the Californian carnival, with property 
which he could ill afford to lose, the risk being re- 
garded as little less than madness on his part by 
business acquaintances. His death I felt more keenly 
than that of any other man who ever died. His 
goodness will remain fresh in my memory to my dying 
day. Yet, when thrown together as under our first 
relations — he the master, I the boy — our dispositions 
and natures were strangely out of tune. He held his 
own peculiar views regarding the training and treat- 
ment of relatives. He seemed to delight in squeezing 
and tormenting, in a business way, all who were in 
any wise allied to him by blood or marriage, and the 
nearer the relationship the greater the persecution. 
Of a didactic turn in all his relations, he was particu- 
larly severe with me ; and it was only when a younger 
brother of his was with him, one nearer to him than I, 
and on whom his merciless words were showered, that 
I found relief While but a child, and before I went 
to Buffalo, or had ever been away from home, I was 
sent into the backwoods of Ohio to obtain subscrip- 
tions for a work on the science of government. Of 
course I made a failure of it, enduring much head 
sickness and heart sickness thereby, and was laughed 
to scorn as a youth who would never succeed at any- 
thing. My father, totally inexperienced in the book 
business, but having a little money wherewith to make 

Lit. Ind. 8 


the purcliase, was induced to take a cargo of books 
down the Mississippi river, which proved to be another 
failure and a severe loss. In all this my brother-in-law 
seemed to care little so long as he sold his wares and 
secured the money. All were fish, friend or foe, that 
helped to swell the volume of his business. 

With a sister ever kind to me, and an employer 
really desirous of advancing my best interests, the 
training I underwent at this period of my life was 
about as injudicious for an ambitious, sensitive youth 
as could well have been devised. Even after my re- 
turn from Ohio I was at times headstrong, impatient 
of restraint, impudent, angry, and at open war with 
my brother-in-law; yet I was eager to learn, quick, 
and intelligent, and would gladly have worked, early 
and late, with faithful and willing diligence in any ad- 
vancing direction. But it seemed that my employer 
still considered it best for me to be kept down; to be 
censured much and never praised; to have one after 
another placed above me whom I very naturally 
deemed no more capable than myself The conse- 
quence was that during the greater part of my stay 
in Buffalo I was in a sullen state of mad exasperation. 
I was hateful, stubborn, and greatly to be blamed, 
but the discipline I received only intensified these 
faults, and tended in no wise to remove them. One 
word of kindness, and I would have followed this man 
to the death; yet while he crucified me he did not 
mean to be cruel, and portions of the time I was 
really happy in his society. I know he was full of 
generous feeling for me even while I tried him most; 
for when, after leaving for California, I sent him a 
letter, opening my heart as I had never done before, 
on receipt of it, as my sister told me, he threw him- 
self upon the sofa and wept like a child. 

The mould destined for me ill fitting my nature, 
which would not be melted for recasting, or even made 
to assume comeliness by attrition, I fell into my own 
ways, which were ver}^ bad ways ; tramping the streets 


at night witli jovial companions, indulging in midnight 
suppers, and all-night dancings. Lo, how the puritan's 
son has fallen 1 Conscience pricked faithfully at first. 
I soon grew easier in mind; then reckless; and finally 
neglecting my bible, my prayers, and all those Sabbath 
restraints which hold us back from rushing headlong 
to destruction, I gave myself over to hardness of heart. 
Yet all this time I usually listened with enjoyment 
and profit to one sermon on Sunday; I also attended 
lectures given by Park Benjamin, G. P. P. James, 
Gough, and others ; these and novel-reading comprised 
my intellectual food. 

Into that bookseller's shop I went with all the un- 
tempted innocence of a child; out of it I came with the 
tarnish of so-called manly experience. There I plucked 
my first forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of 
good and evil; yet the sense of right remained, and 
that remorse which ever mixes bitter with the sweets 
of sin. The inherent morality doctrine, and a trust- 
ing to it, is flattering, but exceedingly risky. Men 
and women, young and old, inherently good or inhe- 
rently bad, nine times in ten will stand or fall accord- 
ing to environment, according to influence, temptation, 

Every now and then I would turn over a new leaf; 
bravely begin a diary, scoring the first page with high 
resolves, such as total abstinence from every species 
of wickedness, tea, coffee, wine, tobacco; determined 
to think, speak, and do no evil, to walk always as be- 
fore the eye of Omniscience, clean in heart, pure in 
mind, and strong in body; in short, to be a perfect 
man — which sublime state of things, wrought up be- 
yond human endurance, would last sometimes for three 
days or three weeks, and end in a collapse. Some- 
times I would keep my diary up during the year ; then 
again I would open a blank book, without fixed dates, 
and discharge my burning thoughts into it in the hope 
of relief Many a paving-block have I laid in hell; 
that is to say, if good intentions are there used for 


treading on. No sooner had I departed from Buf- 
falo on my way to California than all desire left me 
to commit these foolish boyish excesses. There was 
then no one to hoodwink, no watchful eye to circum- 
vent; it ceased to be amusing when I was my own 
master; so when thrown into the pandemonium at 
San Francisco I had not the slightest inclination to 
make a beast or a villain of myself. 

But the time thus lost! How have I longed 
to live again the former three years and the three 
following. Six years of my young life as good as 
squandered, in some respects worse, for instead of 
laying the foundation for health, purity, intellect, I 
was crushing my God-given faculties, damming the 
source of hiofh thousfhts and ennobling: affections, and 
sowing by Stygian streams the wild seeds of perdition. 
At the time when of all others the plant needs judi- 
cious care, when the hard soil needs softening, the 
ill-favored branches pruning, the destroyer steps in 
and places locusts on the leaves and worms about the 

How I have longed to go back and place myself 
with a riper experience under my own tuition, and 
see what would come of it ! How I would gather in 
those golden opportunities which were so ruthlessly 
thrown away; how I would prize those hours, and 
days, and years so flippantly regarded; how I would 
cherish and cultivate that body and mind so wellnigh 
wrecked on the shoals of youthful folly! Why could 
we not have been born old, and from decrepitude with 
learning and wisdom have grown young, and so have 
had the benefit of our wealth of experience in the 
enjoyment of our youth! It seems that if I had 
only known something of what life is and the impor- 
tance of right living, I could have made almost any- 
thing of myself So has thought many another; and 
so thinking, life appears such a precious delusion — 
the life which to know requires living, and which is 
lived only to know that it is lost I 


It was a few months before I left my home for the 
first time that gold had been discovered in California; 
but not until a year later did the news so overspread 
the country as to cause any excitement in the quiet 
town of Granville. Scarcely had I reached Buffalo 
the second time when letters informed me that my 
father was thinking of going to the new El Dorado. 
The ancient leaven of industry and enterprise still 
worked in him, and although far past the average age 
of those who joined the pilgrimage to the golden 
shrine, he could not resist the temptation. Though 
but little over fifty, he was called an old man in those 
days in California. By the 1st of February it was 
settled that he would go, and in March, 1850, he set 
sail from New York. I had a boyish desire to ac- 
company him, but did not think seriously of going at 
the time. I was more absorbed in flirtations, oyster 
suppers, and dancing parties than fascinated by the 
prospect of digging for gold. 

Nevertheless the wheel of my destiny was turning. 
In January, 1851, Mr Derby received a letter from 
an uncle of mine, my mother's brother, then in 
Oregon, ordering quite a quantity of books. This 
demand, coming from a new and distant market, made 
quite an impression upon the mind of the ardent 
young bookseller. Visions filled his brain of mam- 
moth warehouses rising in vast cities along the shores 
of the Pacific, of publication offices and manufacturing 
establishments, having hundreds of busy clerks and arti- 
sans, buying, making, and selling books, and he would 
walk the floor excitedly and talk of these things by the 
hour, until he was wellnigh ready to sell out a safe 
and profitable business, pack up, and go to California 
himself These visions were prophetic; and through 
his instrumentality one such establishment as he had 
dreamed of was planted in the metropolis of this west- 
ern seaboard, although he did not live to know of it. 

My nearest companion at this time was a fellow- 
clerk, George L. Kenny, the son of an Irish gentleman. 


He had come to seek his fortune in America, and found 
his way ahiiost direct from the mother country to the 
Buffalo bookstore, where he had been engaged but a 
few months when I first arrived there. From that 
day for over a third of a century his hfe and mine have 
been closely linked. In physique he was tall, thin, 
and muscular, somewhat awkward in his movements, 
with an open countenance, as we used to call his 
large mouth, which in laughing he displayed to its 
widest extent. I have occasion to remember both 
the awkwardness and the strength of my ancient 
comrade; for one day in Buffalo, 'skylarking,' as we 
termed it, with his huge fist he placed my nasal organ 
out of line, where it ever after remained. In disposi- 
tion and character he was generous almost to a fault ; 
affectionate, warm-hearted, and mild, though passion- 
ate and stubborn when roused; jovial and inspiriting 
as a companion, stanch and reliable as a friend, and 
honest as a man. He it was who introduced me into 
the mysteries of bookselling, and other and more 
questionable mysteries, when first I went to Buffalo. 

Mr Derby was a man of many ideas. Though 
practical and conservative in the main, the fertility 
of his brain and his enthusiasm often gave him 
little rest. Once seized with the thought of Cali- 
fornia in connection with his business, he could not 
dispossess his mind of it. There it fastened, causing 
him many a restless day and sleepless night. He talked 
of sending out one, then another, then he thought he 
would go himself; but much of what was said he knew 
to be impracticable, and all the while his ideas were 
dim and shadowy. Finally he talked more directly 
of me as the one to go — why I do not know, unless 
it was that I could best be spared, and also that I 
had friends there, who, if they succeeded, might sup- 
ply me with money. Oregon was the point at this 
time talked of I was ready to go, but had as yet no 
special enthusiasm for the adventure. 


Meanwhile Mr Derby had ventured three ship- 
ments of goods to the Pacific; one small lot sold at 
seventy-five per cent above the invoice, and although 
the other two were lost, one by fire and the other by 
failure of the consignee, the one success was suffi- 
cient to excite great hopes. This, together with a 
letter from my father received toward the latter part 
of December, 1851, determined me to go to Cali- 
fornia. I was anxious to have Mr Kenny accompany 
me. He would like much to go, he said, but had not 
the money. I urged him to speak to Mr Derby about 
it. He did so, when our now most gracious employer 
replied : " For a long time I have been desirous of your 
going to California; only I would not propose it." 
He then entered heartily into our plans and opened 
the way for both of us. 

I felt by no means eager for gold; it was rather 
boyish adventure that prompted me. California was 
pictured in my mind as a nondescript country on the 
other side of huge mountains, which once overstepped, 
with most that I cared for left behind, there was little 
hope of return. I was not so weaned but that I must 
see my mother before I departed, perhaps never to 
return; and although it involved an unpleasant and 
expensive journey over the snow in the dead of winter, 
I immediately performed it. Then bidding all a long 
farewell, and calling on the way upon Mr James C. 
Derby of Auburn, my comrade Kenny and I went 
down to New York, entered our names at the Irving 
house, and were ready to embark by the next steamer. 



Never despair; but if you do, work in despair. 


A DETAILED description of an early voyage from 
New York to Chagres, across the Isthmus to Pan- 
amd, and thence to San Francisco, belongs rather to 
the time than to the individual. So large a por- 
tion of the Californian's life, during the first twenty 
years following the discovery of gold, was occupied 
in the passage by the various routes from one side of 
the continent to the other, that a picture of that 
epoch, with this prominent and characteristic scene 
left out, would be unfinished. During the first fifteen 
years of my residence on the western coast I made 
the passage between New York and San Francisco 
by way of Panamd no less than eleven times, thus 
spending on the water nearly one year, or what would 
be almost equivalent to every other Sunday during 
that time. Many made the voyage twice or thrice 
as often, and life on the steamer was but a part of 
California life. It was there the beginning was made ; 
it was sometimes the ending. It was there the an- 
gular eccentricities were first filed off, and roughly 
filed, as many a soft-bearded fledgling thought. It 
was there the excrescences of egotism and the morbid 
superfluities fastened on the character by local train- 
ing, or lack of training, first began the rub against the 
excrescences and superfluities of others, all of which 
tended to the ultimate polish and perfection of the 

, 1120] 


In my California Inter Pocula I have given a full 
account of the voyage out. I have there given it in 
detail, not because of anything particularly striking, 
but to show what the voyage in those days was ; for, 
excepting shipwrecks, epidemics, or other special hard- 
ships, they were all very like. I shall not therefore 
repeat the description here, but merely say that on 
the 24th of February, 1852, in company with Mr 
Kenny, I embarked at New York on the steamer 
George Law, bound for Habana. On reaching this 
port the sixth day, passengers, mails, and freight were 
transferred, with those of the steamer from New Or- 
leans, to the Georgia, which that night sailed for 
Chaofres, touchinsr at Jamaica. Arrived at Chag^res 
we were sent to Aspinwall to disembark, so as to ride 
over some six or eight miles of the Panamd railway 
just then opened for that distance — that we might 
ride over the road and pay the faro. After the usual 
delay on the Isthmus we embarked on the steamer 
Panama the 12th of March, touched at several ports 
on the Pacific, and reached San Francisco at twelve 
o'clock the first day of April. 

When I arrived in California John Bigler was gov- 
ernor. The capital had just been removed from Val- 
lejo to Sacramento. In San Francisco the wars with 
squatters, Peter Smith titles, and water -lot frauds 
were attracting the chief attention. Portions of the 
streets were brilliantly lighted from the glare of gam- 
bling-saloons; elsewhere all was thick darkness. On 
Montgomery street, indeed, lamps were posted by the 
occupants, but there was no system of street lights, 
and in the dark places about the docks, in the back 
streets, and round the suburbs, many dark deeds were 
committed. Crime, driven into holes and hiding-places 
by the Vigilance Committee of 1851, was beginning 
to show its face again, but the authorities, wakened to 
a livelier sense of duty by the late arbitrary action of 
the citizens, were more on the alert than formerly, and 
criminals were caught and punished with some degree 


of thoroughness. Agriculture was attracting more 
attention than at any time previous. Bull and bear 
fights at the Mission, and the childlike game of A B 
C on Long wharf, were in vogue. Gambling was 
somewhat on the decline — times were becoming too 
hard to risk a hundred dollars for an evening's amuse- 
ment — but it was the day of grand raffles, grand auction 
sales, grand quartz-mining schemes, and Biscaccianti 
concerts. Fire and flood held their alternate sway over 
the destinies of town and country, aiding other causes 
to accomplish business disruptions and failures. 

It was the day of complimenting sea-captains who 
approximated to their duty; of long annual sessions 
of the legislature, of fighting officials, and anti-Chi- 
nese meetings — though concerning this last named 
fermentation the question arises. When in California 
was it not? The most striking feature of the town at 
night to a stranger was the gambling-houses, the more 
aristocratic establishments being then situated on the 
plaza and Commercial street, and the lower dens prin- 
cipally on Long wharf. The better class supported 
a fine orchestra of five or six wind instruments, while 
in others a solitary cracked piano or violin squeaked 
the invitation to enter. The building was usually a 
mere shell, while the interior was gorgeously deco- 
rated and illumined with chandeliers presenting a 
mass of glittering glass pendants. Monte, faro, rou- 
lette, lansquenet, vingt-et-un, and rouge-et-noir, were 
the favorite games, though many others were played. 
During week-days these places were usually quiet, but 
at night and on Sundays the jingling of coin and the 
clinking of glasses were mingled with the music of 
the orchestra in hellish harmony. Above all voices 
was heard that of the dealer: ^'Make your game, 
gentlemen, make your game! All down? Make your 
game ! All down? The game is made ! no more ; deuce, 
black wins." 

Then followed the raking-in process, and the paying- 
out, after which came a new shuffle and a new deal; 


and thus the performance was repeated and the ex- 
citement kept up throughout the quickly flying hours 
of the night. Round the tables sat beautiful females 
in rustling silks and flaming diamonds, their beauty 
and magnificent attire contrasting strangely with the 
grizzly features, slouched hats, and woollen shirts of 
their victims. The license for a single table was fifty 
dollars per quarter. In some saloons were eight or 
ten of these tables, in others but one ; and there were 
hundreds of saloons, so that the revenue to the city 
was large. A bill prohibiting gambling was intro- 
duced in the legislature just before I arrived, but it 
was lost in the senate. 

Two days and nights amid scenes like these in San 
Francisco were sufficient to drive away the little wit left 
by the strange experiences at Habana, on the Isthmus, 
and on board the steamers, and to properly prepare 
the boyish mind for the pandemonium of the miners. 
The two days were spent by me in wandering about 
the business parts of the town, wading muddy streets, 
and climbing sand-hills ; the nights in' going from one 
gaming-house to another, observing the crowds of 
people come and go, watching the artistic barkeepers 
in their white coats mixing fancy drinks and serving 
from gorgeously decorated and mirrored bars fiery 
potations of every kind, gazing in rapt bewilder- 
ment upon the fortune -turning table with its fatal 
fascinations, marking the piles of money increase and 
lessen, and the faces behind them broaden and lengthen, 
and listening to the music that mingled with the 
chinking of gold, the rattling of glasses, and the 
voices of rough, loud-laughing men. ''There are in- 
deed but very few/' says Addison, "who know how 
to be idle and innocent." Two days and nights of 
this ; then from Long wharf we boarded a steam-boat 
and went to Sacramento. 

Having letters to Barton Reed and Grimm, 
commission merchants of Sacramento, to whom Mr 


Derby had made one or two consign in ents of books on 
a venture, we immediately called on them and talked 
over the relative business chances in San Francisco 
and Sacramento. The plan of going to Oregon had 
been long since abandoned, and now Sacramento seemed 
to offer more attractions for the opening of a small 
shop than any other place. San Francisco was the 
larger field, but it seemed more than fully occupied, 
as has been the case in every city and town on the 
coast from the beginning. As a rule, one half the 
merchants with one half the stocks would have sup- 
plied all the requirements of trade. Overtrading has 
always been a source of loss or ruin to those engaged 
in mercantile pursuits. True, this has been and is 
more or less the case elsewhere. There are too many 
men anxious for gain without the labor of producing. 
All branches of business are overdone ; the professions 
are crowded to overflowing, and for every vacant clerk- 
ship there are a hundred applicants. In new countries 
this is almost always the way; particularly has it 
been so in California, where gold mining was added to 
the usual allurements of speculative traffic. Here, 
•where all started equal in the race for w^ealth, and 
all were eager to secure a permanent foothold, where 
many opened at once on a large scale, and competition 
ran high, and almost every one traded beyond his capi- 
tal, the inducements to enter the whirlpool in any 
locality were tame enough. But in the breasts of the 
young and adventurous hope is strong. 

Sacramento having been decided on as the more 
fitting field, the next thing was to write Mr Derby and 
inform him of our decision. This done we took the 
boat for Marysville, en route for Long bar, in search 
of my father. There I was initiated into the mys- 
teries of mining and mining life. The placer diggings 
of this locality were then good, and so remained for 
several years, but the population changed every few 
months, the dissatisfied leaving and new adventurers 
coming in. Ten dollars a day was too little in the 


eyes of those accustomed to make twenty, and so they 
sold or abandoned their claims and prospected for 
richer diggings. Wandering thus from placer to placer 
for years, they lost their opportunity, if not their lives, 
and usually ended their mining career where they 
began, without a dollar. 

When my father came to the country, my eldest 
brother, Curtis, who had preceded him, was keeping 
a store and hotel at Long bar. He was doing well, 
was making money steadily and safely. At one time 
he had five thousand dollars surplus capital, with 
which he started for San Francisco, there to invest it 
in city lots. Had he done so, buying judiciously and 
holding, he might now be worth millions instead of 
nothing. Unfortunately, on his way he communicated 
the plan to John C. Fall, then one of the leading mer- 
chants of Marysville, and high in the esteem of my 
brother. By him he was induced to make a venture 
which involved his leaving Long bar, and ultimately 
ended in financial ruin. Kich bar, on Feather river, 
had lately been discovered, and was drawing multi- 
tudes of fortune-seekers from every quarter. It was 
not difficult for Mr Fall to persuade my brother with 
an abundance of means and an unlimited credit to 
buy a band of mules and freight them for that place. 
Once there he erected a building, and opened a hotel 
and store. For a time all went well. Up and down 
the river the diggings were rich, and gold dust was 
poured into his coffers by the quart. The establish- 
ment at Long bar seemed insignificant in comparison, 
and being attended with some care, he sold it and 
moved his family to Rich bar. My father remained at 
Long bar. He had been in the country now about 
two years, had accumulated quite a little sum, and 
contemplated soon returning home. But shortly 
before setting out an opportunity offered whereby 
he might increase his little fortune tenfold, and with- 
out a risk of failure — so it seemed to him and to 


Quartz mining was about this time attracting at- 
tention, and the prospect was very flattering. The 
ledofe was discovered and staked off, its dimensions 
told, its rock assayed, the cost of crushing reckoned, 
and the number of years calculated before the mine 
would be exhausted. Surely this was no vain specu- 
lation, it was a simple arithmetical sum, the quantity, 
the quality, the cost of separation, and the net profits. 
Yet it was a sum which wrecked thousands. The 
gold was in the mine, and rock enough of an ascer- 
tained grade to last for years, but the cost of extract- 
ing was more than had been anticipated, and, what 
was worst of all, and almost always overlooked in 
these calculations, the methods of saving the gold after 
the rock was crushed were imperfect, so that even 
good rock failed to pay expenses. 

Two miles from Long bar, near the Marysville 
road, was a place called Brown valley, and through 
this ran a quartz ledge, long known but regarded as 
valueless, because no one could extract the gold from 
the hard white rock which held it. When, however, 
quartz mining became the fashion, and every one who 
owned a share was sure of a fortune, this ledge was 
taken up and staked off into claims under the names 
of different companies. One of these companies was 
called the Plymouth, always a pleasing name to the 
ear of my father, and as it embosomed an abundance 
of gold, he was induced to invest — not venture — the 
greater part of the mone}^ he had made, before re- 
turning home. 

Midway between Long bar and the mine ran a little 
stream, whose name. Dry creek, was significant of its 
character, it being, like many other streams in Cali- 
fornia, flush with water in the winter and dry as a parlor 
floor in the summer. This stream had been dammed, 
a race dug, and a quartz mill with eight or ten stamps 
constructed, all in working order; and at the time of 
my arrival it was just ready, as it had been at any 
time since its erection, to make every shareholder rich. 


It was merely necessary to effect some little change 
in the method of extracting and saving the gold, and 
this was receiving attention. 

I found my father, in connection with other mem- 
bers of the Plymouth association, busily engaged in 
working this mine. He occupied a little cloth house 
in the vicinity of the ledge, and being the owner of a 
good mule team, he employed himself in hauling rock 
from the mine to the mill, about one mile apart, and 
in gathering wood with which to burn the rock, so 
that it could be the more easily crushed. The first 
night I spent with him in the hotel at Long bar. 
Foremost among my recollections of the place are 
the fleas, which, together with the loud snorings and 
abominable smells proceeding from the great hairy 
unwashed strewed about on bunks, benches, tables, 
and floor, so disturbed my sleep that I arose and 
went out to select a soft place on the hill-side above 
the camp, where I rolled myself in a blanket and 
passed the night, my first in the open air of Cali- 

The next day found me settled down to business. 
As eight or nine months must elapse before my letter 
from Sacramento could be received by Mr Derby, 
and goods reach me by way of Cape Horn, it was 
arranged that I should work with my father for the 
Plymouth company. In the morning we climbed the 
oak trees scattered about the valley, and with an axe 
lopped off the large brittle branches, adding them to 
the already huge pile of wood beside the mill. At 
noon we proceeded to the little cloth house, unhar- 
nessed and fed the animals, and then cooked and 
ate our dinner. Beefsteak, beans, bread, and pota- 
toes, with coffee, canned fruits, pancakes, or anything 
of the kind we chose to add, constituted the fare 
of self-boarding miners in those days; but with all 
our culinary talents we could not offer Mr Kenny 
a meal sufficiently tempting to induce him to par- 
take of it, and so he obtained his dinner from a 


boarding-house near by, and left shortly afterward for 
Rich bar. 

I cannot say that I enjoyed this kind of life, and 
could scarcely have endured it but for the thought 
that it was only temporary. At night the animals 
were turned loose to graze. Early in the morning, 
long before the sun had risen, I was up and over the 
hills after them. Stiff and sore from the previous 
day's work, wet with wading through the long damp 
grass, I was in no humor to enjoy those glorious 
mornings, ushered in by myriads of sweet songsters 
w^elcoming the warm sunlight which came tremblingly 
through the soft misty air. To the clouds of top- 
knotted quails which rose at my approach, the leaping 
hare, the startled deer, and the thick beds of fresh 
fi'agrant flowers which I trampled under my feet, I 
was alike indifferent. The music of the mules alone 
allured me, though the clapper of the bell which told 
me wdiere they w^ere beat discordantly on my strained 
ear. Back to my breakfast and then to work. How 
I loaded and lashed the poor dumb beasts in my dis- 
temper, and gritted my teeth with vexation over the 
unwelcome task ! The sharp rock cut my hands, the 
heavy logs of wood strained my muscles; and my 
temper, never one of the sweetest, fumed and fretted 
like that of a newly chained cub. Were it in my 
power I would have pluralized those mules so as to 
smite the more. Some woods send forth fragrance 
under the tool of the carver. Such was not my na- 
ture. I never took kindly to misfortune; prosperity 
fits me like a glove. It is good to be afflicted; but 
I do not like to receive the good in that way. "Bo- 
narum rerum consuetudo est pessima," says Publius 
Syrus; but such has not been my experience. I wdll 
admit that adversity may be good for other people, 
but the continuance of prosperity, I verily believe, 
has never by any means been prejudicial to me, either 
in mind or morality. Byron thought Shelley, who 


had borne up manfully under adversity, the most 
amiable of men, until he saw Lord Blessington, who 
had retained his gentle good nature through a long 
series of unvarying prosperity. 

The night before leaving Buffalo I had danced 
until morning. It happened that about the only 
clothes saved from the thieves of the Isthmus were 
the ones used on that occasion. These I wore until 
work turned them into rags. In the pocket I one 
day found a pair of white kid gloves, relic of past 
revelries, and putting them on I gathered up the 
reins, mounted the load, and beating my mules into 
a round trot, rode up to the mill laughing bitterly 
at the absurdity of the thing. It was the irony of 
gentlemanly digging. Ten or twelve loads was a fair 
day's work; I hauled twenty or twenty -five. A dollar 
a load was the price allowed — but it was not money, 
it was wrath, that made me do it. My father, though 
mild in his treatment of me, expostulated. He feared 
I would kill the animals. I said nothing, but when 
out of his sight I only drove them the harder. Little 
cared I whether the mules or myself were killed. 
Sunday was a day of rest, but on Monday I felt sorer 
in body and mind than on any other day. I had 
brought plenty of books with me, but could not read, 
or if I did it was only to raise a flood of longings 
which seemed sometimes to overwhelm me. My soul 
was in harmony with nothing except the coyotes which 
all night howled discordantly behind the hills. 

After two months of this kind of life the hot 
weather was upon us. The streams began to dry 
up; water was becoming scarce. We had heaped up 
the wood and the rock about the mill, and my tally 
showed a long score against the company for work. 
But the mill did not pay. There was always some- 
thing wrong about it, some little obstacle that stood 
in the way of immediate brilliant success: the stamps 
were not heavy enough, or the metal was too soft, 
or they did not work smoothly; the rest of the ma- 

" Lit. Ind. 9 


chinery was inadequate, and the rock was harder than 
had been anticipated. That it was hard enough, I 
who had handled it well knew. There was no money, 
but there were plenty of shares. 

It is very difficult when once faith, even in a 
falsity, has taken possession of the mind, to eradicate 
it. Especially difficult is it w^hen self-interest stands 
in the way and blinds the understanding. Skepticism 
is a plant of slow growth. The seeds are sown by 
inexorable fact, in an unwelcome soil, and the germ is 
smothered by ignorance and prejudice until time and 
experience force it to the light. I had not then 
reached the point later attained, when I could say 
with Dante, "" Non men che saver, dubbiar m'aggrata;" 
though doubt seldom chains a gold-digger so much as 
knowledge of facts. I cannot tell why neither my 
father nor I should have seen by this time that the 
enterprise was a failure. But we did not see it. We 
had schooled ourselves in the belief that the rocky 
bank contained a mint of money which must some 
day enrich the possessor. But there was then nothing 
more to be done, and my father concluded to pay a 
parting visit to my brother at Bich bar and set out 
for home. For our work we took more shares, and 
still more in exchange for the team and the scattering 
effects, and abandoned it all forever. Several years 
afterward I learned that a new company had taken 
possession of the claim and was doing well. Not long 
after leaving the place I became convinced that the 
enterprise was a failure, and firmly resolved that 
thenceforth, whatever speculation I might at any time 
engage in, it should be not with my own labor. I 
might stake money, but if I worked with my hands I 
would have pay for such labor. 

Behold us now! my old father and me, tramping 
over the plains beneath a broiling sun about the 
middle of June, each with a bundle and stick, mine 
containing my sole possessions. In the early morning, 
fresh from sleep, with gladness of heart at leaving 


the beautiful valley of hateful occupation behind, we 
marched away over the hills at a round pace. But 
as the sun above our heads neared the point from 
which it poured its perpendicular and most effect- 
ual wrath, I became excessively fatigued. My feet 
blistered; my limbs ached; water was to be had only 
at intervals; the prayed-for breath of air came hot 
and suffocating, like a sirocco, mingled with incan- 
descent dust beaten from the parched plain. Thinking 
over my short experience in the country and my 
present position, I exclaimed, ''If tliis be California, 
I hope God will give me little of it." As we trod 
slowly along, stepping lightly on the burning ground, 
I began to think the mules would have been better 
for our purpose than the shares, but I said nothing. 

That day we walked thirty miles, crossed the river 
at Bidwell bar, intending to stop over night at a 
rancho some distance on in the mountains; but we 
had not ascended far before I persuaded my father 
to camp, for rest I must. He willingly complied, 
and selecting a sheltered place well covered with dry 
leaves we spread our blankets. In a moment I was 
asleep, and knew nothing further till morning, when 
I awoke almost as fresh as ever. We had food with 
us, but the night before I was too tired to eat. The 
first clay was the worst. We were now in the cool 
fragrant air of the Sierra, travelling a well-beaten path 
intersected by numerous rivulets of melted snow. 
The third day we reached Rich bar in good con- 
dition. My father, after a visit of about a week, 
returned with the express train — of mules, not steam- 
cars — to Marysville, where he took the boat for San 
Francisco, and tlience the steamer homeward. 

As I had still six months or thereabout to wait for 
my goods, I agreed to remain with my brother Curtis 
for such compensation as he should choose to give. 
My duties were to carry on the store and look after 
the business generally in his absence. Mr Kenny 
was likewise engaged by my brother in an establish- 


ment carried on by him at Indian bar, a few miles 
down the river. There we remained until November, 
when we went to San Francisco. 

Shortly before leaving Rich bar I had received 
intelliofence of the death of Harlow Palmer, eldest 
son of George Palmer, a wealthy and highly respected 
citizen of Buffalo. Harlow Palmer had married my 
sister Emil}". For fine womanly instincts and self- 
sacrificing devotion to duty and friendship she had no 
superior; and her husband was among the noblest of 
men. Away in the heart of the Sierra I received 
the heart-rending tidings as a message from another 
world. I said nothing to any one; but when the sun 
had buried itself in the granite waves beyond, and 
had left the sky and earth alone together, alone to 
whisper each other their old-time secrets, with my 
sad secret I wandered forth beside the transparent 
river, where the lusty diggers had honey-combed the 
pebbly bottom and opened graves for myriads of hopes, 
and there, down in the deep canon, walled in by sky- 
propping mountains, I sped my longings upward, the 
only window of escape for my pent up sorrow. O earth ! 
how dark and desolate thou art, with thy boisterous 
streams singing requiems for the dead. O starlit sky ! 
dim not my vision that would pierce thy milky veil, 
nor speed back my blind intelligence from its unap- 
proachable source. Behold the immobile sepulchral 
moon ! Ghastly the sun's reflected light thrown from 
fantastic rocks which cast their phantom shadows 
round yawning craters reveals the hideousness of the 
gentle orb, gentle because dead, tenantless as a ceme- 
tery. Bats we are, all of us, teachers and pupils alike, 
beating our senseless brains against the murky cavern- 
walls that hem us in, screeching about that illimitable 
brightness beyond, of which we have been told so 
much and know so little, only to drop at length upon 
the damp floor, despairing. 

But this was only the beginning of sorrow. Scarcely 
had I reached Sacramento when the death of George 


H. Derby was announced. Surely, said I, there 
must be a mistake. It is Mr Palmer they mean; 
they have confused the husbands of the two sisters. 
I would not believe it; it could not be. Letters, 
however, soon confirmed the report. The two brothers- 
in-law, young, high-spirited, active, intelligent, prom- 
ising men, the warmest of friends, living on the same 
side of the same street, not more than a mile apart, 
had both been swept away by the cholera the same 
month. I was stricken dumb, stupefied, and for a time, 
listless and purposeless, I wandered about the quag- 
mires and charred remains of the city — for Sacra- 
mento had about that time been visited by both flood 
and fire — the miry and sombre surroundings accord- 
ing well with the despond-sloughs and ashen contem- 
plations within. To the pure fanatic and the pure 
philosopher alike death has no sting. Deep medita- 
tions on man's destiny only show the folly of harassing 
concern about what is hidden from human ken or of 
loudly bewailing what is inevitable to all. But where 
neither fanaticism nor philosophy exists one suffers 
when friends die. 

All my plans and purposes I saw at once were at an 
end. I knew very well that no one else, now that 
Mr Derby was dead, would do so foolish a thing as to 
continue shipments of goods to an inexperienced 
moneyless boy in California. Indeed, directly after 
receiving the first sad intelligence came a letter from 
the executor, requesting the speedy sale of the consign- 
ment about to arrive and the remittance of the money. 
Accompanying this order was an urgent but most 
unnecessary appeal to my sympathies in behalf of 
my sister, Mrs Derby. The estate, it affirmed, would 
net little else than the property in my hands, without 
which the widow and children must suffer. 

Having no further business in the burned-out mud- 
hole of Sacramento, I went down to the bay and 
put up at the Rassette house. Kenny was with me. 
I was determined, whatever the cost, that Mrs Derby 


should have the full amount of the invoice, with com- 
missions added, as soon as the goods could be con- 
verted into money and the proceeds remitted to her. 
To sell in that market, at that time, a miscellaneous 
assortment of books and stationery in one lot, without 
a sacrifice, was impossible. I determined there should 
be no sacrifice, even if I had to peddle the stuff from 
door to door. I possessed only one hundred and fifty 
dollars, the result of my services at Kich bar, and 
began to look about for employment till the goods 
should arrive. At none of the several book and 
stationery shops in town was there any prospect. I 
was thin, young, awkward, bashful, had no address, 
and was slow of wit. Besides, merchants were shy of 
a clerk with shipments of goods behind him ; for why 
should he desire a situation except to learn the secrets 
of his employer and then use them to his own ad- 
vantage? I explained the poverty of my prospects 
and declared the purity of my intentions. All was in 
vain; nobody would have my services, even as a gift. 
Mr Kenny was more fortunate. In his nature were 
blended the suaviter in modo and the fort iter in re. 
He was older than I, and possessed of an Irish tongue 
withal ; he made friends wherever he went. An equal 
partnership was offered him by William B. Cooke, 
who had lately dissolved with Josiah J. Le Count, 
and was then establishing himself anew at the corner 
of Merchant and Montgomery streets. The terms 
were that Kenny should place upon Cooke's shelves 
the stock sent me; that the proceeds should be re- 
mitted east as fast as sales were made, or, if possible, 
payments should be even faster than this ; in any event 
not less than five hundred dollars was to be paid on 
each steamer day. I must shift for myself; but this 
did not trouble me. I readily consented, stipulating 
only for immediate control of the stock if the firm 
did not remit as fast as promised. In no surer or 
quicker way could I realize the invoice price for the 
whole shipment, and this was now my chief ambition. 


Well, the goods arrived, and the firra of Cooke, 
Kenny, and Company was organized, the company 
being a young friend of Mr Cooke. I had free ac- 
cess to the premises, and watched matters closely for 
a while. Everything went on satisfactorily, and the 
whole amount was remitted to the executors of Mr 
Derby's estate according to agreement. Meanwhile I 
had applied myself more earnestly than ever to obtain 
work of some kind. I felt obliged to stay in San 
Francisco until my account with the estate was settled, 
unv/illing to trust any one for that, and I greatly pre- 
ferred remaining in the city altogether. Mines and 
the miners, and country trading of any kind, had be- 
come exceedingly distasteful to me. I felt, if an op- 
portunity were offered, that I would prove competent 
and faithful in almost any capacity ; for though diffident 
I had an abundance of self-conceit, or at least of self- 
reliance, and would do anything. Accustomed to work 
all my life, idleness was to me the greatest of afflic- 
tions. My bones ached for occupation and I envied 
the very hod-carriers. 

Thus for six months, day after day, I tramped the 
streets of San Francisco seeking work, and failed to 
lind it. Thousands have since in like manner applied 
to me, and remembering^ how the harsh refusals once 
cut my sensitive nature, I try to be kind to applicants 
of whatsoever degree, and if not always able to give 
work I can at least offer sympathy and advice. Finally, 
sick with disappointment, I determined to leave the 
city: not for the Sierra foothills; rather China, or 
Australia. The choice must be made quickly, for 
the last dollar from Rich bar was gone, and I would 
not live on others, or run in debt with nothing where- 
with to pay. Often I wandered down about the 
shipping and scanned the vessels for different ports. 
I knew little of the various parts of the world, and 
had little choice wdiere to go. My future turned upon 
a hair. 

In the spring of 1853 the San Francisco papers 


began to notice a new town on the California shore 
of the Pacific, some fifteen or twenty miles fi'om the 
Oregon boundary line. Crescent City the place was 
called, from a long sweep taken by the shore inward 
between Trinidad bay and Point St George; indeed, 
there was then much more crescent than city, only 
a few tents and split-board houses stood trembling 
between the sullen roar of the ocean at the front 
door and the ofttimes whistling wind in the dense 
pine forest at the back door to mark the site of the 
prospective commercial metropolis of northern Cali- 
fornia. On both sides of the boundary line between 
Oregon and California were extensive mining districts, 
at various distances from the coast, access to which 
had hitherto been from Oregon only by way of Port- 
land and Scottsburg, and from the Sacramento valley 
through Shasta. Most of the country hereabout 
miofht have been traversed in wasfons but for one 
difficulty — there w^ere no wagon roads; consequently 
most of the merchandise carried to this port by 
steamers and sailing vessels was conveyed into the 
interior on the backs of mules. There was plenty of 
good agricultural land round Crescent City, and forests 
of magnificent timber, but few thought of farming in 
those days, and lumber could be more easily obtained 
at other points along the coast. The mines and the 
trade with them offered the chief attractions for es- 
tablishing a city. Nor was it to depend so much on 
the mines already discovered as on those which were 
sure to be found as soon as the country was fairly 
prospected. The color of gold, they said, had been 
seen on Smith river, only twelve miles distant; and 
farther up, at Althouse and Jacksonville, was gold 
itself, and men at work digging for it. As other parts 
boasted their Gold lakes and Gold bluffs, so here 
was an unsolved mystery wherein gold was the fitful 
goddess — a lone cabin that men talked of in whispers, 
where treasure-diggers long since departed had filled 
bags, and bottles, and tin cans with the glittering 


dirt that made glad the hearts of those awaiting 
them in their eastern homes. Several parties went 
in search of this lone cabin at various times. It was 
confidently believed that some day it would be found, 
and when that day should come, a seaport town, Ayith 
railways, wharves, and shipping, would be absolutely 
necessary to furnish the diggers in that vicinity with 
food and clothing, tents, strychnine whiskey, and 
playing-cards, and receive and export for the honest 
magnates the tons of heavy yellow stuff which they 
would shovel up. 

Knowing of no better place, I determined to try 
my fortune at Crescent City; so, with fifty dollars 
borrowed, and a case of books and stationery bought 
on credit, I embarked on board the steamer Columbia 
about the middle of May. Two days and one night 
the voyage lasted — long enough, with the crowded 
state of the vessel and the poor comforts at my com- 
mand, to leave me on landing completely prostrated 
with sea-sickness and fatiirue. Taken ashore in a 
whale-boat, I crawled to a hotel and went to bed. My 
box was landed in a lighter, but for a day or two I 
made no attempt at business. Adjoining the hotel 
was the general merchandise store of Crowell and 
Fairfield, and there I made the acquaintance of Mr 
Crowell, which resulted in mutual confidence and es- 
teem. Mr Fairfield was then absent at the bay. As 
our friendship increased, Mr Crowell occasionally re- 
quested me to attend the store during his absence, and 
also to enter in the day-book sales which he had made. 
At length, on learning my purpose, he made me an 
offer of fifty dollars a month to keep his books, with 
the privilege of placing my stock on his shelves and 
selling from it for my own account free of charge. 
I gladly accepted, and was soon enrolled as book- 
keeper and book-seller. On his return Mr Fairfield 
ratified the arrangfement, and we were ever after the 
best of friends. As I slept in the store, indulged in 
little dissipation, and was not extravagant in dress, my 


(Expenses were very light, while the profits on my 
goods, which I sold only for cash, were large. Mean- 
while, as the business of the firm augmented and the 
duties became more responsible, my salary was from 
time to time increased, until at the expiration of 
eighteen months, with the use of a few thousand 
dollars which I had accumulated and allowed to re- 
main at the disposal of the firm, I found myself the 
recipient of two hundred and fifty dollars monthly. 
Some six months later the firm failed. I bought a 
portion of the stock and tried merchandising on my 
own account for a short time, but being dissatisfied 
with my life there, I disposed of the business, built a 
one-story brick store, which I leased to some hardware 
merchants, and leaving my affairs in the hands of an 
agent I went down to San Francisco. 

Though it was a trading rather than a mining town, 
life at Crescent City w^as in most respects similar to 
life in the mines. There was the same element in the 
community, the same lack of virtuous women, the 
same species of gaming-houses, drinking-saloons, and 
dens of prostitution. Florimel's girdle was worn by 
never a woman there. The Reverend Mr Lacy, after- 
ward pastor of the first cono-regational society in 
San Francisco, essayed to build a church and reform 
the people, but his efforts were attended with poor 

A rancheria of natives occupied the point that 
formed the northern horn of the Crescent, and with 
them the mild-mannered citizens of the town endeav- 
ored to live in peace. One night the rancheria took 
fire, an unusual thing which excited some commotion. 
The natives thought the white men wished to burn 
them out, and the white men began to fear the red 
men intended to overturn everything and massacre 
everybody, beginning with the destruction of their 
own houses. Morning, how^ever, threw light upon 
the matter. It appears a drunken white man, the 
night before, had taken lodgings in a native hut, and 


feeling cold, in the absence of the accustomed alcoholic 
fires he built a fire of wood to warm himself withal ; 
but being drunk, he built it after the white man's 
fashion, at one end of the room against the bark 
boards of the house, and not where the sober savaofe 
would have placed it, in the centre of the room. The 
pioneer citizens of the Crescent were orderly, well 
meaning men, who prided themselves on emptying a 
five-gallon keg of the most fiery spirits San Francisco 
could send them, and on carrying it respectably, with 
eyes open, head up, and tongue capable of articu- 
lating, even though it did thicken and crisp a little 
sometimes toward morning after a night at poker. 
They could not therefore silently pass by the affront 
cast on their dusky neighbors by an unworthy mem- 
ber of their own color; and in the absence of a court 
of law they held a court of inquiry, followed by a 
court of retort, requiring the vile white man who 
could not drink without making himself drunk, first 
to pay the natives blankets, beads, and knives enough 
to fully satisfy them for loss and damage to their 
property, and then to leave the place. Well begun, 
noble topers of the Crescent, who would not see even 
the poor savages at their door wronged by one of 
their number! 

The two and a half years I spent at Crescent City 
were worse than thrown away, although I did accu- 
mulate some six or eight thousand dollars. With 
an abundance of time on my hands, I read little but 
trashy novels, and though from my diffidence I did not 
mingle greatly with the people, I improved my mind 
no better than they. One bosom friend I had, Theo- 
dore S. Pomeroy, county clerk and editor of the Herald, 
probably the most intelligent man in the place, and 
much of my time outside of business I spent with him 
at cards or billiards. On Sundays there was horse- 
racing, or foot-racing, or cock-fighting on the beach; 
and often a band of rowdies, composed of the most 
respectable citizens, would start out at anytime between 


midnight and daybreak, and with horns, tin pans, and 
gongs, make the round of the place, pounding at every 
door, and compelling the occupant to arise, administer 
drink to all, and join the jovial company. Knives and 
pistols were almost universally carried and recklessly 
used. In a drunken brawl a man w^as shot dead one 
night in front of my store. I did not rush out with 
others to witness the scene, and so saved myself a 
month's time, and the heavy expenses of a journey 
to Yreka to attend the trial of the murderer. Durino- 
my residence at this place I made several trips on 
business to San Francisco, and on the whole managed 
my affairs with prudence and economy. I well remem- 
ber the first five hundred dollars I made. The sum 
was deposited with Page, Bacon, and company, so 
that w^hatever befell me I might have that amount 
to carry me back to my friends, for I never ceased 
longing to see them. Fortunately, Crowell and Fair- 
field being in need of money, I drew it out for their 
use just before the bank failed. I have never felt so 
rich before or since. Having great faith in the ulti- 
mate growth of Crescent City, I invested my earnings 
there, though after the lapse of several years I was 
glad to realize at thirty cents on the dollar. 

My sisters had often urged me strongly to return 
to the east. Mrs Derby, particularly, was quite alone, 
and she wished me to come, and if possible settle 
permanently near her. I now felt quite independent, 
and consequently proud and happy, for my brick store 
at Crescent City, worth, as I counted it, eight thou- 
sand dollars, and rented for two hundred and fifty 
dollars a month, seemed at that time sufficient to 
make me comfortable without work. Hence I re- 
solved to go home — the eastern side was always 
home then, whether one lived there or not — and 
my friend Pomeroy promised to accompany me. My 
object was to visit friends and make plans for the 
future; his was to marry a woman of Albany, with 


whom he had opened correspondence and made a 
matrimonial engagement through the medium of a 
friend, a female friend of course, living in San Fran- 
cisco. The firm of Cooke, Kenny, and company had 
failed, from lack of capital, and Mr Kenny, who in 
the mean time had married an estimable woman, was 
doing business for another house. Often have I 
thought how fortunate it was that I did not start 
in business at San Francisco or Sacramento at that 
time, since the inevitable result would have been 
failure. As I have said, almost every firm then doing 
business failed; and if men with capital and experi- 
ence, with a large trade already established, could not 
succeed, how could I expect to do so? In November, 
1855, with Mr Pomeroy as a companion, I sailed from 
San Francisco for New York, where we safely arrived, 
and shortly after separated for the homes of our 
respective friends. 



Seest thou a man diligent in business, he shall stand before kings; he 
shall not stand before mean men. 


Home again ! None but a wanderer, and a youthful 
wanderer, can feel those words in their fullest import. 
Back from the first three years in California. Out 
of the depths and into paradise. Away from har- 
assing cares, from the discordant contentions of 
money-getting, from the contaminations of filthy de- 
baucheries, beyond the shot of pistol or reach of 
bowie-knife, safe home, there let me rest. Nor does 
the prestige of success lessen the pleasure of the re- 
turned Californian. Even our warmest friends are 
human. Those who would nurse us most kindly in 
sickness, who would spare no self-denial for our com- 
fort, who, unworthy as we might be of their affection, 
would die for us if necessary, the hearts of even these 
in their thanksgiving are warmed with pride if to 
their welcome they may add ''Well done!' 

How the snappish frosty air tingles the blood, and 
lightens the feet, and braces the sinews. How white 
the soft snow resting silently on trees and lawn, and 
how the music of the bells rings in the heart the re- 
membrance of old time merrymakings ! Rosy-cheeked 
girls, muffled in woollens and furs, frolic their way 
to school, filling the clear cold air with their musical 
laughter, and blooming young ladies grace the side- 
walk in such numbers as would turn a mining camp 
topsy-turvy for a month. Oysters ! How the whilom 
bean -and -bacon eaters regale themselves! First a 



raw, then a stew, then a fry, and then a raw again. 
To hve in a house, eat with people, lounge in elegantly- 
furnished parlors — it is very pleasant, but a little 
close. The Sundays, how quiet they are; no one 
abroad, no trafficking, no revelry ! And then to go to 
church, and sit in the old family pew, and meet the 
gaze of faces familiar from boyhood. How much 
smaller things appear than of old. The ancients of 
the church are plainer in their apparel and simpler in 
their features than they used to be, and the minister is 
a little more prosy and peculiar. But the girls, ah! 
there's the rub. Immediately on my arrival I fell in 
love with half a dozen, and, bashful as I was, would have 
married one upon the spot, had not her father fancied 
a young man whose father's property was in New York, 
in preference to one who possessed something of his 
own at Crescent City. And how the men, and women, 
and children all eyed me; one saying, "You are not 
a bear," and another, "I do not see but that you look 
very like other people." The impression seemed to 
prevail at the east in those days that a Californian 
could not be otherwise than brown and bearded, and 
rough and red-shirted. I was still a pale, thin, timid 
boy, though I had passed through furnace fires enough 
to deeper bronze or blacken Mephistopheles. 

I found my sister Mrs Derby, with her three 
daughters, cosily keeping house in Auburn, New 
York. My youngest sister, Mary, was with her. Soon 
Mrs Palmer, my second sister, came down from Buf- 
falo to see her Californian brother. It was a happy meet- 
ing, though saddened by the recollection of irreparable 
disruptions. Between Auburn and Buffalo I passed 
the winter delightfully, and in the spring visited my 
friends in Granville. I tried my best to like it at the 
east, to make up my mind to abandon California and 
settle permanently in Buffalo or New York, to be a 
comfort to my sisters, and a solace to my parents ; but 
the western coast, with all its rough hardships and 
impetuous faults so fascinating, had fastened itself 


too strongly upon me to be shaken off. And so round 
many a poor pilgrim California has thrown her witch- 
eries, drawinsc him back to her briofht shores whenever 
he attempted to leave them, like the magnetic moun- 
tain of Arabian story, which drew the nails from any 
ship that approached it. If the nails from the vessels 
entering the Golden Gate were not so drawn by the 
metal- veined sierra the men were, for only too often 
they left the ships tenantless and unmanageable hulks. 
The east, as compared with the west, was very com- 
fortable, very cultivated, soothing to the senses and 
refining to the intelligence; but society was so proper, 
so particular, and business ways seemed stale and 

Suddenly in April, 1856, I made up my mind lio 
longer to remain there. I had visited enough and 
wasted time enough. I was impatient to be doing. 
So, without saying a word at first, I packed my trunk, 
and then told my sister of the resolve. I appreci- 
ated her kindness most fully. I regretted leaving 
her more than w^ords could tell, but I felt that 1 must 
go; there was that in California which harmonized 
with my aspirations and drew forth energies which 
elsewhere would remain dormant. I must be up and 

On one side of the continent all was new,' all 
was to be done; on the other side beginnings were 
pretty well over. To the satisfied and unambitious 
an eastern or European life of dolce far niente might 
be delicious; to me if I had millions it would be tor- 
ment. The mill must needs grind, for so the maker 
ordained ; if wheat be thrown into the hopper it sends 
forth fine flour, but if unfed it still grinds, until it 
grinds itself away. I must be something of myself, 
and do something by myself; it is the Me, and not 
money, that cries for activity and development. 

''One thing do for me," said my sister, "and you 
may go" 

•'I will; what is it?" 


" You remember the money sent from California in 
return for goods shipped by Mr Derby?" 


" The money is now so invested that I am fearful 
of losing it. Help me to get it, then take it and use 
it in any way you think best." 

" I will help you to get it," said I, "most certainly, 
but I could not sleep knowing that your comfort de- 
pended on my success. I may be honest and capable, 
and yet fail. I may woo fortune but I cannot com- 
mand her. The risk is altogether too great for you 
to take." 

" Nevertheless I will take it," replied my noble 
sister, and in that decision she decided my destiny. 

How a seemingly small thing, as we have before 
remarked, will sometimes turn the current, not only 
of a man's own future life, but that of his friends, his 
family, and multitudes who shall come after him. In 
this womanish resolve of my sister — womanish because 
prompted by the heart rather than by the head — the 
destinies of many hundreds of men and women were 
wrapped. By it my whole career in California was 
changed, and with mine that of my father's entire 
family. Herein is another cause, if we choose to call 
it so, of my embarking in literature. I hesitated yet 
further about taking the money, but finally concluded 
that I might keep it safely for her; if not, there was 
yet the Crescent City property to fall back upon. 

After some little difficulty we succeeded in drawing 
the money, five thousand five hundred dollars, which 
sum was placed in my hands. I then asked her if she 
would accept a partnership in my proposed under- 
taking ; but she answered no, she would prefer my note, 
made payable in five or six years, with interest at the 
rate of one per cent a month. 

Now it was that I determined to execute the origi- 
nal plan formed by Mr Derby, in pursuance of which 
I first went to California; and that with the very 
money, I might say, employed by him, this being the 

Lit. Ind. 10 


exact amount of his original shipments — only, I would 
lay the foundations broader than he had done, estab- 
lish at once a credit, for without that my capital would 
not go far, and plant myself in San Francisco with 
aspirations high and determination fixed, as became 
one who would win or die in the first city of the 
Pacific seaboard. 

There was a man in New York, Mr John C. Barnes, 
who had been a warm friend of Mr Derby. To him 
my sister gave a letter of introduction, with which, 
and drafts for fifty -five hundred dollars, she sent me 
forth to seek my fortune. Mr Barnes was partner in 
the large stationery house of Ames, Herrick, Barnes, 
and Bhoads, 75 John street. I found him very 
affable, stated to him my plans, deposited with him 
my drafts, and received the assurance that everything 
possible should be done to forward my wishes. First 
of all, I wanted to establish business relations with the 
leading publishers of the east. I wanted the lowest 
prices and the longest time — the lowest prices so that 
the advance I was necessarily obliged to add should 
not place my stock beyond the reach of consumers, 
and the longest time because four or six months were 
occupied in transportation. 

California credit in New York at that time rated 
low, as elsewhere I have observed. Nearly every one 
I met had lost, some of them very heavily, either by 
flood, or fire, or failure. Some of their customers had 
proved dishonest, others unfortunate, and a curse 
seemed attached to the country from which at one 
time so much had been expected. I told them I was 
starting fresh, untrammelled, with everything in my 
favor, and I believed I could succeed; that they had 
met with dishonest men did not prove every man dis- 
honest; and because they had lost it did not follow 
that they were always sure to lose. I might have 
added, if at that time I had known enough of the 
manner of eastern merchants in dealing with the 
California market, that for nine tenths of their losses 



they had only themselves to blame, for after selling 
to legitimate dealers all the goods necessary for the 
full supply of the market, they would throw into auc- 
tion on their own account in San Francisco such 
quantities of merchandise as would break prices and 
entail loss on themselves and ruin on their customers. 
All the blame attending California credit did not be- 
long to Californians, although the disgrace might be 
laid only on them; but the shippers of New York and 
Boston knew a trick or two as well as the merchants 
of San Francisco. 

At all events, before these angry croakers decided 
against me, or persisted in their fixed purpose never to 
sell a dollar's worth of goods to California without first 
receiving the dollar, I begged them to see Mr Barnes 
and ascertain what he thought of it. This they were 
ready to promise, if nothing more; and the conse- 
quence was that when I called the second time al- 
most every one was ready to sell me all the goods 
I would buy. From that day my credit was estab- 
lished, becoming firmer with time, and ever afterward 
it was my first and constant care to keep it good. "A 
good credit, but used sparingly;" that was my motto. 
At this time I did not buy largely, only about ten 
thousand dollars' worth, preferring to wait till I be- 
came better acquainted with the market before order- 
ing heavily. This was in June. My goods shipped, 
I returned to Auburn, there to spend the few months 
pending the passage of the vessel round Cape Horn 
rather than await its arrival in California. And very 
pleasantly passed this time with the blood warm and 
hope high. 

October saw me again en route for San Francisco. 
I found Mr Kenny occupying his old store with a 
small stock of goods belonging to Mr Le Count. I 
told him to settle his business and come with me, 
and he did so. We engaged the room adjoining, being 
in the building of Naglee, the brandymaker, near the 


corner of Montgomery and Merchant streets, where 
ten years before a yerba-buena bordered sand-bank 
was washed by the tide- waters of the bay. Our stock 
arriving shortly after in good order, we opened it and 
began business under the firm name of H. H. Ban- 
croft and Company about the first of December, 1856. 
There was nothing pecuhar in the shop, its contents, 
business, or proprietors, that I am aware of. During 
the closing months of the year, and the opening 
months of the year following, the inside was exposed 
to the weather while the building was taking on a 
new front; but in such a climate this was no hard- 
ship. At night we closed the opening with empty 
boxes, and I turned into a cot bed under the counter 
to sleep; in the morning I arose, removed the boxes, 
swept the premises, put the stock in order, breakfasted, 
and was then ready to post books, sell goods, or carry 
bundles, according to the requirements of the hour. 
We let two offices, one to Mr Woods, the broker, and 
one to Jonathan Hunt, insurance agent, and thus re- 
duced our rent one third, the original sum being two 
hundred and fifty dollars a month. With the constant 
fear of failure before me, I worked and watched un- 
ceasingly. Mr Kenny was salesman, for he was much 
more familiar with the business than I; he possessed 
many friends and had already a good trade estab- 
lished. Affairs progressed smoothly ; we worked hard 
and made money, first slowly, then faster. Times were 
exceedingly dull. Year after year the gold crop had 
diminished; or if not diminished, it required twice the 
labor and capital to produce former results. Stocks 
had accumulated, merchants had fallen in arrears, and 
business depression was far greater than at any time 
since the discovery of gold. In the vernacular of the 
day, trade had touched bottom. But hard times are 
the very best of times in which to plant and nourish 
a permanent business. Hard times lead to careful 
trading and thrift; flush times to recklessness and 
overdoing. On every side of us old firms were falling 



to pieces, and old merchants were forced out of busi- 
ness. The term 'old' was then applied to firms of 
five or six years' standing. This made me all the 
more nervous about success. But we had every ad- 
vantage; our stock was good and well bought, our 
credit excellent, our expenses light, and gradually the 
business grew. 

Toward the end of the first year the idea struck me 
that I might use my credit further, without assuming 
much more responsibility, by obtaining consignments 
of goods in place of buying large quantities outright. 
But this would involve my going east to make the 
arrangements, and, as Mr Kenny would thus be left 
alone, I proposed to Mr Hunt, whose acquaintance 
had ripened into friendship, to join us, contribute a 
certain amount of capital, and take a third interest 
in the partnership. The proposition was accepted. 
Mr Hunt came into the firm, the name of which re- 
mained unchanged, and soon after, that is to say in 
the autumn of 1857, I sailed for New York. My 
plan was successful. I readily obtained goods on the 
terms asked to the amount of sixty or seventy thou- 
sand dollars, which added largely to our facilities. 

Before returning to California, which was in the 
spring of 1858, I visited my parents, then living as 
happily as ever in Granville. My views of life had 
changed somewhat since I had left my boyhood home, 
and later they changed still more. I was well enough 
satisfied then with the choice I had made in foregoing 
the benefits of a college course, and my mind is much 
more clear upon the subject now than then. 

Were a boy of mine to ask me to-day, ''Shall I en- 
ter college?" I should inquire, "For what purpose? 
What do you intend to do or to be? Are you satis- 
fied with your position and possessions, or shall you 
desire fame or wealth? If the former, then in what 
direction ? Have you a taste for languages and liter- 
ature; would you be a preacher, or professor, or presi- 
dent of a university; has statesmanship attractions for 


you — the pure and unadulterated article I mean, not 
demagogisnij or the ordinary path of the politician? 
If so, a classical education, as a tool of the trade, 
might be of use to you. But for almost anything 
else it would be a downright disadvantage, the time 
spent upon it being worse than thrown away. I 
know you would not be a clergymen; you love the 
natural and truthful too well. You would not be a 
lawyer, having no mental or moral abilities to sell for 
money; you could not reduce the equities wholly to 
a traffic, or study law that with it you may spend 
your life in defeating the ends of justice, or place 
yourself in a position where you are expected to ad- 
vocate either side of any proposition for pay. You 
would not adopt a profession based upon butchering 
principles, or spend your life wrangling for money in 
the quarrels of other men. In regard to the calling 
of the medical man, while it is not ignoble, I do not 
imagine that you have any fancy that way." ''Well, 
then, a scientific course?" I should say that might 
do; but would it not be well for the young man first to 
think it over a little, and determine — not irrevocably, 
but as far as an intelligent youth with some degree of 
an understanding of himself can reasonablj^ do — what 
calling or pursuit in life he would like to follow, and 
then study with that end in view ? To be a black- 
smith, the wise boy will scarcely apprentice himself to 
a shoemaker. If his am.bition is to be a great artist, 
he will not spend the best portions of his best days 
in music or oratory. If wealth is his object, a com- 
mercial or industrial career is the place for him ; and 
if he would do his best, he will begin upon it early, 
and let colleges alone altogether. Often is the ques- 
tion asked, but seldom answered, ''Where are your 
college men?" Few of them, indeed, put in an ap- 
pearance among those who move the world or conduct 
the great affairs of life. 

In all this that relates to a calling and a career, it 
is well to consider our point of view, whether our 


chief purpose is to be or to do, to formulate or be 
formulated. It is one thing to make money, and 
quite another to be made by money. 

While stopping in Buffalo once more I made the 
acquaintance of Miss Emily Ketchum, daughter of 
a highly respected and prominent citizen of the 
place, and of whom my sister Mrs Palmer was loud in 
praise. Her face was not what one would call beau- 
tiful, but it was very refined, very sweet. She was tall, 
with light hair and eyes, exquisitely formed, and very 
graceful. Her mind was far above the average female 
intellect, and well cultivated; she was exceedingly 
bright in conversation, and with a ready wit possessed 
keen common-sense. Her well trained voice in sing- 
ing was one of the sweetest I ever heard. I was 
captivated and soon determined to marry her — if I 
could. My time was short; I must return to my 
affairs immediately. We had not met half a dozen 
times before I called one afternoon to say good-by. 
She was entirely unconscious of having aroused any 
special interest in me, and as a matter of course I 
could not then make a proposal. 

What to do I did not know. I could not leave 
matters as they were and go back to California to be 
absent perhaps for years, and yet I could not speak 
my heart. I dared not even ask if I might write, lest 
I should frighten her. At last fortune came to my 
relief The young woman had lately become deeply 
interested in religion, was a new convert, as she said, 
though her whole life had been one of the strictest 
religious training. Naturally she was keen for prose- 
lytes, and evidently took me for a heathen, one of 
the worst sort, a California heathen. Zealously she 
attacked me, therefore, her eyes sparkling, her cheeks, 
glowing, her whole soul lit with inspiration in proclaim- 
ing the blessedness of her faith. I listened attentively; 
I could have listened had she been demonstrating a 
problem in Euclid, or talking of Queen Victoria's new 


bonnet. After a three hours' session, during which 
by dropping here and there a penitent word the fire 
of her enthusiasm had been kept ablaze, I rose to 
take my leave. 

^^ Absorbed in business as I am/' I said, '^away from 
home and its hallowing influences, worship is neglected 
and piety grows cold. Had I you to remind me of 
my duty now and then I might do better." 

^^ Would that I could be of such assistance to you/' 
she replied. 

'' You can." 

'^ How?" she asked. 

'^ Write me occasionally." 

'^ I will," was the prompt response. 

It was enough, more than I had expected, better 
than I could have hoped for: I had her promise to 
write — little cared I what she wrote about — and then, 
of course, I could write to her. My heart was light, 
the barrier of conventionalism was broken. 

Nor did I forget her sermon. I remembered it on 
the railway journey to New York; I remembered it 
on the steamer deck, down in the tropics, as I gazed 
up into the starlit sky and thought of her and her 
sweet words. And I vowed to be a better man, one 
more worthy of her. I remembered it when on reach- 
ing San Francisco I put my brains in my pocket and 
joined the good people of Calvary church in their 
march heavenward. I remembered it at the Sabbath- 
school where I taught, at the prayer-meetings which 
I attended. All through the religious life which for 
the next ten years I so strictly led I never forgot 
her, for she was with me, with her holy living and 
that dear love and fond devotion of which in part 
she robbed God to bestow on me. 

Indeed and in truth I was earnest in my profession 
both of love and of godliness ; and my love was crowned 
with success, for during the next visit east I married 
Emily Ketchum. My godliness, uhi lapsus? For 
ten years I was of the strictest sect a devotee. I 


paid tithes, attended to all the ordinances of religion, 
would not even look at a secular newspaper on the 
sabbath; I sank my reason in reasonless dogmas, and 
blindly abandoned myself to blind teachers. Of a 
verity mine was the Jides carbonarii; I believed what 
the church believed, and the church believed what I 
believed. Now, what I believe God knoweth; what 
the church believes God knoweth. Belief is based on 
blindness: faith in things unseen and unknown is 
made a merit; reason is repudiated, but mine will 
work whether I will or no. 

I will only glance over the leading events of the 
next twelve years, and hasten to the subject-mat- 
ter of this book. Shortly after my return to San 
Francisco, to make room for the large additions to 
our stock, we rented two rooms fronting on Merchant 
street, in the rear of our store, cutting through the 
partition wall to give us access from the Montgomery- 
street store. Subsequently we occupied the whole 
building on Merchant street, forty by sixty feet, three 
stories. During the next year Mr Hunt withdrew 
from the partnership. Meanwhile, though little more 
than a boy myself, I gave special attention to my 
boys. I was determined that my establishment 
should be a model of order, morality, and disci- 
pline. At once studying them and teaching them, 
of some I made salesmen, of others book-keepers, 
giving to the brightest and most devoted leaderships. 

In the spring of 1859 I again visited the east, and 
in the autumn of that year my marriage took place, 
which was in this wise: The sacred correspondence 
had long since been cut off. To the parents the device 
was altogether too transparent. On reaching Buffalo 
I immediately presented myself, and found the lady 
amiable and tractable. I told her I had come to 
marry her; in reply she declared herself willing, but 
feared her parents would object to her going so far 
from them. That night I left for Ohio, to give time 


for consideration. In three weeks I returned and asked 
her if she was ready. For herself, yes, but she would 
not leave her father and mother without their full 
and free assent; so to the father and mother I went. 
They sighed and hesitated; I desired a 'yes' or 'no/ 
and receiving neither that night I left for New York. 
This time I remained away six weeks, and on return- 
ing all was happiness. In due time the ceremony was 
performed and we sailed for California. The first two 
years we lived on Harrison street, between First and 
Second streets, and there my daughter Kate was born. 
Afterward we passed certain seasons at Oakland and 

In 1860 my father was appointed by President 
Lincoln Indian agent in Washington territory, and 
took up his residence at Fort Simcoe. My mother 
soon joined him, and also my youngest sister, Mary, 
who afterward married Mr T. B. Trevett. After the 
expiration of the term, four years, my parents settled 
in San Francisco, and Mrs Trevett in Portland, 

Having now an abundance of means at my com- 
mand, I determined to establish a branch in the 
stationery business among the wholesale houses, as we 
had little of that trade. To this Mr Kenny took ex- 
ceptions. I persisting, he withdrew; the stock was 
divided, and he joining his brother-in-law, Mr Alex- 
ander, they opened a shop opposite to me. Naturally 
enough we quarrelled; he brought suit against me, 
but, remembering our long friendship, before the case 
came up for trial I went to him and told him he should 
have all he demanded. Immediately we became friends 
again; and this was our first and last unpleasantness. 

As I was now alone, I closed the stationery branch, 
and moved the stock to the Montgomery street store, 
where I could better control matters. Scarcely was 
this done when the political sky darkened ; then roared 
rebellion ; and for the next five years fortunes were 
thrust on Californian merchants from the rise in gold, 


or rather from the depreciation of the currency in 
which they paid their debts — fortunes which otherwise 
could never have been accumulated but by genera- 
tions of successful trade. 

In January, 1862, my wife made a visit to her friends 
at home, and the following summer I took a hurried 
trip to London, Paris, New York, and Buffalo, bring- 
ing her back with me. This knocking about the 
world, with the time which it forced from business 
devoted to observation and thought under new con- 
ditions, was a great educator. It was then that am- 
bition became fired, and ideas came rushing in on me 
faster than I could handle them. Notwithstanding I 
had read and studied somewhat, yet the old world, 
with its antique works and ways, seen by the eye of 
inexperience, was at once a romance and a revelation. 
In 1866-7 I spent a year in Europe with my wife, 
made the tour of Great Britain and the continent, 
came back to Buffalo, and there remained the following 
winter, visited Washington in the spring, and returned 
to San Francisco in the autumn of 1868. 

Meanwhile the business had assumed such pro- 
portions that more room was absolutely necessary. 
Althouo'h it had two store-rooms on Commercial 
street, and suffered the inconvenience of having the 
stock divided; and although we had goods stored in 
warehouses, we were still very crowded. My friends 
had long desired that I should build, and had been 
looking for a suitable place for years without finding 
one. In the selection of a site two points were to be 
regarded, locality and depth of lot. Without the one 
our trade would suffer, and without the other, in order 
to obtain the amount of room necessary, so much 
frontage on the street would be taken up as to make 
the property too costly for the business to carry. In 
regard to the site, if we could not obtain exactly what 
we would like we must take what we could get. 

Following Montgomery and Kearny streets out to 


Market, we examined every piece of property and 
found nothing ; then out Market to Third street, and 
beyond, where after some difficulty, and by paying a 
large price to five different owners, I succeeded in 
obtaining seven lots together, three on Market street 
and four on Stevenson street, making in all a little 
more than seventy-five by one hundred and seventy 
feet. This was regarded as far beyond business limits 
at the time, but it was the best I could do, and in 
six or seven years a more desirable location could not 
be found in the city. 

It w^as one of the turning-points of my life, this 
move to Market street. Had I been of a tempera- 
ment to hasten less rapidly ; had I remained content 
to plod along after the old method, out of debt and 
danger, with no thought of anything further than 
accumulation and investmeiit, for self and family, for 
this world and the next world, a comfortable place in 
both being the whole of it — the map of my destiny, 
as well as that of many others, would present quite a 
different appearance. But like all else that God or- 
dains, it is better as it is. The truth is, my frequent 
absence from business had weaned me from it — this, 
and the constantly recurring question which kept forc- 
ing itself on my mind, ^^Is he not worse than a fool 
who labors for more when he has enough ; worse than 
a swine who stuffs himself when he is already full?" 
If I could turn my back upon it all, it would add to 
my days, if that were any benefit. Had I known 
what was before me I would probably have retired 
from business at the time, but in my employ were as 
fine a company of young men, grown up under my 
own eye and teachings, as ever 1 saw in any mercan- 
tile establishment, and I had not the heart to break 
in pieces the commercial structure which with their 
assistance I had reared, and turn them adrift upon 
the world. 

In Europe, for the first time in my life, I had 


encountered a class of people who deemed it a dis- 
grace to engage in trade. Many I had seen who 
were too proud or too lazy to work, but never be- 
fore had come to my notice those who would not if 
they could make money, though it involved no manual 
labor. Here the idea seemed first to strike me, and I 
asked myself, Is there then in this world something 
better than money that these men should scorn to soil 
their fingers with it? Now I never yet was ashamed 
of my occupation, and I hope never to be; otherwise 
I should endeavor speedily to lay it aside. Nor do I 
conceive any more disgrace attached to laboring with 
the hands than with the head. I feel no more sense of 
shame when carrying a bundle or nailing up a box of 
goods than when signing a check, or writing history, 
or riding in the park. A banker is necessarily neither 
better nor worse per se than a boot-black, though, 
if obliged to chose, I would adopt the former calling, 
because it is more important, and productive of greater 
results. The consuming of my soul on the altar of 
avarice I objected to, not work. I have worked twice, 
ten times, as hard writing books as ever I did selling 
books. But for the occasional breaking away from 
business, long enough for my thoughts to form for 
themselves new channels, I should have been a slave 
to it till this day, for no one was more interested and 
absorbed in money-making while engaged in it than I. 
In accordance with my purposes, then, historical 
and professional, in 1869 I began building. Already 
I had in contemplation a costly dwelling, parts of 
which had been constructed in England and at the 
east, and shipped hither from time to time, till a great 
mass of material had accumulated which must be put 
together. I resolved, somewhat recklessly, to make 
one affair of it all, and build a store and dwelling-house 
at the same time, and have done with it. Times were 
then good, business was steady, and with the ex- 
perience of thirteen years behind me I thought I 
could calculate closely enough in money matters not 


to be troubled. Consequently my plans were drawn, 
I ordered my material, gave out contracts for the sev- 
eral parts, and soon a hundred men or more were at 

And now began a series of the severest trials of 
my life, trials which I gladly would have escaped in 
death, thanking the merciless monster had he finished 
the work which was half done. In December, 1869, 
my wife died. Other men's wives had died before, and 
left them, I suppose, as crushed as I was; but mine 
had never died, and I knew not what it was to disjoin 
and bury that part of myself That which comes to 
every one, in coming to me for the first time brought 
surprise. If my sorrow had been the only sorrow of 
the kind inflicted on the race I might publish it with 
loud lamentations for the entertainment of mankind; 
but all know of death, and its effects, though none 
know what it is. It is not a very pleasant sensation, 
that of being entirely alone in the universe, that of 
being on not very good terms with the invisible, and 
caring little or nothing for the visible. Oh the weari- 
some sun! I cried, will it never cease shining? Will 
the evening never cease its visitation, or the river its 
flow? Must the green grass always grow, and must 
birds always sing? True, I had my little daughter; 
God bless her ! but when night after night she sobbed 
herself to sleep upon my breast, it only made me 
angry that I could not help her. Behold the quin- 
tessence of folly ! to mourn for that which is inevitable 
to all, to be incensed at inexorable fate, to remain for 
years sullen over the mysterious ways of the un- 
knowable. I tried prayer for relief both before and 
after her death; if ever one of God's creatures prayed 
earnestly and honestly, with clean uplifted hands, in 
faith nothing doubting, that one was myself But all 
was of no avail. Then I began to think, and to ask 
myself if ever a prayer of mine had been answered; 
or if to any one who ever lived was given, to a cer- 
tainty, not as seen alone through the eyes of faith, the 


thing he asked because he asked it. And I com- 
plained; the light of my soul put out — wherefore? 
Not in punishment, as some would say, else God is 
not just, because many more wicked than I are not so 
afflicted. I would not treat my worst enemy, let alone 
my child, as God deals with me, whom he professes 
to love more than I love my child. But the ways of 
God are past finding out, saith the preacher. Then 
why preach to me as though you had found them out? 
Sent hither without our will, thrust hence against our 
will — ^be still, my heart, you know not what you say! 

It is beautiful, this world, and life is lovely. Death 
presents no pleasing prospect. Mortal or immortal, 
the soul dissolved or hied to realms of bliss; that 
mighty miracle, the intellect, which here moves moun- 
tains, laughs at the sea, and subjects all things earthly — 
this subtile intelligence that knows it is, evaporated, 
returned to gas, to cosmic force, to Nirvana, or hover- 
ing mute and inane in space ; to close the eyes to this 
fair world, to the bright sun, the gorgeous landscape, 
and the sparkling waters; to close the mouth to its 
draughts of life-inspiring air; and the boxed body to 
consign to its slimy walled dungeon, there to fatten 
worms, seems scarcely a fitting end for so much care, 
so much straining at higher planes of existence. Bet- 
ter befitting death, judging from all we can see of it, 
is a Dives' life, wherein pleasure is the only profit, 
than a threescore and ten years of self-denial, strug- 
gling for attainments only to be dissipated in the end. 
horrible nightmare of a possible future non-exist- 
ence ! Better never to have been than to have been 
and not to be; else to what purpose this life of dis- 
pensations? Some say they desire death, but few 
such I believe. Death is ever at the bidding of those 
who seek him. Such are either half-crazed with 
morbid grief, or drunk with pride and egotism, or 
smitten with coward fear. No healthy mind is anx- 
ious to cast itself into the boundless, mysterious, 


unknown beyond. Fanatics, Christians, Mohamme- 
dans, savages, may dethrone sense, set up and hug 
to blindness a fancied paradise or happy hunting- 
ground in the behef that to die is to gain, yet none 
are more chary of risking their precious lives upon it 
than these. 

Life and death are most stupendous mysteries, death 
not more than life, being simply not being. One thing 
alone might ever make me covet death, and that would 
be an eager anxiety to know what it is, and what is 
beyond it. But millions know this, or are beyond the 
knowing of it; and when in an average good humor, 
though I be as thirsty for truth as Odin, who gave 
one eye to drink of the waters of Mimir's well where- 
in all knowledge lay concealed, I am willing to wait 
the few short swiftly w^hirling years left to me. 

It is a fearful thing thus to go forth into the black- 
ness, but still harder to endure to let wife or little 
one grope thither alone. Give me, O God, no food 
for m}^ hungry love, else snatch it not from me ere I 
have scarcely tasted it ! For her who so lately clung 
to me as to an anchor of safety, who so often opened 
upon me the eyes of her inward mute pride and conso- 
lation, to be as by rude hands hurried hence seemed 
not heavenly to me. Not until the fire lighted by 
disease had spent itself, not until the hectic flush had 
faded, and the fever heat had fled, leaving the heart still 
and the limbs cold, did love forsake the glazing eye, or 
those fleshless fingers cease to press the clasped hand. 

She is gone, and who cares? Neither deities nor 
men. The world laughs, and swears, and cheats as 
hitherto. The undertaker's long face of mercenary 
solemnity haunts you ; the hustling crowd, careless of 
your cankering grief, madden you. There go the 
word- wise Avhippers-in of Charon, the doctors, with 
their luxurious equipages drawn by sleek horses, the 
gift of hell-feeding Hermes ; scarce enough they make 
themselves their work being done — so ran my bitter 


It is difficult even for a philosopher to separate 
sorrow and gloom from death. When at the demise 
of Socrates, Plato wished to cheer and comfort Apol- 
lodorus, the disciple of the great deceased, so great 
indeed that neither death nor time could rob him of 
his greatness, he offered him a cup of wine ; where- 
upon Apollodorus replied indignantly, "I would rather 
have pledged Socrates in his hemlock than you in this 
wine." '^Animus sequus optimum est serumnse condi- 
mentum," says Plautus, which is all very well as a 
maxim. There is no doubt that a well balanced mind 
is the best remedy against afflictions, but great grief 
often throws mind out of balance, so that, the remedy 
being absent, the application fails. 

It often strikes me strangely to hear dead men's dis- 
courses on death, to read what matchless Shakespeare 
says of it, and proud, imperious Byron, and subtile- 
sensed Shelley, and Aristotle, Plato, and the rest. Pity 
'tis we cannot now speak the word that tells us what 
death is, we who have yet to die. 

The burden of my loss was laid upon me gradually ; 
it was not felt in its fullest force at first; it was only 
as the years passed by that I could fully realize it. 
Occupation is the antidote to grief; give me work or 
I die ; work which shall be to me a nepenthe to oblit- 
erate all sorrows. And work enough I had, but it 
was of the exasperating and not of the soothing kind. 
If I could have shut myself up, away from the world, 
and absorbed my mind in pursuit of whatever was 
most congenial to it, that would have been medicine 
indeed. Cicero found far more consolation in the 
diversion of thought incident to the writing of his 
philosophical treatises, than in the philosophy they 
contained. But this was denied me. It was building 
and business, grown doubly hateful now that she for 
whom I chiefly labored had gone. I stayed the work- 
men on the house, and let it stand, a ghastly spectacle 
to the neighborhood for over a year; then I finished 
it, thinking it well enough to save the material. The 

Lit. Ind. 11 


carpenters still hammered away on the store building, 
and completed it in April, 1870. 

The business was now one of the most extensive 
of the kind in the world. It was divided into nine 
departments, each in charge of an experienced and 
responsible head, with the requisite number of assist- 
ants, and each in itself as large as an ordinary business 
in our line of trade. But this was not enough. Thus 
far it was purely a mercantile and publishing house. 
To make it perfect, complete, and symmetrical, manu- 
facturing must be added. This I had long been am- 
bitious of doing, but was prevented by lack of room. 
Now this obstacle was removed, and I determined to 
try the experiment. The mercantile stock was brought 
up and properly arranged in the different departments 
on the first and second floors and basement, on one 
side of the new building. These rooms were each 
thirty-five by one hundred and seventy feet. On the 
third and fourth floors respectively were placed a 
printing-office and bookbindery, each covering the 
entire ground of the building, seventy- five by one 
hundred and seventy feet. To accomplish this more 
easily and economically several small establishments 
were purchased and moved with their business into 
the new premises, such as a printing, an engraving, 
a lithographing, and a stationery establishment. A 
steam-engine was placed in the basement to drive 
the machinery above, and an artesian well was dug 
to supply the premises with water. A department 
of music and pianos was also added. My library of 
Pacific coast books was alphabetically arranged on the 
fifth floor, which was of the same dimensions as the 
rooms below. Then I changed the name of the 
business, the initial letters only, my responsibility, 
however, remaining the same. The idea was not emi- 
nently practicable, I will admit, that I should expect 
to remain at the head of a large and intricate business, 
involving many interests and accompanied by endless 
detail, and see it continue its successful course, and at 


the same time withdraw my thoughts and attention 
from it so as to do justice to any hterary or historical 
undertaking. "How dared you undertake crossing 
the Sierra?" the pioneer railroad men were asked. 

" Because we were not railroad men," was the 

Thus, I felt, was ended the first episode of my life. 
I had begun with nothing, building up by my own 
individual efforts, in sixteen years, a mammoth busi- 
ness of which I might justly feel proud. I had 
schooled from the rudiments, and carried them 
through all the ramifications and complications of 
that business, a score and more of active and intelli- 
gent young men, each competent to take the lead in 
his department, and of them I was proud. Arrived 
at that estate where money-making had ceased to be 
the chief pleasure, I might now retire into idleness, or 
begin life anew. The short spurt of self-consciousness 
vouchsafed our vitality ought not all to be spent in 
getting ready to live. 

But this was not yet to be. I must first pay the 
penalty of overdoing, a penalty which in my business 
career I have oftener paid than the penalty arising 
from lack of energy. That I had built simultaneously 
a fine store and an expensive dwelling was no mark 
of folly, for my finances were such that I could afford 
it. That I had reorganized the business, spread it out 
upon a new basis, doubled its capacity, and doubled 
its expenses, was no mark of folly, for every depart- 
ment, both of the mercantile and manufacturing parts, 
had grown into existence. There was nothing about 
the establishment theoretical, fanciful, or speculative 
in character. All was eminently practical, the re- 
sult of natural growth. The business extended from 
British Columbia to Mexico, and over to the Hawaiian 
islands, Japan, and China, and was in a flourishing 
condition ; and reports from the heads of the several 
departments showed its status every month. That it 


should successfully carry us through the most trying 
time which was to follow, amply proves that its con- 
dition was not unsound, nor its establishment on such 
a basis impracticable. 

Woes, however, were at hand. First appeared one 
following the opening of the Pacific railway. This 
grand event, so ardently desired, and so earnestly 
advocated on both sides of the continent since the 
occupation of the country by Anglo-Americans, was 
celebrated with guns, and banners, and music, as if the 
millennium had come; and every one thought it had. 
There were many afterward who said they knew and 
affirmed it at the time that this road at first would 
bring nothing but financial disaster and ruin to Cali- 
fornia, but before such disaster and ruin came I 
for one heard nothing of its approach. On the con- 
trary, though prices of real estate were already in- 
flated, and the city had been laid out in homestead 
lots for a distance of ten miles round, and sold at rates 
in keeping with a population of three millions, the 
universal impression was that prices would go higher 
and that every one on completion of the railway would 
be rich. But every one did not become rich. Every 
one wanted to sell, and could not, and there was a gen- 
eral collapse. For five years the best and most central 
property remained stationary, with scarcely a move- 
ment in all that time, while outside property fell in 
some cases to one tenth its former estimated value. 

Business was likewise revolutionized. Immediately 
the railway was in running order the attention of 
buyers throughout the country, large and small, was 
turned tow^ard the east. ''We can now purchase in 
New York as well as in San Francisco," they said, 
"and save one profit." Consequently prices in San 
Francisco fell far below remunerative rates, and the 
question with our jobbers was, not whether they could 
make as much money as formerly, but whether they 
could do business at all. Some classes of business 
were obliged to succumb, and many merchants failed. 



Large stocks, accumulated at low rates during the 
war when currency was at a discount of from twenty- 
five to fifty per cent, were thrown upon the market, 
and prices of many articles ruled far below the cost of 
reproduction. Thus, with heavy expenses and no 
profits, affairs began to look ominous. At such times 
a large, broadly extended business is much more 
unwieldy than a small one. Certain expenses are 
necessary; it is impossible to reduce them in pro- 
portion to the shrinkage of prices and the stagnation 
of trade. 

More was yet to come. As all Californians well 
know, the prosperity of a season depends on the rain- 
fall. Sometimes the effects of one dry winter may be 
bridged over by a prosperous year before and after. 
But when two or three dry seasons come together the 
result is most disastrous, and a year or two of favor- 
able rains are usually required before the state entirely 
recuperates. As if to try the endurance of our mer- 
chants to the utmost, three dry winters and ^ve 
long years of hard times followed the opening of the 
railway. That so many lived through them is the 
wonder. That my business especially did not fail, 
with such an accumulation of untoward circumstances, 
proved conclusively that it was sound and well man- 
aged. Building has ruined many a man; I had 
built. Branching out has ruined many a man; I 
had branched. The fall in real estate, the revolution 
in profits incident to the opening of the railway, and 
the dry seasons, each of these has severally ruined 
many men. All these came upon me at one time, 
and yet the house lived through it. 

It may easily be seen that to draw one's mind from 
business at such a time and fix it on literary pursuits 
was no easy matter. Cares, like flies, buzz perpetu- 
ally in one's ears; lock the door, and they creep in 
through invisible apertures. Yet I attempted it, 
though at first with indifferent success. The work 
on the fifth floor, hereinafter to be described, was 


not always regarded with favor by those of the other 
floors. It drew money from the business, which 
remaining might be the means of saving it from 
destruction. It allured the attention of one whose 
presence might be the salvation of the establishment. 
After all it was but a hobby, and would result in 
neither profit nor honor. Of course I could do as I 
liked with my own, but was it not folly to jeopardize 
the life of the business to gain a few years of time for 
profitless work? Would it not be better to wait till 
times were better, till money could be spared, and 
danger was passed? 

Although the years of financial uncertainty that 
followed the completion of the railway were thus 
withering to my work, gloomy and depressing, yet 
I persisted. Day after day, and year after year, I 
lavished time and money in the vain attempt to ac- 
complish I knew not what. It was something I 
desired to do, and I was determined to find out what 
it was, and then to do it if I could. Although my 
mind was in anything but a condition suitable for 
the task, I felt in no mood to wait. Every day, or 
month, or year delayed was so much taken from my 
life. My age — thirty-seven or thereabout — was some- 
what advanced for undertaking a literary work of any 
magnitude, and no time must be lost. Such was my 
infatuation that I would not have hesitated, any mo- 
ment these dozen years, had the question arisen to 
abandon the business or my plan. I did not consider 
it right to bring disaster on others, but I never believed 
that such a result would follow my course. True, it 
is one thing to originate a business and quite another 
to maintain it; yet I felt that the heads of depart- 
ments were competent to manage affairs, reporting to 
me every month. The business was paying well, and 
I would restrict my expenditures in every otlier way 
except to forego or delay a work which had become 
dearer to me than life. So I toiled on with greater 
or less success, oftentimes with a heavy heart and a 




heated brain, tired out, discouraged, not knowing 
if ever I should be permitted to complete anything 
I had undertaken, in which event all would be lost. I 
toiled as if divinely commissioned, though dealing less 
and less in divinity. I was constrained to the effort, 
if any one can tell what that is. 

It was between the hours of work that I ex- 
perienced the greatest depression; once at my table 
and fairly launched upon my writing, I was absorbed 
by it, and forgot for the time the risks I was taking. 

This season of trial was not without its benefits. 
It forced upon me a species of self-abnegation which 
I might never otherwise have attained. Had pleasure 
been pleasurable to me; had I been able to enjoy high 
living and extravagant expenditures with my affairs 
in so uncertain a state, or had my finances been such 
as to enable me without stint to enjoy gentlemanly 
leisure, or literary or other idling, it is doubtful 
whether I could have mustered courage and persist- 
ence to carry forward my undertaking, or rather to 
undertake it. One knows not what can be done or 
suffered until necessity makes the demand. It was a 
trial of temper which well-nigh proved fatal. My life 
during these years was a series of excesses, the very 
worst state into which a man can fall — excess of 
work, followed by its natural reaction, and ending in 
ill health and despondency. Work is the amethystine 
antidote to every excess, except excess of work. 

In time, however, the clouds cleared; the wheels 
of business revolved with smoothness and regularity; 
my work assumed shape, part of it was finished and 
praised; letters of encouragement came pouring in 
like healthful breezes to the heated brow; I acquired 
a name, and all men smiled upon me. Then I built 
Babylonian towers, and climbing heavenward peered 
into paradise. 



Still am I besy bokes assemblynge ; 

For to have plenty, it is a pleasaunt thynge. 


Thus far, all through life, had my intellectual being 
craved ever more substantial nutriment. While in 
business I was Mammon's devotee ; yet money did not 
satisfy me. Religion tended rather to excite longings 
than to allay them. Religionists would say I did 
not have enough of it, if indeed I had any at all — in 
other words I was not doctrinally dead drunk. Yet 
I fasted and prayed, prayed as if to enlist all the 
forces of heaven to make a man of me, and fancied 
I had faith, fancied I saw miracles wrought in my 
behalf and mountains removed; though later, when 
my eyes were opened and my prejudices melted by 
the light of reason, even as the sun dispels the fog, 
I saw the mountains standing just where they were. 
Yet for a time I revelled in the delights of fanaticism. 
The feeling that in God's presence and before the 
very eyes of interested omnipotence I was conscien- 
tiously accomplishing my duties, this gave a consola-i 
tion that the drudgery of Sunday-school efforts, or 
even the overwhelming shame of breaking down in] 
prayer-meeting, could not wholly eradicate. Neverthe- 
less, saintship sat not gracefully upon me. I knew 
myself to be not what I professed to be, better or dif- 
ferent from other sinners, any more than were those 
who sat in the pews around me ; so I struggled, beat- 
ing the air and longing for a more realistic existence. 


A NEW LIFE. 169 

I could not understand it then, but I see it clearly 
now. It was the enlargement and ennoblement of 
the immaterial Me that I longed for. My intellect 
seemed caged in brass, and my soul smothered in the 
cheating mannerisms of society. Often I asked my- 
self, Is this then all of life? to heap up merchandise 
for those who come after me to scatter, and to listen 
on Sundays to the stupid reiteration of dead formulas ? 
Insatiable grew my craving; and I said, I will die now 
in order that I may live a little before I die. I will 
die to the past, to money getting, to station rooting; 
I will take a straight look upward and beyond, and see 
if I can realize religion ; I will unlock the cage of my 
thoughts and let them roam w4iithersoever they will; 
better, I will bare my soul to its maker, and throw 
myself, as he made me, humbly and trustingly on him. 
Away with the continual quaking fear of God's wrath, 
like that of the savage who hears his demon howl in 
the tempest; away with the fashionable superstitions 
of society, that sap manliness and lay burdens upon 
us that would shame an African slave to bear ! Span- 
ning the circle of knowledge, which sweeps round from 
the beginning of knowledge to the present time, hence- 
forth I will consider with Socrates, ^'how I shall pre- 
sent my soul whole and undefiled before the judge in 
that day. Renouncing the honors at which the world 
aims, I desire only to know the truth, to live as well 
as I can, and when the time comes, to die." 

Ah ! this gradual unloading of hope, as slowly along 
the riper years of our experience we awake from the 
purple colorings of youth to a sense of what and where 
we are. Mothers should be careful regarding the 
stories they tell their children, lest their minds remain 
always infantile. Cicero would not, while he lived, 
have his mistaken beUef in the immortality of the soul 
uprooted, if it were a mistaken belief. But Cicero me 
no Ciceros. I would know the truth. Though death 
is a hideous thing, I would not have mine sugar-coated 
with a lie. Intellectual cultivation implies thinking, 


and thinking tends to weaken faith. There is no help 
for it. At the border land of faith reason must pause. 
To know, you must question; once question and you 
are lost. The will can accomplish its purpose only by 
resolutely shutting the eyes and plunging itself into 
the blackness of reasonless belief; just as in any 
kind of human development one part can reach its 
fullest attainment only at the expense of another part, 
and the moment you attempt to strike the happy 
mean you topple over to the other side. If nothing 
else, nihilism is quickly reached; just as Spinoza, in 
abandoning Judaism without accepting Christianity, 
became, as some said, the blank leaf between the old 
testament and the new. 

Mind progresses in surges. An age of skepticism 
succeeds an age of faith. History separates civiliza- 
tion into periods, now organic and affirmative, now 
critical and negative; at one time creeds and convic- 
tions are established and developed, at another time 
they grow old and die or are abolished. Greek and 
Roman polytheism, and Christianity, each marked an 
organic period; Greek philosophy, the reformation, 
and modern science, each marked an epoch of skepti- 

There is no higher morality than disinterestedness. 
There is no virtue like intellectual liberty. There is 
no vice so scourging as prejudice. To be the slave of 
sect or party, or to barter truth for pride of opinion, 
is to sell one's soul to the father of lies. I would rather 
be the dog of Diogenes than high-priest of the proudest 
superstition. It is pitiful to see the waves of intel- 
lectual bias on which mankind ride into eternity, to 
realize how little is true of all that is written in books 
and newspapers, of all that is spoken by politicians, 
preachers, men of business, and women of society. 

When Francis Bacon wrote, ''I had rather believe 
all the fables in the legends, and the talmud, and the 
alcoran, than that this universal frame is without 
mind," he did not display that great wisdom for which 


he is accredited. Of course, Bacon was privileged to 
believe what he chose, but what he believed does not 
affect the fact — what anybody believes does not affect 
any fact. This universal frame may not be without 
mind ; let us hope that it is not ; if the universal 
frame has not mind, where does man's intellect come 
from ? Bacon was a great philosopher, but a bad man 
and a mean man — too innately mean and bad ever to 
have written the matchless plays of Shakespeare, in 
my opinion. Plato was also a great philosopher, 
likewise Aristotle and the rest. But the ancients and 
their wisdom, as concerning things spiritual, were as 
devoid of common sense as what is too often preached 
upon the subject to-day, 

A thinking man who deals in facts is skeptical 
before he knows it. To be at all fitted for writing 
history, or indeed for writing anything, a man must 
have at his command a wide range of facts which he 
stands ready to regard fairly and to handle truthfully. 
Unless he is ready to be led wherever truth will take 
him he should leave investigating alone. If he holds 
to shadows and prizes them more than realities, if he 
prefers beliefs to truth, it were better he kept to his 
farm or his merchandise, and let teaching and preach- 
ing alone, for we have enough already of hypocrisy 
and cant. 

And so it was that, as time and my work went on, 
and faith in traditions, in what others had said and 
believed, became weakened; seeing in all that had 
been written so much diversity of opinion, so much 
palpable error and flat contradiction, I found within me 
stronger and ever increasing the desire of independent 
and exact thinking. Still, as the rosy expectations of 
youth are scorched by the light of experience it is 
little comfort to know that one is growing wiser; it 
is little comfort to the eye of faith to have the dimness 
of vision removed, only to see its dearest hopes melt 
into illimitable ether. 


While in Europe and elsewhere every moment of 
my spare time was occupied in historical reading and 
in the study of languages ; yet it seemed like pouring 
water into a sieve. The appetite was ravenous, in- 
creased by what it fed on. Books ! books ! I revelled 
in books. After buying and selhng, after ministering 
to others all my life, I would now enjoy them; I would 
bathe my mind in them till saturated with the better 
part of their contents. And still to this day I cry 
with Horace, Let me have books ! Not as the languid 
pleasure of Montaigne, but as the substantial world 
of Wordsworth. 

I read and crammed my head with basketfuls of facts 
and figures, only to crowd them out and overflow it 
with others. Hundreds of authors I skimmed in rapid 
succession until I knew or felt I knew nothing. Then 
I threw aside reading for a time and let my thoughts 
loose, only to return again to my beloved books. 

Had my mind been able to retain what it received, 
there would have been greater hope of filling it. The 
activities and anxieties of trade had left me unpre- 
pared all at once to digest this great and sudden feast. 
As I have before said, only a trained mind possesses 
the power of pure abstraction. Even reading without 
reflection is a weakening process. It seemed to me I 
had no memory for isolated or individual facts, that 
as yet there was no concretion in my attainments, not 
enough of knowledge within me to coalesce, central- 
ize, or hold together. For many months all seemed 
chaotic, and whatever was thrown into my mental 
reservoir appeared to evaporate, or become nebulous, 
and mingle obscurely with the rest. While in Buflalo, 
after my return from Europe, I wrote somewhat; but 
the winter was spent under a cloud, and it was not until 
after a trip to New York and Washington, and indeed 
a longer one to San Francisco, wherein I was forced 
to pause and reflect, that the sky became bright and 
my mental machinery began to work with precision. 
The transition thus accomplished was like the ending 



of one life and the entering upon another, so different 
and distinct are the two worlds, the world of business 
and the world of letters. 

In an old diary begun the 5th of May, 1859, I find 
written: "To-day I am twenty-seven years of age. 
In my younger days I used to think it praiseworthy 
to keep a diary. I do a great deal of thinking at 
times ; some of it may amount to something, much of 
it does not. I often feel that if I could indulge, to 
the fullest and freest extent, in the simple act of 
discharging my thoughts on paper, it would afford my 
mind some relief." 

To begin at the beginning. In 1859 William H. 
Knight, then in my service as editor and compiler of 
statistical works relative to the Pacific coast, was en- 
gaged in preparing the Hand- Booh Almanac for the 
year 1860. From time to time he asked of me certain 
books required for the work. It occurred to me that 
we should probably have frequent occasion to refer to 
books on California, Oregon, Washington, and Utah, 
and that it might be more convenient to have them 
all together. I always had a taste, more pleasant 
than profitable, for publishing books, for conceiving a 
work and having it wrought out under my direction. 
To this taste may be attributed the origin of half the 
books published in California during the first twenty 
years of its existence as a state, if we except law re- 
ports, legislative proceedings, directories, and compila- 
tions of that character. Yet I have seldom published 
anything but law-books that did not result in a loss 
of money. Books for general reading, miscellaneous 
books in trade vernacular, even if intrinsically good, 
found few purchasers in California. The field was not 
large enough; there were not enough book buyers in 
it to absorb an edition of any work, except a law- 
book, or a book intended as a working tool for a class. 
Lawyers like solid leverage, and in the absence of 
books they are powerless; they cannot afford to be 


without them ; they buy them as mill-men buy stones 
to grind out toll withal. Physicians do not require 
so many books, but some have fine libraries. Two or 
three medical books treating of climate and diseases 
peculiar to California have been published in this 
country with tolerable success; but the medical man 
is by no means so dependent on books as the man of 
law — that is to say, after he has once finished his 
studies and is established in practice. His is a pro- 
fession dependent more on intuition and natural in- 
sight into character and causations, and above all, on 
a thorough understanding of the case, and the closest 
watchfulness in conducting it through intricate and 
ever-changing complications. Poetry has often been 
essayed in California, for the most part doggerel; yet 
should Byron come here and publish for the first time 
his Childe Harold, it would not find buyers enough to 
pay the printer. Even Tuthill's History of California, 
vigorously offered by subscription, did not return the 
cost of plates, paper, press work, and binding. He who 
dances must pay the fiddler. Either the author or the 
publisher must make up his mind to remunerate the 
printer; the people will not till there are more of them, 
and with different tastes. 

By having all the material on California together, 
so that I could see what had been done, I was enabled 
to form a clearer idea of what might be done in the 
way of book-publishing on this coast. Accordingly I 
requested Mr Knight to clear the shelves around his 
desk, and to them I transferred every book I could 
find in my stock having reference to this country. I 
succeeded in getting together some fifty or seventy- 
five volumes. This w^as the origin of my library, 
sometimes called the Pacific Library, but latterly the 
Bancroft Library. I looked at the volumes thus 
brought together, and remarked to Mr Knight, "That 
is doing very well; I did not imagine there were so 

I thought no more of the matter till some time after- 


ward, happening in at the bookstore of Epes Ellery, 
on Washington street, called antiquarian because he 
dealt in second-hand books, though of recent dates, 
my eyes lighted on some old pamphlets, printed at 
different times in California, and it occurred to me to 
add them to the Pacific coast books over Mr Knight's 
desk. This I did, and then examined more thoroughly 
the stocks of Ellery, Carrie and Damon, and the Noisy 
Carrier, and purchased one copy each of all the books, 
pamphlets, magazines, and pictures touching the sub- 
ject. Afterward I found myself looking over the con- 
tents of other shops about town, and stopping at the 
stands on the sidewalk, and buying any scrap of a 
kindred nature which I did not have. Frequently I 
would encounter old books in auction stores, and pam- 
phlets in lawyers' offices, which I immediately bought 
and added to my collection. The next time I visited 
the east, without taking any special trouble to seek 
them, I secured from the second-hand stores and book- 
stalls of New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, what- 
ever fell under my observation. 

Bibliomaniac I was not. This, with every other 
species of lunacy, I disliked. I know nothing morally 
wrong for one possessing the money, and having an 
appetite for old china, furniture, or other relics, to 
hunt it down and buy it ; but it is a taste having no 
practical purpose in view, and therefore never would 
satisfy me. So in books ; to become a collector, 
one should have some object consistent with useful- 
ness. Duplicates, fine bindings, and rare editions, 
seemed to me of less importance than the subject- 
matter of the work. To collect books in an ob- 
jectless, desultory manner is not profitable to either 
mind or purse. Book collecting without a purpose 
may be to some a fascinating pastime, but give it an 
object and you endow it with dignity and nobility. 
Not half the books printed are ever read ; not half the 
books sold are bought to be read. Least of all in the 
rabid bibliomaniac need we look for the well read man. 


It is true that thus far, and for years afterward, I had 
no well defined purpose, further than the original and 
insignificant one, in gathering these books; but with 
the growth of the collection came the purpose. Acci- 
dent first drew me into it, and I continued the pastime 
with vague intent. '^ Very generally," says Herbert 
Spencer, ^' when a man begins to accumulate books he 
ceases to make much use of them;" or, as Disraeli 
puts it: ''A passion for collecting books is not always 
a passion for literature." 

And the rationale of it? Ask a boy why he fills 
his pockets with marbles of different varieties, will- 
ingly giving two of a kind of which he has three for 
one of a kind of which he has none, and his answer 
will be, "To see how many kinds I can get." Collect- 
ors of old china, of coins, of ancient relics, and of nat- 
ural objects, many of them have no higher aim than 
the boy with his marbles, though some of the articles 
may be of greater utility. At the residence of a gen- 
tleman in London I once saw a collection of old china 
which he afiirmed had cost him twenty thousand 
pounds, and his boast was, simply, that his was the 
best and largest in existence. I remember with what 
satisfaction he showed me an old cup and saucer, worth 
intrinsically perhaps half a crown, for which a certain 
nobleman was pining to give him fifty guineas. ^^ But 
he cannot have it, sir! he cannot have it!" cried the 
old virtuoso, rubbing his hands in great glee. After 
all, what are any of us but boys? 

I had a kind of purpose at the beginning, though 
that was speedily overshadowed by the magnitude 
the matter had assumed as the volumes increased. I 
recognized that nothing I could ever accomplish in 
the way of publishing would warrant such an outlay 
as I was then making. It was not long before any 
idea I may have entertained in the way of pecuniary 
return was abandoned ; there was no money in making 
the collection, or in any literary work connected with 
it. Yet certain books I knew to be intrinsically val- 


uable; old, rare, and valuable books would increase 
rather than diminish in value, and as I came upon 
them from time to time I thought it best to secure all 
there were relating to this coast. After all the cost 
in money was not much; it was the time that counted; 
and the time, might it not be as profitable so spent as 
in sipping sugared water on the Paris boulevard, or 
other of the insipid sweets of fashionable society ? It 
was understood from the first that nothing in my col- 
lection was for sale; sometime, I thought, the whole 
might be sold to a library or public institution; but 
I would wait, at least, until the collection was com- 

The library of Richard Heber, the great English 
bibliomaniac, who died in 1833, consisting of about 
140,000 volumes, cost him, when rare books were not 
half so expensive as now, over $900,000, or say seven 
dollars a volume, equivalent at least to fifteen dol- 
lars a volume at the present time. Two hundred and 
sixteen days were occupied in the sale, by auction, of 
this famous collection after the owner's death. And 
there are many instances where collections of books 
have brought fair prices. The directors of the British 
Museum gave Lord Elgin £35,000 for fragments of 
the Athenian Parthenon, collected by him in 1802, 
worth to Great Britain not a tenth part of what the 
Bancroft collection is worth to California. And yet 
I well knew if my library were then sold it would not 
bring its cost, however it might increase in value as 
the years went by. 

I had now, perhaps, a thousand volumes, and began 
to be pretty well satisfied with my efforts. When, 
however, in 1862 I visited London and Paris, and 
rummaged the enormous stocks of second-hand books 
in the hundreds of stores of that class, my eyes began 
to open. I had much more yet to do. And so it was, 
when the collection had reached one thousand volumes 
I fancied I had them all; when it had grown to five 
thousand, I saw it was but begun. As my time was 

Lit. Ind. 12 


short I could then do Httle beyond glancing at the 
most important stocks and fill a dozen cases or so; but 
I determined as soon as I could command the leisure to 
make a thorough search all over Europe and complete 
my collection, if such a thing were possible, which I 
now for the first time began seriously to doubt. 

This opportunity offered itself in 1866, when 
others felt competent to take charge of the business. 
On the I7th of August I landed with my wife at 
Queenstown, spent a week in Dublin, passed from the 
Giant's causeway to Belfast and Edinburgh, and after 
the tour of the lakes proceeded to London. In Ire- 
land and Scotland I found little or nothino:; indeed I 
visited those countries for pleasure rather than for 
books. In London, however, the book mart of the 
world — as in fact it is the mart of most other things 
bought and sold — I might feed my desires to the full. 

During all this time my mind had dwelt more and 
more upon the subject, and the vague ideas of mate- 
rials for history which originally floated through my 
brain began to assume more definite proportions, 
though I had no thought, as yet, of ever attempting 
to write such a history myself. But I was obliged to 
think more or less on the subject in order to determine 
the limits of my collection. So far I had searched 
little for Mexican literature. Books on Lower Cali- 
fornia and northern Mexico I had bought, but Mexican 
history and archaeology proper had been passed over. 
Now the question arose. Where shall I draw the di- 
viding line? The history of California dates back to 
the days of Cortes; or more properly, it begins with 
the expeditions directed northward by Nuno de Guz- 
man, in 1530, and the gradual occupation, during two 
and a quarter centuries, of Nueva Galicia, Nueva 
Vizcaya, and the Californias. The deeds of Guzman, 
his companions, and his successors, the disastrous at- 
tempts of the great Hernan Cortes to explore the 
Pacific seaboard, and the spiritual conquests of the 
new lands by the society of Jesus, I found recorded 


in surviving fragments of secular and ecclesiastical 
archives, in the numerous original papers of the Jesuit 
missionaries, and in the standard works of such writers 
as Mota Padilla, Ribas, Alegre, Frejes, Arricivita, 
and Beaumont, or, of Baja California especially, in 
Venegas, Clavigero, Baegert, and one or two im- 
portant anonymous authorities. The Jesuits were 
good chroniclers; their records, though diffuse, are 
very complete; and from them, by careful work, may 
be formed a satisfactory picture of the period they 

Hence, to gather all the material requisite for a 
complete narrative of events bearing on California, it 
would be necessary to include a large part of the early 
history of Mexico, since the two were so blended as 
to make it impossible to separate them. This I as- 
certained in examining books for California material 
alone. It was my custom when collecting to glance 
through any book which I thought might contain in- 
formation on the territory marked out. I made it no 
part of my duty at this time to inquire into the nature 
or quality of the production ; it might be the soundest 
science or the sickliest of sentimental fiction. I did 
not stop to consider, I did not care, whether the book 
was of any value or not; it was easier and cheaper 
to buy it than to spend time in examining its value. 
Besides, in making such a collection it is impossible to 
determine at a glance what is of value and what is 
not. The most worthless trash may prove some fact 
wherein the best book is deficient, and this makes the 
trash valuable. The thoughtful may learn from the 
stupid much respecting the existence of which the 
possessor himself was ignorant. In no other way 
could I have made the collection so speedily perfect; 
so perfect, indeed, that I have often been astonished, 
in writing on a subject or an epoch, to find how few 
important books were lacking. An investigator should 
have before him all that has been said upon his sub- 
ject; he will then make such use of it as his judgment 


dictates. Nearly every work in existence, or which 
was referred to by the various authorities, I found on 
my shelves. And this was the result of my method 
of collecting, which was to buy everything I could 
obtain, with the view of winnowing the information 
at my leisure. 

Months of precious time I might easily have wasted 
to save a few dollars ; and even then there would have 
been no saving. I would not sell to-day out of the 
collection the most worthless volume for twice its 
cost in money. Every production of every brain is 
worth something, if only to illustrate its own worth- 
lessness. Every thought is worth to me in money the 
cost of transfixing it. Surely I might give the cost 
for what the greatest fool in Christendom should take 
the trouble to print on a subject under consideration. 
As La Fontaine says: '* II n'est rien d'inutile aux 
personnes de sens." Indeed no little honor should 
attach to such distinguished stupidity. 

A book is the cheapest thing in the world. A 
common laborer, with the product of a half day's 
work, may become possessor of the choicest fruits of 
Shakespeare's matchless genius. Long years of prepa- 
ration are followed by long years of patient study and 
a painful bringing-forth, and the results, summed, are 
sold in the shops for a few shillings. And in that mul- 
tiplication of copies by the types, which secures this 
cheapness, there is no diminution of individual value. 
Intrinsically and practically the writings of Plato, 
which I can buy for five dollars, are worth as much 
to me, will improve my mind as much, as if mine was 
the only copy in existence. Ay, they are worth in- 
finitely more ; for if Plato had but one reader on this 
planet, it were as well for that reader he had none. 

Gradually and almost imperceptibly had the area 
of my efforts enlarged. From Oregon it was but a 
step to British Columbia and Alaska; and as I was 
obliged for California to go to Mexico and Spain, it 
finally became settled to my mind to make the west- 


ern half of North America my field, including in it 
the whole of Mexico and Central America. And 
thereupon I searched the histories of Europe for in- 
formation concerning their New World relations; and 
the archives of Spain, Italy, France, and Great Britain 
were in due time examined. 

In London I spent about three months, and went 
faithfully through every catalogue and every stock of 
books likely to contain anything on the Pacific coast. 
Of these there were several score, new and old. It 
was idle to enter a shop and ask the keeper if he had 
any works on California, Mexico, or the Hawaiian 
islands : the answer was invariably No. And though 
I might pick up half a dozen books under his very 
eyes, the answer would still be, if you asked him, No. 
California is a long way from London, much farther 
than London is from California. None but a very 
intelligent bookseller in London knows where to look 
for printed information concerning California. The 
only way is to examine catalogues and search through 
stocks, trusting to no one but yourself. 

Believing that a bibliography of the Pacific States 
would not only greatly assist me in my search for 
books but would also be a proper thing to publish 
some day, I employed a man to search the principal 
libraries, such as the library of the British Museum 
and the library of the Royal Geographical Society, 
and make a transcript of the title of every book, manu- 
script, pamphlet, and magazine article, touching this 
territory, with brief notes or memoranda on the sub- 
ject-matter. It was necessary that the person em- 
ployed should be a good scholar, familiar with books, 
and have at his command several languages. The 
person employed was Joseph Walden, and the price 
paid him was two guineas a week. My agent, Mr J. 
Whitaker, proprietor of The Bookseller, engaged him 
for me and superintended the work, which was con- 
tinued during the three months I remained in Lon- 


don, and for about eight months thereafter. The 
titles and abstracts were entered upon paper cards 
about four inches square; or, if one work contained 
more matter than could be properly described within 
that space, the paper would be cut in strips of a uni- 
form width, but of the requisite length, and folded to 
the uniform size. The cost of this catalogue was a 
little over a thousand dollars. In consulting material 
in these libraries, which contain much that exists 
nowhere else, this list is invaluable as a guide to the 
required information. It might be supposed that the 
printed catalogues of the respective libraries would 
give their titles in such a way as to designate the con- 
tents of the works listed, but this is not always the 
case. The plan adopted by me was to have any book 
or manuscript, and all periodicals and journals of soci- 
eties, likely to contain desired information, carefully 
examined, the leaves turned over one by one, and notes 
made of needed material. By this means I could at 
once learn where the material was, what it was, and 
turn to the book and page. 

From London I went to Paris, and searched the 
stalls, antiquarian warehouses, and catalogues, in the 
same careful manner. I found much material in no 
other way obtainable, but it was small in comparison 
with what I had secured in London. Dibdin speaks 
of a house in Paris, the Debures, bibliopolists, dealers 
in rare books, who would never print a catalogue. 
It was not altogether folly that prompted the policy, 
for obvious reasons. Leaving Paris the 3d of January, 
1867, I went down into Spain full of sanguine antici- 
pations. There I expected to find much relating to 
Mexico at the stalls for old books, but soon learned 
that everything of value found its way to London. It 
has been said that in London any article of any descrip- 
tion will bring a price nearer its true value than any- 
where else in the world. This I know to be true of 
books. I have in my library little old worthless- 
looking volumes that cost me two or three hundred 


dollars each in London, which if offered at auction in 
San Francisco would sell for twenty-five or fifty cents, 
unless some intelligent persons who understood 
books happened to be present, in which case competi- 
tion might raise the sum to fiYe dollars. On the 
other hand, that which cost a half dollar in London 
might sell for ^ve dollars in San Francisco. 

There were not three men in California, I venture 
to say, who at that time knew anything either of the 
intrinsic or marketable value of old books. Book- 
sellers knew the least. I certainly have had expe- 
rience both as dealer and as collector, but I profess to 
know little about the value of ancient works, other 
than those which I have had occasion to buy. Let 
me pick up a volume of the Latin classics, for exam- 
ple, or of Dutch voyages, and ask the price. If the 
book were as large as I could lift, and the shopman 
told me half a crown, I should think it much material 
for the money, but I should not question the integrity 
of the shopman; if the book were small enough for 
the vest pocket, and the seller charged me twenty 
pounds for it, I should think it right, and that there 
must be real value about it in some way, otherwise 
the man would not ask so much. There may be six 
or eight dealers in New York, Boston, and Phila- 
delphia, who know something of the value of ancient 
books ; but aside from these, among the trade through- 
out America, I doubt if there are three. A collector, 
devoting himself to a specialty, may learn something 
by experience, by looking over his bills and paying 
them, regarding the value of books in the direction 
of his collecting, but that must be a small part of 
the whole range of the science of bibliography. 

I thought the London shopkeepers were apathetic 
enough, but they are sprightly in comparison with the 
Spanish booksellers. To the average Spanish book- 
seller Paris and London are places bordering the 
mythical; if he really believes them to exist, they are 
mapped in his mind with the most vague indistinct- 


ness. As to a knowledge of books and booksellers' 
shops in those places, there are but few pretensions. 

Opening on the main plaza of Burgos, which was 
filled with some of the most miserable specimens 
of muffled humanity I ever encountered — cutthroat, 
villainous-looking men and women in robes of sewed 
rags — were two small shops, in which not only books 
and newspapers were sold, but traps and trinkets of 
various kinds. There I found a few pamphlets which 
spoke of Mexico. Passing through a Californian- 
looking country we entered Madrid, the town of 
tobacco and bull-fights. If book-selling houses are 
significant of the intelligence of the people — and we 
in California, who boast the finest establishments of 
the kind in the world according to our population, 
claim that they are — then culture in Spain is at a 
low ebb. 

The first three days in Madrid I spent in collecting 
and studying catalogues. Of these I found but few, 
and they were all similar, containing about the same 
class of works. Then I searched the stalls and stores, 
and gathered more than at one time I thought I 
should be able to, sufficient to fill two large boxes; 
but to accomplish this I was obliged to work dili- 
gently for two weeks. 

To Saragossa, Barcelona, Marseilles, Nice, Genoa, 
Bologna, Florence, and Home; then to Naples, back 
to Venice, and through Switzerland to Paris. After 
resting a while I went to Holland, then up the Rhine 
and through Germany to Vienna; then through Ger- 
many and Switzerland again, Paris and London, and 
finally back to New York and Buffalo. Everywhere 
I found something, and seized upon it, however in- 
significant, for I had long since ceased to resist the 
malady. Often have I taken a cab or a carriage to 
drive me from stall to stall all day, without obtaining 
more than perhaps three or four books or pamphlets, 
for which I paid a shilling or a franc each. Then 
again I would light upon a valuable manuscript which 


relieved my pocket to the extent of three, five, or 
eight hundred dollars. 

Now, I thought, my task is done. I have rifled 
America of its treasures; Europe have I ransacked; 
and after my success in Spain, Asia and Africa may 
as well be passed by. I have ten thousand volumes 
and over, fifty times more than ever I dreamed were 
in existence when the collecting began. My library 
is Si fait accompli. Finis coronat opus. Here will I 

But softly ! What is this inch-thick pamphlet that 
comes to me by mail from my agent in London? By 
the shade of Tom Dibdin it is a catalogue ! Stripping 
off the cover I read the title-page: Catalogue de la 
Riche Bihliotheque de D. Jose Maria Andrade. Livres 
manuscrits et imprimes. Litterature Fra^ngaise et 
Espagnole. Histoire de LAfrique, de LAsie, et de 
FAmerique. 7000 pieces et volumes ay ant rapport au 
Mexique ou imprimes dans ce pays. Dont la vente se 
fera Fundi 18 Janvier 1869 et jours suivants, a Feip- 
zig, dans la salle de ventes de MM. Fist & Francke, 15 
rue de F Universite, par le minister e de M. Hermann 
Francke, commissaire priseur. 

Seven thousand books direct from Mexico, and 
probably half of them works which should be added 
to my collection! What was to be done? Here were 
treasures beside which the gold, silver, and rich mer- 
chandise found by Ali Baba in the robbers' cave were 
dross. A new light broke in upon me. I had never 
considered that Mexico had been printing books for 
three and a quarter centuries — one hundred years 
longer tlian Massachusetts — and that the earlier 
works were seldom seen floating about book-stalls and 
auction-rooms. One would think, perhaps, that in 
Mexico there might be a rich harvest; that where 
the people were ignorant and indifferent to learning, 
books would be lightly esteemed, and a large collection 
easily made. And such at times and to some extent 


has been the fact, but it is not so now. It is charac- 
teristic of the Mexican, to say nothing of the Yankee, 
that an article which may be deemed worthless until 
one tries to buy it, suddenly assumes great value. 
The common people, seeing the priests and collectors 
place so high an estimate on these embodiments of 
knowledge, invest them with a sort of supernatural 
importance, place them among their lares and penates, 
and refuse to part with them at any price. Besides, 
Mexico as well as other countries has been overrun 
by book collectors. In making this collection Senor 
Andrade had occupied forty years; and being upon 
the spot, with every facility, ample means at his 
command, a thorough knowledge of the literature of 
the country, and familiarity with the places in which 
books and manuscripts were most likely to be found, 
he surely should have been able to accomplish what 
no other man could. 

And then again, rare books are every year becoming 
rarer. In England particularly this is the case. Im- 
portant sales are not so frequent now as fifty years 
ago, when a gentleman's library, which at his death 
was sold at auction for the benefit of heirs, almost 
always offered opportunities for securing some rare 
books. Then, at the death of one, another would add 
to his collection, and at his death another, and so 
on. During the past half century many new public 
libraries have been formed both in Europe and Amer- 
ica, until the number has become very large. These, 
as a rule, are deficient in rare books; but having with 
age and experience accumulated funds and the knowl- 
edge of using them, or having secured all desirable 
current literature, the managers of public libraries 
are more and more desirous of enriching their collec- 
tions with the treasures of the past; and as institu- 
tions seldom or never die, when once a book finds 
lodgment on their shelves the auctioneer rarely sees 
it again. Scores of libraries in America have their 
agents, with lists of needed books in their hands, 


ready to pay any price for any one of them. Since 
there is but a limited number of these books in ex- 
istence, with a dozen bidders for every one, they are 
becoming scarcer and dearer every year. 

There were no fixed prices for rare and ancient 
books in Mexico, and they were seldom or never to 
be obtained in the ordinary way of trade. Until 
recently, to make out a list of books and expect a 
bookseller of that country to procure them for you 
was absurd, and you would be doomed to disappoint- 
ment. It was scarcely to be expected that he should 
be so much in advance of his bookselling brother of 
Spain, who would scarcely leave his seat to serve you 
with a book from his own shelves, still less to seek it 

Book collecting in Mexico during the midst of my 
efforts was a trade tomhe des mies, the two parties to 
the business being, usually, one a professional person, 
representing the guardianship of learning, but so 
carnal-minded as to require a little money to satisfy 
his cravings, and the other the recipient of the favors, 
who cancelled them with money. The latter, ascer- 
taining the whereabouts of the desired volume, bar- 
gained with a politician, an ecclesiastic, or a go-between, 
and having agreed on the price, the place and hour 
were named — which must be either a retired spot or 
an hour in which the sun did not shine — whereupon 
the book was produced and the money paid; but there 
must be no further conversation regarding the matter. 
Should the monastic libraries occasionally be found 
deficient in volumes once in their possession, owing 
to the absence of catalogues and responsible librarians 
it is difficult to fasten upon the guardian the charge 
that such books and manuscripts had ever been in his 

Jose Maria Andrade combined in himself the pub- 
lisher, journalist, litterateur, bibliopole, and biblio- 
phile; and the tenacity with which he clung to his 
collection was remarkable. Nor was he induced to 


part with it except for the consummation of a grand 
purpose. It was ever the earnest desire of the unfor- 
tunate MaximiHan to advance the interests of the 
country in every way in his power; and prominent 
among his many praiseworthy designs was that of im- 
proving the mental condition of the people by the 
elevation of literature. Scarcely had he established 
himself in the government when he began the forma- 
tion of an imperial library. This could be accom- 
plished in no other way so fully or so easily as by 
enlisting the cooperation of Senor Andrade, while on 
the other hand the intelligent and zealous collector 
could in no other way reap a reward commensurate 
with his long and diligent researches. It was there- 
fore arranged that, in consideration for a certain sum 
of money to be paid the owner of the books, this 
mamificent collection should form the basis of a 
Bihlioteca Imperial de Mejico. By this admirable and 
only proper course the fullest collection of books on 
Mexico, together with valuable additions from the 
literature of other countries, would remain in the 
country and become the property of the government. 
But unfortunately for Mexico this was not to be. 
These books were to be scattered among the libraries 
of the world, and the rare opportunity was forever 
lost. Evil befell both emperor and bibliophile. The 
former met the fate of many another adventurer of 
less noble birth and less chivalrous and pure inten- 
tion, and the latter failed to secure his money. 

When it became certain that Maximilian was 
doomed to die at the hands of his captors, Senor 
Andrade determined to secure to himself the pro- 
ceeds from the sale of his library as best he might. 
Nor was there any time to lose. Imperialism in 
Mexico was on the decline, and the friends of the 
emperor could scarcely hope to see their contracts 
ratified by his successor. Consequently, while all eyes 
were turned in the direction of Queretaro, immedi- 
ately after the enactment of the bloody tragedy, and 


before the return wave of popular fury and vandalism 
had reached the city of Mexico, Senor Andrade has- 
tily packed his books into two hundred cases, placed 
them on the backs of mules, and hurried them to 
Vera Cruz, and thence across the water to Europe. 

Better for Mexico had the bibliophile taken with 
him one of her chief cities than that mule-train load 
of literature, wherein for her were stores of mighty 
experiences, which, left to their own engendering, 
would in due time bring forth healing fruits. Never 
since the burning of the Aztec manuscripts by the 
bigot Zumd-rraga had there fallen on the country such 
a loss. How comparatively little of human experi- 
ence has been written, and yet how much of that 
which has been written is lost! How many books 
have been scattered; how many libraries burned : how 
few of the writings of the ancients have we. Of the 
hundred plays said to have been written by Sophocles, 
only seven are preserved. 

M. Deschamps says of Senor Andrade's collection: 
"The portion of this library relating to Mexico is in- 
contestably unique, and constitutes a collection which 
neither the most enlightened care, the most patient 
investigation, nor the gold of the richest placers could 
reproduce. The incunabula of American typography, 
six Gothic volumes head the list, printed from 1543 
to 1547, several of which have remained wholly un- 
known to bibliographers; then follows a collection of 
documents, printed and in manuscript, by the help 
of which the impartial writer may reestablish on its 
true basis the history of the firm domination held by 
Spain over these immense territories, from the time 
of Cortes to the glorious epoch of the wars of Inde- 
pendence. The manuscripts are in part original and 
in part copies of valuable documents made with great 
care from the papers preserved in the archives of the 
empire at Mexico. It is well known that access to 
these archives is invariably refused to the public, and 
that it required the sovereign intervention of an en- 


lightened prince to render possible the long labors of 

Such is the history of the collection of which I 
now received a catalogue, with notice of sale beginning 
the 18th of January, 1869. Again I asked myself, 
What was to be done? Little penetration was neces- 
sary to see that this sale at Leipsic was most im- 
portant; that such an opportunity to secure Mexican 
books never had occurred before and could never 
occur again. It was not among the possibilities that 
Seiior Andrade's catalogue should ever be duplicated. 
The time was too short for me, after receiving the 
catalogue, to reach Leipsic in person previous to the 
sale. The great satisfaction was denied me to make 
out a list of requirements with my own catalogue 
and the catalogue of Andrade before me. Yet I was 
determined not to let the opportunity slip without 
securing something, no matter at what hazard or at 
what sacrifice. 

Shutting my eyes to the consequences, therefore, 
I did the only thing possible under the circumstances 
to secure a portion of that collection: I telegraphed 
my agent in London five thousand dollars earnest 
money, with instructions to attend the sale and pur- 
chase at his discretion. I expected nothing less than 
large lots of duplicates, with many books which I did 
not care for; but in this I was agreeably disappointed. 
Though my agent, Mr Whitaker, was not very familiar 
with the contents of my library, he was a practical 
man, and thoroughly versed in the nature and value 
of books, and the result of his purchase was to increase 
my collection with some three thousand of the rarest 
and most valuable volumes extant. 

There were in this purchase some works that gave 
me duplicates, and some books bought only for their 
rarity, such as specimens of the earliest printing in 
Mexico, and certain costly linguistic books. But on 
the whole I was more than pleased; I was delighted. 
A sum five times larger than the cost of the books 


would not have taken them from me after they were 
once in my possession, from the simple fact that though 
I should live a hundred years I would not see the time 
when I could buy any considerable part of them at 
any price. And furthermore, no sooner had I begun 
authorship than experience taught me that the works 
thus collected and sold by Senor Andrade included 
foreign books of the highest importance. There 
were among them many books and manuscripts inval- 
uable for a working library. It seemed after all as 
though Mr Whitaker had instinctively secured what 
was most wanted, allowing very few of the four thou- 
sand four hundred and eighty-four numbers of the 
catalogue to slip through his fingers that I would have 
purchased if present in person. 

But this was not the last of the Andrade-Maxi- 
milian episode. Another lot, not so large as the 
Leipsic catalogue, but enough to constitute a very 
important sale, was disposed of by auction in London, 
by Puttick and Simpson, in June of the same year. 
The printed list was entitled : Blhliotheca Mejicana. 
A Catalogue of an extraordinary collection of hooks 
relating to Mexico and North and South America, from 
the first introduction of printing in the New World , 
A. D. 15M, to A. D. 1868. Collected during 20 years' 
official residence in Mexico. Mr Whitaker likewise 
attended this sale for me, and from his purchases I 
was enabled still further to fill gaps and perfect the 

Prior to these large purchases, namely in Decem- 
ber, 1868, Mr Whitaker made some fine selections 
for me at a public sale in Paris. This same year was 
sold in New York the library of A. A. Smet, and 
the year previous had been sold that of Pichard W. 
Roche. The library of George W. Pratt was sold 
in New York in March, 1868 ; that of Amos Dean, at 
private sale, in New York the same year; that of W. 
L. Mattison in New York in April, 1869 ; that of John 
A. Rice in New York in March, 1870; that of S. G. 


Drake in Boston in May and June, 1876; that of 
John W. Dwinelle in San Francisco in July, 1877; 
that of George T. Strong in New York in November, 
1878; that of Milton S. Latham in San Francisco in 
April, 1879; that of Gideon N. Searing in New York 
in May, 1880; that of H. R. Schoolcraft in New York 
in November, 1880; that of A. Oakey Hall in New 
York in January, 1881; that of J. L. Hasmar in 
Philadelphia in March, 1881 ; that of George Brinley 
in New York, different dates; that of W. B. Law- 
rence in New York in 1881-2; that of the Sunderland 
Library, first part, in London in 1881; that of W. C. 
Prescott in New York in December, 1881; and that 
of J. G. Keil in Leipsic in 1882; — from each of which 
I secured something. Besides those elsewhere enu- 
merated there were to me memorable sales in Lisbon, 
New York, and London, in 1870; in London and New 
York in 1872; in Paris, Leipsic, and New York, in 
1873, and in New York in 1877. The several sales 
in London of Henry G. Bohn, retiring from business, 
were important. 

The government officials in Washington and the 
officers of the Smithsonian Institution have always 
been very kind and liberal to me, as have the Pacific 
coast representatives in congress. From members of 
the Canadian cabinet and parliament I have received 
valuable additions to my library. From the many 
shops of Nassau street. New York, and from several 
stores and auction sales in Boston, I have been receiv- 
ing constant additions to my collection for a period of 
over a quarter of a century. 

From the Librairie Tross of Paris in April, 1870, 
I obtained a long list of books, selected from a cata- 
logue. So at various times I have received accessions 
from Maisonneuve et C^^, Paris, notably quite a ship- 
ment in September, 1878. From Triibner, Quaritch, 
Powell, and others, in London, the stream was con- 
stant, though not large, for many years. Asher of 
Berlin managed to offer at various times valuable cata- 


logues, as did also John Russell Smith of London; 
F. A. Brockhaus of Leipsic; Murguia of Mexico, 
and Madrilena of Mexico; Muller of Amsterdam; 
Weigel of Leipsic ; Robert Clarke & Co. of Cincinnati ; 
Scheible of Stuttgart ; Bouton of New York ; Henry 
Miller of New York, and Olivier of Bruxelles. Henry 
Stevens of London sold in Boston, through Leonard, 
by auction in April, 1870, a collection of five thousand 
volumes of American history, which he catalogued 
under the title of Bihliotheca Historica, at which time 
he claimed to have fifteen thousand similar volumes 
stored at 4 Trafalgar square. 

In April, 1876, was sold by auction in New York 
the collection of Mr E. G. Squier, relating in a great 
measure to Central America, where the collector, 
when quite young, was for a time United States 
minister. Being a man of letters, the author of sev- 
eral books, and many essaj^s and articles on ethnology, 
history, and politics, and a member of home and 
foreign learned societies, Mr Squier was enabled by 
his position to gratify his tastes to their full extent, 
and he availed himself of the opportunities. His 
library was rich in manuscripts, in printed and manu- 
script maps, and in Central American newspapers, and 
political and historical pamphlets. There were some 
fine original drawings by Catherwood of ruins and 
monolith idols, and some desirable engravings and 
photographs. Books from the library of Alexander 
Von Humboldt were a feature, and there was a 
section on Scandinavian literature. In regard to 
his manuscripts, which he intended to translate and 
print, the publication of Palacio, Cartas, being the 
beginning, Mr Squier said : ''A large part of 
these were obtained from the various Spanish ar- 
chives and depositories by my friend Buckingham 
Smith, late secretary of the legation of the United 
States in Spain. Others were procured during my 
residence in Central America either in person or 
through the intervention of friends." I gladly availed 

Lit. Ind. 13 


myself of the opportunity to purchase at this sale 
whatever the collection contained and ray library 
lacked. Of Mr Squier's library Mr Sabin testified: 
"In the department relative to Central America the 
collection is not surpassed by any other within our 
knowledge; many of these books being published in 
Central America, and having rarely left the land of 
their birth, are of great value, and are almost unknown 
outside the localities from which they were issued." 

The next most important opportunity was the sale, 
by auction, of the library of Caleb Cushing in Boston, 
in October, 1879. This sale was attended for me by Mr 
Lauriat, and the result was in every way satisfactory. 

Quite a remarkable sale was that of the library of 
Ramirez, by auction, in London in July 1880, not so 
much in regard to numbers, for there were but 1290, as 
in variety and prices. The title of the catalogue reads 
as follows : Bihliotlieca Mexicana. A catalogue of the 
Library of rare hooks and important manuscripts, re- 
lating to Mexico and other loarts of Spanish America, 
formed hy the late Senor Don Jose Fernando Ramirez, 
j)resident of the late Emperor Maximilian s first min- 
istry, comprising fine specimens of the presses of the 
early Mexican typographers Juan Cromberger, Juan 
Pablos, Antonio Espinosa, Pedro Ocharte, Pedro Balli, 
Antonio Ricardo, Melchior Ocharte; a large number of 
tuorks, both printed and manuscript, on the Mexican 
Indian languages and dialects; the civil and ecclesi- 
astical history of Mexico and its provinces; collections 
of laivs and ordinances relating to the Indies. Valuable 
unpublished manuscripts relating to the Jesuit missions 
in Texas, California, China, Peru, Chili, Brasil, etc.; 
collections of documents; sermons preached in Mexico; 
etc., etc. Ramirez was a native of the city of Du- 
rango, where he had been educated and admitted to 
the bar, rising to eminence as state and federal judge. 
He was at one time head of the national museum of 
Mexico; also minister of foreign affairs, and again 
president of Maximilian's first ministry. Upon the 


retirement of the French expedition from Mexico 
Senor Ramirez went to Europe and took up his resi- 
dence at Bonn, where he died in 1871. The books 
comprising the sale formed the second collection made 
by this learned bibliographer, the first having been 
sold to become the foundation of a state library in the 
city of Durango. The rarest works of the first col- 
lection were reserved, however, to form the nucleus of 
the second, which was formed after he removed to the 
capital; his high public position, his reputation as 
scholar and bibliographer, and his widely extended 
influence affording him the best facilities. Many of 
his literary treasures were obtained from the convents 
after the suppression of the monastic orders. From 
the collection, as it stood at the death of Ramirez, 
his heirs permitted A. Chavero to select all works 
relating to Mexico. ^^We believe we do not exag- 
gerate," the sellers affirmed, '^when we say that no 
similar collection of books can again be brought into 
the English market." Writing me in 1869 regard- 
ing the Paris and London sales of that year, Mr 
Whitaker says: *'If I may argue from analogy, I do 
not think that many more Mexican books will come 
to Europe for sale. I remember some twenty-five 
years ago a similar series of sales of Spanish books 
which came over here in consequence of the revolu- 
tion, but for many years there have been none to 
speak of" Thus we find the same idea expressed by 
an expert eleven years before the Ramirez sale. In 
one sense both opinions proved true; the collections 
were different in character, and neither of them could 
be even approximately duplicated. With regard to 
prices at the respective sales of 1869 Mr Whitaker 
remarks: ''Some of the books sold rather low con- 
sidering their rarity and value, but on the whole prices 
ruled exceedingly high." Had Mr Whitaker attended 
the Ramirez sale he would have been simply astounded. 
If ever the prices of Mexican books sold prior to 
this memorable year of 1880 could in comparison be 



called high, such sales have been wholly outside of my 
knowledge. I had before paid hundreds of dollars 
for a thin 1 2mo volume ; but a bill wherein page after 
page the items run from $50 to $700 is apt to call 
into question the general sanity of mankind. And yet 
this was at public sale, in the chief book mart of the 
world, and it is to be supposed that the volumes were 
sold with fairness. 

Notice of this sale, with catalogue, was forwarded to 
me by Mr Stevens, who attended it in my behalf I 
made out my list and sent it on with general instruc- 
tions, but without special limit; I did not suppose the 
whole lot would amount to over $10,000 or $12,000. 
The numbers I ordered brought nearer $30,000. Mr 
Stevens did not purchase them all, preferring to forego 
his commissions rather than subject me to such fear- 
fully high prices. My chief consolation in drawing a 
check for the purchase was that if books were worth 
the prices brought at the Kamirez sale my library 
would foot up a million of dollars. And yet Mr Stevens 
writes : " On the whole you have secured your lots very 
reasonably. A few are dear; most of them are cheap. 
The seven or eight lots that you put in your third 
class, and which Mr Quaritch or Count Heredia 
bought over my bids, you may rest assured went 
dear enough." There were scarcely any purchasers 
other than the three bidders above named, though 
Mr Stevens held orders likewise for the British Mu- 
seum library. There was no calling oiF or hammering 
by the auctioneer. The bidders sat at a table on which 
was placed the book to be sold; each made his bids 
and the seller recorded the highest. 

Keferring once more to Mr Walden and his work, 
Mr Whitaker writes in April, 1869: "The delay in 
sending off all the Andrade books arose from the 
desire to have them catalogued. Mr Walden has been 
terribly slow over the work, but it was difficult to stop. 
He has now finished all that I bought first, and I told 

THE RESULT IN 1869. 197 

him that he is altogether to suspend operations upon 
your account after Saturday, May 1st, to which date I 
have paid him. It appears to me that you will now 
have enough materials in the books you have bought 
and the sale catalogues, etc., to enable you to get all 
the information you require. Walden sees his way to 
seven years' more work." And from Mr Walden him- 
self a month later: ''It has afforded me great pleas- 
ure to hear at different times from Mr Whitaker that 
you are satisfied with the slips received, and the 
manner in which I have catalogued the books. In 
following out your instructions much time must evi- 
dently be taken up in searching for works on the 
various subjects, and the time and money thus spent 
will assuredly repay itself in having such a list of 
books on the various subjects required, and on that 
part of America; it will not have its equal in any 
catalogue yet made. I have not yet catalogued the 
whole of the manuscripts relating to your subjects in 
the British Museum." 

Thus it was that in 1 869, ten years after beginning to 
collect, after the Maximilian sale, but before those of 
Ramirez, Squier, and many others, I found in my pos- 
session, including pamphlets, about sixteen thousand 
volumes; and with these, which even before its com- 
pletion I placed on the fifth floor of the Market-street 
building, I concluded to begin work. As a collector, 
however, I continued lying in w^ait for opportunities. 
All the new books published relative to the subject 
were immediately added to the collection, with oc- 
casional single copies, or little lots of old books secured 
by my agents. Before leaving Europe I appointed 
agents in other principal cities besides London to 
purchase, as opportunity offered, whatever I lacked. 
There were many other notable additions to the 
library from sources not yet mentioned, of which I 
shall take occasion to speak during the progress of 
this history of my work. 



Could a man be secure 

That his days would endure 

As of old, for a thousand long years, 

What things might he know! 

What deeds might he do ! 

And all without hurry or care. 

Old Song. 

If as Plato says knowledge is goodness, and good- 
ness God, then libraries occupy holy ground, and 
books breathe the atmosphere of heaven. Although 
this philosophy may be too transcendental for the 
present day, and although the agency of evil some- 
times appears in the accumulation of knowledge as 
well as the agency of good, thus making scholars not 
always heirs of God, we have yet to learn of a collec- 
tion of books having been made for purposes of evil, 
or the results of such efforts ever having been other- 
wise than beneficial to the race. Particularly is such 
the case where the main incentive has been the accu- 
mulation of facts for the mere love of such accumu- 
lation, and not from devotion to dogma, or for the 
purpose of pleading a cause — for something of the 
instinct of accumulation inherent in humanity may 
be found in the garnering of knowledge, no less than 
in the gathering of gold or the acquisition of broad 

My library, when first it came to be called a 
library, occupied one corner of the second story of 
the bookstore building on Merchant street, which con- 
nected with the front room on Montgomery street, as 


before described. When placed on the fifth floor of the 
Market-street building, it occupied room equivalent to 
thirty-five by one hundred and seventy feet, being about 
fifty feet wide at the south end, and narrowing irregu- 
larly towards the north end. The ceiling was low, and 
the view broken by the enclosures under the skylights, 
and by sections of standing supports with which it 
was found necessary to supplement the half mile and 
more of shelving against the walls. Following the 
works of reference, the books were arranged alpha- 
betically by authors, some seventy-five feet at the 
north end, both walls and floor room, being left for 
newspapers. On the east side were four rooms, two 
occupied as sleeping apartments by Mr Oak and Mr 
Nemos, and two used as w^orking rooms by Mrs 
Victor and myself There was one large draughtsman's 
working-counter, with drawers, and a rack for maps. 
The desks and writing tables stood principally at the 
south end of the main library room, that being the 
best locality for light and air. A large, high, revolv- 
ing table occupied the centre of my room. Attached 
to it was a stationary stand into which it fitted, or 
rather of w^hich it formed part. At this table I could 
stand, or by means of a high chair with revolving 
seat I could sit at it, and write on the stationary part. 
The circular or revolving portion of the table was 
some eight or nine feet in diameter. Besides this 
machine there were usually two or three common 
plain tables in the room. On the walls were maps, 
and drawings of various kinds, chiefly referring to 
early history; also certificates of degrees conferred, > 
and of membership of learned societies. 

In the main room, in addition to the long tables 
shown in the drawinof, there were a dozen or so* 
small movable tables, and also a high table and a high 
desk, the two accommodating four or five persons, 
should any wish to stand. All was well arranged, 
not only for literary but for mechanical work, for 
close at hand were compositors, printers, and binders. 


No place could better have suited my purpose but 
for interruptions, for I was never entirely free from 

Yet, all through the dozen years the library was 
there I trembled for its safety through fear of iire, as 
indeed did many others who appreciated its historical 
significance to this coast, well knowing that once lost 
no power on earth could reproduce it. Hence its place 
in this building was regarded as temporary from the 
first. We all thought constantly of it, and a hundred 
times I have talked over the matter of removal with 
Mr Oak and others. Now and then the danger would 
be more vividly brought home to us by the alarm of 
fire on the premises; and once in particular a fire 
broke out in the basement of the furniture store occu- 
pying the western side of the building, filling the 
library with dense smoke, and driving the inmates to 
the roof It occurred about half-past five in the after- 
noon. The furniture store was nearly destroyed, and 
the bookstore suffered serious damage. It was a nar- 
row escape for the library. 

Thus, when in the autumn of 1881 Mr William B. 
Bancroft, my nephew, in charge of the manufacturing 
department, regarded the room as essential to his ever 
growing purposes, and as the money could be spared, 
I lent a willing ear. 

First to be considered in choosing a new locality 
was whether the library should remain on the penin- 
sula of San Francisco, or take its place at some point 
across the bay. Oakland was seriously considered, 
and San Bafael, not to mention Sonoma, where long 
before my enthusiastic friend General Vallejo had 
offered to furnish land and all the building require- 
ments free. There were pleasant places in the direc- 
tion of San Mateo and Menlo Park; but we finally 
concluded to remain in the city. Before ever it saw 
Market street I had dreamed of having the library 
near my house on California street; but that was not 
to be. I had deemed it advisable some time before 


to sell my residence property in that locality, so that 
it was now necessary to select another spot. In 
making such selection I could not take as fully into 
the account as I would have hked the influence 
of a library upon its locality. For example, who 
shall say what might or might not be the effects upon 
the graduating members of a great institution of learn- 
ing, or upon the assembled law-makers for the nation, 
or upon that class of wealthy and intelligent inhabi- 
tants of the commercial metropolis who delight in 
scientific or historic association for the good of their 
country ? We cannot set up in our midst a theatre, 
hotel, race-course, church, or drinking-saloon without 
the whole community being affected thereby. A 
library is not merely a depository of learning, but a 
society for the promotion of knowledge in whatsoever 
direction its contents tends. If it be a library of law, 
medicine, or theology, the corresponding profession is 
affected by it in a degree greater than we realize; if 
it be a library of history, then sooner or later its in- 
fluence is felt in the direction of historical investiga- 
tion and elucidation. The very fact of its existence 
presupposes somewhere a demand for its existence, 
and this not without cause or reason — the cause or 
reason being its use for the purposes for which it was 
created ; that is to say, for the protection and promul- 
gation of historical data. The effect of an abundance 
of rich historical data on a local historical society is 
much greater than the effect of the society on the 
collecting of data. With the data at hand, members 
will set themselves at work; while if it be absent 
they will not seek it. 

After some search a place was found uniting several 
advantages, and which on the whole proved satisfac- 
torv. It was on Valencia street, the natural continua- 
tion of Market street, on the line of the city's growth, 
and reached by the cars from the ferry which passed 
the store. There, on the west side, near its junction 
with Mission street, I purchased a lot one hundred and 


twenty by one hundred and twenty-six feet in size, 
and proceeded forthwith to erect a substantial two 
story and basement brick building, forty by sixty feet. 
In order that the building might be always detached 
it was placed in the centre of the lot, and to make it 
more secure from fire all the openings were covered 
with iron. A high fence was erected on two sides 
for protection against the wind, and the grounds were 
filled with trees, grass, and flowers, making the place 
a little Eden. On the glass over the entrance was 
placed the number, 1538, and on the door a plate 
lettered in plain script. The Bancroft Library. 

The building proved most satisfactory. No attempt 
was made at elaboration, either without or within; 
plain neat good taste, with comfort and convenience, 
was alone aimed at. Every part of it was ordered 
with an eye single to the purpose; the rooms are 
spacious, there are plenty of large windows, and the 
building is well ventilated. From the front door the 
main room, lower floor, is entered, which, though 
almost without a break in its original construction, 
became at once so crowded as to render its proper 
representation in a drawing impossible. Ample space, 
as was supposed, had been allowed in planning the 
building, but such a collection of books is susceptible 
of being expanded or contracted to a wonderful extent. 
On the wall shelves of this apartment are placed for 
the most part sets and various collections aggre- 
gating 16,000 volumes. These sets are conveniently 
lettered and numbered, in a manner that renders each 
work readily accessible, as will be described in detail 
elsewhere. They consist of large collections of voy- 
ages and travels ; of documents, periodicals, legislative 
and other public papers of the federal government 
and the several states and territories of the Pacific 
slope; of laws, briefs, and legal reports; series of 
scrap-books, almanacs, directories, bound collections 
of pamphlets, cumbersome folios, Mexican sermons, 
2Kipeles varioSy and other miscellaneous matter. Three 


lofty double tiers of shelving, extending across the 
room from north to south, are loaded with 500 bulky 
files of Pacific States newspapers, amounting, if a 
year of weeklies and three months of dailies be ac- 
counted a volume, to over 5000 volumes. It is a 
somewhat unwieldy mass, but indispensable to the 
local historian. Also was built and placed here a huge 
case, with drawers for maps, geographically arranged ; 
also cases containing the card index, and paper bags of 
notes, all of which are explained elsewhere. 

To the room above, the main library and working- 
room, the entrance is by a staircase rising from the 
middle of the first floor. Here, seated at tables, 
are a dozen literary workmen, each busy with his 
special task. The walls are filled with shelving nine 
tiers high, containing four classes of books. Most of 
the space is occupied by works of the first class, the 
working library proper of printed books, alphabeti- 
cally arranged, each volume bearing a number, and 
the numbers running consecutively from one to 12,000 
under alphabetical arrangement, and afterward with- 
out arrangement, as additions are made indefinitely. 
The second class consists of rare books, of about 400 
volumes, set apart by reason of their great value, not 
merely pecuniary, though the volumes will bring from 
$35 to $800 each in the book markets of the world, 
but literary value, representing standard authorities, 
bibliographic curiosities, specimens of early printing, 
and rare hnguistics. The third class is composed en- 
tirely of manuscripts, in 1200 volumes of three sub- 
divisions, relating respectively to Mexico and Central 
America, to California, and to the Northwest Coast — ■ 
the Oregon and interior territory, British Columbia, 
and Alaska. The fourth class is made up of 450 
works of reference and bibliographies. When the 
collection was placed in the library building it num- 
bered 35,000 volumes, since which time additions have 
steadily been made, until the number now approaches 
50,000. At the east end of the upper room is situated 



my private apartment, while at the other end are the 
rooms of Mrs Victor, Mr Nemos, and Mr Oak. All 
otherwise unoccupied wall space, above and below, is 
filled with portraits, plans, and other drawings, en- 
gravings, and unique specimens, all having reference 
to the territory covered by the collection. 

Considerable inconvenience had been experienced 
during the first twelve years' use of the library, for 
want of proper numbering and cataloguing. Mr Oak 
had made a card catalogue which about the time of 
removal to Market street was copied in book form; 
but though the former was kept complete, the latter 
was soon out of date owing to the rapid increase of 
the books. For a time an alphabetical arrangement 
answered every purpose, but under this system books 
were so often out of place, and losses so frequent, that 
it was deemed best on removing to Valencia street to 
adopt a book-mark, a system of numbering, and make 
a new catalogue. The book-mark consisted of a litho- 
graphed line in plain script letters. The Bancroft 
Library, with the number. Preparatory to number- 
ing, the several classes before mentioned were sepa- 
rated from the general collection, the whole weeded 
of duplicates, and every book and pamphlet put in 
place under the old alphabetical arrangement. The 
main working collection was then numbered from one 
to 12,000 consecutively. This prohibited further 
alphabetical arrangement, and thereafter all volumes 
that came in were added at the end without regard to 
any arrangement, and were covered by new numbers. 
In regard to the other several classes, letters were 
employed in the numbering to distinguish one from 
the other. The first catalogue was written on narrow- 
ruled paper, six by nine inches when folded, and then 
bound ; the second was written on thick paper, fourteen 
by eighteen inches when folded, and ruled for the 
purpose with columns, and with subsidiary lines for 
numbers and description. This catalogue indicates 


the shelf position of every book in the library; and 
the plan admits of additions almost limitless without 
breaking the alphabetic order. In copying it from 
the original cards Mr Benson was engaged for over 
a year. When completed it was strongly bound in 
thick boards and leather. 

No one can know, not having had the experience, the 
endless labor and detail attending the keeping in order 
and under control of a large and rapidly growing col- 
lection of historical data. Take newspapers, for ex- 
ample. The newspaper is the first and often the only 
printed matter pertaining directly to the local affairs 
sometimes of a wide area. As such its historical 
importance is obvious. It is the only printed record 
of the history of the section it covers. No collection 
of early historic data can be deemed in any degree 
complete without liberal files of the daily and weekly 
journals. But when these files of periodicals reach 
the number of five hundred, as before mentioned, equiv- 
alent in bulk and information to five thousand vol- 
umes of books, with large daily additions, it becomes 
puzzling sometimes to know what to do with them, 
for these too must be indexed and put away in their 
proper place before the knowledge they contain can 
be reached or utilized. The course we pursued was 
first of all after collocation to enter them by their 
names, and arranged territorially, in a ten-quire demy 
record book, writing down the numbers actually in 
the library, chronologically, with blank spaces left for 
missing numbers, to be filled in as those numbers 
were obtained and put in their places. But before 
putting away in their proper places either the files or 
the incoming additional numbers, all were indexed, 
after the manner of indexing the books of the library, 
and desired information extracted therefrom in the 
usual way. 

In describing the contents of the library, aside 
from its arrangement in the building, one would 
classify it somewhat differently, territory and chro- 


nology taking precedence of outward form and con- 
venience, more as I have done in another place. Any 
allusion in this volume must be necessarily very brief; 
any approach to bibliographical analysis is here out 
of the question. We can merely glance at the sev- 
eral natural divisions of the subject, namely, abori- 
ginal literature, sixteenth-century productions, works 
of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, nine- 
teenth-century publications, maps, manuscripts, and, 
by way of a specialty, the material for California and 
Northwest Coast history. 

Passing the books of the savages, as displayed by 
the scattered picture-writings of the wilder northern 
tribes, which indeed have no place even in the cate- 
gory first named, we come to the more enduring records 
of the southern plateaux. 

First there are the picture records of the Aztec 
migrations, from Gemelli Carreri and the Boturini col- 
lection, and representations of the education of Aztec 
children, from the Codex Mendoza. Specimens of the 
next aboriginal class, superior to the Aztec picture 
writing, may be found in the sculptured hieroglyphics 
covering the tablets of Palenque, and the statues of 
Copan. Among the works of Lord Kingsborough and 
of Brasseur de Bourbourg are volumes of free dis- 
cussion, which leave the student at the end of his in- 
vestigations exactly where he stood at the beginning. 
Then there is the Maya alphabet of Bishop Landa, 
and the specimens preserved in the Dresden codex, 
which so raise intelligent curiosity as to make us wish 
that the Spanish bigots had been burned instead of 
the masses of priceless aboriginal manuscripts of which 
they built their bonfires. In the national museum of 
the university of Mexico were placed the remnants 
of the aboriginal archives of Tezcuco; and we may 
learn much from the w^ritings of some of their former 
possessors, Ixtlilxochitl, Sigtienza, Boturini, Yeytia, 
Ordaz, Leon y Gama, and Sanchez. Clavigero has 
also used this material with profit in writing his history. 


The calendar stone of the Aztecs, a representation of 
which is given in the Native Races, may be examined 
with interest; also the paintings of the Aztec cycle, 
the Aztec year, and the Aztec month. Some remains 
of Central American aboriginal literature are pre- 
served in the manuscript Troano, reproduced in lithog- 
raphy by the French government. 

The sixteenth-century productions relating to Amer- 
ica, taken as one class begin with the letters of Colum- 
bus written during the last decade of the fifteenth 
century. Of these there were printed two, and one 
by a friend of the admiral, and the papal bull of Alex- 
ander VI., in 1493, making four plaquettes printed 
prior to 1500. Then came more papal bulls and more 
letters, and narratives of voyages by many navigators ; 
there were maps, and globes, and cosmographies, and 
numerous ^mundus novus' books, conspicuous among 
their writers being Vespucci, Peter Martyr, the au- 
thors of Ptolemy sGeographia, and Enciso, who printed 
in 1519 his Suma de Geografia. After these were 
itinerarios and relaciones by Juan Diaz, Cortes, and 
others. The doughty deeds of Pedrarias Ddvila were 
sung in 1525, and not long afterward the writings of 
the chronicler Oviedo began to appear in print. In 
1532 appeared the De Insulis of Cortes and Martyr, 
and in 1534 the Chronica of Amandus, and some letters 
by Francisco Pizarro. Between 1540 and 1550 were 
divers plaquettes, besides the Relaciones of Cabeza de 
Vaca, the Conientarios of Pedro Hernandez, and the 
Apologia of Sepulveda. 

The chief works touching the Pacific States terri- 
tory which appeared during the last half of the six- 
teenth century were those of Las Casas, Gomara, 
Benzoni, Monardes, Fernando Colon, Palacio, Acosta, 
Perez, and Padilla. The many accounts of voyages 
and collections of voyages, such as Ramusio, Huttich, 
and Hakluyt, appearing during this period, and the 
hundreds of ordenanzas, nuevas leyes, and cedulaSy 


I cannot here enumerate. Nor is it necessary to men- 
tion here the oft described earhest books printed in 

New chroniclers, historians, compilers of voyages, 
cosmographers, and geographers came forward during 
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Among 
these were Ens, Philoponus, the author of West- 
Indische Spieghel, Gottfried, D'Avity, Ogilby, Mon- 
tanus, Garcia, Herrera, Torquemada, Villagra, Simon, 
De Bry, Purchas, Bernal Diaz, Pizarro y Orellana, 
De Laet, Gage, Soils, Cogolludo, Piedrahita, Vetan- 
curt, and some English books on the Scots at Darien; 
there were likewise innumerable sermons, and the 
De Indiarum Ivre of Solorzano Pereira, the views of 
Grotius, the Teatro Eclesidstico of Gil Gonzalez Davila, 
and other kindred works. The mission chronicles were 
a literary feature of the times, and toward the latter 
part of the epoch come the English, French, and Dutch 
voyages of circumnavigation. 

The name of Humboldt stands prominent at the 
beginning of nineteenth-century Pacific States liter- 
ature; and near him the Mexican historian Busta- 
mante. Then follow Escudero, Prescott, Irving, 
Alaman, Carbajal Espinosa, Chevalier, Brantz Mayer, 
Domenech, — among voyagers and collections of voy- 
ages, Krusenstern, Langsdorff, Lisiansky, Kotzebue, 
Roquefeuil, Beechy, Petit -Thouars, Laplace, Duhaut- 
Cilly, Belcher, Simpson, and Wilkes, Burney, Pink- 
erton, Bicharderie, La Harpe, smd Annates des Voyages. 

Collections of original documents are a feature of 
this century, conspicuous among which are those of 
Navarrete, Ternaux-Compans, Buckingham Smith, 
Icazbalceta, Calvo, Pacheco and Cdrdenas, and of 
somewhat kindred character the works of Sahagun, 
Veytia, Cavo, Tezozomoc, Scherzer, Brasseur de 
Bourbourg, Palacio, Landa, Duran, Mota Padilla, 
Mendieta, — and yet more relating to the aborigines, 
the \vorks of Cabrera, Leon y Gama, Morton, Brad- 


ford, Catlin, Boscana, Holmberg, Muller, Baldwin, 
Dupaix, Waldeck, Nebel, Catherwood, Charnay, Ade- 
lung, Du Ponceau, Veniamino, Ludewig, Pimentel, 
Orozco y Berra, Arenas, Amaro, Molina, Avila, and 
many others. The century presents a lengthy list of 
valuable books of travel, and physical and political 
descriptions, such as the works of Lewis and Clarke, 
James, Hunter, Cox, Stephens, Squier, Strangeways, 
Montgomery, Dunlop, Byam, Mollhausen, Robinson, 
Bryant, Bayard Taylor, De Mofras, and a thousand 
others, covering the entire range of territory from 
Alaska to Panamd. Periodical literature likewise 
assumes importance. 

With regard to maps, the field resembles that of 
books in these respects, that it dates from the fifteenth 
century and is without end. It would seem that 
sometime such delineations should be finished; yet I 
suspect that my works, as full and complete as I can 
make them, will prove only the foundation of a liundred 
far more attractive volumes. In our examination of 
maps we may if we like go back to the chart of the 
brothers Zeno, drawn in 1390, following with Behaim's 
Globe in 1492, Juan de la Cosa's map in 1500, and 
those by Buysch in 1508, Peter Martyr, 1511, that 
in the Ptolemy's Cosmography of 1513, those in the 
Munich Atlas and Schoner's globe, 1520, Colon's and 
Ribero's, drawn in 1527 and 1529 respectively, 
Orontius Fine in 1531, and Castillo, 1541, showing 
the peninsula of California, after which the number 
becomes numerous. 

In my collection of manuscripts, taken as a whole, 
I suppose the Concilios Provinciales Mexicanos should 
be mentioned first. It is in four volumes, and is a 
record of the first three ecclesiastical councils held in 
Mexico ; in comparison with which a number of more 
strictly religious works are hardly worth mentioning — ■ 
for example, the Cathecismo echo par el Concilio IV, 

Lit. Ind. 14 


Mexicano; the Explicacion de la doctrina hecha por el 
Concilio IV.; Qumarraga, Joannes de. Pastoral, in 
Latin ; the Moralia S. Gregorii Papw, and the Hke. 

Of more value are the Sermones, of the discursos 
panegiricos stamp, and other branches of the rehgio- 
historical type, while the worth of such works as 
Materiales para la Historia de Sonora, the same of 
Texas, Nueva Galicia, Nueva Vizcaya, and other 
provinces thereabout, secured mostly from the Maxi- 
milian collection, is past computation. Among the 
hundreds of titles which present themselves having 
greater or less claims to importance are Memorias de 
Mexico; Rivera, Diario Curioso; Mexico, Archivo Gen- 
eral; Beaumont, Cronica de la Provincia de S. Pedro 
y S. Pablo de Mechoacan; Cartas Americanas; Gomez, 
Diario de Mexico. Some of the Squier manuscripts 
are Grijalva, Relacion; Andagoya, Carta; Yzaguirre, 
Relacion; Alvarado, Cartas; Cerezeda, Carta, and 
Relacion; Viana, Gallego, and Cadena, Relacion; 
Criado de Castilla, Relacion; Ddvila, Relacion; Docu- 
mentos relatives a la Historia de la Aiidiencia de las 
Confines; Leon Pinelo, Relacion, and Velasco, Capi- 
tulos de Carta. From the Ramirez collection I ob- 
tained Reales Cedulas, Reales Ordenanzas, Leyes, etc.; 
Actas Provinciales ; Alhieuri, Historia de las Misiones; 
Autos formados a Pedimento de esta Nohlessima ciudad; 
Figueroa, Vindicias; Papeles de Jesuitas; Disturhios 
de Frailes; Noticias de la Nueva California; Morji, 
Apuntes sobre el Nuevo Mexico; Monteverde, Memoria 
sobre Sonora; Monumentos Historicos; Relacion de la 
Or den de San Francisco en la Nueva Espana; Me- 
morias para la Historia de la Provincia de Sinaloa; 
Tamaron, Visita del obispado de Durango; Tumultos 
de Mexico, and many others. 

In regard to the hundreds of manuscript volumes 
of copied archives, histories, and narratives upon 
which the histories of the northern half of the Pacific 
territory is based, it is useless here to attempt any 
mention; I can only refer the reader to the biblio- 


graphical notices in my histories of that region, and 
to other places, where somewhat more space is de- 
voted to the subject. It is impossible, however, to 
give in a few chapters any adequate idea of the vast 
army of authors, arranged in battalions, regiments, 
and companies, quartered in the library building on 
Valencia street. The best exposition of the contents 
of the books of the library may be found in my vol- 
ume of Essays and Miscellany, where I devote four 
chapters to the literature of the territory covered by 
my writings, entitled, respectively, Literature of Cen- 
tral America; Literature of Colonial Mexico; Liter- 
ature of Mexico during the Present Century; and 
Early California Literature. These chapters, to- 
gether with the bibliographical notes carried through 
all my historical works, and which I have endeavored 
to make systematic, thorough, and complete, consti- 
tute not only an expose of the contents of the library, 
but a very fair history and analysis of Pacific States 
literature, the library containing as it does the entire 
literature of these lands. While thousands of authors 
must obviously remain unmentioned, yet in spirit and 
in essence the w^ritings of the place and time are fairly 
presented, the object being to tell so far as possible 
all that has been done in the various fields of learning 
and letters. 

In these chapters are presented not only results, but 
causes, whence emerged, under conditions favorable or 
unfavorable, natural or abnormal developments. The 
colonial literature of Central America and Mexico 
was some advance on the aboriginal, but not so great 
as many imagine; but when we reach the republican 
era of material and mental development, we find a 
marked change. The Pacific United States are 
bringing forth some strong men and strong books, 
though thus far authors of repute as a rule have come 
in from beyond the border-line, and are not sons of 
the soil. 


A collection of books, like everything else, has its 
history and individuality. Particularly is this the 
case in regard to collections limited to a special sub- 
ject, time, or territory. Such collections are the re- 
sult of birth and growth; they are not found in the 
market for sale, ready made ; there must have been 
sometime the engendering idea, followed by a long 
natural development. 

From the ordinary point of view there is nothing 
remarkable in gathering 50,000 volumes and provid- 
ing a building for their reception. There are many 
libraries larger than this, some of them having been 
founded and carried forward by an individual, with- 
out government or other aid, who likewise erected a 
building for his books. Nevertheless, there are some 
remarkable features about this collection, some im- 
portant points in connection therewith, which cannot 
be found elsewhere. 

First, as an historical library it stands apart from 
any other, being the largest collection in the world of 
books, maps, and manuscripts relating to a special 
territory, time, or subject. There are larger masses 
of historical data lodged in certain archives or libra- 
ries, but they are more general, or perhaps universal, 
relating to all lands and peoples, and not to so limited 
an area of the earth. And when the further facts 
are considered, how recently this country was settled, 
and how thinly peopled it now is as compared with 
what it will be some day, the difference is still more 

Secondly, it gives to each section of the area cov- 
ered more full, complete, and accurate data concern- 
ing its early history than any state or nation in the 
civilized world, outside of this territory, has or ever 
can have. This is a stupendous fact, which will find 
its way into the minds of men in due time. I repeat 
it: so long as this collection is kept intact, and 
neither burned nor scattered, California, Oregon, and 
the rest of these Pacific commonwealths may find 


here fuller material regarding their early history than 
Massachusetts, New York, or any other American 
state, than England, Germany, Italy, or any other 
European nation. The reason is obvious: they lost 
their opportunity; not one of them can raise the dead 
or gather from oblivion. 

Third, it has been put to a more systematic and 
practical use than any other historical library in the 
world. I have never heard of any considerable collec- 
tion being indexed according to the subject-matter 
contained in each volume, as has been the case here; 
or of such a mass of crude historic matter beinof ever 
before worked over, winnowed, and the parts worth 
preserving written out and printed for general use, as 
has been done in this instance. 

Says an eminent writer: "Respecting Mr Ban- 
croft's Pacific Library as a storehouse of historic data, 
pertaining to this broad and new western land, but 
one opinion has been expressed during the twenty 
years that the existence of such an institution has 
been known to the world. In all that has been said 
or written, at home or abroad, by friend or foe^ by 
admirers, indifferent observers, conservatrve critics, 
or hypercritical fault-finders, there has been entire 
unanimity of praise of the library as a collection of 
historic data. Disinterested and impartial visitors, 
after a personal inspection, have invariably shown a 
de<)jree of admiration far exceedinor that of the warm- 
est friends who knew the library only from descrip- 
tion. The praise of those wlio might be supposed to 
be hifluenced to some extent by local pride has never 
equalled that of prominent scholars from the east 
and Europe. 

"There is no American collection with which this 
can fairly be compared. There are other large and 
costly private libraries ; but the scope, plan, and pur- 
pose of the Bancroft Library place it beyond the pos- 
sibility of comparison. It is made up exclusively of 
printed and manuscript matter pertaining to the 


Pacific States, from Alaska to Panama. To say that 
it is superior to any .other in its own field goes for 
little, because there are no others of any great mag- 
nitude; but when we can state truthfully that nowhsre 
in the w^orld is there a similar collection equal to it, the 
assertion means something. And not only does this 
collection thus excel all others as a whole, but a like 
excellence is apparent for each of its parts. In it 
may be found, for instance, a better hbrary of Mexi- 
can works, of Central American works, of Pacific 
United States works, than elsew^here exists. And to go 
further, it may be said to contain a more perfect 
collection on Alaska, on New Mexico, on Texas, on 
Colorado, on Utah, on Costa Rica, and the other 
individual states or governments than can be found 
outside its walls. Not only this, but in several cases, 
notably that of California, this library is regarded as 
incomparably superior to any state collection existing, 
or that could at this date be formed in all the United 
States or Europe. 

''There is no other state or country whose historic 
data have been so thoroughly collected at so early a 
period of its existence, especially none whose existence 
has been so varied and eventful, and its record so com- 
plicated and perishable. Mr Bancroft has attempted, 
and successfully as is believed, to do for his country 
a work which in the ordinary course of events would 
have been left for a succession of historical societies 
and specialists to do in a later generation, after the 
largest part of the material had been lost, and the ac- 
complishment of the purpose would be absolutely 
impossible. Then, too, from such work the resulting 
stores of data, besides their comparative paucity, 
would be scattered, and not accessible as a whole to 
any single investigator. The advantage of having 
such historic treasures in one place rather than in 
many is almost as obvious as that of preventing the 
loss of valuable material." 

In this connection it is worthy of our serious con- 


sideration what the coming great Hbraries of the 
world are going to do for those ancient and impor- 
tant works which constitute at once the foundation 
and gems of every great collection. However it may 
be some time hence, it is certain that at the present 
day no collection of books is worthy of the name of 
library without a fair share of these rare and valuable 
works. Particularly is this the case in our own coun- 
try, where the value and importance of every library 
must depend, not on Elzevir editions, elaborate church 
missals, or other old-world curiosities, often as worth- 
less as they are costly, but on works of material in- 
terest and value relating to the discovery, conquest, 
settlement, and development of America, in its many 
parts from south to north, and east to west, from the 
days of Columbus to the present time — books becom- 
ing every day rarer and more costly. A prominent 
New York bookseller thus prints in his catalogue, in 
regard to old and valuable books as an investment : 
''We have often, in the course of our experience as 
booksellers, heard more or less comment on our prices. 
'You have good books and rare books,' our customers 
will say, 'but your prices are high.' And yet there 
is not a collector in the country who would not be 
glad to have books in his line at prices catalogued by 
us three or four years ago, could we supply them at 
the same prices now. So it may be safely affirmed 
that in rare books the tendency of prices is upward, 
the number of collectors increasing, and the difficulty 
in findinof o'ood books also increasinof. We have 
always found it more difficult to obtain a really rare 
book in good condition than to sell it. To the gen- 
uine lover of books it may be said: First find the 
book you want, then buy it, and if you think you have 
been extravagant, repent at your leisure, and by the 
time you have truly repented tlie book will have 
increased sufficiently in value to give you full absolu- 
tion." The time will come, indeed, when men will 
cease their efforts to measure the value of knowledge 


hy money. Any person or any people have the 
right to ask, not, How much gold is a barrel of 
knowledge worth? but, Can we afford to be intelli- 
gent or learned, or must we by reason of our poverty 
forever remain in itrnorance? Let all who love 
knowledge, and delight in the intelligence and pro- 
gress of the race, gather while they may. 

Thus in these various forms and attitudes the mag- 
nitude and in)portance of my work kept coniing up 
and uro^inof me on. This western coast, it seemed to 
me as I came to know and love it, is the best part of 
the United States, a nation occupying the best part 
of the two Americas, and rapidly becoming the most 
intellectual and powerful in the world. Its early his- 
tory and all the data connected w^itli it which can be 
gathered is of corresponding importance. 

Nor is this view so extravagant as to some it may 
appear. Already New England is physically en the 
decline, while there is surely as much mental vigor 
west as east. Along the Atlantic seaboard are thou- 
sands of farms which will not sell for what the im- 
provements cost, while the extremes of climate are 
killing and driving away. Work has scarcely yet 
begun on the Pacific seaboard, where are millions 
of unoccupied acres, ten of which with proper culti- 
vation will support a family in comfort. The com- 
monwealths of the New World are becoming more 
and more united under the beneficent influences of 
peace and progress; and the Monroe doctrine, at 
first negative rather than positive in its- assertions, 
is pointing the way toward world-wide domination by 
American brotherhood. The greatest of republics, 
surrounded and sustained in all that is elevating and 
progressive by lesser free governments, enters upon 
its second century of national existence under cir- 
cumstances more favorable than has ever before been 
vouchsafed to man. The integrity of the union has 
been tried and preserved; the stain of slavery has 


been eradicated; and while there is yet enough of 
corruption and licentiousness, political and social, 
there is more than enough of good to counterbal- 
ance the evil. In moral health and intellectual free- 
dom we are second to none, and so rapidly is our 
wealth increasing that England will soon be left 
behind in the race for riches. Give to the United 
States one half of the five centuries Rome gave her- 
self in which to become established in that inherent 
strength which made her mistress of the world, and 
the great American republic cannot be otherwise if 
she would than the most powerful nation on earth. 
And when that time comes, California and the com- 
monwealths around, and up and down this Pacific 
seaboard, will be a seat of culture and power to 
which all roads shall lead. So I give myself no con- 
cern as to the importance or ultimate appreciation of 
uiy work, however humble or imperfect may be the 
instrument of its accomplishment. And of the two 
sections, the historical narrative proper and the bio- 
graphical section, the latter I should say has even 
more of the invaluable practical experiences of the 
builders of these commonwealths, which otherwise 
would have passed out of existence, than the former. 
The biographies and characterizations of the eminent 
personages who during the first fifty years of the 
existence of the Pacific commonwealths laid the 
foundations of empire, and built upon them with such 
marvellous rapidity, skill, and intelligence, and sur- 
rounded as they are in a framework of the material 
conditions out of which evolved their magnificent des- 
tiny, contain vast magazines of valuable knowledge 
almost altogether new and nowhere else existing. 



Some have been scene to bite their pen, scratch their head, bend their 
browes, bite their lips, beat the boord, teare their paper, when they were 
faire for somewhat, and caught nothing therein. 


Heaps and heaps of diamonds and — sawdust ! Good 
gold and genuine silver, pearls and oyster-shells, cop- 
per and iron mixed with refuse and debris — such was 
the nature and condition of my collection in 1869, 
before any considerable labor had been bestowed upon 
it. Surrounded by these accumulations, I sat in an 
embarrassment of wealth. Chaff and Avheat; wheat, 
straw, and dirt; where was the brain or the score 
of brains to do this winnowing? 

What winnowing? I never promised myself or 
any one to do more than to gather; never promised 
even that, and probably, had I known in the begin- 
ning what was before me, I never should have under- 
taken it. Was it not enough to mine for the precious 
metal without having to attempt the more delicate 
and difficult task of melting down the mass and re- 
fining it, when I knew nothing of such chemistry? 
But I could at least arrange my accumulations in 
some kind of order, and even dignify them by the 
name of hbrary. 

During my last visit abroad Mr Knight had been 
clipping in a desultory manner from Pacific coast 
journals, and classifying the results under numerous 
headings in scrap-books and boxes; and I had also at 
that time an arrangement with the literary editor of 



the New York Evening Post, whereby he cHpped 
from European and American journals, and for- 
warded to San Francisco, monthly, such articles of 
value touching this territory as fell under his eye. 
By this means much pertinent matter was saved 
which I should never otherwise have seen. These 
clippings were all arranged, as nearly as possible, 
under such several divisions as su^^rested themselves. 

While these persons were thus engaged, which was 
for little less than a year, there came to the establish- 
ment of H. H. Bancroft and Company a young man, 
a native of New England, Henry L. Oak by name, 
recommended by Mr S. F. Barstow for the position 
of office-editor of a religious journal called The Occi- 
dent, which the firm was then publishing for a religious 

Knight was then manager of the publishing depart- 
ment, and to him Mr Oak was introduced. I had not 
yet returned from the east, where I remained some 
time on my way back from Europe. After talking 
the matter over with the persons interested, Mr Oak 
was finally installed in the position. His predecessor 
remained a few weeks instructincr him in his duties, 
and he had no difficulty in filling the position to the 
satisfaction of all concerned. These duties consisted 
at first in writing the news items and minor editorial 
notes, making selections from printed matter, reading 
proof, folding and mailing papers, keeping the accounts, 
corresponding with contributors and subscribers, and 
collecting bills. Gradually the whole burden of edit- 
ing the journal fell on him. The persons interested 
failing to carry out their agreement, the firm declined 
the further publication. of the journal, and the young 
editor w^as thrown out of employment. Thus the 
matter stood on my return from the east, and then 
my attention w^as first directed to Mr Oak. 

Meanwhile I had engaged as assistant, and finally 
successor, to Mr Knight, an Englishman of erratic 


mind and manner, who called himself Bosquetti. lie 
was remarkably quick and clear-headed in some direc- 
tions, and a good talker on almost any subject. Large 
additions had lately been made to the library; there 
were some wagon loads of old musty books, appar- 
ently unfit for anything, whicli had been thrust pro- 
miscuously as received into large bins in one corner 
of the second floor wareroom of the Merchant-street 
building, before mentioned. 

Bosquetti was directed to arrange and catalogue 
these lots. He had some knowledge of books and 
even of cataloguing, but his mind was not remark- 
able for breadth or depth; the capability to produce 
finished results was wantincf. He* had been thus oc- 
cupied about a month when I engaged Mr Oak to 
assist him. Oak knew little of books except such 
as he had studied at college, and professed to know 
nothing of cataloguing ; but he possessed to an 
eminent degree that rarest of qualities, common- 
sense. Within a few weeks he had familiarized him- 
self with the best systems, improving on them all in 
many respects, or at least he had taken from them 
such parts as best befitted his work and had applied 
them to it. Thick medium writing paper was cut to 
a uniform size, three and a half by five inches, and 
the full titles were written thereon; these were then 
abridged on smaller cards, two and a half by four 
inches, and finally copied alphabetically in a blank 
book made for that purpose. The United States 
government documents were examined, a list of 
volumes needed to fill sets was made out, and the 
contents of those at hand determined. A copy was 
likewise made of the catalogue of the San Diego 
archives, kindly furnished by Judge Hayes, which 
subsequently fell to me as part of the collection 
purchased from him. Shortly afterward Bosquetti 
decamped, leaving Oak alone in his work, which he 
pursued untiringly for over a year. Indeed, he may 
be said to have done the whole of the cataloguing 


himself, for what his coadjutor had written was of 
Httle practical benefit. 

The flight of Bosquetti was in this wise : First I 
sent him to Sacramento to make a list of such books 
on California as were in the state library. This he 
accomplished to my satisfaction. On his return, 
having heard of some valuable material at Santa Clara 
college, I sent him down to copy it. A month passed, 
during which time he wrote me regularly, reporting 
his doings, w^hat the material consisted of, what the 
priests said to him, and how he was progressing in 
his labors. He drew his pay religiously, the money 
both for salary and expenses being promptly sent 
him. It did not occur to me that there was any thing- 
wrong. He had been with me now for several 
months and I had never had cause to distrust him, 
until one day the proprietor of the hotel at which he 
lodged wrote me, saying that he understood the gen- 
tleman to be in my service, and he thought it but 
right to inform me that since he came to his house 
he had been most of the time in a state of beastly 
intoxication and had not done a particle of work. 
When his bottle became low he would sober up enough 
to make a visit to the college, write me a letter, 
receive his pay, and buy more liquor. 

In some way Bosquetti learned that I had been 
informed of his conduct, and not choosing to wait for 
my benediction, he wrote me a penitent letter and 
turned his face southward, seemingly desirous above 
all to widen the distance between us. I was satisfied 
to be rid of him at the cost of a few hundred dollars. 

Oak was thus left in sole charge of the literary 
accumulations, of which he was duly installed libra- 
rian. When the card copying was nearly completed 
the books were alphabetically arranged, tied up in 
packages, and placed in one hundred and twenty-one 
large cases, in which shape, in May, 1870, they were 
transferred to the fifth floor of the new and yet un- 
finished building on Market street. After superin- 


tending their removal the Hbrarian daily climbed a 
series of ladders to one of the side rooms of the new 
library, where a floor had been laid and a table placed. 
There he continued copying into a book the contents 
of the small cards previously prepared, and thus made 
the first manuscript catalogue of the library, which 
was in daily use for a period of twelve years. He 
was assisted a portion of the time by a cousin of mine, 
son of my most esteemed friend and uncle, W. W. Ban- 
croft, of Granville. Shelving was then constructed; 
the cases were opened, and the books placed alpha- 
betically upon the shelves. During this time I made 
some passes at literature, writing for the most part 
at my residence. Shortly after we had fairly moved 
into the Market-street building, the full effects of the 
business depression before mentioned were upon us. 
The business outlook was not flatterinor but never- 
theless we pressed forward, well knowing that to 
falter was perdition. 

During the autumn of 1870 Mr Oak continued 
his labors on the fifth floor, cataloguing new lots of 
books as they came in, arranging maps, briefs, and 
newspapers, copying and clipping bibliographical notes 
from catalogues, and taking care of the books and 
room. It was still my intention in due time to 
issue a bibliography of the Pacific coast, which 
should include all of my own collection and as 
many more titles as I could find. Before the end of 
the year there was quite a pile of my own manu- 
script on my table, and in the drawers, monographs, 
mostly, on subjects and incidents connected with the 
Pacific coast. All my thoughts were on history, and 
topics kindred thereto, Pacific States history, and the 
many quaint and curious things and remarkable and 
thrilling events connected therewith. I was passion- 
ately fond of writing; I would take up a subject 
here or an episode there and write it up tor the pure 
pleasure it gave me, and every da}^ I found myself 


able with greater ease and facility to discbarge my 
thoughts on paper. But even yet I had no well 
defined intentions of writing a book for publication. 
The responsibility was greater than I cared to assume. 
I had seen in my business so many futile attempts in 
that direction, so many failures, that I had no desire 
to add mine to the number. 

While I was wavering upon this border land of 
doubt and hesitancy in regard to a yet more direct 
and deeper plunge into the dark and dangerous 
wilderness of erudition before me, Mr Oak concluded 
to visit his old home and pass the winter with his 
friends at the east. 

I continued wanting, though in a somewhat desul- 
tory manner; the idea of anything more systematic at 
this time was somewhat repugnant to me. As yet my 
feebly kindled enthusiasm refused to burn brightly. 
I longed to do something, I did not know what; I 
longed to do great things, I did not know how; I 
longed to say something, I had nothing to say. And 
yet I would write as if my life depended on it, and 
if ever a bright thought or happy expression fell from 
my pen my breast would swell with as much pleasure 
as if I saw it written in the heavens, though the next 
moment I consigned it to a duni^eon there to remain 
perhaps forever. Much of what I last published was 
thus first written. The difliiculty, so far as more sys- 
tematic effort was concerned, was to flee the incubi 
of care, and of pecuniary responsibihty that leech -like 
had fastened themselves upon me these twenty years, 
and now threatened destruction to any plans I might 
make. For weeks at a time I would studiously avoid 
the library, like a jilted lover hating the habitation 
of his mistress; and the more I kept away the more 
the place became distasteful to me. Then I would 
arouse myself, resolve and re -resolve, dissipate de- 
pressing doubts, shut my eyes to former slights, and 
turn to the dwelling of my love. 

Long before I had a thought of writing anything 


myself for publication, the plan of an encyclopaedia 
of the Pacific States had been proposed to me by 
several gentlemen of California, who had felt the 
need of such a work. The idea presented itself thus : 
My collection, they said, was composed of every species 
of matter relating to the coast — physical geography, 
geology, botany, ethnology, history, biography, and so 
on through the whole range of knowledge. Was it 
not desirable to give to the world the fruits of such a 
field in the most compact shape, and was not an en- 
cyclopsedia the natural, and indeed the only feasible 

I did not at all fancy the task which they would 
thus lay upon me. It was not to my taste to manipu- 
late knowledge merely. To write and publish a 
treatise on every subject embraced within the cate- 
gories of general knowledge would be a task almost 
as impracticable as to reproduce and oflfer to the world 
the books of the hbrary in print. Yet it was true 
that an encyclopaedia of knowledge relating w^holly to 
the territory covered by the collection, which should 
supplement rather than supersede eastern and Euro- 
pean encyclopaedias, would certainly be desirable. The 
volumes should be rather small, and the articles wdiich 
treated purely of Pacific coast matters longer than 
those contained in other encyclopaedias. Some sub- 
jects might occupy a whole volume — as, for example, 
bibliography, mines and mining, physical geography, 
ethnology — and might be published separately, if 
necessary, as well as in the series. The matter was 
discussed, with rising or falling enthusiasm, for somie 

Mr Oak departed for the east in December, returned 
the 28th of April, and on the 1st of May, 1871, re- 
sumed his duties as librarian. Ten days were spent 
by him in attending to the preparation of two guide- 
books for tourists, the publication of which I had 
undertaken, and in discussing the scheme of an en- 
cyclopaedia, which I finally consented to superintend. 


I then began to look about for contributors. It was 
desirable at once to draw out as much as possible of 
talent latent on this coast, and at the same time to 
secure the best writers for the work. Circulars were 
accordingly issued, not only to men eminent in litera- 
ture and the professions, but to pioneers, and to all 
likely to possess information, stating the purpose and 
requesting cooperation. To several of the judges, 
lawyers, physicians, clergymen, and others in San 
Francisco of known literary tastes and talents, I made 
personal appeals, and received flattering assurances. 

I appointed an agent in New York, Mr Henry P» 
Johnston, then on tlie editorial staif of the Sun 
newspaper, to call on Californians and others capable 
and williniTf to write, and en^T^agfe their contributions. 
Mr Coleman promised to dictate to a stenographer 
an account of the San Francisco Vigilance Committee, 
and Mr Simonton aG^reed to contribute an article on 
journalism provided I would furnish the data. Mr 
Kemble, Professor Wood, Dr Scott, Mr Raymond, 
Mr Squier, and many others, placed themselves freely 
at my service. 

Mr John S. Hittell took a lively interest in the 
scheme, carefully preparing a list of the principal sub- 
jects which according to his idea should be treated, 
and the space to be given to each. A prospectus 
was printed, and letters sent out inviting coopera- 
tion. Many promised to contribute, among them 
Isaac Bird,^C. H. Eberle, W. W. Chipman, A. N. 
Fisher of Nevada, ^latthew P. Deady of Oregon, M. 
Baechtel, Archbishop Alemany, John W. Dwindle, 
Charles H. Sawyer, James De Fremery, John B. 
Harmon, J. G. Icazbalceta of Mexico, J. J. Warner, R. 
G. Greene of Washington, R. McCormick of Arizona, 
L. F. Grover of Oregon, E. S. Holden, J. B. Lamar, J. 
F. Lewis, T. M. Logan, O. C. Marsh of Yale College, 
L. B. Mizner, A. R. Safford of Arizona, A. F. White, 
Ogdcn Hoffman, Wm. Ingraham Kip, John B. Fclton, 
Hall McAllister, Horatio Stebbins, Frank Soulc, 

Lit. Ind. 15 


John T. Doyle, Henry II. Haiglit, W. Loomis, Wni. 
M. Gwin, David D. Colton, James S. Busli, Maurice C. 
Blake, Fred W. Loring of Boston, Nathaniel Bennett, 
Henry Cox, James T. Gardner, John R. Jarboe, 
Elwood Evans, G. A. Shiirtleff, John B. Frisbie, John 
McHenry, James Blake, H. H. Toland, John G. 
McCuUoiigh, Andrew L. Stone, Alphonse L. Pinart. 
M. de G. Vallejo, Morris M. Estee, James T. Boyd, 
Charles N. Fox, Albert Hart, and a hundred more. 
Many other projected works have at various times 
commanded my attention, and to execute them would 
have given me great pleasure, but I was obliged 
to forego the achievement, a thousand years of life 
not having been allotted me. Among them were 
A History of Gold ; Ph3^sical Features of the Pacific 
States; a volume on Interoceanic Communication; 
one on Pacific Railways; a series of volumes of con- 
densed Voyages and Travels; a Geography in small 
8vo; also a similar volume on Ethnology, and one on 
History, all of a popular nature embodying certain 
ideas which I have never seen worked out. On this 
last mentioned project, and indeed on some of the 
others, considerable work was done. I have likewise 
intended to print fifty or one hundred of the most 
valuable of my manuscripts as material for Pacific 
States history. Whoever has lived, laboring under 
the terrible pressure of the cacoethes scribendi, with- 
out promising himself to write a dozen books for 
every one accomplished! 

For the first time in my life health now began to 
fail. The increasing demands of the vast mercantile 
and manufacturing structure which I had reared drew 
heavily upon my nervous system. I grew irritable, 
was at times despondent, and occasionally desperately 
indifferent. I determined on a change of scene. 
Accordingly the 10th of May I started for the pur- 
pose of recreation and recuperation on a visit to the 
east, stopping at Salt Lake City for the purpose 


of enlisting the Mormons in my behalf. President 
Young and the leading elders entered heartily into 
my project, and a scheme was devised for obtaining 
information from every part of Utah. A schedule 
of the material required was to be forwarded through 
the channels of the government, with such instruc- 
tions from the chief authorities as w^ould command 
the immediate and careful attention of their subor- 
dinates throughout the territory. With the intention 
of calling on my return and then to carry out the 
plan I continued my journey. Then I fell into 
despondency. The state of my nerves, and the un- 
certainty of my financial future, had so dissipated 
ambition that much of the time I found myself in 
a mood fitter for making my exit from the world 
than for bei^inninsc a new life in it. 

At this time the chances that any important results 
would ever emanate from the library through my in- 
tervention were very slight. Gradually I abandoned 
the idea of having anything to do with an encyclo- 
paedia. My energies were sapped. My grip on destiny 
seemed relaxing. I had helmed the ship of V)usiness 
until exhausted, and the storm continuing, I left it 
to others, little caring, so far as I was personally 
concerned, whether it weathered the uale or not. 
There was too much of a lengthening out of the 
agony; if I was to be hanged, let me be hanged and 
have done with it. Such was my humor during the 
summer of 187] , as I lounged about among my friends 
at the east, listless and purposeless. 

From this lethargy I was awakened by the acci- 
dental remark of a lady, at whose liouse I was visit- 
ing with my daughter. She was an earnest, practical 
woman, cool and calculating ; one whose friendship 
had been of long duration, and whose counsel now was 
as wise as it was beneficent. Conscious of superior 
intellect, vain of her wealth and her influence, her 
strong character had much in it to admire in its energy 
and decision, though often wraped by egotism and jeal- 


ousy. Clearly comprehending the situation, slie saw 
that for me activity was life, passivity death, and 
her mind seemed to dwell on it. One day she said 
to me, "The next ten years will he the best of your 
Hfe; what are you going to do with them?" A lead- 
ing question, truly, and one I had often asked myself 
of late without ability to answer; yet her womanly 
way of putting these few simple words brought them 
home to me in a manner I had never before felt. I 
was standing by, waiting to see wdiether I might 
proceed with my literary undertaking or whether I 
should have to go to work for my bread. 

Those were the days of unattempted achievements, 
of great things unaccomplished. Imaginary sprout- 
ings of imaginary seeds sown and to be sown were 
visible to the mind's eye on every side, embryo vol- 
umes and germs of great works, and there were at 
hand the soil and fertilizers to stimulate development, 
but as yet I could point to little that betokened suc- 
cess. There was a rich field of honors yet to be sown 
and reaped. Huge quantities of invaluable material 
lay strewn on every side, material absolutely valueless 
in its present shape. And thus was I held in a sort of 
limhus loatrumy half way between earth and heaven. 

What was I to do? I did not know; but I w^ould 
do something, and that at once. I would mark out a 
path and follow it, and if in the mean time I should 
be overwhelmed, let it be so; I would waste no more 
time w^aiting. Once more I rubbed my lamp and 
asked the genius what to do. In due time the answer 
came; the way was made clear, yet not all at once; 
still, from that time I was at less loss as to what 
next I should do, and how I should proceed to do it. 
From that day to this I have known less wavering, 
less hesitation. I would strike at once for the highest, 
brightest mark before me. I would make an effort, 
whatever the result, which should be ennobling, in 
which even failure should be infinitely better than 
listless inaction. Exactly what I would undertake I 


could not now determine. History-writing I con- 
ceived to be among the highest of human occupa- 
tions, and this should be my choice, were my ability 
equal to my ambition. There was enough with which 
to wrestle, under these new conditions, to strengthen 
nerve and sharpen skill. 

Thus roused I went back to California. I entered 
the library. Oak, alone and rudderless on a sudoriHc 
sea, was faithfully at work cutting up duplicate copies 
of books and severalizing the parts upon the previous 
plan, thus adding to the numerous scraps hitherto 
collected and arranged. It was a sorrowful attempt 
at great things; nevertheless it was an attempt. To 
this day the fruits of many such plantings in connec- 
tion with these Literary Industries remain unplucked. 
Yet, if never permitted by my destiny to accomplish 
great things, I could at least die attempting them. 



We were the first that ever burst 
Into that silent sea. 


It was the 20th of August, 1871, that I returned 
from my eastern trip, being summoned to the su])- 
port of a greatly imperiled business. My friends 
had become fearful for the safety of the firm, and 
had telegraplied me to return. Wicked reports of 
things undreamed of by ourselves had been so long 
and so persistently circulated by certain of our com- 
petitors, who feared and hated us, that the confidence 
of even those slow to believe ill of us began to be 
shaken. No Achilles was near to smite to earth those 
sons of Thersites. 

The fact of my changing the name of the firm, the 
reason for which I had some delicacy about loudly 
proclaiming, was perverted by our enemies into a fear 
as to the ultimate success of the business, and a deter- 
mination on my part in case of failure not to be brought 
down with it. And this, notwithstanding they knew, 
or might have known, that I never shirked any part 
of the responsibility connected with the change of 
name, and that every dollar I had was pledged for the 
support of the business. To their great disappoint- 
ment we did not succumb ; we did not ask for an exten- 
sion, or any favors from any one. Nevertheless my 
friends desired me to return, and I came. 

But I was in a bad humor for business. I never 
thought it possible so to hate it, and all the belittlings 



and soul-crushings connected with it. Even the faint 
ghmpse of the Above and Beyond in my fancies had 
been sufficient to spoil me for future money grubbings. 
''Only those who know the supremacy of the intellect- 
ual life," says George Eliot, "the life which has a seed 
of ennobling thought and purpose within it, can un- 
derstand the grief of one who falls from that serene 
activity into the absorbing soul-wasting struggle with 
worldly annoyances." Had I been alone, with only 
myself to suffer, and had not even my literary aspira- 
tions been dependent on the success of the shop, I 
would have turned my back on it forever to let it sink 
or swim, as it pleased or was able. 

This, however, was not to be. My duty was too plain 
before me. The business must have my attention; it 
must have more money, and I must provide it. Into 
llie breach I threw myself, and stood there as well as 
I was able, thouu^h at such a cost of feelinf? as no one 
ever knew, and as few could ever appreciate. Having 
done this, all that I could do, and in fact all that was 
necessary to save the business, I mentally consigned 
the whole establishment to oblivion, and directed my 
attention once more, and this time in desperate earnest, 
to my literary infatuation. 

At the very threshold of my resolve, however, 
stared me in the face the old inquiry. What shall I 
do, and how shall I do it? One thing was plain, even 
to a mind as unskilled in the mysteries of book- 
making as mine. On my shelves were tons of un- 
winnowed material for histories unwritten and sciences 
undeveloped. In the present shape it was of little use 
to me or to the world. Facts were too scattered; 
indeed, mingled and hidden as they were in huge 
masses of debris, the more one had of them the worse 
one was off All this was like mixing chlorine and 
hydrogen in the dark: so long as the mixture is kept 
from light the ingredients manifest no disposition to 
unite, but once let sunshine in and quickly they com- 
bine into muriatic acid. Thus, not until the rays of 


experience illuminated my library did tlie union of 
my efforts and material fructify. A little truth in su<'h 
a form as one could use, a quantity sucli as one could 
grasp, was better than uncontrollable heaps. Much 
knowledge out of order is little learning; confusion 
follows the accumulation in excess of ungeneralized 

To find a way to the gold of this amalgam, to 
mark out a path through a wilderness of knowledge 
to the desired facts, was the first thing to be done. 
He who would write at the greatest advantage on 
any practical subject must have before him all that 
has been written by others, all knowledge extant on 
that subject. To have that knowledge upon his 
shelves, and yet be unable to place his hand upon it, 
is no better than to be without it. If I wished to 
write fully on the zoology, for example, of the Pacific 
slope, nine tenths of all the books in m}^ library con- 
taining reference to the animals of the coast might as 
well be at the bottom of the ocean as in my possession 
unless I was prepared to spend fifteen years on this 
one subject. And even then it could not be thoroughly 
done. Fancy an author with thirty or fifty thousand 
volumes before him sittinor down to read or look 
through ten thousand of them for every treatise or 
article he wrote! De Quincey gives a close reader 
from five to eight thousand volumes to master between 
the ages of twenty and eighty; hence a man beginning 
at thirty-seven with twenty thousand volumes soon 
increased to forty thousand, could scarcely hope in his 
lifetime even to look into them all. 

This was the situation. And before authorship could 
begin a magic wand must be waved over the assembled 
products of ten thousand minds, which would several- 
ize what each had said on all important topics, and 
reduce the otherwise rebellious mass to form and sys- 
tem. This, after the collection of the material, was 
the first step in the new chemistry of literary reduc- 
tion. Here, as elsewhere in the application of science, 


facts must be first collected, then classified, after which 
laws and general knowledge may be arrived at. 

How was this to be accomplished ? It is at the in- 
itial period of an undertaking that the chief difficulty 
arises. I had no guide, no precedent by which to formu- 
late my operations. I might write after the ordinary 
method of authors, but in this field comparatively 
Httle could come of it. To my knowledge, author- 
ship of the quality to which I aspired had never be- 
fore been attempted by a private individual. A mass 
of material like mine had never before been collected, 
collocated, eviscerated, and re-created by one man, un- 
assisted by any society or government. The great 
trouble was to get at and abstract the information. 
Toward the accomplishment of this my first efforts 
were crude, as may well be imagined. I attempted to 
read or cursorily examine such volumes as were likely 
to contain information on the subjects to be written, 
and to mark the passages to be extracted. A system 
of figures was adopted, one of which, pencilled on the 
margin of the page, denoted the subject-heading under 
Avliich the extracted page or paragraph should appear. 
These passages were then copied. Of course it would 
have been easier to purchase two copies of every im- 
])ortant book, and to have cut them up, as in fact was 
done in many instances; but nine tenths of the library 
could not be duplicated at any cost, and to destroy a 
book or even a newspaper of which I could not buy 
another copy was not for a moment to be thought of. 

But what was one man, one reader, among so many 
thousand authors I After going over a dozen volumes 
or so in this manner, and estimating the time required 
for readinor and marking: ^H the books of the library, 
I found that by constant application, eight hours a 
day, it would take four hundred years to go through 
the books of the library in a superficial way. It 
must be borne in mind that these books had been 
collected on a special subject, and therefore it was 
necessary to examine every one of them. I concluded, 


therefore, that other men must also be set to read, 
and more men to copy literatim all information likely 
to be required in the study of any subject. Thus 
these literary industiies beoan gra(kially to assume 
broader proportions, and so they continued till Decem- 
ber of this same year. 

On trial, however, the plan proved a failure. The 
copied material relating to the same or kindred topics 
could indeed be brought together, but on begin- 
ning to write I found the extracts unsatisfying, and 
felt the necessity of the book itself The copyist may 
have made a mistake; and to appraise the passage at 
its full value I must see the connection. Any expe- 
rienced author could have told me this; but there was 
no experienced author at hand. 

After some twenty-live reams of legal cap paper 
had thus been covered on one side, to consign the 
labors of these six or eight men for these several 
months to the waste heap was but the work of a mo- 
ment. There was too much involved, the enterprise 
was projected on too large a scale, to admit of a wrong 
beginning; and prepared as I was to stake past, present, 
and future on this literary adventure, it appeared 
folly to continue a path shown to be wrong. La Fon- 
taine's idea was not a bad one: '^Le trop d'expddiens 
pent gater une aifaire : on perd du temps au choix, on 
tente; on veut tout faire. N'en ayons qu'un; mais 
qu'il soit bon." 

Meanwhile, after frequent and protracted discus- 
sions, I determined to have the whole library indexed 
as one would index a single book. This surely would 
bring before me all that every author had said on any 
subject about which I should choose to write. This, 
too, would give me the authors themselves, and em- 
body most of the advantages of the former scheme 
without its faults. In pursuance of this plan Oak 
took up the voyage collections of Hakluyt and Na- 
varrete, while less important works were distributed to 


such of the former readers and copyists as were 
deemed competent. For example, one Gordon made 
an index of Cahfornia legislative documents. Albert 
Goldschmidt's first work was to make an index, on a 
somewhat more general plan than that of Navarrete, 
of the Atlantic Monthly, and other magazines and 
reviews. He afterward catalo^i^ued a laro^e lot of 
Mexican books. To Cresswell, since in the Nevada 
senate, Pointdexter, and others, was given less im- 
portant work. 

Among other parts of the outlined encyclopasdia was 
a collection of voyages and travels to and throughout 
the Pacific States. As the more comprehensive pro- 
gramme was gradually set aside, my attention became 
more and more concentrated on these several parts. 
True, history was ever the prominent idea in my 
mind, but, audacious as was my ambition, I had not 
the presumption to rush headlong into it during the 
incipient stages of my work. At the beginning of my 
literary pilgrimage, I did little but flounder in a slough 
of despond. Until my feet touched more solid ground, 
I did not dare essay that which appeared to me no less 
difficult than grand. 

A collection of voyages and travels such as I pro- 
jected offered many attractions as an initial step in 
my literary undertakings. Incident and instruction 
were therein so combined as under a sparkling pen 
to awaken and retain the liveliest interest. Here was 
less risk of failure than in more ambitious attempts; 
I alone possessed the material, and surely I could serve 
it in a style not wholly devoid of attractions. If this 
were not within the scope of my accomplishment 
nothing was. So, during the first half of 1872, in 
conjunction with the indexing, under a devised system 
of condensation, several persons were employed in ex- 
tracting Pacific coast vo3'ages and travels. Mr Ora 
Oak, a younger brother of the Hbrarian, was so 
employed for some time, displaying marked ability. 
Walter M. Fisher wrote out the travels of Bryant, 


Bayard Taylor, Humboldt, and others. This work 
altogether lasted about a year, and resulted in — 

Several women were also employed upon these 
voyages; one, a pretty widow whose name I have 
forgotten, brought her luncheon and made her tea 
at my fire. I know not why it is, but almost every 
attempt to employ female talent in connection with 
these Industries has proved a signal failure. Many 
poor and needy women, all educated, and some of 
them talented and highly cultivated, came to me 
begging employment. They had done great things 
hitherto, and were sure they could do this so simple 
work. Indexing, as they imagined, was nothing; and 
as for travels, had they not been up and down the 
world writing for this weekly or the other monthly? 
I know of no object on earth so pitiable as an in- 
competent, impecunious woman, has bleu or brainless, 
obliged to earn her living and too proud to work with 
her hands; and there are always thousands of such 
in California. Sympathizing with their forlorn con- 
dition, I have often given them work when I knew 
they could not do it, giving the time of a valuable 
man to teach them, paying perhaps for a fortnight's 
annoyance, and then throwing the results of her 
efforts into the waste-basket. 

I have to-day nothing to show for thousands of 
dollars paid out for the futile attempts of female 
writers. What it is they lack, justly attributable to 
their sex, I hardly know. That a woman has not the 
mental or physical force and endurance of a man does 
not seem a sufficient reason. True, in literary labors, 
strength is taxed to the utmost. I have tried many 
occupations, and there is no kind of work, I venture 
to say, so wearing as literary labor. The manage- 
ment of a large commercial establishment is play be- 
side^ it. A mercantile and manufacturing book and 
stationery business, with two hundred men at work at 
fifty different things, is as intricate and full of detail 


as any other occupation ; and yet while deep in literary 
labors I have voluntarily assumed the sole management 
of the business which I had built, for several years at 
a time, finding relief and recreation in it. It was well 
systematized; there were good men at the head of 
every part of it; and for me to manage it was as easy 
and pleasurable as driving a well trained four-in-hand. 
An enduring attack by the mind on the tableful of 
mind spread out before it; a grappling of intellects 
and a struggle, if not for preponderance at least for 
identity, for life — this, while the brain saps the 
essences of the body until the head is hot, and the 
feet cold, and the limbs stiff, this is the work of men. 
It is not the play at work of women. If a woman 
has genius, that is another thing. But even then 
genius alone is of little avail to me. My work de- 
mands drudgery as well. If she have genius, let her 
stay at home, write from her effervescent brain, and 
sell the product to the highest bidder. 

Hard work, the hardest of work, is not for frail and 
tender woman. It were a sin to place it on her. Give 
her a home, with bread and babies; love her, treat 
her kindly, give her all the rights she desires, even 
the defiling right of suffrage if she can enjoy it, and 
she will be your sweetest, loveliest, purest, and most 
devoted companion and slave. But life-long applica- 
tion, involving life-long self-denial, involving constant 
pressure on the brain, constant tension of the sinews, 
is not for women, but for male philosophers or — fools. 
So, long since, I forswore petticoats in my library; 
breeches are sometimes bad enough, but when unbe- 
fitting they are disposed of somewhat more easily. 

Later in my work, and as an exception to the 
above, I am glad to testify to the ability and success 
of one female writer, if for no other reason than to de- 
liver me from the charge of prejudice. I have found 
in Mrs Frances Fuller Victor, during her arduous 
labors for a period of ten years in my library, a 
lady of cultivated mind, of ability and singular ap- 


plication; likewise her physical endurance was re- 

Long before this I had discovered the plan of the 
index then in progress to be impracticable. It was 
too exact; it was on too minute a scale. Besides 
absorbing an enormous amount of time and money in 
its making, when completed it would be so volumi- 
nous and extended as to be cumbersome, and too un- 
wieldy for the purpose designed. 

Others realized this more fully than myself, and 
from them came many suggestion in perfecting the 
present and more practical system. This is a modi- 
fication and simplification of the former, a reduction 
to practice of what before was only theory. Three 
months were occupied in planning and testing this 
new system. When we became satisfied with the 
results, we began indexing and teaching the art 
to the men. As the work progressed and the plan 
inspired confidence, more indexers were employed. 
Hundreds were instructed, and the efficient ones 
retained. Mr William Nemos came in, and as he 
quickly mastered the system and displayed marked 
ability in various directions, the indexing and the in- 
dexers were placed under his supervision. 

The system as perfected and ever since in successful 
and daily operation, I will now describe : 

Forty or fifty leading subjects were selected, such 
as Agriculture, Antiquities, Botany, Biography, Com- 
merce, Drama, Education, Fisheries, Geology, His- 
tory, Indians, Mining, etc., which would embrace all 
real knowledge, and cover the contents of the wdiole 
collection, except such parts as were irrelevant. For 
example, a writer's ideas of religion were considered of 
no value, as was anything he saw^ or did outside of our 
Pacific States territory; or his personal affairs, unless 
of so striking a character as to command general in- 
terest. These forty or fifty subjects formed the basis 
of the index, embracing the whole range of practical 
knowledge, history, biography, and science, while ex- 


eluding tons of trash, with which every author seems 
bound in a greater or less degree to dilute his writings. 

Now as to the collection of minor subjects or sub- 
topics under the general headings, so as to permit a 
ready use of the material with the least possible fric- 
tion. The device is at once ingenious, simple, and 
effectual. The lists of subjects were so chosen that 
each might be made to embrace a variety of sub- 
divisions. Thus under the head Asrriculture are in- 
eluded stock raising, soils, fruits, and all other products 
of farm cultivation. Under Antiquities are included 
ruins, relics, hieroglyphics, and all implements and 
other works of native Americans prior to the coming 
of Europeans; also ancient history, traditions, migra- 
tions, manners and customs before the conquest, and 
speculations, native and European, concerning the 
origin of the Americans. The same system was 
observed with Architecture, Art, Bibliography, Biog- 
raphy, Ethnology, Jurisprudence, Languages, Manu- 
factures, Medicine, Meteorology, Mythology, and all 
the other chief subject-headings, including states and 
localities. A list of abbreviations was then made, and 
the plan was ready for application. 

The operation of indexing was as follows : A list of 
subjects, with their subdivisions and abbreviations, 
was placed before an assistant, who proceeded to read 
the book also given him, indexing its contents upon 
cards of heavy writing paper three by five inches in 
size. When he came to a fact bearing on any of the 
subjects in the list he wrote it on a card, each assist- 
ant following the same form, so as to produce uniform 
results. For example, the top line of all the cards was 
written in this manner: 

Agric. Cal., Silk Culture, 1867. 

Antiq. Chiapas, Palenque. 

Biog. Cortes (H.) 

Hist. Mexico. 1519. 

Ind. Nev. Shoshones (Dwellings). 

Ogn. Portland. 1870. 


The second line of each card gave the title of the 
book, with the volume and page where the informa- 
tion was to be found; and, finally, a few words were 
given denoting the character of the information. Here- 
with I give a specimen card complete: 

Ind. Tehuan. Zapotecs. 1847. 

Macgregor, J. Progress of America. London, 184'/ 
Vol. I., pp. 848-9. 

Location, Character, Dress, Manufactures. 

Here we have a concise index to a particular fact 
or piece of information. It happens to relate to the 
aborigines, and so falls under the general heading 
Indians. It has reference especially to the natives of 
Tehuantepec. It is supposed to describe them as they 
were in the year 1847. It concerns the Zapotec tribe 
particularly. It has to do with their location, char- 
acter, dress, and manufactures, and it is to be found 
on pages 848 and 849 of the first volume of a book 
entitled Progress of America, written by J. ^lacgregor, 
and published in London in 1847. Of course, when 
the cards are put away in their case all the cards on 
Indians are brought toofether. Of the Indian cards 
all those relating to Tehuantepec are brought together. 
Of the Tehuantepec natives all in the library that 
relate to the Zapotec tribe will be found together; 
and so on. 

Thus the student is directed at once to all the sources 
of information concerning his subject, and the orderly 
treating of innumerable topics, otherwise impossible, 
is thus made practicable. If, for example, a person 
wishes to study or write upon the manners and cus- 
toms of all the aborigines inhabiting the territory 
covered by the library, he takes all the cards of the 
index bearing the general heading Indians, and is by 


them directed immediately to all the sources of infor- 
mation, which else would take him ten years at least 
to ferret. If information is desired of Tehuantepec, 
take the Tehuantepec cards; or if of the Zapotec 
tribe only, the Zapotec cards. So it is with any sub- 
ject relating to mining, history, society, or any other 
category within the range of knowledge. 

Thus book by book of the authorities collected was 
passed through the hands of skilled assistants, and 
with checks and counter-checks an immense and all- 
comprehending system of indexing w^as applied to each 
volume. Physical, moral, geographical, historical, from 
the fibre of an Eskimo's hair to the coup de maitre of 
Cortes, nothing was too insignificant or too great to 
find its place there. With the index cards before him, 
the student or writer may turn at once to the volume 
and page desired; indeed, so simple and yet so effect- 
ual are the workings of the system that a man may 
seat himself at a bare table and say to a boy. Bring 
me all that is known about the conquest of Darien, 
the mines of Nevada, the missions of Lower Califor- 
nia, the agriculture of Oregon, the lumber interests 
of Washington, the state of Sonora, the town of 
Queretaro, or any other information extant, or any 
description, regarding any described portion of the 
western half of North America, and straightway, as 
at the call of a magician, such knowledge is spread 
before him, with the volumes opened at tlic [)age. 
Aladdin's lamp could produce no such results. That 
commanded material wealth, but here is a sorcery that 
conjures up the wealtli of mind and places it at the 
disposition of the seer. 

Hundreds of years of profitless uninteresting labor 
may be saved by this simple device; and a prominent 
feature of it is that the index is equally valuable in 
connection with any other library where copies of my 
material may exist. The cost of this index was about 
thirty-five thousand dollars, but its value is not to be 
measured by money. 

Ln. Ind. 16 


After the explanation given, one would think it easy 
to find men who could make this index. But it was not 
so. Never was there man or woman who looked at it 
but instantly knew or thought they knew, all about it; 
yet nineteen out of twenty who attempted it failed. 
The difficulty was this : to be of value, the work must 
all be done on a uniform plan. If one competent per- 
son could have done the whole, the index would be 
all the better. But one person could not do all ; from 
five to twenty men were constantly emploj^ed upon 
it for years. Many of the books were indexed tw^o or 
three times, owing to the incompetency of those w^ho 
first undertook the task. 

It was extremely difficult to make the indexers 
comprehend what to note and what not. Rules for 
general guidance could be laid down, yet in every 
instance something must be left to the discretion of 
the individual. All must work to a given plan, yet 
all must use judgment. In attempting this, one would 
adhere so rigidly to rule as to put down a subject- 
heading whenever a mere word was encountered, 
even though unaccompanied by any information. If, 
for example, the sentence occurred, ^'The machinery 
of government had not yet been set in motion along 
the Sierra foothills," such an indexer would make a 
card under Machiner}^ to the infinite disgust of the 
investigator of mechanical affairs. At the same time, 
most important facts might be omitted, simply be- 
cause they were not expressed in words which broadly 
pointed to a subject on the list. Then, too, there was 
much difference between men in aptness, some find- 
ing it necessary to plod through every line before 
grasping the pith of the matter, while others acquired 
such expertness that they could tell by merely 
glancing down a page whether it contained an}^ useful 
information. But by constant accessions and elimina- 
tions a sufficient number of competent persons was 
found to carry the work forward to completion. 

When a volume was finished the indexer would 


hand it with his cards to Mr Oak or Mr Nemos, who 
glanced over the work, testing it here and there to 
see that it was properly done, and then gave out 
another book. Finally the cards were all classified 
under their distinguishing .title, and placed in alpha- 
betical order in upright cupboard-like cases made for 
the purpose. The cases are each about five feet in 
height, four feet in width, and less than six inches in 
thickness, with board partitions, and tin shelves slant- 
ing inward to hold the cards in place. The partitions 
are distant apart the length of the card, and the 
depth of the case is equivalent to the width of the 
card. In other words, the receptacles were made to 
fit the cards. 

In special work of great magnitude, such as ex- 
haustive history, it is necessary to invest the system 
of indexing with greater detail, more as it was first 
established, making innumerable special references, 
so that when done and arranged according to subject 
and date, all that has been said by every author on 
every point is brought together in the form of notes. 
I shall have occasion to refer to this subject again. 

Such was the machinery which we found neces- 
sary to contrive in order to extract the desired material 
from the cumbersome mass before us. And by this 
or other similar means alone can the contents of any 
large library be utilized ; and the larger the collection 
the more necessity for such an index. A universal 
index, applicable to any library, or to the books of the 
world collectively, might be made with incalculable 
advantage to civilization; but the task would be her- 
culean, involving the reading of all the books and 
manuscripts in existence. Such an instrument in the 
hands of a student may be likened to the dart given 
by Abaris, the Hyperborean priest, to Pythagoras, 
which carried the possessor over rivers and mountains 
whithersoever he listed. This will probably never be 
done, although theoretically the plan is not so prepos- 
terous as might at first glance appear. No individual 


possessed of reason would undertake it as a private 
scheme; necessarily it must be a national, or rather 
an international, work; and the number of persons of 
different climes and tongues to be employed would very 
likely prove fatal to it. Yet I believe the time will 
come when all the chief libraries of the world will 
have their index. Surely in no other way can scholars 
command the knowledge contained in books; and as 
books multiply, the necessity increases. 



Not cbaos-like together crush'd and bmis'd, 
But, as the world, harmoniously confus'd, 
Where order in variety we see, 
And wliere, though all things differ, all agree. 


Those to whom I apply the term assistants by no 
means include all the army of workers who have at 
various times and in various ways lent me their ser- 
vices in my historical efforts. During tlie long term 
of my labors, it is safe to say that no less than six 
hundred different persons were at work for me at 
various times in my library. As the minimum, the 
number engaged in the library at any one time dur- 
ing a period of thirty years seldom feh below twelve; 
the liighest being fifty, some thirty of whom were on 
regular details. The highest number was employed, 
however, only when there was extra work to do, such 
as special indexing, extracting, copying, or verifications. 
My assistants proper, as the term is used here, are 
those who aided me in my more responsible labors, and 
may be reduced to twenty in all, though more than a 
hundred made the effort unsuccessfully at one time or 

All my life, whatever I have had in hand, whether 
in the field of business or of literature, I have alwa3^s 
been fortunate enough to have good men about me, 
not only efficient aids, but those whom I could call my 
friends, and the enjoyment of whose regard was ever 
a source of gratification. Obviously this is a neces- 
sity whenever a person undertakes to accomplish 



more in any direction than a single head and pair of 
hands can do in a hfetime. Though all have not 
ability and integrity, I have always found some in 
whose faithfulness I could trust as in my own; and 
while the responsibility must always rest upon me 
alone, some portion of that praise which has been so 
lavishly bestowed upon me and my enterprise rightly 
belongs to them. 

Not only must the man who would assist in his- 
torical work aiming at the truth be honest, but 
honesty must be so inbred, so permeating the blood 
and bones of him, that deceit shall find no entrance. 
Not only must he be conscientious, but conscience 
must have full possession, and all his thoughts and 
actions be as under the all-seeing eye. For the op- 
portunities, and to the careless and unprincipled the 
inducements, for slighting the work, for taking the 
easiest rather than the most thorough way of doing 
a thing, are so great, that if so disposed he may devote 
the requisite number of hours to his task and ac- 
complish worse than nothing. If heedless and indif- 
ferent, and he be so disposed, he may save himself 
much drudgery, the performance of which never would 
be known or appreciated. Hence, I say, love of truth 
for truth's sake must be to every one of these men as 
the apple of his eye. It is true, every man is known 
to his fellows, and thoroughly known in the end. No 
one, however cunning, can deceive and escape detec- 
tion always. He will be weighed and measured as 
time passes by at his exact value; but in researches 
like mine, he could, if he would, subject one to great 
annoyance, and spoil as much as or more than he 
accomplished, which, indeed, was not unfrequently 
done in my library. 

First among my collaborators I may mention here 
Henry Lebbeus Oak. I have already told how he 
first came to the library, and at an early day became 
an important adjunct to it. I have often regarded it 

HENRY L. OAK. 247 

as remarkable that so true and conscientious a friend, 
so faithful a librarian and laborer, should so early 
and opportunely have come to my aid. He was bora 
at Garland, Maine, on the 13th of May, 1844. His 
Welsh, English, and Scotch ancestry was American 
on all four sides from a date preceding the revolution ; 
his great-grandfather, the Rev. Ebenezer Hill, was a 
Harvard man of 1786, and his grandparents, unmind- 
ful of the star of empire, moved to Maine from Bos- 
cawen and Mason, New Hampshire, early in the 
present century. 

Childhood and youth were passed uneventfully in 
his native village. School duties were mingled with 
a little work in garden, stable, wood-shed, or in the 
shop of his father, who was a harness-maker. His 
parents, however, were indulgent; there was but lit- 
tle work to be done, and I cannot learn that he was 
over anxious to do that little; thus most of his time 
was spent in idleness, mischief, and novel-reading, 
varied with out-door sports of the quieter class; for 
vice and dissipation he had slight inclination, and still 
less opportunity. He was educated at the common 
and high school, attending the latter, which was ex- 
ceptionally good at Garland, in autumn and spring, 
from the age of ten years. 

In 18G1 he entered the freshman class of Bowdoiu 
college, and was graduated at Dartmouth in the clas.s 
of 18G5. His college course corresponded in time 
with the great civil war which called away many of 
his classmates; and indeed, Oak often had the desire 
— a most foolish one, as it seemed to him later — to 
enlist, but was kept from doing so by the opposition 
of his parents, who were giving him a college educa- 
tion at a sacrifice they could ill afford. In the winter 
vacations he taught school in different towns of his 
native state; and after graduation was employed for 
a year as assistant in an academy at Morristown, 
New Jersey. The occupation was most distasteful, 
though our Yankee schoolmaster seems to have had 


fair success as instructor and disciplinarian; and in 
the hope of one day shaking it off, he prepared for 
commerce by devoting some evenings to the study of 
book-keeping, and for law by borrowing a law-book 
and letting it lie on his table till the owner wanted it. 
California then came to his rescue, as she has rescued 
many another, saving some from hell, but vastly more 
from heaven. Through the aid of his college room- 
mate, George R. Williams, an old Californian, then 
studying law at Petaluma, he obtained an engagement 
as clerk in the grain warehouse of McNear Brothers, 
and came to California by steamer in 1866. Illness, 
something new in Oak's experience, soon forced him 
to quit this employment, and reduced him, financially, 
to nothing; indeed, I have heard him attribute his 
escape from permanent lodgings at Lone mountain, 
or some less expensive resort for the dead, to the 
kindness of Mr and Mrs S. F. Barstow of San Fran- 
cisco, the latter a sister of Williams, at whose house 
he was w^ell cared for. And, here I say, may God's 
best blessing rest on those who, at the cost of time, 
money, and personal convenience, befriended sick and 
destitute w^anderers in the early gold-getting days of 
California and later. 

On his feet again, with the aid of John Swett, 
in the spring of 1867 Oak found a position as princi- 
pal of the Haywards public school, where he remained 
for one term, rapidly regaining his health; and then 
for a term became assistant at the Napa collegiate 
institute, a methodist institution, where the term 
^assistant' was somewhat comprehensive, since the 
])rincipal was on the circuit and but rarely made his 
appearance. A peculiar phase of his experience here, 
to wdiich I have heard him allude, w^as the rather em- 
barrassing necessity of conducting school and family 
prayers, besides asking a blessing on rather doubtful 
food three times a day, as he had recklessly agreed at 
the first to do, rather than lose the job, if the princi- 
pal should chance now and then to be absent. Five 

HENRY L. OAK. 249 

months of this sort of thing became somewhat tedious, 
though, by developing episcopalian tendencies, he 
avoided having to keep up a reputation with the 
brethren at prayer-meetings, and even read his family 
service from a book, though the school prayer some- 
times became prayed out and required remodelling. 
I find nothing of hypocrisy in all this; in a sense, 
though fast drifting into free thought, he was in ear- 
nest; it takes a long time for a boy to rid himself of 
the old beliefs that are breathed in with the New 
England air, and Oak saw no harm in addressing pe- 
titions to a supreme being, even if that being and his 
methods were not quite so clear to him as they seemed 
to others. And later, when his religious creed — that 
of entire ignorance resjoecting the aifairs of another 
world, mingled with respect and somewhat of envy 
for those who know all about it — had become more 
settled, I doubt not he would have performed the 
strange task with much less embarrassment, even if 
Mohammed or Quetzalcoatl had been the object of 
local worship. 

From Napa he came again to San Francisco; and 
in the spring of 1868, after a long period of idleness, 
when on the point of being forced by lack of funds to 
become again a teacher, he was employed as office 
editor of the Occident, a presbyterian organ; and a 
year later, when the publication of that paper passed 
from the control of our firm, he assumed the position of 
librarian and superintendent of that wide range of 
intricate detail essential to extracting material in the 
Bancroft library, a place he held continuously for a 
period of nearly twenty years. 

I suppose nature has a place and purpose for every- 
thing she makes, though it certainly would seeni that 
not everything made by nature finds its place and 
purpose. This man, however, certainly found his vo- 
cation, and fitted himself to it perfectly. In him 
Were combined, in a remarkable degree, those rare and 
admirable qualities essential to the work. Ability, 


application, endurance, clear-headedness, and sound 
judgment, united with patience and enthusiasm, en- 
abled him to trample down many of the obstacles 
which constantly beset our path. He had a thorou(:^h 
knowledge of Spanish and French, with a useful 
smattering of other languages. Pleasant and affable 
to all around him, he sought no man's company. 
Methodical in his habits, having little to do with so- 
ciety, he fastened his mind upon the work, and there 
kept it day after day, and year after year. No one 
ever has known, or ever will know, the early history 
of California or the Spanish northwest as we knew it 
then — I say never will know it, because, if possessed 
of taste, time, talent, and all other necessary quali- 
ties, no one will have the same opportunity. His- 
tory was in the mouths of men, and in the air as well 
as in old letters and musty manuscripts. Soon all 
this changed; and tongues that then talked of mis- 
sion life, the Bear Flaof war, and the p'old-fyatherino^ 
struggle of the nations, were forever silenced; yet 
only hereafter will the value of a coniplete record 
made before it was too late be fully appreciated. 

Oak is plain of speech. Without dogmatism he 
has an opinion, and usually a clear and correct one, 
on almost every current topic, particularly if it be 
connected with his work or the library. And in the 
expression of opinion he is not timid. It has been 
my custom from the beginning to discuss freely with 
him and others every question of importance arising 
in my work. I have always courted criticism from 
those about me as freely as I have been ready to be- 
stow it on them. Often somewhat radical differences 
of opinion have arisen between- Oak and myself; 
but during the many pleasant years we have labored 
together, the first disrespectful thought has yet to find 
utterance, the first unkind word has yet to be spoken. 

It is a remarkable fact that this is the only live 
Yankee to find permanent occupation in my work. 
New Englanders in California, as a rule, make better 


business men than literary men. They are here too 
eager for traffic, too anxious to trade jack-knives, too 
sharp after the dollars, to settle down to plodding 
brain-work which yields them no substantial return. 
Their minds are no better fitted for it than their 
inclinations. Their education has taken a different 
turn. Their ambition is of that caste that culture 
alone will not satisfy. They want money, houses, 
horses, wine^ and tobacco. We of the fifth floor, 
and of Valencia Street, did not eschew all these. We 
were no anchorites, though trimming our midnight 
lamp and working in a garret. But when our stom- 
achs were full, and divers other longings gratified, we 
remembered that we had heads. 

In the mercantile and manufacturing parts of the 
business, on the other hand, the Anglo-American 
element was displayed to the greatest advantage. 
There boys w^ere to be found brimful of energy and 
ambition, bound to carve for themselves a fortune 
or die; also men of ability and integrity, many of 
whom I reared and educated in the book-selling occu- 
pation myself. 

Working in the library at one time I have had 
representatives from England, Ireland, and Scotland; 
from France, Germany, and Switzerland; from Rus- 
sia, Poland, Spain, and Italy — with but one from any 
part of the United States. But let me say that this 
one, in regard to ability, integrity, and life-devotion 
to me and my cause, was surpassed by none. 

Never was there a more devoted, faithful worker in 
any field than my valued friend William Nemos, a nom 
do plume by which he preferred to be known among 
us. Retiring in all his tastes, and enthusiastic as a 
student, he loved to dip into lore of every description, 
with a predilection for the abstruse and for linguistics. 
He possessed, indeed, a knowledge more or less 
complete of all the principal languages of Europe, 
from those of Spain and Italy in the south, to Rus- 


sian and Swedish in the north, the latter his native 
tongue. Further than this, after he entered my 
library he improved rapidly in method, taste, and 
style. But let me briefly tell the story of his early 

At the foot of Bore, where the snow-crowned sum- 
mits of the lofty fjelds gleam in perpetual defiance of 
Helios, beside a roaring torrent that issued from the 
rugged mountains, he was born, in February 1848, 
his natal day being next after Washington's. Poor 
Finland! Will naught satisfy the tyrannous Musco- 
vite till the last drop of Scandinavian blood be let upon 
the thirsty earth? 

His father was a nobleman, not rich; his mother of 
a wealthy family of good stock. His ancestry and 
his country's glorious past, with stories of the mighty 
Kucko, and of the famous Oden, who gathered the 
braves unto his Walhalla, were duly impressed upon 
his youthful mind. German and piano lessons were 
first given him by his mother. A talent for lan- 
guages was early developed under parental tuition, so 
that an uncle insisted he should go to St Petersburg, 
and there prepare himself for some position under the 

Wrapped in contraband stuffs, he w^as passed 
tremblingly through the hands of the fierce Musco- 
vites into the gentler ones of a lady for whom the goods 
were intended, and who unrolled him with affectionate 
care. After a year at private school he returned 
home to attend the church or grammar school; it 
was finally determined that the gymnasium, or classic 
high school, at Stockholm was the place for him; 
so to the Venice of the north he was forthwith 
sent, preparatory to entering the Upsala university, 
where at the tmie was a brother whom he visited 
occasionally to obtain initiation into the student life 
proposed for him also, but not to be realized. 

After a pretty thorough course of mathematics and 
the classics at Stockholm, comphcated family affairs 


compelled him to break off his studies, go to London, 
and enter a commission and ship-broker office. The 
place was procured through the favoring influence 
of a family friend in London, who wisely deemed a 
thorough acquisition of the English language and 
business routine of the highest advantage to his young 

Pride and sensitiveness would not permit him to 
drag the time-honored family title into the dusty pur- 
lieus of a London trafficker's office, or to consent that 
it should otherwise be lightly treated. Rather let it 
be laid aside until such time as it might be worn 
again with befitting form. 

He continued his studies, which now included a 
course of philosphy under an Upsala graduate. Well 
grounded in the critical system of Kant, with its sub- 
jective methods, this tutor could not but feel the in- 
consistency of theories which, centring everything in 
the ego, yet left this involved in hopeless confusion. 
On coming to England, therefore. Nemos w^as natu- 
rally drawn more strongly to her typical empiricism, 
as presented in the sense-perceptions of Locke, al- 
though even here the mist could not be cleared, for 
instance, from the hypothetic duality in the relation 
between ideas and qualities. Nemos profited by these 
inquiries in a comparative study of both the experi- 
mentarian and transcendental doctrines, and this under 
the guidance of a devotee whose enthusiasm tended 
to impress his teachings. 

After a business trainin;^ of ei^'hteen months he 
was transferred to a position in a leading house trad- 
ing with India. There he remained at a good salary 
for five years, acting as junior correspondent, after 
being for a time in charge of the shipping depart- 
ment, and sometimes aid to the cashier. Trips to the 
continent during summer vacation aflbrdcd a pleasing- 
variation from business routine, and added to the 
instructive sights of London. 

Ill health, apparently more imaginary than real, now 


broke Ins connection with the British metropolis and 
sent him adrift upon the sea. Hard study, and a 
neglect of due attention to hours and exercise, had 
affected his spirits, and as a sister had died of con- 
sumption, the fear seized him of congenital tendencies. 
Correspondence with the family physician at home 
brought about the resolution to take a long voyage. 
In the spring of 1870 he left Liverpool by sailing 
vessel for Australia, and arrived at Melbourne, after 
a pleasant voyage, the third month out. There, with 
many of his fellow-passengers, he made haste to seek 
employment, and as thousands have done in that 
city as in San Francisco, sought in vain^ 

The allurement of gold stole upon his youthful 
fancy, with dreams of hidden treasures and speedy 
enrichment. A still feeble constitution pleaded, 
moreover, for bracing mountain air, and confinement 
within the narrow^ bounds of a ship, after a still 
longer enchainment to the desk, assisted by mere 
contrast to gild the unfettered life in camp and forest. 
Soon came disenchantment. 

In the mines he fell amons: thieves. One of his 
partners was an ex-convict, who prompted the rest 
to recompense him for furnishing all the supplies of 
flour, bacon, whiskey, and tobacco for the company 
by concealing in their mouths the Httle gold they took 
out. This was, perhaps, as neat an arrangement as 
the villains ever concocted, and remarkably simple — 
they had a man to furnish all the provisions, while 
they took all the proceeds. 

When his money was gone, Nemos concluded to dis- 
solve the partnership and retire from business. Driv- 
ing his partners out of camp, he packed up and 
returned to Melbourne, and thence proceeded to 
Sydney. There he revelled in the tranquil beauties 
of that southern Pacific garden — to him a paradise 
of verdure-clad promontories creeping softly into the 
still waters, as if to woo theorange groves of the tiny 
isles bathing at their feet; to the Cahfornia of the 


rushinf^, roaring times, a paradise of Satan-serpents 
sending its slimy brood across the ocean to set on fire 
the incipient hell already there prepared by the as- 
sembled gold-drunken hosts. 

Hawaii next, and then San Francisco, landing at 
the latter in midsummer 1871; and thence to Oregon 
to accept an engagement as assistant civil engineer on, 
the proposed railroad. This being finished, 1873 saw 
him again in San Francisco. Failing to obtain con- 
genial employment, he determined to go to New 
York, satisfied that his ling^uistic attainments would 
be better appreciated there than in the far west. But 
in the mean time my efforts attracted his attention, 
and he readily obtained permanent employment in 
the library. 

In this labor his rare abilities for the first time 
found fitting occupation. Little by little, through- 
out almost the entire period of my historical efforts, 
his talents unfolded, until in many respects he stood 
first, and became director of tlie library detail, includ- 
ing later the librarianship. He liad a remarkable 
faculty for systematizing work, and drilling men into 
a common metliod, as before explained. Alive to the 
interests of tlic library as to his own, he was ever 
jealous of its reputation, and untiring in his efforts to 
see produced historical results only of the soundest 
and most reliable order. I would that the countries 
among whose archives he has spent the better part of 
his life laboring, mightappreciate his services to them 
at their proper worth. 

Thomas Savage was born in the city of Habana, of 
New England parents, the 27th of August, 1823. 
His ancestors were amonof the earliest settlers of 
Boston, many of whom acquired wealth and distinc- 
tion in various professions. 

When nine years of age the boy could speak Span- 
ish better than English, and French more fluently 
than either. He read Don Quixote in Spanish be- 


fore he had been taught the alphabet. Masters were 
provided him, and he was also sent to school at 
ilabana, where he read the Latin classics, became 
proficient in mathematics, and prepared himself for 
the legal profession. 

His father, who was a man of fine business ability, 
making money easily and rapidly, but somewhat de- 
ficient in the art of keeping it, died when Thomas Avaa 
quite young. Ill health obliged him at length to 
abandon study; besides, he bad no taste for the law. 
Yet in the short time spent at his studies he learned 
enough to be able to rapidly transcribe for me, in a 
hand as neat as Thackeray's or Leigh Hunt's, upon 
the usual half-sheets of legal paper, a clear transla- 
tion of almost any language I might choose to place 
before him. He was sickly from childhood; many 
times his life was despaired of, and ever since I have 
known him he has been a constant sufferer; yet all 
the while he has worked as industriously and as cheer- 
fully as if enjoying the best health. 

Several children were the result of marriage in 1850, 
but sickness and death kept his purse low. Within a 
period of ten years Mr Savage buried thirteen mem- 
bers of his family. 

A few years in a mercantile house as book-keeper 
were followed by an engagement in the United States 
consulate, as clerk under Robert B. Campbell, then 
consul at Habana. For twenty-one and a half years 
thereafter Mr Savage was in continuous consulate 
service, portions of the time in charge of the office as 
deputy and as chief. 

During his long tenure of office many important 
international questions arose, in which he took part, 
and many were the acts of disinterested charity per- 
formed by him, particularly to passing Californians in 
trouble. The years 1849-51 at this port were spe- 
cially important, both to the United States and to 
California. Then it was that his thorough knowl- 
edge of the Spanish language, and his long experience 


in consular business, rendered his services invaluable. 
In Mexican-war times General Santa Anna was there 
whiling^ away the tedious hours of exile by cock- 
fighting. Mr Savage was present at an interview 
between Mr Campbell and Santa Anna to obtain the 
latter*s views as to the future policy of Mexico. Al- 
monte, Rejon, Basadre, and others were present, but 
the wily Mexican, though by no means reserved, was 
extremely non-committal. The invasions of Cuba by 
Lopez in 1850-1, the last of which terminated so 
disastrously to the expedition, made Savage much 
work in the copious correspondence which followed. 
Many Californian gold-seekers, on their return, reached 
Habana broken in health and without means to pro- 
ceed farther to their home and friends. These must 
be provided for; and all such relief came out of the 
pockets of- their poorly paid countrymen there sta- 
tioned. And to his enduring honor be it said, never 
did distressed stranger appeal to him in vain. While 
I, a green boy for the first time from home, in the 
spring of 1852, was gazing in rapt wonderment about 
the streets of Habana, and taking in my fill of the 
strangle si^^hts, Mr Sava^^^e was in the consulate office 
engaged in his duties, each oblivious, so far as the 
other was concerned, of the present and the pregnant 

Prominent men, both from the United States and 
Mexico, were now his associates. He always strongly 
opposed the slave-trade. When the war for the union 
broke out he remained faithful to his government, 
though his chief was an active secessionist. One 
day a man called on Mr Savage and revealed a plot 
then hatching in San Francisco to capture the Pacific 
Mail company's steamer at Acapulco. At another 
time one informed him of a plan of revolution then 
being prepared in southern California, detailing to 
him how mucli of money each conspirator had sub- 
scribed in support of the scheme. These facts were 
made known by Savage to the government officials at 

Lit. Ind. 17 


Washington, who telegraphed them to General Mc- 
Dowell. For twenty months during the hottest of 
the war, while blockade-running from Habana to 
Mobile and other southern ports was of almost daily 
occurrence, Mr Savage was in full charge of the 
consulate at Habana. Every movement adverse to 
the government he narrowly watched and reported, 
and the capture of many a valuable prize was due di- 
rectly to his exertions. For which service, of empty 
thanks he received abundance, but no prize-money, as, 
indeed, he was not entitled to any. Neither did the 
government remunerate him for his extra service and 
expenses, though to that he was justly entitled. 

To Mr Savao^e is due the credit of discoverins^ the 
plot of capturing the San Francisco treasure steamer 
in 1864. It was to be effected through the prior 
capture of the Panamd Railway company's steamer 
Guatemala, with which, when taken, the conspirators 
were to lie in wait for the treasure steamer bound 
down, from San Francisco to Panamd. They em- 
barked at Habana, where many schemes of this kind 
were concocted requiring the utmost care of the consul 
to frustrate, on board the British Royal Mail steamer 
for St Thomas, thence to go to Panamd, and seize the 

The 31st of December, 1867, Mr Savage retired 
from the consulate at Habana, poorer by the loss of 
twenty-one laborious years than when he entered it. 
After spending the greater part of 1868 in the United 
States, in November of that year he went to Panamd 
and edited the Spanish part of the Star and Herald. 
Likewise for a time while at Panama he acted as 
consul for Guatemala. At Panam^ in 1870, he 
married his second wife, a most charming lady, young, 
beautiful, accomplished, and wealthy, and withal de- 
votedly attached to her husband. Soon after their 
marriage a disastrous fire swept away a large portion 
of her property. 

Mr Savage then went to San Salvador, where, 


after teaching and writing for the newspapers for a 
time, he was appointed United States consul. Shortly 
afterward a revolution broke out. The city was bar- 
ricaded and threatened with an attack. The United 
States minister, Torbert, and the consul lived on the 
same street, opposite each other. Day and night they 
kept their flags flying, and at times their houses were 
filled with refugees. Finally at Santa Ana the revo- 
lutionists won a battle; the government of President 
Duefias fell to the ground, and in due time order was 
ao^ain restored. 

The climate of Salvador did not agree with Mrs 
Savage. A sister of hers died there. So Mr Savage 
determined to try Guatemala. There he edited a 
paper, which did not pay expenses, and after a resi- 
dence of eighteen months, he determined to try the 
coast northward. The 26th of March, 1873, he arrived 
at San Francisco, and four months afterward entered 
the library. 

For many years Mr Savage was my main reliance 
on Spanish- American affairs. All my chief assistants 
were good Spanish scholars, but all in cases of doubt 
were glad to refer to him as an expert. With good 
scholarship, ripe experience, and a remarkable knowl- 
edge of general history, he brought to the library 
strong literary tastes, a clear head, and methodi- 
cal habits. At my suggestion he prepared for Tlie 
Bancroft Company a most valuable work, entitled 
the Spanish- American Manual. The work was writ- 
ten for the purpose of giving to the commercial world 
a vast amount of information lying hidden under the 
foreign language and peculiar customs of the people 
of Latin America. 

Frances Fuller was born in the township of Rome, 
New York, May 23, 1826, and educated at the semi- 
nary in Wayne county, Ohio, whither her parents 
erelong removed. Her mother, who was married at 
sixteen, while the father was but eighteen, was a 


passionate lover of the beautiful in nature and art. 

Given the parentage, what of the children? They 
had for their inheritance pride of race, susceptibility 
to beauty, intellectual strength, the rhythmic sense, 
and good physical traits. Out of these they should 
without doubt evolve that temperament which, on 
account of its excessive sensibility, we call the poetic, 
although it is not always accompanied by the poetic 
faculty or sense of numbers. In this case, however, 
of five girls two became known as writers of both 
verse and prose, and a third of prose only. 

Frances was the eldest of the family, and was but 
thirteen years of age when her father settled in 
Wooster, Ohio. Her education after that was de- 
rived from a course in a young ladies' seminary, no 
great preparation for literary work. At the age of 
fourteen she contributed to the county papers; when 
a little older, to the Cleveland Herald, which paid for 
her poems, some of which were copied in English 
journals. Then the New York papers sought her 
contributions, and finally she went to New York for a 
year to become acquainted with literary people, and 
was very kindly treated — too kindly she tells me, 
because they persuaded her at an immature age to 
publish a volume of her own and her sister Metta's 
poems. But worse things were in store than this 
mistaken kindness. Just at the time when a plan 
was on foot to make the tour of Europe with some 
friends, the ill-health of her mother recalled her to 
Ohio and the end of all her dreams. What with 
nursing, household cares, and the lack of stimulating 
society, life began to look very real. A year or two 
later her father died, and there was still more real 
work to do, for now there must be an effort to in- 
crease the family income month by month. In this 
struggle Metta was most successful, having a great 
facility of invention, and being a rapid writer, and 
stories being much more in demand than poems 
brought more money. Frances possessed a wider 


range of intellectual powers, of the less papular be- 
cause more solid order. The sisters were twin souls, 
and very happy together, " making out," as Charlotte 
Bronte says, the plan of a story or poem by their 
own bright fireside in winter, or under the delicious 
moonlight of a summer evening in Ohio. A position 
was offered them on a periodical in Detroit, and they 
removed to Michigan. This did not prove remunera- 
tive, and was abandoned. By and by came marriage, 
and the sisters were separated, Metta going to New 
York, where she led a busy life. Their husbands 
were brothers. Frances married Henry C. Victor, a 
naval engineer, who came to California under orders 
in 18G3. Mrs Victor accompanied him, stopping a 
while at Acapulco, where the Narragansett to which 
Mr Victor was ordered, was lying. At San Fran- 
cisco, she found the government paying in greenbacks. 
To make up the loss of income something must be done. 
So she wrote for the Bulletin city editorials and a 
series of society articles, under the nom de plume of 
'' Florence Fane," which were continued for nearly 
two years, and elicited much pleasant comment by 
their humorous hits, even the revered pioneers not 
being spared. About the time the war closed, Mr 
Victor resigned and went to Oregon, where, early in 
1865, Mrs Victor followed him, and was quickly 
captivated by the novelty, romance, and grandeur of 
the wonderful north-west. Her letters in the Bulletin, 
articles in the Overland Monthly, and her books, All 
over Oregon and Washington and The River of the West, 
with other writings, show how cordially she entered 
into the exploration of a fresh field. In 1878 she ac- 
cepted a hint from me, and came readily to my assist- 
ance, with greater enthusiasm than one less acquainted 
with her subject could be expected to feel. In abil- 
ity, conscientiousness, and never-ceasing interest and 
faithfulness Mrs Victor was surpassed by none. 

Walter M. Fisher and T. Arundel Harcourt came 


to the library in 1872, the former early in the year, 
and the latter in November. Albert Goldschmidt 
had been at work about a year when Harcourt came. 
Fisher was the son of an Irish clergyman; Harcourt 
claimed to be a scion of the English aristocracy; while 
Goldschmidt was of German extraction. Fisher, fresh 
from college, was brought in by a fellow-countr3^man, 
the Reverend Hemphill, and set to work taking out 
material for voyages. He applied himself closely, 
devoting his days to writing and his nights to the 
study of languages and literature. Throughout his 
college course he had paid special attention to litera- 
ture, and now he determined to adopt it as a profes- 
sion. Probably at that time there was no better 
school for him in the world in which to make rapid 
and practical advancement in his favorite literary paths 
than my library. For although the work therein 
was in one sense local, yet all literary work of any 
pretensions must be in some respects general, and the 
experience he obtained while with me was invalu- 
able to him. And this he was ever ready to acknowl- 
edge. In a book entitled The Calif ornians, published 
in London soon after his return to the old country, 
wherein men and things here were somewhat severely 
spoken of, all his references to the library and to the 
time spent there were of the most cordial and pleas- 
ing character. 

Born in Ulster in 1849, he used to call himself a 
'49er. His father was of the Scotch presbyterian 
church, and the family were members of a Scotch and 
English colony " in the Atlantic Ocean to the w^est 
of Great Britain," as the son said. Indeed, Fisher 
always insisted that he was an Englishman, holding 
apparently no great respect for the Irish. In his own 
religious belief, or rather in the absence of any, he 
was quite liberal, and it was on this account, as 
much as any other, that he originally left his father's 

After the tutors and pedagogues came three years 


with old Doctor Timothy Blaine of the Royal Aca- 
demical institution of Belfast, whose lessons and lec- 
tures on the English language and its literature were 
then as novel in middle-class schools as they were 
masterly and attractive in themselves. Fisher was 
among his favorite pupils. After that he matricu- 
lated in the Queen's university, attending lectures 
connected with that institution at Belfast. The col- 
lege library, however, did more for him than all the 
lectures, and there he was so sedulous a student that 
his professors often looked in vain for him on their 

University paths he saw, in due time, were not his. 
Old-time wa3^s by rule and rote he could neither pro- 
fess, preach, nor practise; so he went to London, and 
thence to Paris — books, books, books, being ever the 
substance of his dreams. The French war upsetting 
his plans, he returned to London. There, one day, 
he picked up a book in the British Museum on the 
subject of California, and before he laid it down the 
determination was on him. He packed his books, 
and in December 1871 steamed out of Liverpool with 
a ticket in his pocket-book marked San Francisco. 
Two days after his arrival he was at work in the li- 

Toward the close of 1875 he returned to London, 
proposing between London and Paris to spend his 
days doing such work in literature as he found to do; 
doing it, as he says of it himself, "better every way, 
I believe, for the sun of California, for the fellowship 
and labors we had together there, and for the loves 
there born. Oh, the grand days we had, warm with 
hope and strong with endurance ! If no man says it, 
I dare to say it, there have been lesser heroes than 
we, up on that fifth floor in a San Francisco book- 
shop, fighting against the smiles of the children of 
mammon and of Belial, fighting alone, modest and 
silent, each of us 'travaillant pour son coeur, laissant 
k Dieu le reste.'" 


Goldschmidt was a pleasant, social man, of no very 
pronounced parts, in age about thirty-five, given to 
ease and quietness rather than to physical exertion or 
hard study. He made himself familiar with the 
books of the library, and was apt and useful in many 
ways. There was scarcely any language with which 
we had to do but that he would decipher it after a 
fashion. Old Dutch was his delight. Many of those 
sixteenth-century writers done into the purest and 
best English are meaningless enough, some of them 
in places absolutely unintelligible, any one of half a 
dozen constructions being equally applicable to the 
words; and yet Goldschmidt was never so happy as 
when seated before a table full of tliese works, in 
various languages, and written from widely different 
standpoints by authors oceans asunder, with plenty of 
time at his command, eno^ag^ed in the work of reconcil- 
ing their jargon. 

Harcourt, as he called himself, said that he was 
born in London in 1851; that his father was a gen- 
tleman of old family and considerable property, which 
was slightly increased by marriage with a lady of high 
birth; and that when eight years old his mother died, 
and then for the first time he was sent to school. 
Possessed of quick perceptions, he might easily have 
outstripped his fellows in learning; indeed, at the end 
of his first half-year he carried home the prize for 
superior attainments in Latin. But in those days it 
was not the fashion for aristocratic boys to study. 
The hard workers were poor weaklings, easily thrashed; 
creatures to be despised, spat upon; beings expressly 
contrived by nature to be used, to be punched into 
writing the verses of their superiors in station, strength, 
and laziness. He to whom the mj^steries of dactyl 
and spondee were plain as a pikestaff, whom the ter- 
rors of Xenophon could not appal, stood at the head 
of the row, pale, weak, and 4ickable' to every other 
boy in the class. The winning of a prize at the out- 


set of his school career by the youth Harcourt was a 
mistake which he took care never again to repeat, so 
greatly was he chagrined as he pressed his way back 
to his place amidst mutterings of * crammer/ kittle 
grind/ and like epithets significant of the contempt 
in which he was held by his fellows. 

A voyage to India was followed by a term at a 
German university, and after that the young man 
drifted to California, and entered the library in 1873. 
He later engaged in newspaper work, and died in 1884 
at San Francisco. 

A strong man, and one of talent, was J. J. Peatfield, 
born in Nottinghamshire, England, August 26, 1833. 
His father, a conservative tory clergyman, educated 
him for the church. He took his degree at Cambridge 
in 1857, having graduated in the classical tripos. The 
church being distasteful to him as a profession, he 
obtained a tutorship, with occasional travel, the last 
position of the kind being in a Russian family in St 

Peatfield was now twenty-nine years of age, and the 
life he was leading did not satisfy him. He deter- 
mined to emigrate. The gold discoveries in British 
Columbia attracted his attention; and while he was 
thinking of going thither, a college friend presented 
the flattering prospects of gains to be derived from 
cultivating cacao on the Atlantic seaboard of Central 
America, and he finally concluded to make the latter 
venture. Taking passage on board the steamship 
Norwegian to Portland, Maine, he proceeded thence 
by rail to New York, and after a fortnight's stay there 
he went to Greytown, Nicaragua, in the schooner 
George S. Adams. 

The cacao-planting enterprise was a failure. The 
cultivation of the tree had been tried there without 
success years before, both by Americans and Europe- 
ans. Nevertheless he remained in that vicinity for 
two years, locating himself on the Serapique river. 


an affluent in Costa Kican territory of the San Juan, 
He tried cotton-raising, as the price was very high 
during the civil war in the United States, but the 
excessive rains destroyed the crop. He then tried, 
Hkewise, cacao and coffee. Kapid and luxuriant 
growth attended every experiment, but the flowers of 
the cacao-tree dropped off without fructifying; the 
cotton rotted in the bolls; the coffee berries did not 

As there was nothing to stay for but the fever and 
ague, which he did not want, about the middle of 
1865 Mr Peatfield crossed the sierra to San Jose, 
the capital of Costa Rica. He there accej)ted the 
situation of book-keeper in a mercantile establish- 
ment. In January 1868 he was appointed clerk and 
translator to the legation at Guatemala, and two 
years later, on the departure of Minister Corbett for 
England, Peatfield was appointed British vice-consul 
in Guatemala. Upon the death of Consul Wallis, of 
Costa Rica, in whose charge the legation had been 
left, Peatfield received from the foreign office, London, 
the appointment of acting consul-general of Central 
America. After that he held the consulship of 
Guatemala for a time. Then his health began to 
fail, and at the end of 1871 he resigned and left 
Guatemala for San Francisco, where he arrived in 

A winter of teaching was followed by a hemor- 
rhage from which he barely recovered. In August 
1872 he obtained a lucrative position as book-keeper 
and cashier of a mine owned by an English company 
in White Pine, Nevada. His engagement concluded, 
he went to Pioche, where sickness soon reduced him 
to poverty. For ten weeks he lay in the hospital 
suffering intensely with inflammatory rheumatism, 
much of the time unable to move, and occasionally in- 
sensible. One day, on recovering consciousness, he 
was told by the physician that he could not live; 
nevertheless he slowly recovered. Then he taught 


school a while; after which he returned to San 
Francisco, where he nearly died from pneunaonia. 
Recovery was followed by another period of teaching 
and book-keeping, until February 1881, when he 
entered the library, and soon becanae one of my 
most valued assistants. 

Alfred Bates, a native of Leeds, England, entered 
the library after two years' work on TJie Commerce 
and Industries of the PaciJiQ Coast ^ under its editor, 
John S. Hittell. Mr Bates displayed the most ability 
of any one of Mr Hittell's dozen assistants, and was 
a valuable acquisition to my corps of workers. He 
was born the 4th of May, 1840, his father being a 
wool-stapler, who made a fortune during the railway 
excitement of 1845-6, and had the misfortune to lose 
it in the panic of 1847. 

Alfred recollects of his childhood that he was over- 
grown, weak, and always hungry. At the age of fif- 
teen years he earned his own livelihood by teaching, 
among other places in Marlborough college, at the 
time the dean of Westminster being head-master, and 
to whom he was private secretary in 1862. While 
preparing for Cambridge the following year, he ac- 
cepted a lucrative situation in Sidney, New South 
Wales. Though his life there was by no means an 
unhappy one, he suffered from ill health, being given 
up for dead at one time by three doctors. Indeed, 
animation was totally suspended for a time; and when 
the spark of life revived, supposing at the first that 
he was really dead, he says the sensation was by no 
means disagreeable. 

Invited by his brother to come to California and 
take charge of a school, he made the passage by the 
Penang, the first year after his arrival being occupied 
in teaching. 

Alfred Kemp, a most worthy man and earnest 
worker, w^as born in October 1847, in England, hia 


father being a landed proprietor in Kent. Alfred was 
educated for the army at a military school near Wool- 
wich; but his father losing most of his property, the 
young man was obliged to abandon his contemplated 
career. In 18G9 he went to France to learn the lan- 
guage, but the war with Germany breaking out, he 
returned to England, narrowly escaping the siege. 
After a clerkship from 1871 to 1874 in a commission 
house, he engaged in business on his own account, 
but making a loss of it, he came to California with his 
wife and daughter, and in 1883 he jomed my corps 
of laborers at the library. 

Edward P. Newkirk, a native of New York state, 
after passing an academical course, spent one year at 
Fort Monroe artillery school, four years in a bank, 
then joined the army in 18G1 and fought for the 
union until 1865, among other service going through 
the peninsular campaign with McClellan, and through 
the campaigns of Sherman resulting in the capture 
of Atlanta and Savannah; was twice wounded, and 
reached the rank of captain. From November 1866 
to November 1872 he served in Washington City, 
Fort Delaware, and other stations. At the date last 
mentioned he accompanied a detachment of his regi- 
ment to California, and after a stay of two weeks at 
the presidio of San Francisco, two of the batteries 
were ordered to Alaska. 

Newkirk landed at Sitka in the midst of a blinding 
December snow-storm, after a rough passage of two 
weeks by steam. After three years of monotonous 
frontier life, during which the arrival of the monthly 
mail or some small trading-vessel was the chief event, 
he retired from the service and returned to San 
Francisco. Not satisfied with what he had seen of 
Alaska, he joined an arctic expedition in pursuit of 
walrus, and found himself at midnight, on the 4th of 
July, 1876, standing on a cake of ice with the sun in 
full view. The vessel rounded Point Barrow, sailed 


two days east, was driven back by fogs and ice, and 
while seeking more favorable grounds had her rudder 
crushed by an ice-cake, which compelled her captain 
to seek a sheltered cove for repairs. What appeared 
a snug harbor was chosen, but it proved the vessel's 
tomb. No sooner had the repairs been comjJeted, 
than while the party were confident of an easy escape 
from these inhospitable regions, a large iceberg 
grounded directly in the mouth of the cove, shutting 
the vessel in. For two weeks or more a close watch 
was kept in the hope that a change of wind might 
unlock the prison-door; but it came not, and the 
party, abandoning their vessel, with hastily con- 
structed sledges drew their provisions several miles to 
open water, where they were picked up by the boats 
of a returning whaler. On reaching San Francisco, 
Mr Newkirk worked for a year or so with Mr Hittell 
on Commerce and Industries, and then entered the 

Thomas Matthew Copperthwaite, born in Dublin in 
1848, began his education in London, and thence pro- 
ceeded to Belgium in 1859, where he entered the 
college of La Sainte Trinite at Louvain, following in 
that institution the classical course, and at the same 
time gaining a practical knowledge of French and 

His father about this time losing his fortune, the 
son was obliged to discontinue his studies and earn his 
livelihood. He went next to Berlin and engaged with 
a furniture manufacturing company, remaining there 
till 1868, meanwhile learning German. Then he en- 
tered a commission house in Paris, and in 18G9 came 
to California, where he obtained employment in a mill 
and mining company near Georgetown, and subse- 
quently for a time was teller in the Colusa County 

In 1872 Mr Copperthwaite bought a tract of land, 
going in debt for part, and finally losing the whole of 


it. In 1875 lie became a naturalized citizen of the 
United States, being republican in politics. It was 
thought that El Paso would become a great railroad 
centre, and thither, after leaving the bank, Mr Cop- 
perthwaite went, but only in time to be attacked by 
malarial fever, which nearly took his life away. His 
physician recommended his return to California, 
where, his health being in due time restored, he went 
to work in the library. 

Ivan Petroff, born near St Petersburg in 1842, was 
of great assistance to me in preparing Russian ma- 
terial for the history of Alaska, and of the Russian 
colony at Fort Ross, in CaUfornia. For one so lately 
and so thoroughly a Russian, he had a remarkable com- 
mand of English. He w^as likewise a good draughts- 
man, and made for me many surveys and plans, also 
visitin<2f Alaska and Washinofton in search of histor- 
ical matter. 

His life before entering my service was briefly as fol- 
lows : The son of a soldier, and losing his mother in 
infancy, at the age of five he was placed in the edu- 
cational establishment of the first corps of cadets in 
St Petersburg to prepare for a military career. At 
the battle of Inkerman his father was killed, and as 
the boy displayed a wonderful faculty for the acquisi- 
tion of languages, he was transferred to the depart- 
ment of oriental languages of the imperial academy 
of sciences for training as military interpreter. An 
impediment of speech, the result of serious and pro- 
longed illness, put an end to the proposed career, but 
the young orphan was permitted to continue his 
studies in the oriental department, first serving as 
amanuensis to Professor Bohttink during his labors 
connected with the publication of a Sanskrit diction- 
ary. Subsequently he was attached to another mem- 
ber of the academy, M. Brosset, engaged at that period 
in the study of Armenian antiquities and literature, 
during which time he became so proficient in the Ian- 


gnage that lie was chosen by M. Brosset to accom- 
pany him on a voyage of scientific exploration through 
the ancient kingdoms of Georgia and Armenia. 

Returned from this expedition, which occupied two 
years, Petroff was sent with part of the material 
there obtained to St Hilaire at Paris, to assist liini 
in a proposed work on American antiquities; but St 
Hilaire not being at that time ready to continue his 
labors, Petroff determined to see more of the wide 
world, and so in the midsummer 1861 set sail for New 
York. ^ ^ 

So little attention had he hitherto given to the 
English language, that on landing he could scarcely 
make himself understood. After a temporary en- 
gagement on the Courier cles Etats Unis, he joined the 
union army, and by hard study was soon so far master 
of the language as to be able to write it easily and 
correctly, often writing letters for the soldiers as a 
means of practice. 

First private, then corporal, then he became ser- 
geant and color-bearer, which rank he held when in 
1864 the company to which he belonged, the Seventh 
New Hampshire, was sent to Florida. Petroff took 
part in all the battles fought by Butler's army, and 
was twice wounded. After the capture of Fort Fisher 
he was made lieutenant. 

Satisfied that Alaska would one day become the 
property of the United States, when mustered out of 
service in July 1865 he returned to New York and 
made a five years' engagement with the Russian- 
American company to act as English and German 
correspondent in the company's office at Sitka. De- 
layed en route at San Francisco, he thought to im- 
prove the time by making a horseback tour through 
northern California, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, 
in which he narrowly escaped death at the hands of a 
band of Shoshones, in encountering which his horse 
was killed and he wounded in the arm. When lu 
reached Sitka he found his place in the office filled; 


but he was given charge of a trading post at Cook 
inlet, which position he held until the transfer of the 
territory, when he went to Kodiak island and was 
appointed acting custom-house officer to take charge 
of the barkentine Constitution, which had been seized, 
and with that vessel he arrived in San Francisco in 
October 1870, and entered the library almost im- 
mediately afterward. 

William J. Carr and John H. Gilmour were two 
young Englishmen of fine education and ability, in- 
troduced by Hall McAllister. The latter had spent 
most of his life in India, and was employed for several 
years in the library. 

Charles Welch was born and educated in San Fran- 
cisco, perhaps the only native Californian among all 
my workers. Though but a boy when he came to 
the library, he soon made himself a useful member of 
the corps, doing most faithfully and efficiently what- 
ever was given him to do. For several years his 
duties were those of what might be termed an assist- 
ant librarian, a place that was by no means a sinecure, 
and that could hardly have been better filled than by 
Welch. He was subsequently transferred to our mer- 
cantile establishment, in which for many years he 
held a responsible position. 

W. H. Benson was, in a sense, the successor of 
Welch in the work of keeping the library in order, 
attending to various and complicated details in the 
routine of extracting material, and the cataloguing 
of new matter that was constantly swelling the bulk 
of the collection. He was an Englishman of good 
education, whose experience had been marked by the 
usual routine of adventurous wanderings. Benson 
was an intelligent man, a hard worker, a fine penman, 
and altogether a faithful and useful assistant; but 
consumption had marked him for its victim, and ho 
died in 1884. The duties of his position were subse- 
quently performed by Newkirk and Kemp. 


Amos Bowman was a stenographer of scientific at- 
tainments, with some experience in government sur- 
veys and mining explorations, who first aided me in 
my northern tour of investigation, and later, for a 
brief period, in hbrary work. Harry Larkin was an 
English adventurer of good abilities, many accomplish- 
ments, and an adventurous career, which was termi- 
nated by his murder in California. 

There was a class of men who possessed decided 
talents in some directions, but whose lack of ability 
as applied to my work it took me some time to dis- 
cover. There was Galan, formerly governor of Lower 
California, and Paton, an Irish captain who had seen 
service in India. 

Galan was in some respects a singular character. 
He undertook to practise law in San Francisco, but 
was unable to sustain himself. He was a middle-aged 
man, medium height, dark-skinned, with a handsome 
face and a quick, clear, bright, intelligent eye. He 
conversed, not only fluently, but eloquently and learn- 
edly, on almost any topic concerning Mexican or Cen- 
tral American affairs, at any epoch of their history, 
which might be started ; but let him undertake practi- 
cal and exact work, and his powers failed him. 

Thus it will be seen that although my assistants 
were of marked and diversified abilities, I had not 
at my command at all times the best material for my 
purpose. On the whole, my tools were not of the lat- 
est and best pattern ; and though this was no fault of 
theirs, it threw the whole burden and responsibility 
on me, where it remained from first to last, even my 
best and most efficient assistants being able to prove 
up the correctness of but a portion of the work, leav- 
ing me to do the rest as best I was able. 

Of Enrique Cerruti, Murray, and some others, I 
say enough elsewhere. I might make mention of 
scores of others, each of whom had his history, more 
or less eventful, more or less strange. There was 

Lit. Ind. 18 


Samuel L. Simpson, who came down from Oregon 
and edited the Pacific coast readers for the firm ; a 
young man of rare ability, though lacking somewhat 
in steady application. 

There were many of Spanish and Mexican origin, 
not half of whose names I ever knew. Month after 
month they plodded more or less diligently along, as 
part of the great combination, directed perhaps by 
Savage, Oak, or Nemos, and drawing their pay every 

Of these, Vicente P. Gomez was one. A native of 
Mexico, he came to California when a child, was sent 
back to be educated, and came again with General 
Micheltorena. His father was a merchant and a 
ranchero here, and held an office under government. 
The elder Gomez built the only sea-going vessel the 
Spaniards ever attempted on the California shore. 
Launches and lighters they had built, and the Rus- 
sians had constructed small craft, but no Hispano- 
Californian before or since. It was only twenty and 
a half tons burden, and was called Peor es Nada^ 
''nothing would be worse," from which naming one 
would think the owner was not very proud of it. 
The younger Gomez had a wonderful memory, sup- 
plemented with broad inventive faculties, with fine 
conversational powers, and a fund of anecdote. He 
wrote a beautiful hand, and spoke the most graceful 
Spanish of any man in California. He was the Victor 
of Bret Harte's Story of a Mine. 

Besides laboring long and faithfully at the sur- 
veyor's office extracting material from the archives, 
he accompanied Mr Savage to Santa Clara, Salinas, 
Monterey, and Santa Cruz, on the same mission. 
He copied from the archives at all these places, and 
knowing everybody, he was able to secure much out- 
side information of early times. But further and far 
more important than all this was the manuscript vol- 
ume of 430 pages of his own reminiscences. While 
extracting material for history, or in conversation, 


wherever he happened to be, whenever recollections 
arose in his mind we had a man ready to take them 
down. It was singular how it worked. He could 
extract material well enough, but if left to write bis 
own experiences he would never do it, but he could 
talk fluently of his past, so that another could easily 
write from his dictation. After the work of copying 
from the archives was finished he was put to work in 
the library, and definite topics given him to write 
from his own knowledge, and in this way he suc- 
ceeded quite well, and the result was the manu- 
script volume before mentioned, a most magnificent 
contribution to the historical literature of this coast, 
and invaluable because it contains much knowledge 
nowhere else found, and which but for this method 
would have been forever lost. 

Kosendo V. Corona was another good man. He 
was a native of Topic, Mexico, and cousin of the Mexi- 
can minister at Madrid. Educated as a civil eno^ineer 
at Guadalajara, he came hither to perfect his education 
and obtain employment. He assisted in extracting 
material at the archbishop's library, and accompanied 
Savage and Gomez to Santa Clara and the southern 

Emilio Pina, a native of Chihuahua, was the son of 
a distinguished jurist. He was employed in the li- 
brary and at several of the missions copying and ex- 
tracting material, before which time he was engaged 
as editor, schoolmaster, and in the public service in 

Labadie was a native of Mexico, of French parent- 
age, and educated in France. While there the war 
broke out, and he entered the army against Germany, 
going in a private and coming out a sergeant. He 
was finely educated, being among other things a good 
painter and musician. In the mines of Mexico he 
took the fever, and came to California for hcaltli and 

Manuel Fernandez Martinez was more French than 


Spanish in appearance. Sorcini was an educated 
Mexican with an Italian father. Eldridgc was a 
native Peruvian with an American father. He came 
to Cahfornia in 1849, bringing a ship with him laden 
with merchandise, but which was lost, vessel and cargo. 
He was translator of the laws of California from Eng- 
lish into Spanish for several years, and had a brother 
also employed in the librarj'. 

Martin Barientos, born in Chili, boasted his pure 
Araucanian blood, being of that race of aboriginals 
who were never conquered. He was a skilfid pen- 
man, did some illuminated title-pages beautifully, and 
could turn his hand to almost anvthinor beinor a 
printer, writer, and singer. Indeed, he came to Cali- 
fornia from South America as one of a French opera- 
bouffe company, and often appeared upon the stage 

Among my stenographers were some not merely 
mechanical men, but possessed of the spirit of research 
sufficiently to gather and write out for me much fresh 
and valuable information. Amongr these was Mr 
Leighton, from Boston, who labored for me most 
successfully for several years. 

Thus I might go on enumerating and describing 
until half a dozen chapters were filled. Those named 
are few as compared with those not named ; but I have 
mentioned enough to give some idea of the wonderful 
variety of nationality and talent employed upon this 
work, not the least wonderful part of which was the 
strangle coincidents brinofins" topfether so heteroQfeneous 
an assembly; and yet, under the perfect system and 
organization which we finally succeeded in establish- 
ing, all laboring with regularity and harmony. 



Two strong angels stand by the side of History as heraldic supporters: 
the angel of research on the left hand, that must read millions of dusty 
parchments, and of pages blotted with lies ; the angel of meditation on the 
right' hand, that must cleanse these lying records with fire, even as of old 
the draperies of asbestos were cleansed, and must quicken them into regen- 
erated life. T-i r\ • 

How many of the works of authors may be at- 
tributed purely to accident! Had not Shakespeare 
been a play-actor we should have had no Shakespeare's 
plays. Had not Bunyan been imprisoned and Milton 
blind we miglit look in vain for the Pilgrims Progress 
and Paradise Lost. Robert Pearse Gillies says of 
Sir Walter Scott, "I have always been persuaded that 
had he not chanced, and in those days it was a rare 
chance, to get some German lessons from a competent 
professor, and had he not also chanced to have Lenora 
and The Wild Huntsman played before him as exercises, 
we should never have had The Lay of tlie Last Minstrel 
or The Lady of the Lake." More than any other one 
effort, Thackeray's writing for Punch taught him 
wherein his strength lay. The great satirist at the 
beginning of his literary career was not successful, 
and it is a question w^hether he ever would have 
been but for a certain train of circumstances which 
crowded application upon his genius. Apelles, unable 
to delineate to his satisfaction the foam of Alexander's 
horse, dashed his brush against the canvas in angry 
despair, when lol upon the picture, effected thus by 
accident, appeared what had baffled his cunningest 
Kskill. Turning-points in life are not always mere 



accident. Often they are the result of teachings or 
inborn aspirations, and always they are fraught with 
some moral lesson of special significance. 

Although my Native Races cannot be called a chance 
creation, its coming as my first work was purely 
accident. Following my general plan, wdiich was a 
series of works on the western half of North America, 
I must of necessity treat of the aborigines at some 
time. But now, as ever, I was intent only on history, 
whose fascinations increased with my ever increasing 
appreciation of its importance. All our learning we 
derive from the past. To-day is the pupil of yesterday, 
this year of last year; drop by drop the activities of 
each successive hour are distilled from the experiences 
of the centuries. 

And the moment was so opportune. Time enough 
had elapsed for these western shores to have a history, 
yet not enough, since civilization lighted here, to lose 
any considerable portion of it. Then, strange as it 
may seem, from the depths of despair I would some- 
times rise to the firm conviction tliat with my facilities 
and determined purpose I could not only do this work, 
but that I could save to these Pacific States more 
of their early incidents than had been preserved to 
other nations; that I could place on record annals ex- 
ceptionally complete and truthful; that I could write 
a history which as a piece of thorough work, if un- 
accompanied by any other excellence, would be given 
a place ai, ong the histories of the world. 

Nor was the idea necessarily the offspring of egoism. 
I do not say that I regarded this country as the 
greatest whose history had ever been written, or my- 
self as a very able historian. Far, very far from it. 
There were here no grand evolutions or revolutions 
of mankind, no might}^ battles affecting the world's 
political balance, no ten centuries of darkness and 
non-progressional torpidity, no pageantry of kings, or 
diplomacy of statesmen, or craft of priestly magnates 
vv^ith which to embellish my pages and stir to glowing 


admiration the interest of my readers. The incidents 
of history here were in a measure tame, and for that 
reason all the more difficult of dramatic presentation. 
The wars of conquest were mostly with savages, or 
with nations palsied by superstition; and since the 
conquest no such spasms of progress have been made 
as to command the world's attention or admiration 
for any length of time. Not that fighting is the 
fittest subject for record, or that without social con- 
vulsions the nation has no history. The time has come 
when war should be deemed the deepest disgrace, a 
brutal way of settling differences, and the evolutions of 
arts, industries, and intellect the fairest flowers of prog- 
ress. That which is constant is history, that which is 
elevating and ennobling, no less than debasing war and 
social disruptions. The philosopliic or didactic writer 
of the present day is of opinion that to form correct 
conceptions of a people one should know something of 
the state of society and institutions that evolved them. 
The development of a nation's institutions, their struct- 
ure and functions, are of no less importance than a 
narrative of a nation's fortunes in other respects, or 
the sayings and doings of its great men. Yet, if ever 
fancy whispered I could write well, I had but to read 
a page of Shakespeare, whose pencil was dipped in 
colors of no earthly extraction, and whose every 
finished sentence is a string of pearls, and the foun- 
tains of my ambition would dwindle to insignificance. 
What were my miserable efforts beside the conceptions 
of a Dante, the touch of a Dord, the brilliant imagery 
of a St John! How powerful are words to him who 
can handle them, and yet how insignificant in the 
hands of weaklings to describe these subtile shades of 
human qualities ! What are the many thousand differ- 
ent words, made by the various combinations of the 
twenty- six letters of the alphabet, and of which many 
more might be made, since the possible combination 
of these words into others and into sentences is prac- 
tically infinite — what are all these word-fitting possi- 


bilities in the hands of a bungler, or of one who lacks 
the ideas to call them forth and array them ? And yet, 
were the scope of human language a thousand times 
more varied, and there should arise one capable of 
wielding this enlarged vocabulary, the varied thought 
and feeling incident to humanity would still be but 
poorly expressed. 

Not only the thoughts of a great poet but the 
language in which his thoughts are clothed display 
his genius. Undertake to express his idea in words 
of your own, and you will find its essence evaporated. 
Coleridge says you " might as well think of pushing 
a brick out of the wall with your forefinger as at- 
tempt to remove a word out of any of the finislied 
passages of Shakespeare." Become possessed with 
an idea, and you will then find language according 
to your ability to express it; it is poverty of ideas 
that makes men complain of the poverty of language. 
In the writings of Shakespeare imagination and ex- 
perience, wisdom, wit, and charity, commingle and 
play upon and into each other until simple words 
glow like fire illuminated by supernatural signifi- 

And as thought becomes elevated, the simpler and 
plainer becomes expression. The seed of eloquence 
lies in the conception of the thought, and the sim- 
plicity with which it is expressed gives the sublime 
soul-stirring power. It is significant that the books 
which have held their highest place in literature for 
centuries have been written in the purest and simplest 
Saxon. The English language as used by Shake- 
speare and Milton shows amazing strength, flexibility, 
delicacy, and harmony. 

Thus the billows of despondency passed over me, 
and at times it seemed as if my life and all my labors 
v^^ere empty air. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of 
my task, I sat for days and brooded, heart-sick and 
discouraged. What profiteth me this heavy labor? 


My mind is vapid, my nerves unstrung; I have not 
the strength, physical or intellectual, for a work of 
such magnitude. I may succeed or I may fail. In 
either case some will approve, others will ridicule. 
And what is approval or ridicule to me? Even if 
success comes, what good will it do me? I do not 
profess to love my race or country better than another. 
1 do this work to please neither God nor man, but 
only myself. It is based on a selfishness almost as 
broad as that of patriots and propagandists. I must 
toil on, denying myself companionship, which indeed 
was small hardship; I must deprive myself of every 
pleasure, even of the blessed air and sunshine, the 
sweetest gifts of nature, and which are freely bestowed 
upon the meanest of created things. These and nine 
tenths of the joys of association and recreation I must 
yield to musty books and dusty garret; I must hug 
this heaviness, and all because of an idea. All the 
powers of mind and body must be made captive to 
this one purpose; passion, prejudice, and pleasure, 
where they interfere. And yet must the worker often 
grope in vain for the power of mental concentration, 
while progress laughs mockingly. For such work, 
such self-denial, I cannot take my pay in praise. 
There must be some higher, some nobler aim. Ah! 
these failures, these heart -sicknesses. But write! 
write! write! The fiend is at my elbow and I must 
write. Maudlin stuff it may be, but I must write it 
down. Death alone can deliver me from these toils, 
can open a wide current for my stagnant thoughts 
and leaden sensibilities. And my prayer shall be. Let 
me die like Plato, at my table, pen in hand, and bo 
buried among the scenes of my labors. 

There have been men, and many of them, who felt 
that they must write, and yet who wrote with difficulty, 
and from no desire for fame, who wrote neither from a 
pretended anxiety to make men better nor under neces- 
sity. Why, then, did they write ? Perhaps from the 
pressure of genius, perhaps from a lack of common sense. 


No person knows less of the stuff he is made of than 
he who takes pen in hand and has nothing t say. 

What profiteth it me? again I ask. M )ney? I 
shall die a poor man, and my children will have only 
their father's folly for an inheritance. Does God pay 
for such endeavor? I should have more heart did I 
but feel assured x3f some compensation hereafter, for 
this life seems pretty well lost to me. But even such 
assurance is denied me. Posthumous fame is but a 
phantom, the off-float from scarcely more solid con- 
temporaneous opinion, the ghost of a man's deeds. In 
looking over my writings I sometimes doubt whom I 
serve most, Christ or Belial, or whether either will 
acknowledge me his servant. And yet the half is 
not told, for if it were, with the good Cid Hamete I 
might be applauded less for what I have written than 
for what I have omitted to write. 

There is a quality of intellectual application that 
will never be satisfied with less than grand results. 
It is enough for some money-makers to gather and 
hoard, to feel themselves the possessors of wealth, 
their power increased by the power their dollars will 
measure; others such toad-life fails to satisfy; there 
must be with them a birth, a creation, as the fruit of 
their labor. And amidst such labors many cares are 
dissipated. As the Chinese say, ''The dog in his 
kennel barks at his lieas, but the dog that is hunting 
does not feel them." Labor pursued as pleasure is 
light, yet he who seeks only pleasure in his work will 
never find it. Pleasure is a good chance acquaintance, 
but a bad companion. It is the useful, the beneficial 
alone which gives true enjoyment, and in the attain- 
ment of this there is often much pain. Yet if life 
like the olive is a bitter fruit, when pressed it yields 
sweet oil, Jean Paul Pichter would say. 

It does not make much difference whether one re- 
ceives impressions through the ears like Madame de 
Stael, or through the eyes like Ruskin, so long as one 
embraces opportunities and utilizes the results. To 


read for my own pleasure or benefit was not sufficient 
for me; it was not consistent with the aims and in- 
dustries of my past Hfe, as I have elsewhere observed, 
which were never content unless there appeared some- 
thing tangible as the result of each year's endeavor. 
Hence the melancholia which Albert Diirer pictures, 
and which otherwise would have devoured me, 1 never 
felt to that degree of intensity experienced by many 
students. Speaking of this brooding melancholy, 
which is so apt to be inseparable from the lives of 
severe workers, Mr Hamerton says: ^^I have known 
several men of action, almost entirely devoid of in- 
tellectual culture, who enjoyed an unbroken flow of 
animal energy, and were clearly free from the melan- 
choly of Diirer, but I never intimately knew a really 
cultivated person who had not suffered from it more 
or less; and the greatest sufferers were the most con- 
scientious tliinkers and students." 

Then another train of thought would take posses- 
sion of me, and I would argue to myself that after all, 
in the absence of a quality, material or acquired, there 
is always compensation, if not complete at least par- 
tial. Public speaking is an art wdiich I have often 
coveted. To hold in rapt attention a thousand listeners 
whose presence and sympathy should feed fires radi- 
atino^ in dazzlinix conceits is a fascination often risino^ 
before the student of ardent longings, and most vividly 
of all before him in whom such talents are lamenta- 
bly absent. Yet the rule is, to which I know excep- 
tions, that the brilliant speaker is seldom the best 
scholar or the most profound thinker. 

It is told of the vocalist Lablache that by facial 
expression he could represent a thunder-storm in a 
most remarkable manner. The gloom which over- 
shadowed the face, as clouds the sky, deepened into 
darkness, then lowered as an angry tempest. Light- 
ning flashed from the winking eyes, twitching the 
muscles of the face and mouth, and thunder shook 
the head. Finally the storm died away, and the re- 


turning sun illumined the features and wreathed the 
face in smiles. There is something irresistible in the 
tone and manner of an eloquent speaker; likewise in 
the flowing thoughts of a graceful writer. As in meet- 
ing a stranger, we are at first attracted by the dress 
and polish which conceal character rather than by 
qualities of the head and heart, of which we know 
nothing. But since science now so often strips from 
the kernel of things their soft and comely covering, 
history is no longer willing to sacrifice for meat life, 
or for the body raiment. 

Following violent exercise, mental or physical, 
comes the reaction; sinking of spirit follows eleva- 
tion of spirit. Night succeeds day in mental efforts, 
and dark indeed is the night of the intellectual life. 
The men whom we regard most happy and success- 
ful are not free from this blue-sickness; for, passing 
the extreme cases of morbid melancholy such as 
was displayed by Wordsworth, Byron, and Shelley, 
the curses attending the imaginative temperament 
are too plainly palpable even in such happy produc- 
tions as Werther and Maud. The intensity and ex- 
citement which produce a poem, as a matter of course 
can be but transient; that which follows too often 
causes the poet to appear as much less than man, as 
in the authorship he appeared to be more than man. 

Books are a mighty enginery. Yet before men 
became bookish there issued from them an influence 
subtile as air and strong as the tempest. To the sur- 
vivors of the Athenian host annihilated at Syracuse 
it was ordained that any prisoner who could recite 
passages or scenes from the dramas of Euripides 
should be taken from the quarries and kindly treated 
in Sicilian houses. What weapon was here! One 
little dreamed of, even by him who held it. 

Literary activity manifested itself in the days of 
the empire, when for two hundred years there had 
been a steady flow of wealth from all parts of the 
civilized world into the lap of Rome. Refined tastes 


followed that love of enjoyment and display which is 
the first fruits of money, and with luxury came culture. 
In gorgeous palaces were crowded the treasures of 
Hellenic civilization; manuscripts and works of art, 
gathered by Greek collectors, found their way into 
the libraries of Asia and Europe. In Rome, two 
thousand years ago, when an author about to read his 
manuscript appeared before the audience, he some- 
times arrayed himself in a gayly colored hood, ear 
bandages, and a comforter about his neck, hoping by 
thus decking his person to give the greater efficacy 
to his discourse. So runs fashion. In the davs of 
chivalry learning was accounted almost a disgrace. 
Priests might know a little without loss of caste, but 
women and churls had other and more highly esteemed 
uses. All else were knights-errant, and if one of these 
could read he kept the knowledge of the accomplish- 
ment hidden from his fellows. To the soldier of the 
sixteenth century money-making was a low occupation, 
especially if it involved work. They might kill for 
gold but they must not dig for it. Now any one may 
make money, even at the cost of damaged honor, and 
all is well; yet few understand how a sane man can 
eschew fortune, pleasure, and indeed fame, for the 
satisfaction of gratifying his intellectual tastes. Mrs 
Tuthill says in an introduction to one of Ruskin's 
volumes : " The enthusiasm of a man of genius appears 
to the multitude like madness." 

Before my cooler judgment my self-imposed task 
presented itself in this form : Next after gathering, 
already partially accomplished, was the acquisition of 
power over the mass. From being slave of all this 
knowledge, I must become master. This was already 
partially accomplished by means of the index, as be- 
fore explained, which placed at my command the in- 
stantaneous appearance of whatever my authors had 
said on any subject. To know anything perfectly, 
one must know many things perfectly. Then surely 


with all the evidence extant on any historical point 
or incident before me I should be able with sufficient 
study and thought to determine the truth, and in plain 
language to write it down. My object seemed to be 
the pride and satisfaction it would afford me to im- 
prove somewhat the records of my race, save some- 
thing of a nation's history, which but for me would 
drop into oblivion; to catch from the mouths of living 
witnesses, just ready to take their final departure, 
important facts explaining new incidents and strange 
experiences; to originate and perfect a system by 
which means alone this history could be gathered and 
written; to lay the corner-stone of this fair land's 
literature while the land was yet young and ambitious, 
and accomplish in one generation what by the slower 
stage-coach processes hitherto employed even by the 
latest and best historians would have occupied ten 
generations, or indeed from the very nature of things 
might never have been accomplished at all. Here- 
upon turns all progress, all human advancement. One 
of the main differences between civilization and sav- 
agism is that one preserves its experiences as they 
accumulate and the other does not. Savagism ceases 
to be savagism and becomes civilization the moment 
the savage begins a record of events. 

Mine was a great work that could be performed 
by a small man. As Beaumarchais says: ''Mediocre 
et rampant, et Ton arrive a tout." Vigorous and per- 
sistent effort for twenty or thirty years, with sufficient 
self-abnegation, a hberal outlay of money, and an 
evenly balanced mind, not carried away by its en- 
thusiasm, could accomplish more at this time than 
would be later possible under any circumstances. And 
although in my efforts like the eagle, which mistook 
the bald head of ^schylus for a stone, I sometimes 
endeavored to crack the shell of my tortoise on the 
wrong subject; and although much of the time the 
work was apparently stationary, yet in reality lil^e a 
glacier it was slowly furrowing for itself a path. 


"Good aims not always make good books," says 
Mrs Browning. So with mind well tempered and 
ambition held in strict control, I determined to work 
and wait. Some men live in their endeavors. Unless 
they have before them intricate work they are not 
satisfied. The moment one difficult undertakinof is 
accomplished they straightway pine for another. 
Great pleasure is felt in finishing a tedious and diffi- 
cult piece of work, but long before one w^as done by 
me I had a dozen other tedious and difficult pieces 
planned. Early in my efforts the conquest of Mexico 
attracted my attention. This brilliant episode lay 
directly in my path or I never should have had the 
audacity to grapple wdth it after the graceful and 
philosophic pen of Prescott had traced its history. 
This story of the conquest possessed me with a thrill- 
ing interest which might almost carry inspiration ; and 
before me lay not only the original authorities, with 
much new and unused collateral information, but com- 
plete histories of that epoch, in English, Spanish, 
French, Italian, and German — careful histories from 
able and eloquent pens. These might be the guide 
of the literary fledgling. Ah ! there was the trouble. 
Had there been any need for such a work; had the 
work not been done better than I could hope to do it; 
had I not these bright examples all before me, seem- 
ingly in derision of my puny efforts, I should have 
been better able to abstract the facts and arrange 
them in readable order. 

My first concern was the manner of fitting words 
together; the facts seemed for the moment of second- 
ary consideration. To array in brilliant colors empty 
ideas was nearer model history-writing than the 
sharpest philosophy in homely garb. The conse- 
quence was, this mountain of my ambition after hard 
labor brought forth a few chapters of sententious 
nothings, which a second writing seemed only to con- 
fuse yet more, and which after many sighings and 
heart-sinkings I tore up, and cleared my table of 


authorities on the grand conquest. The result brought 
to my mind the experience of Kant, who for the second 
edition of his Critique of Pure Reason rewrote some 
parts of it in order to give them greater perspicuity, 
though in reahty the explanation was more enigmat- 
ical than what had been first written. 

Now, I said, will I begin at the beginning, where I 
should have begun. The Pacific States territory, as 
by this time I had it marked, extended south to the 
Atrato river, so as to include the whole of the 
isthmus of Darien. I would notice the first appear- 
ance of the Spaniards along these shores. I would 
make my first volume the conquest of Darien, bring- 
ing the history down from the discovery by Columbus 
and the first touchinsf of the North American conti- 
nent at the Isthmus by Rodrigo de Bastidas in 1501, 
to about the year 1530, to be followed by a chapter 
on the expedition of Pizarro from Panamd to Peru. 

So I entered upon a thorough study of the discov- 
ery of America, of society and civilization in Europe 
at and prior to the discovery; paying particular atten- 
tion to Spanish character and institutions. At this 
time I was almost wholly occupied in handling the 
ideas of others ; but it was not long before I began to 
have ideas of my own; just as Spinoza in writing a 
synopsis of the system of Descartes threw into the 
principles of Cartesian philosophy much original 
thought and speculation while scarcely conscious of 
it. I wrote a long dissertation for what I conceived 
a fit introduction to a history of the Pacific States. 
To follow this introduction, with some assistance I 
prepared a summary of voyages and discovery from 
the earliest times to about 1540. 

Over these two summaries I labored long and faith- 
fully, spending fully six months on them with all the 
assistance I could utilize. Oftentimes work arose 
where assistance was impracticable; I could perform 
it better alone: with a dozen good men at my elbow 
I have nevertheless written many volumes alone, 


taking out all notes myself, because I could not 
profitably employ help. And further than this, I 
often carried on no less than four or five distinct 
works pari passu. 

To my help in writing this introduction I called a 
man well informed in all mediaeval knowledge. In all 
science and regarding all schools his opinions were 
modern, 3^et he could readily explain the theories of 
those who held opposite doctrines. Surely, I thought, 
in preparing such an essay as I desired such a person 
would be invaluable. So I instructed him to study 
the subject, particularly that part of it relating to 
literature, language, and learning, with the view of 
his gathering some pertinent facts for me. He read, 
and read, eagerly devouring all he could lay hands on. 
And he would have continued reading to this day had 
I been willing to pay him his salary regularly for it. 
He liked to read. And I said to myself, this is 
glorious! Surely, as the result of such enthusiasm I 
shall have a bushel of invaluable notes. 

Meanwhile I labored hard myself, studying care- 
fully over two hundred volumes bearing upon the 
subject, taking notes and committing my ideas to 
paper. The trouble was — as was always the trouble — 
to limit the sketch, yet make it symmetrical and 
complete. Occasionally I would urge my assistant 
to bring his investigations to some practical result, 
for after reading two months he had not half a dozen 
pages of written matter to show. 

" Let me get it fairly into my head," said he, ''and 
I will soon commit it to paper." 

And so for another month he continued the stufiing 
process, until I became tired of it, and told him plainly 
to give me what he had gathered and leave the sub- 
ject. A fortnight later he handed me about thirty 
pages of commonplace information, in which there 
was hardly a note that proved any addition to my 
own researches. And this was the result of his three 
months' hard work, for he did really apply himself 

Lit. Ind. 19 


diligently to the task, and thought all the time that 
he was making progress until he came to the sum- 
ming up, which disappointed him as much as myself. 
While engaged in the study his mind had absorbed a 
vast amount of information, which might some time 
prove valuable to him, but was of no use to me. And 
so it often happened, particularly at the first, and be- 
fore I had applied a thorough system of drilling; 
months and years were vainly spent by able persons 
in the effort to extract material for me. With regard 
to the introduction, as was yet often the case, I had 
vague conceptions only of what I should require, for 
the reason that I could not tell what shape the sub- 
ject would assume when wrought out. This was the 
case with many a chapter or volume. Its character I 
could not altogether control; nay, rather than control 
it I would let fact have free course, and record only 
as directed by the subject itself. One is scarcely fit 
to write upon a subject until one has written much 
upon it. That which is I would record; yet that 
which is may be differently understood by different 
persons. I endeavored always to avoid planting my- 
self upon an opinion, and saying thus and so it is, 
and shall be, all incidental and collateral facts being 
warped accordingly; rather would I write the truth, 
let the result be what it might. 

He who aims at honesty will never leave a subject 
on which he discourses without an effort at a judicial 
view, or without an attempt to separate himself from 
his subject and to marshal the arguments on the other 
side. He will contradict his own statement, and demur 
at his conclusions, until the matter is so thoroughly 
sifted in his own mind that a highly prejudiced view 
would be improbable. He who warps fact or fails to 
give in evidence against himself is not entitled to our 
respect. The writer of exact history must lay aside, 
so far as possible, his emotional nature. Knowing 
that his judgment is liable to prejudice, and that it is 
impossible to be always conscious of its presence, he 


will constantly suspect himself and rigidly review his 
work. If there was one thing David Hume piqued 
himself on more than another, it was his freedom 
from bias; and yet the writings of no historian un- 
cover more glaring prejudices than do his in certain 
places. A classicist of the Diderot and Voltaire school, 
he despised too heartily the writings of the monkish 
chroniclers to examine them. Macaulay sacrificed 
truthfulness to an epigrammatic style, the beauty and 
force of which lay in exaggeration. It has always 
been my custom to examine carefully authorities cur- 
rently held of little or no value. Not that I ever de- 
rived, or expected to derive, much benefit from them, 
but it was a satisfaction to know ever}' thing that had 
been written on the subject I was treating. And as 
for bias, though not pretending to be free from it — 
who that lives is? — yet were I ever knowingly to reach 
the point where pride of opinion was preferred before 
truth, I should wish from that moment to lay down 
my pen. Should ever any obstacle or temptation inter- 
pose to warp the facts before me; should ever fear, 
favor, conventionality, tradition, or a desire for praise 
or popularity, or any other vile contravention, wittingly 
come between me and plain unadulterated truth, I 
should say, Palsied be the hand that writes a lie I 

The introduction to my history was exclusively my 
own theme; in some subjects others might to some 
extent participate with me, but not in this. Hence, 
during the fourteen weeks my really talented and 
intelligent assistant was floundering in a sea of erudi- 
tion, with little or nothing available in the end to 
show for it, I myself had taken out material from 
which I easily wrote three hundred pages, though 
after twice re-arranging and rewriting I reduced it 
one half, eliminated half of what was left, and printed 
the remainder. 

To form a critical estimate of our own literary 
ability is impossible. "It is either very good or very 
bad, I don't know which," sighed Hawthorne as he 


placed in the hands of a friend the manuscript of 
his Scarlet Letter. It is often more difficult to form 
a just opinion of the character or ability of a long 
esteemed friend than of an ordinary acquaintance; it 
is more difficult to form a critical estimate of a con- 
temporary than of a writer of the past. As Cer- 
vantes says: "Porque no ay padre ni madre a quien 
sus hijos le parezcan feos: y en los que lo son del 
entendimiento, corremos este engano." Did not Jean 
Paul Richter, with faith in himself, labor in the 
deepest poverty for ten long years before his genius 
was even recognized? Who are our great men of 
to-day? Blinded by the dust of battle, if we have 
them we cannot see them. Our children and grand- 
children will tell; we do not know. The current of 
passing impressions, the record of contemporaneous 
opinion, differ widely from the after judgments of 
history. "Yet the judgment of history," says one, 
*' must be based on contemporaneous evidence." 

In all this the failure of certain of my assistants to 
prove profitable to my work was a source of small 
anxiety to me as compared with my own failures. It 
was what I could do with my own brain and fingers, 
and that alone, which gave me pleasure. " Not what I 
have, but what I do is my kingdom," says Teufels- 
drockh. If by securing help I might accomplish more, 
well ; but the work itself must be mine alone, planned 
by me and executed by me. 

And now was fully begun this new life of mine, the 
old life being dead; a sea of unborn experiences which 
I prayed might be worth the sailing over, else might 
I as well have ceased to be ere myself embarking. 
This change of life was as the birth of a new creature, 
a baptism in a new atmosphere. With the chrysalis 
of business was left the ambition of ordinary acquisi- 
tion, so that the winged intellect might rise into the 
glorious sunshine of yet nobler acquisition. The 
wealth which might minister to sensual gratification 
was made to subserve the wealth of intellectual grati- 


fication. Literature is its own recompense. "The 
reward of a good sentence is to have written it," says 
Higginson. And again, "the Hterary man must love 
his art, as the painter must love painting, out of all 
proportion to its rewards; or rather, the delight of 
the work must be its own reward." Ten thousand 
since Hippocrates have said that art is longer than 
life. Whatever I undertook to do seemed long, in- 
terminably long it seemed to me. In the grammar 
of mankind it requires nearly half a century of study 
to learn that the present tense of life is now. Nay, 
not only is the present tense now, but the present is 
the only tense; the past for us is gone; the future, 
who shall say that it is his? 

Looking back over the past my life lies spread 
before me in a series of lives, a succession of deaths 
and new life, until I feel myself older than time, 
though young and hopeful in my latest, newest life. 
And each life has its individual growth. The thought- 
ful student of books is an endogenous plant, growing 
from the inside; the man of the world is the exoge- 
nous, or outside-grower. Each has its advantage; the 
inside-growers are cellular and fibrous, while the out- 
side-growers are woody and pithy. 

I had now become fully imbued with the idea that 
there was a work to do, and that this was my work. 
I entered upon it with relish, and as I progressed it 
satisfied me. The truth is, I found myself at this 
time nearer the point reached by Gibbon when he 
said, "I was now master of my style and subject, and 
while the measure of my daily performance was en- 
larged, I discovered less reason to cancel or correct." 
By reason of the late soul-storms, through the clear 
dry atmosphere of my present surroundings, the dis- 
tant mountain of toilsome ascent was brought near 
and made inviting. 

Following a fit of despondency, a triumph was like 
the dancing of light on the icy foliage after a gloomy 
storm. In planning and executing, in loading my 


mind and discharging it on paper, in finding outlet 
and expression to pent thought, in the healthful exer- 
cise of my mental faculties, I found relief such as I 
had never before experienced, relief from the cor- 
roding melancholy of stifled aspirations, and a pleasure 
more exquisite than any I had hitherto dreamed of 
There is a pivot on which man's happiness and un- 
happiness not unevenly balance. How keen this 
enjoyment after an absence or break of any kind in 
my labors. Back to my work, my sweet work, sur- 
rounded by wife and children; away from hates and 
heart-burnings, from brutish snarlings, law courts, and 
rounds of dissipating society; back to the labor that 
fires the brain and thrills the heart. For weeks after 
a period of business and society desiccation, the lite- 
rary worker can do little else than plant himself in his 
closet, day after day, until he again in some degree 
becomes filled with his subject. 

Hermonitas thought he might achieve virtue, as if 
by scaling. a mountain, and reach the top in twenty 
years. " But," said he, " if once attained, one minute 
of enjoyment on the summit will fully recompense me 
for all the time and pains." 

Let the world wag. There might be wars, convul- 
sions, earthquakes, epidemics; there might be busi- 
ness or social troubles, none of them should come 
nigh so long as I had my library and my labors in 
which to hide myself My mind had hungered for 
food, and had found it. 

" The consciousness of a literary mission," says 
Stoddard, ^^is an agreeable one ; for however delusive 
it may be, it raises its possessor for the time being 
above his fellows, and places him in his own estima- 
tion among the benefactors of his race." With Pliny 
I can heartily say, '^ I find my joy and solace in litera- 
ture. There is no gladness that this cannot increase, 
no sorrow that it cannot lessen." 

This, however, may be all very well for the sorrow, 
but it is bad for the literature. Yet Schubert says: 


^' Grief sharpens the understanding and strengthens 
the soul, whereas joy seldom troubles itself about the 
former, and makes the latter either effeminate or 
frivolous." Sorrow may drive a man to study, as hun- 
ger does to labor, but as labor can be better performed 
when the body is not overcome by hunger, so litera- 
ture prospers best when the heart is free from grief. 

Though ever steadfast in my purpose, I was often 
obliged to change plans. I kept on, however, at 
the history until I had completed the first volume, 
until I had written fully the conquest of Darien and 
the conquest of Peru — until I had rewritten the 
volume, the first writing not suiting me. This I did, 
taking out even most of the notes myself But long 
before I had finished this volume I became satisfied 
that something must be done with the aborigines. 
Wherever I touched the continent with my Spaniards 
they were there, a dusky, disgusting subject. I did 
not fancy them. I would gladly have avoided them. 
I was no archaeologist, ethnologist, or antiquary, and 
had no desire to become such. My tastes in the 
matter, however, did not dispose of the subject. The 
savages were there, and there was no help for me ; I 
must write them up to get rid of them. 

Nor was their proper place the general history, or 
any of the several parts thereof; nor was it the place 
to speak of them where first encountered. It w,ould 
not do to break off a narrative of events in order to 
describe the manners and customs, or the language, 
or the mythology of a native nation. The reader 
should know something of both peoples thus intro- 
duced to each other before passing the introduction; 
he should know all about them. 

Once settled that the natives must be described in 
a work set apart for them, the question arose. How 
should they be treated? Uppermost in the mind 
when the words 'Indian' and 'Digger' appeared were 
the ragged, half-starved, and half-drunken prowlers 


round the outskirts of civilization, cooped in reserva- 
tions or huddled in missions; and a book on them 
would treat of their thefts, massacres, and capture. 
Little else than raids, fightings, and exterminations 
we heard concerning them; these, coupled with op- 
probrious epithets which classed them as cattle rather 
than as human beings, tended in no wise to render 
the subject fascinating to me. Indeed I never could 
bring my pen to write the words ' buck,' 'squaw,' or 
^ Digger,' if I could help it. The first two are 
vulgarisms of the lowest order; the third belongs to 
no race or nation in particular, but was applied indis- 
criminately to the more debased natives of California 
and Nevada. 

In fact the subject was not popularly regarded as 
very interesting, unless formed into a bundle of 
thrilling tales, and that was exactly what I would 
not do. Battles and adventures belonged to history 
proper; here was required all that we could learn of 
them before the coming of the Europeans: some 
history, all that they had, but mostly description. 
They should be described as they stood in all their 
native glory, and before the withering hand of civil- 
ization was laid upon them. They should be de- 
scribed as they were first seen by Europeans along 
the several paths of discovery, by the conquerors of 
Darien, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and 
Mexico, during the first half of the sixteenth century; 
by the missionaries to the north; by the American 
fur-hunters, the French Canadian trappers, the Hud- 
son's Bay Company's servants, and the Russian voy- 
agers and seal -catchers on the shores of Alaska; 
also by circumnavigators and travellers in various 
parts — thus the plan presented itself to my mind. 

As a matter of course, much personal investiga- 
tion in such a work was impossible. For the purpose 
of studying the character and customs of hundreds of 
nations and tribes I could not spend a lifetime with 
each; and to learn the six hundred and more dialects 


which I found on these shores was impracticable, 
even had they all been spoken at the time of my 
investigations. I must take the word of those who 
had lived among these people, and had learned during 
the three centuries of their discovering whatever was 
known of them. 

Spreading before me the subject with hardly any 
other guide than practical common-sense, I resolved 
the question into its several divisions. What is it we 
wish to know about these people? I asked myself. 
First, their appearance, the color of the skin, the text- 
ure of the hair, form, features, physique. Then there 
were the houses in which they lived, the food they 
ate, how they built their houses, and obtained and 
preserved their food, their implements and weapons; 
there were ornaments and dress to be considered, as 
well as many other questions, such as what constituted 
wealth with them; their government, laws, and re- 
ligious institutions; the power and position of rulers, 
and the punishment of crimes; the arts and intel- 
lectual advancement; family relations, husband and 
wife, children, slaves; the position of woman, in- 
cluding courtship, marriage, polygamy, childbirth, and 
chastity; their amusements, dances, games, feasts, 
bathing, smoking, drinking, gambling, racing; their 
diseases, treatment of the sick, medicine-men; their 
mourning, burial, and many other like topics relative 
to life and society among these unlettered denizens of 
this blooming wilderness. 

Manners and customs being the common term em- 
ployed by ethnologists for such description, unable 
to find, after careful study and consideration of the 
question, a better one, I adopted it. The first division 
of my subject, then, was the manners and customs 
of these peoples. But here a difficulty arose. In 
points of intellectual growth and material progress, 
of relative savagism and civilization, there were such 
wide differences between the many nations of the vast 
Pacific seaboard that to bring them all together would 


make an incongruous mass, and to fit them to one 
plan would be far-fetched and impracticable. 

For example, there were the snake-eating Sho- 
shones of Utah, and the cloth-makers and land-tillers 
of the Pueblo towns of New Mexico; there were 
the blubber-eating dwellers of the subterranean dens 
of Alaska, and the civilized city-builders of the 
Mexican table-land; the coarse brutal inhabitants of 
British Columbia, and the refined and intelligent 
Mayas and Quiches of Central America. What had 
these in common to be described more than Arab, 
Greek, and African? 

Obviously there must be some division. The sub- 
ject could not be handled in such a form. Whatever 
might be their relation as regards the great continental 
divisions of the human family, the terms race and 
species as applied to the several American nations I 
soon discovered to be meaningless. As convincing 
arguments might be advanced to prove them of one 
race as of twenty, of three as of forty. Some call the 
Eskimos one race, and all the rest in America from 
Hudson Bay to Tierra del Fuego one race. Some 
segregate the Aztecs; others distinguish the Cali- 
fornians as Malays, and the natives of Brazil as 
Africans. I soon perceived that ethnologists still 
remained mystified and at variance, and I resolved 
not to increase the confusion. 

This I could do: I could group them geographi- 
cally, and note physique, customs, institutions, beliefs, 
and, most important of all, languages; then he w^ho 
would might classify them according to race and 
species. In all my work I was determined to keep 
upon firm ground, to avoid meaningless and even 
technical terms, to avoid theories, speculations, and 
superstitions of every kind, and to deal only in 
facts. This I relied on more than on any other one 
thing. My w^ork could not be wholly worthless if I 
gathered only facts, and arranged them in some form 
which should bring them within reach of those who 


had not access to my material, or who could not use 
it if they had ; whereas theories might be overthrown 
as worthless. I had not studied long the many 
questions arising from a careful survey of the material 
brought forth and arranged for my Native Races 
before I became aware that many things which were 
long since supposed to be settled were not settled, and 
much which I would be expected to decide never 
could be decided by any one. The more I thought of 
these things the stronger became an inherent repug- 
nance to positiveness in cases where nothing was 

Often we hear it urged upon the young, "Get 
opinions, make up your mind upon the leading ques- 
sions of the day, and once having formed an opinion, 
hold it fast." All matters from Moses to Darwin, 
all disputed questions relative to this world and the 
next, are to be forever decided in the mind of a 
young man just setting out in life, and whether the 
conclusions thus jumped at be right or wrong they 
must be forever fixed and immovable. None but the 
ignorant egoist, or one with an ill-balanced mind, will 
attempt to arrive at fixed conclusions on any subject 
with only partial data before him. 

Many complained because I did not settle insol- 
uble questions for them, because I did not determine 
beyond peradventure the origin of the Americans, 
where they came from, who their fathers were, and 
who made them. But far more found this absence of 
vain and tiresome speculation commendable. 

Finally, after much deliberation to enable me to 
grasp the subject which lay spread over such a vast 
territory, I concluded to divide manners and customs 
into two parts, making of the wild or savage tribes 
one division, and of the civilized nations another. The 
civilized nations all la}^ together in two main families, 
the Nahuas of central Mexico and the Mayas of Cen- 
tral America. The savage tribes, however, extended 
from the extreme north to the extreme southern limits 


of our Pacific States territory, completely surround- 
ing the civilized nations. The wild tribes, therefore, 
must be grouped ; and I could reach no better plan 
than to adopt arbitrarily territorial divisions, never 
dividing, however, a nation, tribe, or family that 
seemed clearly one. There were the Pueblos of New 
Mexico, who could be placed among the savage or 
civilized nations according to convenience. I placed 
them among the wild tribes, though they were as far 
in advance of the Nootkas of Vancouver island as 
the Mayas were in advance of the Pueblos. Indeed, 
like most of these expressions, the terms savage and 
civilized are purely relative. Where is the absolute 
savage on the face of the earth to-day; where the 
man absolutely perfect in his civilization? What we 
call civilization is not a fixed state, but an irresistible 
and eternal moving onward. 

The groupings I at last adopted for the Manners 
and Customs of the Wild Tribes were: Beginning at 
the extreme north, all those nations lying north of the 
fifty-fifth parallel I called, arbitrarily, Hyperboreans; 
to those whose lands were drained by the Columbia 
river and its tributaries I gave the name Columbians; 
the Californians included in their division the inhab- 
itants of the great basin ; then there were the New 
Mexicans, the Wild Tribes of Mexico, and the Wild 
Tribes of Central America. There was no special 
reason in beginning at the north rather than at the 
south. Indeed, in treating the subject of antiquities 
I began at the south, but this was partly because the 
chief monumental remains were in Central America 
and Mexico, and few of importance north of Mexico. 
And there were other topics to be examined, such 
as languages, myths, and architectural remains; and 
the civilized nations had their own written history to 
be given. 

It was my purpose to lay before the world absolutely 
all that was known of these peoples at the time of the 
appearing among them of their European extermi- 


nators. All real knowledge of them I would present^ 
and their history, so far as they had a history. I had 
little to say of the aborigines or their deeds since the 
coming of the Europeans, of their wars against in- 
vaders and among themselves ; of repartimientos, pre- 
sidios, missions, reservations, and other institutions for 
their conquest, conversion, protection, or oppression. 
My reason for this was that all these things, so far as 
they possessed importance, belonged to the modern 
history of the country where they were to receive due 
attention. The wild tribes in the absence of written 
records had very little history, and that little was 
mingled with the crudest of supernatural conceptions. 

Besides these several branches of the subject I 
could think of no others. These included all that re- 
lated in any wise to their temporalities or their spirit- 
ualities; everything relating to mind, soul, body, and 
estate, language, and literature. The last mentioned 
subjects, namely, myths, languages, antiquities, and 
history, I thought best to treat separately, and for 
the following reasons: The myths of these peoples, 
their strange conceptions of their origin, their deities, 
and their future state, would present a much more per- 
fect and striking picture placed together where they 
might the better be analyzed and compared. And so 
with languages and the others. These might or might 
not be taken up territorially; in this respect I would 
be governed by the subject-matter at the time I 
treated it. It resulted that as a rule they were so 
treated; that is, beginning at one end or the other of 
the territory and proceeding systematically to the other 
end. Myths and languages each begin at the north; 
antiquities proceed from the south; history is con- 
fined mostly to the table-lands of Mexico and Central 
America, and had no need of territorial treatment. 

All this I hoped to condense, at the outset, into two 
volumes, the first of which would comprise the 
manners and customs of both savage and civilized 
tribes, the other divisions filling the second volume. 


But I soon saw that, after the severest and most per- 
sistent compressing, the manners and customs of the 
wild tribes alone would fill a volume. In each of the 
six great territorial divisions of this branch of the 
subject there was much in common with all the rest. 
A custom or characteristic once mentioned was seldom 
again described, differences only being noticed; but 
in every nation there was much which, though gener- 
ally similar to like characteristics in other tribes, so 
differed in minor if not in main particulars as to de- 
mand a separate description. Hence I was obliged 
either to take more space or let the varying customs 
go unnoticed, and the latter course I could not make 
up my mind to adopt. 

So the first volume became two almost at the out- 
set; for it was soon apparent that the portraiture of 
the civilized nations — a description of their several 
eras; their palaces, households, and government; their 
castes and classes, slaves, tenure of land, and taxa- 
tion; their education, marriage, concubinage, child- 
birth, and baptism ; their feasts and amusements ; their 
food, dress, commerce, and war customs; their laws 
and law courts, their arts and manufactures; their 
calendar and picture-writing; their architecture, bo- 
tanical gardens, medicines, funeral rites, and the like — 
would easily fill a volume. 

Proceeding further in the work it was ascertained 
that myths and languages would together require a 
volume; that the subject of antiquities, with the 
necessary three or four hundred illustrations, would 
occupy a volume, and that the primitive history of 
the Nahuas and Mayas, with which Brasseur de 
Bourbourg filled four volumes, could not be properly 
written in less than one. 

Thus we see the two volumes swollen to five, even 
then one of the principal difficulties in the work being 
to confine the ever swelling subjects within these 
rigidly prescribed limits. So great is the tendency, 
so much easier is it, when one lias an interesting sub- 


ject, to write it out and revel in description, rather 
than to cramp it into a sometimes distorting com- 
pass, that whatever I take up is almost sure to over- 
run first calculations as to space. 

Five volumes, then, comprised the Native Races of 
the Pacific States: the first being the Wild Tribes, 
their manners and customs; the second, the Civilized 
Nations of Mexico and Central America; the third, 
Myths and Languages of both savage and civilized 
nations; the fourth, Antiquities, including Architect- 
ural remains; and the fifth. Primitive History and 
Migrations. A copious index, filling one hundred and 
sixty-two pages, and referring alphabetically to each 
of the ten or twelve thousand subjects mentioned in 
the five volumes, completed the work. 

Maps showing the locations of the aborigines ac- 
cording to their nation, family, and tribe, were intro- 
duced wherever necessary, the first volume containing 
six, one for each of the great territorial divisions. 

Such was the plan; now as to the execution. As 
the scheme was entirely my own, as I had consulted 
with no one outside of the library about it, and with 
my assistants but little, I had only to work it out 
after my own fashion. 

The questions of race and species settled, to my 
own satisfaction at least, in an Ethnological Introduc- 
tion, which constitutes the first chapter of the first 
volume, I brought together for following chapters all 
the material touching the first main division, the 
Hyperboreans, and proceeded to abstract it. It was 
somewhat confusing to me at first to determine the 
subjects to be treated and the order in which I should 
name them; but sooner than I had anticipated there 
arose in my mind what I conceived to be natural 
sequence in all these things, and there was little diffi- 
culty or hesitation. Above all things I sought sim- 
plicity in style, substance, and arrangement, fully 
realizing that the more easily I could make myself 
understood, the better my readers would be pleased. 


One of the most difficult parts of the work was to 
locate the tribes and compile the maps. Accurately 
to define the boundaries of primitive nations, much 
of the time at war and migrating with the seasons, is 
impossible, from the fact that, although they aim to 
have limits of their lands well defined, these bound- 
aries are constantly shifting. The best I could do 
was to take out all information relative to the location 
of every tribe, bring together what each author had 
said upon the different peoples, and print it in his 
own language, under the heading Tribal Boundaries, 
in small type at the end of every chapter. 

Thus there were as many of these sections on tribal 
boundaries as there were divisions; and from these I 
had drawn a large ethnographical map of the whole 
Pacific States, from which were engraved the subdi- 
visions inserted at the beginning of each section. In 
this way every available scrap of material in existence 
was used and differences as far as possible were recon- 

When my first division was wholly written I sub- 
mitted it in turn to each of my principal assistants, 
and invited their criticism, assuring them that I 
should be best pleased with him who could find most 
fault with it. A number of suggestions were made, 
some of which I acted on. In general the plan as 
first conceived was carried out; and to-day I do not 
see how it could be changed for the better. I then 
went on and explained to my assistants how I had 
reached the results, and giving to each a division I 
requested them in like manner to gather and arrange 
the material, and place it before me in the best form 
possible for my use. During the progress of this 
work I succeeded in utilizing the labors of my assist- 
ants to the full extent of my anticipations; indeed, it 
was necessary I should do so. Otherwise from a quar- 
ter to a half century would have been occupied in this 
one work. Without taking into account the indexing 
of thousands of volumes merely to point out where 


material existed, or the collecting of the material, 
there was in each of these five volumes the work of 
fifteen men for eight months, or of one man for ten 
years. This estimate, I say, carefully made after the 
work was done, showed that there had been expended 
on the Native Races labor equivalent to the well di- 
rected efforts of one man, every day, Sundays ex- 
cepted, from eight o'clock in the morning till six at 
night, for a period of fifty years. In this estimate I do 
not include the time lost in unsuccessful experiments, 
but only the actual time employed in taking out the 
material, writing the work, preparing the index for the 
five volumes, which alone was one year's labor, proof- 
reading, and comparison with authorities. The last two 
requirements consumed an immense amount of time, 
the proof being read eight or nine times, and every 
reference compared with the original authority after 
the work was in type. This seemed to me necessary 
to insure accuracy, on account of the many foreign 
languages in which the authorities were written, and 
the multitude of native and strange words which 
crowded my pages. Both text and notes were re- 
written, compared, and corrected without limit, until 
they were supposed to be perfect ; and I venture to say 
that never a work of that character and magnitude 
went to press finally with fewer errors. 

Fifty years ! I had not so many to spare upon this 
work. Possibly I might die before the time had ex- 
pired or the volumes were completed; and what 
should I do with the two or three hundred years' ad- 
ditional work planned? 

When the oracle informed Mycerinus that he had 
but six years to live, he thought to outwit the gods 
by making the night as day. Lighting his lamps at 
nightfall he feasted until morning, thus striving to 
double his term. I must multiply my days in some 
way to do this work. I had attempted the trick of 
Mycerinus, but it would not succeed with me, for 
straightway the outraged deities ordained that for 

Lit. Ind. 20 


every hour so stolen I must repay fourfold. The work 
of my assistants, besides saving me an immense amount 
of drudgery and manual labor, left my mind always 
fresh, and open to receive and retain the subject as a 
whole. I could institute comparisons and indulge in 
generalizations more freely, and I believe more effect- 
ually, than with my mind overwhelmed by a mass of 
detail. I do not know how far others have carried 
this system. Herbert Spencer, I believe, derived 
much help from assistants. German authors have the 
faculty of multiplying their years with the aid of 
others in a greater degree than any other people. 
Besides having scholars in various parts of the country 
at work for him, Bunsen employed five or six secre- 
taries. Professors in the German universities are 
most prolific authors, and these almost to a man have 
the assistance of one or two students. 

Thus says Hurst: ^' While the real author is re- 
sponsible for every word that goes out under his 
own name, and can justly claim the parentage of the 
whole idea, plan, and scope of the work, he is spared 
much of the drudgery incident to all book-making 
which is not the immediate first fruit of imagination. 
Where history is to be ransacked, facts to be grouped, 
and matters of pure detail to be gleaned from various 
sources, often another could do better service than 
the author." The young Germans who thus assist 
authors, highly prize the discipline by means of which 
they often become authors themselves. At Halle, 
during his half century of labor, Tholuck had several 
theological students at work for him, some of whom 
were members of his own family. And thence pro- 
ceeded several famous authors, among whom were 
Kurtz and Held. So Jacobi and Piper started forth 
from Neander. And the system is growing in favor 
in the United States. 



Murci^lagoa literarios 
Que haceia d pluma y d. pelo, 
Si quer^is vivir con todos 
Mirdos en este espejo. 


All the anxiety I had hitherto felt in regard to 
the Native Races was as author thereof; now I had to 
undergo the trials of publishing. 

Business experience had taught me that the imme- 
diate recognition, even of a work of merit, depends 
almost as much on the manner of bringing it forth 
as upon authorship. So easily swayed are those who 
pass judgment on the works of authors; so greatly 
are they ruled by accidental or incidental causes who 
form for the public their opinion, that pure substantial 
merit is seldom fully and alone recognized. 

I do not mean by this that the better class of 
critics are either incompetent or unfair, that they 
cannot distinguish a meritorious work from a worth- 
less one, or that, having determined the value of a 
production in their own minds, they will not so write 
it down. Yet comparatively speaking there are few 
reviewers of this class. Many otherwise good jour- 
nals, both in America and in Europe, publish miserable 
book notices. 

To illustrate: Would the average newspaper pub- 
lisher on the Pacific coast regard with the same eyes 
a book thrust suddenly and unheralded upon his at- 
tention as the production of a person whom he had 
never known except as a shopkeeper, one w^iom he 



had never suspected of aspiring to literature, as if the 
same book were placed before him with explanation, 
and bearing upon it the approving stamp of those 
whose opinions must overrule even his own; would 
he handle it with the same hands, and would the print 
of it, and the paper, binding, and subject-matter, and 
style of it be to him the same? 

How differently the most discriminating, for the 
moment at least, would regard a volume of verses if 
told beforehand that in the writer burned brightly the 
fires of genius, or if with ridicule he was pronounced 
an illiterate crack-brained rhymster. How much has 
the lewdness of Byron and the religious infidelity of 
Shelley to do with our appreciation of their poems? 
Lamartine called the author of Cosmos, before Hum- 
boldt had made his greatest reputation, *'a clever 
man, but without much real merit." *' Motley," writes 
Merimee to his Incognita, ''though an American is a 
man of talent." Here was sound judgment, in due 
time, seen rising above prejudice. Sannazaro, the 
Italian poet, for an epigram of six lines on the beauty 
of Venice received six hundred ducats from the Ve- 
netian senate. Yet who reads Sannazaro now? The 
pride of these old men was flattered, and the senti- 
ment went farther with them than merit. Yet there 
is no study productive of higher results, and such as 
are the most beneficial to the race than the life and 
labors of prominent men ; for in it we find all that 
is best of both history and biography. Pericles 
boasted that at Athens sour looks were not thrown 
by his neighbors upon a man on account of his eccen- 

Addison wished to know his author before reading 
his works; De Quincey, afterward. Yet many, in 
forming the acquaintance of an author, like best the 
natural way; that is, as one forms the acquaintance 
of the man : first an introduction, which shall tell who 
and what he is, time and place of birth, education and 


occupation. Then let it be seen what he has done to 
demand attention; give of the labors of his brain 
some of the fruits ; and if by this time they have not 
had enough of him, they will enter with relish into the 
details of his life, habits, temper, and peculiarities. 

Hordes of literary adventurers are constantly 
coming and going, not one in a thousand of whom 
will be known a century hence ; and among these are 
so-called scientists with their long-drawn speculations 
and unanswerable theories, to say nothing of doctors 
of various degrees and instructors in supernatural 

Philosophers are these fellows after the order of 
Diogenes the cynic. '^One needs no education," they 
say with their master, '^or reading, or such nonsense, 
for this system; it is the real short cut to reputation. 
Be you the most ordinary person, cobbler, sausage- 
monger, carpenter, pawnbroker, nothing hinders your 
becoming the object of popular admiration, provided 
only that you've impudence enough, and brass enough, 
and a happy talent for bad language." Almost every 
man endowed with talents w^hicli would win success in 
one field affects, or has some time in his life affected, 
a pursuit for which he has no talent. Bentley, Sainte- 
Beuve, and many another, fancied themselves great 
poets when criticism only was their forte. Praise 
Girardet's pictures and he brings you his verses; praise 
Canova's sculpture and he brings a picture. The good 
comic actor often cares little for comedy, but delights 
in tragedy ; if Douglas Jerrold, the successful wit, could 
only write on natural philosophy he would be a made 
man. To his dying day Sainte-Beuve did not cease 
to lament his slighted muse ; yet he would never have 
become a poet, even had he written as many lines as 
the Persian Ferdosi who in thirty years ground out 
one hundred and twenty thousand verses. After his 
third failure he abandoned the idea of further attempts 
at publishing poetry and confined himself to criticism. 
Goethe says: ''Der Mensch mag sich wenden wohin 


er will, er mag unternehmen was es auch sey, stets 
wird er auf jenen Weg wieder zurlickkehren, den ihm 
die Natur einmal vorgezeichnet hat." In his younger 
days Jean Paul Kichter fancied that his genius was 
especially adapted to satire, when nothing was further 
from his nature. 

In ranging the field of modern literature, one can 
but observe upon how slight a foundation some repu- 
tations have been built; not slight as regards alone 
the quantity of work done, but the quality. Fortu- 
nately for mankind such reputations never last. The 
public may be for the moment deceived, but time is 
a true measure of values. No book can live for fifty 
years unless it has merit; and no meritorious book in 
these present days can remain very long hidden. 

There is a difference in books in this respect, how- 
ever. Scientific data, for example, might be faith- 
fully collected from a new field by an unknown author 
and brought to the light in a far-off corner of the 
literary world, there remaining unnoticed for some 
time before scholars should hear of it. This misfor- 
tune, assuming that my work was meritorious, I was 
anxious to avoid. 

Experience had told me that a book written, printed, 
and published at this date on the Pacific coast, no 
matter how meritorious or by whom sent forth, that 
is to say if done by any one worth the castigating, 
would surely be condemned by some and praised 
coldly and critically by others. There are innumer- 
able local prejudices abroad which prevent us from 
recognizing to the fullest extent the merits of our 
neighbor. Least of all would a work of mine be 
judged solely upon its merits. Trade engenders com- 
petition, and competition creates enemies. There were 
hundreds in California who damned me every day, 
and to please this class as well as themselves there 
were newspaper writers who would like nothing better 
than, by sneers and innuendoes, to consign the fruits 
of laborious years to oblivion. 


" This man is getting above his business/' some 
would say. ''Because he can sell books he seems to infer 
a divine mission to write them. Now it may be as well 
first as last for him to understand that merchandising 
and authorship are two distinct things; that a com- 
mercial man who has dealt in books as he would deal 
in bricks, by county weight, or dollars' worth, cannot 
suddenly assume to know all things and set himself 
up as a teacher of mankind. He must be put down. 
Such arrogance cannot be countenanced. If writing 
is thus made common our occupation is gone." 

All did not so feel; but there was more of such 
sentiment behind editorial spectacles than editors 
would admit even to themselves. I have seen through 
jealousy, or conscienceless meanness, the fruits of a 
good man's best days thrown to the dogs by some 
flippant remark of an unprincipled critic. Tuthill's 
History of California was a good book, the best by 
far which up to its time had been written on the sub- 
ject. It was in the main truthful and reliable. The 
author was a conscientious worker; lying was foreign 
to his nature; he spent his last days on this work, 
and on his death-bed corrected the proofs as they 
passed from the press. And yet there were those 
among his brother editors in California who did not 
scruple, when the book was placed in their hands for 
review, to color their criticism from some insignificant 
flaws which they pretended to have discovered, and 
so consign a faithful, true history of this coast to per- 
dition, because the author had taken a step or iwo 
above them. 

To local fame, or a literary reputation restricted to 
California, I did not attach much value. Not that I 
\\ as indifierent to the opinions of my neighbors, or that 
I distrusted Pacific-coast journalists as a class. I had 
among them many warm friends whose approbation I 
coveted. But at this juncture I did not desire the 
criticism either of enemies or friends, but of strangers ; 
I was desirous above all that my book should be first 


reviewed on its merits and by disinterested and un- 
prejudiced men. Adverse criticism at home, where the 
facts were supposed to be better known, might injure 
me abroad, while if prejudiced in my favor, the critic 
might give an opinion which would be negatived by 
those of New England or of Europe. Besides, I could 
not but feel, if my work was worth anything, if it was 
a work worth doing and well done, that the higher 
the scholar, or the literary laborer, the higher to him 
would appear its value. 

The reason is obvious. I dealt in facts, gathered 
from new fields and conveniently arrangedT These 
were the raw material for students in the several 
branches of science, and for philosophers in their 
generalLzations. My theories, if I indulged in any, 
vf ould be worse than thrown away on them. This was 
their work; they would theorize, and generalize, and 
deduce for themselves. But they would not despise 
my facts; for were they as mighty as Moses they 
could not make bricks without straw. Hence it was 
by the verdict of the best men of the United States, 
of England, France, and Germany, the world's ripest 
scholars and deepest thinkers, that my contribu- 
tions to knowledge must stand or fall, and not by 
the wishes of my friends or the desire of my enemies. 
This is why, I say, a home reputation alone never 
would have satisfied me, never would have paid me 
for my sacrifice of time, labor, and many of the 
amenities of life. 

To reach these results, which were as clearly defined 
in my mind before as after their accomplishment, 
involved a journey to the eastern states. Yet before 
leaving this coast on such a mission there should be 
some recognition of my efforts here. It were not best 
for me to leave my state entirely unheralded. If those 
who knew me best, who lived beside me, who fre- 
quented my library and should know of my labors, 
if these had nothing to say, would it not appear some- 


what strange to those at a distance before whom I 
was now about to make pretensions? 

Up to this time, about the beginning of 1874, 1 had 
spoken httle of my work to any one, preferring to 
accompHsh something first and then point to what I 
had done rather than talk about what I intended to 
do. I was fully aware that often the reputation which 
precedes performance is greater than that which comes 
after it, hence I would husband whatever good was to 
be said of me until it had something to rest on. 
During the previous year several notices had crept 
into the papers, mostly through visitors from the east, 
concerning the library and the work going on there. 
Members of the San Francisco press often came to me 
for information, but were asked to wait till I was 
ready to publish something on the subject. At pres- 
ent all I desired was to be let alone. 

When the plan of the Native Races was fully set- 
tled, and the first volume, and parts of the second 
and third volumes were in type, I invited a num- 
ber of men eminent in their several callings, and 
in whom I knew the public had confidence, to in- 
spect my work and report. Among these were Brantz 
Mayer, author of several works on Mexico; Benjamin 
P. Avery, editor of the Overland Monthly, and shortly 
after minister to China; Daniel C. Gilman, president 
of the university of California; J. Ross Browne, 
probably the foremost writer on the coast ; Frederick 
Whymper, author of a work on Alaska; and others. 

The opinions formed from these investigations were 
forwarded to me in the form of letters, which I printed 
as a circular, adding to my list of letters from time to 
time until the circular reached sixteen pages of flat- 
tering testimonials. 

Some of these men were exceedingly interested 
and astonished. There was Professor Georo^e Da- 
vidson, I remember, for many years at the head of 
the United States coast survey, president of the 
California academy of sciences, and in every respect 


one of the first scientific men of the age. He hap- 
pened to be absent from the city when I issued my 
first invitations, and on his return I sent Goldschmidt 
to him with a copy of the Native Eaces, as far as 
printed, for his examination. 

Goldschmidt found the professor in his rear office, 
stated his errand, and laid the printed pages before 
him. Davidson looked at them, looked at the list of 
twelve hundred authorities quoted which stood at 
the beginning of volume i., turned over the leaves, 
dropped now and then an ejaculation, but said little. 
Presently his colored attendant came to the door and 
addressed him. 

''A gentleman wishes to see you." No response. 
The black man retired; but it was not long before he 
appeared again with a similar message. 

"All right," returned Davidson. 

Some ten or fifteen minutes now elapsed, during 
which the professor was examining the pages and 
asking Goldschmidt questions. Again the black face 
appeared at the portal, this time wrinkled by porten- 
tous concern. 

** There are, four or five men in the outer office 
waiting to speak with you, sir." 

''Very well, let them wait!" exclaimed the profes- 
sor. " Such work as this doesn't fall into my hands 
ever}^ day." 

Though I had not then met Professor Davidson, 
I admired him, and valued his opinion highly. 
If from disinterested intelligent men my efforts 
could not secure approval, I felt that I need go no 

Among the literary notes of the Overland Monthly 
for March 1874 appeared a brief account of the col- 
lecting and indexing, with intimation that the mass 
was to be sifted and the results given to the world in 
some shape. This notice of the library was copied 
by several of the daily newspapers. 

Next appeared a long article in the same maga- 


zine of June 1874, under the heading of "Some 
Rare Books about California." The Overland was 
the first and indeed the only literary journal of any 
pretensions west of the Rocky mountains. The arti- 
cle was based on the library, and treated of the 
rare historical works it contained, but no allusion 
whatever was made to the Native Races, or any other 
work undertaken or in contemplation, except that it 
spoke of a bibliography of the coast which sometime 
might be made by somebody, also of w^riters in and 
on California, and again alluded to Mr Bancroft's 
''self-imposed life work of condensing his material 
into a series of standard works on Spanish North 
America, with its English and Russian additions in 
the north-west, a territory which he terms the Pacific 

The name I should give to the territory marked 
out had often troubled me. There were the original 
Spanish- American, English, and Russian possessions, 
for which it w^as absolutely necessary to have some 
one simple appellation, such as would be most appli- 
cable and most easily understood by the world at large. 
There were objections to the term Pacific States. It 
had been applied by me as publisher, and by some 
few others, to the United States territory on the 
Pacific, and if it had any signification it meant only 
those states and territories. I could not say the 
Pacific coast, for the territory embraced much more 
than the coast. It included half the North American 
continent, and the whole of Mexico and Central Amer- 
ica. Why I selected this territory as the field for 
my historical investigations I have already explained. 
I proposed to do a large work, and I would cover a 
large territory: it was all new; its history was un- 
written; it had a past and would have a future; and 
there was no one part of it claiming attention more 
than another, unless it w^as the central part, which 
must ever exercise a dominant influence over the rest. 
I did not like the term Pacific nations, or Pacific ter- 


ritories. The several nationalities on these shores 
had often changed, were still changing, and might be 
all one confederacy, republic, empire, or kingdom some 
day for aught I knew. At all events, they were states 
now; there were the Central American states, the 
states of the Mexican and American republics, and 
the colonial possessions of Great Britain and lately 
of Russia, which were, and always would be in some 
form, states, using the term in a broad sense. Open 
to the charge of lack of unity was my whole scheme, 
in all its several bearings, physical, ethnographical, 
and historical; and yet, the territory being all now 
occupied by European nations, it was no more diverse 
in its origin, character, and interests than Europe, 
and men had written histories of Europe ere now. 
The Pacific States of North America, therefore, as 
the best and most fitting term for the designation of 
this territory, its past, present, and future, I finally 
settled upon, and I know of no more simple and com- 
prehensive expression to apply to it now. 

At last I was ready for the newspaper reporters, 
if not for the reviewers. They might publish what 
they pleased about the library, its contents, and how 
collected, but my work was not yet on exhibition. In 
they came, and made sweeping work of it, representa- 
tives of English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian 
journals, of the interior towns as well as of the cities. 
The Bulletin, Alta, Post, and Chronicle of San Fran- 
cisco came out in long articles, vying with each other 
in the extent of their description and the loudness of 
their praise. From Sacramento the proprietor of the 
Record- Union sent one of its editors who by appoint- 
ment with Mr Oak spent a whole day in a critical 
examination of the contents of the fifth floor, which 
resulted in a highly flattering article covering an 
entire page of that journal. From Oregon and from 
Mexico, from British Columbia and from Central 
America, the journals now came to be laden with 
elaborate description of my collection. 


There was nothing so terrible in all this. It was 
about as might have been expected. But there was 
plenty which was worse before me, now and for 
twenty years. I must presently go east, call upon 
fifty or a hundred of the leading literary men, scien- 
tists, and journalists, and explain personally to them 
the character of the work I was engaged in. 

This I dreaded. To go with my book, like a can- 
vasser for praise, from one stranger to another, tell 
them of myself, what I was doing, and ask their 
opinion — proud and sensitive, I felt it to be a most 
diflBcult, most unpleasant task, one repugnant to my 
nature, whijch coveted retirement above all things else. 
Writers are sensitive. It is well they are. The 
thoroughbred is thinner-skinned than the ass. A man 
who is not sensitive about his reputation never will 
make one. A writer of the first class represents not 
only his own genius, but the genius and highest culture 
of his time; little wonder is it, therefore, that the re- 
sults of long labor, involving the best efforts of a new 
aspirant, are given to the bulls and bears of literature 

Yet it must be done. I felt that I owed it to my- 
self and to my work. Life and fortune were now 
fully embarked in this enterprise, and my enthusiasm 
for the work was mounting higher as the months 
and years went by. Now was the turning-point with 
me. My first work was ready for publication, and 
on its reception would depend in a measure my whole 

Not that a failure of the Native Races to sell 
would have discouraged me. This was the least that 
troubled me. It was altogether a secondary matter 
whether copies of the book were sold or not. I merely 
wished to assure myself whether mine was a good 
work well performed, or a useless one poorly done. I 
would have the book issued by first-class publishers in 
New York and Europe, for it must bear upon it the 
stamp of a first-class publication, but the people might 


buy it or not, as they pleased. That was not what 
concerned me. 

Crabbe was not more timorous in asking the gen- 
erous Burke to look at his verses than I in begging 
critics to glance at my productions. Not every one 
can understand the feeling. Not every one would 
hesitate to show a book of which one might be proud 
to men interested in such books. But there was the 
trouble with me. I did not feel sure that my work 
was sufficiently meritorious to awaken their interest, 
that I had done anything to be proud of, and I did 
not know whether or not they would be interested. 
It came up to me as a species of beggary in which to 
indulge was worse than starvation. I must appear 
before these literary lords as a western adventurer, 
or at best a presumptuous litterateur — coveting their 
praise — a role I despised above all others. I must 
appear as one asking favor for a product of his brain 
so inferior in quality that if left to itself it could not 
stand. But there was behind me work piled moun- 
tain high, and for the sake of the future I would 
undertake the mission. 

If the object be to bring the book to the notice of 
these eastern literati, cannot that be done as well by 
letter, accompanied by a copy of the work? I asked 
myself No. The book was not yet published, although 
I had printed one hundred copies with Author's Copy 
on the title-page for private distribution before the 
plates were sent east; and I could and did use the 
copies for such distribution. But this was not the 
vital point. Mine was a peculiar work, originated and 
executed in a peculiar way. I required the opinion 
of these men concerning it. No amount of writing 
would lay the matter before them as I could do my- 
self I must have direct and immediate assurance 
as to the quality of my work from the only class of 
men the critics feared, and then I should not fear the 

It was no part of my purpose at any time to pub- 


lish my first work in San Francisco, or to permit the 
imprint of our firm upon the title-page either as pub- 
lisher or agent. The firm should have the exclusive 
sale of the book upon the Pacific coast, but it seemed 
to me in bad taste for the author's name and publish- 
ing house to appear upon the same title-page. 

Another time I should not be particular about it; 
that is to say, if this proved a success. But now I 
must obtain for it all the weight of a first-class eastern 
publisher, and not impart to it the appearance of 
having been originated by a bookseller as a com- 
mercial speculation. In his Cyropoedia, Xenophon 
places the department of public instruction in the 
grand square near the king's palace and government 
offices, whence merchandise and trade ''with their 
noise and vulgarity " were banished. So with my bant- 
ling; I could not afford, even in appearance, and in 
this instance at least, to expose the product of my 
brain to doubts and risks. 

Returned from my eastern pilgrimage, an account 
of which is given in the next chapter, and armed 
with letters from the high-priests of New England 
learning, I was ready to have my book reviewed in 
the Overland. This of all others was the proper jour- 
nal to publish the first notice of my first work. It was, 
for a western magazine, ably edited and enthusiasti- 
cally published, at a monthly loss of certain hundreds 
of dollars. The article should be by a first-class 
writer, and printed before reviews began to arrive 
from the east. Mr Fisher and Mr Harcourt, as we 
shall see, had assumed the joint editorship of the 
magazine after the departure of Mr Avery for China, 
and they were solicitous for the appearance of such 
an article in the holiday number, namely that of De- 
cember 1874. 

But the question was. Who should be the writer 
of the article? Obviously no one in the library, nor 
any one who had participated in the work. It must 


be by some one thoroughly competent to judge of 
such work, and whose name would carry weight with 
it here and in distant parts. The editors suggested Mr 
Gilman. I was well enough satisfied. I had often met 
him since his assuming the presidency of the uni- 
versity of California; he had been a guest at my 
house, had frequently visited the library, spending 
considerable time there, and had always expressed 
much interest in my work. It was a favorite project 
of his in some way to transfer my library to the lands 
of the university, evidently with the idea that once 
there it would never be removed. 

One day he came to me and stated that a building 
fund was about to be appropriated to the purpose of 
the university, that the plans of new buildings were 
drawn, and that if I would agree to move my library 
to Berkeley, without any other obligation expressed 
or implied, with full liberty at any time to remove it, 
he would have a building erected specially for the 
collection, and thereby lessen the danger to which it 
was then exposed of being destroyed by fire, for that 
would be a national calamity. 

I declined. For, however free I might be to re- 
move my collection, there would ever be resting over 
me an implied obligation which I was by no means 
willing to incur. I had no thought of donating my 
collection to any institution. Surely I was spending 
time and money enough for the good of my country 
to be permitted to keep my books. 

I felt the risk of fire; felt it every day. But until 
I could erect a suitable structure myself, I, and the 
commonwealth, and posterity must take the chances 
of the devouring flames. I explained to the president, 
moreover, that the library was not merely a reference 
library, but a working library; that I had imposed 
upon myself certain tasks which would occupy the 
better part of my life, if not, indeed, the whole of it, 
and it was more convenient both for me and for my 
assistants where it was. Still, this objection was not 


paramount. I would do much to avoid fire risk; but 
I must decline hampering my work in any way or 
placing myself under obligations to the state or to 
any corporation or person. Writing history of all 
things demands freedom; I was free, absolutely free. 
I sought neither emolument nor office from any quar- 
ter. While desiring the friendship and sympathy of 
all, I feared none, and for favor would never depart 
from what I deemed the right. I was free, and must 
remain so. The university president expressed him- 
self satisfied. 

Mr Gilman then lived in Oakland, and one day in 
November the young editors proposed to me that we 
should visit him. To this I readily assented, and 
that night we crossed the bay and called at his house. 
He received us cordially, entered into the plan with 
interest, and even enthusiasm, and at once promised 
to undertake the article. To facilitate matters, as the 
president's time was valuable, and in order that he 
might derive the most assistance from the experience 
of others, he requested that Nemos, Harcourt, 
Oak, and Goldschmidt should each severally write 
whatever occurred to him respecting the library, 
the book to be reviewed, and the author, and hand 
the material to Gilman, who would thus be obliged 
merely to use these statements so far as they went, 
instead of making lengthy original research. But it 
was distinctly understood that these notes should 
serve only as memoranda, and that the author of the 
article should verify every statement, make thorough 
personal investigation, and speak with dignity and 
decision concerning the work, commending or con- 
demning, as his judgment might dictate. 

Yet withal there was something in the university 
president's manner I did not understand. He was a 
very pleasant, very plausible man, and quite positive 
sometimes. He was a good man, an earnest, honest, 
and practical man, and he made a good college presi- 
dent, though in some respects he was somewhat too 

Lit. Ind. 21 


diplomatic. In short, while he meant everything 
for the best, and would under no consideration do an 
ungentlemanly, not to say dishonorable act, he was 
not remarkable for plain, straigh forward, and thor- 
ough sincerity. Such was his nature; he could not 
help it. 

The hard lineaments of a grave face may hide 
much that is sweet and sympathetic; so the winning 
vivacity of a pleasing face may serve as the cover of 
empty diplomacy. In this instance, like Franklin's 
Governor Keith, he wished to please; he wished to 
contribute the article; and yet, as the sequel showed, 
he lacked the courage to do it. 

The time was limited. The article must be ready 
soon in order to gain its insertion in the December 
number. The president assured the editors that they 
might rely upon him. The memoranda were sent 
promptly as agreed. He spent some time in the 
library looking over the books, index, and the notes, 
and questioning my assistants, all of which augured 
well. Perhaps I was mistaken in my impressions. 
He might have more stamina than I had given him 
credit for. 

But no, alas 1 for when the article was handed in at 
the Overland office it proved to have been fearfully 
and wonderfully prepared. Fisher immediately rushed 
up with it to my room. ''Here's a pretty go!" he 
exclaimed, almost out of breath from running up five 
flights of stairs. Sure enough; the flabby flesh of it 
was fair enough, but it lacked bones, or any substan- 
tial framework. Instead of saying ' I have looked into 
this matter, I have examined this work thoroughly, 
and I find this good and that bad, or perhaps all good 
or all bad,' either or any of which would have satisfied 
me so far as his good intention and ability were con< 
•cerned, he wrote, 'Mr Nemos says this, Mr Gold- 
schmidt that, Mr Harcourt the other thing,' hovering 
a,bout the subject and avoiding the question himself 

I never was thoroughly satisfied whether he lacked 


the disposition to write the article, or the stamina of 
mind to have an opinion and avow it. He was a very 
timid man, particularly as to the estimation in which 
college and literary men at the east Avould hold him. 
It must be remembered that no review of the Native 
Races had as yet appeared, and if Mr Gilman were to 
commit himself to an opinion which should prove not 
the opinion of his friends at the east, he never would 
forgive himself Scholasticus swore he would never 
enter water until he could swim; Gilman would not 
venture a criticism until he was sure it would float. 
I then felt and feel now^ very grateful to Mr Gilman 
for ]iis distinguished courtesy and kindness to me on 
many occasions both before and after this. But here 
was required something else than courtesy or kindness. 
The life-issue of my literar}^ labors was at stake. I 
must know where I stood, and I asked the president 
of the university of California, as one high in learn- 
ing and authority, to tell me, to tell the world. He 
was friendly to me, friendly to the work, had been 
useful, wanted to be useful now, but he lacked what 
I most wanted then, and what I was determined to 
have — positiveness. 

Tearing the manuscript in pieces and throwing it 
into the waste-basket, I turned to my work. "What 
shall we do now?" asked Fisher. 

"Ross Browne is the best man on the coast, if we 
could get him," he said. "He is much better known 
at the east than Gilman." 

"I can get him," said Harcourt. Within an hour 
he was across the bay and driving to the pagoda- 
looking villa situated in the foothills beyond Oakland. 
He was accustomed to tell the story by this time, and 
soon Mr Browne knew all about it. He promised his 
immediate and hearty attention. The consequence 
was one of the best articles ever written upon the sub- 
ject, in the Overland of December. The library, the 
index, and the first volume of the Native Races were 
all criticall}^ examined, explained, and opinions pro- 


nounced. The article was copied in the News Letter, 
and in part by the newspaper press generally. 

Gilman often said afterward that he would yet 
review that book somewhere, but he never did. In 
fact I told him not to trouble himself. In relation 
with my work his policy seemed somewhat Machiavel- 
ian; and I might say as Doctor Johnson remarked 
to Lord Chesterfield : " The notice which you have 
been pleased to take of my labors, had it been early, 
had been kind; but it has been delayed till I am in- 
different and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary and 
cannot impart it; till I am known and do not want 
it." Those who are first to recognize the merit of his 
work, the author never forgets. It is at the outset 
that he most needs recognition; when it has become 
the fashion to praise he does not need or value it so 

Then I went alike to my friends and my enemies 
of the San Francisco daily press. I placed in their 
hands my book; told them I was now ready to have 
it reviewed; that no reviews had as yet appeared 
from any quarter, but that they would shortly appear 
in the quarterlies, the monthlies, and the dailies of 
Europe and America. Of their probable nature they 
might judge somewhat from letters which I had re- 
ceived and which I spread out before them. 

As it was an important work, I begged them to 
examine it thoroughly and review wholly upon merit. 
This, eastern and European scholars would expect, as 
the work emanated from California, and they would 
certainly note what Californian journals said of it. 
All w^ere gracious. None cared to run counter to the 
profuse expressions of praise already in my possession. 
The work demanded investigation, they said, and 
should have it. It was an enterprise of which they 
felt proud, and they heartily wished it every success. 
The differences existing between them and the firm 
should have nothing to do with this undertaking, which 
must be regarded from a totally different standpoint. 


I need not say that the daily papers of San Francisco 
spoke well of the Native Races. 

Publishing having been my business, and the Native 
Races being my first book, persons have asked me if 
it paid pecuniarily; and when I answered No, they 
seemed at a loss what to make of it. Samuel John- 
son says, "no man but a blockhead ever wrote except 
for money." I will admit myself a blockhead to the 
extent that I did not write for money, but not so great 
a one as not to know, after a publishing experience of 
a quarter of a century, that work like mine never re- 
turns a money profit. And with due deference to the 
learned doctor I hold rather with John Stuart Mill, 
who says that "the writings by which one can live 
are not the writings which themselves live, and are 
never those in which the writer does his best. Books 
destined to form future thinkers take too much time 
to write, and when written, come, in general, too 
slowly into notice and repute to be relied on for sub- 
sistence." Or, as Mrs Browning more tersely puts it, 
"In England no one lives by books that live." The 
Native Races did not pay pecuniarily, though the re- 
turns were greater than I had anticipated. The book 
was wholly written and put in type on the Market- 
street premises. 



Freuden von ausnehmendem Geschmack wie Ananas haben das Schlimnie, 
dass sie wie Ananas das Zahnfleisch bluten machen. 

Jean Paul Richter. 

I SET out on my pilgrimage the 3d of August, 1874, 
taking with me my daughter Kate, to place in school 
at Farmington, Connecticut. After a few days' stay 
at Buffalo with my two sisters, Mrs Palmer and Mrs 
Trevett, I proceeded to New York. 

The one hundred author's copies of volume i. had 
been printed at our establishment in San Francisco, 
and the plates sent east before my departure. Twenty- 
five copies of the work accompanied the plates; be- 
sides these I carried in my trunk printed sheets of 
the Native Races so far as then in type, namely the 
whole of volume i., one hundred and fifty pages of 
volume II., four hundred pages of volume iii., and one 
hundred pages of volume iv. 

Beside seeking the countenance and sympathy of 
scholars in my enterprise, it was part of my errand 
to find a publisher. As the plates had not arrived 
when I reached New York I concluded to leave the 
matter of publishing for the present, direct my course 
toward Boston, and dive at once in luminis oras. 

It was Saturday, the 15th of August, and I had 
promised to spend Sunday with some friends at 

At the New Haven railway station I encountered 
President Gilman, to whom I made known the nature 
of my mission, and asked if he deemed it the proper 



thing for me to do. He thought that it was, and 
named several persons whom I should see. Further 
than this, he spoke of a meeting of the scientific as- 
sociation to be held in Hartford the following Tuesday, 
and advised me to attend, saying that he would be 
there and would take pleasure in introducing me to 
those whose acquaintance might be advantageous. I 
thanked him and we parted. 

I was very restless in the company of my friends; 
I could not remain in Buffalo, I could not remain 
quietly a day or two in Bridgeport. It seemed that 
the kinder they were the less I could endure inaction. 
On Monday I went to New Haven. There I saw 
Mr James Walker, who had married my cousin 
Martha Johnstone. Walker was a pleasant, genial 
fellow, had lived long in New Haven, and was well 
acquainted with many of the college professors. He 
took a lively interest in my work, and was ever ready 
to serve me. 

We started immediately to call on some of those 
more prominent in literature. I then found that the 
very worst time in the year had been selected to make 
these visits, for it was the summer vacation, and most 
of the college professors and literary workers were 

Therefore I concluded to leave New Haven for the 
present and call again on my return. Besiding there 
was my aunt Mrs Johnstone and my favorite cousin, 
Villa, a cheerful, enduring little piece of independence 
and self-sacrifice, whose bright face ever greeted me 
with radiant smiles, so that to call again at New 
Haven was not an unpleasant task. The Johnstones 
were returned missionaries from Smyrna, where the 
best years of their lives had been spent in the service 
of the Lord, as managed by the protestant board of 
foreign missions ; and having now become aged and 
worthless in this service they were turned loose upon 
the common to shift for themselves. Unaided by 
any one this mother in Israel educated her sons and 


daughters, and kept the wolf from the door, but how 
she did it God knoweth. 

In Hartford, Tuesday, President Gilman intro- 
duced me to Professor Brewer of Yale, Doctor Asa 
Gray of Harvard, and others. He also spoke of me 
to several, among them Mr Warner of the Courant, 
who, when I called upon him subsequently, treated 
me with a scarcely anticipated kindness. I was then 
in a humor to be won for life by any man who would 
take the trouble. It may seem weak, this super- 
sensitiveness, but I was in a feverish state of mind, 
and my nerves were all unstrung by long labor. I 
was callous enough to ignorance and indifference, for 
amongst these I had all along been working, but in- 
telligent sympathy touched me, and Mr Warner's 
manner was so courteous, and his words so encour- 
aging, that they sank at once into my heart, where 
they have remained ever since. He entered warmly 
into my plans, gave me strong, decided letters to 
several persons, which proved of the greatest advan- 
tage, and on leaving his office I carried with me the 
benediction which I know came from an honest pen. 
''God bless such workers!" 

While attending the meetings of the association 
my attention was called to one Porter C. Bliss, whose 
name was on the programme for several papers on 
Mexico. Mr Gilman said I should know him, and 
introduced me. He was a singular character both 
without and within. Yankee in inquisitive push and 
everlasting memory, he had been lately secretary 
of the American legation in Mexico, and sometime 
famous in Paraguay. I now remembered that his 
name had been frequently mentioned to me as one 
interested in Mexican antiquities and literature. 

Universal looseness was the air of him, stiffened 
somewhat by self-conceit. Though plain, or even 
homely, in appearance, there was nothing servile in 
his carriage, and the awkwardness of his address 
was partially concealed by his assurance. Of a light 


complexion, a little above medium height, with chin 
well up and head thrown back, his large, gray, glassy 
eyes looked straight before him, and his walk was as 
one just started on a journey round the world. His 
light clothes were neither neat nor well-fitting. His 
small pantaloons, which crooked with his crooked legs, 
stopped on reaching the tops of his low shoes, while 
a short-skirted coat displayed his gaunt limbs to their 
most unfavorable advantage. A tan-colored, broad- 
brimmed slouched hat, set well back upon the head, 
completed his attire, the tout-ensemble, including the 
figure, having the appearance of the Wandering Jew 
overtaken by Mexican highwaymen and forced to a 
partial exchange of apparel with them. 

His mind was no less disjointed than his manner. 
Genealogy filled every available nook of his brain, 
and constituted about nine tenths of his earthly in- 
terests; the Bliss family's first, then that of any other 
on earth above the rank of ape, it made no difference 
whose or what, so long as listeners could be found to 
his interminable stringings of sires and sons. His was 
a disinterested devotion to other men's madness such 
as is seldom seen. The American aborigines had given 
him some little trouble, more particularly in the tumuli 
they left scattered about Mexico, and in their lan- 
guages, these being the subjects of his lectures in 
Hartford. The Native Races appeared to confuse him 
somewhat in this quarter, for after seeing my proof- 
sheets he had nothing to remark upon the subject, 
thinking probably that if he did know more about 
those peoples than any one else, I had anticipated 
all that he would say of them. Self was not least 
in his esteem; although his personality he seemed to 
regard in the abstract rather than as concreted body 
and soul. He was one thing and Bliss another. Of 
himself he thought little, talked little, cared little how 
he was fed, lodged, or clothed; but for Bliss he had 
much concern, regarding him as of good family, who 
had not been well treated in Paraguay, and who had 


done much work for little pay in Mexico. He gave 
one the impression of an extract from a vellum-bound 
Nahua vocabulary, a half- civilized cross between an 
aboriginal American and an Englishman. 

Yet all these peculiarities were but the alloy which 
was to enable the good gold of his nature to endure 
the wear of the world. After all, there was more of 
the serpent's wisdom than cunning in him; and al- 
though he entertained a wholesome respect for money 
he was not mercenary; neither was his mind accus- 
tomed to measure men by their wealth. To different 
classes and conditions of men he seemed to apply 
different standards of merit. He delivered his lec- 
tures in a clear loud voice, without hesitancy or 
embarrassment, and with his eyes fixed upon the op- 
posite wall. The words came from his mouth like the 
studied composition of a school-boy. His features 
wore an expression of happy immobility. He loved 
to talk; he loved to hear the sound of his voice; 
and whether the benches were empty or full, whether 
people came or went, admired or condemned, made no 
difference to him. His piece he would speak, and 
when spoken that was the end of it. His appetite 
for reading was omnivorous and gluttonous. He de- 
voured every newspaper that came under his eye. In 
the reading-rooms of the hotels he was like a boa- 
constrictor among rabbits, except that no matter how 
many were swallowed he never lay dormant. He 
was a walking waste-basket. Off-hand he could tell 
you anything; but go with him below the surface of 
things and he knew Httle. 

I invited BUss to dine with me. He took to dinner 
kindly, fed fast and liberally, and, the meal finished, 
seemed satisfied. This augured well: the inner Bliss 
knew what it wanted; sought it straightway; knew 
when it had enough. A new philosophy might be 
based on Bliss' feeding. I liked his movements under 
the clatter of crockery. Mr Bliss informed me that 
he had collected while in Mexico some three thousand 


volumes, which he was offering in whole or in part to 
libraries. The books were then in New York, and I 
might accompany him thither to select at pleasure. 
The opportunity was too tempting to let slip; and, 
while it was inconvenient for me to return to New 
York at that moment, I did not like to lose sight of 
my new and apparently erratic-minded friend. 

''Where do you reside?" I asked. 

'' Nowhere," was the reply. 

''At what are you engaged?" 

" Nothing." 

" If you will accompany me to Boston on this mis- 
sion of mine, I will pay your expenses, and leave you 
in New York with many thanks." 

" I will attend you with pleasure." 

I do not know that this was a very wise move. 
Myself, solus, cut a sorrowful figure enough, but my 
companion doubled the dolor without adding much 
diplomatic ability. True, he could assist me some- 
what in advising whom to see and how to find them. 
But this was not my main object in the arrange- 
ment. He might have his books sold and be in Nova 
Scotia, where indeed he talked of going on some- 
body's genealogic business, before I had finished my 
New England errand; and I took him with me so 
that I might continue my pilgrimage without losing 

Friday, the 21st of August, saw us at the Bellevue 
house, the establishment of Dio Lewis, a cross be- 
tween a water-cure institution and a hotel. Bliss had 
been there before, and recommended the rooms as 
better than those of the hotels. I had a letter from 
Mr Warner to Mr Howells of the Atlantic Monthly, 
and next day I went over to Cambridge, where he 
lived, to see him. He was absent from home, and not 
expected back for a week. Inquiries as to the where- 
abouts of certain persons revealed that most of them 
were away, so that little was done till the following 
Tuesday, when we started out in earnest. Proceeding 


to Cambridge, the centre of the class to be visited, at 
the suggestion of Mr BHss we called on J. G. Palfrey. 
Mr Gilman had also mentioned Mr Palfrey as one 
whom I should see. We were shown into a long room, 
crowded with massive furniture, a bookcase at one 
end, and books and pictures scattered about the room 
in orthodox New England fashion. Grim portraits 
adorned the walls; a thick, soft, flabby, faded carpet 
covered the floor; and the place and its belongings 
struck the visitor with a dismal dimmish sensation 
most unprofitable. 

This is a long way from my fifth floor, thought 
I, with its plain pine tables, its bare floor, its dust 
and disorder, its army of hard-headed young workers, 
and its direct and practical way of doing things ; a cen- 
tury away, at least, if not two. For fifty years this 
man has handled literature, sacred and profane, while 
less than a score tell all the ups and downs of my 
wanderings in the field of letters. Student, professor, 
preacher, postmaster, reviewer, historian, all within 
cannon-shot of these impressive premises, surely here 
if anywhere a literary pilgrim from the new unlettered 
west should find broad sympathy and catholicity of 
sentiment. Here was godliness with great gain, 
learning with its reward; where should the humble 
aspirant find encouragement, where should the un- 
tutored ambition of the wilderness shores of the 
Pacific find direction if not beneath the classic shades 
of Harvard! 

Now by Burritt, Le Brun, and Wild, blacksmith, 
painter, and tailor, learned without alma mater labors, 
what is this that comes? It is the antiquated genius 
of this antiquated place. One glance is enough. In 
that weazen face, in those close-fisted features, in that 
pinched form and muck-worm manner, I see no excel- 
lence for me to study. Such rubrics we of the fifth 
floor erase, finding in them no worshipful supersti- 
tion worthy our adulation. 

My chief concern now was to beat a respectable 


retreat, which I was proceeding to do forthwith, after 
a few commonplace remarks intended to cover any 
apparent rudeness, and without saying a word of my 
work, when BHss broke in, told the whole story, and 
asked if the learned historian of New England would 
be pleased to look at the unlearned efforts of one who 
aspired to write the record of the last and mightiest 

Then shook the attenuated form with its anti- 
quated apparel, and loud lamentations broke from the 
learned lips. " O talk not to me of new fields and new 
efforts I" he cried. ''I am finished; I am laid upon the 
topmost library shelf; the results of my life fill a 
space against a few house-walls hereabout, and that 
is all. Forgotten am I among men. Ask me to look 
at nothing, to say nothing, to do nothing." This was 
exactly what in my heart I was praying he would do — 
nothing. So we gat ourselves upon the street. 

Plodding feverishly along in a hot sun, with my 
bundle of proof-sheets under my arm, we next en- 
countered on the street one of those deities of whom 
we were in search. In appearance he bore the simili- 
tude of a man, but made and regulated with line and 
plummet. His gait was angular, his dress exact, and 
his glance geometrical; in fact he was in the mathe- 
matical line. I forget his name, else I would give it^ 
for he struck me as the latest improvement in auto- 
matic construction. Nor was I mistaken or disap- 
pointed when from his equilateral mouth there came 
the words, "No; I have not time for such things, 
know nothing about them, have no interest in them." 

I began to think I had mistaken my calling; that 
with clerical cant and conventionalisms I might obtain 
a hearing from these men, though for my life I can- 
not now see what it would have advantaged me if 
they had listened till nightfall and praised until morn- 

However, we were destined in due time to come 
upon men with hearts as well as heads; and first 


among these was Doctor Asa Gray. We found him 
in the botanic garden, and he heard us with attentive 
interest. I presented him with a copy of my book, 
which he said with my permission he would place upon 
the shelves of the Harvard library. I objected. The 
book was for him, if he would accept it. This fashion 
of giving public libraries presented books I do not 
relish. It is a sort of cheat practised upon the 
author, who, if he wishes a library presented with a 
copy of his book, prefers giving it direct instead of 
through another; if he does not, another has no right 
to so dispose of a book which was given him to keep. 

It was my intention to ask eastern scholars to ex- 
amine my book and give me an expression of their 
opinion in writing; but in talking the matter over 
with Dr Gray he advised me to delay such request 
until the reviewers had pronounced their verdict, or 
at all events until such expression of opinion came 
naturally and voluntarily. This I concluded to do; 
though at the same time I could not understand what 
good private opinions would do me after public re- 
viewers had spoken. Their praise I should not care 
to supplement with feebler praise; tlieir disapproba- 
tion could not be averted after it had been printed. 

And so it turned out. What influence my seeing 
these men and presenting them copies of my book had 
on reviewers, if any, I have no means of knowing. 
Directly, I should say it had none; indirectly, as for 
example, a word dropped upon the subject, or a knowl- 
edge of the fact that the author had seen and had ex- 
plained the character of his work to the chief scholars 
of the country, might make the reviewer regard it 
a little more attentively than he otherwise would. 
On the receipt of the fifth volume of the Native Races 
Doctor Gray wrote me: "I am filled more and more 
with admiration of what you have done and are doing; 
and all I hear around me, and read from the critical 
judges, adds to the good opinion I had formed." 

Doctor Gray gave me letters to Francis Parkman, 


Charles Francis Adams, and others. While at Cam- 
bridge we called on Mrs Horace Mann, but she being 
ill, her sister, Miss Peabody, saw us instead. With 
eloquence of tongue and ease and freedom she dis- 
sected the most knotty problems of the day. 

James Russell Lowell lived in a pleasant, plain 
house, common to the intellectual and refined of that 
locality. Longfellow's residence was the most pre- 
tentious I visited, but the plain, home-like dwellings, 
within which was the atmosphere of genius or cul- 
ture, were most attractive to me. How cold and soul- 
less are the Stewart's marble palaces of New York 
beside these New England abodes of intellect with 
their chaste though unaffected adornments! 

Lowell listened without saying a word; listened for 
three or five minutes, I should think, without a nod or 
movement signifying that he heard me. I was quite 
ready to take offence when once the suspicion came 
that I was regarded as a bore. 

" Perhaps I tire you," at length I suggested. 

" Pray go on," said he. 

When I had finished he entered warmly into the 
merits of the case, made several suggestions and dis- 
cussed points of difference. He bound me to him 
forever by his many acts of sympathy then and after- 
ward, for he never seemed to lose interest in my labors, 
and wrote me regarding them. What, for example, 
could have been more inspiring at that time than 
to receive from him, shortly after my return to San 
Francisco, such words as these: ''I have read your 
first volume with so much interest that I am hungry 
for those to come. You have handled a complex, 
sometimes even tangled and tautological subject, with 
so much clearness and discrimination as to render it 
not merely useful to the man of science, but attractive 
to the general reader. The conscientious labor in col- 
lecting, and the skill shown in the convenient arrange- 
ment of such a vast body of material, deserve the 
highest praise." 


In Cambridge I called on Arthur Gilman, who went 
with me to the Riverside Press, the establishment of 
H. 0. Houghton and Company, where I saw Mr 
Scudder, who wrote for Every Saturday. Mr Scudder 
asked permission to announce my forthcoming work 
in his journal, but I requested him to say nothing 
about it just then. I was shown over the buildings, 
obtained an estimate for the printing and binding of 
my book, and subsequently gave them the work, 
sending the electrotype plates there. One thousand 
copies only were at first printed, then another thou- 
sand, and a third; the three thousand sets, of five 
volumes each, being followed by other thousands. 

Wednesday, the 26th of August, after calling on 
several journalists in Boston, we took the boat for 
Nahant to find Mr Longfellow, for he was absent 
from his home at Cambridge. Neither was he at 
Nahant. And so it was in many instances, until we 
began to suspect that most Boston people had two 
houses, a city and a country habitation, and lived in 
neither. From Nahant we went to Lynn, and thence 
to Salem, where we spent the night undisturbed by 
witches, in a charming little antique hotel. 

During the afternoon we visited the rooms of the 
scientific association, and in the evening Wendell 
Phillips, who gave me a welcome that did my heart 
good. A bright genial face, w*':h a keen, kindly eye, 
and long white hair, a fine figure, tall but a little 
stooped, I found him the embodiment of shrewd wis- 
dom and practical philanthropy. There was no cant 
or fiction about him. His smile broke upon his fea- 
tures from a beaming heart, and his words were but 
the natural expression of healthy thoughts. 

He comprehended my desires and necessities on the 
instant, and seating himself at his table he dashed 
off some eight or ten letters in about as many min- 
utes, keeping up all the time a rattling conversation, 
neither tongue nor pen hesitating a moment for a 


word; and it was about me, and my work, and Cali- 
fornia, and whom I should see, that he was talking. 
Nor was this all. Next morning, in Boston, he handed 
me a package of letters addressed to persons whom he 
thought would be interested in the work, and whose 
names had occurred to him after I had left. 

Later he writes me : " Your third volume has come. 
Thanks for your remembrance of me. I read each 
chapter with growing interest. What a storehouse 
you provide for every form and department of history 
in time to come. I did you no justice when you first 
opened your plan to me. I fancied it was something 
like the French Memoires pour Servir. But yours is a 
history, full and complete ; every characteristic amply 
illustrated; every picture preserved; all the traits 
marshalled with such skill as leaves nothing further to 
be desired. Then such ample disquisitions on kindred 
topics, and so much cross-light thrown on the picture, 
you give us the races alive again and make our past 
real. I congratulate you on the emphatic welcome 
the press has eveiy where given you." 

How different in mind, manner, heart, and head are 
the men we meet I 

John G. Whittier was a warm personal friend of 
Phillips, and to him among others the latter sent me. 
We went to Amesbury, where the poet resided, the 
day after meeting Phillips in Boston. A frank, warm- 
hearted Quaker, living in a plain, old-fashioned village 
house. He gave me letters to Longfellow, Emerson, 
and Doctor Barnard. ^'I have been so much in- 
terested in his vast and splendid plan of a history of 
the western slope of our continent/' he writes to Mr 
Longfellow, " that I take pleasure in giving him a 
note to thee. What material for poems will be 
gathered up in his volumes! It seems to me one of 
the noblest literary enterprises of our day." 

*' This I will deliver," said I, picking up the one ad- 
dressed to Longfellow, "if I am permitted to retain 
it ; not otherwise. We in California do not see a letter 

Lit. Ind. 22 


from Whittler to Longfellow every day." He laughed 
and replied: "My letters are getting to be common 
enough now." I did not see Mr Longfellow, but he 
wrote me very cordially, praising my book and regret- 
ting he should have missed my call. 

Informed that Professor Henry Adams, editor of 
the North American Revieiv, was staying a few miles 
from Salem, I sought him there, but unsuccessfully. 
Next day I met accidentally his father, Charles Fran- 
cis Adams, to whom I expressed regrets at not having 
seen his son. He said he would speak to him for me, 
and remarked that if I could get Francis Parkman to 
review my book in the North American it would be a 
great thing for it, but that his health and preoccupa- 
tion would probably prevent. He gave me several 
letters, and I left full copies of my printed sheets 
with him. 

Now of all things, ^ great things' for my book I 
coveted. So to Parkman I went. I found him at 
Jamaica Plains, where he resided during summer, 
deep in his literary work. After all, the worker is the 
man to take work to, and not the man of leisure. 
Mr Parkman was a tall spare man, with a smiling face 
and winning manner. I noticed that all great men in 
the vicinity of Boston were tall and thin, and wore 
smiling faces, and indications of innate gentleness of 

"This show^s wonderful research, and I think your 
arrangement is good, but I should have to review it 
upon its merits," said Mr Parkman. 

"As a matter of course," I replied. 

"I do not know that I am competent to do the 
subject justice," he now remarked. 

" I will trust you for that," said I. 

And so the matter was left; and in due time sev- 
eral splendid reviews appeared in this important 
journal as the different volumes were published. 

I was told to call on the Pev. James Freeman 
Clarke. I did so, but he was not at home. 


Returning to Boston, we took the train for Concord 
and sought Mr Emerson. He was gracious enough, 
and gave me some letters, one to Doctor Draper, and 
one to Mr Bryant; but in all his doings the great 
philosopher was cold and unsympathetic. He was 
the opposite of Wendell Phillips, who won the 
hearts of all that stood before him. Bliss touched 
a responsive chord when he broke out upon gene- 
alotrv. Of course Bliss knew all about the Emerson 
family, and easily established a distant relationship. 
There were few families in New England with 
whom the Blisses could not claim kinship. My com- 
panion seemed to warm with the subject. It was his 
practice now, the moment the topic of Native Races 
was exhausted, to break forth on genealogy. That I 
grew restless, took up my hat, or even rose to leave, 
made no difference with him; when once launched 
upon his subject he must go through all the gener- 
ations, root, trunk, and branches. He quite thawed 
Emerson before he left him. In my present frame of 
mind I was quite ready to quarrel with any person 
whose hobby came in conflict with my hobby, or 
who did not regard my ettbrts with the considera- 
tion I thought they deserved. I was possessed of an 

From Concord we went again to Cambridge, to see 
Mr Howells of the Atlantic Monthly. After some 
conversation upon the subject it was finally arranged 
that Bliss was to write an article of some ten pages 
on my work for this magazine. There were many 
others we called on, some of whom were at home and 
some absent, among the latter much to my regret 
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Edward Everett Hale, and 
James T. Fields. From Doctor Holmes I subse- 
quently received many letters, which brought with 
them a world of refreshing encouragement. So genial 
and hearty were his expressions of praise that the 
manner of bestowal doubled its value to me. Few 
can appreciate the worth to an author of encouraging 


words at such a time and from such a source. '^The 
more I read in your crowded pages the more I find to 
instruct and entertain me," he writes. ''I assure you 
that Robinson Crusoe never had a more interested 
reader among the boys than I have been in following 
you through your heroic labor." 

And later he writes: ^'I have never thanked you 
for the third volume of your monumental work. This 
volume can hardly be read like the others ; it must be 
studied. The two first were as captivating as romances, 
but this is as absorbing as a philosophical treatise 
dealing with the great human problems, for the reason 
that it shows how human instincts repeat themselves 
in spiritual experience as in common life. Your labor 
is, I believe, fully appreciated by the best judges; and 
you have done, and are doing a work for which pos- 
terity will thank you when thousands of volumes that 
parade themselves as the popular works of the day 
are lost to human memory." 

I very much regretted not seeing Mr Hale, though 
I was gratified to receive a letter toward Christmas 
in which he wrote: "At this time the subject has to 
me more interest than any other literary subject. I 
have for many years intended to devote my leisure to 
an historical work to be entitled The Paeijic Ocean and 
Its Shores. But I shall never write it unless I have 
first the opportunity of long and careful study among 
your invaluable collection." The library was placed 
at Mr Hale's free disposal, as it was always open to 
every one, but the leisure hours of one man, though 
it should be for several lifetimes, I fear would not 
make much showing beside the steady labors of ten 
to twenty men for years. One Saturday we went 
to Martha's Vineyard, where President Grant was 
enjoying the intellectual feasts spread before him by 
the encamped methodists. 

I had seen all the chief literary editors of Boston, 
and was well enough satisfied with the results. I 
knew by this time that my book would receive some 


good reviews in that quarter. So I concluded to 
leave Boston. 

On our way to New York we stopped at Newport, 
and called on T. W. Higginson, who like Gilman 
aspired to the popular side of things. The result of 
this interview was half a dozen letters, in which he 
took care to state, that he might show, I suspect, how 
guarded he was in avoiding imposition, that President 
Gilman had introduced me, and that Clarence King 
endorsed me. Afterward came a review of the Native 
Races in Scrihners Monthly Magazine. 

None were kinder or more cordial than Hig- 
ginson, who on several occasions went out of his way 
to serve me. As I was on my way to New York, I 
saw his letters were directed to Mr Reid, Mr Kipley, 
Curtis, Holland, Parton, Godkin, Ward, and others. 
The first read as follows: "I wish to introduce a gen- 
tleman whom I count it an honor to know, Mr H. H. 
Bancroft, of San Francisco, who has been giving 
wealth and time for years to a work on the wild races 
of the Pacific States. His first volume shows a re- 
search very rare in America, and is founded on his 
own remarkable library of sixteen thousand volumes, 
collected for the purpose. The book, if carried out 
as it is begun, will be an honor to our literature. Mr 
Bancroft asks nothing from us but sympathy and God- 
speed. I have been most favorably impressed by what 
I have seen of him personally, and am assured by Mr 
Clarence King that he is thoroughly respected and 
valued in San Francisco." 

And again later in Scribriers Monthly: " It is safe 
to say that there has not occurred in the literary his- 
tory of the United States a more piquant surprise than 
when Mr Hubert Bancroft made his appearance last 
autumn among the literary men of the Atlantic cities, 
bearing in his hand the first volume of his great work. 
That California was to be counted upon to yield wit 
and poetry was known by all; but the deliberate re- 
sult of scholarly labor was just the product not rea- 


8onably to be expected from a community thirty years 
old. That kind of toil seemed to belong rather to a 
society a little maturer, to a region of public libraries 
and universities. Even the older states had as yet 
yielded it but sparingly; and was it to be expected 
from San Francisco? Had Mr Bancroft presented 
himself wearing a specimen of the sequoia gigantea 
for a button-hole bouquet it would hardly have seemed 
more surprising." 

Now in all this surely there was nothing very diffi- 
cult. It was as the Boston correspondent of the 
Springfield Repuhlican had said: '' Little or nothing 
has been heard here of his labors, and the surprise 
and pleasure with which so magnificent an under- 
taking has been welcomed by eastern scholars must 
have gratified Mr Bancroft." 

It was no great achievement to visit these men and 
command their attention. In one sense, no. And yet 
in the state of mind in which I was then laboring, it 
was one of the most disagreeable tasks of my life, and 
strong as I usually was physically, it sent me to bed 
and kept me there a fortnight. 

I had been entirely successful ; but success here was 
won not as in San Francisco, by years of tender devo- 
tion to an ennobling cause, but by what I could not 
but feel to be an humiliating course. I sought men 
whom I did not wish to see, and talked with them of 
things about which of all others it was most distaste- 
ful to me to converse. It was false pride, however, 
and my extreme sensitiveness that kept alive these 
feelings. Good men assured me that I was not over- 
stepping the bounds of literary decorum in thus 
thrusting my work forward upon the notice of the 
world; that my position was peculiar, and that in jus- 
tice to my undertaking in San Francisco I could not 
do otherwise. 

I had met with much that was assuring, but I had 
likewise encountered much that was disheartening. 
I found here, as elsewhere in the afiairs of mankind, 


hypocrisies and jealousies. Literature has its coteries 
and conventionalisms as well as all other forms of hu- 
man association. Had I been able at this juncture 
to adopt for a time bohemian life, — I do not mean in 
its lowest aspects, but to have mingled with the better 
class of book-fanciers, to have eaten and hobnobbed 
with the dilettanti in literature, such a course would 
for a time have had an effect on my undertaking ; but 
it would have been of little lasting advantage, for the 
work must stand, if at all, on its merits alone. 

There are various cliques whose members regard 
nothing, new or old, except through the eye-glasses 
of the fraternity; religious cliques, some of w^hich 
were ready to take exception to anything which may 
be said about religion in general, but all ready to par- 
don much that was not orthodox provided some sect 
other than their own is severely enough criticised. 
Then there are science cliques, and science fanatics, 
which, when they get off on some pet theory, are as 
bad as the religious fanatics. All the world must see 
with their eyes, and reach conclusions in undemon- 
strable proportions as they have done, or be anathe- 
matized. A book, therefore, which touches religion 
is sure to be roughly handled by some of religion's 
many opposing champions, or if it conflicts with any 
of the pet opinions of science, certain members of that 
fraternity are obliged to rush to the rescue of some of 
its immutable truths. 

Besides these are newspaper parties and prejudices, 
business and political cliques, all of which have their 
codes of ethics, which signify self and party interests, 
so that a book or author undergoing judgment must 
be regarded from one or more of these points of view 
before the matter of merit can be taken into consider- 
ation. But in coming from the remote and unlettered 
west I was free from any of these trammels, which, 
though they might have helped me in one way, would 
have hampered me in another. 

From the beginning of civilization, I believe, by 


the east the west has been considered barbaric in 
learning and literature. Greece first tauo^lit Rome, 
Kome western Europe, Europe America, and eastern 
America the western. Thus the east has always held 
the west in some sort of contempt, so far as religion 
and learning were concerned- The east was the origi- 
nal seat of civilization, whence radiated tlie more re^ 
fined religion, with art, science, and literature. The 
west has always been illiterate, infantile in learning, 
with crude ideas in relation to all that creates or reg- 
ulates the higher intellectual life. 

All through the dark age the east hid learning, lest 
peradventure it might be harmful to the west. Reli- 
gions always arose in the east, and every western 
prophet in all times and places has been without honor. 
We are likewise indebted to the east for all of our 
dark clouds of tyranny, superstition, priestcraft, and 
kingcraft, for all the horrors of religious wars and per- 
secution for opinion s sake, for the murder of millions 
of human beings, for conceptions as absurd and void of 
reason as any which ever flitted through the savage 
mind. The opinions, dogmas, and practices which the 
strono;er race has from the first endeavored to inflict 
upon the weaker, the superior culture on the inferior, 
have been for the most part false and iniquitous. The 
inquisitorial rack and thumb-screw have not been em- 
ployed for the propagation of truth but of error. 
Witches were burned not because the victims were 
witches, but because the superior power pronounced 
them such. And all this time the west has been fight- 
ing out its salvation, fighting for deliverance from the 
tyrannies and superstition of the east. Mingled with 
enforced errors of the east have been some grains of 
truth which the west has in due time come to accept, 
winnowing away the rest. The chaff has been moun- 
tainous, the truth in scattered grains. 

Therefore, lest the east should become too arrogant 
and domineering in its superior culture, it may profita- 
bly bear in mind two things : first, that as the west rises 


into supremacy the east decays, and that tliere is 
now no further west for restless learning to reach. 
Palestine and Egypt are dead ; the greatness of Athens 
and Rome dates two thousand years back ; London is 
growing old ; if New York and Boston do not some 
time die of old age, they will prove exceptions to the 
rule ; so that if the glory of the world be not some 
day crowded into San Francisco, it will be by reason 
of new laws and new developments. In a word, 
Massachusetts and Connecticut may yet go to school 
to Michigan and California. 

In New York I met George Bancroft — ^with whom, 
by the way, I am in no way related — who gave me a 
letter to Doctor Draper, and was kind enough after- 
ward to write : 

''To me you render an inestimable benefit; for you 
brino: within reach the information which is scattered 
in thousands of volumes. I am glad to see your work 
welcomed in Europe as well as in your own country. 
In the universality of your researches you occupy a 
field of the deepest interest to the world, and with- 
out a rival. Press on, my dear sir, in your great 
enterprise, and bring it to a close in the meridian 
of life, so that you may enjoy your well earned 
honors during what I hope may be a long series of 
later years." 

Doctor Draper was a man well worth the seeing; 
from first to last he proved one of my warmest and 
most sympathizing friends. After my return to San 
Francisco he wrote me: "I have received your long 
expected first volume of the Amative Races of the Pacific 
States, and am full of admiration of the resolute man- 
ner in which you have addressed yourself to that most 
laborious task. Many a time I have thought if I were 
thirty years younger I would dedicate myself to an 
exploration of the political and psychological ideas of 
the aborigines of this continent; but you are doing 
not only this, but a great deal more. Your work has 
taught me a great many things.- It needs no praise 


from me. It will be consulted and read centuries after 
you are gone." 

On Friday, the llth of September, I had an inter- 
view with Charles Nordhoif, during w^hich he agreed 
to review my work, and requested me to appoint some 
day to spend with him at Alpine, on the Hudson, 
when we could talk the matter over. I named the 
following Thursday. The day was rain^, but within 
his hospitable doors it passed delightfully. I had lately 
seen George Kipley of the Tribune, whom Wendell 
Phillips pronounced the first critic in America, Mr 
Godkin of the Nation, and several others, who had 
given me encouraging words, so that I felt prepared 
to enjoy the day, and did most heartily enjoy it. 

I had likew^ise, the Tuesday before, completed ar- 
rangements with Messrs D. Appleton and Company 
of New York to act as my publishers, upon terms 
satisfactory enough. I was to furnish them the work 
printed and bound at my own cost, and they were to 
account for the same at one half the retail prices. 
The contract was for five years. 

It is perhaps one of the severest trials of an author's 
life, the first coming in contact with a publisher. It 
certainly would have been so with me in this instance, 
had I felt dependent on any of them. After having 
spent all this time, money, and brain- work on my book, 
had the printing and publishing of it been at the 
mercy of others, I should have felt very unhappy over 
the prospect. But as I proposed printing the work 
myself I had no fear regarding a publisher. 

But there was still enough of negotiating to make 
me feel more keenly than ever before what it is to 
bring one's brains to market. There before the august 
magnate lies for dissection the author's work, the 
results of years of patient toil, representing innumer- 
able headaches and heartaches, self-sacrifice, weari- 
ness of soul, and ill-afibrded money. Author and 
publisher are in solemn deliberation. One regards 
this unborn book with that fond enthusiasm by which 


alone a writer is sustained in his work, the value of 
which he measures by the pains and sufferings it has 
cost him. The other eyes it with suspicion, looks 
upon the author and his work with a cold commercial 
eye, concerned not a whit for the worth of the man 
or for the value of the book to mankind. The dol- 
lars that are in it, that is all the brain-dealer cares 

Since I should require some copies in San Fran- 
cisco, and some in London, Paris, and Leipsic, I had 
concluded to do my own printing, and arrange with 
certain publishers to act for me. Mr James C. Derby, 
brother of George H. Derby, to whom I was indebted 
for my initiation into the book business, was then 
manager of Appleton's subscription department, and 
under his direction my book fell. Very little work was 
put upon it, for the subscription department was 
crowded with books in which the house had deeper 
pecuniary interest than in mine; yet I was satisfied 
with the sales and with the general management of 
the business. 

One of the first things to be done on my return to 
New York from Boston was to examine the collection 
of books Mr Bliss had made while in Mexico and 
select such as I wanted. This was the agreement: I 
was to take every book which ni}'^ collection lacked, 
and should I select from his collection copies of some 
books which were in mine, such duplicates were to be 
returned to him. In a private house near Astor place. 
Bliss had taken rooms, and there he had his books 
brought and the cases opened. We looked at them 
all systematically, and such as I was not sure of pos- 
sessing were laid aside. The result was an addition 
to the library of some four or five hundred volumes, 
sent to San Francisco in six cases. To make sure 
of these books, I looked after them myself; I would 
not intrust them to the care of any one until they 
were safely delivered to the railway company, with 
the shipping receipt in my pocket. 


The 30th of September saw me again in New 
Haven. President Porter and most of the professors 
had returned. By this time the enthusiasm with 
which I was wont to tell my story during the earlier 
stages of my pilgrimage had somewhat waned. Never- 
theless I must make a few calls. President Porter I 
found exceptionally warm-hearted and sincere. He 
gave me letters of strong commendation to President 
Eliot of Harvard and to Pobert C. Winthrop. At 
the next commencement he likewise enrolled my name 
among the alumni of Yale as master of arts. 

Thence I proceeded to see professors Marsh, 
Brewer, and others. While wandering among these 
classic halls I encountered Clarence King, who, young 
as he was, had acquired a reputation and a position 
second to no scientist in America. He was a man of 
much genius and rare cultivation. In him were united 
in an eminent degree the knowledge acquired from 
books, and that which comes from contact with men. 
His shrewd common-sense was only surpassed by his 
high literary and scientific attainments, and his broad 
learning was so seasoned with unaffected kindness of 
heart and fresh buoyant good humor as to command 
the profound admiration of all who knew him. 

He ^vas my ideal of a scholar. There was an orig- 
inality and dash about him which fascinated me. He 
could do so easily what I could not do at all; he was 
so young, with such an elastic, athletic brain, trained 
to do his most ambitious bidding, with such a well 
employed past, a proud present, and a brilliant future, 
and withal such a modest bearing and genial kind- 
heartedness, that I could not but envy him. His 
descriptions of scenery are as fine as Buskin's and far 
more original. 

He had often been in my library, and meeting me 
now at Yale he shook my hand warmly as I thanked 
him for speaking so kindly of me to Mr Higginson at 
Newport a few days before. After some further con- 
versation I was about to pass on when he spoke again : 


** How are you getting along?" 

<< Very well," said I, '' better than I had anticipated." 

'' Can I do anything for you?" he asked. 

'' No, I thank 3^ou," I replied. Then suddenly 
recollecting myself I exclaimed, "Yes, you can; re- 
view my book in some journal." 

" I will do so with pleasure, if I am competent." 

" If you are not," said I, ''with all your personal 
observations upon the Pacific slope, I may as well 
cease looking for such men in these parts." 

'' Well, I will do my best," he replied. 

I then asked him for what journal he would write 
a review. He suggested the North American or the 
Atlantic. I told him Parkman was engaged for one 
and Bliss for the other. Then he said he would con- 
tribute a series of short articles to the Nation. When 
I returned to New York I saw Godkin. Any jour- 
nalist was glad to print anything Clarence King would 
write, so that Mr Godkin readily assented to admit in 
the columns of the Aa^/oTi Mr King's reviewof my work. 

I was greatly disappointed, now that King had 
agreed to write, that his article could not appear in 
the Atlantic, where were first published his matchless 
chapters on Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, 
That, however, was out of the question, as Bliss was 
engaged for that article, and probably had it finished 
by this time. 

Meanwhile Mr Howells wrote me: ''I have not 
heard a word from Mr Bliss, and it is quite too late 
to get anything about your book into the November 
number." I immediately called on Bliss. He was 
buried deep in some new subject. The money I had 
given him for his books had made him comparatively 
independent, and when he had revelled in reading and 
tobacco smoke for a time, and had concluded his 
literary debauch, there would be time enough left to 
apply himself to the relief of corporeal necessities. 

''Bliss, how progresses that article for the Atlan- 
tic?'' I asked him. 


" Finely," he replied. " I have it nearly completed." 

" Show me some of it, will you? I want to see how 
it reads." 

" I cannot show it you in its present' state," he 
stammered. ''Next time you come in you shall see 

I was satisfied he had not touched it, and I wrote 
Howclls as much, at the same time mentioning my 
interview with King. 

''I wrote you some days ago," Howells replied, 
under date of October 7, 1874, "that Mr Bhss had 
not sent me a review of your book, after promising to 
do so within ten days from the time when he called 
with you. So if Mr King will review it for me I 
shall be delighted." At the same time Howells tele- 
graphed me, "Ask Clarence King to write review." 
Again I sought the retreat of Bliss. I found him 
still oblivious. The fact is, I think my peripatetic 
friend trembled somewhat at the responsibility of his 
position, and he had betaken himself to a vigorous 
literary whistling to keep his courage up. 

When once cornered, he admitted he had not 
written a word of the proposed review. I then told 
him of Clarence King's offer and Mr Howells' wishes, 
and asked him if he would be willing to give his re- 
view, which I knew he would never write, to some 
other journal. He cheerfully expressed his willing- 
ness to do so, and congratulated me on having secured 
so able a writer as Mr Kino\ Therein he acted the 
gentleman. The 7th of December Mr Howells writes 
me: "I've just read the proof of Clarence King's 
review of you for the Atlantic — twelve pages of unal- 
loyed praise." Concerning this review Mr King wrote 
from Colorado the 6th of November: "Believe me, 
T have found great pleasure and profit in twice care- 
fully reading the Wild Tribes. Of its excellence as 
a piece of critical literary combination I was fully 
persuaded from the first, but only on actual study do 
I reach its true value. Although the driest of the 


five volumes, it is simply fascinating to the student 
who realizes the vital value of savage data. Ap- 
preciating and enjoying your book as much as I do, 
I yet find a difficulty I have never before experienced 
in attempting to review it. The book itself is a 
gigantic review, and so crammed and crowded with 
fact that the narrow limits of an Atlantic review are 
insufficient to even allude to all the classes of fact. 
To even intimate the varied class of material is im- 
possible. I rather fall back to the plan of following 
you from the Arctic coast down to Panamd, tracing 
the prominent changes and elements of development, 
giving you of course full credit for the good judgment 
and selection you have shown." 

Professor J. A. Church reviewed the w^ork in an 
able and lengthy article in the Galaxy; and for the 
Nation the book was intrusted to Mr Joseph An- 
derson of Waterbury, Connecticut, a most able critic. 

I failed to see Mr Bryant, but was gratified by 
the receipt of a letter in which he expressed himself 
in the following words : '* I am amazed at the extent 
and the minuteness of your researches into the his- 
tory and customs of the aboriginal tribes of western 
North America. Your work will remain to coming 
ages a treasure-house of information on that subject." 
The Californian journals printed many of the eastern 
and European letters sent me, and Mr Bryant's com- 
manded their special admiration, on account of its 
chirography, which was beautifully clear and firm for 
a poet, and he of eighty years. When will men of 
genius learn to write, and those who aspire to great- 
ness cease to be ashamed of fair penmanship? 

The 2d of October I ran down to Washington 
to see Mi" Spofford, librarian of congress, and John 
G. Ames, librarian and superintendent of public 
documents. I had been presented with many of the 
government publications for my library for the last 
ten years and had bought many more. What I wanted 
now was to have all the congressional documents and 


government publications sent me as they were printed. 
Mr Ames informed me that he could send certain 
books from his department. Then, if I could get 
some senator to put my name on his list, I should 
receive every other public document printed, twelve 
copies of which were given each senator for distribu- 
tion. This Mr Sargent kindly consented to do for me, 
and to him I am indebted for constant favors during 
his term in Washington. 

Calling at the Hbrary of congress, I was informed 
by Mr Spofford that for some time past he had in- 
tended to ask my permission to review the Native 
Races for the New York Herald in an article some 
four columns in length. I assured him that for so 
distinguished honor I should ever hold myself his 
debtor. I then looked through a room crammed 
with duplicates, to ascertain if there were any books 
among them touching my subject which I had not in 
my library. I found nothing. The regulations of 
the congressional library required two copies of 
every book published in the United States to be 
deposited for copyright, and these two copies must 
always be kept. Any surplus above the two copies 
were called duplicates, and might be exchanged for 
other books. 

Early in the writing of the Native Races I had felt 
the necessity of access to certain important works 
existing only in manuscript. These were the Historia 
Apologetica and Historia General of Las Casas, not 
then printed, the Historia Antigua de Nueva Espana of 
Father Duran, and others. These manuscripts were 
nowhere for sale; but few copies were in existence, 
and besides those in the library of congress I knew 
of none in the United States. I saw no other way 
than to have such works as seemed necessary to me 
copied in whole or in part, and this I accomplished 
by the aid of copyists through the courtesy of Mr 
Spofford. The labor was tedious and expensive; but 
I could not go forward with my writing and feel 


that fresh material existed which I had the money 
to procure. 

Several months previous to my journey to Wash- 
ington Mr H. R. Coleman, who had long been in the 
employ of our firm, and who in the spring of 1874, 
while on a visit to the east, had kindly consented to 
attend to some business for me, had been there with 
letters of introduction to senators and others, and had 
secured me many advantages. 

From Philadelphia, under date of the 24th of April, 
Mr Coleman made a full report. His mission was to 
examine the works in the congressional library 
touching the Pacific coast and ascertain what mate- 
rial was there not in my collection. Then he must 
set men at work extracting certain matter which was 
described to him, and finally secure all the public 
documents, either by gift or purchase, possible for the 
library. I need only say that all this was accom- 
plished by him to my entire satisfaction. ^'I found 
there were plenty of copyists, mechanical geniuses, in 
Washington," he writes, ''but few who could do this 
work. The two manuscripts you spoke of I found 
to consist of eight bulky quarto volumes, written in 
a good clear hand. One of the persons I engaged 
through the advice and assistance of Mr SpofFord 
was a Frenchman, quite old, a man of experience, 
and teacher of the French and Spanish languages in 
Washington." Senator Sargent rendered Mr Cole- 
man most valuable assistance, helping him to several 
hundred volumes of books. The difficulty in collect- 
ing government documents lies not in obtaining cur- 
rent publications but in gathering the old volumes, 
since few of the many departments retain in their 
offices back volumes. I and my agents have visited 
Washington many times on these missions. 

Before leaving San Francisco I had placed the 
management of the Native Races in London in the 
hands of Mr Ellis Read, agent in San Francisco for 
Scotch and English firms. Mr Read's London agent 

Lit. Ind. 23 


was Mr John Brown of Woodford, Essex, an intelli- 
gent and wealthy gentleman, who from the first took 
a warm interest in the work. After consultation with 
a literary friend the publication of the book was offered 
Messrs Longmans and Company of Paternoster Row, 
and accepted on their usual terms: namely, ten per 
cent, commissions on trade sale price, I to furnish them 
the printed copies unbound, with twenty-five copies for 
editors. A cable despatch from Mr Brown to Mr Bead 
in San Francisco which was forwarded to New York, 
conveyed to me the welcome intelligence— welcome 
because publishers so unexceptionable had undertaken 
the publication of my book on terms so favorable. 

Longmans advised Brown to spend thirty pounds 
in advertising, and if the book was well received by 
the press to add twenty to it, and suggested that fifty 
pounds should be deposited with him for that purpose. 
Expenses in London were coming on apace; so that 
almost simultaneously with the news that the Messrs 
Longmans were my publishers, appeared a request 
from Mr Brown for one hundred pounds. I was in 
New York at the time, and not in the best of spirits, 
and since I must bear all the expense of publication, 
and furnish the publishers the book already j)rinted, 
the further demand of fiye hundred dollars for ex- 
penses which one would think the book should pay if 
it were worth the publication, struck me peculiarly. 

Nevertheless, I sent the money. I was resolved 
that nothing within my power to remove should stand 
in the way of a first and complete success. Again and 
again have I plunged recklessly forward in my under- 
takings regardless of consequences, performing work 
which never would be known or appreciated, and but 
for the habit of thoroughness which had by this time 
become a part of my nature, might as well never have 
been done, spending time and paying out money with 
a dogged determination to spend as long as time or 
money lasted, whether I could see the end or not. 
After all, the business in London was well and eco- 


nomicall}^ managed. It would have cost me five times 
as much had I gone over and attended to it myself, 
and then it would have been no better done. I was 
specially desirous my work should be brought to the 
attention of English scholars and reviewers. I ex- 
plained to Mr Brown what I had done and was doing 
in America, and suggested he should adopt some such 
course there. And I must say he entered upon the 
task with enthusiasm and performed it well. 

Enoflishman-like, Mr Brown thouQfht the London 
edition should be dedicated to some Englishman prom- 
inent in science or letters. I had no objections, though 
it was a point which never would have occurred to me. 
But it has always been my custom to yield to every 
intelligent suggestion, prompted by the enthusiasm of 
an agent or assistant, provided his way of doing a 
thing was in my opinion no worse than my way. 

Mr Brown suggested the name of Sir John Lub- 
bock, and sent me a printed page: "I dedicate this 
work to Sir John Lubbock, Bart., M. P., F. R. S., as 
a tribute of my high esteem." In this I acquiesced, and 
so the dedication was made. In a neat note Sir John 
acknowledged the compliment, writing Mr Brown the 
10th of February, "I am much gratified at the honor 
of having so valuable a work dedicated to me." 

To Mr Brown I had sent from San Francisco 
copies of volume i., with letters enclosed, to about 
a dozen prominent men in England, among them Her- 
bert Spencer, Sir Arthur Helps, E. B. Tylor, R. G. 
Latham, Sir John Lubbock, Tyndall, Huxley, Max 
M tiller, Lecky, Carlyle, and Murchison. These vol- 
umes, being ' author's copies,' bore no imprint, and my 
publishers objected to their being given out without 
the London imprint. So these copies were returned to 
me by Messrs Longmans, and others given the gentle- 
men I had named. 

The acknowledgments made me by these men, re- 
ceived of course after my return to San FranciscO; 
were hearty and free. 


Mr Herbert Spencer writes me: "In less than a 
year I hope to send you the first volume of the Prin- 
ciples of Sociology, in which you will see that I have 
made frequent and important uses of your book ;" and 
indeed nothing could be more flattering than the ref- 
erences therein made to the Native Races. "During 
my summer trip in Europe," says Mr Gilman in a 
letter from Baltimore, "I have frequently heard your 
great work spoken of, but nowhere with more com- 
mendation than I heard from Herbert Spencer. I 
am sure you must be more than paid for your labor 
by the wide-spread satisfaction it has given." 

Doctor Latham, the eminent ethnologist and lin- 
guist, writes: "The first thing I did after reading it 
with pleasure and profit — for I can't say how highly 
I value it — was to indite a review of it for the Exam- 
iner.'" I was greatly pleased with Mr W. E. H. 
Lecky's letters, regarding him, as I did, as one of 
the purest writers of English living. "I rejoice to 
see the book advancing so rapidly to its completion," 
he says, "for I had much feared that, like Buckle's 
history, it was projected on a scale too gigantic for any 
single individual to accomplish. It will be a noble 
monument of American energy, as well as of Ameri- 
can genius." And again, "I was talking of your book 
the other day to Herbert Spencer, and was gratified 
to hear him speak warmly of the help he had found 
in it in writing his present work on sociology. I 
always think that to take a conspicuous position in 
a young literature is one of the very highest intellect- 
ual aims which an ambitious man could aspire to; 
and whenever the history of American literature 
comes to be written, your book will take a very high 
place among the earliest works of great learning 
America has produced." I was glad also to have so 
graceful a writer as the author of European Morals 
speak encouragingly of my style, which more than any 
one thing connected with my work I had lamented. 
" I must add, too," he concludes his first letter to me. 


'Hhat your style is so very vivid and flowing that 
the book becomes most readable even to those who 
take no special interest in the subject." 

Sir Arthur Helps, writing just before his death, re- 
marks: ''I think that the introductory chapter is 
excellent; and what strikes me most in it is the ex- 
ceeding fairness with which he treats the researches 
and the theories of other inquirers into subjects akin 
to his own." 

I well remember with what trepidation I had 
thought of addressing these great men before I 
began to publish. I wondered if they would even 
answer my letters, or take the trouble to tell me to go 
to the devil. Then I thought upon it, and said to 
myself, Though smaller than many you are bigger 
than some, and the lowest polypus of a scribbler who 
should address you, you would not hesitate to answer 
kindly. Then I took heart and said again, Is not a 
pound of gold as good to me brought by a donkey as 
by a sage? I know these facts of mine are valuable 
to men of science. They are the base of all their 
fabrics; they must have them. And in the form I 
serve them no great amount of discernment is neces- 
sary to assure me that this material, when well win- 
nowed, is in a shape more accessible than it was 

Of the newspapers and magazines containing the 
best reviews and descriptions of the library, Mr 
Brown purchased from fifty to five hundred copies, 
and distributed them among the libraries, journalists, 
and literary men of the world. Not having a proper 
list of selected newspapers and of the libraries in 
Europe and America, I employed the mercantile and 
statistical agency association of New York to pre- 
pare me such a list, writing them in two blank-books. 
There were eight hundred and twenty European, 
Asiatic, and colonial libraries written in one book, 
and the European and American newspapers and 
United States libraries in the other book. 


It was through Mr Edward Jackson, correspondent 
in San Francisco of the London Times, that the Native 
Races was first brought to the notice of that journal. 
Mr Jackson could not assure me positively that the 
review would appear. Mr Walter, the editor, would 
not enlighten Mr Jackson on the subject. I wished 
to purchase four hundred copies of the issue con- 
taining the notice of the Native Races, provided there 
should be such an issue. And in this way I was 
obliged to give my order to Mr Brown. 

From London the 3d of April 1875 Mr Brown 
writes: "At last the Times has spoken, and I have 
succeeded in securing four hundred copies of the 
paper by dint of close watching. When I saw the 
publishers some time ago, w^ith the usual indepen- 
dence of the Times they would not take an order for 
the paper, or even the money for four hundred copies to 
be struck off for me when a review did appear, and all 
I could get was this, — that on the day a review ap- 
peared, should a review appear at all, if I sent down 
to the office before 11 a.m. they would strike off what 
I wanted. So I kept a person watching — as I was 
sometimes late in going to town — with money for the 
review, and he luckily saw it in the morning, rushed 
down to the office, and, he tells me, in less than a 
quarter of an hour the extra four hundred copies were 
struck off and made over to him. The copies are now 
being posted according to the addresses you sent me." 

In October 1874 one of the editors of the Kol- 
nische Zeitung was in San Francisco and visited the 
library frequently. He wrote for his paper a descrip- 
tion of the library and the Native Races, besides 
giving me a list of the German magazines and re- 
views to which the book should be sent, and much 
other valuable information. Dr Karl Andree of the 
Globus, Dresden, expressed great admiration for the 
work, and inserted several articles concerning it in 
that most valuable and influential journal. 


In September 1875 the eminent English scholar 
W. Bojd Dawkins called at the library, giving me 
great pleasure in his visit. When I parted Avith him, 
after showing him the attention within my power, I 
supposed, as was usually the case, that I should never 
see him again. It was with great pleasure, therefore, 
that I received a letter the following spring. ^^ Your 
wonderful book on the native races of the Pacific 
States," he writes from Owens College, Manchester, 
the 14th of February 1876, "has been handed to me 
for review in the JSdinhurgh, and before I review it 
I should be very much obliged if you could give me 
information as to the following details : You will per- 
haps have forgotten the wandering Englishman who 
called on you at the end of last September, and who 
had just a hurried glance at your library. Then I 
had no time to carry away anything but a mere gen- 
eral impression, which has haunted me ever since. 
And strangely enough your books awaited my return 
home. I want details as to your mode of indexing. 
How many clerks do you employ on the work, and 
what sort of index cards'? You shewed all this to me, 
but I did not take down any figures. Your system 
seems to me wholly new." 

" Pray accept my heartiest thanks," writes Edward 
B. Tylor the 25th of February 1875, " for your gift 
of the first volume of your great work. I need not 
trouble you with compliments, for there is no doubt 
that you will find in a few months' time that the book 
has received more substantial testimony to its value 
in the high appreciation of all European ethnologists. 
I am writing a slight notice for the Academy, par- 
ticularly to express a hope that your succeeding vol- 
umes may throw light on the half-forgotten problem 
of Mexican civilization, which has made hardly any 
progress since Humboldt's time. Surely the Old and 
New Worlds ought to join in working out the ques- 
tion whether they had been in contact, in this dis- 
trict, before Columbus' time ; and I really believe that 


you may, at this moment, have the materials in your 
hands to bring the problem on to a new stage. May 
I conclude by asking you, as an ethnologist, not to 
adhere too closely to your intention of not theorizing, 
while there are subjects on which you evidently have 
the means of forming a theory more exactly and plenti- 
fully in your hands than any other anthropologist." 

Before making arrangements with Messrs Long- 
mans I had said nothing about a publisher for the 
Native Races in France and in Germany. I now re- 
quested Mr Brown to ask those gentlemen if they 
had any objections to my adopting such a course, and 
on receiving information that they had not, I made 
23roposals to Maisonneuve et C^®, Paris, and F. A. 
Brockhaus, to act for me, which were accepted, and 
copies of the volumes were sent them as printed by 
Messrs Houghton and Company. All the European 
publishers were anxious to have their copies in ad- 
vance, so as to publish simultaneously; particularly 
were they desirous of bringing out the book at least 
on the very day it was issued in New York. 

On accepting the publication of the Native Races 
for France, Messrs Maisonneuve et C^® promised to 
announce the work with great care in the biblio- 
graphical journals of France and elsewhere, deliver 
copies to the principal reviews, and use every exertion 
in their power to extend its influence. Lucien Adam 
of the Congres International cles Am4ricanistes re- 
viewed the volumes in the Revue Litteraire et Poli- 
tique, and kindly caused to be inserted in the Revue 
Britannique of M. Picot a translation of Mr Park- 
man's review in the North American. An able article 
of twenty-five pages from the pen of H. Blerzy ap- 
peared in the Revue des Deux Mondes of the 15th of 
May 1876. Extended reviews likewise appeared in 
Le Ter,ips, La Repuhlique Frangaise, and other French 
journals. Mr Brockhaus, the German publisher, took 
an unusual interest in the book, pronouncing it from 
the first a work of no ordinary importance. 


I cannot enter more fully into the detail of re- 
viewers and reviews; suffice it to say that two large 
quarto scrap-books were filled to overflowing with 
such notices of the Native Races as were sent me. 
Never probably was a book so generally and so favor- 
ably reviewed by the best journals in Europe and 
America. Never was an author more suddenly or 
more thoroughly brought to the attention of learned 
and literary men everywhere. 

Among the reviews of which I was most proud 
were two columns in the London TimeSj some thirty or 
forty pages in the Westmiiister Review, two columns in 
the London Standard, lengthy articles in the North 
American Review, the New York LEco d'ltcdia, Hart- 
ford, Courant, Boston Post, Advertiser, and Journal; 
Springfield Republican, New York Tribune, Christian 
Union, Nation, and Post; British Quarterly, Edinburgh 
Review, London Nature, Saturdaij Review, Spectator, 
Academy, Philadelphia North American, Atlantic 
Monthly; Scribners Magazine, Tlie Galaxy, Revue 
Politique, Revue des Deux Mondes, Hongkong Press; 
Zeitsclirift filr Lander, Mittlieilungen der Kais., etc., 
Europa tend das Ausland, Germany; and La Voz del 
Nuevo Mundo. I might mention a hundred others, 
but if I did, all would not be unadulterated praise. 
A few so-called honors fell upon me after publication, 
such as being made honorary member of the Massa- 
chusetts historical society, the American Antiqua- 
rian society, the Philadelphia Numismatic societ3% 
and the Buffalo Historical society, for which due 
thanks were given. Flattering recognitions came also 
in form of diplomas and complimentary certificates. 
Probably there w^as no subject connected with this 
western coast which would have attracted the atten- 
tion of so many of the first scholars of America and 
Europe, which would have brought the author into 
such prominence throughout the learned world, which 
would have secured him such unlimited and unqualified 
praise from every source. 


It was a subject in which all were interested. The 
study of society was the new and most attractive 
study of the age. Everything relating to man, his 
habitation and his habits, his idiosyncrasies and 
his peculiarities, national, social, and individual, all 
tauo^ht a lesson. The sas^e sat at the feet of the 
savage, and there studied man as he is in a state of 
nature, before he is disguised by the crusts and 
coverings of society. "I could wish that the whole 
five volumes were already available," writes Herbert 
Spencer to me in February 1875, "and had been so 
for some time past; for the tabular statements and 
extracts made for the Descriptive Sociology by Pro- 
fessor Duncan would have been more complete than 
at present." 

Among my warmest friends was Charles C. Jones 
Jr. of New York, who reviewed the Native Races in 
the Indej^endent, devoting several articles to each 
volume. These articles, besides being critical reviews, 
were analytical and descriptive essays, dividing and 
taking up the subject-matter of each volume, with a 
view of popularizing the theme. Mr Jones was fully 
imbued with the subject, and his articles were very 
interesting. To me he writes: "Your fifth volume, 
ex dono aitctoris, reached me to-day. Fresh from the 
perusal of its charming pages, I offer you my sincere 
congratulations upon the completion of your magnum 
opus. Great have been the pleasure and profit which 
I have experienced in the perusal of the volumes as 
they have been given to the public." The attention 
of the American Ethnological society was likewise 
drawn to the work by Mr Jones, and the author was 
promptly made an honorary member of that body, with 
the resolution " that the volumes which have already 
appeared indicate patient stud}^, careful discrimina- 
tion, and exhaustive research, and constitute a monu- 
ment of industry and merit alike honorable to their 
author and creditable to the literary effort of our 


Thus each great man found in it that which was 
new and interesting to him in his special investiga- 
tions, Yv^hatever those might have been, while the 
attention of lesser scholars and the general reader 
was attracted by a variety of topics. The statesman 
found there the incipient stages of government; the 
clergyman the early mythologies; the merchant, the 
agriculturist, the physician, each might there learn 
something of his occupation or profession and insti- 
tute comparison between then and now. It did not fail 
to touch even one of those several chords which in 
the breast of the greatest of American humorists 
vibrate for the gaiete de cceur of mankind. Of Mark 
Twain and the Native Races says Charles Dudley 
Warner, writing me the 11th of October 1876: "Mr 
Clemens was just in and was in an unusual state of 
enthusiasm over the first volume, especially its fine 
style. You may have a picture of his getting up at 
two o'clock this morning and, encased in a fur over- 
coat, reading it till daylight." 

In another respect the subject was a most happy 
choice for me. While it attracted much more atten- 
tion than pure history would have done, its imperfec- 
tions of substance, style, and arrangement were much 
more readily overlooked. In precise history critics 
might have looked for more philosophy, more show of 
learning, or more dignity of style. All I claimed in 
the premises was faithfully to have gathered my facts, 
to have arranged them in the most natural manner, 
and to have expressed them in the clearest language. 
These were its greatest charms with scholars, and 
where so few pretensions were made reviewers found 
little room for censure. 

Tims it was that I began to see in my work a suc- 
cess exceeding my wildest anticipations. And a first 
success in literature under ordinary circumstances is 
a most fortunate occurrence. To me it was every- 
thing. I hardly think that failure would have driven 


me from my purpose; but I needed more than dogged 
persistency to carry me througli herculean under- 
takings. I needed confidence in m}^ abilities, as- 
surance, sympathy, and above all a firm and lofty 
enthusiasm. I felt with Lowell, that ''solid success 
must be based on solid qualities and the honest cul- 
ture of them." 

Then again to accomplish my purpose, which was 
to do important historical work, it seemed necessary 
for me to know wherein I had erred and wherein I 
had done well. From the first success fell upon me 
like refreshing showers, cleansing my mind and my 
experiences, and watering all my subsequent efforts. 
To the stream of knowledo^e which I had set flowinof 
through divers retorts and condensers from my ac- 
cumulations to the clearly printed page, I might now 
confidently apply all my powers. As the king of 
the Golden River told Gluck, in Ruskin's beautiful 
story, v\^hoever should cast into the stream three 
drops of holy water, for him the waters of the river 
should turn into gold; but any one failing in the first 
attempt should not succeed in a second; and whoso 
cast in unholy water should become a black stone. 
Thus sparkled my work in the sunshine of its success, 
and the author, so far as he was told, was not yet a 
black stone. 



Ever since there has been so great a demand for type, there has been 
much less lead to spare for cannon-balls. 


Came to the library the 21st of October 1873 
Enrique Cerruti, introduced by Philip A. Roach, 
editor and senator, in the terms following: "He speaks 
Italian, French, Spanish, and English. He can trans- 
late Latin. He has been a consul-general and secretary 
of legation. He is well acquainted with Spanish- 
American affairs and the leadino^ men in those states." 

The bearer of the letter stood before me, a man 
three or four years under forty, slightly built, of 
medium height, with a long thin face, prominent 
square forehead, dark protruding eyes, and full mouth 
drawn down at the corners, long neatly brushed black 
hair and long thin mustache. His complexion was 
a dark sallow; and there was a general flatness of 
features and a drooping Quixotic melancholy per- 
vading his entire physique. In his hand he held a 
glossy new beaver, matching his glossy black hair, 
but further than these there was nothing new or 
bright about him, except his boots, which were well 
polished. His clothes were cheap rather than shabby, 
and the crevices of his coarse linen shirt-bosom were 
well filled with clean white starch. Eyes, mouth, and 
melancholy mustache, features and form, were now 
all on the qui vive to know Avhat destiny would next 
do with him. He was a unique copy, as Dibdin re- 
marked of the Dieppe postilion. 

( 365 ) 


In answer to my queries concerning his nationality, 
education, and late occupation, lie informed me that 
he was a native of Turin, of an old and highly re- 
spected Italian family, that at the age of fourteen he 
had deserted college and fled to Genoa, where he 
embarked on a vessel bound for Gibraltar. In time 
he found himself in South America, where for five 
years he was consul-general in the United States of 
Colombia, which position he resigned to rescue liis 
friend General Mariano Melgarejo, then president of 
Bolivia, from his falling fortunes. Appearing in arms, 
his attempts in that direction failed. Besieged in the 
seaport of Cobija he was forced to capitulate, and 
finally to depart the country. After a tour of obser- 
vation through the eastern United States he pro- 
ceeded to Mexico, and after crossing every one of the 
isthmuses of America, he came to California. 

Although the applicant, either in his person or in 
his history, did not impress me as one specially adapted 
to literary labors, yet I had long since learned that 
superficial judgments as to character and ability, 
particularly when applied to wanderers of the Latin 
race, were apt to prove erroneous. Further than 
this, while not specially attractive, there was some- 
thing winning about the fellow, though I scarcely 
could tell what it was. At all events he secured the 
place he sought. 

Turning him over to Mr Oak, for the next three or 
four months I scarcely gave him a thought. He at- 
tempted at first to extract notes for the Natwe Races, 
devoting his evenings to filing Pacific coast journals, 
recording the numbers received, and placing them 
in their proper places on the shelves. He was not 
specially successful in abstracting material, or in any 
kind of purely literary work ; the newspapers he kept 
in good order, and he could write rapidly from dicta- 
tion either in Spanish or English. 

Quickly catching the drift of things, he saw that 
first of all I desired historical material; and what next 


specially drew my attention to him was his coming 
to me occasionally with something he had secured 
from an unexpected source. When the time came for 
my book to be noticed by the press he used to write 
frequent and long articles for the Spanish, French, 
and Italian journals in San Francisco, New York, 
Mexico, France, Spain, and Italy. I know of no in- 
stance where one of his many articles of that kind 
was declined. He had a way of his own of making 
editors do about as he desired in this respect. 

Gradually I became interested in this man, and I 
saw him interest himself more and more in my behalf; 
and with time this interest deepened into regard, until 
finally I became strongly attached to him. This at- 
tachment was based on his inherent honesty, devotion, 
and kindness of heart, though on the surface he was 
bubble and bombast. Within was the strictest integ- 
rity, and that loyalty wdiich makes one literally die 
for one's friend; without was fiction, hyperbole, and 

He was a natural adept in certain subtleties which, 
had his eye been evil, w^ould have made him a first-class 
villain; but with all his innocent artifices, and the 
rare skill and delicate touch employed in playing upon 
human weaknesses, he was on the whole a pure-minded 
man. I used to fancy I despised flattery, but I con- 
fess I enjoyed not more Nemos' caustic criticisms than 
Cerruti's oily unctions, which were laid on so grace- 
fully, so tenderly, and withal so liberally, and with the 
air of one to whom it made little difference whether 
you believed him in earnest or not ; for he well knew 
that I understood him thoroughly, and accepted his 
compliments at their value. He was the only man 
whose flummery, even in homoeopathic doses, did not 
sicken me. There was something so princely in his 
blandiloquence that I could not but forgive him as 
fast as it was uttered. He was not in the least a 
flunky; there was no fawning about him ; he was a man 
and a gentleman, a high and honorable personage, 


with possibly an equal in America, but not a superior, 
that is to say, taken at his own estimation. 

Erect in his carriage, with chin up and glossy hat 
thrown well back on the head, his demeanor was often 
in strange contradiction to his somewhat withered 
appearance. In his movements he was as lithe and 
active as a cat, and of as tireless endurance. He was 
a very early riser, and often had a half day's work 
done before others were up. I do not know that I 
ever heard him complain of being fatigued. 

Montaigne's mistake is great when he exclaims, 
''How much less sociable is flilse speaking than 
silence !" To Cerruti, lying was the greatest luxury. 
Neither wealth, station, nor learning could have 
yielded him half the enjoyment. With Socrates, he 
seemed to hold that the mendacious man of all others 
is capable and wise, and if a man cannot tell a lie upon 
occasion he displays glaring weakness. 

He did not require, like Marryatt, duty to country 
to warrant the practice. A half truth was worse 
than the whole truth. Falsehood spun itself of its 
own volition in his whirling brain, and he amused 
himself by flinging off the fabric from his tongue. 
It was habit and amusement; to have been forced 
always to speak the truth would have been to stop the 
play of the healthful vital organism. With Maximus 
Tyrius he seemed to hold that '^a lie is often profitable 
and advantageous to men, and truth hurtful." 

Lying with him was a fine art. He used often to 
talk to me as long as I would listen, while knowing 
that I regarded every word he uttered as false. But 
he took care to make it palatable. If one liked one's 
praise thickly spread, he enjoyed nothing so much 
as giving a friend his fill of it. And no one was 
quicker than he to detect the instant his sweetness 
nauseated. Praise is always acceptable if ministered 
with skill; but as Horace says of Caesar, "Stroke him 
with an awkward hand and he kicks." 


Every man's face Avas to Cerruti a barometer, indi- 
cating the weather of the mind, and as with swiftly 
selected words he played his variations upon the ex- 
pectations, the passions, or aspirations of his listener, 
he read it with ease, and by the weight or pressure of 
the soul-inspired atmosphere there indicated he regu- 
lated each succeeding sentence of his speech. Herein 
lay a strange power which he possessed over many 
men. His mind was no less elastic than it was active. 
Acute observation was a habit with him. 

And yet in his lying, as in everything else about 
him, he was harmless. He did not intend to deceive. 
He did not expect his lies to be believed. Exagger- 
ation came to him so naturally that he was for the 
most part unconscious of it, and nothing surprised or 
shocked him more than for a friend to construe his 
speech literally and so act upon it. 

He did not lie for gain; indeed, should so unpala- 
table a thing as truth ever force his lips you might 
suspect something of personal benefit at the bottom 
of it. In his economy of deceit he would not Avaste 
a good falsehood upon himself Reversing Byron's 
statement, the truth w4th him w^as a lie in masquerade. 
He was one of those of whom Pascal says: "Quoique 
les personnes n'aient point d'interet a ce qu'elles disent, 
il ne faut pas conclure de \h absolument qu'elles ne 
mentent point, car il y a des gens qui mentent simple- 
ment pour mentir." 

Sheridan admitted that he never hesitated to lie to 
serve a friend; and that his conscience was troubled 
about it only when he was discovered. Cerruti was far 
before Sheridan in this respect, that he was troubled 
in mind about his lies only when they were taken for 
truth. And yet blood must flow if ever the words 
'you lie' were spoken. 

Some tongues are so long that the lightest breeze 
of brain will wag them; some brains so light, and so 
full of light conceits, yet so heavily resting on the 
consciousness, that, like the ancient mariner, a woful 

Lit. Ind. 24 


agony wrenches the possessor until his tale is told. 
Cerruti finally came to be regarded a privileged char- 
acter among those that knew him, liberty being given 
him to talk as he pleased, his aberrations of speech 
being charged to his genius and not to deliberate in- 
tention. Solon counterfeited madness that he miG:ht 
recite verses on Salamis in the market-place, to speak 
which otherwise by law was death; Cerruti 's mad- 
ness was constitutional. 

He ate, drank, smoked, and slept: yet as to the 
manner he was quite indifferent. He cared much 
more for his personal appearance, and would wear as 
good clothes as he could get; that is, they must look 
passably well, though as to quality he was not par- 
ticular. To sleep amongst old lumber in a garret, and 
coolly assert he was stopping at the Grand Hotel; 
to dine on three bits, and then talk of seven thousand 
dollar bills of exchange which he carried in his pocket ; 
to parade his illustrious connections, his daring deeds 
in battle or on the ocean, the offices he had held, the 
influence he had wielded, and the crushing effect at all 
times of his enkindled wrath — these were among his 
constant themes. 

He would drink or not, as it happened; but I never 
saw him drunk. Cigars, five for a quarter, seemed to 
satisfy him as well as the purest Habana at twenty- 
five cents each. A little sleep was acceptable, if con- 
venient; if not, it was no matter. 

He liked to be called general, even though he had 
been but consul-general, even though he had been but 
consul, even though he had slept but a fortnight in a 
consulate. To ears so attuned there is something 
pleasing in high-sounding titles, it making little dif- 
ference whether the mark of distinction be rightfully 
employed or not. 

General Cerruti's ears were so attuned. He knew 
that everybody knew there was no ground for apply- 
ing such a title to him, and yet it pleased him. At 


times he used greatly to enjoy boasting his present 
poverty, flaunting it in most conspicuous colors, com- 
paring what he was with what he had been, well 
knowing that everybody knew he never had been 
anything in particular. He used to carry a galvan- 
ized watch, a large double-cased yellow stem-winder, 
which he would sport ostentatiously and then boast 
that it was bogus. 

He, well knew that he was not a great man, and 
never by any possibility could be regarded as such, 
thouo^h like Parrhasius he dubbed himself kino^ of his 
craft, and assumed the golden crown and purple robe 
of royalty ; and yet above all things earthly he adored 
the semblance of greatness, and arrayed himself so far 
as he was able in its tattered paraphernalia. Of his 
brave deeds while acting the part of revolutionist in 
southern America he was as proud as if he had fought 
at Marathon or Waterloo. He was an air-plant, rooted 
to no spot on earth, without fixedness of purpose suf- 
ficient to become even parasitic. He would not admit 
himself ever to have been in the wrong, but the re- 
sults of his follies and mistakes he charged to a cruel 
and relentless fate. Forever the world turned to him 
its shady side. 

Notwithstanding his aggressive disposition he was 
extremely sensitive. His pride was supreme, exposing 
him to tortures from every defamatory wind. Touch 
him in certain quarters, call in question his antece- 
dents, criticise his past life, his family connections, his 
present conduct, and you aroused him almost to frenzy. 
Yet he was as quickly brought from the storm into 
calm waters. Often with one kind word I have cooled 
in him a tempest which had been raging perhaps for 
days. Indeed, here as everywhere in life, clouds were 
not dispelled by lightning and the thunderbolt, nor by 
hurling at them other clouds, but by permeating them 
with soft sunshine. 

Under a brusque demeanor, and a gasconade ob- 
noxious to some, he veiled an humble, kind, and loving 


heart. In his affections he displayed a womanly ten- 
derness, and was exceedingly careful and considerate 
with the feelings of his friends. As Leigh Hunt said 
of Charles Lamb, he was a compound of the Jew, the 
gentleman, and the angel. 

At first the young men in the library used to 
laugh at him; but I pointed to the signal results 
which he was achieving, and even should he prove in 
the end knave or fool, success was always a convinc- 
ing argument. A habit of talking loud and grandilo- 
quently, especially among strangers, made Oak fearful 
that Cerruti, while making an ass of himself, would 
brinor us all into ridicule amonof sensible men. But, 
said I, no sensible man brings us the material that 
he brings. Indeed, to this quality of nervous ecstasy 
or semi-madness the world owes much, owes its 
Platos, its Newtons, and its Shakespeares ; to the 
madness of eccentric times civilization owes its longest 

Though keen-scented and bold in his search after 
historical knowledge, he was neither impertinent nor 
vulgar. Curiosity is the mainspring of all our intel- 
lectualities, of all our civilities ; but there is a curiosity 
which tends to ignorance, which finds its highest 
qualification in gossip and coarse personalities. There 
is a vulgar and debasing curiosity, and there is an 
elevating and improving curiosity. To pry into the 
commonplace affairs of commonplace men and women 
is a mean and morbid curiosity; to study for purposes 
of emulation and improvement the exalted charac- 
ters of the great and good is a noble curiosity. 

Of all studies, the analysis of human nature is to 
me the most deeply interesting. And of all such in- 
vestigations I find none more prolific than the anato- 
mizing of the characters connected with these histori- 
cal efforts. Every man of them represents one of a 
hundred ; one success to ninety-nine failures. It would 


seem, then, that in this field certain quahties are 
requisite to success; yet to attempt in ever}^ instance 
to describe those essential qualities would involve the 
writing of a volume. 

Take, for example, this same warm-hearted genial 
friend Cerruti. To see him in his quick, nervous 
comings and goings; to hear him rattling away in his 
off-hand, free, and fearless manner, on one subject and 
another, apparently at random, apparently careless 
and indifferent as to the correctness of his statements, 
apparently as effervescent in mental qualities as a 
bottle of champagne, one not knowing him might 
take him as the last person to prove a valuable as- 
sistant in precise historic investigation. Yet there 
were few men truer, more conscientious, or more 
efficient in their way. 

He did what no one else connected with the work 
could do, what but for him never would have been 
done. He had not the scope and comprehensiveness, 
or the literary culture, or the graceful style, or steady 
application, or erudition to achieve for himself. But 
he had what all of them together could not command, 
power over the minds of men, consummate skill in 
touching the springs of human action and in winning 
the wary to his purpose. 

I do not mean to say. that he could not write, and 
in the Latin languages write eloquently; the many 
manuscript volumes of history and narrative which 
have emanated from his pen under the dictation of 
eminent Californians and others prove the contrary. 
His chief talent, however, lay in awakening an inter- 
est in my labors. 

But how was this necessary ? What need of special 
efforts to make proselytes to a cause so palpably im- 
portant; a cause neither asking nor accepting subsidy 
nor pecuniary aid from state, society, or individual ; a 
cause absolutely private and independent, and having 
no other object in view than pure investigation and 
an unbiassed recording of the truth? Surely, one 


would think, such an enterprise would not require an 
effort to make men believe in it. 

Nevertheless it did. There were those, mercenary 
minds, who could see nothing but money in it, who 
having documents or knowledge of historical events 
would not part with their information but for a price. 
'All!' said they, 'this man knows what he is about. 
He is not fool enough to spend time and money with- 
out prospective return. He is a book man, and all 
this is but a dodge to make at once money and repu- 
tation. No man in this country does something for 
nothing. No man pours out his money and works 
like a slave except in the expectation tha.t it will 
come back to him with interest. He may say he is 
not working for money, but we do not believe it.' 
Others, although their judgment told them that by 
no possibility could the outlay be remunerative, and 
that my experience in book-publishing was such that 
I could not but know it, yet, in view of the interest I 
took in the subject, and the money I was spending, in 
every direction, in the accumulation of material, they 
thought I might perhaps be induced to pay them for 
their information rather than do without it. 

No man of common-sense or of common patriotism 
thought or talked thus ; but I had to do with individ- 
uals possessed of neither sense nor patriotism, common 
or uncommon. I had to do with men in whose eyes 
a dollar was so large that they could not see beyond 
it ; in whose eyes money was not alone the chief good, 
but the only good; whose dim intelligence ran in 
channels so muddy that no sunlight could penetrate 
them. Thank God such men were few in California. 
And let their names die ; let them bespatter no page 
of mine, nor may my pen ever damn such a one to 

Another class, a large and highly respectable one, 
was composed of men who for a quarter of a century 
had been importuned time and again by multitudes of 
petty scribblers, newspaper interviewers, and quasi 


historians, for items of their early experience, until 
the}^ tired of it. So that when a new applicant for 
information appeared they were naturally and justly 
suspicious ; but when they came to know the character 
and quality of the work proposed, and were satisfied 
that it would be fairly and thoroughly done, they were 
leady with all their powers and possessions to assist 
the undertaking. 

In some instances, however, it required diplomacy 
of a no mean order to convince men that there was 
no hidden or ulterior object in thus gathering and re- 
cording their own deeds and the deeds of their ances- 
tors. The Hispano-Californians particularly, many 
of them, had been so abused, so swindled, so robbed 
by their pretended friends, by unprincipled Yankee 
lawyers and scheming adventurers, that they did not 
know whom to trust, and were suspicious of everybody. 
Often had letters and other papers been taken from 
their possession and used against them in court to 
prove the title to their lands defective, or for other 
detrimental purpose. Then there were individual and 
local jealousies to be combated. One feared undue 
censure of himself and undue praise of his enemy ; one 
family feared that too much prominence would be 
given another family. Then there were rival authors, 
who had collected little batches of material with a 
view of writing the history of California themselves. 
I suppose there were no less than fifty brains Avhich 
had been tenanted by the dim intention of some day 
writing the history of California. All these had to 
be won over and be made to see the great advantage 
to the present and to future generations of having all 
these scattered chapters of history brought into one 
grand whole. 

To accomplish somewhat of this was the work of 
General Cerruti. Chameleon-like he would shift his 
opinions according to the company, and adapt his 
complex nature to the colors of time and place; with 
the serious he could be grave, with the young merry, 


and with the profligate free. With equal grace he 
could simulate virtue or wink at vice. Hence, like 
Catiline planning his conspiracy, he made himself a 
favorite equally with men the best and the basest. 

Another general: though likewise of the Latin 
race, with all its stately misdirection, yet broader in 
intellect, of deeper endowment, and gentler sagacity. 
Among the Hispano-Californians Mariano de Gua- 
dalupe Vallejo deservedly stands first. Born at Mon- 
terey the 7th of July 1808, of prominent Castilian 
parentage, twenty-one years were spent in religious, 
civil, and military training; after which he took his 
position at San Francisco as comandante of the pre- 
sidio, collector, and alcalde. In 1835 he established 
the first ayuntamiento, or town council, at Yerba 
Buena cove, where was begun the metropolis of San 
Francisco; the same year he colonized Sonoma, situ- 
ated at the northern extremity of San Francisco bay, 
which ever after was his home. 

While Vallejo was general, his nephew Alvarado 
was governor. In their early education and subse- 
quent studies, for citizens of so isolated a country as 
California then was, these two hijos del pais enjoyed 
unusual advantages. To begin with, their minds were 
far above the average of those of any country. Alva- 
rado might have taken his place beside eminent states- 
men in a world's congress; and as for literary ability, 
one has but to peruse their histories respectively, to be 
impressed with their mental scope and charm of style. 

As a mark of his intellectual tastes and practical 
wisdom, while yet quite young, Vallejo gathered a 
library of no mean pretensions, consisting not alone 
of religious books, which were the only kind at that 
time regarded with any degree of favor by the clergy 
of California, but liberally sprinkled with works on 
general knowledge, history, science, jurisprudence, 
and state-craft. These he kept under lock, admitting 
none to his rich feast save his nephew Alvarado. 


Thus were these two young men, destined to exercise ' 
so marked an iniiuence upon the impressible society 
of Cahfornia, blest beyond parallel by this admis- 
sion into the great school of free and interchangeable 

General Vallejo was a man of fine physique, rather 
above medium height, portly and straight as an arrow, 
with a large round head, high forehead, half-closed 
eyes, thin black hair, and side-whiskers. Every mo- 
tion betrayed the military man and the gentleman. 
His face wore usually a contented and often jovial 
expression, but the frequent short quick sigh told of 
unsatisfied longings, of vain regrets and lacerated am- 

And no wonder. For within the period of his 
manhood he had seen California emerge from a quiet 
wilderness and become the haunt of embroiling civili- 
zation. He had seen arise from the bleak and shifting 
sand-dunes of Yerba Buena cove a mighty metrop- 
olis, the half of which he might have owned as easily 
as to write his name, but of which there was not a 
single foot he could now call his own, and where he 
wandered well nigh a stranger; he had seen the grace- 
ful hills and sweet valleys of his native land pass from 
the gentle rule of brothers and friends into the hands of 
foreigners, under whose harsh domination the sound 
of his native tongue had died away like angels' music. 

Look in upon him at Sonoma, at any time from 
five to ten years after his settling there, and for a 
native Californian you find a prince, one who occupies, 
commands, and lives in rustic splendor. His house, a 
long two-story adobe, with wing and out-houses, was 
probably the finest in California. Besides his dusky 
retainers, who were swept away by diseases brought 
upon them by the white man, he had always on the 
premises at his command a company of soldiers, and 
servants without number. There he had his library, 
and there he wrote a history of California, covering 


some seven or eight hundred manuscript pages; but, 
alas I house, history, books, and a large portion of the 
original documents whicli he and his father and his 
grandfather had accumulated and preserved, were 
almost in a moment swept away by fire. This was a 
great loss; but few then or subsequently knew any- 
thing of the papers or the history. 

He was stately and stiff in those days, for he was 
the first power in northern California; to meet an 
equal he must travel many leagues; afterward he 
became less pretentious. The United States treated 
him badly, and the state treated him badly, or rather 
sharpers, citizens of the commonwealth, and in the 
name of the state and of the United States, first 
taking from him his lands, and then failing to keep 
faith with him in placing the state capital at Vallejo, 
as they had agreed. 

Often have I regarded thee in mute and awe- 
inspired astonishment, oh thou man of lost oppor- 
tunities, that with all thy crushed ambitions, thy 
subverted patrimony, and thy metamorphosed life, 
thou shouldst still be so serenely happy ! Lord of all 
this immensely wealthy peninsula of San Francisco; 
lord of all the vast domain toward the illimitable north, 
thou gavest to thy servants leagues of unencumbered 
land and kept scarcely enough in which to bury thy- 

Prodigal to a fault were almost all this race of 
Hispano-Californians ; charging the results of their 
improvidence meanwhile upon those who had winked 
at their ruin. Yet this Timon of Sonoma was never 
Misanthropes, hating mankind. 

"When gold was discovered, three thousand tamed 
natives answered to his call; in the hall of his dwell- 
ing at Sonoma, soon after, were stacked jars of the 
precious metal, as though it had been flour or beans. 
When one had leagues of land and tons of gold ; when 
lands were given away, not sold and bought, and gold 


came pouring in for cattle and products which had 
hitherto been regarded of scarcely value enough to 
pay for the computation; when, for aught any one 
knew, the Sierra was half gold, and gold bought 
pleasure and adulation, and men liked adulation and 
pleasure, what was to stay the lavish hand? For 
holding the general's horse the boy w^as flung a 
doubloon; for shaving the general the barber was 
given an ounce and no change required; at places of 
entertainment and amusement, at the festive board, 
the club, the gathering, ouilces were as coppers to 
the New Englander, or as quarters to the later Cali- 

Thus these most magnificent of opportunities were 
lost; for native retainers could not breathe the blasted 
air of civilization, nor was the Sierra built of soUd 

A cloud would sometimes pass across his sunny 
features in speaking of these things, and in moments 
of special relaxation I have seen a tear in the bright 
black eye; but like a child with its toy the merry- 
making of the hour was never for more tlian a 
moment marred by melancholy regrets. 

Singular, indeed, and well nigh supernatural must 
have been the sensations which crept over the yet 
active and vigorous old gentleman as he wandered 
amidst the scenes of his younger days. Never saw 
one generation such change; never saw one man such 
transformation. Among them he walked like one 
returned from centuries of journeying. 

'' I love to go to Monterey," the old general used 
to say to me, ''for there I may yet find a little of 
the dear and almost obliterated past. There is yet the 
ocean that smiles to me as I approach, and venerable 
bearded oaks, to which I raise my hat as I pass under 
them; and there are streets still familiar, and houses 
not yet torn down, and streams and landscapes which 
I may yet recognize as part of my former belongings. 
But after all these are only the unfabricated grave- 


gear that tell me I am not yet dead." However, if 
his was the loss somebody's must have been the gain. 
As one pertinently remarks: '' Nations grow in great- 
ness only through the sacrifice, the immolation of the 

In his family and among his friends he was an ex- 
ceedingly kind-hearted man. Before the stranger, 
particularly before the importunate if not impudent 
Yankee stranger, he drew close round him the robes 
of his dignity. In all the common courtesies of life 
he was punctilious, even for a Spaniard; neither was 
his politeness affected, but it sprang from true gen- 
tility of heart. It was his nature when in the society 
of those he loved and respected to prefer them to 
himself; it was when he came in contact with the 
world that all the lofty pride of his Castilian ancestry 
came to the surface. 

Indeed, the whole current of his nature ran deep; 
his life was not the dashing torrent, but the still 
silent flow of the mighty river. 

In his younger days he was a model of chivalry, a 
true Amadis of Gaul ; and when age had stiffened his 
joints somewhat, and had thickened the Hesh upon 
his graceful limbs, he lost none of his gallantry, and 
was as ready with his poetry as with his philosophy. 
Indeed, he wrote verses with no common degree of 
talent, and there are many parts of his history which 
might better be called poetry than prose. And now 
he comes upon us like a courtier of Philip II., 
awakened from a century-sleep upon a desert island. 

His philosophy was of the Pythagorean type; he 
was not always to tell all that he knew, and in deter- 
mining whom to trust he was to be governed greatly 
by his physiognomical discernment. He liked or dis- 
liked a person usually upon sight or instinct. He was 
a close and shrewd observer, and was usually correct 
in his estimates of human character. His wisdom, 
though simple and fantastic, w^as deep. He respected 
the forms of religion from ancient association and 


habit rather than from strong internal convictions 
as to their efficacy. There was not the shghtest 
asceticism in his piety; his was far too intelhgent 
a mind to he under the curse of bigotry. Without 
being what might be termed a dreamer in philosophic 
matters, he possessed in a happy degree the faculty 
of practical abstraction ; there was to him here in the 
flesh a sphere of thought other than that answering 
to the demands of the body for food and covering, a 
sphere which to him who might enter it was heaven's 
harmony hall. Thither one might sometimes escape 
and find rest from every-day solicitudes. 

In imperial Rome, had he not been born Octavius, 
he would have been Maecenas, Caesar's chief adviser, 
the friend of Virgil and Horace, politician, and patron 
of art and literature, dilettante and voluptuary. In 
his later life General Yallejo enjoyed that state of 
calm and cheerful resignation which brings the 
strongest endurance. 

Altogether brave and bluff as a soldier, stern and 
uncompromising as a man of the world, I have seen 
him in his softer moods as sensitive and as sentimental 
as a Madame de Stael. He was in every respect a 
sincere man. To his honesty, but not to his discretion, 
a friend might trust his fortune and his life. He 
never would betray, but he might easily be betrayed. 
Ever ready to help a friend, he expected his friend to 
help him. 

In common with most of his countrymen, his pro- 
jects and his enthusiasms swayed violently between 
extremes. He was too apt to be carried away by 
whatever was uppermost in his mind. Not that his 
character lacked ballast, or that he was incapable of 
close calculation or clear discrimination; but never 
having been accustomed to the rigid self-restriction 
which comes from a life of plodding application, he 
was perhaps too much under the influence of that 
empressement which lies nearest the affections. 

Yet for this same lack of selfish cunning, posterity 


will praise liim; for an heroic and discriminating zeal 
which, though impetuous, always hurried him forward 
in the right direction, his children's children will rise 
up and call him blessed. He was the noblest Califor- 
nian of them all! Among all the wealthy, the pa- 
triotic, and the learned of this land he alone came 
forward and flung himself, his time, his energies, and 
all that was his, into the general fund of experiences 
accumulating for the benefit of those who should come 
after him. His loyalty was pure ; and happy the god 
in whose conquered city are still found worshipper^. 

Pacheco might promise; Vallcjo performed. Als^a- 
rado might be entertained into giving; Vallejo went 
forth like a man, and making the battle his own, 
fought it at his own cost, fought it not alone for self- 
aggrandizement, but from motives of patriotism as 
well. While demagogues were ranting of their de- 
votion to country, offering for a liberal compensation 
to sacrifice themselves at Sacramento or at Wash- 
ington, General Vallejo was spending his time and 
money scouring California for the rescuing of valu- 
able knowledge from obliteration, and in arranging 
it, when found, in form available to the world. Let 
Spanish-speaking Californians honor him, for he was 
their chief in chivalrous devotion to a noble cause! 
Let English-speaking Californians honor him, for 
without the means of some he did more than any 
other for the lasting benefit of the country! Let all 
the world honor him, for he is thrice worthy the 
praise of all ! 



A few drops of oil will set the political machine at work, when a ton 
of vinegar would only corrode the wheels and canker the movements. 


General Vallejo was wary; General Cerruti was 
wily. Rumor had filled all the drawers and chests at 
Lachryma Montis, the residence of General Vallejo 
at Sonoma, with priceless documents relating to the 
history of California, some saved from the fire which 
destroyed his dwelling, some gathered since, and 
had endowed the owner with singular knowledge in 
deciphering them and in explaining early affairs. 
Hence, when some petty scribbler wished to talk 
largely about things of which he knew nothing, he 
would visit Sonoma, would bow and scrape himself 
into the parlor at Lachryma Montis, or besiege the 
ge-neral in his study, and beg for some particular pur- 
pose a little information concerning the untold past. 
The general declared that rumor was a fool, and 
directed applicants to the many historical and bio- 
graphical sketches already in print. 

I had addressed to Sonoma communications of this 
character several times myself, and while I always 
received a polite reply there was no tangible result. 
As Cerruti displayed more and more ability in gath- 
ering material, and as I was satisfied that General 
Vallejo could disclose more then he professed himself 
able to, I directed the Italian to open correspondence 
with him, with instructions to use his own judgment 
in storming the walls of indifference and prejudice at 
Lachryma Montis. 

(383 J 


License being thus allowed him, Cerruti opened the 
campaign by addressing a letter to General Vallejo 
couched, in terms of true Spanish -American courtesy, 
which consists of boasting and flattery in equal parts. 
He did not fail to state the fact that he also was a 
general, and though but consul-general he had seen 
service — that is, he would have fought had he not 
felt constrained to run away. He did not fail to 
state that he was a professional brewer of revolutions, 
that he loved revolution better than life, that the 
normal state of his Bolivia was revolutionary, and that 
if the people of Sonoma wished their commonwealth 
placed in an attitude hostile to the United States, if 
they desired to see the streets of any opposition or 
neighboring town deluged in the blood of its citizens, 
he was theirs to command. He had heard of General 
Vallejo, as indeed all Bolivia, and Italy, and every 
other country had heard of him. Wherever Califor- 
nia was known, there children lisped the name Vallejo; 
indeed, the terms Vallejo and California were synony- 

This letter as a matter of course was w^ritten in 
Spanish. General Vallejo's letters to me were always 
in Spanish, and mine to him were in English. But if 
you wish to be one with a person, you will address him 
in his own language. The date of Cerruti's letter was 
March 24, 1874. The big fish of Lachryma Montis 
approached the bait in good style and took a bite, but 
did not fail to discover the hook ; accustomed to hooks 
and baits it was in no wise afraid of them. 

To the searcher after Californian truth Vallejo 
was California, to the student of California's history 
Vallejo was California; so Cerruti had affirmed in his 
letter, and the recipient seemed not disposed to resent 
the assertion. The writer loved truth and history; 
he loved California, and longed to know more of her; 
most of all he loved Vallejo, who was California on 
legs. Not a word said Cerruti about Bancroft, his 
Hbrary, or his work, preferring to appear before him 


whom he must conquer as a late consul-general and 
an exiled soldier, rather than one holding a subordi- 
nate position. 

The result was as he had desired. Courteously Gen- 
eral Vallejo replied, at the same time intimating that 
if Cerruti desired historical data he had better call 
and get it. '^Sin embargo," he says, ^'por casualidad 
6 por accidente, ese nombre estd, relacionado e identi- 
ficado de tal manera con la historia de la AJta Cali- 
fornia desde su fundacion hasta hoy, que aunque 
insignificante, de veras, Sr Consul, la omision de ^1 
en ella sera como la omision de un punto 6 una coma 
en un discurso escrito 6 la acentuacion ortogrdfica de 
una carta epistolar." 

So Cerruti went to Sonoma, went to Lachryma 
Montis almost a stranger, but carrying with him, in 
tongue and temper at least, much that was held in 
common by the man he visited. It was a most diffi- 
cult undertaking, and I did not know another person 
in California whom I would have despatched on this 
mission with any degree of confidence. 

Introducing himself, he told his tale. In his pocket 
were letters of introduction, but he did not deign to 
use them; he determined to make his way after his 
own fashion. Cerruti's was not the story to which the 
general was accustomed to turn a deaf ear. Further 
than this, the Italian had studied well the character 
of him he sought to win, and knew when to flatter, 
and how. Spaniards will swallow much if of Span- 
ish flavor and administered in Spanish doses. This 
Cerruti well understood. He had every advantage. 
In his rdle of stranger visiting the first of Califor- 
nians, he could play upon the general's pride of 
person, of family; he could arouse his wrath or stir 
up soft sympathy almost at pleasure. 

And yet the Spaniard was not duped by the Italian : 
he was only pleased. All the while General Vallejo 
knew that Cerruti had a defined purpose there, some 

Lit. Ind. 25 


axe to grind, some favor to ask, which had not yet 
been spoken; and when finally the latter veered closer 
to his errand and spoke of documents, "I presently 
saw," said the general to me afterward, 'Hhe ghost of 
Bancroft behind him." Nevertheless, Yallejo listened 
and was pleased. "After making deep soundings," 
writes Cerruti in the journal I directed him to keep, 
and which under the title Ramhlings in California 
contains much reading, "I came to the conclusion that 
General Vallejo was anxious for some person endowed 
with literary talents to engage in the arduous task 
of giving to the world a true history of California. 
Having come to this conclusion, I frankly admitted to 
him that I had neither the intelligence nor the means 
required for so colossal an enterprise, but assured him 
that Hubert H. Bancroft," etc. After a brief inter- 
view Cerruti retreated with an invitation to dine at 
Lachryma Montis the next day. 

It was a grand opportunity, that dinner party, 
for a few others had been invited, and we may 
rest assured our general did not fail to improve it. 
Early during the courses his inventive faculties were 
brought into play, and whenever anything specially 
strong arose in his mind he threw up his chin, and 
lifted his voice so that all present might hear it. On 
whatever subject such remark might be it was sure to 
be received with laughter and applause; for some- 
where interwoven in it was a compliment for some 
one present, who if not specially pleased at the broad 
flattery could but be amused at the manner in which 
it was presented. How well the envoy improved his 
time is summed in one line of his account, where with 
charming naivete he says: "In such pleasant com- 
pany hunger disappeared as if by enchantment, and the 
food placed on my plate was left almost untouched" — 
in plain English, he talked so much he could not eat. 

Next day our expert little general was everywhere, 
talking to everybody, in barber-shops, beer-saloons, 
and wine-cellars, in public and private houses, offices 


and stores, making friends and picking up information 
relative to his mission. First he wrote the reminis- 
cences of some half dozen pioneers he had met and con- 
versed with on the boat, at the hotel, and on the street, 
writings which he did not fail to spread before General 
Vallejo, with loud and ludicrous declamation on the 
character of each. Thus he made the magnate of 
Sonoma feel that the visitor was at once to become a 
man of mark in that locality, whom to have as a friend 
was better for Vallejo than that he should be regarded 
as opposed to his mission. But this was not the cause 
of the friendship that now began to spring up in the 
breasts of these two men. 

This display of ability on the part of the new-comer 
could not fail to carry with it the respect of those 
who otherwise were sensible enough to see that Cer- 
ruti was a most windy and erratic talker. But his 
vein of exaggeration, united as it w^as with energy, 
ability, enthusiasm, and honesty, amused rather than 
offended, particularly when people recognized that de- 
ception and harm were not intended, but were the 
result of habit. Here indeed was one of the secret 
charms of Cerruti,this and his flattery. All Spaniards 
delight in hyperbole. 

Among Cerruti's earliest acquaintances made at 
Sonoma was Major Salvador Vallejo, a younger 
brother of the general, and from whom he took a 
very interesting dictation. Major Salvador was born 
in Monterey in 1814. He had been a great Indian- 
fighter, and had many interesting events to relate of 
by-gone times. 

Often Cerruti would give great names to the shadows 
of men, and find himself pressed to the wall by the 
greatness he had invoked; often he was obliged to 
allay by falsehood anger aroused by indiscretion. 
Writing on the 29th of November 1874, he says: 
''Major Salvador Vallejo has perused the Overland y 
and is very much enraged that the writer of the 
article on material for California history should have 


given credit to Castro and Alvarado, who as yet have 
not written a single hne, and that nothing was said in 
reference to his dictation. I told him that the writer 
in the Overland was not connected with the Bancroft 
library, but he refused to believe what I said." 

Thus the Italian continued, until a week, ten days, 
a fortnight, passed without very much apparent head- 
way so far as the main object of his mission was 
concerned. The minor dictations were all valuable; 
but anything short of success in the one chief direc- 
tion which had called him there was not success. 
Every day Cerruti danced attendance at Lachryma 
Montis, spending several hours there, sometimes 
dining, sometimes chatting through the evening. He 
created a favorable impression in the mind of Mrs 
Yallejo, made love to the young women, and flattered 
the general to his heart's content. 

This was all very pleasant to the occupants of a 
country residence. It was not every day there came 
to Lachryma Montis such a fascinating fellow as 
Cerruti, one who paid his board at the Sonoma hotel 
and his bill at the livery stable; and no wonder the 
Vallejos enjoyed it. Uppermost in the faithful Ital- 
ian's mind, however, throughout the whole of it was 
his great and primary purpose. But whenever he 
spoke of documents, of the Sonoma treasury of origi- 
nal historical material. General Vallejo retired within 
himself, and remained oblivious to the most wily arts 
of the tempter. The old general would talk; he liked 
to talk, for when he could employ his native tongue 
he was a brilliant conversationalist and after-dinner 
speaker. And on retiring to his quarters in the town 
the younger general, Boswell-like, would record what- 
ever he could remember of the words that fell from 
his lips. Sometimes, indeed, when they were alone 
Cerruti would take out his note -book and write as 
his companion spoke. 

But all this was most unsatisfying to Cerruti; and 


he now began more clearly to intimate that the spend- 
ing of so much time and money in that way would 
be unsatisfactory to Mr Bancroft. Then he plainly 
said that he must make a better showing or retire 
from the field. If it was true, as General Vallejo had 
assured him, that he had nothing, and could not be 
prevailed upon to dictate his recollections, that was 
the end of it; he must return to San Francisco and 
so report. 

This threat was not made, however, until the crafty 
Italian had well considered the effect. He saw that 
Vallejo was gradually becoming more and more inter- 
ested in him and his mission. Tie saw that, although 
the general was extremely reticent regarding what 
he possessed, and what he would do, he was seri- 
ously revolving the subject in his mmd, and that he 
thouo^ht much of it. 

But the old general could be as cunning and crafty 
as the younger one, and it was now the Spaniard's 
turn to play upon the Italian. And this he did most 
skilfully, and in such a manner as thoroughly to de- 
ceive him and throw us all from the scent. 

While reiterating his assurances that he had noth- 
ing, and that he could disclose nothing ; that when he 
wrote his recollections the first time he had before 
him the vouchers in the form of original letters, proc- 
lamations, and other papers, which were all swept 
away by the fire that burned the manuscript he had 
prepared with such care and labor; and that since then 
he had dismissed the subject from his mind; that, 
indeed, it had become distasteful to him, and should 
never be revived — while these facts were kept con- 
stantly before Cerruti, as if firmly to impress them 
upon his mind. General Vallejo would uncover, little 
by little, to his watchful attendant the vast fund of 
information at his command. Some anecdote, appar- 
ently insignificant in itself, would be artfully inter- 
woven with perhaps a dozen historical incidents, and 
in this exasperating manner the searcher after histori- 


cal facts would be shown a fertile field which it was 
forbidden him to enter. 

To keep the Italian within call, and that he might 
not be so reduced to despair as to abandon further 
attempts and return to San Francisco, Vallejo now 
began also to feed his appetite with a few papers which 
he professed to have found scattered about the prem- 
ises, granting him permission to take copies of them, 
and intimating that perhaps he might find a few more 
when those were returned. There was his office, or 
the parlor, at the scribe's disposal, where he might 
write unmolested. 

With a will Cerruti began his task. When it was 
finished a few more papers were given him. At first 
General Yallejo would on no account permit a single 
paper to be taken from the premises. But work- 
ing hours at Lachryma Montis must necessarily be 
short, and interruptions frequent. Would not General 
Vallejo kindly repose confidence enough to permit him 
to take the documents to his hotel to copy, upon his 
sacred assurance that not one of them should pass 
out of his hands, but should be returned immediately 
the copy was made? With apparent reluctance the 
request was finally granted. 

This made Cerruti hilarious in his letters to Oak. 
General Yallejo was a great and good man, and was 
rapidly taking him into his friendship, which was in- 
deed every word of it true. And now in some un- 
accountable way the papers to be copied rapidly 
increased; more of them were brought to light than 
had been thought to exist. The hotel was noisy and 
unpleasant, and the copyist finally determined to rent 
a room on the street fronting the plaza, where he 
might write and receive his friends. There he could 
keep his own wine and cigars with which to regale 
those who told him their story, and the sums which 
were now spent at bar-rooms treating these always 
thirsty persons would pay room rent. Cerruti was 
a close financier, but a liberal spender of other men's 


money. It is needless to say that as the result of 
this deeply laid economic scheme the copyist had in 
his office usually two or three worthless idlers drinking 
and smoking in the name of literature and at the 
expense of history, persons whom he found it impos- 
sible to get rid of, and whom it was not policy to 

Thicker and broader was each succeeding package 
now given the brave consul-general to copy, until he 
began to tire of it. He must have help. What harm 
would there be, after all, if he sent part of each 
package carefully by express to the Kbrary to be 
copied there ? There was no risk. He could represent 
to me that General Vallejo had given permission, 
with the understanding that they must be returned 
at once. Besides, it was absolutely necessary that 
something should be done. Sonoma was an extremely 
dull, uninteresting place, and he did not propose to 
spend the remainder of his days there copying doc- 

The method he employed, which would at once 
enable him to accomplish his object and keep his faith, 
was somewhat unique. Major Salvador Vallejo once 
wishing Cerruti to spend the day with him, the latter 
rephed: "I cannot; I must copy these papers; but if 
you will assume the responsibility and send them to 
San Francisco to be copied I am at your service." 
Salvador at once assented, and ever after all breaches 
of trust were laid upon his shoulders. 

Thus matters continued for two months and more, 
during which time Oak, Fisher, and myself severally 
made visits to Sonoma and were kindly entertained 
at Lachryma Montis. All this time General Vallejo 
was gaining confidence in my messenger and my work. 
He could but be assured that this literary under- 
taking was no speculation, or superficial clap-trap, but 
genuine, solid, searching work. Once thoroughly sat- 
isfied of this, and the battle was won; for General 
Vallejo was not the man to leave himself, his family, 


his many prominent and unrecorded deeds, out of a 
work such as this purported to be. 

One day while in a somewhat more than usually 
confidential mood he said to Cerruti: "I cannot but 
believe Mr Bancroft to be in earnest, and that he 
means to give the world a true history of Califor- 
nia. I was born in this country ; I once undertook to 
write its history, but my poor manuscript and my 
house were burned together. I was absent from home 
at the time. By mere chance my servants succeeded 
in saving several bundles of documents referring to 
the early days of California, but the number was in- 
significant compared with those destroyed. However, 
I will write to San Jose for a trunk filled with papers 
that I have there, and of which you may copy for 
Mr Bancroft what you please." 

'^ But, General," exclaimed Cerruti, overwhelmed 
by the revelation, ^^I cannot copy them here. Since 
you have been so kind as to repose this confidence in 
me, permit me to take the papers to the library and 
employ men to copy them; otherwise I might work 
over them for years. " 

"Well, be it so," replied the general; '^and while 
you are about it, there are two other chests of docu- 
ments here which I have never disturbed since the 
fire. Take them also: copy them as quickly as you 
can and return them to me. I shall be more than 
repaid if Mr Bancroft's history proves such as my 
country deserves." 

Now it was a fundamental maxim with Cerruti 
never to be satisfied. In collecting material, where 
I and most men would be gratefully content, acquisi- 
tion only made him the more avaricious. As long 
as there was anything left, so long did he not cease 
to importune. 

'' Why not multiply this munificence fourfold," he 
said, " by giving Mr Bancroft these documents out 
and out, and so save him the heavy expense of copying 
them? That would be a deed worthy General Vallejo. 


Surely Mr Bancroft's path is beset with difficulties 
enough at best. In his library your documents will 
be safely kept; they will be collated, bound, and 
labelled with your name, and this good act shall not 
only be heralded now, but the record of it shall stand 

"No, sir I" exclaimed the general, emphatically. 
'^At all events not now. And I charge you to make no 
further allusion to such a possibility if you value my 
favor. Think you I regard these papers so lightly as 
to be wheedled out of them in little more than two 
short months, and by one almost a stranger? You 
have asked many times for my recollections; those I 
am now prepared to give you." 

" Good !" cried Cerruti, who was always ready to 
take what he could get, provided he could not get 
what he wanted. "All ready, general; you may begin 
your narrative." 

"My friend," returned the general, mildly, "you 
seem to be in haste. I should take you for a Yankee 
rather than for an Italian. Do you expect me to write 
history on horseback? I do not approve of this 
method. I am willing and read}^ to relate all I can 
remember, but I wish it clearly understood that it 
must be in my own way, and at my own time. I will 
not be hurried or dictated to. It is my history, and not 
yours, I propose to tell. Pardon me, my friend, for 
speaking thus plainly, but I am particular on this 
point. If I give my story it must be worthy of the 
cause and worthy of me." 

To Cerruti it was easier to write a dozen pages 
than to think about writing one. In the opinion of 
Vallejo, such a writer deserved to be burned upon a 
pile of his own works, like Cassius Etruscus, who 
boasted he could write four hundred pages in one day. 

But this rebuke was not unpalatable, for it lifted 
the matter at once from the category of personal nar- 
rative to the higher plane of exact history. It was 
history, and nothing beneath it, to be written no less 


from documentary than from personal evidence^ and 
from the documents and experiences of others, as well 
as from his papers and personal observations. 

With June came the two generals to San Francisco. 
The Vallejo documents were all in the Ubrary, and 
round one of the long tables were seated eight Mexi- 
cans copying them. One morning the Spaniard and 
the Italian entered the library. I think this was 
General Yallejo's first visit to the fifth floor. 

It was to him an impressive sight. Passing the 
copyists, who, with one accord signified their respect 
by rising and bowing low, he was conducted to my 
room. Savage, Nemos, Oak, Harcourt, Fisher, and 
one or two Spaniards who happened to be acquainted 
with the general, then came in; cigars were passed 
and the conversation became general. The history of 
California, with the Vallejo family as a central figure, 
w^as the theme, and it was earnestly and honestly dis- 
cussed. Two hours were then spent by the distin- 
guished visitor examining tiie library. He was 
attended by Mr Savage, who explained everything, 
giving in detail what we had done, what we were 
doing, and what we proposed to do. 

It was very evident that General Vallejo was im- 
pressed and pleased. Here was the promise of a work 
which of all others lay nearest his heart, conducted 
on a plan which if carried out would, he was con- 
vinced, secure the grandest results. It was a work in 
which he was probably more nearly concerned than 
the author of it. If I was the writer of history, he 
was the embodiment of history. This he seemed fully 
to realize. 

Cerruti saw his opportunity ; let my faithful Italian 
alone for that! He saw Vallejo drinking it all in like 
an inspiration; he saw it in his enkindled eye, in his 
flushed face and firm tread. Before the examination 
of the Hbrary was fairly finished, placing himself by 
the side of his now sincere and devoted friend he 
whispered, ''Now is your time, general. If you are 


ever going to give those papers — and what better can 
you do with them? — this is the proper moment. Mr 
Bancroft suspects nothing. There are the copyists, 
seated to at least a twelvemonth's labor. A word 
from you will save him this large and unnecessary ex- 
penditure, secure his gratitude, and the admiration of 
all present." 

"He deserves them!" was the reply. "Tell him 
they are his." 

I was literally speechless with astonishment and 
joy when Cerruti said to me, "General Yallejo gives 
you all his papers." Besides the priceless intrinsic 
value of these documents, which would forever place 
my library beyond the power of man to equal in 
original material for California history, the example 
would double the benefits of the gift. 

I knew General Vallejo would not stop there. He 
was slow to be won, but once enlisted, his native en- 
thusiasm would carry him to the utmost limit of his 
ability; and I was right. From that moment I had 
not only a friend and supporter, but a diligent worker. 
Side by side with Savage and Cerruti, for the next 
two years he alternately wrote history and scoured 
the country for fresh personal and documentary infor- 

"When I visited San Francisco last week," writes 
General Vallejo to the Sonoma Democrat , in reply 
to a complaint that the Vallejo archives should have 
been permitted to become the property of a private 
individual, "I had not the slightest intention of part- 
ing with my documents; but my friends having in- 
duced me to visit Mr Bancroft's library, where I was 
shown the greatest attention, and moreover allowed 
to look at thousands of manuscripts, some of them 
bearing the signatures of Columbus, Isabel the cath- 
olic, Philip II., and various others preeminent among 
those who figured during the fifteenth century, I was 
exceedingly pleased; and when Mr Bancroft had the 
goodness to submit to my inspection seven or eight 


thousand pages written by himself, and all relating to 
California, the history of which until now has re- 
mained unwritten, I could not but admire the writer 
who has taken upon himself the arduous task of giving 
to the world a complete history of the country in 
which I was born ; and therefore I believed it my duty 
to offer to him the documents in my possession, with 
the certainty that their perusal would in some wise 
contribute to the stupendous enterprise of a young 
writer who is employing his means and intelligence for 
the purpose of carrying to a favorable termination the 
noble task of bequeathing to the land of his adoption 
a history worthy of his renown." 

I thanked the general as best I could; but words 
poorly expressed my gratitude. The copyists were 
dismissed, all but two or three, who were put to work 
arranging and indexing the documents preparatory to 
binding. A title-page was printed, and when the 
work was done twenty- seven large thick volumes of 
original material, each approaching the dimensions 
of a quarto dictionary, were added to the library; 
nor did General Vallejo cease his good work until the 
twenty-seven were made fifty. 

That night I entertained the general at my house; 
and shortly afterward he brought his family from 
Lachryma Montis and stayed a month with me, a por- 
tion of which time the general himself, attended by 
Cerruti, spent at Monterey writing and collecting. 

It was in April 1874 that Cerruti began writing in 
Spanish the Historia de California, dictated by M. G, 
"Vallejo. It was understood from the first that this 
history was for my sole use, not to be printed unless 
I should so elect, and this was not at all probable. 
It was to be used by me in writing my history as 
other chief authorities were used; the facts and inci- 
dents therein contained were to be given their proper 
place and importance side by side with other facts 
and incidents. 

The two years of labor upon the Vallejo history 


was clieerfuUy borne by the author for the benefit it 
would confer upon his country, and that without 
even the hope of some time seeing it in print. Un- 
doubtedly there was personal and family pride con- 
nected with it; yet it was a piece of as pure patriotism 
as it has ever been my lot to encounter. General 
Vallejo never would accept from me compensation 
for his part of the work. I was to furnish an amanu- 
ensis in the person of Cerruti, and the fruits of their 
combined labor were to be mine unreservedly. As it 
was, the cost to me amounted to a large sum; but 
had the author charged me for his time and expenses, 
it would have been twice as much. 

This and other obligations of which I shall have 
occasion to speak hereafter, I can never forget. Pos- 
terity cannot estimate them too highly. General 
Vallejo was the only man on the coast who could have 
done this if he would; and besides being the most 
competent, he was by far the most willing person with 
whom I had much to do. 

Yet this obligation did not in the slightest degree 
bind me to his views upon any question. I trust I 
need not say at this late date that I was swayed by no 
palpable power to one side or another in my writings. 
Knowing how lavish Spaniards are of their praises, 
how absurdly extravagant their inflated panegyrics 
sound to Anglo-Saxon ears, and how coldly calculating 
English laudations appear to them, I never hoped to 
please Californians ; I never thought it possible to 
satisfy them, never wrote to satisfy them, or, indeed, 
any other class or person. And I used to say to Gen- 
eral Vallejo : " You being a reasonable man will under- 
stand, and will, I hope, believe that I have aimed to 
do your people justice. But they will not as a class 
think so. I claim to have no prejudices as regards the 
Hispano-Californians, or if I have they are all in their 
favor. Yet you will agree with me that they have 
their faults, in common with Englishmen, Americans, 
and all men. None of us are perfect, as none of us 


are wholly bad. Now nothing less than superlative 
and perpetual encomiums would satisfy your country- 
men; and, indeed, should I swell their praises to the 
skies on every page, the most lying trickster of them all 
would think I had not given him half his due in com- 
mendation. I cannot write to please catholic or prot- 
estant, to win the special applause of race, sect, or party; 
otherwise my writings would be worthless. Truth 
alone is all I seek ; that I will stand or fall by. And I 
believe that you, general, will uphold me therein." 

Thus I endeavored to prepare his mind for any un- 
wholesome truths which he might see; for most as- 
suredly I should utter them as they came, no matter 
who might be the sufferer or what the cost. Indeed, 
I felt sure that before long, in some way, I should 
unintentionally tread upon the general's toes, for on 
many points he was extremely sensitive. Cerruti felt 
it his duty to be constantly urging me to write to and 
wait upon the general; to be constantly reminding 
me that this would please him, that he would expect 
such a thing, or if I failed in this attention he would 
think me offended; and thus my time was severely 
taxed to keep this man in good humor. True, he was 
not the fool that Cerruti would have me believe; and 
yet, in common with all hidalgos, he thought highly 
of himself and loved attention. It was this untiring 
devotion which Cerruti could give, but I could not, 
that first won Vallejo to our cause. 

For several years, while busiest in the collection of 
material, a good share of my time was taken up in 
conciliating those whom I had never offended; that 
is to say, those ancient children, my Hispano-Cali- 
fornian allies, who were constantly coming to grief. 
Some of them were jealous of me, some jealous of 
each other; all by nature seemed ready to raise their 
voices in notes of disputatious woe upon the slightest 

For example: General Vallejo had no sooner given 
his papers to the library than one of the copyists, 


Lublensky, a Polish count he called himself, and may 
have been so for aught I know, wrote the notary 
Kamon de Zaldo, a friend of Vallejo, a letter, in 
which he, the count, called in question the general's 
motives in thus parting with his papers. 

"It was to gain the good- will of Mr Bancroft that 
these documents were thus given him," said the count, 
"and consequently we may expect to see the history 
written in the Vallejo interest, to the detriment of 
other Californians." 

When General Vallejo stepped into the notary's 
office next morning, Zaldo showed him the letter. 
Vallejo was very angry, and justly so. It was a most 
malicious blow, aimed at the general's most sensitive 

"It is an infamous lie I" the general raved, walking 
up and down the office. "If ever an act of mine was 
disinterested, and done from pure and praiseworthy 
motives, this was such a one. What need have I to 
court Mr Bancroft's favors? He was as much my 
friend before I gave the papers as he could be. There 
was not the slightest intimation of a compact. Mr 
Bancroft is not to be influenced; nor would I influence 
him if I could. I felt that he deserved this much at 
my hands; and I only regret that my limited income 
prevents me from supplementing the gift with a hun- 
dred thousand dollars to help carry forward the good 
work, so that the burden of it should not fall wholly 
on one man." 

While the general was thus fuming, Cerruti entered 
the notary's office, and on learning the cause of his 
anger endeavored to quiet him. As a matter of 
course, on being informed of the circumstance I im- 
mediately discharged the count, who was among those 
retained to collate the documents, and who seemed to 
have been actuated only by a love of mischief in 
stirring up strife between the general and those of 
his countrymen who had been thrown out of employ- 
ment by his gift, which did away with the necessity 


of copying. This, to many a slight thing, was more 
than enough to upset the equanimity of my Spanish 
friends. With half a dozen of them effervescing at 
once, as was sometimes the case, it was no easy matter 
to prevent revolution. 

Of Cerruti's Ramblings there are two hundred and 
thirteen pages. Portions of the manuscript are ex- 
ceedingly amusing, particularly to one acquainted with 
the writer. I will let him speak of a trip to San Josd, 
made by him in June, I think, 1874. Just before 
Cerruti set out on this journey General Vallejo came 
again to San Francisco, notifying me of his approach 
in the following words: "El mdrtes ire d San Fran- 
cisco d visitar el Parthenon del que Usted es el 
Pericles." When we remember how little Cerruti had 
lived in English-speaking countries, and how little 
practice he had had in writing and speaking English, 
his knowledge of the language is remarkable: 

"A few days after my arrival in San Francisco I 
visited San Jose, well supplied with letters of in- 
troduction from General Vallejo. My first steps on 
reaching that city were directed toward the Bernal 
farm, where dwelt an aged gentleman who went by 
the name of Francisco Peralta, but whose real name 
I could not ascertain. I gave him a letter of intro- 
duction from General Vallejo. He read it three or 
four times ; then he went to a drawer and from among 
some rags pulled out a splendid English translation 
of the voyages of Father Font. He took off the 
dust from the manuscript, then handed it to me. I 
looked at it for a few moments for the purpose of 
making sure that I held the right document. Then 
I unbuttoned my overcoat and placed it in my 

'' 'What are you doing, my friend?' shouted Peralta. 

"I replied: 'Estoy poniendo el documento en lugar 
de seguridad, tengo que caminar esta noche y recelo 
que el sereno lo moje.' 

"He looked astonished, and then said: 'I will not 


allow you to take it away. General Yallejo requested 
that I should permit you to copy it. That I am 
willing to do ; but as to giving you my Fontj that is 
out of the question.' 

"As I had brought along with me a bottle of the 
best brandy, I called for a corkscrew and a couple of 
glasses, and having lighted a segar I presented my 
companion with a real Habana. Having accepted it, 
Ave were soon enn^asfed in conversation." 

The writer then gives a sketch of the settlement 
and early history of San Jose as narrated by his aged 
companion. After which he continues: 

" I then tried to induce Mr Peralta to give me a 
few details about himself, but to no purpose. I kept 
on filling his glass till the bottle was emptied, but I 
gained nothing by the trick, because ev^ery time he 
tasted he drank the health of General Vallejo, and of 
course 1 could not conveniently refuse to keep him 
company. The clock of the farm-house having struck 
two, I bid adieu to Mr Peralta, unfastened my horse 
that had remained tied to a post during five hours, 
and then returned to San Jose. Of course I brought 
along with me the venerable Father Font! I have 
heard that Peralta a few days later wrote to General 
Vallejo a letter in which he said that I had stolen the 
manuscript from him. He wrote a falsehood, well 
knowing it to be such at the time he wrote. To speak 
plainly, I will observe that the person who like Mr 
Peralta goes under an assumed name is not much to 
be trusted. His secret, however, is known to General 
Yallejo; and should I be allowed to live long enough 
I will surely discover it, because I have a peculiar way 
of acquiring knowledge of things and persons, things 
which I ought to know; and surely no person will 
gainsay my right to know everything that is to be 
knoAvn about my defamer." 

When I learned how far the Italian had been 
carried by his zeal in my behalf, I returned Peralta 
the book with ample apologies. 

Lit. Ind. 26 


Cerruti now proceeded to the college at Santa 
Clara, and thus describes the visit : 

'' With reverential awe, cast-down eyes, and studied 
demeanor of meekness, I entered the edifice of learn- 
ing. As soon as the gate closed behind me I took off 
my hat and addressed the porter, whom I requested 
to send my card to the reverend father director. 
Having said that much I entered the parlor, opened 
a prayer-book that happened to be at hand, and began 
to read the Miserere mei Deus secundura magnam mis- 
ericordiam tuam, which lines recalled to my mind many 
gloomy thoughts; for the last time I had sung these 
solemn sentences was at the funeral of President Mel- 
garejo, the man who had been to me a second father. 
But I was not allowed much time for reflection, be- 
cause presently a tall priest of pleasing countenance 
entered the parlor, beckoned me to a chair, and in a 
voice that reflected kindness and good-will begged of 
me to explain the object which had procured for him 
the pleasure of my visit. I then announced myself 
as the representative of the great historian, H. Ban- 
croft" — I may as well here state that whenever Cer- 
ruti mentioned my name in the presence of strangers 
there were no adjectives in any language too lofty to 
employ — "notified him that my object in visiting the 
college was for the purpose of having a fair view of 
the library and of examining the manuscripts it con- 
tained. I likewise assured him that though the history 
was not written by a member of the church of Bome, 
yet in it nothing derogatory to the catholic faith w^ould 
be found. I added, however, that the bigoted priests 
who had destroyed the Aztec paintings, monuments, 
and hieroglyphics, which ought to have been preserved 
for the benefit of posterity, would be censured in due 
form, and their grave sin against science commented 
upon with the severity required. He reflected a mo- 
ment and then said : ' I see no reason why I should 
object to have the truth made known. History is the 
light of truth; and when an impartial writer under- 


takes to write the history of a country we must not 
conceal a single fact of public interest.' 

"After saying this he left the room. In about two 
minutes he returned with the priest who had charge 
of the college library. He introduced his subordinate 
to me and then added : ' Father Jacobo will be happy 
to place at your disposal every book and manuscript 
we possess.' The father superior having retired, I en- 
gaged in conversation with the librarian, who forth- 
with proceeded to the library, where I perceived many 
thousand books arranged upon shelves, but found only 
a few manuscripts. Among the manuscripts I dis- 
covered one of about eight hundred pages, which con- 
tained a detailed account of the founding of every 
church built in Mexico and Guatemala. The manu- 
script was not complete; the first eighty pages were 
missing. There were also a few pages of a diary kept 
by one of the first settlers of San Diego, but the rest 
of the diary was missing. I copied a few pages from 
this manuscript; then I tied together every document 
I judged would be of interest to Mr Bancroft, de- 
livered the package to the father librarian, and begged 
of him to see the father superior and request his per- 
mission to forward the bundle to San Francisco. He 
started to fulfil my request, and assured me that 
though he had no hope of success, because it was 
against the rules of the college, he would make known 
my wishes to his chief He was absent half an hour, 
when he returned bearing a negative answer. Among 
other things he said that the manuscripts I wanted to 
send away did not belong to the college, but were the 
property of some pious person who had placed them 
under their charge, with instructions not to let the 
papers go out of their possession. I felt convinced 
that my reverend countryman was telling me the 
truth, so I abstained from urging my petition; but I 
limited myself to make a single request, namely, that 
he would be so kind as to keep in a separate place 
the package I had prepared. He agreed to it. I 


embraced him Italian style, and then directed my 
steps toward the residence of Mr Argiiello. 

" I rang the bell of the stately dwelling in which 
the descendant of governors dwelt, and having been 
ushered into the presence of Mr Argiiello, I stated 
to him the object of my visit. He listened with the 
air of one anxious to impress upon my mind the idea 
that I stood in the presence of a very great man. 

" When I concluded my introductory remarks, he 
said : ' Well, well, in all this large house, by far the 
best one in Santa Clara, there does not exist a single 
scrap of paper that could be useful to an historian. I 
once found a great many documents that had been 
the property of my grandfather, also some belonging 
to my father, but I have set fire to them; I did not 
like the idea of encumbering my fine dwelling with 
boxes containing trash, so I got rid of the rubbish by 
burning the whole lot.' 

'^ Before Mr Argiiello had uttered four words I felt 
convinced that I stood in the presence of a self-con- 
ceited fool. With people of that class it is useless to 
waste sound arguments and good reasoning. I knew 
it to be the case by experience. Therefore without 
uttering another word except the commonplace com- 
pliments, I left the *best house in Santa Clara' and 
took the road that led to the telegraph office, and 
there addressed a telegram to General Mariano G. 
Vallejo, requesting his presence in Santa Clara. I 
took that step because I believed that Mr Argiiello 
had told me lies. I thought it so strange that a son 
who had reached the age of fifty years should be so 
stupid as to burn the family archives. I also began 
to fear that my plain talk had given offence ; therefore 
I ventured to send for the good friend of Mr Ban- 
croft, for the admirer of his perseverance, hoping that 
the high respect in which Mr Argiiello held General 
Vallejo would induce him to place at his disposal any 
documents he might have in the house. 

"After sending the telegram I visited an aged In- 


dian, by name Jose Maria Flores, so called because in 
1837 he was a servant of a gentleman of that name 
who presented a petition to the general government 
for the purpose of retaining for the town of San Jose 
certain tracts of land, which persons belonging to 
other parts of the state were trying to get possession 
of. Indian Flores, as soon as I addressed him, ex- 
pressed his willingness to give me all the information 
he could. Before proceeding he observed: *You will 
have to send for a bottle of strong whiskey; nothing 
like good liquor to refresh the memory of an Indian 1' 
I took the hint and gave a boy two dollars, with in- 
structions to fetch immediately a bottle of whiskey for 
Uncle Flores." 

Thus the Italian's narrative rattles along from one 
thing to another, just like the author, with scarcely 
pause or period. The aged aboriginal Flores gives 
him some interesting gossip respecting early times; 
then Vallejo arrives, and the two generals visit the 
' best house in Santa Clara/ whose proprietor had 
in some way evidently ruffled the consul-general's 

The widow of Luis Antonio Argiiello, and mother 
of the burner of the family archives against whom 
Cerruti had taken a violent dislike, received General 
Vallejo with open arms, and invited the two generals 
to dine with her. The invitation was accepted. The 
paper- burner was there, watching the visitors very 
closely. When dinner was nearly over, Cerruti, who 
was so filled with wrath toward the four-eyed Ar- 
giiello, as he called him, that he found little place for 
food, exclaimed: 

"Madame Argiiello, yesterday I asked your eldest 
son to allow me to copy the family archives; but he 
assured me that the archives and every other docu- 
ment of early days had been burned by his orders. 
Can it be possible?" 

''Indeed, sir, I am sorry to say that it is true," she 
replied. "And as she called to witness the blessed 


virgin," continued Cerruti, ''I felt convinced that such 
was the case." 

The two generals called on several of the old resi- 
dents in that vicinity, among them Captain Fer- 
nandez, who freely gave all the documents in his 
possession, and furnished a valuable dictation. Cap- 
tain West, on whom they next called, at their request 
sent out to Lick's mills and brought in the aboriginal 
Marcelo, who laid claim to one hundred and twenty 
years of this life. 

Gradually working south, the two generals did not 
stop until they had reached Monterey. To the elder 
there was no spot in the country so pregnant with 
historical events as this early capital of California. 
There was no important town so little changed by 
time and the inroads of a dominant race as Monterey. 
There General Vallejo was at once thrown back into 
his past. Every man and woman was a volume of 
unstrained facts; hedges and thickets bristled with in- 
telligence; houses, fences, streets, and even the stones 
in them, each had its tale to tell. The crows cawed 
history ; the cattle bellowed it, and the sweet sea sang 
it. An interesting chapter could easily be written on 
Cerruti's report of what he and General Yallejo saw 
and did during this visit to Monterey ; but other aflfairs 
equally pressing claim our attention. 



God made man to go by motives, and he will not go -without them, 
any more than a boat without steam or a balloon without gas. 


Next among the Hispano-Californians in historical 
importance to Mariano G. Vallejo stood his nephew 
Juan B. Alvarado, governor of Cahfornia from 1836 
to 1842. At the time of which I speak he lived in a 
plain and quiet way at San Pablo, a small retired 
town on the eastern side of San Francisco bay. In 
build and bearing he reminded one of the first 
Napoleon. He was a strong man, mentally and physi- 
cally. Of medium stature, his frame was compact, 
and well forward on broad shoulders was set a head 
with massive jawbones, high forehead, and, up to the 
age of sixty, bright intellectual eyes. 

In some respects he was the ablest officer Cali- 
fornia could boast under Mexican regime. He was 
born in 1809 ,which made him a year younger than his 
uncle General Vallejo. Before he made himself gov- 
ernor he held an appointment in the custom-house, 
and had always been a prominent and popular man. 
His recollections were regarded by every one as very 
important, but exceedingly difficult to obtain. 

First of all, he must be brought to favor my under- 
taking; and as he was poor and proud, in ill health, 
and bitter against the Americans, this was no easy 

Alvarado had been much less Americanized than 
Vallejo; he had mixed little with the new-comers, and 



could speak their language scarcely at all. In com- 
mon with all his countrymen he fancied he had been 
badly abused, had been tricked and robbed of millions 
of dollars which he had never possessed, and of hun- 
dreds of leagues of land which he had neglected to 
secure to himself To the accursed Yankees were to 
be attributed all his follies and failures, all his defects 
of character, all the mistakes of his life. 

Like Vallejo, Alvarado had often been importuned 
for information relative to early affairs, but he had 
given to the world less than his uncle, being less in and 
of the world as it existed in California under Anglo- 
American domination. Surely one would think so 
able a statesman, so astute a governor as Alvarado, 
would have been a match for stragglers into his terri- 
tory, or even for the blatant lawyers that followed in 
their wake. The same golden opportunities that 
Vallejo and the rest had let slip, Alvarado had failed 
to improve, and the fault was the ever-to-be-anath- 
ematized Yankee. 

Alvarado was a rare prize; but he was shrewd, and 
there could be but little hope of success in an appeal 
to the patriotism of one whose country had fallen 
into the hands of hated strangers. We had thought 
Vallejo suspicious enough, but Alvarado was more so. 
Then, too, the former governor of California, unlike 
the general, was not above accepting money; not, 
indeed, as a reward for his services, but as a gift. 

Almost as soon as General Vallejo had fairly en- 
listed in the work he began to talk of Alvarado, of 
his vast knowledge of things Californian, and of his 
ability in placing upon paper character and events. 
And at that time, in regard to this work, action was 
not far behind impulse. Vallejo began to importune 
Alvarado, first by letter, then in person, giving him 
meanwhile liberal doses of Cerruti. 

On one occasion the governor remarked to the 
general, "It seems you insist that Mr Bancroft is 
to be our Messiah, who will stop the mouth of bab- 


biers that insult us. I am of the contrary opinion in 
regard to this, and will tell you why : I do not believe 
that any American, a well educated literary man, will 
contradict what the ignorant populace say of the Cali- 
fornians, from the fact that the Cholada Gringa, or 
Yankee scum, are very numerous, and take advantage 
of it to insult us, as they are many against few. This 
is a peculiarity of the American people. To these 
must be added a great number of Irish and German 
boors, who unite with them in these assaults. Were 
we as numerous as the Chinese, it is clear that they 
would not dare to be wanting in respect to us ; but we 
are merely a few doves in the claws of thousands of 
hawks, which lay mines charged with legal witcheries 
in order to entrap us." 

The 24th of August 1874 General Vallejo writes 
Governor Alvarado : " From the death of Arrillaga 
in 1814 to the year 1846 there is much material for 
history. I have in relation to those times much 
authentic and original matter, documents which no 
one can refute. To the eminent writer Hubert H. 
Bancroft I have given a ton of valuable manuscripts, 
which have been placed in chronological order, under 
their proper headings, in order to facilitate the labors 
in which a dozen literary men of great knov/ledge are 
actually occupied. That part of the history which 
cannot be corroborated by documentary evidence I 
myself can vouch for by referring to my memory ; and 
that without fear of straying from the truth or falling 
into anachronisms. Besides, my having been identi- 
fied with upper California since my earliest youth is 
another assistance, as in no less degree is the record 
of my public life. What a vast amount of material ! 
No one has spoken, nor can any one know certain 
facts as thou and I. All the Americans who have 
dared to write on this subject have lied, either mali- 
ciously or through ignorance." This letter was ac- 
companied by certain questions concerning points 
which the writer had forgotten. 


Governor Alvarado replied to the queries, corrobo- 
rating the general's views. At length promises were 
extracted from the governor that he would write a 
history, but it should be for his family, and not for 
Mr Bancroft. There must be something of importance 
to him in the telling of his story. If there was money 
in it, none could spend it better than he; if reputa- 
tion, his family should have it. 

So he went to work; for in truth, old and ill as he 
was, he had more working power and pluck than any 
of them. All through the autumn of 1874 he wrote 
history as his health permitted, being all the while in 
correspondence with Cerruti and Vallejo, who were 
similarly engaged, sometimes at Sonoma, and some- 
times at Monterey. " Up to date," he writes Yallejo 
the 4th of December, '' I have arranged two hundred 
and forty-one pages, in twenty-one chapters, forming 
only three of the five parts into which I have divided 
this historical compendium." 

Indeed, for a long time past Alvarado had been 
taking historical notes, with a view to writing a his- 
tory of California. These notes, however, required 
arranging and verifying, and in his feeble health it 
was with great difficulty he could be induced to un- 
dertake the work. In writing his history he displayed 
no little enthusiasm, and seemed specially desirous of 
producing as valuable a record as that of any one. 

^'General Cerruti asked of me a narration of the 
events of my own administration," again he says, 
"and also of Sola's and Arguello's. These matters 
are of great importance, and taken from my work 
would leave little of value remaining. However, I still 
go on with my labors, and we shall see what may be 
done for the petitioners. In my said notes I am form- 
ing a chain which begins at Cape San Lucas and 
extends to latitude forty-two north, all of which was 
denominated Peninsula, Territorio, Provincia, or De- 
partamento, de las Californias, under the different 
governments and constitutions, as well as Nueva y 


Vieja California and Alta y Baja California. I begin 
with Cortes, who made the first settlement in Baja 
Cahfornia, where my father w^as born. Afterward I 
come to the Jesuits, and these expelled, to the Domin- 
icans; and on the settlement of Alta California in 
1769 I take hold of the Fernandinos, accepting as 
true what was written by Father Francisco Palou con- 
cerning events up to 1784 in his w^ork entitled A^o^icia^ 
de las Misiones. Thence I follow my chain till 1848, 
when Mexico, through cowardice, fear, or fraud, sold 
our native land to the United States. In order to ofo 
on with this work, I must verify certain dates and 
references. Finally, as regards the frontier of Sonoma, 
that remains at your disposition, as I have indicated 
in my notes, for I am not well acquainted with the 
events which occurred there after 1834, when Figueroa 
sent you to direct the colonization of that section 
of country. There you had for near neighbors the 
Russians, and the Hudson's Bay Company, and were 
a sentinel placed to watch that they did not cross the 

Every effort was now made to beat down Governor 
Alvarado's scruples and induce him to dictate a com- 
plete history of the country for my use. Considering 
his age, the state of his health, and the condition of 
his eyes, which troubled him much of the time, he was 
making no small progress. In this way he worked 
until his manuscript reached three hundred and sixty- 
four pages, but all the time swearing that Bancroft 
should have nothing from him. 

General Vallejo then employed every argument in 
his power to induce Alvarado to take his place in this 
history. " Come forward and refute your slanderers," 
he said, "not hang back and waste your breath in 
harmless growls at them." And again, "If things are 
wrong, not only go to work and endeavor to make 
them right, but do it in the best and most effectual 
way." The governor was several times brought to the 
library, where Oak, Savage, and myself might sup- 


plement Vallejo's and Cerruti's efforts. Finally the 
general so far prevailed as to extract the promise 
desired. Alvarado also lent Vallejo his manuscript, 
and the latter sent it, unknown to Alvarado, for in- 
spection to the library, where it remained for some 

Cerruti did not fancy the task of writing a second 
large history of California. '' I wish you would get 
some person in your confidence," he writes me from 
Sonoma the 27th of November 1874, "to take down 
the dictation of Governor Alvarado, because I cannot 
do it. My private affairs will not allow me to spend 
one or two years at San Pablo, a dull place, as bad as 
Sonoma." Nevertheless, Alvarado insisting upon his 
attendance, Cerruti was finally induced to undertake 
the work on my permitting him to rent a room, bring 
Alvarado to the city, and take his dictation in San 
Francisco, I paying hotel bills and all other expenses, 
besides keeping the governor's historical head-quar- 
ters plentifully supplied with liquors and cigars. 

But this was not all. I had told Alvarado plainly 
that I would not pay him for his information; indeed, 
he never asked me to do so. He would accept noth- 
ing in direct payment, but he was determined to make 
the most of it indirectly. Twenty thousand dollars he 
would have regarded as a small sum for his literary 
service to me, measured by money; hence all I could 
do for him must be insignificant as compared with my 

Again on the 11th of December 1874 Cerruti 
writes from Sonoma: ''With reference to Governor 
Alvarado I beg to observe that I did not think it 
worth while to cajole him. In my letter of October 
20th I expressed myself to the effect that I did not 
think it worth while to spend five or six thousand 
dollars to get his dictation; because, with the excep- 
tion of the notes referring to Lower California, written 
by his father, and a few incidents which transpired at 
Monterey while General Vallejo was absent from that 


place, the whole of California's history will be fully 
embodied in the Recuerdos Historicos of General 
Vallejo, and I did not see why you should wish for 
Governor Alvarado's dictation. Such were my views 
on the 24th of October; but owing to a letter re- 
ceived afterward, and the wish often expressed by 
General Vallejo that I should maintain friendly re- 
lations with Governor Alvarado, I corresponded with 
him till the receipt of the letter whicli I forwarded 
to you last Wednesday. Since then I have abstained 
from writing, for I did not know what to write. You 
will not miss Alvarado's notes on Lower California, 
because General Vallejo has already written to Lower 
California to Mr Gilbert, and I have no doubt that 
he will get many documents from him." 

The fact was, as I have said, Cerruti did not covet 
the task of writing to Alvarado's dictation, and Gen- 
eral Vallejo could be easily reconciled to the omission 
of a record which might tend in his opinion to lessen 
the importance of his own. In regard to Alvarado's 
history Mr Oak thought differently, as the following 
reference in Cerruti's letter will show: 

*'I do not look at the matter of Governor Alvarado 
as you do," he writes Cerruti the 24th of October. 
**I think we ought to have his dictation at some time, 
even if it is a repetition of what General Vallejo 
writes. But perhaps it is as well that you have de- 
clined the invitation to San Pablo for the present, for 
General Vallejo's dictation is certainly more important 
than all else. Besides, Mr Bancroft will be here 
during the coming week, and can then himself decide 
the matter." 

At this juncture came a request from Alvarado. 
He had a boy for whom he wished to find employment 
in the store. Anxious to obtain his history, I was ready 
to do anything w^hich he might reasonably or even 
unreasonably ask. Alvarado wrote Vallejo requesting 
his influence with me on behalf of his son. As soon 
as their wishes were made known to me by Cerruti 


I sent for the young man, and he was assigned a place 
in the publishing house. 

The boy was nineteen years of age, and had about 
as much of an idea of business, and of applying him- 
self to it, as a gray squirrel. The manager endeavored 
to explain to him somewhat the nature of the life now 
before him. Success would depend entirely upon him- 
self The house could not make a man of him ; all it 
could do was to give him an opportunity of making a 
man of himself At first, of course, knowing nothing 
of business, his services would be worth but little to 
the business. As at school, a year or two would be 
occupied in learning the rudiments, and much time 
would be occupied in teaching. For such business 
tuition no charge was made; in fact the firm would 
pay him a small salary from the beginning. The lad 
was bright and intelligent, and seemed to comprehend 
the situation, expressing himself as satisfied with what 
I had done for him. 

A few days afterward I learned that the boy was 
back at San Pablo, and that a general howl had been 
raised among his countrymen on account of alleged 
hard treatment of the boy by the house ; in fact his 
position had been worse than that of a Chinaman. He 
was made to work, to wait on people like a servant, 
to pack boxes, fold papers, and carry bundles. As a 
matter of course the old governor was very angry. 

I was greatly chagrined, for I feared all was now 
lost with Alvarado. Instituting inquiries into the 
boy's case, I learned that in view of the governor's 
attitude toward the library, and the little need for 
the boy's services, he had been assigned a very easy 
place, and treated with every courtesy. Unluckily 
some ragamufifin from the printing-office, meeting him 
on the stairs soon after he began work, called out to 

" I say, gallinipper, how much d'ye git ?" 

'' Twenty dollars a month." 

" You don't say; a Chinaman gits more'n that." 


That was enough. The boy immediately wrote his 
father that the manager of the Bancroft estabhshment 
had assigned him a position beneath that of a Mon- 
golian. It was the old story of race persecution. All 
the people of the United States had conspired to crush 
the native Californians, and this was but another in- 
stance of it. Young Alvarado was immediately ordered 
home; he should not remain another moment where 
he was so treated. 

It required the utmost efforts of Vallejo and Cer- 
ruti to smooth the ruffled pride of the governor. A 
happier illustration of the irrational puerility of these 
isolated ancients could not be invented. 

Among the copyists upon the Vallejo documents, 
before that collection was given to the library, was 
one Soberanes, a relative of Vallejo. At the request 
of the general his services were retained after the 
donation of the documents, though all of us had 
cause to regret such further engagement, as he was 
constantly getting himself and others into hot water. 

Of all the early Californians we had to encounter, 
Manuel Castro was among the worst to deal with in 
regard to his material. He had both documents and 
information which he wished to sell for money. He 
was an important personage, but instead of manfully 
asserting his position, he professed patriotism, love of 
literature, and everything that any one else professed. 
Finding that he could not extort money from me, and 
being really desirous of appearing properly in history, 
he promised me faithfully and repeatedly all that he 

But diplomacy was so natural to him that I doubt 
if it were possible for him to act in a simple, straight- 
forward manner. He began by borrowing money 
with which to go to Monterey and bring me his docu- 
ments. He neither redeemed his promise nor returned 
the money. Some time afterward he went for them. 


but said that he could not deUver them, for they were 
required in the dictation which he now professed to 
be desirous of making. 

"Manuel Castro came last night to Monterey," 
Cerruti writes the 16th of February 1875, "got the 
box of documents which his family has been collect- 
ing during the last six months, and early this morning 
returned to San Francisco. If you want his docu- 
ments don't lose sight of him; Savage knows where 
he lives. Of course he is 'on the spec.'! Should you 
have to pay any money for Castro's documents, you 
will have to thank Soberanes, Eldridge, and the rest 
of the boys, who always exerted themselves to under- 
mine the plans of General Vallejo and myself" 

Manuel Castro now sent us word : " Let Soberanes 
arrange my papers and write for me, and you shall 
have both my recollections and my documents." 

Accordingly Soberanes for some six weeks waited 
on him, drawing his pay from me. The agreement had 
been that he should deliver what was written every 
week as he drew the money for it ; but on one pretext 
or another he succeeded in putting us off until we were 
satisfied that this was but another trick, and so dis- 
continued the arrangement. Not a page of manuscript, 
not a single document was secured by the expenditure. 

In some way this Soberanes became mixed up in Al- 
varado's affairs. I believe he was related to the gov- 
ernor as well as to the general; and he seemed to 
make it his business just now to bleed me to the fullest 
possible extent for the benefit of his countrymen and 
himself Vallejo quickly cast him off when he saw 
how things were going; Manuel Castro, the general 
openly reprobated; and even of Alvarado's venality 
he felt ashamed. 

"While in New York I received a letter from General 
Vallejo, dated the 26th of September 1874, in which 
he says : " Cerruti writes me from San Francisco that 
he is very much annoyed and chagrined that after he 
and myself had so labored to induce Governor Alva- 


rado to take an interest in your work, Soberanes, 
Manuel Castro, and other insignificant persons, went 
to San Pablo and sadly annoyed him. Undoubtedly 
Cerruti is right; for it is very well known that 
demasiado fuego quema la olla. Already on other 
occasions those same intriguers have thwarted his 
plans; and he, Cerruti, is fearful that they may also 
thrust themselves into the affairs of Central America, 
and cause him to lose his prestige in those countries. 
Day after to-morrow, when Cerruti returns, I will 
resume my labors on the history of California." 

In May 1875 Cerruti writes me from Sonoma: 
*' Governor Alvarado is acting very strangely. I at- 
tribute his conduct to Soberanes, who has made the old 
gentleman believe that there is a mountain of gold to 
be made by squeezing your purse. I w^ould suggest 
that you send orders which will compel Soberanes 
to deliver to the library the pages of history for 
which he received several w^eekly payments for writing 
under Castro's dictation. Thus far Soberanes has not 
delivered into the hands of your agent a single line ; 
and, not satisfied with what he has already obtained, 
he is trying to cause others to deviate from the path 
of decency, common-sense, and gratitude. I would 
also suggest that Alvarado be 'sent to grass' for the 
present. If at a future day you should need him or 
his dictation, either General Vallejo or myself will 
get it for you without cost. The conduct of Alva- 
rado and Soberanes has greatly displeased General 
Vallejo, who as you know thinks it the duty of every 
native Californian to assist you in your noble and 
self-imposed task." 

Matters seemed to grow worse instead of better 
during this same May, when some of these mischief- 
makers told Alvarado that his history was at the 
library. Then came another convulsion. Conspiracy 
was abroad ; the foul fiend seemed to have entered the 
history-gatherers in order to hurl destruction upon 
the poor potentate of San Pablo. Although not a 

Lit. Ind. 27 


word had been taken hx>m his manuscript while it 
was in the hbrary, nor any use of it made in any 
way, Judas was a pure angel beside me. Alvarado 
had telegraphed General Vallejo, and sent messengers 
hither and thither. Something must be done, or 
Diablo and Tamalpais would turn somersets into 
the bay, and the peninsula of San Francisco would 
be set adrift upon the ocean. The absurdity of all 
this is still more apparent when I state that the 
manuscript notes were of no value to any one in their 
present shape, except indeed as a basis of the pro- 
posed narrative of events. 

Yet another agony, following hard upon the heels 
of its predecessors. I will let Cerruti begin the story. 
I was at Oakville at the time, and under the heading 
" Something serious and confidential," he writes me 
from San Francisco the 7th of April: ''Yesterday 
Governor Alvarado's daughter died in San Kafael. 
The governor desired the body brought to Oakland. 
Having no money wherewith to pay expenses, he 
sent Soberanes to the Bancroft library, with a re- 
quest that he should see you and if possible induce 
you to contribute something toward the funeral ex- 
penses, three hundred dollars. You were absent. I 
did not think it proper to refer him to your manager, 
fearing he would feel annoyed; so making a virtue of 
necessity I gave Soberanes twenty dollars. I acted 
as I have just related owing to the fact that Gov- 
ernor Alvarado's narrative is not even commenced. 
It is true we have on hand four hundred pages of his 
notes, but said notes only come down to the year 
1830, and he has signified his willingness to dictate 
what he knows to the year 1848. Besides, the small 
incidents which he remembers are not included in his 
notes. In one word, I consider Governor Alvarado 
as one of the persons you need the most in the writing 
of the history of California, and hence my reason for 
giving him the twenty dollars. Of course I don't 
claim the amount back from you. I know full well 


I had no authority to invest in funerals." The reader 
will observe that Cerruti's opinions were not always 
the same. 

Closely following this letter came Soberanes to 
Oakville, begging of me one hundred dollars for 
Alvarado. Now I was not under the slightest obli- 
gations to Alvarado; on the contrary it was he who 
should be paying me money if any was to pass be- 
tween us. He had done nothing for me, and judging 
from the past there was little encouragement that he 
ever would do anything. Nevertheless, since he was 
a poor old man in distress, I would cheerfully give 
him the money he asked, for charity's sake. At the 
same time I thought it nothing less than my due to 
have in a somewhat more tangible form the governor's 
oft-repeated promise to dictate a history of California 
for me. So I said to Soberanes: "Alvarado is going 
to dictate for me and give me all his material. Would 
he be willing to put that in writing?" "Most cer- 
tainly," replied Soberanes. "Go, then, and see it done, 
and Mr Oak will give you the money." 

Now let us hear what is said about it in a letter to 
me under date of the 19th of May from the library: 
"The Alvarado matter is in bad shape, like everything 
in which Soberanes has anything to do. Governor 
Alvarado simply, as he says, sends Soberanes to ask 
for one hundred dollars, on the ground that he intends 
the history he is writing for your collection, and is 
in hard circumstances. He did not know that any of 
his manuscript was in our hands, and is offended that 
General Vallejo and Cerruti delivered it to us contrary 
to their agreement. Soberanes tells you that Gov- 
ernor Alvarado will give you the four hundred pages 
in our possession : [there are only two hundred and 
sixty-four pages;] four hundred pages more that he 
has written : [there are only one hundred pages more ;] 
and that he will sign an agreement to completo the 
history down to 1848. Soberanes returns to Gov- 
ernor Alvarado, tells him that you consent, says 


nothing of any conditions, tells him all he has to do 
is to come up and take his money, and brings him for 
that purpose. Governor Alvarado comes to-day with 
Soberanes; is first very much oifended to find that 
we have any part of his manuscripts, and considers it 
almost an insult to be asked to sign any agreement or 
to give us any part of his manuscripts, which he says 
are yet only in a very incomplete condition. He says 
he will do nothing further in the matter. Soberanes 
declares that nothing was said between him and you 
about any agreement whatever, but that you simply 
consented to give the money. We did our best to 
make the matter right with Governor Alvarado, but, 
of course, in vain. He went away, not in an angry 
mood, but evidently thinking himself ill-used. Sober- 
anes will make the matter worse by talking to him, 
and making him and others believe that you wish to 
take advantage of Alvarado's poverty to get ten thou- 
sand dollars' worth of history for a hundred dollars." 

Although what Soberanes had reported was delib- 
erate falsehood — it was about the hundredth time he 
had lied to and of me — and although Alvarado had 
acted like a demented old woman, and I had really no 
further hope of getting anything out of him, I 
ordered the hundred dollars paid, for I fully intended 
from the first that he should have the money, and I 
hoped that would be the end of the affair. 

But alas! not so. For no sooner is the money 
paid than up comes a letter from Lachryma Montis, 
written by Cerruti the 23d of May, in which he says: 
'^I regret very much that you should have given an 
order to pay one hundred dollars to Governor Alva- 
rado. I am willing that the ex-governor should receive 
assistance at the present time, but not under the cir- 
cumstances in which a gang of unscrupulous persons 
have control of his actions and are using him for the 
purpose of putting a few coppers into their empty 
pockets. I fear that your generosity toward Governor 
Alvarado will interfere with the plans of General 



Vallejo, who a few days ago went to San Francisco 
for the purpose of obtaining the documents in the 
possession of Castro. That person made the general 
a half promise to give to him his papers. But if he 
happens to hear, as he surely will, that you have given 
Governor Alvarado a hundred dollars, in all certainty 
he will hold back his documents until he obtains a 
sum of money for them. There are many people yet 
who are in the possession of valuable documents. 
These persons in due time will be induced by General 
Vallejo to come to the front and help you without 
remuneration; but should they hear that you pay 
money for documents they will hold back until they 
get cash. No later than two days ago, when General 
Vallejo was in the city, some Californians approached 
him, and tried to convince him that he had better give 
his manuscript to some publisher who would agree 
to print the work immediately ; furthermore they said 
that it would be better to have his history come out 
as a whole and not in driblets as quotations. The 
general, who has a good share of sound sense, told 
those persons that he would be highly pleased to be 
quoted in your great work, as your history would 
be in future ages the great authority on Californian 
matters, while the history written by him would not 
carry an equal weight of conviction." 

I should regard these details too trifling to give 
them a place here, except as a specimen of every-day 
occurrences during my efforts to obtain from the 
Hispano-Californians what they knew of themselves. 
By allowing Alvarado's affairs to rest awhile, the 
testy old governor was happily brought to see the true 
way, and to walk therein. He came up nobly in the 
end and gave a full history of California, written 
by Cerruti in Spanish, in five large volumes, which 
is second only in importance as original material to 
Vallejo's history. Part of the transcribing was per- 
formed by Cerruti at San Pablo, but as I before 
remarked Alvarado dictated the most of his history 


in San Francisco. It was written anew from the 
beginning. The governor's manuscript notes formed 
the basis of the complete history, the notes being de- 
stroyed as fast as the history was written, lest they 
should some time fall into wrong hands. This was the 
Italian's precaution. Taking it altogether, Alvarado's 
history cost me much time, patience, and money; but 
I never regretted the expenditure. 

Frequently about this time I invited Alvarado, 
Vallejo, and Cerruti to dine with me at the Maison 
Doree, and general good feeling prevailed. Among 
other things with which the Hispano-Californians were 
pleased was an article entitled The Manifest Destiny 
of California, which I contributed to the Sacramento 
Reco^^d- Union, and which was translated and published 
in a Spanish journal. " We have fallen into good hands," 
at last said Governor Alvarado ; and Castro promised 
unqualifiedly everything he had. But this was while 
their hearts were warm with my champagne ; the next 
day, perhaps, they felt differently. In writing the 
article I had not the remotest idea of pleasing any 
one, and had never even thought of the Californians ; 
but it happened that they were kind enough to like 
it, and this was fortunate, for it greatly assisted me in 
obtaining material. 

It seemed impossible all at once to sever my con- 
nection with Soberanes, the fellow had so woven 
himself into the relations of the library with native 
Californians, but in due time I managed to get rid of 
him. After General Vallejo had presented his docu- 
ments to the library, Soberanes asserted that there 
were many papers in other hands which he could get 
to copy. He was encouraged to do so, though Cer- 
ruti was jealous of him from the first. Soberanes 
did, indeed, obtain many documents, some of which 
he copied, and others were given outright to the 

Before he spent the six weeks with Manuel Castro 
he had obtained papers from him to copy. Castro at 


first required Oak to give him a receipt for these 
papers, but seeing that our enthusiasm in his affairs 
began to decHne, he followed the example of General 
Vallejo, and gave them outright to the library. This 
first instalment of Castro's papers was bound in 
two volumes. The copies of some of them, which 
Soberanes had made, Castro borrowed to use in court. 

Soberanes then obtained more documents from 
Castro, and some from other sources, portions of which 
were loaned for copying and part given outright. It 
seemed the object of both Castro and Soberanes to 
make the information and material of the former cost 
me as much as possible. It was when Soberanes 
could get no more papers from Castro that he induced 
him to dictate. While this dictation was in progress, 
every few days Soberanes would bring to the library 
portions of what he had written, but would carry it 
away with him again, on the pretext that it was re- 
quired for reference. Some time after I had closed 
my relations with Soberanes, Castro sent to me one 
Pena, who had done copying for me, saying that he 
was now ready to continue his dictation. I told Pena 
that I had had enough of such dictating; that if he 
chose to run the risk he miofht write down whatever 
Castro gave him and bring it to the library every 
Saturday and receive in money its value, whatever 
that might be. 

Meanwhile Cerruti, though heartily hating both 
Soberanes and Castro, did not lose sight of them, for 
Manuel Castro and his documents were most important 
to history. Always on the alert, Cerruti ascertained 
one day that a box of papers was held by Castro's 
landlord for room rent. 

In September 1876 Castro, who was vice-president 
of the Junta Patriotica, was appointed one of a com- 
mittee to collect money for the purpose of defraying 
the expenses of the fiesta on the glorious Sixteenth. 
By some ill-luck the money so collected dropped out 
of Castro's possession before it reached the object for 


which it had been given. Indeed, Castro's pocket, as 
a depository for current coin, was not as safe as the 
bank of England. 

This left Castro in a bad position. Had the money 
been donated to defray the expenses of a funeral, and 
failed in its object, the cry would not have been so 
great; but for a festival, it was indeed calamitous. 
As a matter of course Cerruti soon knew all about it, 
knew that Castro had become bankrupt while carry- 
ing the money he had collected for celebration pur- 
poses, and that he must immediately restore it or 
be forever disgraced among his countrymen. 

Rushing round to the library, Cerruti saw Oak, 
and expressed the belief that Castro would pledge his 
documents for a little ready money, not alone those in 
the hands of his landlord, which could be obtained by 
paying the rent arrears, but also others which were 
not in durance. 

No matter how simple the transaction, Cerruti 
could do little without bringing into requisition his 
diplomatic powers, which were ever overflowing. 
Thinking that possibly Castro might be prejudiced 
against the library, and might object to his papers 
being where they would do so much good, Cerruti 
told Castro that a friend of his on Market street 
would lend him the money he required, on the docu- 
ments. This friend was not Bancroft; indeed, the 
person was one opposed to the Bancrofts, that being 
the chief reason of his willingness to lend the money, 
so that the documents might not fall to the library. 

The lie did good service. Castro's papers were de- 
livered to Cerruti, who straightway took them to the 
library and obtained the money. Under the circum- 
stances Mr Oak did not feel at liberty to examine the 
documents or to take notes from them, though he 
might easily have done so had he been inclined. He 
was satisfied for the present, and willing to await 
further developments. 

Nor had he long to wait. Castro soon required an 


additional sum, and this Oak would advance only on 
condition that if the papers were redeemed he should 
have the right to open the box and take such notes as 
history required, without, however, retaining the orig- 
inal papers or in any way injuring them. This per- 
mission was granted. Whether Cerrati now told 
Castro in whose hands the papers were deposited is 
not certain. 

Mr Oak's way was now clear enough. First he 
took out all the information I required for California 
history. Then, long after the time within which the 
papers were to have been redeemed, he consulted an 
attorney, that he might act within legal bounds, and 
addressing a letter to Castro, informed him that the 
papers were in his possession, subject to a claim for 
the money advanced, and that although by law his 
right in them was forfeited, yet, not wishing to take 
any unfair advantage, he would allow him until the 
following Saturday to redeem them. 

Castro was furious, and talked loudly of having been 
swindled; but no one was frightened. The fact is, we 
had long since determined to leave no honorable means 
untried to obtain those papers, and we were not now 
disposed to stand upon ceremony with Castro, or to 
go far out of our way to pacify him. The documents 
and information in his possession, by every right of 
honor and decency belonged to the library. Not once 
but twenty times he had promised them; not once but 
several times I had given him money, and paid out 
still more to others on his account. All he was hold- 
ing back for was more money. I think he always 
fully intended I should have his material ; but if there 
was money in it, he wanted it. Besides all this, Castro 
had given much trouble in exciting other Californians 
against me, telling them to hold back, and the money 
would come in due time. As often as he had money 
to buy wine he would entice Alvarado from his work ; 
but at such times Cerruti was after him like a Scotch 
terrier, and soon talked him into a state of penitence. 


Furthermore, many of these documents Castro had 
obtained from different persons with the understand- 
ing that they were to be given to the Hbrary. 

In view of all this, when the Castro papers were 
once fairly mine I cared little as to their former 
owner s measure of love for me. I had them col- 
lated and bound in five volumes, making seven in all 
from this source. 

One thing more remained, for it was apparently 
impossible for Manuel Castro to do good except upon 
compulsion. The dictation for which I had paid, and 
which was in truth my property wherever I could 
find it, was still closely held by him. One day it 
came to the knowledge of Mr Savage that Castro had 
gone into the country, leaving all his papers in the 
hands of Felipe Fierro, editor of La- Voz del Nuevo 
Mundo, Now Fierro was a stanch friend of the 
library; and when Savage explained to him the 
nature of our relations with Castro, and the trouble 
we had had with him, and asked the editor the loan 
of what was already our own, he could not refuse. 
The dictation was copied, with many original docu- 
ments, and returned to Fierro, that he might not 
suffer through his kindness. Thus a droit ou a tort, 
the gods being with us, the whole of this Philistine's 
material fell into my hands. Several years later he 
endeavored to obtain money from me on the remnants, 
and was surprised to learn that his papeles had no 
longer a market value. 

Jose Ramon Pico furnished quite a little collection 
of papers, some of which belonged originally to him ; 
others he had collected from various sources. There 
was no little difficulty in our dealings with many of 
these men, who seemed most of the time to be in a 
strait between their desire to figure in history and 
a fear lest they should part too easily with what by 
some possibility might bring them money. 

With Alvarado, Cerruti labored in fear and trem- 
bling. Writing me the 9th of February 1876, in 



answer to a request to attend to certain work, he 
said : " Considering that I have promised to com- 
plete the third volume of Alvarado's history within 
eight days, I cannot possibly spare one moment for 
other work, because Alvarado, who at present is in a 
working mood, might change his mind at some future 
time and leave his history incomplete." 

Visiting San Leandro, he obtained the archives of 
the Estudillo family, accompanied by a very cordial 
letter from Mr J. M. Estudillo, who, in presenting 
them, promised to search for more. 

I cannot mention a hundredth part of the dictations 
taken and the excursions made by Cerruti for docu- 
ments. He was very active, as I have said, and very 
successful. He loved to dart off in one direction and 
thence telegraph me, then quickly transfer himself to 
another spot and telegraph from there; in fact both 
generals had a great fancy for telegraphing. Often 
Cerruti wrote me a letter and then telegraphed me 
that he had done so — that and nothing more. 



To gather in this great harvest of truth was no light or speedy work. 
His notes ah-eady made a formidable range of volumes, but the crowning 
task would be to condense these voluminous still-accumulating results, and 
bring them like the earlier vintage of Hippocratic books to fit a little shelf. 

George Eliot. 

For about two and a half years generals Cerruti 
and Vallejo applied themselves to my work with a 
devotion scarcely inferior to my own : the latter longer, 
the former meanwhile with some assistance carrying 
forward to completion the history by Alvarado. 
Under the benign influence of the elder general, the 
quick impatient temper of the Italian was so subdued 
that he was at length kept almost continuously at 
confining, plodding work, which secretly he abhorred. 
He preferred revolutionizing Costa Rica to writing a 
hundred-page dictation. Yet I am sure for my work 
he entertained the highest respect, and for me true 
personal regard. 

But after all it was his affection for General Vallejo 
which cemented him so long to this work. His es- 
teem for the sage of Sonoma was unbounded; his 
devotion was more than Boswellian; it approached 
the saintly order. He would follow him to the ends 
of the earth, cheerfully undertaking anything for 
him; and almost before Yallejo's wish was expressed 
Cerruti had it accomplished. Yet withal the Italian 
never sank into the position of servant. He was as 
quick as ever to resent a fancied slight, and Vallejo 
himself, in order to maintain his influence over him, 
must needs humor many vagaries. 



It was not a little strange to see these two men, 
so widely separated, both in their past actions and in 
their present ambitions, fired by the same enthusiasm, 
and that by reason of a conception which was not 
theirs, and from which neither of them could hope 
for any great or tangible personal benefit; and that it 
should last so long was most remarkable of all. In 
reality they continued until their work was finished ; 
and although neither of them had been accustomed 
to continuous application in any direction, they labored 
as long and as diligently each day as natives of more 
northern climes are wont to apply themselves. During 
the years 1874-6 the time of the two generals was 
divided between Sonoma, San Francisco, and Monte- 
rey, and in making divers excursions from these places. 

No sooner was it known that General Vallejo was 
writing history for me than he was besieged by an 
army of applicants suddenly grown history- hungry. 
In a letter dated Sonoma, 8th of December 1874, 
Cerruti says: "General Vallejo and I will go to the 
city next week. Historical men, newspaper scribblers, 
and all sorts of curious persons are daily addressing 
letters to the general asking for information. He is 
really bothered to death. I enclose one of the peti- 
tions so you may judge of the style of persecution he 
is subject to. On hand one hundred pages of manu- 
script which I consider very interesting. Mr Thomp- 
son, of the Democrat J is in possession of a large amount 
of useful information with reference to the Russian 
settlements of Bodega and Ross. He has been col- 
lecting material for ten years, during which time he 
has interviewed nearly sixty ancient settlers." Mr 
Thompson very kindly placed at my disposal his entire 
material. His sketches he had taken in short-hand,^ 
and at my request he had the more important written 
out and sent to me. 

From Monterey the 6th of January 1875 General 
Vallejo wrote as follows: ''General Cerruti and I go 


on writing and collecting documents for the history, 
and since our arrival have written over one hundred 
pages. We have many venerable documents, which I 
have not yet looked over, for this dictating and nar- 
rating reminiscences stupefies the memory. Moreover, 
I have to give attention to visitors, who sometimes 
occupy my time, but who are necessary when the 
history of their days and mine is written, and whom 
I need in order to keep my promise of aiding you. I 
think you would do well to come down here; for 
although there are no such living accommodations as 
in San Francisco, lodgings are not wanting, and thus 
you would change your routine of study life. Here 
exist two barrels of old papers belonging to Manuel 
Castro, which I have not been able to obtain, because 
it is intended to profit by them. However, if you 
show yourself indifferent, it is probable that you 
may obtain them at small expense — that is, provided 
Hittell, or others who take an interest in old papers, 
do not cross you. Make use of a very Yankee policy, 
and within two months you will be the possessor of 
the richest collection in existence with reference to 
upper California. In the archives of Salinas City, 
of which my nephew has charge, many documents 
exist. He has promised to do all in his power to aid 
your undertaking." 

And again the 16th of January he writes: "I have 
spent the day in inspecting a lot of very important 
documents. These I can obtain for the purpose of 
copying them; but it would be well that you should 
take a turn this way, in order to see them and resolve 
the matter. General Cerruti says that they are very 
important, but does not desire to assume the responsi- 
bility of copying them. In every way it seems to me 
in accordance with your interests that you examine 
the matter in person." 

The Hartnell papers were regarded as of great im- 
portance, and General Yallejo could not rest until they 
were secured for the library. Hartnell was an Eng- 


lisliman, who had come to Cahfornia at .an early date, 
had married an hija del pais, Teresa de la Guerra, by 
whom he had been made twenty-five times a father. 
Failing as a merchant at Monterey, in company with 
the reverend Patrick Short he opened a boys' acad- 
emy at El Alisal, his residence near that place. He 
was appointed visitador general de misiones by Gov- 
ernor Alvarado, and after the arrival of the Americans 
was for a time state interpreter. He was regarded by 
many as the most intelligent foreigner who up to that 
time had arrived on this shore. Applying to the 
widow of Mr Hartnell, General Yallejo received the 
following very welcome reply, under date of the 6th 
of February: ^^ Although most of the papers left by 
Don Guillermo have been lost, it may be that among 
the few which I still preserve some may be of use to 
thee. But as to this thou canst know better than I ; 
perhaps it were well that thou comest to see them. 
The papers which I have are at thy disposal." The 
collection of documents thus so modestly valued and 
so cheerfully given proved to be of great value, and 
were duly bound and accredited to the former owner. 
Hearing of a deposit of important papers some 
sixty miles from Monterey, the 6th of March Gen- 
eral Vallejo sent Cerruti to secure them. Nine days 
later Vallejo writes as follows: '^To-day I send you 
a trunk full of documents of very great historic value. 
Do me the favor to charge your assistants not to open 
it before my return to San Francisco, for it is neces- 
sary for me to give certain explanations before making 
you a present of its contents. However, from this 
moment count on the documents as belonging to your- 
self; and if I die upon the journey, make such dispo- 
sition of the trunk and the papers which it contains 
as may seem good to you. The young man Biven, 
whom in days past I recommended to you, is, I hear, 
given to drinking ; but I also know that he has many 
ancient documents, a trunkful, which belonged to his 
deceased grandfather, Ainza. It seems to me that 


some diplomacy is necessary in order to secure them, 
though he promised at San Francisco to give me 

Wherever he might be, Cerruti was unremitting in 
his labors. The 29th of July he writes from Monterey : 
'^ I enclose an article written in the Spanish language, 
which I believe ought to be translated into English. 
I am certain it would do a great deal of good. To-day 
General Vallejo has received a lot of documents from 

And again the 3d of August: ^^ Yesterday we heard 
of the existence of a large collection of historical 
documents." Being engaged in another direction, it 
was resolved to send a third person in quest of these 
papers immediately; and a few days later I received 
intelligence : "The envoy of General Vallejo left to-day 
for San Luis Obispo." 

While the warmest friendship existed between the 
two generals during the whole of their intercourse, 
they were not without their little differences. Often 
General Vallejo used to say to me: "Cerruti wishes 
to hurry me, and I will not be hurried. Often he 
solemnly assures me that Mr Bancroft will not be 
satisfied unless a certain number of pages are written 
every week; and I ask him who is writing this history, 
myself or Mr Bancroft?" On the other hand, Cerruti 
in his more petulant moods frequently dropped words 
of dissatisfaction. " You cannot conceive," he writes 
me the 18th of August from Monterey, "how pleased 
I shall be when the work is complete. It has caused 
me many unhappy moments and many sacrifices of 
pride." On a former occasion he had complained: 
"The parish priest of Monterey has brought to our 
office the books of his parish. I could make a good 
many extracts from them, but I will not undertake 
the task because I am in a very great hurry to leave 
Monterey. I am heartily sick of the whole work, 
and I wish it was already finished. This town is like 


a convent of friars, and the sooner I leave it the 
better. If I remain in it a month longer I will be- 
come an old man. I see only old people, converse as 
to days gone by. At my meals I eat history ; my bed 
is made of old documents, and I dream of the past. 
Yet I would cheerfully for your sake stand the brunt 
of hard times were it not that your agents have 
wounded me in my pride, the only vulnerable point in 
my whole nature." Thus cunning spends itself on 
folly! Thus follows that tcediiim vitce which, like a 
telescope reversed, makes this world and its affairs 
look insignificant enough! 

The Italian was very ambitious to show results, and 
frequently complained that Vallejo insisted too much 
on tearing up each day a portion of the manuscript 
which had been written the day before. This present 
effort at Monterey lasted one month and two days, 
during which time three hundred pages were com- 
pleted. On the other hand, three months would 
sometimes slip by with scarcely one hundred pages 

In bringing from Santa Cruz two large carpet-bags 
filled with documents collected in that vicinity, by 
some means they were lost in landing at San Fran- 
cisco. Vallejo was chagrined; Cerruti raved. The 
steamship company was informed that unless the 
papers were recovered the wheels of Californian 
affairs would cease to revolve. The police were 
notified; searchers were sent out in every direction; 
the offer of a liberal reward was inserted in the 
daily papers. Finally, after two days of agony, the 
lost documents were found and safely lodged in the 

Notwithstanding he was at the time suffering from 
serious illness, Jose de Jesus Vallejo, brother of Gen- 
eral Vallejo, gave me a very valuable dictation of one 
hundred and seventy-seven pages, taken at his resi- 
dence at Mission San Jose, beginning the 13th of 
April and finishing on the 22d of June 1875. The 

Lit. Ind. 28 


author of this contribution was born at San Josd in 
1798, and in his later years was administrator of the 
mission of that name. 

*'The priest of this mission," writes Cerruti the 
11th of April 1875, "the very reverend Father 
Cassidy, has kindly loaned me the mission books. 
They are seven in number. From six of them I will 
make extracts. Number seven is very interesting, 
and according to my opinion ought to be copied in 

The next day Mr Oak wrote me from San Fran- 
cisco — I was at Oakville at the time — "General Vallejo 
came to town the last of this week, summoned by a 
telegram stating that his brother was dying. He 
and Cerruti immediately left for Mission San Jose. 
Cerruti has been back once and reports great success 
in getting documents. The chief difficulty seems to 
be to keep the general from killing his brother with 
historical questionings. He fears his brother may 
die without telling him all he knows. Cerruti brings 
a book from the Mission which can be kept for copy- 
ing. It seems of considerable importance. It will 
make some two weeks' work, and I have taken the 
liberty to employ Pina, the best of the old hands, to 
do the work." 

Again, on the 18th of April from Mission San Jose 
Cerruti writes: *' Besides the dictation, I have on 
hand many documents and old books. I am told that 
in the vicinity of the Mission are to be found many 
old residents who have documents, but I abstain from 
going after them because the travelling expenses are 
very high, and not having seen the documents I can- 
not judge whether they are worth the expense. Among 
others, they say that at the Milpitas rancho lives a 
native Californian, called Crisostomo Galindo, who is 
one hundred and three years old, and is supposed to 
be the possessor of documents. Shall I go to see 
him?" A week later he says: "The dictation of Don 
Josd de Jesus Vallejo is progressing a great deal 


faster than I had anticipated. I have been with him 
seven days and have already on hand seventy pages of 
nearly three hundred words each." 

Thomas O. Larkin was United States consul at 
Monterey when California fell into the hands of 
the United States: he was then made naval asfent. 
Born at Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1802, he came 
hither in 1832 as supercargo of a Boston trading 
vessel, and was subsequently quite successful as gen- 
eral merchant and exporter of lumber. He made the 
models for the first double-geared wheat-mill at Mon- 
terey at a time when only ship-carpenters could be 
found there. Wishing to take a wife, and as a prot- 
estant being outside the pale of catholic matrimony, 
he went with the lady on board a vessel on the 
Californian coast, and was married under the United 
States flag by J. C. Jones, then United States consul 
at the Hawaiian Islands. 

In 1845 President Polk commissioned him to sound 
the Californians as to chang^e of flao^ and durino^ the 
year following he was active in his exertions to secure 
California to the United States; and for his fidelity 
and zeal in these and other matters he received the 
thanks of the president. 

Into the hands of such a man as Mr Larkin during 
the course of these years naturally would fall many 
important papers, and we should expect him to be 
possessed of sufficient intelligence to appreciate their 
value and to preserve them. Nor are we disappointed. 
At his death Mr Larkin left a large and very valu- 
able mass of documents, besides a complete record of 
his official correspondence from 1844 to 1849. This 
record comprised two very large folio volumes, after- 
ward bound in one. 

Charles H. Sawyer, attorney for certain of the 
heirs of Thomas O. Larkin, and always a warm friend 
of the library, first called my attention to the ex- 
istence of these most important archives. He had 


made copies of a few of them selected for that pur- 
pose, and the blank-book in which such selections had 
been transcribed Mr Sawyer kindly presented. Mr 
Larkin's papers, he assured me, would be most diffi- 
cult to obtain, even should the heirs be inclined to 
part with them, since one was at the east and another 
too ill to be seen. 

Accompanied by Cerruti, I called on Mr Alfred 
Larkin, one of the sons, whose office was then on 
Merchant street. I was received by Mr Larkin in 
the most cordial manner. The papers, he said, were 
beyond his control. He would use his best endeavors 
to have them placed in my hands. As the result of 
this interview I secured the record books, than which 
nothing could be more important in the history of 
that epoch. 

Some time passed before anything further was ac- 
complished, but in the mean time I never lost sight 
of the matter. These papers should be placed on my 
shelves as a check on the Alvarado and Vallejo tes- 
timony. At length I learned that Mr Sampson Tams, 
a very intelligent and accomplished gentleman who 
had married a daughter of Mr Larkin, had full pos- 
session and control of all the Larkin archives. I lost 
no time in presenting my request, and was seconded 
in my efforts by several friends. The result was that 
with rare and most commendable liberality Mr Tams 
presented me with the entire collection, which now 
stands upon the shelves of my library in the form of 
nine large volumes. 

While engaged in my behalf at Monterey, Gen- 
eral Vallejo's enthusiasm often waxed so warm as 
almost to carry him away. Shortly before the sus- 
pension of the bank of California he had thought 
seriously of going south on a literary mission. " I 
have hopes of getting together many ancient docu- 
ments from persons at Los Angeles who have promised 
to aid me," he writes the 13th of July; and again, 
the 27th of August: '' I assure you that two or three 


weeks since I resolved upon the journey to San Diego, 
stopping at all the missions. This I had resolved to 
do at my own proper cost, without your being obliged 
to spend more money; for to me it would be a great 
pleasure to give this additional proof of the interest 
I take in your great work. Until yesterday such 
was my intention; but this morning I find mj^self 
obliged to abandon it, on account of the failure of the 
bank of California, which renders if necessary for 
me to return to San Francisco in order to arrancre 
my affairs. I have endeavored to persuade Cerruti 
to undertake the journey, I furnishing him with 
letters of introduction to all my friends, but he has 
refused to venture into deep water, until the conclu- 
sion of the Historia de California which I am dictating. 
I know that Cerruti always desires to avoid expense 
without some corresponding benefit to yourself" 

The original proposal was for General Vallejo to 
bring his history down to the year 1846, the end 
of Mexican domination in California. Writing from 
Monterey the 27th of August he says: '' By the 3d of 
September I shall have finished the fourth volume 
of the Historia de California; that is to say, the whole 
history down to 1846, the date which I proposed as 
its termination, at the time when, yielding to your 
entreaties, I undertook to write my recollections of 
the country. But in these latter days I have managed 
to interest General Frisbie and other important per- 
sonages acquainted with events in California from 
1846 to 1850, so that they agree to contribute their 
contingent of hght; and I have resolved to bring my 
history down to this later date, in case you should 
deem it necessary. It is my intention to go to 
Vallejo, where in the course of three or four weeks 
I trust to be able to give the finishing stroke to my 
work, which I trust will merit the approbation of 
yourself and other distinguished writers." 

''T have caused Captain Cayetano Juarez to come 
to Lachryma Montis," says General Vallejo in a letter 


from Sonoma dated the 4th of October, ''in order that 
he may aid me to write all which appertains to the 
evil doings of the 'Bears' in 1846-7. Captain Juarez, 
who was a w^itness present at the time, and a truthful 
and upright man, and myself are engaged in recalling 
all those deeds just as they occurred. What I relate 
is very distinct from what has been hitherto published 
by writers who have desired to represent as heroes 
the men who robbed me and my countrymen of our 
property. American authors desire to excuse those 
robbers with the pretext that in some cases the 'Bear' 
captains gave receipts for the articles of which they 
took forcible possession; but as those receipts were 
worthless, the Californians have the right to say that 
the ' Bears,' or a majority of them, were robbers." 

War's alarum always threw the mercurial and 
mettlesome Cerruti into a state of excitement, which 
rose to the verge of frenzy when his old field of rev- 
olutionary failures was the scene of action. Even 
rumors of war between Mexico and the United States, 
which were of frequent occurrence, were usually too 
much for his equanimity. I remember one instance 
in particular, while he w^as writing at General Vallejo's 
dictation, in November 1875, news came of serious 
troubles in the south, and he gave me notice that he 
should be obliged to abandon his work and fly to the 
rescue of something or to death. I requested Vallejo 
to pacify him, since he might not receive my opinion 
in the matter as wholly disinterested. Shortly after- 
ward Cerruti returned for a time to San Francisco, and 
General Yallejo wrote him there. After a lengthy 
and flowery review of their labors as associates during 
the last year and a half. General Vallejo goes on to 
say: "I have heard that the noise made by the press 
in relation to the annexation of Mexico to the United 
States has made a deep impression upon you, and 
that you contemplate going to see the world in those 
regions. Believe me, general, el ruido es onas que las 
nueces. If, as is said, it were certain that war be- 


tween the two republics is about to break out, then 
you might go forth in search of adventures, but not 
otherwise. Under such circumstances Mexico would 
play the role of the smaller fish, and the consequence 
would be that manifest destiny would absorb Chi- 
huahua and Sonora. It is necessary to wait until 
what is passing in the lofty regions of diplomacy be 
disclosed. My opinion is that you should wait." 
Vallejo's arguments were convincing: Cerruti aban- 
doned his project. The general concludes his letter 
as follows: '^To-morrow I shall leave for San Fran- 
cisco to see you, and if possible we will go to 
Healdsburg. I believe that there we shall harvest 
the papers of Mrs Fitch, and obtain from her a very 
good narration concerning San Diego matters, its 
siege by the Californians, the imprisonment of Cap- 
tain Fitch, Bandini, and others." General Vallejo 
came down as he proposed; the breast of the hero 
of Bolivian revolutions was quiet; the two generals 
proceeded to Healdsburg, and a thick volume of docu- 
ments lettered as the archives of the Fitch family was 
thereby secured to the library. 

The history by General Vallejo being an accom- 
plished fact, the next thing in order was its presenta- 
tion to the library. This was done, of necessity, 
with a great flourish of trumpets. First came to me 
a letter which I translate as follows : 

" Lachryma Montis, November 16, 1875. 
"Hubert H. Bancroft, Esq.: 

"■Esteemed Friend: Years ago, at the urgent request of many Californians 
who desired to see the deeds of their ancestors correctly transmitted to 
posterity, I undertook the pleasant though arduous task of recording my 
native country's history from the- date of its settlement by Europeans to the 
year 1850, when our California became a state in the American union. 

"Fortune, however, did not smile upon my undertaking, since my manu- 
script, the result of long and careful labor, was destroyed by the flames that 
on the 13th day of April 1867 consumed my residence at Sonoma. 

"Two years ago, impelled by the same motives, with undiminished en- 
thusiasm for the work, and with a higher idea than ever of its importance, I 
decided to recommence my task. I was aware that a soldier narrating events 
in which he has figured as a prominent actor, does so at the risk of having 


liis impartiality questioned by some ; and what made me still more diffident 
was the conviction that the work should have been done by others among the 
native Californians more competent to discharge it in a satisfactory manner ; 
but noticing no disposition on the part of any of them to take the duty oflf my 
liands, I cheerfully, though with some misgivings as to my success, assumed it. 

"The memoranda of my respected father, Don Ignacio Vallejo, who came 
to California in 1772, for early historical events, together with my own recol- 
lections and notes, as well as documents and data kindly furnished by worthy 
cooperators, have enabled me to do justice, as I hope, to so important a subject. 

"Friends have attached, perhaps, an exaggerated value to the result of my 
efforts, the manuscript not having as yet fallen under the eyes of critics who 
would pronounce upon its merits uninfluenced by friendship for the author. 
T am convinced, however, that I have avoided the prejudices so apt to bias 
the soldier who gives a narrative of his own career, and fairly represented the 
actions and motives of my countrymen. 

' ' Though I held, during many years, a prominent position in California, I 
deemed it proper to mention my acts only when I could not possibly avoid it. 

"Personal disputes and petty differences among my countrymen in the 
early times, and with Anglo-Americans in later years, I have touched upon 
as lightly as is consistent with historical accuracy. I have no wish to con- 
tribute to the revival of any national, religious, or personal prejudice; and it 
is no part of my plan either to flatter friends or abuse enemies. 

"I had at first, my friend, intended to give my labors to the world in my 
own name, but having noticed with much satisfaction the ability and exact- 
ness displayed in your work. The Native Races of the Pacific States, I concluded 
to place my five volumes of manuscripts at your disposal, to use as you may 
deem best, confident that you will present to us a complete and impartial 
history of California, having at your command the data and documents fur- 
nished you by the best informed native Californians, in addition to all that 
printed works and public and private archives can supply. 

"Your work will be accepted by the world, which already knows you for 
a trustworthy writer, as a reliable and complete history of my native land. 
Mine, however favorably received, would perhaps be looked upon as giving, 
on many points, only M. G. Vallejo's version. 

"I think I may safely assert that the most enlightened and patriotic por- 
tion of the native Californians will cheerfully place their country's fair fame 
in your hands, confident that you will do it justice. 

"In this trust they are joined by their humble fellow-countryman and 
your sincere friend, 

"M. G. Vallejo." 

To this I made reply in the foUowing^ words : 

"San Francisco, November 26, 1875. 
"My Dear General: 

' ' I have carefully examined the five large manuscript volumes upon which 
you have been occupied for the past two years, and which you have so gener- 
ously placed at my disposal. 


'*In the name of the people of California, those now living and those who 
shall come after us, permit me to thank you for your noble contribution to 
the history of this western land. 

"You have done for this north-western section of the ancient Spanish- 
American possessions what Ovi jdo, Las Casas, Torquemada, and other chron- 
iclers of the Indies did for the New World as known to them. You have 
saved from oblivion an immense mass of material deeply interesting to the 
reader and of vital importance to all lovers of exact knowledge. 

"The history of your country begins, naturally, with the expeditions 
directed north-westward by Nuiio de Guzman in 1530, and the gradual occu- 
pation, during two centuries and a quarter, of Nueva Galicia, Nueva Vizcaya, 
and the Californias. 

"The deeds of Guzman, his companions, and his successors, the disastrous 
attempts of the great Hernan Cortes to explore the Pacific shore, and the 
spiritual conquests of the new lands by the Company of Jesus, are recorded 
in surviving fragments of secular and ecclesiastical archives, in the numerous 
original papers of the Jesuit missionaries, and in the standard works of such 
authors as Mota Padilla, Eibas, Alegre, Frejes, Arricivita, and Beaumont, 
or — on Baja California especially — Venegas, Clavigero, Baegert, and one or 
two anonymous authorities. 

"When the Franciscans so shrewdly gave up Baja California to the rival 
order of St Dominic, the prize which had fallen into their hands at the 
expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, and took upon themselves, two years later, 
the conversion of the northern barbarians, the records still received due 
attention from Padre Junipero's zealous missionary band ; and, thanks to the 
efforts of Padre Francisco Palou, the most important of the documents may 
be consulted in print, together with a connected narrative in the same 
author's life of Junipero Serra. 

"From the period embraced in Palou 's writings down to the incorpora- 
tion of our state into the northern union, the world knows almost nothing of 
Californian history, from Californian sources. Hundreds of travellers from 
different lands came to our shores, each of whom gave to the world tlie result 
of his observations during a visit or brief residence, the whole constituting a 
most valuable source of information. Most of these writers gave also an his- 
torical sketch ; a few read Palou 's life of Serra, consulted some of the more 
accessible documents, in state or mission archives, and obtained fragmentary 
data from native residents ; the rest copied, with mutilations and omissions, 
the work of the few. 

"All these sketches were superficial and incomplete; many were grossly 
inaccurate ; not a few were written with the intent, or at least willingness, to 
deceive, in the interest of party, clique, or section. The official records of the 
Anglo-American invasion and conquest were more complete and accurate, but 
it presented only one side where it were best to have both. 

"I desired to treat the subject in all its phases, impartially and exhaust- 
ively ; of one thing I felt the need above all others — of a history of Spanish 
and Mexican California, including the Anglo-American invasion, written from 
a Hispano- American standpoint, by a native Californian of culture, promi- 
nent among and respected by his countrymen, possessed of sound judgment, 


a liberal spirit, an enthusiastic love for his subject, and appreciation of ita 
importance. These qualifications. General, you have long been known to 
possess in a high degree, and more fully than any other living man could 
have done have you supplied the pressing need to which I have alluded. 

"In the conquest of Alta Calif ornia the missionary and the soldier marched 
side by side ; but the padres for the most part had the telling of the story, 
and not unlikely claimed more than belonged to them of credit for success. 

"Your respected father, Don Ignacio Vallejo, educated for the church, 
abandoned a distasteful ecclesiastical life when on its very threshold, in spite 
of prospective priestly honors, and came here to fight the battle of life with 
the sword instead of the rosary. From the first he was identified with the 
interests of California, as were his children after him ; the two generations 
embrace all there is, save only three years, of our country's annals. Your 
father's memoranda, with the work of Governor Pedro Fages — the latter, for 
the most part, descriptive rather than historical — are about all we have from 
a secular point of view on the earliest times ; and they supply, besides, most 
useful materials bearing on the later years of Spanish rule down to the 
time from which your own recollections date, in the rule of the most worthy 
Governor Pablo Vicente de Sola. 

"For a period of thirty years, from 1815 to 1845, your work stands without 
a rival among your predecessors in its completeness and interest ; and I confi- 
dently expect to find it as accurate as it is fascinating. Recording hundreds 
of minor occurrences wholly unknown to previous writers, you also devote 
chapters to each leading event hitherto disposed of in a paragraph or a page. 
To specify the points thus carefully recorded would be to give en r6sam6 the 
annals of our state; suffice it to say that in your pages I find brought out, 
in comparatively brighter light than ever before, the long continued struggle 
against aboriginal barbarism ; the operations of the unwelcome Russian colo- 
nists; Captain Bouchard and his insurgent band at Monterey in 1818; news 
of the Mexican independence in 1822, and its eff'ect in California; the change 
from imperial to constitutional government in 1824; opposition of the padres 
to republicanism ; end of the pastoral and inauguration of the revolutionary 
period; California as a Mexican penal colony; the revolts of Herrera and 
Solis in 1828-9; the varying policy in Mexico and California on secular- 
ization; overthrow of Governor Victoria, and the exile of unmanageable 
padres; the colonization 'grab' of Hijar and Pudr^s, defeated by Governor 
Figueroa in 1835, and saving of the missions for other hands to plunder; con- 
quests on the northern frontier by Alf6rez Vallejo and Prince Solano; the 
uprising of Californian federalists against Mexican centralism, and the down- 
fall of governors Chico and Gutierrez ; the rule of Governor Juan B. Alvarado 
and General M. G. Vallejo from 1836 to 1842; rebellion of the south, and 
long continued strife between the Arribeiios andAbajefios; the gradual in- 
crease of overland immigration ; and, finally, the varied events of a still later 
period. From 1846 to 1850 your work is brought more into comparison with 
others — a comparison which, I doubt not, will serve only more full to confirm 
the value of the whole as an authentic source of knowledge. 

"The above is but a mutilated skeleton of the living historic body created 
by your pen. It is not, however, as a record of dry facts, of the succession 


of rulers, of victories over revolting malcontents or gentile Indians, of the 
acts of public officials, that your writings impress me as having their highest 
value ; but rather as pictures of early Califomian life and character. The 
functions of the skeleton's larger bones are not more important but rather 
less interesting tlian those of the complicated net-work of veins, nerves, and 
more delicate organs which give symmetry and life to the body. I note with 
pleasure your evident appreciation of the true historical spirit, which no 
longer ignores the masses to describe the commonplace acts of rulers. This 
appreciation is clearly shown in the vivid pictures you present of life among 
all classes. Rich and poor, official and private, secular and religious, padre, 
neophyte, and gentile ; soldier, sailor, merchant, and smuggler ; the wealthy 
hacendodo and humble ranchero; aristocrat and plebeian — all appear to the 
view as they lived and acted in the primitive pre-gringo tunes. Besides your 
delineations of the mission, presidio, and pueblo systems; of secularization 
schemes; of agricultural, commercial, and industrial resources; of political, 
judicial, and educational institutions, we have in a lighter vein charming 
recollections of school-boy days ; popular diversions of young and old ; the in- 
door music, dancing, and feasting, and the out-door picnic, race, and bull-fight ; 
ceremonial displays under church auspices, and official receptions of high dig- 
nitaries or welcome visitors from abroad ; care of the church for the welfare 
and morality of the people, home customs, interesting incidents of social life, 
weddings, elopements, and ludicrous practical jokes — the whole constituting 
a most masterly picture, which no foreigner has ever equalled or ever could 
equal ; a view from the interior which none could paint save an artist-actor 
in the scenes portrayed. 

" I have to thank you not only for this most valuable and timely gift, but 
for some fifty large folio volumes of original papers to vouch for or correct 
what you have written, as well as for your generous interest in the task I 
have undertaken, and your influence among your countrymen in my behalf. I 
have been able to procure many other original narratives, written by native 
Calif ornians and old residents — less exhaustive than your own contribution, 
but still very important — together with thousands of documents from family 
archives ; and my store of material is daily augmenting. I am grateful for 
the confidence with which you and other distinguished Californians intrust 
to me the task of transmitting to coming generations the deeds of your- 
selves and your fathers, and I accept the task with a full realization of the 
responsibilities incurred. My purpose is to write a complete, accurate, and 
impartial history of California. With access practically to all that has been 
written on the subject by natives or by foreigners, and to all the papers of 
public and private archives, I expect to succeed.^ In case of such success, to 
none of the many who have aided or may aid in my work shall I be placed 
under greater obligations, General, and to none shall I ever more cheerfully 
acknowledge my indebtedness, than to yourself. 

"Very sincerely, Hubert H. Baxcroft." 

This correspondence was published at the time in all 
the leading journals, of various languages; after which 
the sun moved on in its accustomed course. 


On the 9th of October, 187G, at Sonoma, Enrique 
Cerruti killed liiinself. I was east at the time, and the 
painful intelligence was sent me by General Vallejo. 
The cause of this deplorable act was losses in mining 
stocks. For a year past he had been gambling in 
these in-securities, and during the latter part of this 
time he w^as much demoralized. The disgrace attend- 
ing failures was beyond his endurance. He could be 
brave anywhere but there ; but heroes make wry faces 
over the toothache, and philosophers groan as loudly 
as others when troubled with pains in the liver. He 
who is tranquillized by a tempest or a war-trumpet 
quails before the invocation of his own thoughts. 

When I left San Francisco in June he attended me 
to the ferry, and was outwardly in his usual health 
and spirits. He continued his work at the library 
only a few weeks after my departure, so that when 
he died he had not been in my service for three 
months; indeed, so nervous and eccentric had become 
his brain by his speculations that for some time past 
he had been totally unfit for literary labor. 

He wrote me for two thousand dollars; but his 
letter lay in New York while I was absent in the 
White mountains, and I did not receive it till too 
late. The amount he asked for, however, even if I 
had been in time with it, would not have saved him, 
for he owed, as was afterward estimated, from fifteen 
to twenty thousand dollars. He had borrowed this 
money from his friends, and had lost it; and his ina- 
bility to pay well nigh maddened him. He talked of 
suicide for six months previous, but no attention was 
paid to his threats. Just before leaving for Sonoma he 
bade all farewell for the last time; some lauo^hed at 
him, others offered to bet with him that he would not 
do it; no one believed him. He had quarrelled and 
made peace alternately with every person in the li- 
brary; he had denounced every friend he had, one after 
the other, as the cause of his ruin. Then again it was 
his fate; he had been so cursed from childhood. How- 


ever, death should balance all accounts, and swallow 
all dishonor ; though his friends failed to perceive how 
a claim against a dead Cerruti w^as better than a claim 
against a live one. O man ! Passing the vita pro vita, 
is the rest nothing but protoplasm ? 

Why he selected Sonoma as the point of his final 
departure no one knows, unless it was for dramatic 
effect. He was a lover of notoriety; and a tragic 
act would command more attention there than in a 
large city. Then there were the Vallejos, his dearest 
friends — he might have chosen to be buried near 
them. Gunpowder, too, one would have thought 
nearer akin to his taste than drugs. He was fully 
determined to die, for, laudanum failing, he resorted 
to strychnine. Awakened by his groans, the hotel 
people sent for Mrs Vallcjo, who tried to administer 
an antidote, but he refused to receive it. The coroner 
telegraphed the firm, and Mr. Savage represented the 
library at the burial. 

Poor, dear Cerruti! If I had him back with me 
alive, I would not give him up for all Nevada's mines. 
His ever welcome presence; his ever pleasing speech, 
racy in its harmless bluster; his ever charming ways, 
fascinating in their guileful simplicity, the far-reach- 
ing round earth does not contain his like. Alas, 
Cerrutti! with another I might say, I could have 
better lost a better man ! 



There is no happiness in life, there is no misery, like that growing out of 
the dispositions which consecrate or desecrate a home. 


I ALMOST despaired of ever having a home again. 
I was growing somewhat old for a young wife, and I 
had no fancy for taking an old one. The risk on both 
sides I felt to be great. A Buffalo lady once wrote 
me: ''All this time you might be making some one 
person happy." I replied: ''All this time I might be 
making two persons miserable." And yet no one 
realized more fully than myself that a happy marriage 
doubles the resources, and completes the being which 
otherwise fails in the fullest development of its intui- 
tions and yearnings. The twain are, in the nature 
human, one; each without loss gives what the other 

There were certain qualities I felt to be essential 
not only to my happiness, but to my continued literary 
success. I was so constituted by nature that I could 
not endure domestic infelicity. Little cared I for the 
world, with its loves and hates, whether it regarded 
me kindly, or not at all. I had a world within me 
w^hose good- will I could command so long as I was at 
peace with myself Little cared I for a scowl here, 
or an attack there ; out am ong men I felt myself equal 
to cope with any of them. But my home must be to 
me heaven or hell. There was no room in my head 
for discord, nor in my heart for bitterness. 

To write well, to do anything well, a right-inten- 



tioned humane man must be at peace with the one 
nearest him. Many a time in my younger married 
hfe has a cross word, dropped upon her I loved on 
leaving my home in the morning, so haunted me while 
at my business, so buzzed about my ears, so filmed my 
eyes, and thumped upon the incrustment within which 
I had wrapped my heart, that I have flung down my 
work, gone back and dispelled the offence, after which 
I might return untroubled to my business. Drop into 
the heart a sweet word, and it will perch itself and 
sing all the night long, and all the day; drop into the 
heart a sharp word, and, rat-like, it will scratch all 
round, and gnaw, and gnaw, and gnaw! 

Nothing so quickly dissipated my ideas, and spoiled 
a day for me, as domestic disturbances. I had long 
since accustomed myself to throw off the ever present 
annoyances of business, even placing my literary peace 
of mind above the reach of the money-wranglers. 
But in my home, where my whole being was so di- 
rectly concerned, where all my sympathies were 
enlisted and all my affections centred, derangement 
were fatal. 

Hence it was, as the years went by and I found 
myself day after day alone, after exhaustion had driven 
me from my writing, that I regarded less hopefully 
my chances of again having a home. 

*'I will keep house for you," my daughter used to 

'' But you will marry," was my reply. 

" Then we will live with you." 

" I would not have 3^ou." 

^' Then you shall live with us." 

'' 'Us' I shall never live with." 

'' Then I shall not marry!" was the conclusion com- 
monly arrived at. 

I had sold my dwelling on California street for sev- 
eral reasons. It was large and burdensome to one 
situated as I was. Much of my time I wished to 
spend out of the city, where I would be removed 

448 HOME. 

from constant interruption. As long as I had a house 
I must entertain company. This I enjo}^ed when time 
was at my disposal; but drives, and dinners, and late 
hours dissipated literary effort, and with so much 
before me to be done, and a score of men at my back 
whom I must keep employed, I could take little 
pleasure in pastime which called me long from the 

My great fear of marrying was lest I should fasten 
to my side a person who would hurry me off the 
stage before my task was done, or otherwise so con- 
found me that I never should be able to complete my 
labors. This an inconsiderate woman could accom- 
plish in a variety of ways — as, for instance, by lack 
of sympathy in my labors; by inordinate love of 
pleasure, which finds in society gossip its highest 
gratification; by love of display, which leads to ex- 
pensive living, and the like. 

Naturally shrinking from general society, and pre- 
ferring books and solitude to noisy assemblies, like 
Euripides I was undoubtedly regarded by some as 
sulky and morose; yet I believe few ever held hu- 
manity in higher esteem or carried a kinder heart for 
all men than I. "When a man has great studies," 
says George Eliot, ''and is v/riting a great work, he 
must, of course, give up seeing much of the world. 
How can he go about making acquaintances?" 

Often had I been counselled to marry; but whom 
should I marry? I must have one competent, men- 
tally, to be a companion — one in whom my mind might 
rest while out of harness. Then the affection must 
have something to feed on, if one would not see the 
book- writer become a monstrosity and turn all into 
head. To keep a healthy mind in a healthy body the 
intellectual toiler of all other men needs sympathy, 
which shall be to him as the morning sun to the frost- 
stiffened plant. It is not well to wholly uproot feeling 
or thrust affection back upon the heart. 

As the healthy body seeks food, so the healthy 


mind faints for friendship, and the healthy heart for 
love. Nor will love of friends and relatives alone 
suffice. The solitary being sighs for its mate, its other 
self. Blindly, then, if we shut from our breast the 
blessed light of heaven, the tendrils of affection 
stretch forth even though they encounter only the 
dead wall of buried hopes. 

Whom should I marry, then? The question oft 
repeated itself Do not all women delight in the 
fopperies of fashionable life more than in what might 
seem to them dry, fruitless toil? Where should love 
be found of such transforming strength as to meta- 
morphose into Me a female mind of fair intelligence, 
and endow its possessor with the same extravagant 
enthusiasm of which I was possessed? 

No; better a thousand times no wife at all than 
one who should prove unwilling to add her sacrifice to 
mine for the accomplishment of a high purpose; who 
should fail to see things as I saw them, or to make 
my interest hers; who should not believe in me and 
in my work w^ith her whole soul; who should not be 
content to make my heart her home, and go with me 
wherever duty seemed to call, or who could not find 
in intellectual progress the highest pleasure. 

For years my heart had lain a-rusting; now I 
thought I might bring it out, clean and polish it, and 
see if it might not be as good as new. It had been 
intimated by certain critics that I had allowed love of 
literature to rival love of woman. But this was not 
true. I was ready at any time to marry the woman 
who should appear to me in the form of a dispensation. 

Appetite underlies all activity. In the absence of 
appetite one may rest. Happy he whose intellect is 
never hungry, whose soul is ever satisfied with its fair 
round fatness, and the sum of whose activities is con- 
fined to the body, to feed, grow, and reproduce. Let 
him delight in the domestic sanctuar}^. Let him go 
forth happily in the morning, and let him send to his 

Lit. Ind. 29 

450 HOME. 

loved ones their beef and turnips, as tokens of affec- 
tion. Unto such it is given ever to be joyous, and to 
disguise sorrow; but let not the man of loftier aspira- 
tions seek rest upon this planet, for he shall not find it. 

In mirth men are sincere; in sobriety hypocritical. 
It is behind the mask of gravity that the fantastic 
tricks which turn and overturn society are performed. 
Joy is more difficult to counterfeit than sorrow. We 
may cloud the sun witli smoked glass, but we cannot 
dissipate the clouds with any telescope of human in- 

The higher order of literary character above all 
things loves simplicity and a quiet life; loves tran- 
quillity of mind and a body free from pain; hates 
interruptions, controversial wranglings, and personal 
publicity. Thus it was with Scott, Dugald Stewart, 
and a host of others. Not the least stranofe anions: the 
contrarieties of human nature are the idiosyncrasies of 
authors. Why should men of genius so commonly be 
dissipated, quarrelsome, and void of common sense? 
Minds the w^isest, the most exalted, the most finely 
strung, seem inseparable from some species of madness. 
Men of genius usually in some directions are visionary 
dreamers; in many directions they are often as in- 
genuous as children, likewise as wayward and as petu- 
lant. No wonder women cannot endure them. Meanly 
selfish, the wayward follies of childhood are intensi- 
fied by the stubborn w^ill of the man. Like the ever 
changing waters, now their disposition is as the dew 
of morning sitting with exquisite daintiness on every 
web and petal, refreshing every leaf and flower, then 
bursting forth in merciless storm, beating on all it 
loves and laying low its own. And yet the moisture 
is the same and eternally reviving; so that, whether 
the mood of these men is as the silent vapor or the 
raging sea, whether their speech is as the dropping of 
pearly dew or as the beating of the rain-storm, their 
minds are an exhaustless ocean of life -sustaining 


The wife of a literary man has her own pecuUar 
troubles, which the world knows not of Much of 
the time she is left alone while her husband is buried 
in his studies. She craves more of his society, per- 
haps, than he feels able to give her; the theatre, the 
opera, and evening parties in a measure she is obliged 
to forego. When talking to her, his speech is not 
always pleasing. From seeming moroseness he some- 
times darts off at the angle of an absurd idea, or 
indulges in a deluge of dialectics upon society, poli- 
tics, religion, or any subject which happens to fall 
under his observation. Besides this he may be at 
times nervous, fretful, whimsical, full of fault-findings 
and unjust complaints about the very things to which 
she has devoted her most careful attention. When 
we consider all this we cannot much wonder at the 
proverbial domestic infelicities of authors. Lecky 
affirms that " no painter or novelist, who wished to 
depict an ideal of perfect happiness, would seek it in 
a profound student." 

What a catalogue they make, to be sure, taken 
almost at random. The name of Xanthippe, wife 
of Socrates, has become a byword in history for a 
shrew. But not every one is, like the great Athenian 
sage, possessed of the philosophy to choose a wife as 
he would make choice of a restive horse, so that in 
the management of her he might learn the better to 
manage mankind. 

Cicero, after thirty years of married life, divorced 
Terentia, his darling, the delight of his eje^, and the 
best of mothers, as he repeatedly called her. Dante, 
Albert DUrer, Moliere, Scaliger, Steele, and Shake- 
speare were unhappy in their wives. At the age of 
eight years Byron made love and rhymes to Mary 
Duff, at eleven to Margaret Parker, and at fifteen 
to Mar}^ Chaworth. The last named Mary refusing 
him, he finally married Anne Isabella Milbanke. A 
year of married life had hardly passed before Lady 

452 HOME. 

Byron was back in her father's house. He who 
awoke one morning and found himself famous — such 
is the irony of fame — was mobbed by his late adorers, 
and soon quitted England forever. At Venice this 
most licentious of poets met Teresa Gamba, wife of 
Count Guiccioli, who kindly winked at a liaison be- 
tween his countess and the Eno^lish lord. 

Burns made sad work of it; first falling in love 
with his harvesting companion, a bonnie sweet lass of 
fourteen, then falling out with Jean Armour, a rustic 
beauty, leaving her twins to support, next engaging 
to marry Colonel Montgomery's dairy -maid, Mary 
Campbell, her whom he made immortal as Highland 
Mary, singing of her as Mary in Heaven before the 
nuptials were consummated on earth, and finally re- 
turning to his old love, Jean Armour, and marrying 
her — meanwhile so intemperate that, last of all, he 
died of overmuch drink. 

In the Dowager Countess of Warwick, Addison 
found an uncongenial wife, and spent the remainder 
of his life, as Whipple says, in taverns, clubs, and 
repentance. The Lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter 
of the earl of Berkshire, added nothing to the hap- 
piness of Dryden, whom she married. Montaigne 
found married life troublesome ; La Fontaine deserted 
his wife; and Rousseau went after strange goddesses. 

The refined Shelley separated from Harriet West- 
brook, the innkeeper's daughter, two years after their 
marriage. It seems he preferred to his wife another 
woman, Mary Godwin, and after living with her for 
two years, his wife meanwhile kindly drowning her- 
self, he married his mistress; not that he regarded the 
marriage contract as binding, or in any wise necessary, 
but because it would give pleasure to Mary. After 
breaking half a score of hearts, Goethe, before he 
married her, lived twenty-eight years with the bright- 
eyed girl whom he had met in the park at Weimar. 

At the end of the honeymoon, Mary Powell left 
John Milton, went back to her father's house, and 


refused to return; though two years later a reconciU- 
ation was effected. The wife of Thackeray was over- 
taken by a fever and put out to be nursed, while the 
husband and two daughters lived with his mother. 

Hazlitt, one of the most brilliant of critics and 
eloquent of essayists, had a most infelicitous matrimo- 
nial experience. In 1808 he married Miss Stoddart. 
After living with her some ten years, he fell crazily 
in love with a tailor's daughter. So fiercely burned 
this flame that he divorced his wife, she nothing loath, 
and threw himself at the feet of the maid, only to 
be rejected. Then he espoused a widow, Mrs Bridge- 
water, who left him within a year after marriage. 

Even gentle Charles Lamb broke a marriage en- 
gagement, because of a tendency to insanity in his 
family, and on account of his sister, Mary Lamb, who 
killed her mother, and was obliged to be confined in a 
lunatic asylum periodically. 

Pope, who dives deep into the human heart and 
makes its inmost recesses his familiar haunt, is so fool- 
ish in his professions of love for Lady Mary Wortley 
Montagu that she laughs in his face, thereby incurring 
his deadly enmity forever after. 

How much better it would be for literary men 
to marry as all nature marries, under direction of 
their harmonies, and then rest in their new relations. 
There is no question that an evenly balanced mind 
can labor more steadily, can do more and better work, 
under the calm and well regulated freedom of the mar- 
riage state than when unsettled by restless cravings. 
But these men of genius seem to have married their 
woes instead of their pleasures. 

The women in many instances seem to be no better 
than the men. Indeed, the wife has bleu, one badly 
affected with cacoetJies scribendi, is about as unlov- 
able a woman as a female doctor. Felicitous Felicia 
Hemans, after making her sick captain very unhappy, 
let him go to Italy while she went home; after whicl] 
they never took the trouble to meet. George Sand, 

454 HOME. 

finding life with a husband unendurable, began a 
separation by taking her children to Paris and there 
spending half the year, the other half being occupied 
in the direction of divorce. 

Divorce alone did not satisfy Rosina Wheeler, wife 
of Edward Bulwer Lytton, but she must pubhsh books 
against her former husband, and harangue against 
him at the hustings when he stood for parliament. 
At railing and carping she outdid sleepy Momus. 
Madame de Stael, if she hated not marriage, hated 
the fruits of it. Said she of her children: "lis ne 
me ressemblent pas;" and of her daughter, whom she 
affected to despise: " C'est une lune bien pale." This 
talented lady should have lived among the Chinese, 
who maintain that '* the happiest mother of daughters 
is she who has only sons;" just as Saint Paul thought 
those best married who had no wives. Talents cease 
to be becoming when they render a mother indifferent 
or averse to her offspring. 

But there is this of Madame de Stael which may 
be said in her favor: Her life, so far as conjugal hap- 
piness was concerned, was a wreck, just as the life of 
many another woman of intellect and culture has 
been one long-drawn sigh for companionship. Hollow 
as is a life for society, and hard as is a life of alone- 
ness, either is preferable to the soul -slavery of a 
woman tied to a companionless husband. George 
Eliot, the matchless, the magnificent — but we will 
drop the curtain! 

In this practical scientific age the subtlest science 
is the science of self Man is possessed of many 
vagaries; and of all occupations the writing of books 
is attended by the most pains and whimsicalities. 
Extraordinary strength in one direction is balanced 
by extraordinary weakness in another; as a rule you 
may debit a man with folly in proportion as you 
credit him with wisdom. 

Higher and better trained than any we are apt to 


meet must be the intellect that finds in utility alone 
a sufficient incentive to well-doing. Every day we 
see men of education wilfully transgressing, regardless 
of consequences, while the ignorant and superstitious, 
under religious fear, shun the evil that ends in disaster. 

Joaquin Miller admired Byron. Byron treated his 
wife badly; Joaquin treated his wife badly. Joaquin 
was satisfied that in no other way could he be Byron — • 
and Joaquin was right. In this respect, as in every 
other, alas ! I may not lay claim to genius. 

Though not uniformly even-tempered and amiable, 
I cannot say that I delight in tormenting my family. 
Many times I have attempted it and failed. I lack the 
fortitude to face the consequences; I find defeat less 
painful than victory. Twelve times groaned Eugene 
Aram ; his murdered victim groaned but twice. Man's 
inhumanity, not Satan^ is man s greatest enemy. 

But while we jointly abhor those abnormities of 
"genius which tend to injustice and cruelty, let us not 
forget that genius is eccentric, and nowhere more so 
than in its relations with women. Genius, to be genius, 
must be irregular. He who is charged with the pos- 
session of genius, if he be in every respect like every 
other man, obviously either he is no genius or else all 
men arc men of genius. Therefore the men of sense 
must exercise their patience while the men of genius 
make idiots of themselves. 

Notwithstanding all that has been said and written 
concerning the domestic infelicities of authors, and 
let me add of others, the one thousandth part has not 
been told. Only a few of the insaner sort have come 
to the light. Of smothered wrongs and unheralded 
hates; of thorny marriage beds, and poisoned connu- 
bial lives which have never been blazoned abroad, if 
all were written, the libraries of the world would 
needs be doubled. Millions have thus lived and died, 
nevertheless there have been those so seemingly swept 
onward by the saturnine influence of marital infelici- 
ties that escape appeared impossible; and so within 

456 HOME. 

the month we see the heart-broken Mrs Bluebeard 
marrying the fascinating Captain Blackbeard. 

In the eyes of Demosthenes two quahfications only 
were essential in a wife ; she must be a faithful house- 
guardian and a fruitful mother. But times have 
greatly changed since the days of Demosthenes : Irish 
servants are the house-guardians, and the best wives 
often those that are not mothers at all. 

No one possessed of manliness will marry a woman 
for money. For unless she voluntarily dispossesses 
herself of her property, which no woman in her senses 
will do, and becomes a puppet in her husband's hands, 
she is apt sooner or later to unloose the reins of 
womanly decorum and to arrogate to herself not only 
the management of her own affairs but also her hus- 
band's. As Juvenal wrote with the women of Home 
before him: 

"Sure of all ills with which mankind are curst 
A wife who brings you money is the worst." 

To me the long catalogue of matrimonial infernal- 
isms has no siQ:niiicance other than that of congratu- 
lation at my escape from such loving woes. The 
younger Pliny I will take for my text, and out-swear 
him double upon his domestic peace. Hear him talk 
of his Calpurnia: ''Her intelligence is very great, 
very great her frugality ; in loving me she shows how 
good a heart she has. And she has now a fondness 
for letters, which springs from her affection for me. 
She keeps my books by her, loves to read them, even 
learns them by heart. These things make me feel a 
most certain hope that there will be a perpetual and 
ever growing harmony between us. For it is not 
youth or personal beauty that she loves in me — things 
that by degrees decline with old age — but my fame." 

Her life was one continuous sparkle, like that of 
good wine whose spirit is immortal. Her face was 
as a lovely landscape, brightly serene, warmed by all- 


melting sympathy^ and lighted by the glow of intel- 
lect. Her voice was like the laughing water; her 
laugh was ringing silver; and through the soft azure 
of her eye the eye of love might see an ocean of 
affection. Joyous was her approach, lighting with her 
sunbeam smile the dismal recesses of reflection; and 
beaming beautiful as she was without, I found her, 
as Aristotle says of Pythias, as fair and good within. 

Beneath sweet and simple speech in which was 
no sting, behind a childlike manner in which was no 
childishness, there was revealed to me, day by day 
as we walked and talked together, a full developed 
womanly character, strong, deep, comprehensive. Ral- 
lying to my support with ever increasing mental 
powers, by her ready aid and fond encouragement 
she doubled my capabilities from the first. For no 
less in these, than in the good wife's tender trust, lies 
the strong man's strength. 

New Haven had been her home, and of the families 
of that old university to\vn hers was among the most 
respected. It was there I first met her, and afterward 
at Bethlehem, the highest of New England villages. 
Walking down the dusty road, we turned aside into 
a rocky field, crossing into a lane which led us to a 
tangled wood, where, seated on a fallen tree, each spoke 
the words to speak which we were there. It was the 
12th of October, 1876, that I married Matilda Coley 
Griffing; and from the day that she was mine, wher- 
ever her sweet presence, there was my home. 

There was no little risk on her part, in thus com- 
mitting the new wine of her love to an old bottle; 
but that risk she took, retained her fresh maidenly 
mood unhackne3^ed, and never burst the confine of 
wifely courtesy. 

It has been elsewhere intimated that no one is 
competent to write a book who has not already 
written several books. The same observation mig^ht 
be not inappropriately applied to marriage. No man 
— I will not say woman — is really in the fittest condi- 

458 HOME. 

tion to marry who has not been married before. For 
obvious reasons, a middle-aged man ought to make a 
better husband than a very young man. He lias had 
more experience; he should know more, have better 
control of himself, and be better prepared to have 
consideration for those dependent upon him for hap- 
piness or support. The young man, particularly one 
who has not all his life enjoyed the noblest and best 
of female society, does not always entertain the high- 
est opinion of woman, never having reached the finer 
qualities of her mind and heart, and having no con- 
ception of the superiority of her refined and gentle 
nature over his own. Hence the inexperienced youth, 
launched upon the untried ocean of matrimony, often 
finds himself in the midst of storms which might have 
been with ease avoided, had he been possessed of 
greater tact or experience. 

And the children which come later in the lives of 
their parents — we might say, happy are they as com- 
pared with those who appeared before them. It is 
safe to say that one half the children born into the 
world die in infancy through the ignorance or neglect 
of their parents; and of the other half, their lives for 
the most part are made miserable from the same 
cause. The young husband and father chafes under 
the new cares and anxieties incident to untried respon- 
sibilities which interfere with his comfort and pleasure, 
and the child must suffer therefrom. Often a newly 
married pair are not ready at once to welcome children ; 
they are perhaps too nmch taken up with themselves 
and the pleasures and pastimes of society. Later in 
life parents are better prepared, more in the humor it 
may be, more ready to find their chief pleasure in 
welcoming to the world successive reproductions of 
themselves, and watching the physical and mental 
unfolding, and ministering to the comfort and joy of 
the new and stranoe little beino^s committed to them. 

There was little lack of sympathy between us, my 
wife and me, little lack of heart, and head, and hand 


help. After the journeying incident to this new re- 
lationship was over, and I once more settled at work, 
all along down the days and years of future ploddings 
patiently by ray side she sat, her face the picture of 
happy contentment, assisting me with her quick appli- 
cation and sound discrimination, making notes, study- 
ing my manuscript, and erasing or altering such 
repetitions and solecisms as crept into my work. 

At White Sulphur springs, and Santa Cruz, where 
we spent the following spring and summer, on the 
hotel porches used to sit the feathery- brained women 
of fashion from the cit}^ — used there to sit and cackle, 
cackle, cackle, all the morning, and all the evening, 
while we were at our work; and I never before so 
realized the advantasre to woman of ennobling: occu- 
pation. Why should she be the vain and trifling 
thing, intellectually, that she generally is? How long 
will those who call themselves ladies exercise their 
influence to make work degrading, and only folly 
fashionable? At the Springs during this time there 
was a talented woman of San Francisco, well known 
in select circles, who had written a volume of really 
beautiful poems, but who assured me she was ashamed 
to publish it, on account of the damage it would be 
to her socially; that is to say, her frivolous sisters 
would tolerate no sense in her. 

But little cared we for any of them. We were 
content; nay, more, we were very happy. Kising 
early and breakfasting at eight o'clock, we devoted 
the forenoon to work. After luncheon we walked, or 
rode, or drove, usuall}^ until dinner, after which my 
wife and daughter mingled with the company, while 
I wrote often until ten or eleven o'clock. In this 
way I could average ten hours a day; which, but for 
the extraordinary strength of my constitution, must 
be regarded twice as much as I should have done. 

It was a great saving to me of time and strength, 
this taking my work into the country. In constant 
communication with the library, I could draw thence 

460 HOME. 

daily such fresh material as I required, and as often 
as necessary visit the library in person, and have 
supervision of things there. Thus was my time 
divided between the still solitude of the country and 
the noisy solitude of the city. 

Never in my life did I work harder or accomplish 
more than during the years immediately succeeding 
my marriage, while at the same time body and mind 
grew stronger under the fortifying influences of home. 

For a year and more before my marriage I had 
been under promise to my daughter to go east at the 
close of her summer school term and accompany her 
to the centennial exhibition at Philadelphia. This 
I did, leaving San Francisco the 15th of June 187G, 
and taking her, with her two cousins and a young 
lady friend, to the great w^orld's show, there to spend 
the first two weeks in July. Thence we all re- 
turned to New Haven. During a previous visit east 
I had met Miss Griffinsf, and I now determined to 
meet her oftener. After a few weeks in New Haven 
I proceeded to Buffalo; and thence, after a time, to 
the White mountains, whither Miss Griffing had 
migrated for the summer. 

Immediately after our marriage we went to New 
York, Philadelphia, and Washington. My newly 
wedded pleasure did not, however, render me obliv- 
ious to my historical aims. In New York I called 
on General and Mrs Fremont. They were exceed- 
ingly gracious, realizing fully the importance of the 
work which I was doing, wished particularly to be 
placed right in history, where they had always been 
under a cloud, they said, and promised their imme- 
diate and hearty cooperation; all of which was idle 
wind. Why cannot the soi-disant great and good 
always shame the devil? 

I found Mrs Fremont a large, fine appearing, gray- 
haired woman of sixty, perhaps, very animated and 
shrewdly talkative, thoroughly engrossed in her hus- 


band's schemes, assisting him now, as she has done for 
twenty years, by planning and writing for him. The 
general appeared about sixty-five, slightly built, with 
closely trimmed gray hair and beard. 

From New York we went to Washington, and 
saw Major and Mrs Powell, George Bancroft, Judge 
Field, Mr SpofForcl, and many others. After a day at 
Mount Vernon we returned to Baltimore, there to 
meet President Gilman, Brantz Mayer, and other 
friends. Thouofh both of us had seen the exhibition, 
as we supposed, we could not pass it by upon the 
j)resent occasion, and accordingly spent a week in 

With new interest Mrs Bancroft now regarded 
everything pertaining to the Pacific coast. " The 
Indian trappings in the government building," she 
writes in her journal begun at this time, "the photo- 
graphs of the Mound-builders and the Cave-dwellers, 
the stone utensils and curiously decorated pottery of 
the Pueblos, the glass photographs of views in Col- 
orado and Arizona, so vividly displaying, with its 
wild fascinations, the scenery of the west, all seemed 
suddenly clothed in new charms." 

I had long desired a dictation from John A. Sutter. 
Indeed, I regarded the information which he alone 
could give as absolutely essential to my histor}^, the 
first, as he was, to settle in the valley of the Sacra- 
mento, so near the spot where gold was first discov- 
ered, and so prominent in those parts during the 
whole period of the Californian Inferno. I knew that 
he was somewhere in that vicinity, but I did not 
know where. I telegraphed to San Francisco for 
his address, and received in reply, * Sitig, Lancaster 
county, Pennsylvania.' After some search I found the 
^ Sitig' to mean Litiz, and immediately telegraphed 
both the operator and the postmaster. In due time 
answer came that General Sutter resided there, and 
was at home. 

Leaving Philadelphia in the morning, and passing 

4G2 HOME. 

up the beautiful valley of the Schuylkill, we reached 
our destination about noon. Why this bold Swiss, 
who for a dozen years or more was little less than 
king among the natives of the Sierra foothills, where 
had been enacted the mad doings of the gold-seekers, 
why he should leave this land of sunshine, even 
thousfh he had been unfortunate, and hide himself in 
a dismal Dutch town, was a mystery to me. Accident 
seemed to have ruled him in it; accident directed 
him thither to a Moravian school, as suitable in which 
to place a granddaughter. This step led to the build- 
ing of a house, and there he at this time intended to 
end his days. Well, no doubt heaven is as near Litiz 
as California; but sure I am, the departure thence 
is not so pleasant. 

At the Litiz Springs hotel, directly opposite to 
w^hich stood General Sutter's two-story brick house, 
\YQ were told that the old gentleman was ill, unable 
to receive visitors, and that it would be useless to 
attempt to see him. There was one man, the barber, 
who went every day to shave the general, who could 
gain me audience, if such a thing were possible. I 
declined wdth thanks his distinguished services, and 
ordered dinner. 

" I will go over and see his wife, at all events," I 
said to the clerk. 

" That will avail you nothing," was the reply; *' she 
is as deaf as an adder." 

"Who else is there in the family?" 

''A granddaughter." 

That was sufficient. I did not propose to lose my 
journey to Litiz, and what was more, this probably 
my last opportunity for securing this important dicta- 
tion. I was determined to see the general, if indeed he 
yet breathed, and ascertain for myself how ill he w^as. 

After knocking loudly at the portal three several 
times, the door was slowly, silently opened a little 
way, and the head of an old woman appeared at the 


*^Is this Mrs Sutter?" I asked. 

No response. 

"May I speak with you a moment in the hall?" 

Still no response, and no encouragement for me to 
enter. There she stood, the guardian of, apparently, 
as impregnable a fortress as ever was Fort Sutter in 
its palmiest days. I must gain admission; retreat 
now might be fatal. Stepping toward the small 
opening as if there was no obstacle whatever to 
my entering, and as the door swung back a little at 
my approach, I slipped into the hall. 

Once within, no ogress was there. Mrs Sutter was 
a tall, thin, intellioent Swiss, plainly dressed, and 
having a shawl thrown over her shoulders. Her 
English was scarcely intelligible, but she easily un- 
derstood me, and her deafness was not at all trouble- 

Handing her my card, I asked to see General 
Sutter. "I know he is ill," said I, ''but I must see 
him." Taking the card, she showed me into a back 
parlor and then withdrew. From Mrs Sutter's man- 
ner, no less than from wdiat had been told me at the 
hotel, I was extremely fearful that I had come too 
late, and that all of history that house contained was 
in the fevered brain of a dying man. 

But presently, to my great astonishment and delight, 
the door opened, and the general himself entered at 
a brisk pace. He appeared neither very old nor very 
feeble. The chance for a history of Sutter Fort was 
improving. He was rather below medium height, 
and stout. His step was still firm, his bearing sol- 
dierly, and in his younger days he must have been a 
man of much endurance, with a. remarkably fine phy- 
sique. His features Avere of the German cast, broad, 
full face, fairly intellectual forehead, with white hair, 
bald on the top of the head, white side whiskers, 
mustache, and imperial; a deep, clear, earnest eye 
met yours truthfully. Seventy-five years, apparently, 
sat upon him not heavily. He was suffering severely 

464 HOME. 

from rheumatism, and he used a cane to assist him in 
walking about the house. He comj^lained of failing 
memory, but I saw no indication of it in the five daj-s' 
dictating v/hich followed. 

No one could be in General Sutter's presence long 
without feeling satisfied that if not of the shrewdest 
he was an inborn gentleman. He had more the man- 
ners of a courtier than those of a backwoodsman, 
with this difference : his speech and bearing were the 
promptings of a kind heart, unaffected and sincere. 
He received me courteously, and listened with deep 
attention to my plan for a history of the Pacific 
States as I laid it before him, perceiving at once the 
difference between my work and that of local histo- 
rians and newspaper reporters, by whom all the latter 
part of his life he had been besieged. 

'' I have been robbed and ruined," he exclaimed, 
'^by lawyers and politicians. When gold was discov- 
ered I had my fortress, my mills, my farms, leagues of 
land, thousands of cattle and horses, and a thousand 
tamed natives at my bidding. Where are they now? 
Stolen! My men were crushed by the iron heel of 
civilization; my cattle were driven off by hungry 
gold-seekers; my fort and mills were deserted and 
left to decay; my lands were squatted on by overland 
emigrants; and finally I was cheated out of all my 
property. All Sacramento was once mine." 

^' General," said I, "this appears to have been the 
common fate of those who owned vast estates at the 
coming of the Americans. It was partly owing to 
the business inexperience of the holders of land grants, 
though this surely cannot apply to yourself, and partly 
to the unprincipled tricksters who came hither to 
practise in courts of law. The past is past. One 
thing yet remains for you to do, which is to see 
your wonderful experiences properly placed on record 
for the benefit of posterity. You fill an important 
niche in the history of the western coast. Of certain 
events you are the embodiment — the living, walking 


history of a certain time and locality. Often in my 
labors I have encountered your name, your deeds ; and 
let me say that I have never yet heard the former 
mentioned but in kindness, nor the latter except in 

Tears came to the old man's eyes, and his utterance 
was choked, as he signified his willingness to relate 
to me all he knew. 

" You arrived," said he, " at a most opportune mo- 
ment; I am but just out of bed, and I feel I shall be 
down again in a few days, when it will be impossible 
for me to see or converse with any one." 

I said I had come to Litiz on this special business, 
and asked how much time he could devote to it each 

*'A11 the time," he replied, ''if you will conform to 
my hours. Come as early as you like in the morning, 
but we must rest at six o'clock. I retire early." 

Ten hours a day for the next five days resulted in 
two hundred pages of manuscript, which was subse- 
quently bound and placed in the library. Forty 
pages a day kept me very busy, and at night I 
was tired enough. Meanwhile my devoted bride sat 
patiently by, sometimes sewing, always lending an 
attentive ear, with occasional questions addressed to 
the general. 

Thence we proceeded to New Haven, and shortly 
afterward to San Francisco, stopping at Stockbridge, 
Buffalo, Granville, Chicago, and Omaha, at all of 
which places we had friends to visit, before settling 
finally to work again. 

With kind and womanly philosophy Mrs Bancroft 
on reaching San Francisco did not look about her 
with that captious criticism so common among newly 
made Californian wives, to see if she did not dislike 
the country. There were some things about the city 
unique and interesting; others struck her strangely, 
and some disagreeably. But it seemed never to occur 
to her to be dissatisfied or homesick. When she 

Lit. Ind. 30 

466 HOME. 

married a man — -so the ghost of the idea must have 
danced round her heart and brain, for I am sure the 
thought never assumed tangible form — when she mar- 
ried a man, she married him, and there was the end 
of it, so far as shipping her happiness upon the ac- 
cidents of his surroundings was concerned. Sweet 
subtilties I Happier would be the world if there were 
more of them. 

The Palace hotel for a short time was as curious 
as a menagerie; then it became as distasteful as a 
prison. We had many pleasant little dinner parties 
the winter we were there, made up of widely different 
characters. First there were our nearest and dearest 
friends, those who had always been to me more 
than relatives. Then there were the intellectu- 
ally social; and a third class w^ere Spanish- speaking 
Calif ornians and Mexicans, among whom were Pio 
Pico, General Yallejo, Governor Alvarado, Governor 
Pacheco,and the Mexican refugees, President Iglesias, 
and Seiiores Prieto and Palacio of his cabinet. Mrs 
Bancroft began the study of Spanish, and made rapid 
progress; Kate was already quite at home in that 

It was no part of our plan immediately to domicile 
ourselves in any fixed residence. Change seemed 
necessary to my brain, strained as it was to its utmost 
tension perpetually. It was about the only rest it 
would take. What is commonly called pleasure was 
not pleasure so long as there was so much work piled 
up behind it. It must shift position occasionally, and 
feed upon new surroundings, or it became restless 
and unhealthy. Then we had before us much trav- 
elling. The vast territory whose history I was writing 
must be visited in its several parts, some of them 
many times. There was the great Northwest Coast 
to be seen, Oregon, Washington, and British Co- 
lumbia; there was Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona; 
likewise the sunny south, southern California, Mex- 
ico, and Central America. Besides, there was much 


searching of archives in Europe yet to be done. So 
we must content ourselves for the present in making 
the world our home, any part of it in which night 
happened to overtake us. Nevertheless, after a year 
in Oakland, and a winter spent by Mrs Bancroft at 
New Haven, I purchased a residence on Van Ness 
avenue, where for many long and busy years echoed 
the voices of little ones, watched over by a contented 
mother, whose happy heart was that heavenly sun- 
shine which best pleaseth God. This was indeed 



There are some who think that the brooding patience which a great 
work calls for belonged exclusively to an earlier period than ours. 


During the first ten years of these Ingatherings and 
Industries a dark cloud of discouragement hung over 
my efforts, in the form of four or five hundred vol- 
umes, with from seven hundred to nineteen hundred 
pages each, of original documents, lodged in the office 
of the United States surveyor-general in San Fran- 
cisco. Though containing much on mission affairs, 
they constituted the regular archives of the secular 
government from the earliest period of Californian 
history. They were nearly all in Spanish, many of 
them in very bad Spanish, poorly written, and diffi- 
cult of deciphering. 

On the secularization of the missions, that is to 
say the removal of national property from missionary 
control, in many instances the ruin and consequent 
breaking up of mission establishments in California, 
some few loose papers found their way to the college 
of San Fernando, in Mexico, which was the parent 
institution. The clergy still held the mission church 
buildings, and in some instances the out-houses and 
orchards; and the mission books, proper, remained 
naturally in their control. There were likewise left 
at some of the missions bundles of papers, notably at 
Santa Bdrbara ; but these, though of the greatest im- 
portance, were not very bulky in comparison to the 
secular archives. 



More to be considered by the historian were the 
records and documents of the several raunicipaUties 
along the southern seaboard, which with the papers 
kept by retired officials, and those treasured by the 
old and prominent families, formed a very important 
element in the marshalled testimony. Thus matters 
stood when California was made a state of the great 
American confederation; and when counties were 
formed by act of legislature of 1850, the correspond- 
ence, papers, and records of local officials under Mexi- 
can rule, alcaldes, jueces de pn*;ne?x6 instancia, and 
others, were ordered deposited with the clerk of each 

The United States government took possession in 
184G-7 of all the territorial records that could be 
found — an immense mass, though by no means all that 
existed — and in 1851 the public archives in all parts 
of California were called in and placed in charge of 
the United States surveyor-general in San Fran- 
cisco, and of them Mr R. C. Hopkins was made 
custodian. Such of the pueblo and prcsidial archives 
as were deemed of importance to the general govern- 
ment were held in San Francisco. Many, however, 
of great historic value were never removed from their 
original lodgments, and many others were returned 
to them, for of such material much was found by my 
searchers in various places at different times. As 
these archives finally stood they consisted of the official 
correspondence of the superior and other authorities, 
civil and financial, military and ecclesiastic, of Mexico 
and the Californias, from the formation of the first 
mission in 17G9, and even a little further back, to the 
time California was admitted into the union; not 
complete, but full during parts of the time and meagre 
in other parts. As will be seen I was so fortunate as 
to obtain the missing records from other sources. 

When E. M. Stanton came with power from Wash- 
ington to attend to land and other affairs of the gov- 
ernment, he ordered these archives bound. Although 


some divisions of the papers were made, little atten- 
tion was paid to chronological or other arrangement. 
Said Mr Savage to me after a preliminary examina- 
tion: ''The whole thing is a jmnble; so far as their 
value to your work is concerned, or your being able 
to find, by searching, any particular incident of any 
particular period, the papers might as well be in hay- 
stack form." 

What was to be done ? The thought of attacking 
this great dragon of these investigations had been for 
many years in my mind as a nightmare, and while 
doggedly pursuing more puny efforts I tried to shake 
it from me, and not think of it. There was much 
material aside from that, more than enough for my 
purpose, perhaps ; besides, some one could go through 
the mass and take from it what I lacked in the usual 
form of historical notes. 

But such reasoning would not do. The monster 
would not thus be frightened away. All the time, to 
be honest with myself, I well knew that I must have 
before me all existing material that could be obtained, 
and I well knew what 'going through' such a stack 
of papers signified. No; one of the chief difierences 
between my way and that of others in gathering and 
arranging facts for history, one of the chief differences 
between the old method and the new, was, in so far 
as possible, to have all my material together, within 
instant and constant reach, so that I could place before 
me on my table the information lodged in the British 
Museum beside that contained in the archives of 
Mexico, and compare both with what Spain and Cali- 
fornia could yield, and not be obliged in the midst of 
my investigations to go from one library to another 

And under this method, so far as my daily and 
hourly necessities were concerned, this immense mass 
of information might almost as well be in Nova 
Scotia as on Pine street. To be of use to me it must 
be in my hbrary. This was the basis on which my 


work was laid out, and only by adhering to this plan 
could it be accomplished. 

But how get it there ? The government would not 
lend it me, though our benign uncle has committed 
more foolish acts. There was but one way, the way 
pursued in smaller operations — copy it. But what did 
that mean, to ' copy it ' ? The day in government offices 
is short ; a copyist might return from twenty to forty 
folios per diem; this, averaged, would amount to per- 
haps three volumes a year, which would be a hundred 
years' work for one person; and this merely to trans- 
fer the material to my library, where another centur}^ 
of work would be required before it attained the 
proper form as condensed and classified material for 

Well, then, if the task would occupy one person so 
long, put on it ten or twenty — this is the way my 
demon talked to me. But the surveyor's office would 
not accommodate so many. Not to dwell upon the 
subject, however, the matter was thus accomplished: 
A room was rented near the surveyor-general's office, 
to which Mr H. G. Bollins, then in charge, had kindly 
granted permission to have the bound volumes taken 
as required by the copyists. Tables and chairs were 
then purchased, and the needed writing-materials sent 
round. Then by a system of condensation and epito- 
mizing, now so thoroughly understood that no time 
or labor need be lost, under the efficient direction of 
Mr Savage fifteen Spaniards were able in one year to 
transfer from these archives to the library all that 
was necessary for my purpose. This transfer was not 
made in the form of notes; the work was an abridg- 
ment of the archives, which would be of immense 
public value in case of loss by fire of the original doc- 
uments. The title of every paper was given; the 
more important documents were copied in full, while 
the others were given in substance only. The worlv 
was begun the 15th of May 1876. The expense was 
about eighteen thousand dollars; and when in the 


form of bound volumes these archives stood on the 
shelves of the library, we were just ready to begin 
extracting historical notes from them in the usual 

This transcribing of the archives in the United 
States surveyor -general's office was the greatest 
single effort of the kind ever made by me. But there 
were many lesser labors in the same direction, both 
before and afterward; prominent among these was 
the epitomizing of the archiepiscopal archives. 

Learning from Doctor Taylor of Santa Bdrbara 
that he had presented the most reverend Joseph S. 
Alemany, archbishop of San Francisco, for the cath- 
olic church, with a quantity of valuable papers, I 
applied to the archbishop for permission to copy them. 
He did not feel at liberty to let the volumes out of 
his possession. ^' I shall be most happy, however," he 
writes me, " to afford every facility to any gentleman 
you may choose to send to my humble house to copy 
from any volume any pieces which may suit your 
work, taking it for granted that in your kindness 
you will let me see before publication what is written 
on religious matters, lest unintentionally something 
might be stated inaccurately, which no doubt you 
would rectify." It is needless to say that neither 
to the archbishop, nor to any person, living or dead, 
did I ever grant permission to revise or change my 
writings. It was my great consolation and chief 
support throughout my long and arduous career, that 
I was absolutely free, that I belonged to no sect or 
party to which I must render account for any expres- 
sion, or to whose traditions my opinions must bow. 
Sooner than so hamper myself, I would have consigned 
my library and my labors to perdition. 

It appeared to me a kind of compact, this insinua- 
tion of the archbishop, that if he granted me per- 
mission to copy documents which were the property 
of the church, they should not be used in evidence 


against the church. Now with the church I have not 
at any time had controversy. Theology was not my 
theme. I never could treat of theology as it is done 
ordinarily in pulpits, walled about by dogmas, and be 
compelled to utter other men's beliefs whether they 
were my own or not. I should have no pleasure in 
speaking or writing thus; nor is there any power on 
earth which would compel me to it. 

With the doctrines of the church, catholic or prot- 
estant, I had nothing to do. With the doctrines of 
political parties as such, I had nothing to do. It was 
in men, rather than in abstract opinion, that I dealt. 
Because a man was priest or partisan, he was not 
necessarily from that fact good or bad. In so far 
as the missionaries did well, no churchman was 
more ready to praise; wherein they did evil, my 
mouth should speak it, myself being judge. But all 
this did not lessen my obligation to the good arch- 
bishop, who was ever most kind and liberal toward 
me, and whose kindness and liberality I trust I have 
not abused. 

The documents in question formed five books, bound 
into several more volumes. They consisted mostly 
of correspondence by the missionaries of upper and 
lower California among themselves, or with the author- 
ities, both civil and military, in Mexico or the Cali- 
fornias, or from their college of San Fernando; and 
also of statistical data on the missions, a large portion 
of the letters and statistics being of great historical 

Mr Savage with three copyists performed this 
labor in about a month. 

Whilst the work of abstracting was going on, the 
men received occasional visits from attaches of the 
ecclesiastical offices in the mansion, which at first gave 
rise to a suspicion in the mind of Mr Savage that 
he was watched. But nothing occurred to make 
his stay disagreeable. Some inconvenience was felt 
by t]ie copyists from the prohibition by Mr Savage 


against smoking in the premises. There had been no 
objection raised in the house against the practice; 
but he deemed such abstention a mark of respect to 
the archbishop even though he was absent a fort- 
night. On the archbishop's return he occasionally 
entered the room for some document from his desk, 
and ever had a kind word for those who occupied it. 
The result of this work, which was concluded early 
in May 1876, just before beginning on the United 
States surveyor -general's archives, may be seen in 
the Bancroft Library, in three books, entitled Archivo 
del Arzohispado — Cartas de los Misioneros de Call- 
for Ilia, i. ii. iii.^ iii.^ iv.-^ iv.^ v. 

Writing of California material for history in the 
public journals of August 1877, Mr Oak observes: 
^^ First in importance among the sources of informa- 
tion are the public archives, preserved in the different 
offices, of nation, state, county, and city, at San Fran- 
cisco, Sacramento, San Jose, Salinas, Los Angeles, 
San Diego, and to a slight extent in other towns. 
These constitute something over 500 bulky tomes, 
besides loose papers, in the aggregate not less than 
300,000 documents. Of the nature of these manu- 
scripts it is impossible within present limits to say 
more than that they are the original orders, corre- 
spondence, and act-records of the authorities — secular 
and ecclesiastical, national, provincial, departmental, 
territorial, and municipal — during the successive rule, 
imperial and republican, of Spain, Mexico, and the 
United States, from 1768 to 1850. After the latter 
date there is little in the archives of historic value 
which has not found its way into print. A small part 
of these papers are arranged by systems which vary 
from tolerable to very bad; the greater part being 
thrown together with a sublime disregard to both 
subject and chronology. Of their value there is no 
need to speak, since it is apparent that Californian 
history cannot be written without their aid. They 
are, however, practically inaccessible to writers. In 


land -commission times the lawyers sought diligently 
for information of a certain class, and left many guid- 
ing references, which the student may find, if patient 
and long-lived, in countless legal briefs and judicial 
decisions. The keepers of the archives, besides aiding 
the legal fraternity, have from time to time unearthed 
for the benefit of the public certain documentary curi- 
osities; yet the archives as a whole remain an unex- 
plored and, by ordinary methods, unexplorable waste. 
Mr Bancroft has not attempted, by needle-in-the- 
hay-mow methods, to search the archives for data on 
particular points ; but by employing a large auxiliary 
force he has substantially transferred their contents to 
the library. Every single paper of all the 300,000, 
whatever its nature or value, has been read — de- 
ciphered would in many cases be a better term; 
important papers have been copied; less important 
documents have been stripped of their Spanish ver- 
biage, the substance being retained, while routine 
communications of no apparent value have been dis- 
missed with a mere mention of their nature and date. 

'' Hardly less important, though much less bulky 
than the secular records above referred to, are the 
records of the friars in the mission archives. At most 
of these establishments — wrecks of former Fran- 
ciscan prosperity — there remain in care of the parish 
priests only the quaint old leather-bound records of 
births, marriages, deaths, etc. At some of the ex- 
missions even these records have disappeared, having 
been destroyed or passed into private hands. It was 
common opinion that the papers of the missionary 
padres had been destroyed, or sent to Mexico and 
Spain. Another theory was that of men who myste- 
riously hinted at immense deposits of docitmentos at 
the old missions, jealously guarded from secular eyes 
and hands. 

" Both views are absurdly exaggerated. The mis- 
sion archives were never very bulky, and are still 
comparatively complete. The largest collections are 


in the possession of the Franciscan order, and of 
the archbishop of California. Other small collections 
exist at different places, and not a few papers have 
passed into private keeping. The archives of Spain 
and Mexico must be ransacked, but the documents 
thus brought to light can neither be so many nor so 
important as has popularly been imagined. 

''Not all the records of early California, by any 
means, are to be found in the public offices. Even 
official documents were widely scattered during the 
American conquest or before; the new officials col- 
lected and preserved all they could gain possession of, 
but many were left in private hands, and have re- 
mained there. The private correspondence of promi- 
nent men on public events is, moreover, quite as 
valuable a source of information as their official com- 
munications. Mr Bancroft has made an earnest effort 
to gather, preserve, and utilize these private and family 
archives. There were many obstacles to be overcome; 
Californians, not ahvays without reason, were distrust- 
ful of Gringo schemes; old papeles that had so long 
furnished material for cigaritos, suddenly acquired 
a great pecuniary value; interested persons, in some 
cases by misrepresentation, induced well disposed na- 
tives to act against their inclinations and interests. 
Yet efforts in this direction have not been wasted, 
since they have already produced about seventy-five 
volumes, containing at least twenty thousand docu- 
ments, a very large proportion of w^hich are impor- 
tant and unique. 

" I have not included in the preceding class some 
fifty volumes of old military and commercial records, 
which are by no means devoid of interest and value, 
though of such a nature that it would be hardly fair 
to add them by the page, without explanation, to the 
above mentioned documents. It must not be under- 
stood that these contributed collections of original 
papers are exclusively Spanish; on the contrary, many 
of the volumes relate to the conquest, or to the period 


immediately preceding or following, and bear the 
names of pioneers in whose veins flows no drop of 
Latin blood — for instance, the official and private 
correspondence of Thomas O. Larkin, in twelve thick 

"California is a new country; her annals date back 
but little more than a century; most of her sister 
states are still younger; therefore personal reminis- 
cences of men and women yet living form an element 
by no means to be disregarded by the historian. 
While I am writincy there are to be found — thouofh 
year by year death is reducing their number — men 
of good intelligence and memory who have seen Cali- 
fornia pass from Spain to Mexico, and from Mexico 
to the United States. Many of this class will leave 
manuscript histories which will be found only in the 
Bancroft Library. 

"The personal memoirs of pioneers not native to 
the soil are not regarded as in any respect less de- 
sirable than those of liijos del pais, although their 
acts and the events of their time are much more fully 
recorded in print. Hundreds of pioneer sketches are 
to be found in book and pamphlet, and especially in 
the newspaper; yet great efforts are made to obtain 
original statements. Some hold back because it is 
difficult to convince them that the history of Cali- 
fornia is being written on a scale which will make 
their personal knowledge and experience available 
and valuable. Others exhibit an indolence and indif- 
ference in the matter impossible to overcome." 



Every man must work according to his own method. 


Southern California was rightly regarded as the 
depository of the richest historic material north of 
Mexico. And the reason was obvious: In settlement 
and civilization that region had the start of Oregon 
by a half century and more; there were old men 
there, and family and public archives. The chief 
historic adventure in that quarter was when, with Mr 
Oak and my daughter Kate, early in 1874 I took 
the steamer for San Diego and returned to San Fran- 
cisco by land. 

Indeed, as I became older in the work I felt more 
and more satisfied that it required of me, both in 
person and by proxy, much travel. True, mine was 
neither a small field, nor a narrow epoch highly elab- 
orated, upon the many several scenes of which, like 
Froude at Simancas, Freeman on his battle-fields, or 
Macaulay in Devonshire, Londonderry, or Scotland, 
I might spend months or seasons studying the ground 
and elucidating the finer points of prospect and posi- 
tion; yet where so much was to be described much 
observation was necessary. 

It was during this journey south that Benjamin 
Hayes, formerly district judge at Los Angeles, later a 
resident of San Diego, and for twenty-five years an en- 
thusiastic collector and preserver of historic data, not 
only placed me in possession of all his collection, but 



gave me his heart with it, and continued to interest 
himself in my work as if it were his own, and to add 
to his collection while in my possession as if it was 
still in his. This was fortunate, for I saw much work 
to be done at Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and else- 
where, and I hardly knew how to perform it. 

Of course to me it seemed as if Judge Hayes 
during his life performed for his country, for the 
world, for posterity, a work beside which sitting upon 
a judicial bench and deciding cases was no more than 
catching flies. For the first quarter-century of this 
country's history under American rule, beginning with 
a journal kept while crossing the continent in 1849, 
he had been a diligent collector of documents touch- 
ing the history of southern California; and his collec- 
tion of manuscripts, and especially of scraps from books 
and early newspapers, systematically arranged, and ac- 
companied frequently by manuscript notes of his own 
making, was very extensive. It embraced among the 
manuscript portion a copy of the mission book of San 
Diego; a copy of an autograph manuscript of Father 
Junipero Serra, giving a history of the missions up to 
1775; a similar manuscript history by Father Lasuen 
of the mission up to 1784; copies of all the more im- 
portant documents of the pueblo archives from 1829; 
a complete index made by himself in 1856 of all the 
early archives; manuscript accounts of Judge Hayes' 
own travels in various parts of the southern country; 
reports of evidence in important law cases, illustrating 
history, and many other like papers. There were some 
fifty or sixty scrap-books, besides bundles of assorted 
and unassorted scraps, all stowed in trunks, cupboards, 
and standing on book-shelves. The collection was 
formed with a view of writing a history of southern 
California, but by this time the purpose on the part of 
Judge Hayes was well nigh impracticable by reason 
of age and ill-health. 

The pueblo archives which have been preserved do 
not extend back further than 1829. They consist 


of more or less complete records of the proceedings of 
military comandantes, alcaldes, ayuntamientos, pre- 
fectos, and jueces de paz, together with correspondence 
between the several town officials, between the officials 
of this and other towns, and correspondence with the 
home government of Spain or Mexico, being the origi- 
nals of letters received and copies of those sent. They 
include some flaming proclamations by Californian 
governors, and interesting correspondence relative to 
the times when American encroachments had begun. 
Documents referring to the mission are few and brief, 
and consist of correspondence between the secular and 
ecclesiastical authorities respecting the capture of es- 
caped native converts. There are yet preserved, how- 
ever, documents relating to the missions while in the 
hands of administrators subsequent to their secular- 
ization. There are several interesting reports of civil 
and criminal trials, illustrating the system of juris- 
prudence during the early times. 

These papers were preserved in the county archives, 
in the clerk's office, in bundles, as classified by Judge 
Hayes. Copies of all these documents in any wise 
important for historical purposes formed part of Judge 
Hayes' collection. 

Every mission, besides its books of accounts, its 
papers filed in packages, and any historical or statis- 
tical records which the priests might choose to write, 
kept what were called the mission books, consisting 
of records of conversions, marriages, baptisms, con- 
firmations, and burials. By a revolt of the natives 
in 1775 San Diego mission, with all its records, was 
destroyed. In opening new mission books, with his 
own hands Father Junipero Serra wrote on the first 
pages of one of them an historical sketch of the mis- 
sion from 1769, the date of its establishment, to 1775, 
the date of its destruction. He also restored, so far 
as possible from memory, the list of marriages and 
deaths. The mission book thus prefaced by the presi- 
dent is preserved by the curate at San Diego. 


The question now was how to transfer this rich 
mass of historical material to my Hbrary, where, not- 
withstanding the affection with which he who had 
labored over the work so long must regard it, I could 
easily persuade myself was the proper place for it. 
Calling at the house, we fortunately found Judge 
Hayes at home, and were warmly welcomed. I had 
often met him in San Francisco, and he was familiar 
with my literary doings. This call we made a short 
one, arranging for a longer meeting in the afternoon. 

Back from our luncheon, we were again heartily 
welcomed, and taking our note-books we were soon 
vigorously at work endeavoring to transfix some small 
portion of the vast fund of information that fell 
glibly from the lips of the ancient. Fortunately for 
us, old men love to talk about themselves; so that 
while we were noting valuable facts he kindly filled 
the interludes with irrelevant matter, thus keeping us 
pretty well together. 

In this way we gathered some important incidents 
relative to early establishments and their records, but 
soon became dissatisfied with the slowness of the 
method, for at that rate we could easily spend months 
there, and years upon our journey back to San Fran- 
cisco. Finally I approached the subject nearest my 

"Judge," said I, "your collection should be in my 
Hbrary. There it would be of some value, of very 
great value; but isolated, even should 3^ou write your 
proposed history, the results, I fear, would be unsatis- 
factory to you. I should not know where to begin or 
to end such a work." 

"I am satisfied I shall never write a history," 
he replied somewhat sadly. "The time has slipped 
away, and I am now too feeble for steady laborious 
application; besides, I have to furnish bread for cer- 
tain mouths," pointing to a bright black-eyed little 
girl who kept up an incessant clatter with her com- 
panions at the door. 

Lit. Ind. 31 


^'Not only should I have the results of your labor 
up to this time," I now remarked, "but your active 
aid and cooperation for the future. It is just such 
knowledge as yours that I am attempting to save and 
utilize. Second my efforts, and let me be your his- 
torian and biographer." 

'' I know that my material should be added to yours," 
he replied. "It is the only proper place for it — the 
only place I should be content to see it out of my 
own possession. I would gladly give it you, did not 
I need money so badly. It is not pleasing to me to 
make merchandise of such labors." 

"I do not ask you to give me your collection," I 
returned; " I will gladly pay you for it, and still hold 
myself your debtor to the same extent as if you gave 
it. I appreciate your feelings fully, and will endeavor 
to do in every respect now and in the future as I 
should wish you to do were our positions changed." 

" It may seem a trifle to give up my accumulations 
for money, but it is not. It is the delivering, still- 
born, of my last and largest hope. Yet it will be some 
satisfaction to feel that they are in good hands, where 
their value will be reckoned in other measurement 
than that of dollars. I cannot die and leave them to 
be scattered here. You may have them; and with 
them take all that I can do for your laborious under- 
taking as long as I live." 

And he was as good as his word. We did not stop 
long to consider the price I should pay him; and 
immediately the bargain was consummated we went 
to work, and took a careful account of every volume, 
and every package of documents, noting their con- 
tents. Those that were complete we packed in boxes 
and shipped to San Francisco; such as Judge Hayes 
had intended to make additions to were left with him. 
The volumes to be completed and sent in due time 
made their appearance. "Judge Hayes' books, sent 
up yesterday," writes Mr Oak the 15th of May 1875, 
*' are in some respects more valuable than anything 


he has done before. One volume contains about two 
hundred photographs of places and men in southern 
California." All unfinished work was well and thor- 
oughly completed, he doing more in every instance 
than he had promised to do; and when in 1877 he died, 
he was still engaged in making historical abstracts 
for me from the county records of Los Angeles. 
When there shall appear upon Californian soil a race 
capable of appreciating such devotion, then will the 
name of Benjamin Hayes be honored. 

It was the 23d of February that this important 
purchase was consummated. San Diego possessed 
few further attractions for me in the line of literary 
acquisitions; that is to say, this collection, with so 
important a man as Judge Hayes enlisted in my 
behalf, was a sweeping accomplishment, which would 
ampl}^ reward me for the time and money expended in 
the entire excursion should nothing more come of it. 
For this collection was by far the most important in 
the state outside of my own; and this, added to mine, 
would forever place my library, so far as competition 
in original California material was concerned, beyond 
the possibilities. The books, packages, list of copies 
of the county archives, and manuscripts, as we packed 
them for shipment, numbered three hundred and 
seventy-seven; though from number little idea can be 
formed of value, as, for example, a volume labelled 
Private Hours, consisting chiefly of manuscripts con- 
taining Judge Hayes' notes of travel over the state 
at different times, written by one thoroughly familiar 
with public and private affairs, by one who saw far 
into things, and who at the time himself contemplated 
history-writing, might be worth a hundred other 

Of all the mission archives none were of more 
importance than those of San Diego, this being the 
initial point of early Alta California observation. 
Besides historical proclivities. Judge Hayes loved 
science. He had taken meteorological observations 


since 1850, and took an interest in the botany of the 
country. In all these thini^s he not only collected 
and arranofed, but he diofested and wrote. 

Several days were occupied m this negotiation, in 
studying the contents and character of the purchase, 
and in sending over boxes from New Town, and pack- 
ing and shipping them. It was a hard day's work, 
besrinnino: at seven o'clock, and durino* which we did 
not stop to eat, to catalogue and pack the collec- 
tion. Taking up one after another of his companion- 
creations, fondly the little old man handled them; 
affectionately he told their history. Every paper, 
every page, was to him a hundred memories of a 
hundred breathing realities. These were not to him 
dead facts; they were, indeed, his life. 

When we began we thought to finish in a few hours, 
but the obsequies of this collection were not to be so 
hurriedly performed; surely a volume which had cost 
a year's labor was worthy a priestly or paternal bene- 
diction on taking its final departure. 

During these days at San Diego I visited and ex- 
amined everything of possible historic interest. I 
wandered about the hills overlooking the numerous 
town sites, crossed to False bay, entered the ceme- 
tery, and copied the inscriptions on the stones that 
marked the resting-place of the more honored dead. 
In company with Mr Oak I called at the county 
clerk's office to see what documents were there. 
No one seemed to know anything about them. Such 
as were there were scattered loosely in boxes and 
drawers, some at New Town, and some at Old 
Town. When we learned in what sad confusion 
they were, we were all the more thankful we had 
copies of them. Judge Hayes began copying these 
archives in 1856. 

At night we entered in our journals, of which Mr 
Oak, Kate, and myself each kept one, the events of 
the day. Oak and I each wrote about one hundred 
and fifty pages during the trip, and Kate forty pages. 


On our return to San Francisco these journals were 
deposited in the Ubrary. 

Early Wednesday morning we walked over to 
Old Town to visit Father Ubach, the parish priest, 
with whom we had an appointment. I was shown 
the mission books, consisting of the Book of Bap- 
tisms, in four volumes, the first volume having three 
hundred and ninety-six folios and extending down to 
1822. The other three volumes were not paged; 
they continued the record to date. The Book of 
Marriages was in one volume and complete to date. 
Three volumes comprised the Book of Deaths, and 
one volume the Book of Confirmations. Aside from 
the sketch by Junipero Serra, a copy of which was in 
the Hayes collection, the volumes were of no historic 
value, being merely lists of names with dates. 

Each year the bishop of the diocese had visited the 
missions and certified to the correctness of the records ; 
consequently the bishop's signature occurred in all 
the books at regular intervals, and from which en- 
tries many bishops might be named. It is worthy of 
remark that in the mission books California is always 
divided into Superior and Inferior, instead of Baja 
and Alta as by later Spaniards. Father Ubach in- 
formed us of a manuscript Indian vocabulary pre- 
served at the mission of San Juan Bautista; also a 
manuscript of his own on the natives of his parish, 
of which there were then twelve hundred. This latter 
manuscript was in the Hayes collection, and hence a 
part of my purchase. Father Ubach kindly gave us 
letters to the padres at San Juan Capistrano and San 
Juan Bautista. 

Departing from San Diego, we called at the mis- 
sions and saw all the early residents possible, notably 
Cave J. Coutts and John Foster, at their respective 
ranches near San Luis Bey, from whom we received 
encouragement and valuable information. 

When the Reverend Thomas Frognall Dibdin was 
at Havre on his bibliographical tour, he was told by 


the booksellers among whose shops he hunted that 
he should have been there when the allies first pos- 
sessed themselves of Paris if he wished to find rarities. 
Had he been there at the time named, another date 
still further back would have been mentioned; and so 
on until he had been sent back to the beginning. 

"Who shall restore us the years of the past?" cried 
Horace, and Yirgil, and Livy; cried the first of men, 
and that before there was scarcely any past at all. 
The Reverend Thomas Frognall Dibdin was not there, 
and all the booksellers of France could not restore 
the occasion, could not arrest the present or call up 
the past. And I am of opinion that to the collector 
of rarities there would have been little difference 
whether he had lived or had been in any particular 
place fifty or five hundred years ago. These Havre 
booksellers seemed to have forgotten that at the time 
what now are rarities were easily obtained ; they were 
not rarities; that all which is rare with us was once 
common, and that whatever is preserved of that 
which to us is common will some day be rare and 

Thus it was with me at Los Angeles, Had I been 
there at the coming of the Americans I might have 
obtained documents by the bale, so I was told, and 
have freighted a vessel with them. Had I even been 
there ten years ago I might have secured no incon- 
siderable quantity; but during this time many heads 
of old families had died, and their papers, with the 
long accumulations of rubbish, had been burned. 

Most of this was fiction, or ignorant exaggeration. 
At the time of the secularization there had accumu- 
lated at the several missions the materials from which 
might have been sifted not only their complete history, 
but thousands of interesting incidents illustrative of 
that peculiar phase of society. These once scattered 
and destroyed, there never was any considerable 
quantity elsewhere. Old Californian families were 
not as a rule sufficiently intelligent to write or receive 


many important historical documents, or to discrimi- 
nate and preserve writings valuable as historical 

Undoubtedly at the death of a paterfamilias, in some 
instances, the survivors used the papers he had pre- 
served in the kindling of fires, in the wrapping of 
articles sent away, or in the making of cigarettes; but 
that during the century of Spanish occupation in Cali- 
fornia much historical material had accumulated any- 
where except in government offices and at the missions 
I do not believe. And furthermore, wherever it had 
so happened that a few family papers had been pre- 
served, upon any manifestation of interest in or effort 
to obtain possession of them, their quantity and im- 
portance were greatly magnified. In such cases three 
documents filled a trunk, and a package a foot square 
was enlarged by rumor to the size of a bedroom. 

Charming Los Angeles! California's celestial city! 
She of the angels I and, indeed, that very day we 
found one, a dark-eyed, bediamonded angel, in the 
shape of a sweet senora with a million of dollars and 
a manuscript. Chubby as a cherub she was, and grace- 
ful for one so short; and though her eyes were as 
bright as her diamonds when first they encountered 
yours, lingeringly they rested there until they faded 
somewhat in dreamy languor. She was a poem of 
pastoral California, and her life was a song of nature, 
breathing of aromatic orange groves, of vine-clad hills, 
and olive orchards, all under soft skies and amid 
ocean-tempered airs. There was no indication in the 
warm un wrinkled features of a mind strained by over- 
study, such as is frequently seen in a Boston beauty. 
As it was, suitors were thick enough; there were 
plenty of men who would take her for a million of dol- 
lars, to say nothing of the manuscript. 

Aside from lack of intellect, for angels are not 
specially intellectual, in all candor I must confess 
that, apart from of her beautiful robes, for she was 
elegantly dressed, her diamonds, her million of dol- 


lars, and her manuscript, somewhat of the angelic 
charm would have been lost, for she was close upon 
forty, and a widow. He who had been Abel Stearns 
had called her wife, and Juan Bandini, daughter. 

Not far from the Pico house, in a long low adobe 
whose front door opened from a back piazza, dwelt 
this lady, to whom Colonel Coutts had given me a 
letter, with her mother Mrs Bandini. Immediately 
after dinner we inquired our way to the house, and 
presenting ourselves asked for Mrs Stearns. She 
was not in: that is to say, the seraph was sleeping 
for a pair of bright evening eyes. To the relict of 
Juan Bandini we did not deign to make known our 
errand. At seven our eyes should feast upon her of 
the million and manuscript. 

At seven; we were punctual. Radiant as Venus 
she sat between her mother and a withered lover. 
The ladies were both of them far too elegant to speak 
English. We presented our letter, which was to make 
our path to the papers easy. Ah! the manuscript of 
her father'? It was her mother, Mrs Bandini, to whom 
we should speak: all the documents of Don Juan 
belonofed to her. 


This was a sad mistake; and wonderfully quick 
with the intelligence shifted the seraphic halo from 
the sparkling daughter- widow to the now exceedingly 
interesting and attractive mother- widow. It was a 
great waste, all the precious ointment of our elo- 
quence poured upon the younger woman, while we 
were almost ignoring the presence of the elder, until 
she was made fascinating as the owner of an unpub- 
lished history of California. 

Yes, there was a trunkful of papers left by the 
late lamented Avhich had never been disturbed, so 
sighed the Senora Bandini. People said among them 
w^as a partially written history; but further than this 
she knew nothing of the contents of the trunk. The 
letter of Colonel Coutts to Mrs Stearns, the reader 
must know, strongly urged the placing of these doc- 


uments in my hands, as the most proper place for 

Mrs Bandini asked if I needed them soon. Yes ; I 
always needed such things immediately. She could 
not possibly touch the trunk until the return of her 
son-in-law, Charles R. Johnson, who was then at 
San Diego. He would not return for a fortnight, 
and I could not wait. The old lady would not move 
without him, and there I was obliged to leave it. 

It was necessary I should have that material. 
Bandini was a prominent and important citizen of 
southern California, one of the few who united ability 
and patriotism sufficient to write history. I saw by 
this time that I should have more material on north- 
ern than on southern California; that is to say, my 
northern authorities would preponderate. I should 
have at my command, as things were then going, 
more narratives and individual histories written from 
a northern than from a southern standpoint. And 
this was worthy of serious consideration. For a long 
time the north and the south were in a state of semi- 
antagonism, and their respective statements would 
read very differently. It was only by having several 
accounts, written by persons belonging to either side, 
that anything like the truth could be ascertained. 

Obviously it would be very much as the son-in-law 
should say. I was not acquainted with Johnson per- 
sonally, but by inquiry I ascertained the names of 
those who had influence with him, and these next day 
I did not fail to see. There was then in Los Angeles 
Alfred Bobinson, a resident of San Francisco, and an 
author. He was intimate at the Stearns -Bandini 
mansion, and might assist me. I spoke with him 
upon the subject. I likewise saw Judge Sepulveda, 
Governor Downey, Major Truman, and others, who 
cordially promised their influence in my behalf Thus 
for the present I was obliged to leave it. On my re- 
turn to San Francisco I continued my efforts. I was 
determined never to let the matter die. I appealed 


again to Colonel Coutts, and to several Californians 
of influence in various parts of the state. The result 
was that about six months after my first attempt I 
succeeded in placing the valuable documents of Gen- 
eral Bandini, together with his manuscript history of 
California, upon the shelves of my library, there to 
remain. At the suggestion of Mr Robinson, who 
brought the papers up from Los Angeles, I sent Mrs 
Bandini a check; but to her credit be it said she re- 
turned it to me, saying that she did not want money 
for the material. 

Andres Pico was our next essay; tliis was another 
of the angels, but of a different sort. There were 
several of these brothers Pico, all, for native Cali- 
fornians, remarkably knowing. Whether they caught 
their shrewdness from the Yankees I know not; 
but during this visit experience told me certain 
things of Don Andres which I was scarcely prepared 
to learn, things which laid open in him the bad qual- 
ities of all nationalities, but displayed the good ones 
of none. 

Shakespeare's conception of human nature was 
probably correct, probably the purest inspiration of 
any on record. With him there was no such thing as 
absolute and complete wickedness in man. As Cole- 
ridge says of him, ''All his villains were bad upon 
good principles; even Caliban had something good in 

What Shakespeare would have done with Don 
Andres I greatly wonder. We of this latter-day 
enlightenment cannot afford to be less charitable than 
Shakespeare; therefore we must conclude that Don 
Andres was bad upon good principles. But whether 
upon good or bad principles, or whether it was a daily 
custom with him, we know that on this occasion he 
practised on us peculiarly. 

That it was neatly done I cannot deny: for an 
ancient Californian very neatly; probably better than 
one Yankee in ten thousand could have accomplished 


it, better than hollow-hearted French pohteness, Ger- 
man stohdity, or Chinese legerdemain could have 
achieved it. And this was the manner of it: His 
home was the mission of San Fernando, some twenty 
miles north-west of Los Angeles; but luckily, as we 
thought, we found him in Los Angeles. Seeking him 
out, I presented Colonel Coutts' letter. He received 
it with most complacent reverence; and as he read it 
I noted his appearance. His age I should say w^as 
sixty-ii ve, or perhaps more ; he w^as well built, though 
slightly bent, and over the loose russet skin of his 
face the frost of a^^e Avas whitenins^ the coarse black 
hair. His head was large and shaped for intellectual 
strength; his eyes were as sly and crafty in appear- 
ance as those of a Turkish porter, and about his mouth 
played a smile no less insidious. 

The letter read, it was devoutly folded and buttoned 
in the pocket nearest the spot where should have been 
the heart. All that was Don Andres' — his property, 
his life, his soul — was his friend's and his friend's 
friends'. All Los Angeles was ours to command. 
Would we to San Fernando? he would accompany 
us on the instant; and once there the secrets of the 
century should be spread out before us! 

Well, thought I, this surely is easy sailing. Hayes 
and Bandini were tempestuous seas beside this placid 
Pico ocean. When I hinted that such generosity was 
beyond the limit of ordinary patriotism, and that the 
modest merits of our cause hardly reconciled me to 
the taxing of his time and patience so heavily, he 
proudly straightened his large and well developed 
form, and striking his breast upon the letter there de- 
posited exclaimed, ''Talk not to me of trouble; this 
makes service sacred 1" 

Again thought I, how noble! One must come 
south to see the Latin race of California in its true 
light. But for the high and universal import of 
my cause I should have hesitated before accepting 
so serious obligation from a stranger; and I almost 


looked for a tear to drop from the apjDarently moist- 
ening eye upon the grizzled cheek, so full of feeling 
was this man. It was arranged that Don Andres 
should call for us at an early day and assist us in 
searching the city for histoiic material, and that on 
the morning of our departure he would accompany us 
to San Fernando. After introducing me, at my re- 
quest, to Senor Agustin Olvera, a learned ancient 
whom I desired to see, Don Andres departed, bearing 
with him the deepest thanks of a heart overflowing 
with gratitude, and expressed in terms bordering on 
Spanish extravagance. 

At this thiie I will admit I was too innocent and 
unsophisticated to cope with the sweet subtleties of 
Spanish politeness. Dealing only in hard facts, with 
only honest intent, I was not at all suspicious of per- 
sons or protestations, and hence fell an easy victim. 
Had I met Don Andres after my two visits to Mexico, 
instead of before, he would not have misled me. As 
it was, we had to thank him for a night of happy hopes, 
even if they were all destined to be dissipated in the 
morningf. I never saw Don Andres ag^ain. Thouo^h I 
sought him diligently the day before our departure 
from Los Angeles, and learned at his lodgings that he 
had not left the city, and though I deposited there a 
letter saying that I should hope to see him on the stage, 
or at San Fernando the following day, he was nowhere 
to be found. Cunning Don Andres ! It was the best 
bit of California comedy we encountered on our 

Pio Pico, ci-devant governor of California and a 
resident of Los Angeles, was not in the city at the 
time. Subsequently I obtained from him a history 
of such affairs as came within his knowledge, of which 
I shall speak again hereafter. Olvera professed to 
have some documents; professed to be writing a 
history of California; had long and earnestly sought 
to obtain possession of Bandini's papers, and laughed 
at our efforts in a direction where he had so often 


failed. During the short conversation we had with 
Andres Pico, he informed us, as Father Ubach had 
said, that he was the commissioner appointed in early 
days to take charge of the mission records, and con- 
sequently at one time had many of them in his 
possession, including those of San Luis Rey; but 
most of them had been scattered and stolen, and now 
he had only those at San Fernando, which were a 
small portion of those once in his possession. 

The archives in the county clerk's office we found, 
as reported by Judge Hayes, bound in twelve large 
volumes, without system or index; nevertheless there 
was much in them of historic value, and the only 
thing to be done was to have an abstract made of 
them for the library. One Stephen C. Foster was 
recommended to me by several gentlemen as the 
person most competent in Los Angeles to make the 
required copies. He was one of the earliest settlers 
in those parts, and besides being well versed in 
Spanish, and familiar with these documents, he could 
supplement many unexplained matters from his own 

I found Foster after some search, for he was not a 
man of very regular habits, and had no difficulty in 
engaging him to do this work. I agreed to pay him 
a liberal price, twenty cents a folio I think it w^as, 
and he promised to begin the work immediately, and 
send it to San Francisco and draw his pay as it pro- 
gressed; but he failed wholly to perform the work, 
and after spurring him up for more than a year, re- 
ceiving a fresh promise with every effort, I finally 
abandoned all hope of inducing him even to attempt 
the task. 

In Los Angeles at this time were many old friends 
and newly-made genial acquaintances, who rendered 
me every attention. Tuesday, the 3d of March, ac- 
companied by a pleasant party, I was driven out to 
San Gabriel mission, some seven miles east of Los 
Angeles. Awaking the resident priests, Philip Farrel 


and Joaquin Bot by name, we obtained a sight of the 
mission books. Originally bound in flexible cow- 
leather, one cover with a flap like a pocket-book and 
the other without, they were now in a torn condition. 
I copied the title-page of the Lihro de Confirmacioncs, 
in two volumes, 1771-1874, which was signed, as 
most of the mission books were, Fr Junipero Serra, 
Presid®. In this book were several notes, embodying 
the church regulations of the sacrament of confirma- 
tion, the notes being usually in Spanish, with church 
rules in Latin. The other books preserved at San 
Gabriel mission were Matrimonios, two volumes, 
1774-1855, and 1858-74, the first entry being April 
19, 1774, and signed by Junipero Serra. There is 
but one entry in this book signed by the president. 
The Entierros and Bautismos were also there, the 
latter in five volumes, the first entry being the 17th 
of March 1796, and signed Miguel Sanches. 

A Mr Twitchell, an old resident, told me some 
things and promised to write more, but failed, like 
most others, to keep his word. We were introduced to 
a Californian woman whose age was given us as one 
hundred and thirty- eight years, though I strongly 
suspect that at each of her latest birthdays five or six 
years were added to her age, for several informed me 
that fiYQ years ago she was not as old as now by thirty 
years; and furthermore, a granddaughter of sixty who 
was with her said that her grandmother was born the 
year the padres first came to California, which was in 
1769, so that she could have been but one hundred 
and ^YQ years of age. But she was old enough; as old, 
and as leathery, discolored, and useless as the mission 
books themselves, and in her withered brain was 
scarcely more intelligence. 

Beturning to town by way of the celebrated Bose 
and Johnson places, we spent the remainder of the day 
in visits. An important man was J. J. Warner, who 
agreed to write. To make the promise more real, I 
purchased a blank-book, and writing on the first page 


Reminiscences of J. J. Warner, I took it with a box 
of cigars to his office, and received his solemn 
assurances. By close attention to the matter, I 
managed to get the book half filled with original 
material within three years, which, considering the 
almost universal failure of my efforts of that char- 
acter, I regarded as something wonderful. Judge 
Sepulveda and R. M. Widney promised to write, and 
I am glad to say both these gentlemen were as 
good as their word; and further than this, to both of 
them I am under many other obligations for kind 
assistance in procuring historical material in the 
vicinity of Los Angeles. Colonel Howard, not the 
illustrious Volney E. of Vigilance Committee fame, 
manifested the kindest interest in our efforts, thought 
he might bring some influence to bear on Mrs Ban- 
dini, and introduced us at the bishops' residence, 
but unfortunately the bishops, Amat and Mora, 
were both absent. I do not know that they would 
have been of any assistance to us; on the contrary, 
they might have prevented my getting the Bandini 
papers. Assuredly the church was not disposed to 
gather mission or other documents for my library; 
whatever may have been its course formerly, or at 
various stages of its history, of that kind of substance 
to-day it keeps all and gets all it can. 

The mission books of San Fernando preserved in 
the possession of the Pico family were found to be 
as follows: Matrimonios, one volume, 1797-1847, first 
entry October 8, 1797, signed Francisco Dumet; 
Bautismos, one volume, 1798-1852, first entry April 
28, 1798, signed Francisco Dumet; Libra de Fatentes 
y de Ynventario perteneciente a la Mision de S^^ 
Fernando Rey en la Niteva California afio de 1806. 
In my hasty examination of this book it seemed to 
me to contain information of sufficient value to war- 
rant my sending thither Mr Foster to copy it. In 
like manner another important work, said by Don 
Rdmulo to be among his father's papers, but which 


he could not at the moment lay his hands on, should 
be looked after. Its title he thought to be something 
as follows : La Fundacion de la Mision de San Fer- 
nando Rey, por el Padre Francisco Dumet. It was 
said to contain a full description of the state of the 
country at the time when the mission was first es- 
tabhshed. Foster failing, nothing was accomplished 
tow^ard transferring this information to the library 
until the visit of Mr Savage to Los Angeles, nearly 
four years later. We were likewise shown a collec- 
tion of Spanish printed books left by the missionaries. 
They were mostly theological works printed in Spain, 
none of them referring at all to the Pacific States, 
and none of them of the slightest value to any person 
for any purpose. 

At San Buenaventura we encountered Bishop 
Amat and Father Comapala, the latter a good 
fellow enough, but with head lighter than heels. 
Just now he was in an exceeding flutter, overawed 
by gathered greatness, so much so as palpably to con- 
fuse his foggy brain. He would do anything, but the 
mission books contained nothing, absolutely nothing; 
he and his were at my disposal, but all was nothing. 
When pressed by us for a sight of this nothing, there 
was the same nervous response, until Oak wrote him 
down a knave or a fool. Nevertheless we tortured 
him until the books were produced, fat and jolly black- 
eyed Bishop Amat meanwhile smiling approvingly. 

Comapala promised to write his experiences for me, 
having come to the country in 1850, but he did not. 
He said we should by all means see Ramon Valdes, 
an ancient of San Buenaventura. Likew^ise he gave 
me a letter to Jose de Arnaz, another old resident, 
and straightway we hastened to find these walking 
histories and to wring them out upon our pages. But 
before leaving, Bishop Amat had assured us that his 
library, which we had not been able to see at Los 
Angeles on account of his absence, contained nothing 
relating to our subject save Palou's life of Junipero 


Serra. He had made some researches himself among 
the missions for historical matter, but without suc- 
cess. He expressed the opinion that most of the 
mission archives were sent to the college of San Fer- 
nando in Mexico, but says he has seen documents on 
the subject in the royal archives of Seville, in Spain. 
The bishop also kindly gave me a letter to the padre 
at San Antonio, the oldest of the Californian padres. 
The missions farther north, according to Bishop Amat, 
were in a miserable state, the building at Santa Ines 
having been used for the storage of hay, which had 
been several times fired by malicious persons. At 
San Cdrlos mission the padre who had attempted to 
reside there was driven away several years previous 
by threats of shooting. 

After taking excellent dictations from Valdes and 
Arnaz, we drove five miles up a canon which makes 
through the hills at this point, and along which were 
the lands most cultivated by the padres, on account of 
the superior advantages of this locality for irrigation. 

Mounting the stage at four o'clock p. M. the day 
after our arrival, we reached Santa Barbara at half- 
past eight. The hotels were crowded, but the stage 
agent, unknown to me, had kindly engaged rooms for 
us, so that we were soon made quite comfortable. 
The next day being Sunday, we attended church, 
rested, and wrote up our journals. Early next morn- 
ing we directed our course first to La Partera, the 
residence of Doctor Alexander S. Taylor, a literary 
and historical dabster of no small renown in these 
parts. For twenty years and more he had been talk- 
ing and writing. He knew much; but credit was 
given him for knowing much more than he did know. 
His was a character hien prononce. In several de- 
partments of letters he was a pioneer. 

Turning into a narrow lane six miles north-west of 
the town, we approached a small tenement something 
between a hut and a cottage. It was cheaply built 
of boards, and consisted of one story with three or 

Lit. Ind. 32 


four rooms. The doctor had married a Californian 
woman for her money, and had not obtained as much 
as he had expected; hence half a dozen dark-com- 
plexioned children, and a house not as comfortable as 
he could have enjoyed. Nevertheless he found in 
his wife a most excellent, hard-working, and virtuous 
woman ; and her face was such as rests one to look 
at, so contentedly serene it was. 

Entering, we encountered the mistress of the man- 
sion, a tall, thin lad}^, apparently as happy amidst her 
many cares as if her husband was now and ever had 
been lapped in luxury. Inquiring for Doctor Taylor, 
we were shown into a back room, containing a stand, 
some boxes which served instead of chairs, and a bed 
on which lay stretched a man of about fifty -five years. 
He was of a sandy complexion, the hair heavily 
touched with gray, and his face and form were thin 
but not emaciated. 

In a loud hearty voice, with no foreign pronunciation, 
but with the faintest possible Scotch accent, not at 
all unpleasant, he bade us enter. A carbuncle on the 
arm was the malady, and our presence was a diver- 
sion rather than an intrusion into a sick-room; so we 
seated ourselves on the boxes and entered freely into 
conversation. I stated briefly the purport of my 
visit to those parts, and expressed my inability to 
pass him by without calling, and my regrets at finding 
him ill. 

''Oh! it is nothing," he answered, cheerfully. ''I 
shall be up in a few days." He was indeed up again 
in due time ; but within two or three years thereafter 
he was laid low forever. Then I was glad I had 
seen him. Alas ! how rapidly are passing away those 
who alone can tell us of the past. Within six years 
after this journey it seemed to me that half the more 
important men I then met were dead. 

Among the earlier literary labors of Doctor Taylor 
was a bibliography of the Pacific coast, consisting of 
some twelve hundred titles published in the Sacra- 


meuto Union. Subsequently this list was cut up and 
pasted in a scrap-book, with changes, additions, and 
interlineations. As a bibliography it was altogether 
useless, from the fact that the author was obliged to 
write his titles from catalogues, and newspaper and 
other mention, thus making of it a rambling talk 
about books with a conglomeration of names and par- 
tial titles. Then there were vagrant discussions about 
the Indians and the missions of California, together 
with snatches of history, biography, and general 
gossip, with innumerable repetitions and inaccuracies 
running through thirty or forty numbers of the 
Farmer newspaper, under the title of Indianology. 

The doctor had a horrible fashion of afExinof to an 
English word a Spanish or Latin ending, or giving a 
Spanish termination to a Latin stem. He delighted 
in ologies, ografas, and the like abortions, thinking by 
throwing them in freely to give his work the air of 
learnins:. An article on the natives of California, 
published m. Bancroft's Hand- Booh Almanac, 1864, he 
heads Precis India Calif ornicus. 

These were his chief works, and these I had in the 
Hbrary; yet so much greater than the man is often- 
times his fame, that from the many accounts I had of 
Doctor Taylor and his works, I had been led to pic- 
ture him in my mind as sitting in the midst of literary 
alHuence. I had been tauG^ht to reo^ard him, thouo^h 
the happy possessor of many valuable books and 
manuscripts, as an irascible old man whom misfor- 
tune and disease had soured, and who valued his 
treasures exorbitantly, and guarded them with petu- 
lant watchfulness; so that if I should find him pos- 
sessed of valuable material I could not hope to be able 
to purchase it. 

I had also been told tliat he had several volumes 
ready for publication, but was unable to find a pub- 
lisher. The conversation turning: almost immediate! v 
on literary matters, I asked to see the result of his 
labors. Calling his wife, who was at work in the 


adjoining room, he requested her to bring from under 
his bed a rough unpainted box, about two feet square, 
having a Hd hke a chest, and locked. 

" There," said the invahd, turning over in bed so 
that his eyes could rest upon his treasures, '^ in that 
box is twenty-five years of my life." 

Poor man ! The box and all its contents were worth 
intrinsically nothing, and would not bring in open 
market the equivalent of a month's wages of a 
common laborer. Nevertheless it was true that a 
quarter-century of effort was there, a quarter-century 
of thought and enthusiasm, of love-labor, of hope and 
confident expectation, the results of a noble life. Yes, 
a noble life; for a man's life consists in what he at- 
tempts to do no less than in what he does. 

The wife lifted the cover, and the sick man re- 
quested me to examine the contents. First I brought 
out a pamphlet on the voyages to California of 
Cabrillo and Ferrelo, of which there were several 
copies in my library. Then one after another books 
of scraps were produced : first The Animated Nature 
of California, in two volumes; next The Discoverers, 
Founders, and Pioneers of California, being printed 
scraps interspersed with manuscript biographical no- 
tices of about one page to each person; then Bihliog- 
rafa Calfornica, the first of which words belongs to 
no language, 1542-1872. This was the bibliography 
before mentioned. Then there was the Odds and 
Ends of California History, consisting of scraps and 
manuscript sketches. 

In all these there was little which we already had 
not in some shape; hence the value to the library 
would be but small. The last named book probably 
would have been worth most to my collection, but I did 
not regard any of them as of sufficient importance even 
to ask him his price. The contents of this box he 
subsequently presented to the society of California 
pioneers, in whose hands it was almost as acces- 
sible to me as if it had been on my shelves. Some 



time before this lie had sold to the university of 
California his collection of books for six hundred 
dollars, but after making some inquiries about my 
collection he expressed the opinion that the lot so 
sold contained nothing I required. 

Of the scrap-books contained in the box, that is to 
say, of his own works which he desired to publish, he 
had the utmost faith as to their great value; and when 
asked as to the best materials to be consulted in the 
writing of a history of California, he referred to his 
own prepared volumes as the only reliable source of 

Some years ago Doctor Taylor obtained from the 
padre at San Cdrlos mission a collection of original 
manuscripts, composed chiefly of correspondence of 
the early padres from 1780 to 1846. This collection, 
bound in seven volumes, was given to Archbishop 
Alemany, and of it I have had occasion to speak 
before. The volumes were placed in St Mary's 
library at the cathedral. Of these letters Doctor 
Taylor made two synopses, one of which went 
with the documents to the archbishop and the other 
was sold with his books to the university of Cali- 

While engaged in the interesting survey of this 
literary life's work the invalid kept up a rapid con- 
versation. He told his tale of misfortunes: how^ at 
first he was successful ; how he made money, and then 
unfortunately lost it, and made and lost again — the 
old, old story in California. Then he married, and 
]iad trouble with his wife's family; and now he found 
himself stretched helpless upon a sick-bed, with a 
brood of young children to grow up as best they 
might. His w^oes, however, never took him far from 
his beloved topic, books. 

'' I will tell you a work you should have," he ex- 
claimed; "it is the voyage of the Sutil and Mexicanay 
containing " 

*' Yes, w^e have that," said Oak. 


"0 you have!" he replied, suddenly. Then after 
a time he broke out a<:yain, " There is Cabrillo's 
voyage, in Buckingham Smith's collection; now, if 
you could come across that " 

" We secured a copy some time since," replied Oak. 

"Well, I declare!" exclaimed the doctor; "if you 
have that, you have the only copy in this country, I 
take it." 

And so on, until the conversation became painful to 
me. Every book he mentioned, as it happened, was 
in the hbrary. That these sacred treasures were in 
their real presence in my library, appeared as strange 
as if I had claimed to have in my possession Aaron's 
rod, St Dominick's rosary, or Hector's shield. He 
did not appear jealous, but rather astounded. Every 
response of Oak brought a groan of wonderment; 
every response was like plunging a dagger into be- 
numbed flesh. The pain, though not acute, was 
palpable, and partook more of the nature of regret 
than envy. I had not the heart to tell him that I had 
a work in preparation on the aborigines, filling, after 
the utmost condensation, five octavo volumes, and re- 
ferring to hundreds of authorities which he had never 
heard of, notw^ithstanding the ponderous presence of 
the Bibliografa Californica, 

Notv/ithstanding he had been so long living among 
the missions and the mission people of California, his 
mind meanwhile dwelling almost constantl}^ on the 
matter of histori<jal data, I was assured by this sage 
that absolutely nothing could be found in the Santa 
Barbara mission, or in any of the other missions, and 
that to obtain any historical matter wdiatever from 
the Spanish side would be impossible. Of a truth the 
souls of the dead must be io^norant of doinfys of the 
living, else this good man's ghost cannot be far from 
the large case of original material for the history of 
California which stands in the library, nearly all 
of w^hich is from the Spanish side, and gathered after 
his so positive assertion that none existed. 



A.1 though Doctor Taylor's hterary efforts are not to 
be coropared with those of Judge Hayes in point of 
permanent benefit to society, yet they are by no means 
to be despised. The wonder is, isolated as he was, not 
that the somewhat blind and illiterate litterateur did 
not accomplish more, but that he accomplished so 
much. He was in a wilderness alone, to him a dark 
wilderness, and he did what he could. The effort was 
a noble one, and though the result was small, there 
was that little something left by him, the first atom 
perhaps in the building of the mountain, which but 
for such effort never would have been so left, and 
which stamps the man in his currents of thought and 
aspirations as above the common herd. 

Returning from La Partera to town we called at 
the city hall to look after the county archives, but 
neither the clerk nor recorder knew of the existencj 
of anything of the kind save the copies of a few 
pueblo land-titles. From Mr Hughes, however, an 
attorney long friendly to our business, I learned that 
some years ago the archives were taken to San Fran- 
cisco, where those of a general nature were retained 
by the United States surveyor- general, and the rest 
returned and placed in a tea-chest for safe-keeping. 
At the next change of county officers the chest with 
its contents disappeared, no one knew whither. 

Our next interview was with the parish priest Padre 
Jaime Vila, probably the politest man in California. 
All the padres were polite, but Father Jaime over- 
flowed with politeness. The attitude of obeisance was 
his natural position. Side by side with his worship of 
God was his reverence for man, which of a truth is 
not a bad religion, provided men can be found worthy 
of priestly adoration. 

At all events. Father Jaime was a pleasant gentle- 
man. He seemed more free from that mountain of 
awful fear undeV which most of his brother priests 
labored than any one we had met. As he showed us 
the mission books there was a refreshing absence of 


that great trepidation common in former cases, which 
manifested itself as soon as the books were produced 
and continued until they were hidden again, mean- 
while persistently assuring us that their contents 
were of no importance, and being evidently much 
averse to our taking notes from them. Father Jaime, 
like a sensible man, seemed pleased to show his books, 
and took pains to explain the contents of each, evi- 
dently fearing in the operation neither the thunder- 
bolts of the almighty nor the machinations of Satan. 

We found here four volumes of Bautismos, 1782- 
1874, the first entry being signed Pedro Benito Cam- 
bon. So far as could be ascertained by a hasty exam- 
ination the second volume contained the baptisms of 
aboriginals only. Father Jaim