Read CHAPTER VI - PIONEER LIFE of The Life of Bret Harte With Some Account of the California Pioneers , free online book, by Henry Childs Merwin, on

To be successful and popular among the Pioneers was something really to a man’s credit. Men were thrown upon their own resources, and, as in Mediaeval times, were their own police and watchmen, their own firemen, and in most cases their own judge and jury. There was no distribution of the inhabitants into separate classes: they constituted a single class, the only distinction being that between individuals. There was not even the broad distinction between those who worked with their heads and those who worked with their hands. Everybody, except the gamblers, performed manual labor; and although this condition could not long prevail in San Francisco or Sacramento, it continued in the mines for many months. In fact, any one who did not live by actual physical toil was regarded by the miners as a social excrescence, a parasite.

An old miner, after spending a night in a San Francisco lodging house, paid the proprietor with gold dust. While waiting for his change he seemed to be studying the keeper of the house as a novel and not over-admirable specimen of humanity. Finally he inquired of him as follows: “Say, now, stranger, do you do nothing else but just sit there and take a dollar from every man that sleeps in these beds?” “Yes,” was the reply, “that is my business.” “Well, then,” said the miner after a little further reflection, “it’s a damned mean way of making your living; that’s all I can say.”

Even those who were not democratic by nature became so in California. All men felt that they were, at last, free and equal. Social distinctions were rubbed out. A man was judged by his conduct, not by his bank account, nor by the set, the family, the club, or the church to which he belonged. All former records were wiped from the slate; and nobody inquired whether, in order to reach California, a man had resigned public office or position, or had escaped from a jail.

“Some of the best men,” says Bret Harte, “had the worst antecedents, some of the worst rejoiced in a spotless, Puritan pedigree. ’The boys seem to have taken a fresh deal all round,’ said Mr. John Oakhurst one day to me, with the easy confidence of a man who was conscious of his ability to win my money, ’and there is no knowing whether a man will turn out knave or king.’”

This, perhaps, sounds a little improbable, and yet here, as always, Bret Harte has merely stated the fact as it was. One of the most accurate contemporary historians says: “The man esteemed virtuous at home becomes profligate here, the honest man dishonest, and the clergyman sometimes a profane gambler; while, on the contrary, the cases are not few of those who were idle or profligate at home, who came here to be reformed."

“It was a republic of incognitos. No one knew who any one else was, and only the more ill-mannered and uneasy even desired to know. Gentlemen took more trouble to conceal their gentility than thieves living in South Kensington would take to conceal their blackguardism."

“Have you a letter of introduction?” wrote a Pioneer to a friend in the East about to sail for California. “If you have, never present it. No one here has time to read such things. No one cares even to know your name. If you are the right sort of a man, everything goes smoothly here.” “What is your partner’s last name?” asked one San Francisco merchant of another in 1850. “Really, I don’t know,” was the reply; “we have only been acquainted three or four weeks.” A miner at Maryville once offered to wager his old blind mule against a plug of tobacco that the company, although they had been acquainted for some years, could not tell one another’s names; and this was found upon trial to be the case.

Men were usually known, as Bret Harte relates, by the State or other place from which they came, with some prefix or affix to denote a salient characteristic. Thus one miner, in a home letter, speaks of his friends, “Big Pike, Little Pike, Old Kentuck, Little York, Big York, Sandy, and Scotty.” Men originally from the East, and long supposed to be dead, turned up in California, seeking a new career. In fact, there seems to have been a general inclination among the Pioneers to strike out in new directions. “To find a man here engaged in his own trade or profession,” wrote a Forty-Niner, “is a rare thing. The merchant of to-day is to-morrow a doctor; lawyers turn bankers, and bankers lawyers. The miners are almost continually on the move, passing from one claim to another, and from the Southern to the Northern mines, or vice versa.”

Bret Harte was startled by meeting an old acquaintance in a strange situation. “At my first breakfast in a restaurant on Long Wharf I was haunted during the meal by a shadowy resemblance which the waiter who took my order bore to a gentleman to whom in my boyhood I had looked up as to a mirror of elegance, urbanity, and social accomplishment. Fearful lest I should insult the waiter who carried a revolver by this reminiscence, I said nothing to him; but a later inquiry of the proprietor proved that my suspicions were correct. ‘He’s mighty handy,’ said this man, ’and can talk elegant to a customer as is waiting for his cakes, and make him kinder forget he ain’t sarved.’”

Bret Harte relates another case. “An Argonaut just arriving was amazed at recognizing in the boatman who pulled him ashore, and who charged him the modest sum of fifty dollars for the performance, a classmate at Oxford. ‘Were you not,’ he asked eagerly, ’Senior Wrangler in ‘43?’ ‘Yes,’ said the other significantly, ‘but I also pulled stroke against Cambridge.’”

A Yale College professor was hauling freight with a yoke of oxen; a Yale graduate was selling peanuts on the Plaza at San Francisco; an ex-governor was playing the fiddle in a bar-room; a physician was washing dishes in a hotel; a minister was acting as waiter in a restaurant; a lawyer was paring potatoes in the same place. Lawyers, indeed, were doing a great deal of useful work in California. One kept a mush and milk stand; another sold pies at a crossing of the American River; a third drove a team of mules.

John A. McGlynn, one of the best known and most successful Forty-Niners, began by hitching two half-broken mustangs to an express wagon, and acting as teamster. He was soon chosen to enforce the rules regulating the unloading of vessels and the cartage of goods. All the drivers obeyed him, except one, a native of Chili, a big, powerful man, with a team of six American mules. McGlynn ordered him into line; he refused; and McGlynn struck him with his whip. In an instant both men had leaped from their wagon-seats to the ground. The Chileno rushed at McGlynn, with his bowie-knife in his hand; but the American was left-handed, for which the Chileno was not prepared; and with his first blow McGlynn stretched his antagonist on the ground. There he held him until the fellow promised good behavior. On regaining his feet the defeated man invited all hands to drink, and became thenceforth a warm friend of the victor.

The judge of the Court for Santa Cruz County kept a hotel, and after court adjourned, he would take off his coat and wait on the table, serving jurors, attorneys, criminals and sheriffs with the same impartiality which he exhibited on the bench. A brief term of service as waiter in a San Francisco restaurant laid the foundation of the highly successful career of another lawyer, a very young man. One day a merchant upon whom he was waiting remarked to a companion: “If I only had a lawyer who was worth a damn, I could win that suit.” “I am a lawyer,” interposed the waiter, “and I am looking for a chance to get into business. Try me.” The merchant did so; the suit was won; and the former waiter was soon in full legal practice.

Acquaintances were formed, and the beginning of a fortune was often made, by chance meetings and incidents. Men got at one another more quickly than is possible in an old and conservative society. One who became a distinguished citizen of California began his career by accepting an offer of humble employment when he stepped into the street on his first morning in San Francisco. “Look here, my friend,” said a merchant to him, “if you won’t get mad about it, I’ll offer you a dollar to fill this box with sand.” “Thank you,” said the young fellow, “I’ll fill it all day long on those terms, and never become angry in the least.” He filled the box, and received payment. “Now,” he said, “we’ll go and take a drink with this dollar.” The merchant acquiesced with a laugh, and thus began a life-long connection between the two men.

There were some recognitions of old acquaintances as remarkable as the making of new friends. Two brothers, Englishmen from the Society Islands, met in a mining town, and were not aware of their relationship until a chance conversation between them disclosed it. A merchant from Cincinnati arrived in San Francisco with the intention of settling there. One of the first persons whom he met was a prosperous business man who had absconded some years before with ten thousand dollars of his money. He recovered the ten thousand dollars and interest, without making the matter public, and went back to Ohio well satisfied.

A lawyer of note in San Francisco remarked, in 1850, that the last time he saw Ned McGowan, previous to his arrival in California, McGowan stood in the criminal dock of a Philadelphia court where he was receiving a sentence to the State prison for robbery. Subsequently he was pardoned by the Governor of Pennsylvania, on condition that he should leave the State. When this lawyer settled in San Francisco, he was employed to defend some persons who had been arrested for drunkenness; and upon entering the court room he was thunderstruck by the appearance of the magistrate upon the bench. After a careful survey of the magistrate and a pinch of the flesh to make sure that he was not dreaming, he exclaimed:

“Ned McGowan, is that you?”

“It is,” was the cool reply.

“Well, gentlemen,” said the lawyer, turning to his clients, “you had better toll down heavy, for I can do you no good with such a judge.” Tolling down heavy was probably a practice which the judge encouraged, for, a year later, upon the organization of the Vigilance Committee, Ned McGowan fled from San Francisco, if not from California.

California, from 1849 to 1858, was a meeting ground for all the nations of the earth. One of the first acts of the Legislature was to appoint an official translator. The confusion of languages resulted in many misunderstandings and some murders. A Frenchman and a German at Moquelumne Hill had a controversy about a water-privilege, and being unable to understand each other, they resorted first to pantomime, and then to firearms, with the unfortunate result that the German was killed.

A trial which occurred at San Jose illustrates the multiplicity of tongues in California. A Spaniard accused a Tartar of assaulting him, but as the Tartar and his witnesses could not speak English the proceedings were delayed. At last another Tartar, called Arghat, was found who could speak Chinese, and then a Chinaman, called Alab, who could speak Spanish; and with these as interpreters the trial began. Another difficulty then arose, namely, the swearing of the witnesses. The court, having ascertained that the Tartar mode of swearing is by lifting a lighted candle toward the sun, adopted that form. The judge administered the ordinary oath to the English and Spanish interpreters; the latter then swore Arghat as Tartar and Chinese interpreter, and he, in turn, swore Alab, by the burning candle and the sun, as Chinese and Spanish interpreter; and the trial then proceeded in four languages.

The first newspaper was printed half in English, half in Spanish. Sermons were preached by Catholic priests both in English and in Spanish. The Fourth of July was celebrated at San Jose in 1850 by one oration in English and another in Spanish. German and Italian weekly papers were published in San Francisco. The French population of the city was especially large. They made rouge-et-noir the fashion. “Where there are Frenchmen,” remarks a Pioneer, “you will find music, singing and gayety.” A French benevolent society was established at San Francisco in 1851.

Many of the best citizens of California were Englishmen. There was a famous ale-house in San Francisco, called the Boomerang, where sirloins of beef could be washed down with English ale, and followed by Stilton cheese; where the London “Times,” “Punch” and “Bell’s Life” were taken in.

Australia and New South Wales contributed a considerable and by no means the best part of the population. The “Sydney Ducks” who infested the dark lanes and alleys of San Francisco, and lurked about the wharves at night, lived mainly by robbery; and they often murdered in order to rob. An English traveller said of them: “I have seen vice in almost every form, and under almost every condition in the Old World, but never did it appear to me in so repulsive and disgusting a shape as it exists among the lower orders of Sydney, and generally in New South Wales."

But not all of the immigrants from English colonies were of this character. Many were respectable men, and succeeded well in California. An Australian cabman, for example, brought a barouche, a fine pair of horses, a tall hat and a livery coat all the way across the Pacific, and made a fortune by hiring out at the rate of twenty dollars an hour.

There were many Jews in San Francisco, but none in the mines; they alone of all the nations gathered in California kept to their ordinary occupations, chiefly the selling of clothes, and never looked for gold. Even their dress did not change. “They are,” writes a Pioneer, “exactly the same unwashed-looking, slobbery, slipshod individuals that one sees in every seaport town.” But the Jew prospered, and was a good citizen. Another Pioneer, who could look beneath the surface, said, “The Jew does honor to his name here. The pressure which elsewhere bows him to the earth is removed."

The variety and mixture of races in California were without precedent, and San Francisco especially prided itself upon the barbaric aspect of its streets. Perhaps the Chinese were the most striking figures. The low-caste Chinamen wore full jackets and breeches of blue calico, and on their heads a huge wicker-work hat that would have made a good family clothes-basket. The aristocratic Chinaman displayed a jacket of gay-colored silk, yellow satin breeches, a scarlet skull-cap with a gold knob on top, and, in cold weather, a short coat of Astrakhan fur.

There was, of course, a Chinese quarter, and a district known as little Chili, where South Americans of every country could be found, with a mixture of Kanakas from the Sandwich Islands, and negroes from the South Seas. In July, 1850, there arrived a ship-load of Hungarian exiles, and somewhat later a company of Bayonnais from the south of France, the men wild and excitable in appearance, the women dark-skinned, large-eyed, and graceful in their movements.

There was a Spanish quarter where, as Bret Harte said, “three centuries of quaint customs, speech and dress were still preserved; where the proverbs of Sancho Panza were still spoken in the language of Cervantes, and the high-flown allusions of the La Manchian knight still a part of the Spanish Californian hidalgo’s dream.”

The Spanish women were usually attended by Indian girls, and their dress was coquettish and becoming. Their petticoats, short enough to display a well-turned ankle, were richly laced and embroidered, and striped and flounced with gaudy colors, of which scarlet was the most common. Their tresses fell in luxuriant plaits down their backs; and, in all the little accessories of dress, such as earrings, and necklaces, their costume was very rich. Its chief feature, the reboso, was a sort of scarf, like the mantilla of old Spain. This was sometimes twined around the waist and shoulders, and at other times hung in pretty festoons about the figure.

It was only in respect to their diversions that the Spanish had any influence upon the Americans. The gambling houses and theatres were largely in Spanish hands at first, and the fandango was the national amusement in which the American miners soon learned to join.

And yet the fundamental gravity of the Spanish nature, a gravity which is epitomized and immortally fixed in the famous portrait of Admiral Pareja by Velasquez, was as marked in California as at home. It is thus that Bret Harte describes Don Jose Sepulvida, the Knight Errant of the Foot-Hills: “The fading glow of the western sky through the deep, embrasured windows lit up his rapt and meditative face. He was a young man of apparently twenty-five, with a colorless, satin complexion, dark eyes, alternating between melancholy and restless energy, a narrow, high forehead, long straight hair, and a lightly pencilled mustache.”

One is struck by the resemblance between Don Jose Sepulvida, and Culpeper Starbottle, the Colonel’s nephew, whose tragic death the Reader will remember. Bret Harte thus depicts him: “The face was not an unprepossessing one, albeit a trifle too thin and lank and bilious to be altogether pleasant. The cheek-bones were prominent, and the black eyes sunken in their orbits. Straight black hair fell slantwise off a high but narrow forehead, and swept part of a hollow cheek. A long, black mustache followed the perpendicular curves of his mouth. It was on the whole a serious, even quixotic face, but at times it was relieved by a rare smile of such tender and even pathetic sweetness, that Miss Jo is reported to have said that, if it would only last through the ceremony, she would have married the possessor on the spot. ‘I once told him so,’ added that shameless young woman; ’but the man instantly fell into a settled melancholy, and has not laughed since.’"

There were, in fact, many things in common between the Southerner and the Spaniard. They lived in similar climates, and the fundamental ideas of their respective communities were very much the same. The Southerner was almost as deeply imbued as the Spaniard with extreme, aristocratic notions of government and society; and he, like the Spaniard, was conservative, religious, dignified, courteous, chivalrous to women, brave, narrow-minded and indolent.

In The Secret of Sobriente’s Well, this resemblance suddenly occurs to Larry Hawkins, who, in describing to Colonel Wilson, from Virginia, the character of his Spanish predecessor, the former owner of the posada in which the Colonel lived, said: “He was that kind o’ fool that he took no stock in mining. When the boys were whoopin’ up the place and finding the color everywhere, he was either ridin’ round lookin’ up the wild horses he owned, or sittin’ with two or three lazy péons and Injuns that was fed and looked after by the priests. Gosh! Now I think of it, it was mighty like you when you first kem here with your niggers. That’s curous, too, ain’t it?”

The hospitality of the Spanish Californian was boundless. “There is no need of an orphan asylum in California,” wrote the American Alcalde at Monterey. “The question is not who shall be burdened with the care of an orphan, but who shall have the privilege of rearing it. An industrious man of rather limited means applied to me to-day for the care of six orphan children. He had fifteen of his own;” and when the Alcalde questioned the prudence of his offer, the Spaniard replied, “The hen that has twenty chickens scratches no harder than the hen that has one.”

A Pioneer, speaking from his own experience, said: “If you are sick there is nothing which sympathy can divine which is not done for you. This is as true of the lady whose hand has only figured her embroidery or swept her guitar, as of the cottage-girl wringing from her laundry the foam of the mountain stream; and all this from the heart!"

Generosity and pride are Spanish traits. “The worst and weakest of them,” remarks an English Pioneer, “has that indefinable something about him that lifts so immeasurably the beggar of Murillo above the beggar of Hogarth." The Reader will remember how cheerfully and punctiliously Don Jose Sepulvida paid the wagers of his friend and servant, Bucking Bob. A gambling debt was regarded by the Spaniards in so sacred a light that if he who incurred it was unable to pay, then, for the honor of the family, any relative, a godfather, or even one who had the misfortune to be connected by marriage with the debtor, was bound to discharge the obligation. Some Americans basely took advantage of this sentiment; and, in one case, an old Spanish lady was deprived of a vineyard, her only means of support, in order to preserve the reputation of a scapegrace nephew who had lost to an American at faro a greater sum than he possessed.

Some convenient and becoming articles of Spanish dress were adopted by the Americans, notably the sombrero and the serape, or horseman’s cloak. Jack Hamlin, as the Reader will remember, sometimes went a little further. Thus, when he started on his search for the Sappho of Green Springs, he “modified his usual correct conventional attire by a tasteful combination of a roquero’s costume, and in loose white bullion-fringed trousers, red sash, jacket and sombrero, looked infinitely more dashing and picturesque than his original.”

The profuse wearing of jewelry, even by men, was another foreign fashion which Americans adopted in the early years; so much so, in fact, that to appear in a plain and unadorned state was to be conspicuous. The jewelry thus worn was not of the conventional kind, but a sort of miner’s jewelry, significant of the place and time. Ornaments were made from the gold in its native state by soldering into one mass many small nuggets, without any polish or other embellishment. Everybody carried a gold watch, and watch-chains were constructed upon a massive plan, the links sometimes representing dogs in pursuit of deer, horses at full speed, birds in the act of flight, or serpents coiled and hissing. Scarf-pins were made from lumps of gold retaining their natural form and mixed with quartz, rose-colored, blue-gray, or white, according to the rock from which they were taken. The big “specimen ring” worn by the hero of A Night on the Divide was an example.

Some Americans adhered to their usual dress which, in the Eastern States, was a sober suit of black; but usually the Pioneers discarded all conventional clothes, and appeared in a rough and picturesque costume much like that of a stage pirate. Indeed, it was impossible for any man in ’49 to make his dress sufficiently bizarre to attract attention. The prevailing fashion included a red or blue flannel shirt, a “wide-awake” hat of every conceivable shape and color, trousers stuffed into a huge pair of boots coming up above the knee, and a belt decorated with pistols and knives. More than one Pioneer landed in San Francisco with a rifle slung on his back, a sword-cane in his hand, two six-shooters and a bowie-knife in his belt, and a couple of small pistols protruding from his waistcoat pockets.

In the rainy season of ’49, long boots were so scarce, and so desirable on account of the mud, that they sold for forty dollars a pair in San Francisco, and higher yet in Stockton. Learning of this, Eastern merchants flooded the market with top-boots a year later; but by that time the streets had been planked, the miner’s costume was passing out of fashion, and long boots were no longer in demand. These changes were greatly regretted by unconventional Pioneers, and even so early as 1850 they were lamenting “the good old times,” just one year back, before the tailor and the barber were abroad in the land.

Local celebrations were marked by more color and display than are usually indulged in by Americans. In 1851, on Washington’s Birthday, there was a procession in San Francisco headed by the Mayor in a barouche drawn by four white horses. Next came the fire engines of the city, each with a team of eight gray horses, and followed by a long train of firemen in white shirts and black trousers. Then came a company of teamsters mounted on their draught horses, and carrying gay banners; and finally a delegation of Chinamen, preceded by a Chinese band and bearing aloft a huge flag of yellow silk.

Horsemen, more or less intoxicated, and shouting like wild Indians, charged up and down the streets at all hours of the day and night, to the great discomfort of many and the fatal injury of some pedestrians. “On Sundays especially, one would imagine,” a local newspaper remarks, “that a horde of Cossacks or Tartars had taken possession of the city.”

“The Spaniard,” Bret Harte says, “taught the Americans horsemanship, and they rode off with his cattle.” The Americans usually adopted the Spanish equipment, consisting of a huge saddle, with cumbrous leather saddle-flaps, stirrups carved from solid oak, heavy metal spurs, a bridle jingling with ornaments, and a cruel curb bit, the whole paraphernalia being designed to serve the convenience and vanity of the rider without the least regard to the comfort of his beast. The Spanish manner of abrupt stopping, made possible by the severe bit, was also taken up by young Americans who loved to charge down upon a friend, halting at the last possible moment, in a cloud of dust, with the horse almost upon his haunches. This was Jack Hamlin’s habit.

A popular figure in the streets of San Francisco was a black pony, the property of a constable, that stood most of the day, saddled and bridled, in front of his master’s office. The pony’s favorite diversion was to have his hoofs blacked and polished, and whenever a coin was placed between his lips, he would carry it to a neighboring boot-black, put, first, one fore-foot, and then the other, on the foot-rest, and, after receiving a satisfactory “shine,” would walk gravely back to his usual station. Even the dumb animals felt that something unusual was expected of them in California.

There were no harness horses or carriages in San Francisco in the early part of ’49; and when they were introduced toward the end of that year, a touch of barbaric splendor marked the fashionable equipage of the hour. A pair of white horses with gilt trappings, drawing a light, yellow-wheeled buggy, was once a familiar sight in the streets of the city. The demi-monde rode on horseback, in parties of two or three, and even of six or more, and the pace which they set corresponded with that of California life in general. The appearance of one of the most noted of these women is thus described by a Pioneer, the wife of a sea-captain: “I have seen her mounted on a glossy, lithe-limbed race-horse, one that had won for her many thousands on the race-course, habited in a close-fitting riding-dress of black velvet, ornamented with one hundred and fifty gold buttons, a hat from which depended magnificent sable plumes, and over her face a short, white lace veil of the richest texture, so gossamer-like one could almost see the fire of passion flashing from the depths of her dark, lustrous eyes."

Even the climate, the dry, bracing air, the cool nights, the aromatic fragrance of the woods, tended to quicken the pulse of the Argonauts, and to heighten the general exuberance of feeling.

Central California, the scene of Bret Harte’s stories, is a great valley bounded on the west by the Coast Range of hills or mountains, which rise from two thousand to four thousand, and in a few places to five thousand feet, and on the east by the Foot-Hills. After the immigration, this valley furnished immense crops of wheat, vegetables and fruit; but in ’49 it was a vast, uncultivated plain, free from underbrush or other small growth, and studded by massive, spreading oaks, by tall plane trees, and occasionally by a gigantic redwood, sending its topmost branches two and even three hundred feet into the air. In the dry season, the surface was brown and parched, but as soon as the rains began, the wild grasses and wild oats gave it a rich carpet of green, sparkling with countless field flowers. The resemblance of the valley, in the rainy season at least, to an English park, was often spoken of by Pioneers who found in it a reminder of home.

On the eastern side this great central valley gradually merges into the Foot-Hills, the vanguards of the lofty mountain range which separates central California from Nevada. The Foot-Hills form what is perhaps the most picturesque part of the State, watered in the rainy season by numerous rocky, swift-flowing streams, the tributaries of the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, and broken into those deep, narrow glens so often described in Bret Harte’s poetry and prose. This was the principal gold-bearing region. The Foot-Hills extend over a space about five hundred miles long and fifty wide, and from them arise, sometimes abruptly, and sometimes gradually, the snow-crowned Sierras.

Such is central California. A region extending from latitude 32 deg. 30’ in the South to 42 deg. in the North, and rising from the level of the Pacific Ocean to mountain peaks fifteen thousand feet high, must needs present many varieties of weather; but on the whole the State may be said to have a mild, dry, breezy, healthy climate. Except in the mountains and in the extreme northeast, snow never lies long, the earth does not freeze, and Winter is like a wet Spring during which the cattle fare much better than they do in Summer. The passing of one season into the other was thus described by Bret Harte: “The eternal smile of the California Summer had begun to waver and grow fixed; dust lay thick on leaf and blade; the dry hills were clothed in russet leather; the trade winds were shifting to the south with an ominous warm humidity; a few days longer, and the rains would be here.”

San Francisco has a climate of its own. Ice never forms there, and geraniums bloom throughout the Winter; but during the dry season, which lasts from May or June until September or October, a strong, cold wind blows in every afternoon from the ocean, dying down at sunset. The mercury falls with the coming of the wind, the rays of the sun seem to have no more warmth than moonbeams, the sand blows up in clouds, doors and windows rattle, and the city is swept and scourged. But fifty miles inland the air is still and balmy, and residents of San Francisco leave the city in Summer not to escape unpleasant heat, but to enjoy the relaxation of a milder and less stimulating climate. “In the interior one bright, still day follows another, as calm, as dreamy, as disconnected from time and space as was the air which lulled the lotus-eaters to rest." This evenness of temperature was amazing and delightful to the weather-beaten Pioneers from New England.

The Midsummer days are often intensely hot in the interior, but the nights are cool, and the atmosphere is so dry that the heat is not enervating. Men have been seen hard at work digging a cellar with the thermometer at 125 deg. F. in the shade; and sunstrokes, though not unknown, are extremely rare. Nothing decays or becomes offensive. Fresh meat hung in the shade does not spoil. Dead animal or vegetable matter simply dries up and wastes away.

In 1849 the rains were uncommonly severe, to the great discomfort of the Pioneers; and Alvarado, the former Spanish governor, explained the fact in all sincerity by saying that the Yankees had been accompanied to California by the devil himself. This explanation was accepted by the natives generally, without doubt or qualification. The streets of San Francisco, in that year, were like the beds of rivers. It was no uncommon thing to see, at the same time, a mule stalled in the middle of the highway, with only his head showing above the road, and an unfortunate pedestrian, who had slipped off the plank sidewalk, in process of being fished out by a companion. At the corner of Clay and Kearney Streets there once stood a sign, erected by some joker, inscribed as follows,

This street is impassable,
Not even jackassable!

But the rainy season is usually neither long nor constant. The fall of rain on the Pacific Slope is only about one third of the rainfall in the Atlantic States; and, before water was supplied artificially, the miner was often obliged to suspend operations for want of it. Frequently a day’s rain would have been cheaply bought at the price of a million dollars; and even a good shower gave an impetus to business which was felt by the merchants and gamblers of San Francisco and Sacramento. It was observed that after a long drought dimes took the place of gold slugs upon the roulette and faro tables. Thus, even the weather was a speculation in Pioneer times.

And yet, notwithstanding the general mildness of the climate, extremes of cold, at high levels, are close at hand. Snow often falls to a depth of one or two feet within fifty miles of San Francisco. Near the head-waters of the Feather River the snow is sometimes twelve and even fifteen feet deep; and in December, 1850, eighteen men out of a party of nineteen, and sixty-eight of their seventy mules froze to death in one night. A snow-storm came up so suddenly, and fell with such fury, that their firewood became inaccessible, and they were obliged to burn their cabin; but even that did not save them.

Bret Harte has described a California snow-storm not only in The Outcasts of Poker Flat, but in several other stories, notably in Gabriel Conroy, Snow-Bound at Eagle’s, and A Night on the Divide. It is interesting to know, as Mr. Pemberton tells us, that the description of the snow-storm in Gabriel Conroy was written on a hot day in August.

Poker Flat was in Sierra County, and in March, 1860, the snow was so deep in that county that tunnels were dug through it as a picturesque and convenient means of access to local saloons. The storm which overwhelmed the Outcasts was no uncommon event. But when these storms clear off, the cold, though often intense, is not disagreeable, owing to the dryness of the air. “We are now working every fair day,” wrote a miner in January, 1860, “and have been all the Winter without inconvenience. The long, sled-runner Norwegian snow-shoes are used here by nearly everybody. I have seen the ladies floating about, wheeling and soaring, with as much grace and ease of motion as swans on the bosom of a placid lake or eagles in the sun-lit air.”

On the summit of the mountains the snow is perpetual, and on the easterly slopes it often attains the almost incredible depth, or height, of fifty feet. In A Tale of Three Truants, Bret Harte has described an avalanche of snow, carrying the Three Truants along with it, in the course of which they “seemed to be going through a thicket of underbrush, but Provy Smith knew that they were the tops of pine trees.”

On the whole, the climate of California justified the enthusiasm which it aroused in the Pioneers, and which sometimes found an amusing expression. The birth of twins to an immigrant and his wife, who had been childless for fifteen years, was triumphantly recorded by a San Jose paper as the natural result of even a short residence on the Pacific Slope. Large families and long life marked not only the Spaniards, but also the Mexicans and Indians. Families of fifteen, twenty, and even twenty-five children excited no surprise and procured no rewards of merit for the parents. In 1849 there was a woman living at Monterey whose children, all alive and in good health, numbered twenty-eight.

We read of an Indian, blind but still active at the age of one hundred and forty; and of a squaw “very active” at one hundred and twenty-six. Mr. Charles Dudley Warner a speaks of “Don Antonio Serrano, a tall, spare man, who rides with grace and vigor at ninety-three,” and of an Indian servant “who was a grown man, breaking horses, when Don Antonio was an infant. This man is still strong enough to mount his horse and canter about the country. He is supposed to be about one hundred and eighteen.” This wonderful longevity was ascribed by Mr. Warner to the equable climate and a simple diet.

Ancient Mexicans and Indians figure occasionally in Bret Harte’s stories. There is, for example, Concepcion, “a wrinkled Indian woman, brown and veined like a tobacco leaf,” who acts as servant to the Convert of the Mission; and, at the Mission of San Carmel, Sanchicha, in the form of a bundle, is brought in and deposited in a corner of the room. “Father Pedro bent over the heap, and distinguished in its midst the glowing black eyes of Sanchicha, the Indian centenarian of the Mission. Only her eyes lived. Helpless, boneless, and jelly-like, old age had overtaken her with a mild form of deliquescence.”

But it was not length of days, it was feverish energy that the climate produced in the new race which had come under its influence. The amount of labor performed by the Pioneers was prodigious. “There is as much difference,” wrote the Methodist preacher, Father Taylor, “between the muscular action of the California miner and a man hired to work on a farm, as between the aimless movements of a sloth and the pounce of the panther.”

“We have,” declared a San Francisco paper, “the most exhilarating atmosphere in the world. In it a man can do more work than anywhere else, and he feels under a constant pressure of excitement. With a sun like that of Italy, a coast wind as cool as an Atlantic breeze in Spring, an air as crisp and dry as that of the high Alps, people work on without let or relaxation, until the vital cord suddenly snaps. Few Americans die gradually here or of old age; they fall off without warning.”

So late as 1860 it was often said that there were busy men in San Francisco who had never taken a day’s vacation, or even left the city to cross the Bay, from the hour of their arrival in 1849 until that moment. Even this record has been eclipsed. A Pioneer of German birth, named Henry Miller, who accumulated a fortune of six million dollars, is said to have lived, or at least to have existed, in San Francisco for thirty-five years without taking a single day’s vacation.

It was even asserted at first that the climate neutralized the effect of intoxicating liquor, and that it was difficult, if not impossible, to get really drunk in California. Possibly a somewhat lax definition of drunkenness accounted in part for this theory. A witness once testified in a San Francisco court that he did not consider a man to be drunk so long as he could move. But the crowning excellence of the California climate remains to be stated. It was observed by the Pioneers, and they had ample opportunity to make observations upon the subject, that in that benign atmosphere gunshot wounds healed rapidly.

With a climate exhilarating and curative; with youth, health, courage, and the prospect of almost immediate wealth; with new and exciting surroundings, it is no wonder that the Pioneers enjoyed their hour. In San Francisco, especially, a kind of pleasant madness seized upon every newcomer. “As each man steps his foot on shore,” writes one adventurer, “he seems to have entered a magic circle in which he is under the influence of new impulses.” And another, in a letter to a friend says, “As soon as you reach California you will think every one is crazy; and without great caution, you will be crazy yourself.”

Still another Pioneer wrote home even more emphatically on this point: “You can form no conception of the state of affairs here. I do believe, in my soul, everybody has gone mad, stark, staring mad."

To the same effect is the narrative of Stephen J. Field, afterward, and for many years, a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Mr. Field, who arrived in San Francisco as a very young man, thus describes his first experience:

“As I walked along the streets, I met a great many persons whom I had known in New York, and they all seemed to be in the highest spirits. Every one in greeting me said, ‘It is a glorious country!’ or ’Isn’t it a glorious country?’ or ‘Did you ever see a more glorious country?’ In every case the word ‘glorious’ was sure to come out.... I caught the infection, and though I had but a single dollar in my pocket, no business whatever, and did not know where I was to get my next meal, I found myself saying to everybody I met, ‘It is a glorious country!’"

“The exuberance of my spirits,” Judge Field continues, “was marvellous”; and the readers of his interesting reminiscences will not be inclined to dispute the fact when they learn that four days after his arrival, having made the sum of twenty dollars by selling a few New York newspapers, he forthwith put down his name for sixty-five thousand dollars’ worth of town lots, and received the consideration due to a capitalist bent upon developing the resources of a new country.

The most extravagant acts appeared reasonable under the new dispensation. Nobody was surprised when an enthusiastic miner offered to bet a friend that the latter could not hit him with a shotgun at the distance of seventy-eight yards. As a result the miner received five shots, causing severe wounds, beside losing the bet, which amounted to four drinks. After the first State election, a magistrate holding an important office fulfilled a wager by carrying the winner a distance of three miles in a wheelbarrow.

A characteristic scene in a Chinese restaurant is described as follows in the Sacramento Transcript of October 8, 1850:

“One young man called for a plate of mutton chops, and the waiter, not understanding, asked for a repetition of the order.

“‘Mutton chops, you chuckle head,’ said the young gentleman.

“‘Mutton chops, you chuckle head,’ shouted the Chinaman to the kitchen.

“The joke took among the customers, and presently one of them called out, ‘A glass of pigeon milk, you long-tailed Asiatic.’

“‘A glass of pigeon milk, you long-tailed satic,’ echoed the waiter.

“‘A barrel of homoeopathic soup, old smooth head,’ shouted another.

“‘Arrel homepatty soup, you old smooth head,’ echoed the waiter.

“‘A hatful of bricks,’ shouted a fourth.

“‘Hatter bricks,’ repeated the waiter.

“By this time the kitchen was in a perfect state of confusion, and the proprietor in a stew of perplexity rushed into the dining-room. ’What you mean by pigeon milk, homepatty soup, and de brick? How you cooking, gentlemen?’

“A roar burst from the tables, and the shrewd Asiatic saw in a moment that they were hoaxing his subordinates. ’The gentlemen make you all dam fools,’ said he, rushing again into the smoky recess of the kitchen.”

At a dinner given in San Francisco a local orator thus discoursed upon the glories of California: Look at its forest trees, varying from three hundred to one thousand feet in height, with their trunks so close together [drawing his knife and pantomiming] that you cant stick this bowie-knife between them; and the lordly elk, with antlers from seventeen to twenty feet spread, with their heads and tails up, ambling through these grand forests. Its a sight, gentlemen

“Stop,” cried a newcomer who had not yet been inoculated with the atmosphere. “My friend, if the trees are so close together, how does the elk get through the woods with his wide-branching horns?”

The Californian turned on the stranger with a look of thorough contempt and replied, “That’s the elk’s business”; and continued his unvarnished tale, no more embarrassed than the sun at noonday.

“There was a spirit of off-hand, jolly fun in those days, a sort of universal free and easy cheerfulness.... The California Pioneer that could not give and take a joke was just no Californian at all. It was this spirit that gives the memory of those days an indescribable fascination and charm."

The very names first given to places and situations show the same exuberant spirit; such, for example, as Murderer’s Alley, Dead Man’s Bar, Mad Mule Canon, Skunk Flat, Whiskey Gulch, Port Wine Diggins, Shirt-Tail Hollow, Bloody Bend, Death Pass, Jackass Flat, and Hell’s Half Acre.

Even crime took on a bold and original form. A scapegrace in Sacramento stole a horse while the owner still held the bridle. The owner had stepped into a shop to ask a question, but kept the end of the reins in his hand, when the thief gently slipped the bridle from the horse’s head, hung it on a post, and rode off with steed and saddle.

Bizarre characters from all parts of the world, drawn as by a magnet, took ship for California in ’49 and ’50 and became wealthy, or landed in the Police Court, as fate would have it. The latter was the destination of one Murphy, an Irishman presumably, and certainly a man of imagination, who described himself as a teacher of mathematics, and acknowledged that he had been drunk for the preceding six years. He added, for the benefit of the Court, that he had been at the breaking of every pane of glass from Vera Cruz to San Francisco, that he had smoked a dozen cigars in the halls of the Montezumas, and that there were as many persons contending for his name as there were cities for the birth of Homer. The Court gave him six months.

Two residents of San Francisco, one a Frenchman, the other a Dutchman, were so enthusiastic over their new and republican surroundings that they slept every night under the Liberty Pole on the Plaza; and seldom did they fail to turn in patriotically drunk, shouting for freedom and equality. Prize-fighters, as a matter of course, were attracted to a place where sporting blood ran so high. In June, 1850, news came that Tom Hyer (of whose celebrity the Reader is doubtless aware) was shortly expected with “his lady” at Panama; and he must have arrived in due course, for in August, Tom Hyer was tried in the Police Court of San Francisco for entering several saloons on horseback, in one case performing the classic feat of riding up a flight of steps. The defence set up that this was not an uncommon method of entering saloons in San Francisco, and the Court took “judicial notice” of the fact, his honor having witnessed the same thing himself on more than one occasion. However, as Mr. Hyer was somewhat intoxicated, and as the alleged offence was committed on a Sunday, the Judge imposed a small fine.

In the same year, Mr. T. Belcher Kay, another famous prize-fighter from the East, narrowly escaped being murdered while returning from a ball before daylight one Sunday morning; and subsequently Mr. Kay was tried, but acquitted, on a charge of burglary.

In that strange collection of human beings drawn from all parts of the earth, for the most part unknown to one another, but almost all having this fundamental trait in common, namely, that they were close to nature, it was inevitable that incidents of pathos and tragedy, deeds of rascality and cruelty, and still more deeds of unselfishness and heroism, should continually occur.

Some Pioneers met good fortune or disaster at the very threshold. One young man, upon landing in San Francisco, borrowed ten dollars, went immediately to a gambling saloon, won seven thousand dollars, and with rare good sense took the next steamer for home. Another newcomer, who brought a few hundred dollars with him, wandered into the gambling rooms of the Parker House soon after his arrival, won twenty thousand dollars there, and went home two days later.

A Pioneer who had just crossed the Plains fell into a strange experience upon his arrival at Placerville. He was a poor man, his only property being a yoke of oxen which he sold almost immediately for one hundred dollars in gold dust. Shortly before that a purse containing the same quantity of gold had been stolen; and when, a few hours later, the newly-arrived teamster took out his pocket-book to pay for a small purchase, a man immediately stepped forward and accused him of the robbery. He was, of course, arrested, and a jury to try him was impanelled on the spot. The quality of the gold in his purse corresponded exactly with the quality of the stolen gold. It was known that he had only just arrived from the Plains and could not have obtained the gold dust by mining. The man to whom he sold his cattle had gone, and he was unable to prove how he had come by the treasure. Under these circumstances, the jury found him guilty, and sentenced him to receive thirty lashes on the bare back, which were thereupon administered, the unfortunate man all the time protesting his innocence.

After he was whipped, he procured a pistol, walked deliberately up to the person who first accused him, placed the pistol at his head, and declared that he believed him to be the guilty man, and that if he did not then and there confess that he had stolen the money he would blow his brains out. The fellow could not stand the power of injured innocence. He became frightened, acknowledged that he was the thief, and drew the identical stolen money out of his pocket. The enraged crowd instantly set upon him, bore him to the nearest tree, and hung him. A subscription was then started, and about eighteen hundred dollars were raised in a few minutes for the sagacious teamster, who departed forthwith for his home in the East.

Of the many thousand Pioneers at work in the mines very few reaped a reward at all commensurate with their toils, privations and sufferings, much less with their expectations. The wild ideas which prevailed in some quarters as to the abundance of the gold may be gathered from the advice given to one young Argonaut by his father, on the eve of his departure from Illinois. The venerable man urged his son not to work too hard, but to buy a low chair and a small iron rake, and, taking his seat comfortably, to rake over the sand, pick up the nuggets as they came to view, and place them in a convenient box.

In reality, the miners’ earnings, after deducting necessary living expenses, are computed to have averaged only about three times the wages of an unskilled day-laborer in the East. Few of them saved anything, for there was every temptation to squander their gains in dissipation; and men whose income is subject to wide fluctuations are notoriously unthrifty. The following is a typical experience: “Our diet consists of hard bread, flour which we eat half-cooked, and salt pork, with occasionally a salmon which we purchase of the Indians. Vegetables are not to be procured. Our feet are wet all day, while a hot sun shines down upon our heads, and the very air parches the skin like the hot air of an oven. Our drinking water comes down to us thoroughly impregnated with the mineral substances washed through the thousand cradles above us. The hands and feet of the novice become painfully blistered and the limbs are stiff. Besides all these causes of sickness, many men who have left their wives and children in far-distant States are homesick, anxious and despondent."

Many a family in the East was desolated and reduced to poverty by the untimely death of a husband and father; and in other cases long absence was as effectual in this respect as death itself. The once-common expression “California widow” is significant. Some Eastern men took informal wives on the Pacific Slope; others, who had succeeded, put off their home-coming from month to month, and even from year to year, hoping for still greater success; others yet, who had failed, were ashamed to go home in poverty, and lingered in California until death overtook them. This phase of Pioneer life is treated by Bret Harte in the stories How Old Man Plunkett went Home, and Jimmy’s Big Brother from California. Of those who were lucky enough to find gold in large quantities, many were robbed, and some of these unfortunates went home, or died, broken-hearted.

But as a rule, the Pioneers rose superior to every blow that fate could deal them. Men met misfortune, danger, even death with composure, and yet without bravado. A traveller being told that a man was about to be lynched, proceeded to the spot and found a large gathering of miners standing around in groups under the trees, and quietly talking. Seeing no apparent criminal there, he stepped up to one person who stood a little apart from the others, and asked him which was the man about to be hung. The person addressed replied, without the slightest change of countenance, “I believe, Sir, it’s me.” Half an hour later he was dead.

There was a battle at Sacramento in 1850 between a party of “Squatters” on one side, and city officials and citizens on the other. Among the latter was one J. F. Hooper from Independence in Missouri. Hooper, armed only with a pistol, discharged all his cartridges, then threw the weapon at his advancing opponents, and calmly faced them, crossing his hands over his breast as a protection. They fired at him, notwithstanding his defenceless situation, and one ball piercing his right hand inflicted a wound, but not a mortal one, in his side. Four men were killed and several others badly wounded in this fight.

When a father and son were arrested by a vigilance committee at Santa Clara for horse-stealing, and were sentenced to receive thirty-six lashes apiece, the son begged that he might take his father’s share as well as his own.

Men died well in California. In November, 1851, two horse-thieves were hung by a vigilance committee at Stockton. One of them, who was very young, smoked a cigar up to the last moment, and made a little speech in which he explained that the act was not dictated by irreverence, but that he desired to die like a man. When Stuart, a noted robber and horse-thief was being tried for his life by the Vigilance Committee in San Francisco, he complained that the proceedings were “tiresome,” and asked for a chew of tobacco.

The death of this man was one of the most impressive scenes ever witnessed upon this blood-stained earth. Sentence having been passed upon the prisoner the Committee, numbering one thousand men, came down from the hall where they met and formed in the street, three abreast. They comprised, with some exceptions, the best, the most substantial, the most public-spirited citizens of San Francisco. In the centre was Stuart, handcuffed and pinioned, but perfectly self-possessed and cool. A gallows had been erected some distance off, and the procession moved up Battery Street, followed by a great throng of men. There was no confusion, no outcry, no apparent excitement, not a sound, indeed, except the tread of many feet upon the planked streets, every footfall sounding the prisoner’s knell.

It was of this event that Bret Harte wrote in his Bohemian Days in San Francisco: “Under the reign of the Committee the lawless and vicious class were more appalled by the moral spectacle of several thousand black-coated, serious-minded business men in embattled procession than by mere force of arms.”

When they reached the gallows, a rope was placed around the prisoner’s neck, and even then, except for a slight paleness, there was no change in his appearance. Amid the breathless silence of the whole assemblage Stuart, standing under the gallows, said, “I die reconciled. My sentence is just.” His crimes had been many, and he seemed to accept his death as the proper and almost welcome result of his deeds. He was a man of intellect, and, hardened criminal though he was, the instinct of expiation asserted itself in his breast.

In July, 1851, a Spanish woman was tried and condemned by an impromptu vigilance committee for killing an American who, she declared, had insulted her. Being sentenced to be hanged forthwith, she carefully arranged her dress, neatly coiled her hair, and walked quietly and firmly to the gallows. There she made a short speech, saying that she would do the same thing again if she were permitted to live, and were insulted in the same way. Then she bade the crowd farewell, adjusted the noose with her own hands, and so passed bravely away.

A few years later at Moquelumne Hill, a young Welshman, scarcely more than a boy, met death in a very similar manner, and for a similar offence. On the scaffold he turned to one of the by-standers, and said, “Did you ever know anything bad of me before this affair occurred?” The answer was, “No, Jack.” “Well,” said the youth, “tell those Camp Saco fellows that I would do the same thing again and be hung rather than put up with an insult.” Men like these died for a point of honor, as much as did Alexander Hamilton.

But far higher was the heroism of those who suffered or died for others, and not for themselves. No event, not even the discovery of gold, stirred California more profoundly than did the death of James King. In 1856, King, the editor of the “Bulletin,” was waging single-handed a vigorous warfare against the political corruption then rife in California, and especially against the supineness of the city officials in respect to gambling and prostitution. He had given out that he would not accept a challenge to a duel, but he was well aware of the risk that he ran. San Francisco, even at that time, indulged in an easy toleration of vice, and only some striking, some terrible event could have aroused the conscience of the public.

Among the city officials whose hatred Mr. King had incurred was James Casey, a typical New York politician, and a former convict, yet not wholly a bad man. The two men, King and Casey, really represented two stages of morality, two kinds of government. Their personal conflict was in a condensed form the clashing of the higher and the lower ideals. Casey, meeting King on the street, called upon him to “draw and defend himself”; but King, being without a weapon, calmly folded his arms and faced his enemy. Casey fired, and King fell to the ground, mortally wounded.

“It was expedient that one man should die for the people”; and the death of King did far more than his life could have done to purify the political and social atmosphere of California. On the day following the murder, a Vigilance Committee was organized, and an Executive Committee, consisting chiefly of those who had managed the first Vigilance Committee in 1851, was chosen as the practical ruler of the city. It was supported by a band of three thousand men, distributed in companies, armed, officered and well drilled. For two months and a half the Executive Committee remained in office, exercising its power with marked judgment and moderation. Four men were hung, many more were banished, and the city was purged. Having accomplished its work the Committee disbanded, but its members and sympathizers secured control of the municipal government through the ordinary legal channels, and for twenty years administered the affairs of the city with honesty and economy.

The task in 1851 had been mainly to rid the city of Australian convicts; in 1856 it was to correct the political abuses introduced by professional politicians from the East, especially from New York; and in each case the task was successfully accomplished, without unnecessary bloodshed, and even with mercy.

Nor was Casey’s end without pathos, and even dignity. On the scaffold he was thinking not of himself, but of the old mother whom he had left in New York. “Gentlemen,” he said, “I stand before you as a man about to come into the presence of God, and I declare before Him that I am no murderer! I have an aged mother whom I wish not to hear that I am guilty of murder. I am not. My early education taught me to repay an injury, and I have done nothing more. The ‘Alta California,’ ‘Chronicle,’ ‘Globe,’ and other papers in the city connect my name with murder and assassination. I am no murderer. Let no newspaper in its weekly or monthly editions dare publish to the world that I am one. Let it not get to the ears of my mother that I am. O God, I appeal for mercy for my past sins, which are many. O Lord Jesus, unto thee I resign my spirit. O mother, mother, mother!”

The sinking of the steamer, “Central America,” off the coast of Georgia, in 1857, is an event now almost forgotten, and yet it deserves to be remembered forever. The steamer was on her way from Aspinwall to New York, with passengers and gold from San Francisco, when she sprang a leak and began to sink. The women and children, fifty-three in all, were taken off to a small brig which happened to come in sight, leaving on board, without boats or rafts, five hundred men, all of whom went down, and of whom all but eighty were drowned. Though many were armed, and nearly all were rough in appearance, they were content that the women and children should be saved first; and if here and there a grumble was heard, it received little encouragement. Never did so many men face death near at hand more quietly or decorously.

And yet the critic tells us about the “perverse romanticism” of Mr. Bret Harte’s California tales!

One incident more, and this brief record of California heroism, which might be extended indefinitely, shall close. Charles Fairfax, the tenth Baron of that name, whose family have lived for many years in Virginia, was attacked without warning by a cowardly assassin, named Lee. This man stabbed Fairfax twice, and he was raising his arm for a third thrust when his victim covered him with a pistol. Lee, seeing the pistol, dropped his knife, stepped back, and threw up his hands, exclaiming, “I am unarmed!”

“Shoot the damned scoundrel!” cried a friend of Fairfax who stood by.

Fairfax, holding the pistol, with the blood streaming from his wounds, said: “You are an assassin! You have murdered me! Your life is in my hands!” And then, after a moment, gazing on him, he added, “But for the sake of your poor sick wife and of your children, I will spare you.” He then uncocked the pistol, and fell fainting in the arms of his friend.

All California rang with the nobility of the deed.