cution of a work undertaken was never abandoned or
in any way retarded by the discordance of opinion on
the part of the different members of the company.
Individuals could not work alone to any advan-
tage. All mining operations were carried on by
parties of men, varying in number according to the
nature of their diggings ; and the strange assortment
of dissimilar characters occasionally to be found thus
brought into close relationship was but a type of the
general state of society, which was such as completely
to realise the idea of perfect social equality.
SOCIETY IN THE MINES. 371
There are occasions on which, among small com-
munities, an overwhelming emotion, common to all,
may obliterate all feeling of relative superiority ; but
the history of the world can show no such picture of
human nature upon the same scale as was to be seen
in the mines, where, among a population of hundreds
of thousands of men, from all parts of the world, and
from every order of society, no individual or class was
accounted superior to another.
The cause of such a state of things was one which
would tend to produce the same result elsewhere. It
consisted in this, that each man enjoyed the capa-
bility of making as much money as his neighbour; for
hard labour, which any man could accomplish with
legs and arms, without much assistance from his
head, was as remunerative as any other occupation
consequently, all men indiscriminately were found so
employing themselves, and mining or any other kind
of labour was considered as dignified and as honour-
able a pursuit as any other.
In fact, so paramount was this idea, that in some
men it created an impression that not to labour was
degrading that those who did not live by actual
physical toil were men who did not come up to the
scratch who rather shirked the common lot of all,
" man's original inheritance, that he should sweat for
his poor pittance." I recollect once arriving in the
middle of the night in San Francisco, when it was
not by any means the place it now is, and finding all
the hotels full, I was compelled to take refuge in an
372 SOCIAL EQUALITY.
establishment which offered no other accommodation
to the public than a lot of beds half-a-dozen in a
room. When I was paying my dollar in the morning
for having enjoyed the privilege of sleeping on one of
these concerns, an old miner was doing the same.
He had no coin, but weighed out an ounce of dust,
and while getting his change he seemed to be study-
ing the keeper of the house, as a novel and interest-
ing specimen of human nature. The result showed
itself in an expression of supreme contempt on his
worn and sunburnt features, as he addressed the
object of his contemplation : "Say now, stranger, do
you do nothin' else but just sit thar and take a dollar
from every man that sleeps on them beds ? "
" Yes, that's my business," replied the man.
" Well, then," said the miner after a little further
reflection, " it's a d d mean way of making your
living, that's all I can say."
This idea was natural enough to the man who so
honestly expressed it, but it was an exaggeration of
that which prevailed in the mines, for no occupation
gave any man a superiority over his neighbours ;
there was no social scale in which different classes
held different positions, and the only way in which a
man could distinguish himself from others was by
what he actually had in him, by his own personal
qualities, and by the use he could make of them ;
and any man's intrinsic merit it was not difficult to
discover ; for it was not as in countries where the whole
population is divided into classes, and where indivi-
WANT OF POLISH. 373
duals from widely different stations are, when thrown
together, prevented, by a degree of restraint and
hypocrisy on both sides, from exhibiting themselves
exactly as they would to their ordinary associates.
Here no such obstacle existed to the most unreserved
intercourse ; the habitual veil of imposition and
humbug, under which men usually disguise them-
selves from the rest of the world, was thrown aside as
a useless inconvenience. They took no trouble to con-
ceal what passed within them, but showed themselves
as they were, for better or for worse as the case might
be sometimes, no doubt, very much for the worse; but
in most instances first impressions were not so favour-
able as those formed upon further acquaintance.
Society so to call it certainly wanted that
superfine polish which gives only a cold reflection of
what is offered to it. There was no pinchbeck or
Brummagem ware ; every man was a genuine solid
article, whether gold, silver, or copper : he was the
same sterling metal all the way through which he
was on the surface ; and the generous frankness and
hearty goodwill which, however roughly expressed,
were the prevailing characteristics of the miners, were
the more grateful to the feelings, as one knew that no
secondary or personal motive sneaked beneath them.
It would be hard to say what particular class of men
was the most numerous in the mines, because few
retained any distinguishing characteristic to denote
their former position.
The backwoodsman and the small farmer from the
374 INDIVIDUALITY OF MANNER IN THE MINES.
Western States, who formed a veiy large proportion
of the people, could be easily recognised by many
peculiarities. The educated man, who had lived and
moved among gentlemen, was also to be detected
under any disguise ; but the great mass of the people
were men who, in their appearance and manners,
afforded little clue to their antecedents.
From the mode of life and the style of dress, men
became very much assimilated in outward appear-
ance, and acquired also a certain individuality of
manner, which was more characteristic of what they
now were of the independent gold-hunter than of
any other order of mankind.
It was easy enough, if one had any curiosity on
the subject, to learn something of a man's history,
for there was little reserve used in alluding to it.
What a man had been, mattered as little to him as it
did to any one else ; and it was refreshing to find, as
was generally the case, that one's preconceived ideas
of a man were so utterly at variance with the truth.
Among such a motley crowd one could select his
own associates, but the best-informed, the most enter-
taining, and those in many respects the most desir-
able, were not always those whose company one
could have enjoyed where the inseparable barriers of
class are erected ; and it is difficult to believe that
any one, after circulating much among the different
types of mankind to be found in the mines, should
not have a higher respect than before for the various
classes which they represented.
THE STOCKTON STAGE THE PLAINS SAN FRANCISCO ITS PROGRESS
IMPROVEMENT IN STYLE OP LIVING FEMALE INFLUENCE
EXTRAVAGANCE FIRST SETTLEMENT OF CALIFORNIA EFFECTIVE
POPULATION AMERICANS AS COLONISTS ENGLISH IN CALI-
FORNIAMODERN DISCOVERIES OF GOLD THEIR CONSEQUENCES.
AFTER a month or two spent on the Tuolumne and
Merced rivers, and in the more sparsely populated
section of country lying still farther south, I returned
to Sonora, on my way to San Francisco.
Here I took the stage for Stockton a large open
waggon, drawn by five horses, three leaders abreast.
We were well ballasted with about a dozen passengers,
the most amusing of whom was a hard dried-up man,
dressed in a greasy old leathern hunting-shirt, and
inexpressibles to match, all covered with tags and
fringes, and clasping in his hand a long rifle, which
had probably been his bosom-friend all his life. He
took an early opportunity of informing us all that he
was from Arkansas ; that he came to " Calaforny "
across the plains, and having been successful in the
diggings, he was now on his way home. He was like
376 THE STAGE TO STOCKTON.
a schoolboy going home for the holidays, so delighted
was he with the prospect before him. It seemed to
surprise him very much that all the rest of the party
were not also bound for Arkansas, and he evidently
looked upon us, in consequence, with a degree of
compassionate interest, as much less fortunate mortals,
and very much to be pitied.
We started at four o'clock in the morning, so as to
accomplish the sixty or seventy miles to Stockton
before the departure of the San Francisco steamer.
The first ten or twelve miles of our journey were
consequently performed in the dark, but that did not
affect our speed ; the road was good, and it was only
in crossing the hollows between the hills that the
navigation was difficult ; for in such places the
diggings had frequently encroached so much on the
road as to leave only sufficient space for a waggon to
pass between the miners' excavations.
We drove about thirty miles before we were quite
out of the mining regions. The countiy, however,
became gradually less mountainous, and more suitable
for cultivation, and every half-mile or so we passed
a house by the roadside, with ploughed fields around
it, and whose occupant combined farming with
tavern -keeping. This was all very pleasant travel-
ling, but the most wretched part of the journey was
when we reached the plains. The earth was scorched
and baked, the heat was more oppressive than in the
mountains, and for about thirty miles we moved
PROGRESS OF SAN FRANCISCO. 377
along enveloped in a cloud of dust, which soaked
into one's clothes and hair and skin as if it had
been a liquid substance. On our arrival in Stock-
ton we were of a uniform colour all over all
identity of person was lost as much as in a party of
chimney-sweeps ; but fortunately the steamer did not
start for an hour, so I had time to take a bath, and
make myself look somewhat like a white man before
going on board.
The Stockton steamboats, though not so large as
those which run to Sacramento, were not inferior in
speed. We steamed down the San Joaquin at about
twenty miles an hour, and reached San Francisco at
ten o'clock at night.
San Francisco retained now but little resemblance
to w T hat it had been in its earlier days. The same
extraordinary contrasts and incongruities were not to
be seen either in the people or in the appearance of
the streets. Men had settled down into their proper
places ; the various branches of business and trade had
worked for themselves their own distinct channels;
and the general style of the place was very much the
same as that of any nourishing commercial city.
It had increased immensely in extent, and its
growth had been in all directions. The barren sand-
hills which surrounded the city had been graded
down to an even slope, and were covered with streets
of well-built houses, and skirted by populous suburbs.
Four or five wide streets, more than a mile in length,
378 FEMALE INFLUENCE.
built up with solid and uniform brick warehouses,
stretched all along in front of the city, upon ground
which had been reclaimed from the bay ; and between
these and the upper part of the city was the region
of fashionable shops and hotels, banks and other
The large fleet of ships which for a long time, while
seamen's wages were exorbitantly high, lay idly in the
harbour, was now dispersed, and all the shipping
actually engaged in discharging cargo found accom-
modation alongside of the numerous piers which had
been built out for nearly a mile into the bay. All
manner of trades and manufactures were flourishing
as in a place a hundred years old. Omnibuses plied
upon the principal thoroughfares, and numbers of
small steamboats ran to the watering-places which
had sprung up on the opposite shore.
The style of life had improved with the growth of
the city, and with the increased facilities of procur-
ing servants and house-room. The ordinary conven-
tionalities of life were observed, and public opinion
exercised its wonted control over men's conduct ; for
the female part of creation was so numerously repre-
sented, that births and marriages occupied a space
in the daily papers larger than they require in many
more populous places.
Female influence was particularly observable in the
great attention men paid to their outward appearance.
There was but little of the independent taste and
individuality in dress of other days ; all had succumbed
to the sway of the goddess of fashion, and the usual
style of gentleman's dress was even more elaborate
than in New York. All classes had changed, to a
certain extent, in this respect. The miner, as he is seen
in the mines, was not to be met with in San Francisco ;
he attired himself in suitable raiment in Sacramento
or Stockton before venturing to show himself in the
Gambling was decidedly on the wane. Two or
three saloons were still extant, but the company to
be found in them was not what it used to be. The
scum of the population was there ; but respectable men,
with a character to lose, were chary of risking it by
being seen in a public gambling-room ; and, moreover,
the greater domestic comfort which men enjoyed,
and the usual attractions of social life, removed all
excuse for frequenting such places.
Public amusements were of a high order. Bis-
caccianti and Catherine Hayes were giving concerts,
Madame Anne Bishop was singing in English opera,
and the performances at the various theatres were
sustained by the most favourite actors from the
Extravagant expenditure is a marked feature in
San Francisco life. The same style of ostentation,
however, which is practised in older countries, is
unattainable in California, and in such a country
would entirely fail in its effect. Extravagance, accord-
380 ENGLISH IN CALIFORNIA.
ingly, was indulged more for the purpose of procur-
ing tangible enjoyment than for the sake of show.
Men spent their money in surrounding themselves
with the best of everything, not so much for display
as from due appreciation of its excellence ; for there
is no city of the same size or age where there is so
little provincialism ; the inhabitants, generally, are
eminently cosmopolitan in their character, and judge
of merit by the highest standard.
As yet, the influence of California upon this country
is not so much felt by direct communication as through
the medium of the States. A very large proportion of
the English goods consumed in the country find their
way there through the New York market, and in many
cases in such a shape, as in articles manufactured in
the States from English materials, that the actual
value of the trade cannot be accurately estimated.
The tide of emigration from this country to California
follows very much the same course. The English are
there very numerous, but those direct from England
bear but an exceedingly small proportion to those
from the United States, from New South Wales, and
other countries ; and the latter, no doubt, possessed
a great advantage, for, without undervaluing the
merit of English mechanics and workmen in their
own particular trade, it must be allowed that the
same class of Americans are less confined to one spe-
ciality, and have more general knowledge of other
trades, which makes them better men to be turned
AMERICANS AS COLONISTS. 381
adrift in a new country, where they may have to
employ themselves in a hundred different ways before
they find an opportunity of following the trade to
which they have been brought up. An English
mechanic, after a few years' experience of a younger
country, without losing any of the superiority he
may possess in his own trade, becomes more fitted to
compete with the rest of the world when placed in a
position where that speciality is unavailable.
California has afforded the Americans their first
opportunity of showing their capacity as colonists.
The other States which have, of late years, been
added to the Union, are not a fair criterion, for they
have been created merely by the expansion of the
outer circumference of civilisation, by the restlessness
of the backwoodsman unaided by any other class ; but
the attractions offered by California were such as to
draw to it a complete ready-made population of active
and capable men, of every trade and profession.
The majority of men went there with the idea of
digging gold, or without any definite idea of how
they would employ themselves ; but as the wants of
a large community began to be felt, the men were
already at hand capable of supplying them ; and the
result was, that in many professions, and in all the
various branches of mechanical industry, the same
degree of excellence was exhibited as is known in
any part of the world.
Certainly no new country ever so rapidly advanced
382 AMERICANS AS COLONISTS.
to the same high position as California ; but it is
equally true that no country ever commenced its
career with such an effective population, or with the
same elements of wealth to work upon. There are
circumstances, however, connected with the early
history of the country which may not appear to be
so favourable to immediate prosperity and progress.
Other new countries have been peopled by gradual
accessions to an already formed centre, from which
the rest of the mass received character and con-
sistency ; but in the case of California the process
was much more abrupt. Thousands of men, hitherto
unknown to each other, and without mutual relation-
ship, were thrown suddenly together, unrestrained by
conventional or domestic obligations, and all more
intently bent than men usually are upon the one
immediate object of acquiring wealth. It is to be
wondered that chaos and anarchy were not at first
the result of such a state of things ; but such was
never the case in any part of the country ; and it is,
no doubt, greatly owing to the large proportion of
superior men among the early settlers, and to the
capacity for self-government possessed by all classes
of Americans, that a system of government was at
once organised and maintained, and that the country
was so soon entitled to rank as one of the most
important States of the Union.
The consequences to the rest of the world of the
gold. of California it is not easy to determine, and it
MODERN GOLD DISCOVERIES. 383
is not for me to enter upon the great question as to
the effect on prices of an addition to the quantity of
precious metals in the world of 250,000,000, which
in round numbers is the estimated amount of gold and
silver produced within the last eight years. It seems,
however, more than probable that the present high
range of prices may, to a certain extent, be caused by
this immense addition to our stock of gold and silver.
But the question becomes more complicated when we
consider the extraordinary impetus given to com-
merce and manufactures by this sudden production
of gold acting simultaneously with the equally ex-
panding influence of Free Trade. The time cannot
be far off when this important investigation must be
entered upon with all that talent which can be
brought to bear upon it. But this is the domain of
philosophers, and of those whose part in life it is
to do the deep-thinking for the rest of the world. I
have no desire to trespass on such ground, and abstain
also from fruitlessly wandering in the endless mazes
of the Currency question.
There are other thoughts, however, which cannot
but arise on considering the modern discoveries of
gold. When we see a new country and a new home
provided for our surplus population, at a time when
it was most required when a fresh supply of gold,
now a necessary to civilisation, is discovered, as we
were evidently and notoriously becoming so urgently
in want of it, we cannot but recognise the ruling hand
384 MODERN GOLD DISCOVERIES.
of Providence. And when we see the uttermost parts
of the earth suddenly attracting such an immense
population of enterprising, intelligent, earnest Anglo-
Saxon men, forming, with a rapidity which seems
miraculous, new communities and new powers such
as California and Australia, we must indeed look upon
this whole Golden Legend as one of the most won-
drous episodes in the history of mankind.
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