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But mark : these forest fires do not
destroy a forest; they devastate it by
burning up large amounts of availa-
ble lumber; a forest area that has
been swept by fire produces a new
forest if left to itself.

The greatest factor in these fires is
the number of trees that have fallen
down. Every tree, if left to its nat-
ural course, has its life, like any other
living organism ; it springs up, grows
to maturity, and decays. If utilized
when at its maturity, it becomes
a source of profit; if left to decay,
it becomes only an additional dan-
ger to other trees. Experience has
shown that on an average each acre
of timber area will produce each year
forty cubic feet of wood. Applying
this to the reservation of 3,640,320
acres we have under discussion — as
this reservation appears to be a forest
proposition pure and simple — we have
145,612,800 cubic feet of wood as the
yearly increase. The utilization of
such an amount of wood would leave
the forest intact; if not utilized, that



amount would only be so much addi-
tional fuel for any coming conflagra-
tion. Now, a reservation having
been established, what is the Gov-
ernment going to do with these 145,-
612,800 feet of wood becoming yearly
available? not to mention the exist-
ing available timber, of which 75,000
feet per acre is said to be a conserva-
tive estimate.

Is it going to let all the timber
decay or burn up, or is it going into
the business of cutting, sawing, and
selling timber itself? or if not, is it
going to lease the business out? if
the latter, to whom? To a few fa-
vored corporations, or to the people?
If to the latter, what is the use of
having a reservation? If the answer
is, the better to regulate the cutting
of timber for the purpose of prevent-
ing the destruction of the forest, the
reply is that the forest cannot be
destroyed except by continuous cul-
tivation of the ground, which is im-
possible because impracticable, and
that the cutting down of matured
timber can be regulated by State
legislation. Then why not let the
people go on and utilize the timber
supply as needed, by letting them ob-
tain these lands in private ownership,
under regulations preventing mo-
nopolies?

Why should the citizens living in
the vicinity of the reservation or in
that part of the San Joaquin Valley
adjacent to it, and whose needed
timber supply promises to be im-
mense in the near future, be com-
pelled to forego the supply right at
hand in this reservation, and be com-
pelled to import it from Oregon or
Washington Territory, and haul it
long distances over the railroads
from the ports of entry to its ultimate
destination?

And as far as the prevention of
fires is concerned, it seems to be evi-
dent that private ownership of these
forest lands, with its accompanying
settlements of miners, agriculturists,
lumbermen, and persons following
other industries dependent on their




BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF COUNTRY ABOUT LAKE MONO.



PARKS AND RESERVATIONS.



807



natural products, would be produc-
tive of a great number of people in-
terested in the prevention of fires,
which would more effectually stop
them than any other means that
could be provided.

The second object for which the
Yosemite National Park reservation
ostensibly was established is "the
preservation from injury of mineral
deposits . . . and their retention in
their natural condition."

Now, a mineral deposit preserved
and retained in its natural condition
is of no value whatever; it becomes
of value only by being taken away
from where it is retained in its natural
condition, so that it can be used.
Of what use and benefit would have
been the coal, iron, and petroleum of
Ohio and Pennsylvania, the silver of
Nevada and Colorado, the gold of
California, if these mineral deposits
had been preserved and retained in
their natural conditions?

And these mineral deposits must be
enormous, as the greater part of the
area set apart for the park is mineral
land, in which not only a number of
mines are being worked now, but in
which indications of mineral deposits
without number have been discov-
ered, hardly any of which have en-
tered into a state of development yet.

In Mariposa County, in townships
3 and 4, south of ranges 19 and 20
east, M. D. M., are the Nite Mine,
which has produced millions of dol-
lars' worth of gold, and other mines,
patented and unpatented, which have
produced other millions. That por-
tion of the park comprised in about
ten townships near its northern and
eastern boundary line, lying within
the county of Tuolumne, contains
many mines of value, while the por-
tion located in the county of Fresno
includes the Minaret and North Fork
(of the San Joaquin mining dis-
tricts), known to be rich in mines of
iron, lead, copper, and silver. These,
with deposits of marble, granite, as-
bestos, and other minerals, disposed
all over the park, only await favorable



transportation facilities for practi-
cable and profitable development.
The third object of the act establish-
ing the Yosemite Park is "the
preservation from injury of . . .
natural curiosities or wonders within
said reservation, and their retention
in their natural condition." The
Yosemite Valley, one of the greatest
natural wonders in the world, has
been set apart as a reservation years
ago. Four sections of land have also
heretofore been set apart for the
Mariposa Big Tree Grove of sequoias ;
for any scattered groups of sequoias
growing in the park let there be
ample territory reserved. Outside of
these, this Yosemite Park does not
contain any other natural wonders or
curiosities than what are contained
in any other mountain forest region.

A public park, the larger the bet-
ter, near a large city, is a public
benefit, and ought to be maintained
at or near each centre of population.

These parks, being within their
immediate vicinity, give the crowded
people of the cities a chance to ob-
tain fresh air, and to the poor an op-
portunity to enjoy a great many re-
finements of civilized life which they
would be unable to procure other-
wise. Public parks are therefore a
benefit, physically, morally, and in-
tellectually, to all those near enough
to enjoy them.

But a park, or a system of parks,
comprising territory embracing mil-
lions of acres, situated far away from
any centre of population, and there-
fore inaccessible to the great majority
of the people on account of the ex-
pense attached to get there, would
in fact be only a park for the benefit
of the rich and well-to-do, who could
afford the travelling expenses.

Would such parks be within the
scope and spirit of our institutions?

Having examined the three objects
for which ostensibly these reserva-
tions were established, there remains
another feature to be considered,
namely, the status of the actual set-
tlers on these reservations in their



8o8



PARKS AND RESERVATIONS.



rightful possessions acquired by
homestead, pre-emption, or purchase
under the laws of the United States.

A portion of township 4, south
range 19 east, M. D. M., is one of the
most fertile and has been one of the
longest-settled districts of Mariposa
County, simply because the first set-
tlers naturally picked out the best
places to settle on. On the Merced
River are choice spots, which by rea-
son of the mildness of their climatic
conditions and the facilities for irri-
gation are unsurpassed for fruit-rais-
ing. The little valleys higher up,
in the timber belt, have been proven
to be equal to, if they do not surpass,
any other lands in this great fruit-
raising State of California for the
raising of certain fruits and vegeta-
bles, such as apples, berries, potatoes,
etc. The same conditions prevail in
the reservation extending from Mari-
posa to Kern County. What is to
become of these settlements? The
act of October 1st, 1890, says: "That
nothing in this act shall be construed
as in anywise affecting . . . any
bona fide entry of land made within
the limits above described under any
law of the United States prior to the
approval of this act."

This was evidently inserted in
order to kill off any intended job of
unloading undesirable property on
the Government.

But the first thing that the then
Secretary of the Interior — Secretary
Noble — does after having been in-
trusted with the management of the
park is to report to Congress that it
would be impracticable to maintain
the Yosemite Park under government
control with a multitude of private
claims within its boundaries, and to
recommend to Congress to take the
necessary steps to extinguish these
claims.

This may be a correct position,
but it throws the door wi**3 open for



the accomplishment of the very jobs
it was intended to guard against.
But in either case the American
settler, the pioneer, who in good faith
came there to carve out for himself
and family, under the laws of our
country, a home from the wilderness,
is the one who is injured. If his
private claim is to be respected, then
he is doomed to poverty, for a coun-
try that is condemned to preserve,
instead of to use, its resources and
to retain them in their natural condi-
tion is in a state of unmitigated
stagnation, of living death.

If, on the other hand, Congress
compels him to sell his home, he can
hardly expect to receive for it any-
thing like what his place* would have
been worth in course of time if the
country is left to the natural develop-
ment of its resources. And if he
sells and leaves his home, is his
place to go to wreck and ruin? and
if not, by whom is it to be kept up —
by tenants whose landlord is the
United States? Is the curse 01
landlordism to be maintained by our
own Government?

And the hundreds of little valleys
that are situated within the two reser-
vations, and are susceptible of culti-
vation and to become the homes of
well-to-do families, are they to be
kept in a state of wilderness under
the pall of a government reservation?
From their very nature they would
not furnish large holdings, but they
would become the homes of sturdy
settlers, whose families, raised in the
healthy climate of these forests and
mountains, would in the future supply
a great deal of nerve and sinew for
the cities and hot valleys below.

If these premises are correct, is it
right to maintain these vast tracts of
mountain forests as parks and reser-
vations, and to withhold their treas-
ures and resources from the industrial
life of the people?



AMONG THE BRAHMINS.






BY JOHN HAMILTON GILMOUR.




E race characteris-
tics of the Brahmins
are distinctive and
original and cannot fail to
elicit the interest and ad-
A " miration of the student of
human nature. The writer has been
afforded an excellent opportunity to
observe and study them under normal
and also extraordinary circumstances,
having been among them for some
length of time, and in the south dur-
ing the famine of 1877-78, which
surpassed in horror all that had pre-
ceded it during British occupancy.

It was the policy of the British
government not to make public the
fearful nature of the distress, but
when alike districts were annihilated
and the province of Massur lost over
one million persons, it was decided
to institute measures of relief. The
district of Tinnevelly is accounted
one of the richest in India. When
Europeans were struggling for the
supremacy in Hindostan, it was re-
peatedly captured and recaptured.
For a time the Dutch were in pos-
session of the province, but eventu-
ally were ignominiously driven out
by the British. It is a prize worth
striving for. In the hills to the
southeast every known spice grows
in luxuriance. Pineapples with their
thorny spikes fret the face of the
country. The heavily wooded moun-
tains have been cleared for the coffee
and spices, and Englishmen have rap-
idly acquired huge fortunes through
this enterprise. The sea is even
more gracious. The great pearl
fishery beds lie between Tuticorin
and the island of Ceylon, and finds of
wonderful gems are frequently made.
Between Tinnevelly and the sea the
country is flat and uninteresting, and
there is no natural irrigation. This



part is, however, the granary of the
district. It was here that no rain
had fallen for three years, and the
suffering people having eaten up
their reserve supplies, found no al-
ternative but to calmly await death.
The local government was powerless.
Mr. Pennington, the collector, poured
into the distressed taluks all the
grain he could conveniently lay hands
on, but it was a mere drop in the
ocean. These taluks were most
densely populated — often five hun-
dred to the square mile. Then the
famishing wretches began to leave
their villages and invaded Tinnevel-
ly itself. Horror succeeded horror.
European women fainted at the sight
of their wretchedness. The starvel-
ings followed the horses of the white
men and picked from the manure the
undigested grain. Mothers showed
their babies hanging to milkless
breasts, and forever went up that cry
" Swami, swami." It was not an ap-
peal to God. It was to the white
men they cried for help.

Active and resourceful, Mr. Pen-
nington, with but slender means at
his command, commenced a series of
relief works, feeling confident that
the supreme government would come
to the people's rescue. After several
thousand lives were lost the supreme
government did offer relief in the
wickedest and most wasteful manner
possible. In the centre of the chief
taluk a relief camp was formed, and
into this camp the people were driven.
Money was given those villages in
which there was left some grain.
At Ootipadaram, the chief village of
the taluk of that name, a relief camp
was formed, and at one time no less
than 10,000 persons were daily being
fed at the public expense. Besides
this camp there were smaller ones at
809



8io



AMONG THE BRAHMINS.



Sattur and Virudupetti which prob-
ably sheltered 15,000 between them.
The road to the camp from the rail-
way station at Maniachi was liter-
ally festooned with corpses in all
stages of decomposition. The air
was heavy with pollution. Deadly
fevers raged and cholera showed its
horrible front.

The first official care was to dispose
of the dead, and for that purpose
long trenches were dug. Sometimes
the deaths amounted to a thousand a
day, and despite this awful mortality
there seemed no diminution in the
camp number.

This panic was felt equally by rich
and poor. But so full of pride was
the Brahmin that he preferred to die
with his family, shut up in his house,
rather than mingle with a horde of
pariahs in the common camp. They
were even too proud to ask for mone-
tary assistance, but a procession of
Brahmin women, tottering with
weakness, would often go to the tem-
ple and, flinging themselves on the
ground, pray for rain. Whenever the
white man did anything for them his
liberality was praised, and in proof
of the esteem in which his gifts were
held one-half was often given as an
offering to the God.

The name Brahmin is synonymous
with cleanliness. Not only are the
Brahmins scrupulous in the attention
they pay their bodies, but are equally
careful with their belongings. It
would be an impossibility to find a
dirty Brahmin or a dirty Brahminical
quarter.

Cleanliness is not a matter of
choice; it is a religion which must be
rigidly observed. Some of the ideas
of cleanliness are very particular. For
instance, no Brahmin woman per-
mits hair upon her body. Each sin-
gle hair must be plucked out, and
the parts rubbed with saffron. After
she touches anything she must bathe,
and she refuses her husband entrance
to her house if he does not completely
wash and thoroughly purify himseff
after contact with Europeans. She



is equally strict with her children
who attend the public school, being
harassed by the fear that they will
inadvertently touch a Sudra. She
will allow no dogs near her domicile,
nor fowls, for they are unclean. Her
table is of the simplest. Nothing
that grows under the ground will the
Brahmin eat, only that which can be
gathered from above. Potatoes are
unclean; so are beets and carrots.
But corn, which has no contact with
the soil, can be used. The Brahmin
never touches with his lips any uten-
sil. When he drinks milk or water
he pours the liquid into his mouth
without letting the vessel come near
his lips, and after use the cup is
thoroughly cleaned.

The Brahmin is extremely careful
that nothing shall contaminate his
person. When he buys wood from a
pariah, the unfortunate seller will
have to lay the bundle in the middle
of the road and retreat from it a few
rods, keeping his hand well in his
mouth so as to prevent the possibility
of his breath reaching the Brahmin's
sacred person.

The Brahmins are disposed to be
friendly to Englishmen, for there is a
tradition current among them that
certain sages visit England and
create white men, calling them Gun-
danas, or God-fearing men, but the
English soon outlived the Brahmin's
respect by employing pariahs as ser-
vants. Though we diligently inquired
who made the pariahs we never could
learn. While talking to a white per-
son they have a habit of catching the
holy thread (a string worn by Brah-
mins around the body and hanging
from the right shoulder) and showing
the back of the hand. On the con-
clusion of the conversation the palm
is shown. This is as a charm against
the white person's meat-eating pro-
clivities.

Brahmins rich and poor are equally
particular. To be a Brahmin is to be
a god. There are two Brahmin sects,
Vishnu and Shiva, the Preserver and
Destroyer. All Brahmins worship



AMONG THE BRAHMINS.



8ir



Bruma, the Creator, and believe they
sprang from his face. The descend-
ants of Vishnu, who preserved the
world from the attacks of Shiva and
thelatter's descendants, though equal
each in the other's sight as God-
descended, have nothing in common.
They cannot intermarry nor eat to-
gether, and their quarters are widely
separate. Their dresses are totally
distinct, and they each wear caste
marks. The Vishnu men have
three radiating streaks upon their
foreheads of brown and yellow, the
lines meeting between the eyebrows.
The two outer lines are brown, the
inner yellow. The Shivaite adorns
the centre of his forehead with a dot
of sandalwood grease. The women
too are differently costumed. The
Shiva woman's dress is the prettier
of the two, for the garb of the Vishnu
woman is almost too scant for grace,
being worn tight across her knees,
and a Shiva has a loose fold hanging
on the side of her right leg below the.
knee. A Telugu woman, a Brahmin
north of Madras, has a loose fold
hanging in front of her. Girls who
have not attained the age of puberty
wear a simple petticoat, while a ma-
ture woman wears an undergarment.
So it appears that the dhoti form of
dress covers another dress. Only
Brahmin women are allowed to wear
the dhoti or man-like costume, all
Sudra women and others of low
caste being obliged to wear the pet-
ticoat.

The Brahmin woman is also re-
stricted as to color. There is only
one kind of dress she can buy. It
must be light brown with a gold
thread running through it. It is
chaste, rich and silky, and consists
of a single sheet. She takes this and
winds it about her body, and then
twines it between her legs. As I
have said, the Vishnu woman draws
it tight across her knees, showing
her limb from the knee down, while
the Shiva woman's dress is graceiul,
voluminous, and coquettish. The
Brahmin women are often very beau-



tiful. Their complexions are pale
brown, their hair black, and their
eyes large and ravishingly tender in
expression ; they are fond of jewelry
and some of them have gems which
queens would be glad to possess.
They often wear a thin gold plate in
their breast, and those who are suffi-
ciently opulent display magnificent
head-pieces.

The widow's lot among Brahmins
is not cheerful. The Brahminical
law has ordained that widows must
wear white and keep their head
shaved, and they must wear a cloth
over the head, as it must always be
covered. The object of keeping the
widow's head shaved is to detract
from her personal appearance, for
the Brahmins have no intention of
having attractive widows in their
midst. It is the custom among rich
Brahmins to employ widow r s and the
relatives of poor Brahmins as their
domestics, but, to their honor be it
said, their caste is most rigidly main-
tained.

Polygamy is prevented, but only
in those cases when a woman is bar-
ren for the space of ten years, or if
she only has female children, and in
some cases when it is impossible for
her to agree with her husband.

The Brahmin is an autocrat in his
household, and some of his regula-
tions are praiseworthy. Widows and
boys who are bachelors are not per-
mitted the use of snuff; there is no
definite age given when the latter
can take it, but they must be of ma-
ture years. Snuff supplies the want
of hubble-bubble, the few who do
smoke being Mohammedans.

Despite their strangely supersti-
tious character and their tenacity in
clinging to past traditions, the Brah-
mins are of the world worldly. Gen-
erations of intelligent ancestors have
produced marvellously clever men,
their physical appearance showing
them to be men of birth and culture;
they are above the middle height and
are slenderly proportioned; their
faces are oval and extremely hand-



812



AMONG THE BRAHMINS.



some, their nose aquiline, their eyes
large, and their complexion brown ;
their hands are perfect, the fingers
long and tapering, and small in body.
They are self-possessed, philosophi-
cal, and studious, and seize with avid-
ity the chance to perfect themselves in
the English language. The school
at Ettiapuram is a surprise to the vis-
itor. There small girls will be found
in attendance, studying diligently
the English language.

The Brahmins speak Shakesperean
English, and some of their sentences
are marvellously constructed. They
are close students of the great poet,
and Brahmin boys of twelve to four-
teen years of age often know their
Shakespeare better than do many
Englishmen.

The superior intelligence of the
Brahmins naturally leads them to
seize the alluring prize offered by
entrance to the government service,
.and the lower branches of the judi-
ciary is filled with them ; they have
grotesque ideas of justice.

In the Ootipadaram taluk a Brah-
min and a Sudra were on trial for the
same offence; the Sudra was sen-
tenced to be whipped, the Brahmin
to a slight fine.

" Where is the justice in that?" was
asked of the Tehsildar.

"My dear sir," he replied in his
suavest manner, "you know the
Brahmin is so brave, so superior,
that you cannot inflict punishment
on his body, so you have to punish
him through his purse; while the
miserable Sudra is such a coward
that he dreads a whipping. We have
to find punishments which are the
most disliked."

It was of course an audacious lie,
for the Brahmin would rather have
suffered death than the ignominy of
a flogging. Whenever there is a dis-
pute between a Brahmin and a Sudra
which has to be carried into court,
no justice is done the latter. Thus it
is that the great majority of the
Hindoos prefer the law to be adminis-
tered by the whites, for they are then



certain that there will be no par-
tiality shown. The Brahmins are
clannish ; for centuries they have
been India's rulers ; for centuries they
have been regarded as deities. Their
edicts were more to be feared than
those of a Maharajah, for the Ma-
harajah was subject to change, a des-
pot of short life, while the Brahmin's
despotism would continue forever.
When the English seized upon India
in the most approved freebooter
fashion, the Brahmin saw the end of
his sway approaching. There was
but one way to continue his influence.
If he wished still to be a pioneer in
the land of his forefathers, he must
bow to English demands, learn their
customs as far as was compatible
with his conscience, and above all
he must win the intruders' confidence.
The Hindoo is naturally subtle, so
the English found in the Brahmin a
coadjutor, the Brahmin improving
all of his opportunities to learn the
craft of his conqueror. He studied
English, easily learned law, passed
examinations, and began to flood the
government service. From being a
priesthood with power to morally
damn, the Brahmin has become
doubly dangerous to the common
herd. Now his power is political as
well as religious. He has " the ear of



Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 108 of 120)