Horace Annesley Vachell.

Life and sport on the Pacific slope online

. (page 1 of 23)
Online LibraryHorace Annesley VachellLife and sport on the Pacific slope → online text (page 1 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


on me



^sMik



•liy



SLOPE



ffomceAnnesIey Hcbell




Life and Sport on the
Pacific Slope



•••• ••••

•.. .-.

• • •* • •

v.



• •c • •

:



Life and Sport on the
Pacific Slope

By

Horace Annesley Vachell

Author of "The Procession of Life," "A Drama
in Sunshine," etc.



• ••••••• «. •



New York

Dodd, Mead and Company

1901






Copyright, igoo
By Dodd, Mead and Company



All rights reser'ved



UNIVERSITY PRESS . JOHN WILSON
AND SON • CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A.



TO

CHAUNCEY HATCH PHILLIPS,

WHO, BORN IN THE EAST, iS ESSENTIALLY OF THE WEST,
I DEDICATE THIS BOOK.



m7ti7S



y



Prefatory Note



My Dear Chief,— I dedicate this book to you
with profound pleasure, in acknowledgment of an
affection and sympathy which have been sealed
by a great sorrow. From your hands I received
a loyal, loving wife; but the fact that she was
born in California has not shackled my lips in
speaking of the West. She, I know, would have
entreated me to write with a free hand ; and if at
times I seem to criticise somewhat harshly certain
women who, consciously or unconsciously, are
widening the gulf between their husbands and
themselves, let it be remembered by my friends
that 1 have judged these women according to a
standard set by a daughter of the West, a standard
of tenderness, fidelity, unselfishness, and modesty
to which few wives, be their country what it may,
can attain.

Many and many a time have you and I talked
over the subjects treated in these pages; but



viii Prefatory Note

although our opinions clashed now and again, our
intercourse continued absolutely free from friction
and discord. That intercourse, which began seven-
teen years ago, and our friendship, which sunshine
could not wither nor shadow obscure, have indirectly
inspired this volume. But I ask you to shoulder no
responsibility in regard to it; and whether you ap-
prove what I have written or not, believe me,

Most affectionately yours,

Horace Annesley Yachell.

HuRSLBT, Winchester.



Contents



CHAPTEB PA6K

I. The Land of To-morrow ...... 3

II. The Men of the West 23

III. The Women of the West 49

IV. The Children of the West .... 73
V. Ranch Life, 1 91

VI. Ranch Life, II 107

VII. Business Life ... 131

VEIL Anglo-Franco-Californians . ... 149

IX. The Englishman in the West, I. . . 161

X. The Englishman in the West, II. . 177

XL The Side-Show 191

XII. Pot-pourri 205

XIII. Ethical 229

V XIV. Big Game Shooting 249

V XV. Small Game Shooting, 1 273

*/XVI. Small Game Shooting, II 289

XVII. Sea Fishing 807

XVIII. Fresh Water Fishing SS5



Contents



APPENDICES

CHAPTER PAGE

I. A Few Statistics 347

II. Horticulture 360

III. Viticulture 369

IV. Beet Culture 375

V. Irrigation 378

VI. Hints to Sportsmen 385



I

THE LAND OF TO-MOREOW



Life and Sport on the
Pacific Slope .



J . o t, >



I

THE LAND OF TO-MORROW

NOT long ago I saw the sun rise in a Surrey
garden. Standing at an open window I
looked down upon dew-laden, silvery lawns that
sloped to a lovely mere. In the mid-distance the
mist lay like a velvety blur upon the woods skirting
the northern bank of the Thames. It veiled, too,
the great cedars and elms in the garden, robbing
them of colour and substance, so that they seemed,
as it were, grey ghosts, — spectral sentinels of an
Eden whence the glory had departed. The mist
began to melt beneath the kiss of an August sun,
and I lingered at my window, waiting expectantly
for what would be revealed, as if I were a stranger
to the garden and its beauties. Very soon the trees
and shrubs and flowers were clearly defined, fresh
and glowing. Against the yew hedge that encom-
passed this pleasaunce was an herbaceous border.
Here, great salmon-pink hollyhocks towered above
the graceful larkspurs — dark and pale blue. Below
these again were those sweet vagabonds the corn-
flowers, the stocks, the verbenas, and snapdragons.



4 Life and Sport on the Pacific Slope

Fringing the border were the gaudy calceolarias.
Not for the first time I was struck by the amazing
finish of the picture, its exquisite texture and quality.
And I reflected that in Surrey alone there are hun-
dreds of such gardens, and that they represent the
care and the culture of a thousand years.

Looking at this perfect miniature I was fain to
contrast it with a picture I knew and loved in
ancthei^ land se^'en thousand miles away. I could
see in fancy a great valley sloping westerly to a
great ocean. Upon the face of this landscape lay
the same glad freshness of morning. And here
too the mist had spread her magical carpet, obscur-
ing the bare plains, veiling the rude houses and
barns, blotting out, in fine, the works of man while
lending unearthly beauty to the works of God.

In both pictures was revealed the hand of the
Master. And the less included the greater, even as
the infinite spaces of the sky are reflected in a
dewdrop.

The Surrey garden was an epitome of yesterday
and to-day. Upon the other, the great valley sloping
to the Pacific, broods the promise of to-morrow.

This Land of To-morrow includes within itself the
material resources of all the nations. It has a great
seaboard, rich valleys, mountains of minerals, vast
forests, rivers, lakes, reservoirs of oil (the fuel of
to-morrow), and a people not to be matched in
energy, patience, pluck, and executive ability.

Fifty years ago this was the Lotos Land, where
life was essentially Arcadian, pastoral and patri-
archal. Another race dwelt upon the shores of the



The Land of To-Morrow 5

Pacific, the Hispano-Californians, who ate and drank
and made merry. Some of them may still be found
south of Point Concepcion; they have absolutely
nothing left — except their charming manners.
When I came to the Pacific Slope, in '82, you might
find, here and there, a ranchero, the lord of many
acres, of many flocks and herds. At his house a
warm welcome awaited the stranger. The men of
the family, the cahalleros, entertained their guests
with feats of horsemanship, barbecues, and stories
of the past. The senoritas danced and sang. The
word " work " was seldom mentioned. These were
simple primitive people : content with little, grate-
ful to God for the blessings vouchsafed them, truly
free, if we may accept their own testimony, and
truly happy. Such as they were, however, the
Pacific Slope will never see their like again.

Their songs, I remember, were infinitely touching.
One had a pathetic refrain (it was a favourite with
the sefioritas) : Adios, adios, para siempre adios. I
never heard it sung without reflecting that this —
so to speak — was the swan-song of the Latin to
the all-conquering Anglo-Saxon.

During the fifty years that followed the American
occupation of the West so much has been accom-
plished that an encyclopedia would hardly find
room for facts. In the appendices of this book will
be found figures taken from reliable sources that will
serve to faintly indicate what has been done. By
applying to these figures the rule of geometrical
progression some conception may be formed of what
will be done — to-morrow.

It will be> conceded, I think, that so far as Call-



6 Life and Sport on the Pacific Slope

fornia, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia
are concerned the experimental stage has been
passed. Mining, for instance, has become an exact
science. The same may be said of fruit culture,
viticulture, the breeding of fine horses and cattle,
the making of wine and oil, cereal-raising, and man-
ufactures. The cruiser upon whose bridge stood
Admiral Dewey when he entered the harbour of
Manila was built in San Francisco. An immense
battle-ship, " The Oregon," doubled Cape Horn with-
out misadventure, a marvellous feat. Her keel was
laid in the ship-yards of the West. The modern
war ship is a machine so complex, combining in
itself so many of the arts and sciences, so incom-
parably difficult of nice adjustment, that it would
seem to be the ne jplus ultra of human ingenuity
and mechanical skill. To the hands and brains
that have constructed an " Oregon " nothing can be
deemed impracticable.

I shall now set forth, as briefly as may be, my
reasons for speaking of the Pacific Slope as the
land of To-morrow. The people who live in the
West are profoundly convinced that their country is
a land of to-day. More, the word " to-morrow " has
an offensive signification. California, for instance,
was once known as the land of " manana," a land
where nothing must be done to-day that could pos-
sibly be put off till to-morrow.

Time has brought many changes to the Pacific
Slope, but none more amazing than the change from
ignorance and indolence to activity and intelligence.
But the promise of the future dwarfs the perform-
ance of the present. Heretofore, despite her unpar-



The Land of To-Morrow 7

alleled resources, California has been, for the many,
terra incognita. Over and over again I have been
asked the most absurd questions. A lady of rank
and fashion told me only the other day that she
hoped to visit California, because she wished to see
the — Andes. Another thought that the Golden
State belonged to England. A third was interested
in Yo Semite, but feared the terrors of the wilder-
ness. She really believed that I roamed my ranch
clad in skins of wild beasts, that the plains were
black with Apaches, the towns at the mercy of des-
peradoes ! Some of my friends have greeted me on
my return to England as if I were a long lost ex-
plorer. " How glad you must be," they say, holding
my hand in a fervent clasp, " to find yourself once
more in a civilised country." When I explain that
I have been living in a town of thirty thousand
people, a town better lighted, better kept, more
abundantly blessed with the amenities of life, than
two-thirds of the cathedral towns of England, I am
confronted by a pitying stare.

I remember taking some English travellers to a
luncheon at the country house of a Calif omian.
After luncheon a drag came round, and we went for
a drive. The visitors cocked bewildered eyes at the
coach, the harness, the servants, the horses. When
their surprise found words, they overwhelmed our
host with compliments far too florid for his taste.
Silence would have been a subtler form of commen-
dation. French visitors would have conveyed their
sense of pleasure and concealed their amazement.

But this ignorance of the West is passing away,
and with it will pass the fear also, that fear which



8 Life and Sport on the Pacific Slope

a great raw boy so often inspires in his elders. In
a certain sense the West has been running amoh.
It has had a stormy youth. It has played queer
pranks. Talk to the wise men of the East — why
is wisdom supposed to dwell in the East ? — and
they will shake their hoary heads at the mere men-
tion of the West. Some of them, doubtless, have
suffered real pain, finding themselves in the grip of
a young giant unconscious of his strength. Gold
has come out of California and been sown broadcast
all over the earth. There is no advertisement like
gold. Even wise men are dazzled by the sight of it.
And accordingly the very name of California became
a synonym of the precious metal. Men who were
unwilling to leave their snug hearths sent some of
their savings to the State that was called golden.
And it is to be feared that these savings were never
seen again. In Wall Street, in the city of London,
on the continental bourses, Calif ornian mining stocks
were freely bought and sold. But, for the most
part, the great fortunes were made by the Californi-
ans themselves : the Fairs, the Floods, the Mackays,
of bonanza times. The outsiders, who — like Kip-
ling's woman — did not know, who never could
know, and did not understand, lost their money and
with it their faith in the El Dorado on the shores of
the Pacific. Although gold was being taken by the
ton from the mountains and streams, although
the country was extraordinarily prosperous, yet the
bottom — as the phrase runs — was out of the boom.
California had the whooping-cough.

The measles followed in due course. In mining
times, land was held at a few cents an acre. The



The Land of To-Morrow 9

dons who owned hundreds of leagues were in the
habit of giving it away. A miner, shrewder than
his fellows, asked Mariano Vallejo for a farm.
Vallejo gave him eight thousand acres of fine land,
and bade him take more if he wanted more. Others
followed. The Haggins, the Tevises, the Millers ac-
quired principalities for a song. When the psycho-
logical moment came, these vast ranches were
subdivided and put on the market, on the world's
market. Mr. Nordhoff wrote a book about California
that was widely read. Pamphlets, maps, special
editions of newspapers, lecturers, agents of the trans-
portation companies, Boards of Trade, proclaimed
the virtues of Californian soil. Of course, the facts,
quite amazing enough in themselves, were embel-
lished. It was a day of individual successes. One
man had cleared four hundred pounds sterling from
one acre of cherries ! Another had made a fortune
out of apricots, or oranges, or ostriches. Not a
word was said of the patience, labour, and special
knowledge that had made such results possible.
Eeading the pamphlets one was not only assured of
success, but failure was proved to be impossible.
The prose, in which these alluring statistics were
embalmed, was homely enough, mere fustian, but
the poetry that lay between the lines of it might
have lent enchantment to a dustbin. Great stress
was laid upon the climate. To the farmer in the
East, or mid- West, to tlie British labourer, to the
French or German peasant, — all of them groaning
and travailing under conditions more or less intoler-
able, the slaves of the elements, the playthings of cy-
clones and blizzards, — to these poor weary workers,



lo Life and Sport on the Pacific Slope

life beneath the soft blue skies of California was
pictured as a sort of triumphant procession.

And so it proved — for a season or two.

I remember planting potatoes — the Early Rose
variety — upon some land for which I had just paid
(in '82) five dollars an acre. My neighbours, men
of flocks and herds, laughed at my folly. They too
had read the pamphlets, and sneered at the predic-
tions of the prophets. According to them, land in
Southern California was adapted to pastoral uses —
and nothing else. I was pronounced a tenderfoot
with money to burn. The potatoes were planted in
virgin soil. They increased and multiplied. In
due time the crop was sacked and sold. After pay-
ing expenses, I found that I had cleared about one
hundred dollars per acre !

I could cite a thousand such instances.

During the decade that followed, the Pacific Slope
was peopled with petty farmers and fruit-growers.
Land values steadily rose in obedience to the im-
mutable laws of demand and supply. The men
of flocks and herds, the " silurians " as they were
called, the " moss-backs," ploughed up their pastures
and sold their sheep and cattle. The spirit of the
times had them by the throat. These patriarchs,
knowing but one business (and that indifferently
well), became of a sudden horticulturists, wine-
makers, fruit-growers, or dealers in real estate.
They no longer laughed at others, they laughed
with them. Everybody laughed. A broad grin
rested on the face of the landscape. We were all
blowing soap-bubbles, and that is glorious sport
when you are young. And there was plenty of



The Land of To-Morrow 1 1

soap. It greased — so to speak — the ways of every
enterprise. Heavens ! what crazy crafts put to sea !

Town properties began to boom. At Los Angeles
men stood patiently in line for many hours waiting
to buy lots which they had never seen. The same
lot was sold again and again within a week. New
towns were hastily surveyed and put up at public
auction. The bidders fought with each other for
the privilege of securing corner lots on avenues that
were laid out on — paper. These auctions were ad-
vertised in all the daily papers; excursions were
organised ; the railroads, of course, had more than a
finger in the pie. When the new town-site was
reached, meat and drink were provided for the hun-
gry and excited buyers. A band furnished appro-
priate music.

Looking back it seems incredible that we could
have been such fools. The craze affected all alike,
rich and poor, young and old, wise and simple. If
you had no money the banks clamoured for your
patronage. Their gold lay in shining piles upon
the counters. You could borrow what you pleased
— at ten per cent. The men of business, the trades-
men, the lawyers, the doctors, and the parsons
bought land. We were all, in a sense, thieves, for
we robbed Peter to pay Paul. The saloons did a
roaring trade. Champagne, at a sovereign a bottle,
was the only liquor fit to slake the thirst of the
Native Sons. They smoked shilling cigars ; fat per-
fectoSy encircled with gaudy paper bands upon which
was inscribed " Habana." Some of these full-Hav-
oured weeds were made by Chinese cheap labour in
the stews of San Francisco. Perhaps the opium in



I 2 Life and Sport on the Pacific Slope

them lulled to sleep the prudence of the smokers.
Who can tell ?

During these halcyon days there were no Popo-
crats, no Silverites (for silver — as in the time of
Solomon — was counted as dross), no Unemployed.
Everything being upside down, the man became the
master. I remember that I was graciously per-
mitted to pay my cook eighty-four pounds a year
for services worth, as we compute results in Europe,
a ten-pound note. The ranch hands wore diamonds.
On Sunday they arrayed themselves in suits of broad-
cloth at fifteen pounds the suit, silk-lined ; they took
their " best girls " for drives in well-appointed bug-
gies drawn by fast pairs of trotters. As for the
young ladies, I dare not describe their toilettes.

But the outward and visible sign of this amazing
prosperity was most manifest in the houses (they
were always spoken of as residences) which — like
Aladdin's palace — seemed to be built and furnished
in a single night. A propos of them I have a story :
I was in a Pullman car, and we were passing through
a valley dotted with most unsightly houses, — ram-
shackle buildings, for the most part, each an amal-
gam of half a dozen styles of architecture, each
obviously built for show.

" What are yon ? " said an old Scotchman, who
was of the party.

" They 're private residences," replied an American,
proudly. " Yes, sir, we 're passing through Paradise
Park. Six months ago, sir, this tract was a howling
desert of cactus and sage brush."

" Eh, eh-h-li ? Ye surprise me. Private resi-
dences, ye say ? "



The Land of To-Morrow 1 3

" Yes, sir. What do you take them for ? "

The old Scotchman answered soberly : " I was of
the opeenion that they must be lunatic asylums."

A big fellow, evidently a cattleman from Arizona,
burst into Homeric laughter.

" Jee-roo-salem ! " he exclaimed. " That 's just
exactly what they air."

Of course adversity trod hard upon the heels of
her twin, prosperity. The pendulum began to swing
the other way. We had had, as I have said, the
measles, and the body politic was enfeebled and
anaemic. Bad prices, an over-glutted market,
drought, frost, and blight, set their stigmata upon
us. " Laugh" says Mrs. Wilcox, " and the world
laughs with you : weep — and you weep alone." Our
laughter had rung through the East and Europe.
Our youth and high spirits had enchanted the older
civilisations. Now, recovering from a contagious
disease, we were constrained to mourn alone, in
silence and seclusion. The contrast between the
smiles of the past and the tears of the present would
have been pronounced humorous had it not been
pathetic. When I first came to the West, I was
speaking one day to a Californian of London and
the glories thereof. He listened politely, but when
I had finished he said meaningly: "London is all
right, though it ain't Paris, but both of them are
— remote." To him, San Francisco was the centre
of the solar system : the sun itself. Only last
year I happened to meet the same man. His
forehead, I noted, was puckered with perplexity ;
his clothes were shabby ; liis linen was not im-
maculate; he smoked a pipe. After a minute's



14 Life and Sport on the Pacific Slope

talk, he said to me, feverishly : " Say, what ails
California ? "

I told him that, in my humble opinion, the hard
times were over, that the future was rosy with the
blush, not the flush, of returning health, and that
California would be richer and stronger and wiser
than she had ever been before. My friend's expres-
sive face brightened.

" The State is all right," he replied earnestly.
" The trouble lies with us. We 've had a bad dose
of the swelled head. And now," he added mourn-
fully, " we Ve got cold feet."

In the slang that comes so pat to the lips of a
Western man, he had said — everything.

When California begins to laugh again, the world
will laugh with her. She is smiling already. The
discovery of gold in the tributaries of the Yukon, the
opening up of Alaska, the acquisition of the Philip-
pine Islands, railroad competition, the Oriental trade,
the possibilities that encompass the cutting of a
canal across the Isthmus of Panama,^ and the com-
pletion of the Trans-Siberian Kailway, the discover-
ies of coal fields and oil wells, these — to name only
a few — are the heralds of a progress and prosperity
that must prove radical and enduring.^

1 Since writing the above the Panama Canal has become the
property of American capitalists.

2 The Hon. John Barrett, late United States Minister to Siam,
writes : " Three great States, California, Oregon, and Washington,
forging ahead in material strength with tremendous strides, de-
veloping vast resources, increasing rapidly in population, and pos-
sessing mighty potentialities yet to be exploited, debouch with
their entire western boundaries upon the Pacific, and look to it for



The Land of To- Morrow i c

I am not prepared to discuss the pros and cons of
Imperialism in a book which merely professes to
be a pot-pourri of personal experience; but I can
understand why the word itself is offensive to
many good Americans. Expansion, to my mind,
better expresses the purpose and policy of those
who have annexed the Philippines. Already, we
are told, the bill to be paid for these islands
amounts to more than two hundred millions of
dollars : a large sum, but not too heavy a price to
pay for that moral expansion which has revitalised
a country needing perhaps no fresh territory. Al-
though I use the word "moral" I am confining
myself to practical politics. The sentimentalists,
the men of Utopia, are as usual astride the fence.
We know only too well that from them proceed, in
endless prolixity, empty words, — vox, et prceterea
nihil. But even to those who take the world as
it is, to those whose eyes are undimmed by party
prejudice, the annexation of the Philippines and the
protectorate of Cuba mean something far more im-
portant than the acquisition of rich territory, or
the right to take a leading place in the councils of
the nations. It is very questionable to the writer
whether the one or other of these is worth much

a goodly share of their future prosperity. ... If we include the
long winding coast of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, we have a
grand total of nearly thirty-five hundred miles facing the Pacific.
. . . China, Japan, Siberia, Siam, the Philippines, and Korea, not
only want the flour of the Pacific Coast, but they are developing %
growing demand for timber, manufactured food supplies, and a long
list of lesser products."

Note. — The grand total of Pacific trade exchange — exports and
imports — was $210,000,000 for the year 1898.



i6 Life and Sport on the Pacific Slope

in hard cash to the United States; but it does
seem absolutely certain — if the testimony of the
past is to be accepted — that with nations as with
individuals a policy of self-sufficiency, of restric-
tion, and of isolation, is demoralising, and in the
end disintegrating. The Spanish-American war,
where millionaire and cowboy fought side by side
in the ranks, did more to adjust the relations be-
tween rich and poor than all the synthetic philoso-
phies of the world. Expansion will create new and
enlarge old professions ; it must have a permanent
civil service, a diplomatic corps, an army, an ade-


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibraryHorace Annesley VachellLife and sport on the Pacific slope → online text (page 1 of 23)