Copyright
Historical Society of Southern California.

Annual publication of the Historical Society of Southern California and of the Pioneers of Los Angeles County (Volume yr.1902-1904) online

. (page 2 of 29)
Online LibraryHistorical Society of Southern CaliforniaAnnual publication of the Historical Society of Southern California and of the Pioneers of Los Angeles County (Volume yr.1902-1904) → online text (page 2 of 29)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


lowing beautiful poem from his pen was published. It was writ-
ten about 1850. It is entitled

TO A WAVE.

Dost thou seek a star, with thy swelling crest
O, wave, that lavest thy mother's breast?
Dost thou leap from the prisoned depths below
In scorn of their calm and constant flow ?
Or art thou seeking some distant land
To die in murmurs upon the strand?



THE POETRY OF THE ARGONAUTS 22$

Hast thou tales to tell of pearl-lit deep,
Where the wave- whelmed mariner rocks in sleep?
Can'st thou speak of navies that sank in pride
Ere the roll of their thunder in echo died?
What trophies, what banners, are floating free
In the shadowy depths of that silent sea?

It were vain to ask, thou rollest afar,
Of banner, or mariner, ship or star;
It were vain to seek in thy stormy face
Some tale of the sorrowful past to trace.
Thou are swelling high, thou art flashing free,
How vain are the questions we ask of thee!

I, too, am a wave on a stormy sea;

I, too, am a wanderer, driven like thee;

I, too, am seeking a distant land

To be lost and gone ere I reach the strand.

For the land I seek is a waveless shore.

And they who once reach it shall wander no more.

Among the versatile writers of California in the early '50's
few rank higher than William H. Rhodes, better known by his
nom de plume, "Caxton." One of his best efforts is a short
poem on the death of James King of William.

In 1855-56 the criminal element of San Francisco had vir-
tually obtained control of the city. The officials were either too
weak or too corrupt to enforce the law. Many of them had se-
cured their offices through ballot box stuffing and violence, and
the thieves, incendiaries and murderers who had helped them
into office went unwhipt of justice. King, through his paper,
the Bulletin, exposed the prevailing corruption and poured out
invective on the corrupt officials. He was shot down on Mont-
gomery street by James P. Casey, a supervisor of the Twelfth
ward, whose state's prison record King had exposed. Casey
and Cora, another murderer, were hanged by the Vigilance Com-
mittee while the bells were tolling King's funeral. Caxton's
poem is entitled

"HE FELL AT HIS POST DOING DUTY."

The patriot sleeps in the land of his choice,

In the robe of a martyr, all gory.
And heeds not the tones of the world-waking voice,

That cover his ashes with glory.
What recks he of riches? What cares he for fame,

Or the world decked in grandeur or beauty?
If the marble shall speak that records his proud name,
"He died at his post, doing duty!"

The pilot that stood at the helm of our bark.

Unmoved by the tempest's commotion,
Was swept from the deck in the storm and the dark.



226 HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

And sank in the depths of the ocean.
But little he'll grieve for the life it has cost,

If our banner shall still float in beauty,
And emblaze on its fold, of the pilot we lost,

"He died at his post, doing duty!"

The warrior-chieftain has sunk to his rest —

The sod of Lone Mountain his pillow;
For his bed, California has opened her breast;

His dirge, the Pacific's sad billow!
As long as the ocean-wave weeps on our shore,

And our valleys bloom out in their beauty,
So long will our country her hero deplore.

Who fell at his post doing duty!

The Argonauts in their long voyages to CaHfornia by way of
Cape Horn, which lasted all the way from six to ten months,
were put to their wits' ends to devise amusements to while away
the monotony of the voyage. One means quite popular was to
publish a newspaper aboard the vessel. These papers were writ-
ten out by hand (for this was long before the days of type-
writers) and often illustrated by pen and ink sketches of scenes
and incidents on board. The paper was read once a week and
furnished a source of amusement. It was my good fortune sev-
eral years since to secure for the Historical Society several copies
of the "Petrel," a paper published on the ship Duxbury, which
sailed from Boston via Cape Horn for San Francisco in 1849.
From its numerous poetical effusions I quote one entitled "Skin-
ning the Duff." Duff, as you know, is a kind of pudding popu-
lar with sailors. It is made of flour, tallow, raisins and other
ingredients and boiled in a bag. Skinning the duff consisted
in removing the cloth bag in which the pudding was boiled.

SKINNING THE DUFF.

Oh, 'tis pleasant to sail

Before the gale

As the wind pipes loud and free

And we dash away

Amid foam and spray

Across the dark blue sea,

And we feel the wrath

Of the tempest's breath,

As it fills our spreading sail.

And we shout with glee

As the foaming sea

Dashes high o'er the Duxbury's rail.

But a pleasanter sight

Than the tempest's night

As it roars in tones so gruff

Is to see e'er the larboard watch is called
The Steward skinning the duff.



THE POETRY OF THE ARGONAUTS 227

And 'tis pleasant to ride
O'er the swelling tide.
On the breast of the open sea.
To the waves' soft chime
In their low, sweet melody,
And 'tis pleasant to gaze
On the moon's mild rays,
Reflected wide o'er the deep,
While the evening star
Her vigils of love to keep.

But it is pleasanter far

Than moon or star,

Or wind so smooth or rough,

To see e'er the larboard watch is called

The Steward skinning the duff.

And 'tis pleasant at night

When day's rich light

Has faded away and gone;

And the crowd collects

Between the decks

To listen to story or song;

And the full heart swells

And the eyes will fill,

As we talk of friends afar.

And our pulses bound

As the toast goes round,

God bless them wherever they are ;

But a pleasanter sight

Than day's rich light

Or music or any such stuff

Is to see e'er the larboard watch is called

The Steward skinning the duff.



ETHICAL VALUE OF SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS

BY MRS. M. BURTON WILLIAMSON.

Social organizations have their rise in the social instinct.
And it will be my purpose this evening to sketch very briefly the
origin and development of this instinct, as well as to prove the
value of social organizations. By these terms I do not include
the purely social clubs, the rendezvous for eating, smoking and
lounging; nor any of the various secret societies. Strictly
speaking, a social organization would not come under the classi-
fication of a club formed for philanthropy, reform, or study
along social lines, although the social element is often so closely
allied with clubs organized for work of some kind that a strict
line of demarcation is difficult, unless the object of the club is
kept in mind.

What is its object? Has a social organization any ethical
value ?

Before attempting to answer these questions it will be nec-
essary to study the genesis of the social instinct and also the
intellectual development that has given rise to social organiza-
tions. We know the social instinct is inherent and can be traced
back through gradations of animal life. Not in the form which
we mean when we allude to social feelings, but in the more prim-
itive segregation of species into colonies, schools, flocks and
herds of animals. In invertebrate life the gregarious masses
are due to the immense quantities that are generated in certain
localities, and these only represent a part of the germs that fail
to survive. This gregariousness was illustrated in the little
pelagic,, miscroscopic peridiniums which were so abundant on
our coast at one time, summer before last. A vial filled with
sea water was seen to be alive with peridiniums. Not scattered
in haphazard fashion in the vial, but these tiny brown specks
were seen following each other in two moving streams, as a flock
of birds flying, some leading, others following. We cannot,
strictly speaking, call this a social instinct, yet in these gregari-
ous masses we might see the germs of a more advanced segre-
gation of animals. A tiny, one-celled animal cannot represent
much more than a possibility. The social instinct to be recog-
nized as such, must be evolved from a more complicated system



ETHICAL VALUP: OF SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS 229

of nerve tissue than is found in any invertebrate represented by
a jelly fish, or an oyster. But in an insect, a bird or an animal,
scientists tell us the structural units or microscopical cells and
fibers are more or less similar, and that "mind has a physical
basis in the functions of the nervous system and that every men-
tal process has a corresponding equivalent in some neural pro-
cess."* With the evolution of the nervous system the social
instinct evolves.

Social instincts not only are shown in animals of the same
genera and species, but animals both wild and domesticated have
formed friendships. In domestic life the friendship of birds,
cats, dogs and horses for their owners or keepers is of common
occurrence. "Cats often like to associate with horses, and in
some cases with dogs, birds and rats." Anecdotes of this social
instinct are numerous. A pet minorca chicken raised by our
family showed a decided preference for one member of the
household. Dade knew his name and would run to his mis-
tress whenever she called him. Often he would perch for the
half hour on the arm of her chair if she were in the garden. For
a short time he had two or three hens under his supervision.
He always called them to eat first and would wait until they, the
greedy ones, had satisfied themselves before he would swallow a
mouthful, although he would pick up a grain of corn, then place
it in front of a hen. In going into the chicken yard of evening
it was always noticed that Dade called the hens, then when they
were in front of the gate, he would stand on one side with as
much grace as a cultured human, then pass in after the hens.

In Romanes' "Mental Evolution in Animals" he gives an il-
lustration of a dog's attachment for his mistress. The anecdote
was told by the author to show that dogs have an imagination,
but it also adds another illustration of a dog's fondness for hu-
man society. "I have," he says, "known a case in which a ter-
rier of my own household, on the sudden removal of his mis-
tress, refused all food for a number of days, so that it was
thought he must certainly die, and his life was only saved by
forcing him to eat raw eggs. Yet all his surroundings remained
unchanged, and every one was as kind to him as they always
had been. And that the cause of his pining was wholly due
to the absence of his beloved mistress was proved by the fact
that he remained permanently outside of her bedroom door (al-
though he knew that she was not inside), and could only be



*Romanes.



230 HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

induced to go to sleep by giving him a dress of hers to sleep
upon."

The author just quoted from not only enumerates the social
feelings as one of the products of the emotional development
of animal life, but he lists among the products of the intellectual
development communication of ideas and wiiat he calls "indefi-
nite morality." That is, the morality that, in a psychogenetic
scale, v^ould be equal to an infant of 15 months. Under this
category he lists dogs and anthropoid apes.

What is the impulse that has been the original source and
stimulus of organic activity? The struggle for existence, or,
in other words, the craving for food, the nutritive impulse.
Evans says: "Every expression of feeling, every exercise of
the will, every exhibition of intelligence in the lower animals
and in man can be traced to hunger as its fountain head. From
the pressure of hunger and the desire to prevent its occurrence
spring the love of acquisition, the systematic accumulation of
wealth, the idea of ownership in things, or the general concep-
tion of personal property, which is the strongest element of so-
cial and domestic life, codes of laws and system of morals, dis-
coveries, inventions, industrial and commercial enterprises, scien-
tific researches, and the highest achievement of culture and
civilization."

He further says : "It is true that as man arises in the scale
of intelligence, other and nobler incentives to activity come into
operation and act even more powerfully than the primal nutri-
tive impulse. The latter, however, always assert and insists
upon the priority of its claims, and not until these have been
satisfied and the stress of hunger relieved, and in some way per-
manently guarded against, does the individual think of devoting
his energies to higher pursuits."

This has been illustrated in the struggle for existence of pio-
neer life. Plowing, and hunting, for food, and a rude habita-
tion, were necessities. From the rough cabin, or shack, to the
palace, there is represented the evolution of man from primitive
labor to that of large commercial and industrial enterprises
where many men labor together in the interest of one man. He
rears a palace to adequately meet his social requirements that
must follow along the line and keep pace with his monetary
interests. Society, in its restricted sense, could only be possible
when the struggle for existence was not the dominant idea.
The social code, the particular attention to forms and the fre-
quent and punctilious occasions of social intercourse have no



ETHICAL VALUE OF SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS 23 1

meaning to the man who is daily haunted with the impulse of
nutrition for himself and his family.

We have seen that with the social instinct inherent there
must still be certain conditions to influence the growth and pro-
gress of social development.

It is my aim to show that social organizations are due to the
growth of both mental and social development. Not either
alone, but together. The intellectual modified and influenced
by social customs and the social elevated by seeking pleasure in
a more rational manner than mere recreation as an excuse for
passing time. Living in a world of activity, yet trying to kill
time. This is the abuse of the social instinct.

It may be urged that the intellectual status represents the
highest intelligence, or capacity for the function of the intel-
lect, then how can it be modified and influenced by society?

I would not be misunderstood ; there is nothing that should be
more valued than the intellect, the power to understand, but if
the intellectual person fails to adjust himself to his social en-
vironment, if his own personality is at war with the social judg-
ments of his times, his influence is circumscribed, his intellectual
attainments are not valued. He must care for the rights and
privileges of his fellow men.

Whatever faults or failings may be laid at the door of polite
society, it, in its best sense, is polite, seeking for the happiness
of individual members of it. In social relations the ethical must
necessarily be the groundwork of such relationships. The
"ought" and ought not of the individual in his relation to so-
ciety is ever present. Without this regard for the happiness of
others there could be no such thing as ethical culture, which
is only another name for refined altruism. Take, for instance,
a company of what we term ladies and gentlemen; what is their
characteristic in their relation to others? Politeness. No one
must be made unhappy; self must be secondary to the feelings
of others, and although this is often abused into a form of un-
truth, known as "white lies" or "fibbing," the exaggeration often
has its root in the desire to do, and say, things that give pleasure.
Politeness is not only the sesame to good society but is a strong
factor in making life easier in every avenue of life.

A lady was once trying to give her little grandchild a lesson
in politeness when the application of the lesson came home to
her in a way she had not anticipated. "G — ' — ," said she to the
child, who was visiting her, "if you want any one to do any-
thing for you, you must be polite, you must say 'please.' " A



232 HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

little while after that the child had made some paste in a tin-cup
and was busy on the floor pasting bits of paper together. The
grandmother after a while became tired of the litter and said :

"Gi , you have played with that paste long enough; take the

cup out into the kitchen." The little five-year-old arose, straight-
ened herself erect, and said with much indignation, "Where
is your poHte?"

James Mark Baldwin, in a study in social Psychology, en-
titled, "Social and Ethical Interpretations," lays much stress
upon the ability of a person to conform to the social community.
We know there must be variation if there is growth, but he says
that, "The limits of individual variation must lie inside the possi-
ble attainment of the social heritage by each person. In the
actual attainment of this ideal, any society finds itself embar-
rassed by refactory individuals."

He further says: "It is the duty of each individual to be
born a man of social tendencies which his communal tradition
a man, then, as far as his variation goes, he is liable to be found
requires of him; if he persist in being born a different sort of
a criminal before the bar of public conscience and law, and to
be suppressed in an asylum or a reformatory, in Siberia or in
the Potter's field."

This refers, of course, to society in general, not to social
organizations, for in these there is a selection of the fittest, the
unfit is seldom invited or is soon socially suppressed. Not of
course by drastic measures such as general society advocates,
but merely ignoring his personality — not rudely, but silently, yet
none the less effectively. For social organizations must be com-
posed, for the most part, of individuals whose judgments are in
unison with the social judgments of the club. A man or woman
to be eligible to membership must be a clubable person. By this
is meant a person who respects the rights of others. One whose
attitude is aggressive, who is unmindful of others' rights, would
certainly be unsuitable to a social club.

Receptions to notable persons and monthly banquets or
luncheons, or cosy teas, combine two inherent instincts in life.
The instinct of nutrition, as has been said, is the first organic
emotion, and it is still a dominant factor in friendly intercourse.
Even the "Man of Sorrows" gathered his chosen twelve around
the social board when he broke the bread and drank the fruit of
the vine while he foretold the saddening future.

If social organizations have introduced more hospitable rela-
tions between the members than was practicable in a club formed



ETHICAL VALUE OF SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS 233

for work, they are also fine mediums for educating women to-
wards greater simplicity in entertaining. This question cannot
be discussed in society functions where discussion is strictly ta-
booed, but is a legitimate topic at the club, where anything that
is carried to extreme may be criticised in a general way. Articles
written upon such topics by persons who are conversant with
social abuses have, and do, popularize simplicity and grace, rather
than display that borders upon vulgarity. If there is one trait
of character that is the ruling passion in America, not of women
only, it is that of imitation. In business, if one man branches
out in a new line, he runs the risk of becoming bankrupt by com-
petition in this new line. Women imitate in dress, furnishings,
and style of living and entertaining — with the desire, however,
to do a little more, or add more elaborate features of display.
The social instinct would impel the victim even to the verge ol
bankruptcy in money and nerve ! Intellectual culture would seek
the happy medium. The social club, in this respect, can be a po-
tent factor.

In the intellectual activity of such a club, the discussion of
topics of general interest covers a wide field. The best talent,
both outside and inside of the club membership, is at its service.
Specialists along various lines readily use their talents for the
good of such a club.

This is,of itself, of great ethical value to the members. Sci-
ence is presented in a popular form ; philosophy is given in terms
less didactic; the best fiction is reviewed; music is interpreted by
professionals; art is made more realistic, and educational meth-
ods are presented. All this is inspiring, uplifting and helpful
as social steps in the advance in life.

I would not be misunderstood' — mental growth does not de-
pend upon clubs, nor, we may say, colleges, alone. With books
and free libraries for their dissemination, there is no lack of edu-
cational aids. But such clubs are useful to persons who are by
nature students. When one reads and studies alone, he sees only
one side of the author's meaning or intent. This may be correct,
and yet it is helpful to learn how other minds receive the same
information. Social expression of ideas is an adjunct to mental
growth. Growth is an ethical factor. When we think of de-
generation, we immediately form an image of something that
has been dwarfed for want of nutrition. This argument also
holds good in a study club, but in such a club the tendency is to
specialize; consequently there is not so much diversity in the
range of topics discussed before the same persons.



234 HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

There is an inspiration in associating in club life with men
and women who have a broader insight into life, a finer concep-
tion of relative values, a more comprehensive vision of humanity
than one possesses.

The social club is a help in breaking down imaginary social
boundaries.

Genius is often the child of penury, and brains have been
rocked in a pine cradle. But when genius and brains come to
the front, social distinctions vanish.

Social organizations for women are often connecting links
between the mother and society. A club represents individual
home factors, held together by a common interest, yet diversified
by hereditary gifts and home environments. The social club
supplies a human want in the life of the mother. She may have
no time to study, with her young family clamoring for her atten-
tion; but she may possess her soul in peace for an occasional
half day in the club. The club demands less of her than society
would. It gives her ideal thinking for a time which is a refresh-
ing change from purely domestic, economic details. Surely it
needs no argument to prove that such a mother would be happier
because of her glimpse of the world outside her narrow horizon ;
nor that her home would also be benefited. As happiness is the
desideratum, if not the ultimatum, of human desires, any club
that tends towards the happiness of its members and of society
at large is of value.

The social organization is a medium through which reforms
can be disseminated. For a progressive club must discuss some
of the issues of the day. Clubs for philanthropy or reform have
taken their rise from such a club. As an instance, some years
ago a member of the Friday morning Club was in favor of hav-
ing a cooking school for girls in one of our poorer districts. A
graduate of a Boston cooking school was asked to present this
subject to the club. The need of such a school was discussed,
and the result was the formation — outside of the club — of such
a school. Through the liberality of another member an indus-
trial department was added, and the Stimson-Lafayette Indus-
trial Association was incorporated, and is now in a flourishing
condition.

While furnishing the impetus to organized activity, the ideal
social club commits itself to no restricted line of labor. In this
respect it shows its strength, for it is able to educate and send
out workers in many lines. Its sympathies are as broad as hu-
man wants.



ETHICAL VALUE OF SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS 235

In such clubs there must be neutrality in religious beliefs, and,
it naturally follows that this religious liberty cannot do other-
wise than have a reflex influence in general society. Without
the social elements in clubs and societies do you believe that the
Jewish women of our country could have been recognized and
given a place at the Jewish Congress during the World's Fair ?

It was said that never before in the history of Judaism had
a body of Jewish women come together for the purpose of pre-
senting their views, nor for any purpose but that of charity or
mutual aid; never in the representation of Judaism. The club
formed for social improvement draws no line between Jew and
Christian, Theosophist and Agnostic.

Is this too broad a platform? It may be for narrow secta-
rianism, but not for a belief in the brotherhood of man ! Not for
Christian ethics.

Social organizations, or clubs, are not usually organized for



Online LibraryHistorical Society of Southern CaliforniaAnnual publication of the Historical Society of Southern California and of the Pioneers of Los Angeles County (Volume yr.1902-1904) → online text (page 2 of 29)