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A peep at Washoe online

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280. Acarus Megharina 610

281. Acarus Muscida 611

282. Acarus Contagiosus 612

283. Hydrachna Geographica 613

284. Hydrachna Globum 613

285. Hydrachna Puteus 614

286. Cruiser untamed 615

287. Cruiser tamed 616

288. Taming a Groom 617

289. Cruiser bridled 618

290. Cruiser's Bridle 619

291. Untamed Groom 620

292. Gentlemanly Horse 620

293. Rarey's Swedish Medal 620

294. Rurey's Kii-rlish Medal 620

295. At Brandon's 669

2lii5. Mr. Frog and Prince Ox 670

L".'T. The Old Fogies 672

298. Lying in Wait 676

299. Sis and Pussy 717

300. Sis in Powder 717

301. Sis's Dream Land 717

302. Sis and Bub 717

303. Sitting up 717

304. Washing Dolly 718

305. Dolly's Bath 718

306. Sis in full Dress 718

307. Dolly in Disgrace 718

308. At Night 718

309. Spring Pelisse 719

310. Morning Negligee 720

311. An Expatriated Patriot 721

312. On State Street, Boston 722

B18. Worth a Million 723

314. Feeding Pigeons 724

315. The Kitten 724

316. Boston Girl 725

317. Lecture on Matrimony 726

318. The Artist's Studio 727

319. A Popular Orator 728

320. Harbor of Cohasset 729

P.21. A Haddock , 730

322. Lobster Pot 731

323. Pond near Cohasset 732

324. The Apple-Peeler 733

325. The Shoemaker 736

326. The Good Old Times 737

327. Recreation formerly 738

328. Recreation nowadays 739

329. Private Entrance to the Circus 740

330. Between Hope and Fear 741

331. Camp at Flatwater, Labrador 743

332. Settler's Cabin 745

333. Map of Esquimaux Bay 748

334. Esquimaux Toupik 749

335. Esquimaux of Ungava 751

336. Rigolette 754

337. The Doctor's Mishap 756

338. Mealy Mountains 758

339. Nascopies, or Mountaineers 759

340. Parhelia at Tub Harbor 762

341. Chateau Island 763

342. Profile Rocks, Henley Harbor 764

343. Fort at Chateau Bay 765

344. Excavation at Carthage 766

345. Cape Carthage 768

346. The African Coliseum 7T0

347. Ruins of Temple of Baal Hammon.... 771

348. Punic Inscription 772

349. OrleyFarm 796

350. Sir Peregrine and his Heir 807

351. Cynical 815

352. Laura's Fireside 817

353. A Riddle 818

354. Little Daisy 858

355. Brother Jones's Daughter 859

356. A Fallen Politician 859

357. A Coon Dog 859

358. Little Fred 860

359. Judge Mattocks 860

360. A Happy New Year 861

361. That Everlasting Smith 861

362. Walkin 862

363. No Feathers 862

364. Spring Pardessus, No. J 863

365. Spring Pardessus, No. 2 864


ft Libnay




WHEN I inform the reader that I hare
scarcely dipped pen in ink for six years,
save to unravel the mysteries of a Treasury
voucher ; that I have lived chiefly among In-
dians, disbursing agents, and officers a of the
customs ; that I now sit writing in the attic
of a German villa more than eight thousand
miles from the scene of my adventures, with-
out note or memorandum of any kind to re-
fresh my memory, you will be prepared to
make reasonable allowance for such a loose,
rambling, and disjointed narrative as an Ex-
Inspector-General can be ex-
pected to write under such ad-
verse circumstances. If there
be inconveniences in being

Entered according to Act of CongresK, in the year 1860, by Harper and Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the Dis-
trict Court for the Southern District of New York.
VOL. XXII. No. 127. A


hanged, as the gentle Elia has attempted to
prove, so likewise are there inconveniences in
being decapitated ; for surely a man deprived of
the casket which nature has given him as a re-
ceptacle for his brains, is no better oft* than one
with a broken neck. But it is not my present
purpose to enter into an analysis of this portion
of my experience. Nor do I make these refer-
-nces to official life by way of excuse for any rusti-
ness of intellect that may be perceptible in my
narrative ; but rather in mitigation of those un-
conscious violations of truth and marvelous flights
of fancy which may naturally result from long
experience in Government affairs.

Ever since 1849, when I first trod the shores
of California, the citizens of that Land of Prom-
ise have been subject to periodical excitements,
the extent and variety of which can find no par-
allel in any other State of the Union. To enu-
merate these in chronological detail would be a
difficult task, nor is it necessary to my purpose.
The destruction of towns by flood and fire ; the
uprisings and downfallings of Vigilance Com-
mittees ; the breaking of banking-houses and pe-
cuniary ruin of thousands ; the political wars,
Senatorial tournaments, duels, and personal af-
t'rays ; the Prison and Bulkhead schemes ; the
extraordinary ovations to the living and the dead,
and innumerable other excitements, have been
too frequently detailed, and have elicited too
much comment from the Atlantic press, not to
be still in the memory of the public.

But numerous as these agitations have been,
and prejudicial as some of them must long con-
tinue to be to the reputation of the State, they
can bear no comparison in point of extent and
general interest to the mining excitements which
from time to time have convulsed the whole Pa-
cific coast, from Puget's Sound to San Diego.
In these there can be no occasion for party ani-
mosity ; they are confined to no political or sec-
tional clique ; all the industrial classes are inter-
ested, and in a manner too, affecting, either di-
rectly or incidentally, their very means of subsist-
ence. The country abounds in mineral wealth,
and the merchant, tiie banker, the shipper, the
mechanic, the laborer, are all to some extent de-
pendent upon its development. Even the gen-
tleman of elegant leisure, vulgarly known as the
"Bummer" and there are many in California
is occasionally driven by visions of cock-tail
and cigar-money to doff his "stove-pipe," and
exchange his gold-mounted cane for a pick or
a shovel. The axiom has been well established
by an eminent English writer, that " Every man
wants a thousand pounds." It seems indeed to
be a chronic and constitutional want, as well in
California as in less favored countries.

Few of the early residents of the State can
have forgotten the Gold Bluff excitement of Y>2,
when by all accounts old Ocean himself turned
miner, and washed up cart-loads of gold on the
bearh above Trinidad. It was represented, and
generally believed, that any enterprising man
could take his hat and a wheel-barrow and in
half an hour gather up gold enough to last him


for life. I have reason to suspect that, of the
thousands who went there, many will long re-
member their experience with emotions, if pleas-
ant " yet mournful to the soul."

The Kern River excitement threatened for a
time to depopulate the northern portion of the
State. The stages from Marysville and Sacra-
mento were crowded day after day, and new
lines were established from Los Angeles, Stock-
ton, San Jose', and various other points ; but such
was the pressure of travel in search of this grand
depository, in which it was represented the main
wealth of the world had been treasured by a
beneficent Providence, that thousands were com-
pelled to go on foot and carry their blankets and
provisions on their backs. From Stockton to the
mining district, a distance of more than three
hundred miles, the plains of the San Joaquin
were literally speckled with "honest miners."
It is a notable fact, that, of those who went in
stages, the majority returned on foot; and of
those who trusted originally to shoe-leather, many
had to walk back on their natural soles, or de-
pend on sackcloth or charity.

After the Kern River Exchequer had been ex-
hausted the public were congratulated by the
press throughout the State upon the effectual
check now put upon these ruinous and extrava-


Scarcely had the reverberation caused by the
bursting of the Kern River bubble died away,
and fortune again smiled upon the ruined mul-
titudes, when a faint cry was heard from afar
first Tow and uncertain, like a mysterious whis-
per, then full and sonorous, like the boom of glad
tidings from the mouth of a cannon, the in-
spiring cry of FRAZER RIVER ! Here was gold
sure enough ! a river of gold ! a country that
dazzled the eyes with its glitter of gold. There
was no deception about it this time. New Cale-
donia was the land of Ophir. True, it was in
the British possessions, but what of that ? The
people of California would develop the British
possessions. Had our claim to 5440' been in-
sisted upon, this immense treasure would now
have been within our own boundaries ; but no mat-
ter it was ours by right of proximity ! The prob-
lem of Solomon's Temple was now solved. Trav-
j elers, from Marco Polo down to the present era,
j who had attempted to find the true land of Ophir
had signally failed ; but here it was, the exact lo-
cality, beyond peradventure. For where else in
the world could the river-beds, creeks, and canons
be lined with gold ? Where else could the honest
miner " pan out" $100 per day every day in the
year ? But if any who had been rendered in-
credulous by former excitements still doubted,



gant excitements. The enterprising miners who
had been tempted to abandon good claims in
search of better had undergone a species of purg-
ing which would allay any irritation of the mu-
cous membrane for some time. What they
had lost in money they had gained in experience.
They would henceforth turn a deaf ear to in-
terested representations, and not be dazzled by '
visions of sudden wealth conjured up by monte- |
dealers, travelers, and horse-jockeys. They were, |
on the whole, wiser if not happier men. Nor j
would the lesson be lost to the merchants and I
capitalists who had scattered their goods and
their funds over the pictui'esque heights of the
Sierra Nevada. And even the gentlemen of
elegant leisure, who had gone off so suddenly in
search of small change for liquors and cigars,
could now recuperate their exhausted energies
at the free lunch establishments of San Fran-
cisco, or if too far gone in seed for that, they
could regenerate their muscular system by some
wholesome exercise in the old diggings, where
there was not so much gold perhaps as at
Kern River, but where it could be got at more




they could no longer discredit the statements
that were brought down by every steamer, ac-
companied by positive and palpable specimens
of the ore, and by the assurances of captains,
pursers, mates, cooks, and waiters, that Frazer
River was the country. To be sure, it was after-
ward hinted that the best part of the gold brought
down from Frazer had made the round voyage
from San Francisco ; but I consider this a gross
and unwarranted imputation upon the integrity
of steamboat owners, captains, and speculators.
Did not the famous Commodore Wright take the
matter in hand ; put his best steamers on the
route ; hoist his banners and placards in every
direction, and give every man a chance of test-
ing the question in person ? This was establish-
ing the existence of immense mineral wealth in
that region upon a firm and practical basis. No
man of judgment and experience, like the Com-
modore, would undertake to run his steamers on

"the baseless fabric of a vision." The cheap-
ness and variety of his rates afforded every man
an opportunity of making a fortune. For thirty,
twenty, and even fifteen dollars, the ambitious
aspirant for Frazer could be landed at Victoria.
I will not now undertake to give a detail of
that memorable excitement ; how the stages,
north, south, east, and, I had almost said,
west, were crowded day and night with scores
upon scores of sturdy adventurers ; how farms
were abandoned and crops lost for want of
hands to work them ; how rich claims in the
old diggings were given away for a song ; how
the wharves of San Francisco groaned under the
pressure of the human freight delivered upon
them on every arrival of the Sacramento and
Stockton boats ; how it was often impracticable
to get through the streets in that vicinity owing
to the crowds gathered around the "runners,"
who cried aloud the merits and demerits of the


rival steamers ; and, strangest of all, how the
head and front of the Frazerites were the very
men who had enjoyed such pleasant experience
at Gold Bluff, Kern River, and other places fa-
mous in the history of California. No sensible
man could doubt the richness of Frazer River
when these veterans became leaders, and called
upon the masses to follow. They were not a
class of men likely to be deceived they knew
the signs of the times. And, in addition to all
this, who could resist the judgment and experi-
ence of Commodore Wright, a man who had
made an independent fortune in the steamboat
business? Who could be deaf when assayers,
bankers, jobbers, and speculators cried aloud
that it was all true ?

Well, I am not going to moralize. Mr. Nu-
gent was appointed a Commissioner, on the part
of the United States, to settle the various diffi-
culties which had grown up between the miners
and Governor Douglass. He arrived at Victoria
in time to perform signal service to his fellow-
citizens ; that is to say, he found many of them
in a state of starvation, and sent them back to
California at public expense. Frazer River, al-
ways too high for mining purposes, could not be
prevailed upon to subside. Its banks were not
banks of issue, nor were its beds stuffed with the
feathers of the Golden Goose. Had it not been
for this turn of affairs it is difficult to say what
would have been the result. The British Lion
had been slumbering undisturbed at Victoria for
half a century, and was very much astonished,
upon waking up, to find thirty thousand semi-
barbarous Californians scattered broadcast over
the British possessions. Governor Douglass is-
sued manifestoes in vain. He evidently thought
it no joke. The subject eventually became a
matter of diplomatic correspondence, in which
much ink was shed, but fortunately no blood ;
although the subsequent seizure of San Juan by
General Harney came very near producing that
result. 4

The steamers in due course of time began to
return crowded with enterprising miners, who
still believed there was gold there if the river
would only fall. But generosity dictates that I
should say no more on this point. It is enough
to add, that the time arrived Avhen it became a
matter of personal offense to ask any spirited
gentleman if he had been to Frazer River.

There was now, of course, an end to all min-
ing excitements. It could never again happen
that such an imposition could be practiced upon
public credulity. In the whole State there was
not another sheep that could be gulled by the cry
of wolf. Business would now resume its steady
and legitimate course. Property would cease to
fluctuate in value. Every branch of industry
would become fixed upon a permanent and reli-
able basis. All these excitements were the nat-r
ural results of the daring and enterprising char-
acter of the people. But now, having worked
off their superabundant steam, they would be
prepared to go ahead systematically, and devel-
op those resources which they had hitherto neg-


lected. It was a course of medical effervescence
highly beneficial to the body politic. All mor-
bid appetite for sudden wealth was now gone for-

But softly, good friends! What rumor is
this? Whence come these silvery strains that
are wafted to our ears from the passes of the Si-
erra Nevada ? What dulcet ^Eolian harmonies
what divine, enchanting ravishment is it

"That with these raptures moves the vocal air? 1 '

As I live, it is a cry of Silver ! Silver in WA-
SHOE ! Not gold now, you silly men of Gold
Bluff ; you Kern-Riverites ; you daring explor-
ers of British Columbia! But SILVER solid,
pure SILVEK! Beds of it ten thousand feet
deep ! Acres of it ! miles of it ! hundreds of
millions of dollars poking their backs up out of
the earth ready to be pocketed !

Do you speak of the mines of Potosi or Gol-
conda ? Do you dare to quote the learned Baron
Von Tschudi on South America and Mexico ?
Do you refer me to the ransom of Atahualpa,
the unfortunate Inca, in the days of Pizarro?
Nothing at all, I assure you, to the silver mines
of Washoe! "Sir," said my informant to me,
in strict confidence, no later than this morning,
"you may rely upon it, for I am personally ac-
quainted with a brother of the gentleman whose
most intimate friend saw the man whose partner
has just come over the mountains, and he says
there never was the like on the face of the enrtli !
The ledges are ten thousand feet deep solid



- ~^ NX-

,.; -3-y. -Cffl 5. ,s i? - \V \V -.-


masses of silver. Let us be off! Now is the
time! A pack-mule, pick and shovel, hammer
and frying-pan will do. You need 'nothing

Kind and sympathizing reader, imagine a man
who for six years had faithfully served his gov-
ernment and his country ; who had never, if he
knew himself intimately, embezzled a dollar of
the public funds ; who had resisted the seductive
influences of Gold Bluff, Kern, and Frazer Riv-
ers, from the purest motives of patriotism ; who
scorned to abandon his post in search of filthy
lucre imagine such a personage cut short in his
official career, and suddenly bereft of his per
diem by a formal and sarcastic note of three
lines from head-quarters ; then fancy you hear
him jingle the last of his Federal emoluments in
his pocket, and sigh at the ingratitude of repub-
lics. Would you not consider him open to any
proposition short of murder or highway robbery?

Would you be surprised if he accepted an invita-
tion from Mr. Wise, the aeronaut, to take a voy-
age in a balloon ? or the berth of assistant-man-
ager in a diving-bell ? or joined the first expedi-
tion in search of the treasure buried by the
Spanish galleon on her voyage to Acapulco in
1578 ? Then consider his position, as he stands
musing upon the mutability of human affairs,
when those strange and inspiring cries of Washoe
fall upon his ears for the first time, with a real-
izing sense of their import. Borne on the wings
of the wind from the Sierra Nevada ; wafted
through every street, lane, and alley of San
Francisco; whirling around the drinking-sa-
loons, eddying over the counters of the banking-
offices, scattering up the dust among the Front
Street merchants, arousing the slumbering in-
mates of the Custom-house what man of enter-
prise could resist it ? Washoe ! The Comstock
i lead ! The Ophir ! The Central The Billy


Choller Companies, and a thousand others, indi-
cating in trumpet-tones the high road to fortune!
From the crack of day to the shades of night no-
thing is heard but Washoe. The steady men of
San Francisco are aroused, the men of Front
Street, the gunny-bag men, the brokers, the
gamblers, the butchers, the bakers, the whisky-
dealers, the lawyers, and all. The exception
wa to find a sane man in the entire city.

No wonder the abstracted personage already
referred to was aroused from his gloomy reflec-
tions. A friend appealed to him to go to Wa-
shoe. The friend was interested there, but could
not go himself. It was a matter of incalculable
importance. Millions were involved in it. He
(the friend) would pay expenses. The business
would not occupy a week, and would not inter-
fere with any other business.


Next day an advertisement appeared in the
city papers, respectfully inviting the public to
commit their claims and investments to the
hands of their fellow-citizen, Mr. Yusef Badra,
whose long experience in Government affairs
eminently qualified him to undertake the task of
geological research. He was especially prepared
to determine the exact amount of silver contained
in fossils. It would afford him pleasure to be of
service to his friends and fellow-citizens. The
public would be so kind as to address Mr. Badra,
at Carson City, Territory of Utah.

This looked like business on an extensive
scale. It read like business of a scientific char-
acter. It was a card drawn up with skill, and
calculated to attract attention. I am proud to
acknowledge that I am the author, and, further-

more (if you will consider the information con-
fidential), that I am the identical agent referred

Many good friends shook their heads when I
announced my intention of visiting Washoe, and
although they designed going themselves as soon
as the snow was melted from the mountains,
they could not understand how a person who had
so long retained his faculties unimpaired could
give up a lucrative government office and engage
in such a wild-goose chase as that. Little did
they know of the brief but irritating document
which I carried in my pocket, and for which I
am determined some day or other to write a
satire against our system of government. I bade
them a kindly farewell, and on a fine evening,
toward the latter part of March, took my depart-
ure for Sacramento, there to take the stage for
Placerville, and from that point as fortune might

My stock in trade consisted of two pair of
blankets, a spare shirt, a plug of tobacco, a note-
book, and a paint-box. On my arrival in Placer-
ville I found the whole town in commotion.
There was not an animal to be had at any of the
stables without applying three days in advance.
The stage for Strawberry had made its last trip
in consequence of the bad condition of the road.
Every hotel and restaurant was full to overflow-
ing. The streets were blocked up with crowds
of adventurers all bound for Washoe. The gam-
bling and drinking saloons were crammed to
suffocation with customers practicing for Washoe.
The clothing stores were covered with placard?
offering to sell goods at ruinous sacrifices to
Washoe miners. The forwarding houses and
express offices were overflowing with goods and
packages marked for Washoe. The grocery
stores were making up boxes, bags, and bundles
of groceries for the Washoe trade. The stables
were constantly starting off passenger and pack
trains for Washoe. Mexican vaqueros were
driving headstrong mules through the streets
on the road to Washoe. The newspapers were
full of Washoe. In short, there was nothing but
Washoe to be seen, heard, or thought of. Every
arrival from the mountains confirmed the glad
tidings that enormous quantities of silver were
being discovered daily in Washoe. Any man
who wanted a fortune needed only to go over
there and pick it up. There was Jack Smith,
who made ten thousand dollars the other day at
a single trade ; and Tom Jenkins, twenty thou-
sand by right of discovery; and Bill Brown, forty
thousand in the tavern business, and so on.
Every body was getting rich "hand over fist."
It was the place for fortunes. No man could go
amiss. I was in search of just such a place.
It suited me to find a fortune ready made. Like
Professor Agassiz, I could not afford to make
money, but it would be no inconvenience to draw
a check on the great Washoe depository for fifty
thousand dollars or so, and proceed on my trav-
els. I would visit Japan, ascend the Amoor
Eiver, traverse Tartary, spend a few weeks in
Siberia, rest a day or so at St. Petersburg, cross



through Russia to the Black Sea, visit Persia,
Nineveh, and Bagdad, and wind up somewhere
in Italy. I even began to look about the bar-
rooms for a map in order to lay out the route
more definitely, but the only map to be seen was
De Groot's outline of the route from Placerville
to Washoe. I went to bed rather tired after the
excitement of the day and somewhat surfeited
with Washoe. Presently I heard a tap at the
door, a head was popped through the opening.

u i BAY, CAP!"

"I say, Cap!"

"Well, what do you say?"

" Are you the man that can't get a animal for

"Yes, have you got one to sell or hire?"

"No, I hain't got one myself, but me and my
pardner is going to walk there, and if you like
you can jine our party. "

"Thank yon, I have a friend who is going
with me, but I shall be very glad to have more

11 All right, Cap ; good-night."

The door was closed, but presently opened

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Online LibraryJ. Ross (John Ross) BrowneA peep at Washoe → online text (page 1 of 8)