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(1.) Eldorado; or, Adventures in the Path of Empire. By BAYARD Taylor.
London: Richard Bentley. 1850. (2.) Personal Adventures in Upper and Lower California, in 1848-9. By W. R.
RYAN. London: William Shoberl. 1850.
Blowing bubbles is a remarkably pleasant appearance of this region in an entirely new pastime. We were all engrossed with it here character, that of a gold-producing country. a few years ago; and sundry indisputable Astonished, bewildered, elated, with the prosarguments were used for the purpose of pect of gold for the having, it cannot be showing why ours should be exempt from wondered at if many, with the best intentions the fate of bubbles in general—that of burst- in the world to be cool in their judgment and ing. Facts, however—and so much the worse correct in their estimate, have begun by seefor them—have contradicted this ingenious ing double at least. And we must say that theory. Our bubbles have burst; our rock your sanguine people, who make no allowets have come down sticks. It remains to be ance for fiction,
are about as great mischiefseen whether the more dazzling ones that makers as can be. While, if the honest and have attracted so many longing looks to the right-minded may be thus misled, and freother side of the world, are to prove equally quently are so, it must be borne in mind that unsubstantial. Opinions differ widely about there is always another class prepared to this; and to ascertain the precise value of take advantage of this state of mind, and, Upper California to its present owners, and knowingly, to foster extravagance of expectathe world at large, would, at this stage of its tion, from any probable source of gain, in progress, be no easy matter. Men's views order to serve their own selfish ends. We and representations are influenced by their have seen enough of this at home, and our interests and prejudices at all times. But slang" has been enriched with terms to more especially are these apt to lead them describe such men. It is unpleasant to reastray in times of such extraordinary excite-cognize their existence; but there they are. ment as have been consequent on the recent | What is worse, we are not always in a
VOL. XXI. NO. III.
position to discriminate between these two official report upon the subject, cattle that classes ; nor indeed to say whether the extra- have walked into California from the Westvagant anticipations may, or may not, be the ern States, will not be fit for eating imcorrect ones. We had a notable illustration mediately upon their arrival thither. Of all of this a short time ago, during our own rail- this we read unmoved, save to wish, as was way delirium; in the evil consequences of the wont of Goldsmith's immortal Vicar, that which both the innocent and the guilty are our cousins in the States may be “the betnow alike involved. And more particularly ter” for their new acquisition, not exactly in connection with an individual—“O breathe “this day three months,” but rather when not his name !”—who carried, not only con- the excessive speculation to which it has fidence, but apparent success, wherever he given rise, together with its long train of went; every property with which he con- subsequent and inevitable evils, shall have nected himself immediately rising in value. passed away, leaving the country to a legitiThat success was subsequently found to be mate development of its natural resources. delusive ; but for a considerable time there We trust that no hasty person will hereexisted absolutely no data upon which any upon assert that we have called California a judgment as to its reality, or otherwise, bubble; because in that case we shall be could be founded. Particular facts were under the disagreeable necessity of telling then apparently against those who, judging him that he has run away with only half from general principles only, deemed that
We do say that there has been this sudden increase of wealth was unreal, bubble-blowing in connection with it; and and must therefore sink under the general this, in its results, is as injurious to the morals law of unsound speculation.
of a community as it possibly can be to its We have, as we have said, widely differing pecuniary interests. It is a thing not to be opinions and statements tendered to us. One tolerated. voice from the West assures us that the re.
re The volumes before us are, we imagine, duction of the attenuated, yet brilliant fabric, the first literary results of the extraordinary to that little disappointing spit of soap and events that have been taking place on the water which every bubble-blower must re- shores of the Pacific, within the last two member falling on his up-turned face, as the years; and a very entertaining and interestglittering sphere dissolved in mid-air, is justing view do they give of them. Both pubon the point of taking place. Another does lications are derived from personal acquaintnot see why it ever should. A third, Mr. ance with the scenes depicted Mr. Taylor Taylor, holds a middle course, and thinks is an American. By the way, why does no two or three years may pass before the col- one devise a more discriminating name for lapse, inevitable on such over-inflated specu- one born in the United States ?
We might lation as has been indulged in, in connection as well call a Frenchman, simply a European. with Californian matters, shall ensue; and Statesman would be the correct term, but it that then it will not be so complete as some is preoccupied. However, American let it be,
till something less vague is found out. And Had an idea which was talked about some he tells us that he did not visit California fifteen years ago, that of making over Cali- with the intention of writing a book; though fornia to Great Britain in payment of the one naturally arose out of his engagements Mexican debt, ever been carried out, we there, and all his observations were made should not have been able to take these con- with that purpose in view. We presume flicting statements so coolly as we now per that he went out as “our own correspondmit ourselves to do, being simply lookers on. ent” to the New York Tribune, in which We do not, however, regret that the Ameri- paper the germ of these volumes appeared cans have got the gold region, instead of our in the form of letters; for he neither traded, selves. We feel not the slightest emotions nor speculated, nor dug gold, save one day, of envy stirring within us, as we read their when by way of experiment, taking a “butchglowing anticipations of the wealth that is to er-knife," he went into one of the forsaken accrue to them from the development of its holes, in the diggings, and lying on his back, capabilities: of its inexhaustible mines of gold as he had seen others do, attempted, in vain, and other metals, its widely-spread com- to pick out some grains from the crevices of merce, its rich wines, its beeves innumerable, the rock. His visit was later than Mr. that are to be fed to fatness on its fertile Ryan's: indeed, his arrival at San Francisco plains, which grow grass and oats for noth- would about coincide with the departure of ing. For, as it is discreetly remarked in an the latter from that city; so that his narra
tive brings us nearer to the present date by quence of one of those attacks of revolutionary four months, the time of his stay in the fever to which Mexico is constitutionally liable. country. His volumes do him credit as a How everbody rushed thither, when gold spirited, intelligent, good-humored writer, was first talked of, is too well known to reand traveler; and just such a determined quire comment. How soldiers and sailors looking at the bright side of things as might deserted, when they got within the charmed be expected from one so constituted, and circle, and how parties sent to apprehend the especially from an American, who is delight- deserters, only ran after them to the mines, ed with the bargain “ Uncle Sam” has got, to begin business on their own account; and in the acquisition of the gold regions. how even the governor himself, tempted be
Mr. Ryan is, we presume, a naturalized yond endurance, at last joined the chase subject of the States, English or Irish by through the abandoned fields and deserted birth ; who proceeded to California as a towns, is fresh in every one's remembrance. volunteer during that war with Mexico which In 1849, the influx of Americans alone was ended in the cession of the upper province to eighty thousand, forming an addition to the the Americans, in May, 1848, one month be- population of one hundred thousand, within fore the important discovery of her metallic a twelvemonth. treasures ! When peace was concluded, his The immediate advent of a golden age was corps was disbanded, and he, not particularly looked for. Hints were thrown out, even pleased with either the pay or treatment here, in all seriousness, as to the probable dewhich he had received from his adopted preciation of our currency in consequence of country, tried gold-hunting on a small scale, the anticipated influx of gold. Our cash, like unsuccessfully ; then house-painting to ra- fairy-money, was to turn to slate-stones in ther better purpose ; and finally, not being our pockets; and, for once in their lives, even of robust constitution, left the country, debi- the holders” of sovereigns thought that litated with hardships and climate, after a re- shares were “looking down.” We must own sidence in the upper province, which is all that we never felt inclined to treat ours any we are now concerned with, of six months. less respectfully on this account.
The two works are tinctured by the cha- Two years have now elapsed : and the ofracters and circumstances of their writers. ficial estimate of the amount of gold obtained Mr. Taylor could afford to take a cheerful from the mines in 1848 and 1849, is 40,000,view of men and things. Mr. Ryan has, oc- 000 dollars, about £3,000,000; one half of casionally, perhaps somewhat of the tone of which, in the general scramble, is supposed to the disappointed, frame-shaken man. And have fallen to the share of foreigners. This yet we have the impression that his has been, has for some time been a grievance ; but is and will be, a true type of the experience of now to be amended. Mr. Butler King, in hundreds who have flocked to the land of pro- his official report on Californian affairs, admise, under the delusion that in that lottery dressed to the home government, (U. S.) in there were no blanks.
March, this year, among other regulations For about ten years before the accidental which he suggests for adoption in the new discovery (on the south fork of the Ameri- states, proposes that of excluding foreigners can River, forty-five miles from Sacramento from the privilege of purchasing permission City,) that gold was one of its products, the to work the mines on the ground that they tide of emigration had been tending to Cal- “ belong to, and in his judgment should be ifornia from the States. Bands of emigrants preserved for the use and benefit of the Amehad, from time to time, crossed the Rocky rican people”—meaning, “ all citizens, native Mountains, and the Salt Plains, enduring and adopted." In 1849, also, General Smith hardships innumerable, and even horrors un- made an attempt to expel foreigners; but his mentionable, in that slow pilgrimage of two prohibition was not much heeded. thousand miles to the “ far west;" a point to- In giving us an estimate of the gold sent wards which, the American, if he be but an from California, Mr. King might perhaps have out-lyer on the borders of civilization, seems contributed to the furnishing us with the means irresistibly drawn. At the close of the war of forming a more accurate judgment of the with Mexico, it was supposed there were from present value of the province, if he could ten to fifteen thousand Americans and Califor- have stated how much had been sent to it. nians in the province, exclusive of the con- progress
of San Francisco,” says Mr. verted Indians, formerly living under the pro- Ryan, "might be said to be, in some degree, tection of the Romish missions planted there ; paid for by foreign capital actually brought but which were dispersed, in 1836, in conse- into the country.
That part of California known as the gold its continuity, an immense bank, which forms an region, is a tract four or five hundred miles admirable natural protection against the fierce long, and from forty to fifty broad, following winds that frequently sweep the coast with un
mitigated fury. the course of the Snowy Mountains, between which and the low coast range it lies. This second entrance to the bay barred by an enormous
“ Proceeding up the strait, we found the real or comprehends the valley of the Sacramento rock, which offers a capital site for å fort.” and San Joaquin ; the one flowing north, the other south of the Bay of San Francisco, into
Here lay a flag-ship, with other vessels, which they empty themselves. It was in the anchored at this inconvenient distance from northern portion of this tract, which is also the town, which is six miles off, in order to considered to afford the greatest amount of prevent the men deserting : no easy matter, fertile land, so far as the country has been on one occasion, eighteen from one vessel yet explored, that the first discoveries were
seized a boat, and went ashore to make their made. Subsequent ones, bowever, have very fortunes, under fire from every vessel in the greatly extended the sphere of mining opera- harbor! It is said, that on the 1st of Janutions, both north and south ; till the modest limits originally assigned to it, a square of ary, this year, two hundred and fifty ships
were lying in the bay, all deserted by their about seventy miles, have expanded to those we have just given. The central land is de
The rock, rising sheer out of the water, to sert-like ; the only signs of human visitation in the Great Desert, west of the Colorado, self was gained :
a considerable height, being past, the bay itare “ the bones of animals and men scattered along the trails that cross it."
“ Its first aspect is that of a long lake, lying emSan Francisco, the “
“great commercial me- bosomed between parallel ranges of mountains, in tropolis on the Pacific coast,” with its fine the midst of a country of alpine character ; but bay, seems naturally to claim our first atten- the eye soon perceives that the monotony of its tion. Mr. Ryan gives us a good sketch of glassy, surface is broken, and varied, and renderthe bay, which he entered in April, 1849. ed eminently picturesque, by the several islands Its entrance is through a strait three or four with which it is studded, and which rise to the
height of 300 to 400 feet; preserving in the main, miles in width.
the bold and rugged character of their parent
shores, some being mere masses of rock, while “ This opening, as seen from the ocean, presents others are luxuriantly clad with a mantle of the the complete appearance of a mountain pass—ab. very richest verdure, bespotted with flowers of the ruptly cutting in two the continuous line of the coast gaudiest hues. range-and is the only water-communication hence to the interior country. The coast itself is of the and forming a back-ground of unsurpassed, ma
" Immediately opposite the entrance to the bay, boldest character, and of singular beauty in respect jesty of appearance, rises, at a few miles' disof distinctness of outline. The mountains bound
tance from the shore, a chain of mountains, which ing it on the south extend in the form of a narrow shoot aloft to an elevation of two thousand feet range of broken hills, terminating in a precipitous above the level of the water, and whose summits headiand, against which the surges break angrily, are crowned by a splendid forest-growth of ancasting up millions of briny spangles, which glis- cient cypress, distinctly visible from the Pacific, ten in the sunbeams with all the colors of the and presenting a conspicuous land-mark for vesrainbow. To the north these mountains
sels entering the bay. Towering behind these huge crests, like so many granitic Titans, in a succession of varying altitudes, until, at the dis- gions which it overlooks, is the rugged peak of
again, like the master-sentinel of the golden retance of a few miles, they attain an elevation of Mount Diablo, (o what a name !) rearing its from two to three thousand feet, the seaward point presenting a bold promontory, between
antediluvian granite head, hoar with unmelted which and the lower headland lies the strait I of the sea."
snows, to the height of 3770 feet above the level have already mentioned, and which, although appearing so narrow, on account of the immense bulk of mountain forming its shoulders, is never
The immediate shores of the Bay pretheless one mile broad in the narrowest part.
sent“ Having passed through this gap, or I might more properly call it a gate, it is named the “ A front of broken and rugged hills, rolling and Golden Gate,) we found the strait extend about undulating lands, and rich alluvial shores, havfive miles froin the sea to the bay itself, which ing in their rear fertile and wooded ranges, admithen opens right and left, extending in each di rably adapted as a site for towns, villages, and rection about thirty-six miles, its total length being farms; with which latter they were already dotmore than seventy miles, with a coast line of about ted. The foot of the mountains around the south275. The land on each side of the strait is irre. ern arm of the bay, is a low alluvial bottom-land, gular and picturesque, resembling, on account of | extending several miles in breadth, being inter