The Shirley Letters from California Mines in 1851-52
by Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe
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Transcriber's Note: Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note. Dialect spellings, contractions and discrepancies have been retained.

The Shirley Letters

Other REPRINTS Issued

CALIFORNIA. A HISTORY of UPPER & LOWER CALIFORNIA from their FIRST DISCOVERY to the PRESENT TIME [1835]. Comprising an Account of the Climate, Soil, Natural Productions, Agriculture, Commerce, &c. A full view of the Missionary Establishments, and condition of the free and domesticated Indians. With an Appendix relating to Steam-navigation in the Pacific. ILLUSTRATED with a new Map, Plans of the Harbors, and numerous Engravings. By ALEXANDER FORBES, Esq. Reprinted, page for page, and approximately line for line, from the original edition published by Smith, Elder, & Co., London, 1839, and to which is added a NEW INDEX.

Price $10, net.

VOYAGE of the SONORA in the SECOND BUCARELI EXPEDITION to EXPLORE the NORTHWEST COAST, SURVEY the PORT of SAN FRANCISCO, and FOUND FRANCISCAN MISSIONS and a PRESIDIO and PUEBLO at that PORT. The JOURNAL kept in 1775 on the SONORA by DON FRANCISCO MOURELLE, the Second Pilot of the Fleet constituting the Sea Division of the Expedition. Translated by the HON. DAINES BARRINGTON from the original Spanish manuscript. Reprinted line for line and page for page from BARRINGTON'S MISCELLANIES, published in London in 1781. With concise NOTES showing the Voyages of the Earliest Explorers on the Coast, the Sea and Land Expeditions of GALVEZ and of BUCARELI for the settlement of California and for founding Missions, and MANY OTHER INTERESTING NOTES, as well as AN ENTIRELY NEW INDEX TO BOTH THE JOURNAL AND THE NOTES, by THOMAS C. RUSSELL. Together with a reproduction of the DE LA BODEGA SPANISH CARTA GENERAL (MAP), showing the Spanish discoveries on the Coast up to 1791, and also a PORTRAIT of BARRINGTON.

Price $15, net.

NARRATIVE of EDWARD McGOWAN. Including a full Account of the Author's ADVENTURES and PERILS while persecuted by the SAN FRANCISCO VIGILANCE COMMITTEE of 1856. Together with a Report of his Trial, which resulted in his Acquittal. Reprinted, line for line and page for page, from the original edition published by the author in 1857, complete, with reproductions, in facsimile, of the original illustrations, cover-page title, and title-page.

Price $10, net.

These works are printed in limited editions. Copies are numbered and signed. The typesetting is all done by hand, and the type distributed immediately upon completion of presswork. The printing, in all its details, is the personal work of THOMAS C. RUSSELL, at 1734 Nineteenth Avenue, San Francisco, California. Descriptive circulars sent free, upon request.

This Book

is one of an edition of four hundred and fifty (450) numbered and signed copies, the impressions being taken upon hand-set type, which was distributed upon completion of the presswork. In two hundred (200) copies Exeter book-paper is used, leaf-size being 9-1/4 x 6-1/4 inches; in two hundred (200) copies, buff California bond-paper, 8-3/8 x 5-1/2; in fifty (50) copies, thin buff California bond-paper, 6 x 9.

THIS COPY is No. 26 California bond-paper.


Thomas C. Russell




Together with "An APPRECIATION" by MRS. M. V. T. LAWRENCE






The Printer's Foreword to this Edition


Oriental Proverb (adapted)

CALIFORNIA, by Dr. Josiah Royce, in the handsome as well as handy American Commonwealths series, is commonly regarded as the best short history of California ever written, and particularly so as to the early mining era. Dr. Royce knew his state, and a more competent writer could hardly have been selected. Reviewing, in his history, almost everything accessible, worthy of consideration, in connection with mining-camps, it is noteworthy that the Doctor has much to say concerning the Shirley Letters. Thus (p. 344),—

Fortune has preserved to us from the pen of a very intelligent woman, who writes under an assumed name, a marvelously skillful and undoubtedly truthful history of a mining community during a brief period, first of cheerful prosperity, and then of decay and disorder. The wife of a physician, and herself a well-educated New England woman, "Dame Shirley," as she chooses to call herself, was the right kind of witness to describe for us the social life of a mining camp from actual experience. This she did in the form of letters written on the spot to her own sister, and collected for publication some two or three years later. Once for all, allowing for the artistic defects inevitable in a disconnected series of private letters, these "Shirley" letters form the best account of an early mining camp that is known to me. For our real insight into the mining life as it was, they are, of course, infinitely more helpful to us than the perverse romanticism of a thousand such tales as Mr. Bret Harte's, tales that, as the world knows, were not the result of any personal experience of really primitive conditions.

And in a foot-note on page 345 the Doctor says, in part,—

She is quite unconscious of the far-reaching moral and social significance of much that she describes. Many of the incidents introduced are such as imagination could of itself never suggest, in such an order and connection. There is no mark of any conscious seeking for dramatic effect. The moods that the writer expresses indicate no remote purpose, but are the simple embodiment of the thoughts of a sensitive mind, interested deeply in the wealth of new experiences. The letters are charmingly unsentimental; the style is sometimes a little stiff and provincial, but is on the whole very readable.

No typographical or other changes are made in printing these extracts from Dr. Royce's history, and as typographical style is involved in noticing further the Doctor's review of the Shirley Letters, it is proper to say here that his volume was printed at the Riverside Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts,—a press that, in the words of a writer on matters of typographical style, "maintained the reputation of being one of the three or four most painstaking establishments in the world." Such places are few and far between, unlike the "book and job printing establishments" that, like the poor, are always with us, and where no book was ever printed.

After having so fittingly introduced Shirley to his readers, it is unfortunate that the Doctor is not always accurate in his citation of the facts as printed in the Letters. Thus on page 347 of his history, he says that the wife of the landlord of the Empire Hotel at Rich Bar was "yellow-complexioned and care-worn." She does not appear to have been a care-worn person. Shirley says of her (post, p. 39),—

Mrs. B. is a gentle and amiable looking woman, about twenty-five years of age. She is an example of the terrible wear and tear to the complexion in crossing the plains, hers having become, through exposure at that time, of a dark and permanent yellow, anything but becoming. I will give you a key to her character, which will exhibit it better than weeks of description. She took a nursing babe, eight months old, from her bosom, and left it with two other children, almost infants, to cross the plains in search of gold!

The Doctor says, "The woman cooked for all the boarders herself," and in the preceding sentence states, "The baby, six months old, kicked and cried in a champagne-basket cradle." Shirley does not use the word "boarders." The baby was only two weeks old. With the details of the birth of this baby omitted, Shirley's account of these matters is (p. 40, post),—

When I arrived she was cooking supper for some half a dozen people, while her really pretty boy, who lay kicking furiously in his champagne-basket cradle, and screaming with a six-months-old-baby power, had, that day, completed just two weeks of his earthly pilgrimage.... He is an astonishingly large and strong child, holds his head up like a six-monther, and has but one failing,—a too evident and officious desire to inform everybody, far and near, at all hours of the night and day, that his lungs are in a perfectly sound and healthy condition.

Dr. Royce (p. 347) tells of the funeral of one of the four women residing at Rich Bar at the time of Shirley's arrival, which was only a few days prior to the death, and they had not met. The funeral service was held at the log-cabin residence, which had "one large opening in the wall to admit light." The "large opening" was not, in the first intention, to admit light. Shirley says (post, p. 70),—

It has no window, all the light admitted entering through an aperture where there will be a door when it becomes cold enough for such a luxury.

Describing the service, the Doctor says, in part,—

After a long and wandering impromptu prayer by somebody, a prayer which "Shirley" found disagreeable (since she herself was a churchwoman, and missed the burial service), the procession, containing twenty men and three women, set out.

Shirley was not, at that time, a churchwoman, and her account of the prayer, etc., is,—

About twenty men, with the three women of the place, had assembled at the funeral. An extempore prayer was made, filled with all the peculiarities usual to that style of petition. Ah, how different from the soothing verses of the glorious burial service of the church!

It may not be inappropriate here to note that the baby referred to in the two immediately preceding pages is none other than the original of The Luck in Bret Harte's Luck of Roaring Camp. How the funeral scene as described by Shirley was adapted by this master of short-story writing, and how skillfully he combined it with the birth of The Luck, may be perceived in the two paragraphs following.

[Shirley, post, p. 70.] On a board, supported by two butter-tubs, was extended the body of the dead woman, covered with a sheet. By its side stood the coffin, of unstained pine, lined with white cambric.

[The Luck of Roaring Camp, Overland, vol. i, p. 184.] Beside the low bunk or shelf, on which the figure of the mother was starkly outlined below the blankets, stood a pine table. On this a candle-box was placed, and within it, swathed in staring red flannel, lay the last arrival at Roaring Camp.

Bancroft (History of California, vol. vii, p. 724), speaking of early California literature, says,—

Mining life in California furnished inexhaustible material;... and almost every book produced in the golden era gave specimens more or less entertaining of the wit and humor developed by the struggle with homelessness, physical suffering, and mental gloom. And when, perchance, a writer had never heard original tales of the kind he felt himself expected to relate, he took them at second-hand.... Even the most powerful of Bret Harte's stories borrowed their incidents from the letters of Mrs. Laura A. K. Clapp, who under the nom de plume of 'Shirley,' wrote a series of letters published in the Pioneer Magazine, 1851-2. The 'Luck of Roaring Camp' was suggested by incidents related in Letter II., p. 174-6 of vol. i. of the Pioneer. In Letter XIX., p. 103-10 of vol. iv., is the suggestion of the 'Outcasts of Poker Flat.' Mrs. Clapp's simple epistolary style narrates the facts, and Harte's exquisite style imparts to them the glamour of imagination.

The temptation cannot be resisted, at this point, to pursue the history of The Luck of Roaring Camp a little further. The reader will kindly remember that no changes are made in printing extracts. Mr. T. Edgar Pemberton, in his Bret Harte: A Treatise and a Tribute (London, 1900), says, in referring to criticism of the story when it was first in type,—

Mr. Noah Brooks has recorded this strange incident as follows:—

'Perhaps I may be pardoned,' he says, 'for a brief reference to an odd complication that arose while The Luck of Roaring Camp was being put into type in the printing office where The Overland Monthly was prepared for publication. A young lady who served as proof-reader in the establishment had been somewhat shocked by the scant morals of the mother of Luck, and when she came to the scene where Kentuck, after reverently fondling the infant, said, "he wrastled with my finger, the d——d little cuss," the indignant proof-reader was ready to throw up her engagement rather than go any further with a story so wicked and immoral. There was consternation throughout the establishment, and the head of the concern went to the office of the publisher with the virginal proof-reader's protest. Unluckily, Mr. Roman was absent from the city. Harte, when notified of the obstacle raised in the way of The Luck of Roaring Camp, manfully insisted that the story must be printed as he wrote it, or not at all. Mr. Roman's locum tenens in despair brought the objectionable manuscript around to my office and asked my advice. When I had read the sentence that had caused all this turmoil, having first listened to the tale of the much-bothered temporary publisher, I surprised him by a burst of laughter. It seemed to me incredible that such a tempest in a tea-cup could have been raised by Harte's bit of character sketching. But, recovering my gravity, I advised that the whole question should await Mr. Roman's return. I was sure that he would never consent to any "editing" of Harte's story. This was agreed to, and when the publisher came back, a few days later, the embargo was removed. The Luck of Roaring Camp was printed as it was written, and printing office and vestal proof-reader survived the shock.'

It is amazing to think that, but for the determination and self-confidence of quite a young author, a story that has gladdened and softened the hearts of thousands,—a story that has drawn welcome smiles and purifying tears from all who can appreciate its deftly-mingled humour and pathos,—a story that has been a boon to humanity—might have been sacrificed to the shallow ruling of a prudish 'young-lady' proof-reader, and a narrow-minded, pharisaical deacon-printer!

It is appalling to think what might have happened if through nervousness or modesty the writer had been frightened by the premature criticisms of this precious pair.

The "deacon-printer" mentioned by Pemberton was Jacob Bacon, a fine specimen of the printer of the latter half of the last century. He was the junior partner of the firm of Towne and Bacon, the printers of Harte's first volume, The Lost Galleon. Mr. Towne (not Tane, as spelled in Merwin's Life of Bret Harte) obtained judgment in Boston for the printing of that volume. (See further, Mrs. T. B. Aldrich's Crowding Memories, as to satisfaction of judgment.)

A half-tone portrait of the "prudish 'young-lady' proof-reader" (what a lacerating taunt!) is printed in the Bret Harte Memorial Number of the Overland (September, 1902).

The proof-readers have not dealt kindly with The Luck of Roaring Camp; but the first of that ilk to mutilate the story was also the worst, to wit, the aforesaid "prudish 'young-lady' proof-reader."

Good usage in typography was utterly unknown to this young lady,—punctuation, capitalization, the use of the hyphen in dividing and compounding words. In practice she did not—perhaps could not—recognize any distinction between a cipher and a lower-case o. As to spelling, one may find "etherial," "azalias," "tessallated."

Noah Brooks, in the Overland Memorial Number, says (p. 203),—

He [Bret Harte] collected some half-dozen stories and poems and they were printed in a volume entitled "The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Sketches," (1870.)

There were no poems printed in that volume. It was published in Boston by Fields, Osgood, & Co. Printed at the University Press at Cambridge, then unquestionably the best book-printing house in the United States, of course many of the typographical errors were weeded out. This volume was reprinted in London by John Camden Hotten.

It is to be regretted that the University Press was not more painstaking in the proof-reading, for the Overland typographical perversions persist in some instances to the present day. The reader is not misled by the lubbering punctuation of the sentence, "She was a coarse, and, it is to be feared, a very sinful woman." The usage in such a construction is, "She was a coarse, and it is to be feared a very sinful, woman." But note where the sense is affected:—

Cherokee Sal was sinking fast. Within an hour she had climbed, as it were, that rugged road that led to the stars, and so passed out of Roaring Camp, its sin and shame forever.

Cherokee Sal could not possibly be the sin and shame of Roaring Camp forever; hence the sense calls for a comma after "shame," in the extract. It is gratifying to note that the comma is used in the Hotten reprint.

Another egregious blunder which has persisted is the printing of the word "past" for "passed," in the extract below.

Then he [Kentuck] walked up the gulch, past the cabin, still whistling with demonstrative unconcern. At a large redwood tree he paused and retraced his steps, and again passed the cabin.

It remained for a proof-reader at the Riverside Press to reconstruct the sentence by deleting the comma after the word "gulch"; thus, "the gulch past the cabin." That Kentuck "again passed the cabin" seems not to have been considered. Hence, in the Houghton Mifflin Company's printings of The Luck of Roaring Camp, the last error is worse than the first.

These errors are not venial. Those that are such have not been mentioned, as they occur in almost every book, and appear to be unavoidable. Other errors, evincing a lack of knowledge of good usage in book-typography, must also pass unnoticed.

The Luck of Roaring Camp having been disposed of, consideration of Dr. Royce's review of the Shirley Letters will be resumed.

The Doctor, on page 350 of his work, says, "In her little library she had a Bible, a prayer-book, Shakespeare, and Lowell's 'Fable for the Critics,' with two or three other books." Shirley (p. 100, post) says she had a—

Bible and prayer-book, Shakespeare, Spenser, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Lowell's Fable for Critics, Walton's Complete Angler, and some Spanish books.

The poet Spenser's name was spelled with a c in the Pioneer, but the article "the" was not used before "Critics," as in the extract from Royce,—an unpardonable error in a book printed in Cambridge, and at the Riverside Press too.

The Spanish books mentioned by Shirley were evidently not neglected by her, and her acquaintance with and friendship for the Spanish-speaking population scattered along the banks of the Rio de las Plumas must have made her very familiar with their tongue. In reading these Letters one cannot fail to perceive how fittingly Spanish words and phrases are interwoven with her own English. At the time these Letters were written, many Spanish words were a part of the California vernacular, but to Shirley belongs the honor of introducing them into the literature of California; hence, in printing the Letters, such words are not italicized, as they usually are, by printers who should know better.

Dr. Royce also says on page 350, "Prominent in the society of the Bar was a trapper, of the old Fremont party, who told blood-curdling tales of Indian fights." (See post, p. 111.) It is singular that the Doctor has failed to identify this trapper with the well-known James P. Beckwourth, whose Life and Adventures (Harpers, New York, 1856) was written from his own dictation by Thomas D. Bonner, a justice of the peace in Butte County in 1852. His name is preserved in "Beckwourth Pass." He first entered this pass probably in the spring of the year 1851, although 1850 is the year given in his Life. The Western Pacific Railroad utilizes the pass for its tracks entering California, and through it came the pioneers of whom Shirley has much to say in Letter the Twenty-second.

Among punishments for thefts, the Doctor, on page 351, speaks of a "decidedly barbarous case of hanging" for that offense. It is referred to here for the reason that in the sequel of the hanging Bret Harte found more than a suggestion for his finale of The Outcasts of Poker Flat. Both are reprinted here for the purpose of comparison. Shirley says (post, p. 157),—

The body of the criminal was allowed to hang for some hours after the execution. It had commenced storming in the earlier part of the evening, and when those whose business it was to inter the remains arrived at the spot, they found them enwrapped in a soft white shroud of feathery snowflakes, as if pitying nature had tried to hide from the offended face of Heaven the cruel deed which her mountain-children had committed.

The finale of The Outcasts of Poker Flat follows, in part, with no other changes than those of punctuation and capitalization.

They slept all that day and the next, nor did they waken when voices and footsteps broke the silence of the camp. And when pitying fingers brushed the snow from their wan faces, you could scarcely have told, from the equal peace that dwelt upon them, which was she that had sinned. Even the law of Poker Flat recognized this, and turned away, leaving them still locked in each other's arms. But at the head of the gulch, on one of the largest pine-trees, they found the deuce of clubs pinned to the bark with a bowie-knife.... And pulseless and cold, with a derringer by his side and a bullet in his heart, though still calm as in life, beneath the snow lay he who was at once the strongest and yet the weakest of the outcasts of Poker Flat.

The phrase, "though still calm as in life," in the last sentence of the extract immediately preceding, is one that would seem to invite the challenge of a proof-reader. It is passed without further notice.

Dr. Royce is not at his best in reviewing Letter the Nineteenth. The suggestion for The Outcasts of Poker Flat was found therein by Bret Harte, as previously noted. On page 354 the Doctor says,—

A "majestic-looking Spaniard" had quarreled with an Irishman about a Mexican girl ("Shirley" for the first time, I think, thus showing a knowledge of the presence at Indian Bar of those women who seem, in the bright and orderly days of her first arrival, to have been actually unknown in the camp). The Mexican, having at last stabbed and killed the other, fled to the hills.

It does not appear from the letter that a girl of any kind was involved in this stabbing and death. Shirley distinguishes between the Spaniard and the Mexican; the Doctor does not. As to the presence of "those women," Shirley, without commenting, sheds much light upon that subject, as will be perceived from the following extracts. Dr. Royce's review does not coincide with the facts.

Seven miners from Old Spain, enraged at the cruel treatment which their countrymen had received on the Fourth,... had united for the purpose of taking revenge on seven Americans. All well armed,... intending to challenge each one his man,... on arriving at Indian Bar ... they drank a most enormous quantity of champagne and claret. Afterwards they proceeded to [a vile resort kept by an Englishman], when one of them commenced a playful conversation with one of his countrywomen. This enraged the Englishman, who instantly struck the Spaniard a violent blow.... Thereupon ensued a spirited fight, which ... ended without bloodshed.... Soon after,... Tom Somers, who is said always to have been a dangerous person when in liquor, without any apparent provocation struck Domingo (one of the original seven) a violent blow.... The latter,... mad with wine, rage, and revenge, without an instant's pause drew his knife and inflicted a fatal wound upon his insulter. [Post, p. 271.]

In the bakeshop, which stands next door to our cabin, young Tom Somers lay straightened for the grave (he lived but fifteen minutes after he was wounded), while over his dead body a Spanish woman was weeping and moaning in the most piteous and heartrending manner. [Post, p. 264.]

Domingo, with a Mexicana hanging upon his arm, and brandishing threateningly the long, bloody knife,... was parading up and down the street unmolested.... The [Americans] rallied and made a rush at the murderer, who immediately plunged into the river and swam across,... and without doubt is now safe in Mexico. [Post, p. 263.]

A disregard of exactness is not peculiar to Dr. Royce. Secondary authorities are generally open to criticism. Of the authenticity of Shirley's facts there can be no question. Dr. Royce recognized this, while subjecting the work of other writers to severe scrutiny. But Shirley's printer did her much evil. It is not necessary here to say much concerning trade usages in making an author's manuscript presentable in type,—the essentially different ways of and differences between the job, the newspaper, and the book printer. Shirley's letters, not having been written for publication, required exceptional care while being put in type, and especially so since the manuscript was not prepared for the press. It is amusing to read what the printers of the Pioneer have to say of themselves.

Our facilities for doing FINE BOOK WORK, are very great, possessing as we do, large founts of new type, and an ADAMS POWER PRESS. We refer to the Pioneer Magazine, as a specimen. We have in use a MAMMOTH PRESS, which gives us a great advantage in the execution of the LARGEST SIZE MAMMOTH POSTERS, in colors or plain.

In the estimation of the printers, the materiel was the principal thing; the personnel, not worthy of mention,—and it so happened that it wasn't, for, judging from the typographical inaccuracies of the Pioneer, the compositors were of a very low order of intelligence, and if a proof-reader was employed, he assuredly stood high in their estimation, as he evidently caused them but little trouble.

Much has been said by writers on matters typographical as to what is meet and necessary in the reprinting of a book, and much more on literary blunders and mistakes. Some printers are rash, and perpetrate a worse blunder than that attempted to be corrected in reprinting. Worse than such people are the amateur proof-readers, who generally run to extremes, that is, they either cannot see a blunder, and hence pass it unchallenged, or else they manifest a disposition to challenge and "improve" everything they do not comprehend, and, knowing nothing of typographical usages or style, they are a decidedly malignant quantity.

Every old printer knows, what is often said, that English is a grammarless tongue, and that no grammarian ever wrote a sentence worth reading. No proof-reader, with the experience of a printer behind him, will change a logically expressed idea so as to make it conform to grammatical rules, nor will he harass the author thereof with suggestions looking to that end.

Critical readers of these Letters must ever bear in mind the fact that Shirley was not writing for publication, and that the printer of this edition had no desire to and did not alter Shirley's text to suit his ideas of what was fitting and proper, further than to smooth or round out in many instances rugged or careless construction. Punctuation, hyphenization, capitalization, italicizing, spelling, required much, and of course received much, attention.

In some instances where Shirley does not express her meaning clearly, and reconstruction seemed necessary, no change was made. Singularly, this was the case in the first sentence of the first letter.

I can easily imagine, dear M., the look of large wonder which gleams from your astonished eyes when they fall upon the date of this letter.

M. could be astonished but once, but the language used conveys the idea of wonder arising each time the letter is read; then, again, it is the place-name, and not the date, that is to cause wonder to gleam from astonished eyes, as the context shows.

Where reconstruction was not needed to make the meaning clear, and this could be done by the insertion of a word or phrase, or by some other simple emendation, changes were generally made. The extract (post, p. 11) following is printed just as it appeared in the Pioneer.

As a frame to the graceful picture, on one side rose the Buttes, that group of hills so piquant and saucy; and on the other tossing to Heaven the everlasting whiteness of their snow wreathed foreheads, stood, sublime in their very monotony, the glorious Sierra Nevada.

Besides changes in capitalization and punctuation, the words, "the summits of," are inserted before "the glorious Sierra." Compare Bret Harte's lines,—

Above the pines the moon was slowly drifting, The river sang below; The dim Sierras, far beyond, uplifting Their minarets of snow.

By the word "Sierras" the mountain-range called the Sierra Nevada is not meant, but merely teeth-like summits thereof, which uplift their snow-clad peaks, or "minarets." The Spanish word "sierra" means, in English, a saw, and also a ridge of mountains and craggy rocks. "Nevada" means here, in connection with "Sierra," snowy. Thus, "the snowy ridge of mountains and craggy rocks," or, to express the meaning more clearly in English, the snowy serrated mountain-range. Bret Harte's capitalization of "Sierras" may be safely challenged. The lines are from his poem, Dickens in Camp.

The Buttes mentioned by Shirley are the Marysville Buttes. "Butte" is French, and descriptive, and French trappers bestowed the name.

Shirley sometimes uses an adverb instead of an adjective. Thus on page 332, speaking of a tame frog on the bar at a rancho, she says,—

You cannot think how comically [comic] it looked hopping about the bar, quite as much at home as a tame squirrel would have been.

An old San Francisco printer once heard a newspaperman say that this little incident furnished the suggestion to Mark Twain for his Jumping Frog of Calaveras, but, unfortunately, regarded the remark as of no more importance than much other gossip current among printers and newspapermen.

Shirley, like many another writer, used marks of quotation improperly, when the language of the author cited was altered or adapted. Worse than this are many instances of gross misquotation. In the former case, the quotation-marks were deleted; in the latter, accuracy was the aim.

On page 79 quotation-marks are deleted, the language used being adapted, thus, "clothe themselves with curses as with a garment." Compare Psalms cix, 18, "He clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment."

On page 101 a correction is made; thus, "As thy day is, so shall thy strength be" (Deut. xxxiii, 25). In the Letters this read, "As thy days, so," etc.

On page 268 quotation-marks are deleted, as the language used is adapted, and in a strict sense is also inaccurate; thus, "The woman tempted me, and I did eat." Compare Genesis iii, 12, 13.

12. And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

13. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Blunders and mistakes of all sorts might be set out, but it is not deemed advisable to pursue this matter any further. It is, however, necessary to say something further of THE PIONEER itself, and the paper-cover title of the May, 1855, number is reprinted here, with an outline drawing of the crude woodcut vignette printed in the original. It was impossible to secure a satisfactory facsimile of the title. The names of some of the agents of the magazine are of historical interest.



California Monthly Magazine

May, 1855


For SALE at all the BOOKSTORES in the CITY


J. W. JONES, Benicia; CHAS. BINNEY, Sacramento; R. A. EDDY & CO., Marysville; GEO. VINCENT & CO., Coloma; LANGTON & BRO., Downieville; A. ROMAN, Shasta; ROMAN & PARKER, Yreka; NASH & DAVIS, Placerville; ADAMS & CO., Jackson; ADAMS & CO., Georgetown; ADAMS & CO., Mud Springs; C. O. BURTON, Stockton; CANNADAY & COOK, Sonora; A. A. HUNNEWELL, Columbia; J. COFFIN, Mokelumne Hill; MILLER & CO., Chinese Camp; ELLIOTT REED, San Jose; ALEXANDER S. TAYLOR, Monterey; R. K. SWEETLAND, Volcano; LANGTON & BRO., Sierra County; DR. STEINBERGER, agent Adams & Co., Oregon; HENRY M. WHITNEY, Honolulu, S.I.

MONSON & VALENTINE, Printers, 124 Sacramento Street

But few copies of the Pioneer are known to be in existence. Odd numbers are sometimes found, but these are generally in a mutilated condition, while the bound volumes lack the advertisements.

The first number was issued in January, 1854, and the last in December, 1855. The first letter of the Shirley series appeared in the initial number, and the last one in the final issue. The magazine seems to have been well received in the East, and the Eastern magazines reviewed it very favorably.

Of Shirley herself it is not necessary to say much in this Foreword. She was a typical Massachusetts girl, although born in New Jersey, the residence of the family in the latter state being merely temporary, as is clearly shown by her correspondence. A letter from Miss Katherine Powell, librarian of the Amherst Town Library, sheds some light on the early associations of Shirley. In part, she says,—

In spite of widespread inquiries, I have been able to get ... [but little] concerning Louise Amelia Knapp Smith. There are no people now living here who knew her even by hearsay. The records of Amherst Academy show that she attended that institution in 1839 and 1840.... Miss Smith's name adds another to the long list of writers who have lived here at one time or another, and Amherst Academy has added many names to that list. Two of them—Emily Dickinson the poet, and Emily Fowler Ford—were schoolmates of Miss Smith. Mrs. Ford was the granddaughter of Noah Webster (an Amherst man [one of the founders of Amherst College]) and daughter of Professor Fowler [the phrenologist], who wrote several books. Eugene Field was, some years later, a student of the old Academy, and in his poem, My Playmates, he mentioned by their real names a number of his old schoolmates. Helen Hunt Jackson was a contemporary of Miss Smith here, and, although she did not attend the Academy, must have been well known to her.

Amherst, it should be said, was the home-town of Shirley's family, and to it she often fondly refers in the Letters. It is not cause for wonder that she is not now remembered in Amherst. Her correspondence shows that the members of the family, although devotedly attached to one another, were inclined to disperse.

Mrs. Mary Viola Tingley Lawrence has kindly permitted the printing in this volume of a paper prepared by her to be read before a literary society, containing much that is interesting of Shirley's life. Mrs. Lawrence is well known among the literati of San Francisco. She was a contributor to the old Overland. What is of more interest here is the fact that she was a favorite pupil of Shirley, and later her most intimate friend in California. It was from a selection of poetry gathered by Mrs. Lawrence that Bret Harte obtained the larger portion of his selection entitled "Outcroppings" (San Francisco, 1866), a title, by the way, claimed by Mrs. Lawrence as her own.

Rich Bar and Indian Bar, in Butte County at the time the Shirley Letters were written, are now in Plumas County, consequent upon a change of the county boundary lines. There are two Rich Bars on the Feather River, the minor one being on the Middle Fork, and oftentimes mistaken for the one made famous by Shirley. James Graham Fair, one of the earliest multimillionaires of California, and United States Senator from Nevada, panned out his first sackful of gold at Rich Bar, and probably at the time Shirley was writing her Letters. Many other men, whose names are familiar to Californians, also delved into the earth at this historic spot, which is now, in railroad "literature," called "Rich." Like many another California clipped place-name, the new name has not the glamour of the old, which, in the words of Shirley, was "a most taking name."

In closing this Foreword, the printer desires to emphasize the fact that the typesetting and presswork of this book are entirely his own work. No one acquainted with the methods employed in a legitimate book-printing house will fail to recognize the fact that it is well nigh impossible to print a book without possession of the minute technical knowledge essential in each department. Hence the most skillful book-printer is distrustful of himself, unless supported by experienced craftsmen, and more especially by time-tried proof-readers. For many favors extended while the Letters were in press, thanks are due, and are now acknowledged, to Milton J. Ferguson, the librarian of the State Library at Sacramento, California, who was never-failing in either service or patience.

Dame Shirley, the Writer of these Letters

An Appreciation


The Shirley Letters, written in the pioneer days of 1851 and 1852, were hailed throughout the country as the first-born of California literature. Mrs. Clappe, their author, was the one woman who depicted that era of romantic life, dipping her pen into a rich personal experience, and writing with a clarity and beauty born of an alert comprehensive mind and a rare sense of refinement and character.

The Letters had been written to a loved sister in the East, but Ferdinand C. Ewer, a litterateur of San Francisco, a close friend, fell upon them by chance, and, realizing their historic value, urged that they be published in the Pioneer, of which he was editor. These Shirley Letters, thus published, brought the new West to the wondering East, and showed to those who had not made the venture, the courage, the fervor, the beauty, the great-heartedness, that made up life in the new El Dorado. Shirley's sympathetic Interpretation of their tumultuous experience cheered the Argonauts by throwing before their eyes the drama in which they were unconsciously the swash-buckling, the tragic, or the romantic actors, and helped to crystallize the growing love for the new land, which love turned fortune and adventure seekers into home-makers and empire-builders.

This quickly recognized author became the leader of the first salon the Golden West ever knew, and one of the foremost influences in California's social and intellectual life, by force of a high intelligence and a heart and soul that were a noble woman's.

Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe came to light in Elizabeth, New Jersey, in 1819. Her father, Moses Smith, was a man of high scholarly attainment, and by her mother, Lois Lee, she could claim an equally gifted ancestry, and a close kinship with Julia Ward Howe. As a young girl, together with several brothers and sisters, she was left parentless, but there was a comfortable estate, and a faithful guardian, the Hon. Osman Baker, a Member of Congress I believe, who saw to it that they received the very best mental and physical training. Shirley was educated at Amherst and Charlestown, Massachusetts, and at Amherst was the family home.

At that day the epistolary art was a finished accomplishment, and in childhood she evidenced a ready use of the quill pen. Later on, she maintained correspondence with brilliant minds, who challenged her to her best. At the same time she was pursuing her English studies, to which were added French, German, and Italian. She had but little time for the trivial social amenities, but her frequent missives from her relatives, the Lees and Wards of New York City and Boston, and her enjoyable visits to their gay homes, broke the strain of mental grind, and kept her in touch with the fashionable world. Her communications in the forties disclose a relation to men and women of culture, whose letters are colorful of people, places, and events, and through them we reach an intimate inside of her own self. Those faded, musty-smelling epistles, with pressed flowers, from an old attic, reveal a rich kind of distinct and charming personalities.

Shirley, small, fair, and golden-haired, was not physically strong, and her careful guardian often ordered a change of climate. Sometimes she sojourned in the South. In her migrations she might employ a carriage, or venture on a canal-boat, but usually the stage-coach carried her. It was on one of those bits of travel that she met Mr. A. H. Everett of Massachusetts, a brother of Edward Everett, a noted author, and popular throughout the country as a lecturer. He had been charge d'affaires in the Netherlands, and minister to Spain. An intimate relationship, chiefly by correspondence, was established between this gifted girl and this brilliant gentleman. His long letters from Louisiana sometimes were written wholly in French. From Washington, D.C., he writes that the mission of United States minister to a foreign court has been offered him, but it fails to tempt him away from his life of letters. However, later on, it comes about that he accepts the mission of United States commissioner to the more alluring China, and his long letters to her from there, as they had been from other foreign lands, were most entertaining. This rare man grows to be very fond of his young and brilliant correspondent, and signs himself, "Yours faithfully and affectionately." But he was well on in years, and she looks upon him more as a father than as a suitor, and he so understands it. He commits himself enough to say how much it would be to him to have her near him as an attachee, and when she hints of her engagement to a young physician, he jealously begs to know every detail concerning the happy man.

Shirley married Dr. Fayette Clappe, and in 1849, with the spirit of romance and the fire of enthusiasm, the joyful young Argonauts set sail for California in the good ship Manilla.

They found the primitive San Francisco enthralling, but a fire swept away the new city, and tent-life was accepted as one of many picturesque experiences. Soon, however, the Doctor's shingle was again hung out.

Quickly buildings went up, and the little lady with golden curls to her waist went about, jostling the motley crowd of people, and finding concern in the active city front, in the gaudy shops, and in the open faro-banks with their exposed piles of nuggets and bags of gold-dust freshly dug from the earth.

There was the ever-beckoning to the hills of treasure, with their extravagant stories of adventure, but the professional man was anchored in the more prosy city, and buckled down to a commonplace existence. The exhilarating ozone from the ocean, the wind blowing over the vast area of sand, the red-flannel-shirted miner recklessly dumping out sacks of gold-dust with which to pay his board-bill or to buy a pair of boots, with maybe a nugget for Dr. Clappe when he eased a trivial pain,—all these thrills were calls to the gold-filled Mother Earth. Finally, Dr. Clappe's ill-health drove him to the Feather River,—a high altitude, fifty miles from the summit of the Sierra Nevada, and the highest point of gold-diggings. There he soon recovered, and to her joy he wrote his wife to join him. And she had varying experiences in transit to the prospective home, which was at Rich Bar,—rich indeed, where a miner unearthed thirty-three pounds of gold in eight days, and others panned out fifteen hundred dollars in one wash of dirt.

The sojourn at the gold-camp in the summers and winters of 1851 and 1852, with its tremendous and varied incidents and experiences, was a compelling call to Shirley's facile pen. Here was her mine. Out of her brain, out of her soul, out of her heart of gold, out of her wealth of understanding of and love for her fellow-men, gratefully sprang those SHIRLEY LETTERS that have enriched the field of letters, and, reaching beyond the grasp of worldly gain, have set her enduringly in the hearts of mankind.

Who can tell how far-reaching and inspiring were those illuminating pages, those vividly depicted scenes enacted on the crowded stages of the golden-lined bars of the famous Feather River! Bret Harte reads her graphic and pathetic account of the fallen woman and the desperate men being driven out of camp, and lo! we have the gripping tale of The Outcasts of Poker Flat; and from another of her recitals came the inspiration that set him to work on that entertaining story, The Luck of Roaring Camp. And her incidental mention of the pet frog hopping on the bar of the hotel, in the midst of a group of onlooking miners,—was it the setting for Mark Twain's Jumping Frog of Calaveras?

During their sojourn at Rich and Indian bars, Shirley and her husband became rich in experience. They folded their tent and left with depleted purse, but they had righteously invested their God-bestowed talents. There they had freely given the best of themselves; they were leaving the imperishable impress of high ideals.

Upon their return to San Francisco the couple rejoined delightful friends, and established a home. But reverses of fortune came, and Shirley found it necessary to put her accomplishments to the practical purpose of gaining a livelihood. By the advice of her friend Ferdinand C. Ewer she entered the San Francisco public school department, where for long years she taught, notably in the high schools.

Shirley was small in build, with a thin face and a finely shaped head. Her limbs were perfect in symmetry. As a girl, doubtless she had claim to a delicate beauty. She now showed the wear and tear of her mountain experience, coupled with an accumulation of heart-breaking trouble. She gave prodigally of all her gifts. She interpreted life and its arts to all discerning pupils, and by the magic of her friendly intercourse won their confidence. Quick to discover any unusual promise in a pupil, she indefatigably and masterfully stirred up such a one to his or her best, sometimes with remarks of approval, or by censuring recreancy with stinging sarcasm, or with expressions of despair over infirmity of purpose. Some of such scholars, notably among them Charles Warren Stoddard, panned out gold in the field of letters. Many of her pupils, including myself, absorbed much of her wonderful help, and it grew into our subconsciousness and became a part of us. She was the long-time friend of Bret Harte, and from her he gathered a wealth of knowledge that served him well.

When Mr. Ewer was ordained in Grace Episcopal Church, San Francisco, Shirley became a member of his parish, and together with his wife she assisted him in the ministrations of good. Then this dependable friend, Dr. Ewer, was discovered, with the result that he was called to a church in New York at a salary of ten thousand dollars a year.

In addition to her daily teaching, Shirley, by request, established evening classes in art and literature, for men and women, and once a week she held her salon, drawing the best minds about her. She appreciated the privilege of having a home in Mr. John Swett's family, because of its intellectual atmosphere. Here scholarly notabilities from near and far were entertained, among them Emerson, Agassiz, and Julia Ward Howe.

Childless, Shirley took her niece, Genevieve Stebbins, and reared her from babyhood to a splendid womanhood. She contributed freely to entertainments for charity, by her Shakespearean readings and other recitations, and happily prepared whole parties for private theatricals. With such mental strain, she kept herself fit by Saturday outings, in which were graciously included some of her pupils. At times we went across the bay, in various directions, but oftenest we strove through the sand to the ocean beach, stopping here and there to botanize, and gather the sweet yellow and purple lupin, and to rest on the limbs of the scrub-oaks. On the beach we roasted potatoes and made coffee, and then ate ravenously. A happy gipsying it was, and she, the queen, forgot her cares. Not a pebble at our feet, nor a floating seaweed, nor a shell, nor a seal on the rock, but opened up an instructive talk from our teacher, or started Charley Stoddard reciting a poem, or set a girl singing. Before starting homeward, the whole party, including Shirley, shoes and stockings off, waded into the surf, and afterwards rested on the warm beds of sand. A fine comradeship, that, and one that never died.

Shirley, I should also mention, wrote some respectable poetry. I have fondly preserved, treasured, and cherished the original manuscript of a poem written by her at the time Margaret Fuller Ossoli was lost by shipwreck in 1850. This poem was included in my collection of California poetry, but was not printed in Outcroppings. I append it to this paper, of which it can hardly be considered an essential part.

I married and went to the mines, and our home was on the Mariposa Grant. We lived on a bed of gold. Once, upon a visit to the city, I found Shirley nervous and worn. Her vacation was about to begin. She went home with me, and stayed in bed the first three days. Then she was daily swung in a hammock under an oak. Soon we had horseback-rides, and up the creek she again panned out gold. Later we set out in the stage-coach for the hotel at the big Mariposa Grove. Mr. Lawrence put us in charge of Mr. Galen Clark, a rare scholar, and the guardian of the Big Tree Grove and of the Yosemite Valley. This charming man was much interested in Shirley. From the hotel we took daily rides with him through the great forest, and then made the twenty-five-mile horseback-ride and found Mr. James M. Hutchings, of the Illustrated California Magazine, awaiting us at the entrance to the valley. He escorted us to his picturesque hotel, where he and his interesting wife made our three weeks' stay most delightful. Down in the meadows we came upon John Muir sawing logs. He dropped his work, and we three went botanizing, and soon were learning all about the valley's formation as he entrancingly talked. We met many tourists of distinction, and Shirley forgot that she ever had a care, and on our way back she galloped along recklessly.

At our home in Mariposa we invited friends to come and enjoy Shirley's Shakespearean readings, chiefly comedy. In these Mr. Lawrence had a happy part.

In time Shirley went to New York, to her niece, Genevieve Stebbins, who was successful in a delightful line of art-work. Before leaving San Francisco, her faithful pupils and other friends gave a musicale and realized about two thousand dollars, which was presented her as a loving gift. In the great metropolis her genius was recognized soon after her arrival, and she was importuned to give lectures on art and literature. The Field family, who delightedly discovered her, took her to Europe, where she visited all the art-galleries, a treat that had been a lifelong heart's desire. In New York she had at once made her home with Dr. Ewer's widow and children, but, in the end, she went to Morristown, New Jersey, where, it was said, she again happily met and renewed her friendship with Bret Harte's accomplished and delightful wife and her attractive children, while Bret Harte himself was sojourning in Europe, a successful author. Mrs. John F. Swift, her long-time appreciative friend, Charley Stoddard, myself, and others, contributed to her pleasure by letters till the close of her perfect life at Morristown, New Jersey, on February 9, 1906. No other woman has left a more lasting impress on the California community. But back to Rich Bar! Back to the gold-fields! DAME SHIRLEY is abroad, and again she is weaving her wizard spell!




Beneath thy spirit-eyes I stand alone, Nor deem thee of the dead As mournfully I gaze, sad-hearted one, On that calm brow and head.

The starry crown of genius could not save From woman's gift of grief; The moaning billows o'er thy breast that have Emblem thy life too brief.

O Margaret! my weak heart-pulses shiver In wordless woe for thee, Thy wasted tenderness, thy love that never Might its fruition see.

Thou hadst no youth, O wondrous child! no youth Haloed thy later life; Sternly thy girl heart sought its solemn truth In battle and in strife.

In thine own Northern home didst thou not live "Alone," always "alone"? What heart to thine uplifted heart could give Ever an answering tone?

In suffering, labor, strife, we saw thee stand With lips that would not moan, While shone thy regal brow and eyes with grand Aspirings all thine own.

At last among thy Romans thou didst find A shrine for that large heart; It understood thee not, the Northern mind, But coldly shrunk apart,

When those pale lips—from whence, an hour agone, Flew out, like rifted light, Winged words of wit—murmured their wailed "Alone" To the pitying midnight.

And I have read thy life, its mournful story Of loneliness and blight; But o'er its close there shines a solemn glory, A setting star's trailed light.

Margaret! white-robed, thy hair unbound, thy veil, Most like a bride wert thou When Ocean clasped thee, and, with lips all pale And icy, kissed thy brow.

And lovely as a white unfolded blossom Lay the child Angelo, Hushed to his dreamless flower-sleep on that bosom Which would not let him go.

Husband, and wife, and child together flutter Up to the great white throne, Where nevermore may Margaret Fuller utter That piteous "Alone!"

The Contents



BEING a PAPER prepared by MRS. MARY VIOLA TINGLEY LAWRENCE to be read before a SAN FRANCISCO literary society.



A thousand people and but one physician. The author's husband seeks health and business. Journey through deep snow, in midsummer, to reach Rich Bar. The revivifying effect of mountain atmosphere. Arrival of twenty-nine physicians in less than three weeks. The author's purpose to leave San Francisco and join her husband at the mines. Direful predictions and disapprobation of friends. Indelicacy of her position among an almost exclusively male population. Indians, ennui, cold. Leaves for Marysville. Scanty fare on way. Meets husband. Falls from mule. An exhausting ride. A midnight petit souper at Marysville. Dr. C. leaves on muleback for Bidwell's Bar. The author follows in springless wagon. Beautiful scenery. Marysville Buttes. Sierra Nevada. Indian women, their near-nudity, beautiful limbs and lithe forms, picturesqueness. Flower-seed gathering. Indian bread. Marvelous handiwork of basketry. A dangerous precipice. A disclaimer of bravery. Table Mountain. Arrival at Bidwell's Bar. Rejoins husband. Uninviting quarters. Proceed to Berry Creek.



A moonlit midsummer-night's ride on muleback. Joyous beginning. The Indian trail lost. Camping out for the night. Attempts in morning to find the trail. A trying ride in the fierce heat of midday. The trail found. A digression of thirty miles. Lack of food, and seven more miles to ride. To rest impossible. Mad joy when within sight of Berry Creek Rancho. Congratulations upon escape from Indians on the trail. Frenchman and wife murdered. The journey resumed. Arrival at the "Wild Yankee's". A breakfast with fresh butter and cream. Indian bucks, squaws, and papooses. Their curiosity. Pride of an Indian on his ability to repeat one line of a song. Indian women. Extreme beauty of their limbs; slender ankles and statuesque feet; haggardness of expression and ugliness of features. Girl of sixteen, a "wildwood Cleopatra," an exception to the general hideousness. The California Indian not the Indian of the Leatherstocking tales. A stop at the Buckeye Rancho. Start for Pleasant Valley Rancho. The trail again lost. Camping out for the night. Growling bears. Arrive at Pleasant Valley Rancho. Flea-haunted shanty. Beauty of the wilderness. Quail and deer. The chaparrals, and their difficulty of penetration by the mules. Escape from a rattlesnake. Descending precipitous hill on muleback. Saddle-girth breaks. Harmless fall from the saddle. Triumphant entry into Rich Bar. Tribute to mulekind. The Empire Hotel. "A huge shingle palace."



The Empire Hotel, the hotel of Rich Bar. The author safely ensconced therein. California might be called the "Hotel State," from the plenitude of its taverns, etc. The Empire the only two-story building in Rich Bar, and the only one there having glass windows. Built by gamblers for immoral purposes. The speculation a failure, its occupants being treated with contempt or pity. Building sold for a few hundred dollars. The new landlord of the Empire. The landlady, an example of the wear and tear of crossing the plains. Left behind her two children and an eight-months-old baby. Cooking for six people, her two-weeks-old baby kicking and screaming in champagne-basket cradle. "The sublime martyrdom of maternity". Left alone immediately after infant's birth. Husband dangerously ill, and cannot help. A kindly miner. Three other women at the Bar. The "Indiana girl". "Girl" a misnomer. "A gigantic piece of humanity". "Dainty" habits and herculean feats. A log-cabin family. Pretty and interesting children. "The Miners' Home". Its petite landlady tends bar. "Splendid material for social parties this winter."



Flashy shops and showy houses of San Francisco. Rich Bar charmingly fresh and original. A diminutive valley. Rio de las Plumas, or Feather River. Rich Bar, the Barra Rica of the Spaniards. An acknowledgment of "a most humiliating consciousness of geological deficiencies". Palatial splendor of the Empire Hotel. Round tents, square tents, plank hovels, log cabins, etc. "Local habitations" formed of pine boughs, and covered with old calico shirts. The "office" of Dr. C. excites the risibilities of the author. One of the "finders" of Rich Bar. Had not spoken to a woman for two years. Honors the occasion by an "investment" in champagne. The author assists in drinking to the honor of her arrival at the Bar. Nothing done in California without the sanctifying influence of the "spirit". History of the discovery of gold at Rich Bar. Thirty-three pounds of gold in eight hours. Fifteen hundred dollars from a panful of "dirt". Five hundred miners arrive at Rich Bar in about a week. Smith Bar, Indian Bar, Missouri Bar, and other bars. Miners extremely fortunate. Absolute wealth in a few weeks. Drunken gamblers in less than a year. Suffering for necessaries of life. A mild winter. A stormy spring. Impassable trails. No pack-mule trains arrive. Miners pack flour on their backs for over forty miles. Flour sells at over three dollars a pound. Subsistence on feed-barley. A voracious miner. An abundance placed in storage.



Frightful accidents to which the gold-seeker is constantly liable. Futile attempts of physician to save crushed leg of young miner. Universal outcry against amputation. Dr. C, however, uses the knife. Professional reputation at stake. Success attends the operation. Death of another young miner, who fell into mining-shaft. His funeral. Picturesque appearance of the miners thereat. Of what the miner's costume consists. Horror of the author aroused in contemplation of the lonely mountain-top graveyard. Jostling of life and death. Celebration of the anniversary of Chilian independence. Participation of a certain class of Yankees therein. The procession. A Falstaffian leader. The feast. A twenty-gallon keg of brandy on the table, gracefully encircled by quart dippers. The Chilenos reel with a better grace, the Americans more naturally.



Death of one of the four pioneer women of Rich Bar. The funeral from the log-cabin residence. Sickly ten-months-old baby moans piteously for its mother. A handsome girl of six years, unconscious of her bereavement, shocks the author by her actions. A monte-table cover as a funeral pall. Painful feelings when nails are driven into coffin. The extempore prayer. Every observance possible surrounded the funeral. Visit to a canvas house of three "apartments". Barroom, dining-room, kitchen with bed-closet. A sixty-eight-pound woman. "A magnificent woman, a wife of the right sort". "Earnt her 'old man' nine hundred dollars in nine weeks, by washing". The "manglers" and the "mangled". Fortitude of refined California women pioneers. The orphaned girl a "cold-blooded little wretch". Remorse of the author. "Baby decanters". The gayety and fearlessness of the orphaned girl.



Prevalence of profanity in California. Excuses for its use. A mere slip of the tongue, etc. Grotesqueness of some blasphemous expressions. Sleep-killing mining machinery. What a flume is. Project to flume the river for many miles. The California mining system a gambling or lottery transaction. Miner who works his own claim the more successful. Dr. C. a loser in his mining ventures. Another sleep-killer. Bowling-alleys. Bizarre cant phrases and slang used by the miners. "Honest Indian?" "Talk enough when horses fight". "Talk enough between gentlemen". "I've got the dead-wood on him". "I'm going nary cent" (on person mistrusted). All carry the freshness of originality to the ear of the author.



Change of residence to Indian Bar. Whether to go to the new camp on muleback over the hill, or on foot by crossing the river. The water-passage decided upon. An escort of Indian Barians. Magnificence of scenery on the way. Gold-miners at work. Their implements. "The color". The Stars and Stripes on a lofty treetop. A camp of tents and cabins. Some of calico shirts and pine boughs. Indian Bar described. Mountains shut out the sun. The "Humbolt" (spelled without the d on the sign) the only hotel in the camp. A barroom with a dancing-floor. A cook who plays the violin. A popular place. Clinking glasses and swaggering drinkers. "No place for a lady". The log-cabin residence. Its primitive, makeshift furnishings. The library. No churches, society, etc. "No vegetables but potatoes and onions, no milk, no eggs, no nothing."



Ned, the mulatto cook and the Paganini of the Humboldt Hotel. A naval character. His ecstasy upon hearing of the coming of the author to the Bar. Suggestion of a strait-jacket for him. "The only petticoated astonishment on this Bar". First dinner at the log cabin. Ned's pretentious setting of the pine dining-table. The Bar ransacked for viands. The bill of fare. Ned an accomplished violinist. "Chock," his white accompanist. The author serenaded. An unappreciated "artistic" gift. A guide of the Fremont expedition camps at Indian Bar. A linguist, and former chief of the Crow Indians. Cold-blooded recitals of Indian fights. The Indians near the Bar expected to make a murderous attack upon the miners. The guide's council with them. Flowery reply of the Indians. A studious Quaker. His merciless frankness and regard for truth. "The Squire," and how he was elected justice of the peace. The miners prefer to rule themselves.



The "Squire's" first opportunity to exercise his judicial power. Holding court in a barroom. The jury "treated" by the Squire. Theft of gold-dust, and arrest of suspect. A miners' meeting. Fears that they would hang the prisoner. A regular trial decided upon, at the Empire, Rich Bar, where the gold-dust was stolen. Suggestion of thrift. Landlords to profit by trial, wherever held. Mock respect of the miners for the Squire. Elect a president at the trial. The Squire allowed to play at judge. Lay counsel for prosecution and defense. Ingenious defense of the accused. Verdict of guilty. Light sentence, on account of previous popularity and inoffensive conduct. Thirty-nine lashes, and to leave the river. Owner of gold-dust indemnified by transfer of thief's interest in a mine. A visit to Smith's Bar. Crossing the river on log bridges Missouri Bar. Smith's a sunny camp, unlike Indian. Frenchman's Bar, another sunny spot. "Yank," the owner of a log-cabin store. Shrewdness and simplicity. Hopeless ambition to be "cute and smart". The "Indiana girl" impossible to Yank. "A superior and splendid woman, but no polish". Yank's "olla podrida of heterogeneous merchandise". The author meets the banished gold-dust thief. Subscription by the miners on his banishment. A fool's errand to establish his innocence. An oyster-supper bet. The thief's statements totally incompatible with innocence.



Three dollars and twenty-five cents in gold-dust. Sorry she learned the trade. The resulting losses and suffering. Secret of the brilliant successes of former gold-washeresses. Salting the ground by miners in order to deceive their fair visitors. Erroneous ideas of the richness of auriferous dirt resulting therefrom. Rarity of lucky strikes. Claim yielding ten dollars a day considered valuable. Consternation and near-disaster in the author's cabin. Trunk of forest giant rolls down hill. Force broken by rock near cabin. Terror of careless woodman. Another narrow escape at Smith's Bar. Pursuit and escape of woodman. Two sudden deaths at Indian Bar. Inquest in the open. Cosmopolitan gathering thereat. Wife of one of the deceased an advanced bloomer. Animadversions on strong-minded bloomers seeking their rights. California pheasant, the gallina del campo of the Spaniards. Pines and dies in captivity. Smart, harmless earthquake-shocks.



Theft of gold-dust. Arrest of two suspected miners. Trial and acquittal at miners' meeting. Robbed persons still believe the accused guilty. Suspects leave mountains. One returns, and plan for his detection proves successful. Confronted with evidence of guilt, discloses, on promise of immunity from prosecution, hiding-place of gold-dust. Miners, however, try him, and on conviction he is sentenced to be hanged one hour thereafter. Miners' mode of trial. Respite of three hours. Bungling execution. Drunken miner's proposal for sign of guilt or innocence. Corpse "enwrapped in white shroud of feathery snowflakes". Execution the work of the more reckless. Not generally approved. The Squire, disregarded, protested. Miners' procedure compared with the moderation of the first Vigilance Committee of San Francisco. Singular disappearance of body of miner. Returning to the States with his savings, his two companions report their leaving him in dying condition. Arrest and fruitless investigation. An unlikely bequest of money. Trial and acquittal of the miner's companions. Their story improbable, their actions like actual murder.



Saturnalia in camp. Temptations of riches. Tribute to the miners. Dreariness of camp-life during stormy winter weather. Christmas and change of proprietors at the Humboldt. Preparations for a double celebration. Muleback loads of brandy-casks and champagne-baskets. Noisy procession of revelers. Oyster-and-champagne supper. Three days of revelry. Trial by mock vigilance committee. Judgment to "treat the crowd". Revels resumed on larger scale at New Year's. Boat-loads of drunken miners fall into river. Saved by being drunk. Boat-load of bread falls into river and floats down-stream. Pulley-and-rope device for hauling boat across river. Fiddlers "nearly fiddled themselves into the grave". Liquors "beginning to look scarce". Subdued and sheepish-looking bacchanals. Nothing extenuated, nor aught set down in malice. Boating on river. Aquatic plants. Bridge swept away in torrent. Loss of canoe. Branch from moss-grown fir-tree "a cornice wreathed with purple-starred tapestry". A New Year's present from the river. A two-inch spotted trout. No fresh meat for a month. "Dark and ominous rumors". Dark hams, rusty pork, etc., stored.



Departure from Indian Bar of the mulatto Ned. His birthday-celebration dinner, at which the New Year's piscatory phenomenon figures in the bill of fare. A total disregard of dry laws at the dinner. Excitement over reported discovery of quartz-mines. A complete humbug. Charges of salting. Excitement renewed upon report of other new quartz-mines. Even if rich, lack of proper machinery would render the working thereof impossible. Prediction that quartz-mining eventually will be the most profitable. Miners leave the river without paying their debts. Pursued and captured. Miners' court orders settlement in full. Celebration, by French miners on the river, of the Revolution of 1848. Invitation to dine at best-built log cabin on the river. The habitation of five or six young miners. A perfect marvel of a fireplace. Huge unsplit logs as firewood. Window of glass jars. Possibilities in the use of empty glass containers. Unthrift of some miners. The cabin, its furniture, store of staple provisions, chinaware, cutlery. The dinner in the cabin. A cow kept. Wonderful variety of makeshift candlesticks in use among the miners. Dearth of butter, potatoes, onions, fresh meat, in camp. Indian-summer weather at Indian Bar. A cozy retreat in the hills. A present of feathered denizens of the mountains. Roasted for dinner.



The splendor of a March morning in the mountains of California. The first bird of the season. Blue and red shirted miners a feature of the landscape. "Wanderers from the whole broad earth". The languages of many nations heard. How the Americans attempt to converse with the Spanish-speaking population. "Sabe," "vamos," "poco tiempo," "si," and "bueno," a complete lexicon of la lengua castellana, in the minds of the Americans. An "ugly disposition" manifested when the speaker is not understood. The Spaniards "ain't kinder like our folks," nor "folksy". Mistakes not all on one side. Spanish proverb regarding certain languages. Not complimentary to English. Stormy weather. Storm king a perfect Proteus. River on a rampage. Sawmill carried away. Pastimes of the miners during the storm. MS. account of storm sent in keg via river to Marysville newspaper. Silversmith makes gold rings during storm. Raffling and reraffling of same as pastime. Some natural gold rings. Nugget in shape of eagle's head presented to author. Miners buried up to neck in cave-in. Escape with but slight injury. Miner stabbed without provocation in drunken frolic. Life despaired of at first. No notice taken of affair.



Difficulty experienced in writing amid the charms of California mountain scenery. Science the blindest guide on a gold-hunting expedition. Irreverent contempt of the beautiful mineral to the dictates of science. Nothing better to be expected from the root of all evil. Foreigners more successful than Americans in its pursuit. Americans always longing for big strikes. Success lies in staying and persevering. How a camp springs into existence. Prospecting, panning out, and discovery that it pays. The claim. Building the shanty. Spreading of news of the new diggings. Arrival of the monte-dealers. Industrious begin digging for gold. The claiming system. How claims worked. Working difficult amidst huge mountain rocks. Partnerships then compulsory. Naming the mine or company. The long-tom. Panning out the gold. Sinking shaft to reach bed-rock. Drifting coyote-holes in search of crevices. Water-ditches and water companies. Washing out in long-tom. Waste-ditches. Tailings. Fluming companies. Rockers. Gold-mining is nature's great lottery scheme. Thousands taken out in a few hours. Six ounces in six months. "Almost all seem to have lost". Jumped claims. Caving in of excavations. Abandonment of expensive paying shafts. Miner making "big strike" almost sure prey of professional gamblers. As spring opens, gamblers flock in like birds of prey. After stay of only four days, gambler leaves Bar with over a thousand dollars of miners' gold. As many foreigners as Americans on the river. Foreigners generally extremely ignorant and degraded. Some Spaniards of the highest education and accomplishment. Majority of Americans mechanics of better class. Sailors and farmers next in number. A few merchants and steamboat-clerks. A few physicians. One lawyer. Ranchero of distinguished appearance an accomplished monte-dealer and horse-jockey. Is said to have been a preacher in the States. Such not uncommon for California.



California mountain flora. A youthful Kanaka mother. Her feat of pedestrianism. Stabbing of a Spaniard by an American. The result of a request to pay a debt. Nothing done and but little said about the atrocity. Foreigners barred from working at Rich Bar. Spaniards thereupon move to Indian Bar. They erect places for the sale of intoxicants. Many new houses for public entertainment at Indian Bar. Sunday "swearing, drinking, gambling, and fighting". Salubrity of the climate. No death for months, except by accidental drowning in flood-water. Capture of two grizzly cubs. "The oddest possible pets". "An echo from the outside world once a month."



Belated arrival of pack-mule train with much-needed supplies. Picturesque appearance of the dainty-footed mules descending the steep hills. Of every possible color. Gay trappings. Tinkling bells. Peculiar urging cry of the Spanish muleteers. Lavish expenditure of gold-dust for vegetables and butter. Potatoes forty cents a pound. Incense of the pungent member of the lily family. Arrival of other storm-bound trains, and sudden collapse in prices. A horseback-ride on dangerous mule-trail. Fall of oxen over precipice. The mountain flowers, oaks, and rivulets. Visit to Kanaka mother. A beauty from the isles. Hawaiian superstition. An unfortunate request for the baby as a present. Consolatory promise to give the next one. Indian visitors. Head-dresses. "Very tight and very short shirts". Indian mode of life. Their huts, food, cooking, utensils, manner of eating. Sabine-like invasion leaves to tribe but a few old squaws. "Startlingly unsophisticated state of almost entire nudity". Their filthy habits. Papooses fastened in framework of light wood. Indian modes of fishing. A handsome but shy young buck. Classic gracefulness of folds of white-sheet robe of Indian. Light and airy step of the Indians something superhuman. Miserably brutish and degraded. Their vocabulary of about twenty words. Their love of gambling, and its frightful consequences. Arrival of hundreds of people at Indian Bar. Saloons springing up in every direction. Fluming operations rapidly progressing. A busy, prosperous summer looked for.



Fourth of July celebration at Rich Bar. The author makes the flag. Its materials. How California was represented therein. Floated from the top of a lofty pine-tree. The decorations at the Empire Hotel. An "officious Goth" mars the floral piece designed for the orator of the day. Only two ladies in the audience. Two others are expected, but do not arrive. No copy of the Declaration of Independence. Some preliminary speeches by political aspirants. Orator of the day reads anonymous poem. Oration "exceedingly fresh and new". Belated arrival of the expected ladies, new-comers from the East. With new fashions, they extinguish the author and her companion. Dinner at the Empire. Mexican War captain as president. "Toasts quite spicy and original". Fight in the barroom. Eastern lady "chose to go faint" at sight of blood. Cabin full of "infant phenomena". A rarity in the mountains. Miners, on way home from celebration, give nine cheers for mother and children. Outcry at Indian Bar against Spaniards. Several severely wounded. Whisky and patriotism. Prejudices and arrogant assurance accounted for. Misinterpretation by the foreigner. Injustices by the lower classes against Spaniards pass unnoticed. Innumerable drunken fights. Broken heads and collarbones, stabbings. "Sabbaths almost always enlivened by such merry events". Body of Frenchman found in river. Murder evident. Suspicion falls on nobody.



Three weeks of excitement at Indian Bar. Murders, fearful accidents, bloody deaths, whippings, hanging, an attempted suicide, etc. Sabbath-morning walk in the hills. Miners' ditch rivaling in beauty the work of nature. Fatal stabbing by a Spaniard. He afterwards parades street with a Mexicana, brandishing along bloody knife. His pursuit by and escape from the infuriated Americans. Unfounded rumor of conspiracy of the Spaniards to murder the Americans. Spaniards barricade themselves. Grief of Spanish woman over corpse of murdered man. Miners arrive from Rich Bar. Wild cry for vengeance, and for expulsion of Spaniards. The author prevailed upon to retire to place of safety. Accidental discharge of gun when drunken owner of vile resort attempts to force way through armed guard. Two seriously wounded. Sobering effect of the accident. Vigilance committee organized. Suspected Spaniards arrested. Trial of the Mexicana. Always wore male attire, was foremost in fray, and, armed with brace of pistols, fought like a fury. Sentenced to leave by daylight. Indirect cause of fight. Woman always to blame. Trial of ringleaders. Sentences of whipping, and to leave. Confiscation of property for benefit of wounded. Anguish of the author when Spaniards were whipped. Young Spaniard movingly but vainly pleads for death instead of whipping. His oath to murder every American he should afterwards meet alone. Doubtless will keep his word. Murder of Mr. Bacon, a ranchero, for his money, by his negro cook. Murderer caught at Sacramento with part of money. His trial at Rich Bar by the vigilantes. Sentence of death by hanging. Another negro attempts suicide. Accuses the mulatto Ned of attempt to murder him. Dr. C. in trouble for binding up negro's self-inflicted wounds. Formation of "Moguls," who make night hideous. Vigilantes do not interfere. Duel at Missouri Bar. Fatal results. A large crowd present. Vigilance committee also present. "But you must remember that this is California."



Ramada, unoccupied, wrecked by log rolling down hill. Was place of residence of wounded Spaniard, who had died but a few days previously. Murder near Indian Bar. Innocent and harmless person arrested, said to answer description of murderer. A humorous situation. A "guard of honor" from the vigilantes while in custody. Upon release his expenses all paid. Enjoyed a holiday from hard work. Tendered a present and a handsome apology. Public opinion in the mines a cruel but fortunately a fickle thing. Invitation to author to breakfast at Spanish garden. The journey thereto, along river, with its busy mining scenes. The wing-dam, and how it differs from the ordinary dam. An involuntary bath. Drifts, shafts, coyote-holes. How claims are worked. Flumes. Unskilled workmen. Their former professions or occupations. The best water in California, but the author is unappreciative. Flavorless, but, since the Flood, always tastes of sinners. Don Juan's country-seat. The Spanish breakfast. The eatables and the drinkables. Stronger spirits for the stronger spirits. Ice, through oversight, the only thing lacking. Yank's tame cub. Parodic doggerel by the author on her loss of pets. A miners' dinner-party with but one teaspoon, and that one borrowed. An unlearned and wearisome blacksmith.



Visit to the American Valley. Journey thither. Scenes by the way. Political convention. Delegates from Indian Bar. Arrival at Greenwood's Rancho, headquarters of Democrats. Overcrowded. Party proceed to the American Rancho, headquarters of Whigs. Also overcrowded. Tiresome ride of ladies on horseback. Proceed to house of friend of lady in party. An inhospitable reception. The author entertains herself. Men of party return to the American Rancho. Fearful inroad upon the eatables. Landlord aghast, but pacified by generous orders for drinkables. California houses not proof against eavesdroppers. Misunderstandings and explanations overheard by the author. Illness of hostess. Uncomfortable and miserable night, and worse quarters. Handsome riding-habit, etc., of the hostess. Table-service, carpeting, chests of tea, casks of sugar, bags of coffee, etc., "the good people possessed everything but a house". "The most beautiful spot I ever saw in California". Owner building house of huge hewn logs. The author returns to the American Rancho. Its primitive furniture, etc. Political visitors. The convention. Horse-racing and gambling. The author goes to Greenwood's Rancho. More primitive furniture and lack of accommodations. Misplaced benevolence of Bostonians. Should transfer their activities to California.



Exoneration of landlords for conditions at Greenwood's Rancho. The American Valley. Prospective summer resort. Prodigious vegetables. New England scenery compared with that of California. Greenwood's Rancho. Place of origin of quartz hoax. Beautiful stones. Recruiting-place of overland immigrants. Haggard immigrant women. Death and speedy burial on the plains. Handsome young widow immigrant. Aspirants to matrimony candidates for her hand. Interesting stories of adventures on the plains. Four women, sisters or sisters-in-law, and their thirty-six children. Accomplished men. Infant prodigies. A widow with eight sons and one daughter. Primitive laundering, but generous patrons. The bloomer costume appropriate for overland journey. Dances in barroom. Unwilling female partners. Some illiterate immigrants. Many intelligent and well-bred women. The journey back to Indian Bar. The tame frog in the rancho barroom. The dining-table a bed at night. Elation of the author on arriving at her own log cabin.



Dread of spending another winter at Indian Bar. Failure of nearly all the fluming companies. Official report of one company. Incidental failure of business people. The author's preparations to depart. Prediction of early rains. High prices cause of dealers' failure to lay in supply of provisions. Probable fatal results to families unable to leave Bar. Rain and snow alternately. The Squire a poor weather prophet. Pack-mule trains with provisions fail to arrive. Amusement found in petty litigation. Legal acumen of the Squire. He wins golden opinions. The judgment all the prevailing party gets. What the constable got in effort to collect judgment. Why Dr. C.'s fee was not paid. A prescription of "calumny and other pizen doctor's stuff". A wonderful gold specimen in the form of a basket. "Weighs about two dollars and a half". How little it takes to make people comfortable. A log-cabin meal and its table-service. The author departs on horseback from Indian Bar. Her regrets upon leaving the mountains. "Feeble, half-dying invalid not recognizable in your now perfectly healthy sister."

The Illustrations


This is a composite engraving, a very interesting feature of which is the Indians and their wicker baskets, the latter going out of use when metal pans were obtainable, which also displaced wooden bowls and homely makeshifts. This feature is resketched from a rare old print in the possession of the Van Ness family of San Francisco. The huts are specimens of ramadas, popular with the Spanish-speaking miners, and frequently mentioned by Shirley.


This fine engraving follows closely, in all essential details, that in the Voyages en Californie et dans l'Oregon, par M. de Saint-Amant, Envoye du Gouvernement Francais, en 1851-1852 (Paris, 1854). The engravings in that volume, although poorly printed on a cheap grade of book-paper, are noted for their accuracy, and are interesting as showing the methods etc. of the miners while Shirley was writing her Letters. The tail-race, in the foreground, is where James Wilson Marshall and Peter L. Wimmer first saw the nuggets, but Marshall was the first to pick up a specimen. Much has been written of Marshall; the Wimmers were of the Western pioneer type.

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