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Hortensio peace, thou knowest not gold's effect.
- Taming of the Shrew.
Drunk! aye, drunk with avarice! Behold the picture; California in her cups !
Once long ago sailors thought to hold in their embrace the god Bacchus, whom they carried to sea in the form of a beautiful boy while sleeping; but when the god awoke he caused vines to twine themselves about the ship, and tigers to appear amongst the branches, while the sailors went mad and drowned themselves. So it was with thousands who came early to California, thinking to ensnare her, and rob her of her treasures, but were themselves taken captive, falling on destruction.
Yet swiftly as this chaff of immigration was swept away, mercilessly as California frowned on many, she was not so much to blame, although for a brief space she played the bacchante, for she was badly treated, worse than Pentheus, who from making open war on Dionysius became the devotee and laughing-stock of
Cal. Int. Poc. 1
the avenging deity, and bereft of sense was led through the city in female apparel, stricken with mania, with a double sun and a double Thebes before his eyes, finally to be torn to pieces by women. First of all she was made to reveal her mystery, held sacred to the memories of time; for which extortion, like another Pythia, she was placed upon a tripod over the chasm Cassotis, and for a Delphic temple choosing the snow-poweered Sierra, and for the mephitic exhalations therless offensive incense from odorous pines.
Native-tä sublimated airs and all-engendering sunshing, her intoxication partook more of youthful revels thai :chronic intemperance; nevertheless, thou wast drink, California, as thou well knowest; as drunk as Agave when tearing in pieces her own son whom she took for a lion's cub. Thine hills were drunk from the fruit of their own vines; and in the great valley was heard the sullen roar of hell echoing hollow on the ear.
All this was exceedingly disgraceful, and especially repulsive in young and lovely woman; whereat, toward the immaculate east, conventional spinsters of untried chastity blushed and hung their heads, though never refusing to receive the fruits of sin.
Between two mountain systems stretches the valley of California, an elliptical, trough-like plain, five hundred miles in length by seventy-five in width ; a vast amphitheatre, from whose arena circling terraces rise up to the lofty canopy of a pearl and berylsky-colos
— sal benches, whereon the gods might sit and watch the strange doings of men below.
Although not gods we some day may be; all gods were once men, or something worse.
Therefore come sit with me upon the plateau-shelf up over the hill Mokelumne, near the source of the Stanislaus, where sometime sat Nemesis, eyeing the pilgrims as they entered the Golden Gate, and measuring out to them
their several portions of invented woc. Five thour. and feet below, and far as eye can reach, spreads out a periscope of beauty such as makes us loath to put off humanity even to be gods, lest mayhap as gods we should have no sympathy with scenes like this. Often have I thought when standing entranced before entrancing nature, what a pity it was we could not always have her scenes before us; and as for heaven, give it to those who are dissatisfied with earth. Only exterminate north winds, nervousness, and all rascality, and I could rest contented yet awhile here upon this bench, though not a god.
Walled in on every side, without loop-hole or portal save by passes to the plateau regions of Utah and Arizona, and the bay of San Francisco, which across the concave from where we sit, and midway between its north and south extremes, parts the Coast Range, whose green and grizzly hills it crowds back, and paves the way through the Golden Gate to the Pacific, we have before us what was once broad ocean, then an inland sea, afterward a hedged-in Eden, God
a given to a thrice happy race, and later converted into a nineteenth-century coliseum, wherein was destined to be performed a play entitled The New Greedstruggle of the Nations. Time enough, however, to talk about that to-morrow. Sit still awhile and we shall presently see, out here upon this holiday of creation, elves and fays, if any there are left for these new Arcadian vales. We can offer them whereon to sport ground which one day will be as classic as that of Greece, plains up-swelling beneath their feet, and slopes of evergreen and sweeps of forest. Then there are warm inviting knolls under star-lit skies, and enchanted groves where heaven's witchery might wanton regardless of irate ocean on one side or shadowless deserts on the other.
When this mighty Sierra was a building, this grand up-lift, with its futed sides flushed with neverdying foliage, its white-cushioned benches, and long serrated summits, its rocky pinnacles whose alabaster crests glisten lustrous to mariners a hundred miles away, when its crevices were being filled with molten gold, a sea of sorrow was about to roll at its base, for the squabble for this treasure that is presently to come will be pitiful to see.
Split a fern-stalk and place it in a dish with the thick ends together, and the leafy sides both lying toward the east, and you have mapped the drainage system of the California valley. The stalks are the two rivers, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, which, rising respectively at either end of the great valley, graciously receive their tributaries as they wind through oak and poplar vistas; then rolling slowly on, ever slowly, once bright and clear with happy contentment, but presently opaque in sullen shade, on to their junction, and thence together to the
And it is along this eastern side, where the branches and leaves and leaflets rest on the edges of the dish, and form labyrinths of ridges, and subordinate valleys upon which are flung in infinite disorder, bluffs, chasms, and smoothly rounded stone-waves heaped almost mountain high, that we have the Sierra foothills, already abnormally classic. Aside from the petrified sentinels left standing adown the centuries, there is ample evidence of what Plutus was hammering at hereabout. Left, after laying the Sierra foundation, were the dead volcanoes which we see, and their trachyte spurs flanking dark green forests, all intermingled with lavender and buff lava beds and scoriæ; blistered ashen slopes, whose vegetation is stunted and ill-tempered, and fire-riven hills of purple rock, loose and crumbling, to which cling blasted pines and wind-smitten oaks. Over many of her deformities nature spreads a seemly covering, hiding what were otherwise the bare bones of an un