riar BAYARD TAYLOR'S ELDORADO—CALIFORNIA.* - MR. TAYLOR is known to the
British public as an American litte- rateur, who, before he was out of his time as a printer, made an arrangement to cancel his indentures, published some poetry by subscription to raise the wind for a trip to Europe, and with what he netted from that source, with a sort of engagement as foreign correspondent, made the European grand tour, including Ireland, at a cost of five hundred dollars for two years' journeying on foot. On his return to America he continued his literary labours, and published more verses, which we thought flimsy though fluent. In June 1849 he started for California, via the Isthmus, as corre-
ondent of the New York Tribune ; in which journal a portion of these volumes appeared ; the remainder, referring to the journey to and fro, is pub 'shed for the first time. The letters are better worth collected publication than most communications from newspaper correspondents that we have seen. Mr. Taylor has the national faults of dogmatism, superficiality, and wordiness; but he is a man of remarkable energy and endurance, with a mind somewhat raised above the prejudices of his country- men by the experience of foreign travel. The hardships he under- went m his European journey had qualified him for California, with this further advantage, that in the wilds and the mountains there were no distasteful contrasts : it was not poverty but necessity that induced privation, to which all had alike to submit. The value of the book, however, consists in its subject. Mr. Taylor's descriptions of Tropical scenery, and his various opinions and feelings—in short, all that depends upon himself—might have been readily dispensed with ; but he saw California at a feverish stage of its progress, when streets of canvass sprung up as if by magic in a single night, towns of wood arose in no time, a city quadrupled or quintupled its population in a few months, and all mankind were in a whirl of speculation. Ruin was unknown'in California while health lasted : the Sybarite who had spent his all in riotous living, or the fool who had gambled away his hard earnings at the gaming- table—there are " tables " at all " the diggings "—had nothing to do but to turn to and retrieve his prospects by hard work. There is, indeed, another compartment of the picture, in which ill-luck, broken health, or a lonely death, is dimly visible ; but men are too busy in California to think of these things. Mr. Taylor's way was from New York to Chagres by steamer. Thence he crossed the Isthmus by boat up the river, and rode on horseback the rest of the distance to Panama. From Panama he steam- ed to San Francisco ; visited the Diggings ; returned and walked to Monterey, (a tremendous journey,) to be present at the meeting of the Convention to fix the Constitution ; of which he gives an interesting account. Thence he went back to San Francisco, which in his absence had grown out of knowledge ; and, after some more excur- sions to the Diggings, returned home by an overland journey through Mexico. The value of the book, we have intimated, depends altogether upon the novelty, interest, and peculiarity of the subject. The voyage, the journies to and fro, even the excursions in California, have little attraction when they do not happen to be connected with the spirit of restless enterprise which is Impelling men to the modern Eldorado, and the strange incidents and characters to which the excitement has given rise. It is not that Mr. Taylor's descriptions of scenery and the adventures of the road are badly done, or untrue, but they are vague and a little wordy. Nor is Mexico, or California either, very new. Of course, a man of pecu- liar anuirements, or great powers of observation and delineation, oould impart interest to a tour there ; but Mr. Taylor has little more than the commonplace fluency of his countrymen, and the public has already had a good deal of their impressions about both countries. There is also a drawback even as regards California : Mr. Taylor seems to give in to the views of those who incline to exaggerate its capabilities. It may not be purpose—very pro- bably it is a deficiency of reflective experience and a want of scientific knowledge—but Mr. Taylor falls in with the extremest notions of the productiveness of the gold districts, and is opposed to the general opinion as to the agricultural capabilities of Cali- fornia, on individual report, which is likely to be biassed. At the same time, his particular facts frequently furnish the means of correcting his general representations. For example, this is one of the gloomier backgrounds to Eldorado. "The sickly season on the Sacramento and its tributaries was nearly over, but numbers of pale, emaciated frames, broken down by agues and diarrheeas, were daily arriving in the launches and steamers. At least one-third of the miners suffered more or less from these diseases; and numbers of men who dad landed only a few months before in the fulness of hale and lusty man- hood, were walking about nearly as shrunken and bloodless as the corpses they would soon become. One of the most pitiable sights I ever beheld was one of these men, who had just been set ashore from a launch. He was sit- ting alone on a aerie beside the water, with his bare feet purple with cold,
• Eldorado, or Adventures in the Path of Empire: comprising a Visit to Califor- nia vii Panama; Life in San Francisco and Monterey; Pictures of the Gold Region, and Experiences of Mexican Travel. By Bayard Taylor, Author of Views Moot," " Rhymes of Travel," &c. With Illustrations by the Author. In two volumes. Published by Bentley.
on a cold wet sand. He was wrapped from head to foot in a warm blanket, which shook with the violence of his chill, as if his limbs were about to drop in pieces. He seemed unconscious of all that was passing ; his long matted hair hung over his wasted face ; his eyes glared steadily forward, with an expression of suffering so utterly hopeless and wild, that I shuddered at see- ing it. This was but one out of a number of cases equally cad and distress- ing. The exposure and privations of a miner's life soon sap a frame that has not previously been hardened by the elements, and the maladies inci- dent to a new country assail with donble force the constitutions thus pre- pared to receive them."
The work that induces premature old age or death looks harder in Mr. Taylor's pages than in any other account we have seen.
"The first party we saw had just succeeded in miffing a new channel for the shrunken waters of the Mokelumne, and were commencing operations on about twenty yards of the river-bed, which they had laid bare. They were ten in number; and their only implements wore shovels, a rude cradle for the top layer of earth, and flat wooden bowls for washing out the sands. Baptiste took one of the bowls which was full of sand, and in five minutes showed us a dozen grains of bright gold. The company had made in the forenoon about three pounds; we watched them at their work till the even- ing, when three pounds more were produced, making an average of seven ounces for eaeh man. The gold was of the purest quality and most beautiful colour. When I first saw the men, carrying heavy stones in the sun, stand- ing nearly waist-deep in water, and grubbing with their hands in the gravel and clay, there seemed to me little virtue in resisting the temptation to gold- digg,ing ; but when the shining particles were poured out lavishly from a tin basin, I confess there was a sudden itching in my fingers to seise the heaviest crowbar and the biggest shovel.
" The loose earth which they had excavated was full of fine gold, and only needed washing out. A number of Sonorians were engaged in dry washing this refuse sand ; a work which requires no little skill, and would soon kill any other men than these lank and skinny Arabs of the West. Their mode of work is as follows : gathering the loose dry sand in bowls, they raise it to their heads and slowly pour it upon a blanket spread at their feet. Repeating this several times, and throwing out the worthless pieces of rock, they reduce the dust to about half its bulk; then balancing the bowl on one hand, by a quick dexterous motion of the other they cause it to re- volve, at the same time throwing its contents into the air and catching them as they fall. In this manner everything is finally winnowed away except i the heavier grains of sand mixed with gold, which is carefully separated by the breath. It is a laborious occupation, and one which, fortunately, the American diggers have not attempted. This breathing the fine dust from day to day under a more than torrid sun would soon impair the strongest lungs."
Allowances, however, ought to be made for colouring_ by airri- ter, when the excitement of everything about him is considered. This was the state of matters at Panama.
" There were about seven hundred emigrants waiting for passage when I reached Panama. All the tickets the steamer could possibly reeeivehad been issued ; and so great was the anxiety to get on, that double prigs, NO dollars, was frequently paid for a ticket to San Francisco. A few days before we came, there was a most violent excitement en the subject; and as the only way to terminate the dispute, it was finally agreed to dispose by lot of all the tickets for sale. The emigrants were all numbered, and those With tickets for sailing-vessels or other steamers excluded. The remainder then drew, there being fifty-two tickets to near three hundred pasmengers.. This quieted the excitement for the time, though there was still a continual under-current of speculation and intrigue which was curious to observe. The disappointed candidates, for the most part, took passage in sailing-vessels, with a prospect of seventy days' voyage before them. A few months previous, when three thousand persons were waiting on the Isthmus, several small companies started in the log canoes of the natives, thinking to reach San Francisco in them ! After a voyage of forty days, during which they went no further than the Island of Quibo, at the mouth of the Gulf, nearly all of them returned ; the rest have not since been heard of."
At San Francisco the excitement was even yet greater. The South Sea, Mississippi, and Railway bubbles, made an approach to it, except that in California there was hardship to be undergone and something to be realized ; for ready money appears to be the order of the day, rent is payable in advance, and gold could be had by hard working for it. This is the state of affairs at San FralleiS00 as regards the most important event of life—good, but dear. " Two o'clock is the usual dinner-time for business men ; but some of the old and successful merchants have adopted the fashionable hour of five. Where shall we dine today ? The restaurants display their ffigns invitingly on all sides : we have choice of the United States, Tortoni's, the Alhambra, and many other equally classic resorts; but Delmonico's, like its distin- guished original in New York, has the highest prices and the greatest variety of dishes. We go down Kearney Street to a two-story wooden house on the corner of Jackson. The lower story is a market ; the walls are garnished with quarters of beef and mutton ; a huge pile of Sandwich Island squashes fills one corner, and several cabbage-heads valued at two dollars each show themselves in the window. We enter a little door at the end of the build- ing, ascend a dark narrow flight of steps, and find ourselves in a long low room, with ceiling and walls of white muslin and a floor covered with oil- cloth.
" There are about twenty tables disposed in two rows, all of them so well filled that we have some difficulty in finding places. Taking up the written bill of fare, we find such items as the following.
sours. Dollars. ENTREES. Dollars.
Mock turtle 0 75 Fillet of beef, mushroom sauce 1 75
St. Julien 1 00 Veal cutlets, breaded 1 00 FISH. Mutton chop 1 00 Boiled salmon trout, anchovy Lobster salad 2 00
sauce 1 75 Sirloin of venison 1 50 Boum Baked maccaroni 0 75
Leg of mutton, caper sauce.... 1 00 Beef tongue, sauce piquante 1 00
Corned beef, cabbage 1 00
Ham and tongues 0 75 So that, with but a moderate appetite, the dinner will cost us five dollars if we are at all epicurean in our tastes. There are cries of steward!' from all parts of the room ; the word waiter' is not considered sufficiently, re- spectful, seeing that the waiter may have been a lawyer or merchant's clerk a few months before. The dishes look very small as they are placed on the table ; but they are skilfully cooked, and very palatable to men that have ridden in from the diggings. The appetite one acquires in California is something remarkable. For two months after my arrival my sensations were like those of a famished wolf.
" In the matter of dining the tastes of all nations can be gratified here. There are French restaurants on the Plaza and on Thipont Street, an exten- sive German establishment on Pacific Street, the Fonda Peruana, the Italian Confectionary, and three Chinese houses, denoted by their long three-cor-
nered flags of yellow silk. The latter are much frequented by Americans on account of their excellent cookery, and the fact that meals are one dollar each without regard to quantity. Kong-Sung's house is near the water, Wliang-Tong's m Sacramento Street, and Tong-Ling's in Jackson Street. There the grave Celestials serve up their chow-chow and curry, besides many genuine English dishes : their tea and coffee cannot be surpassed."
Gambling and amusements are rife. The most showy entertain- ment was at Monterey—a ball given to ;the framers o the Consti-
tution. . •
"There were sixty or seventy ladies present, an equal number of,gen- tlemen, in 'addition to the-members of "the Convention. The dark-eyed. daughters of Monterey, Los Angeles, and Ranfa Barbara, mingled in pleasing contrast with the fairer bloom of the trans-Nevadian belles. The randy of feature and complexion was fullyespialled by the variety of dress. Tn the whirl of the waltz, a plain, dark, ■ntinlike robe, would be followed by one of pink satin and gauze ; nexpertivps, a hoddice of scarlet velvet with gold thittons; and then a rich #0.011. brocade, such as one sees on the stately dames of Titian. • •1,- •• "The dresses of the pritlemenshowed considerable 'variety', hut were much less picturesque. A cothptetelia1f-dress was a happiness attained only by the fortunate few. WhIte'lldii'could not be had in Monterey for love or money, and as much 14 fiftyjdeltare was paid by one gentleman for a pair of patint-leather bouts. Scarcely any single dress that was seen belonged en- tirely to its wearer, andI thOnght if the clothes had power to leap severally hack to their respective eiveteri, sonic persons would have been in a state of lifter destitution. For elypart!' I 'was indebted for pantaloons and vest to obliging friends. The-onlfspecireen-Of theibrther article which I could get, belonged to an officer whose weight was considerably more-than two hundred ; but I managed to accofnmodate them to my proportions by a liberal use of Pins, notwithstanding! OW diffeMithe• of Size., Thus equipped with a buff military vest,.- and worsted.gaiters with very square toes,. I tools my way to
the hallirt• company:With Majtie Sandi and his brother. • •
4' The appearance of the-coinpany, nevertheless, genteel eteel and respect- able; and perhaps the grithil intrestrithed social spirit that possessed all t would have been le& hind there been more uniformity of costume. eneratiley was therein: full uniform, with the yellow sash he won at Contreras; Majors Canby,, Hill and 'Smith, Captains Burton and Kane, and the other officers stationed in Monterey, 'accompanying him. In one group might be seen Captain Satter's selffierly moustache and clear blue eye • in another the erect figure and qinet dignified bearing of General Tallego. 'Don Pablo de la. Guerra, with his Itandsome aristocratic features, was the floor manager; and' allantly disaharged his office. Consplitcoudoriiiivamong the 'native
members were Don Miguel de Pedrorena and Jacinto ek, both polished gentlemen and deservedly-popular. • Doniiiimei; the In ian member, took no part in the dance ; but evidently enjoyed the scene as much as any ono present. The most interesting figure to sue was that of Padre Ramirez, who in his °lexical cassock looked on until a late hour. If the strongest advocate of priestly gravity and decoruni had been present, he could not have found in his heart to grudge the good old padre the pleasure that beamed upon his honest countenance.
" The band consisted of two violins and two guitars, whose music made up in spirit what it lacked in skilL They played, as it seemed to me, but three pieces alternately, for waltz; oontre-dance, and quadrille."
A fact in connexion with the elections shows that there is one philosopher in California. " Going it blind," indeed, is common enough ; but few have the sense to know it, and of these how few there are who will own it
" As. -there were two or three candidates for State offices in the place, the drumming up of voters gave one a refreshing reminiscence of home. The choosing of candidates from lists, nearly all of whom were entirely unknown, was very amusing. Names, in many instances, were made to stand for principles : accordingly, a Mr. Fair got many votes. One of the candidates who had been on the river a few days previous, wearing.a high-crowned silk hat with narrow briM, lost about twenty votes on that account. Some went no further than to vote for those they actually knew. One who took the opposite extreme, ,justified himself in this wise—' When I left home,' said fie, ,1 was determined to go it blind. I went it blind in coming to Cali- fornia, and I'm not going to stop now. I voted for the Constitution, and I've never seen the Constitution. I voted for all the candidates, and I don't know a damned one of them. I'm going it blind all through, I am.' "
These 'extracts might be indefinitely extended ; but what we
have quoted will sufficiently indicate the style of Mr. Taylor's El-
4 . .
ra&. It is undoubtedly, the best and fullest book that has ap-
peared about- California ; and, subject to the qualification we have mentioned, it seems to us trustworthy.