The Town Crier

San Francisco News Letter

June 26, 1869

“Hear the Crier!” “What the devil art thou?”

“One that will play the devil, sir, with you.”


The Town Crier eschews politics; he was never elected to office but once in his life, and that was up in the mines, where he was chosen tax collector because the other two adult white males of his town had no pistols, and were therefore legally unqualified to collect taxes from the Chinamen who worked the tailings. But with only this limited experience in public life, he thinks he can see as far into an artesian well as anybody. He would like to ask, if not impertinent, what is the use of that House Committee of Ways and Means on this coast? If they came to steal from the government, they can return; our own senators and representatives have left nothing that the members of our state legislature cannot easily gobble up. If they came to make speeches, behold! Casserly we have always with us. If their intention is to eat and drink, they might better have stayed at Washington; at this time in the picnic season, we have little left. If general enjoyment is their object, they are a day behind the Fair; earthquakes are not in season and the small-pox declines an encore.

Yesterday was a day of political excitement; some of it sold as high as two bits a gill, but the standard price was fifteen cents. The Democracy was jubilant, with a very pronounced tendency to pugnacity. (A Radical friend suggests “pugnose-ity,” but he has evidently allowed his political prejudices to over-ride his wit.) The great principles of T. Jefferson were re-affirmed with emphasis. The name of McCoppin was heard simultaneously by a ubiquitous voter, in widely remote precincts of the city. A Mr. Baird also enjoyed the distinguished honor of being favorably mentioned. The result of the primary election is announced as we go to press. It is as thus: Seven or eight well-developed but unnoted cases of ballot-box stuffing; one hundred broken heads; thrice the number of outraged eyes and invaded noses; forty-three ears bitten off and wasted; seven Chinamen gathered to their moon-eyed fathers; nine hundred perjuries; a midnight howl, with four hundred and fifty voices in the chorus; a concerted swear; a Ship of State saved from destruction; an Eagle boosted upon a higher pinnacle of glory; a Liberty of Speech maintained—also one of Action; a vigorous blow given to the tap-root of Monarchy; a few other and incidental results were obtained, but, as these are secured by every election, it is unnecessary to mention them. We have only noted the novel and unprecedented.

General Cobb, it pains us to apply the birch so often to your jacket, but really, your conduct the other evening in the Board was little short of disgraceful. What the deuce you expect to gain by this sort of thing is quite beyond our mental span. Your tirade against Professor Williams was not amusingly vulgar—it was not even funnily profane; it was simply vulgar and profane. Nobody laughed, nobody cheered; even your colleagues in this bad business maintained a mortified silence. Colonel Holt, who, of course, was on the opposite side to you, and would have been had you taken the other one, rebuked you. This is not terrible in itself; your being alive at this moment is proof that even the most persistent and deserved abuse is not necessarily fatal. We shall not abuse you, Cobb; but only a mildness which has become proverbial among our acquaintances prevents our remarking that you are a very irascible, undignified, pestiferous President of a very pestiferous, undignified, irascible Board of Education. There! put that into your Cobb-pipe and smoke it; and may the fumes seriously impede respiration.

In the infancy of our language to be “foolish” signified to be affectionate; to be “fond” was to be silly. We have altered that now: to be “foolish” is to be silly, to be “fond” is to be affectionate. But that the change could ever have been made—that a word expressive of love should glide easily and naturally into expressing something not far removed from idiocy, is significant. That the word it displaces should as naturally gravitate into the usurper’s vacant niche is a fact equally full of meaning.

An effort is making to induce Governor Haight to pardon Hans Rheinhardt, the head thief of the Young Men’s Christian Association, who is now singing psalms to the unresponsive walls of the San Quentin prison. We trust it may be successful. The Young Men are just languishing for their beloved leader. Even Pappy Sawyer fails to stir them up to a proper degree of enthusiasm. O, give them back their Rheinhardt! Bring that petition this way, darlings; we’ll sign it—you bet!

The London Court Journal thinks the British Government ought to adopt the American plan of publishing the income returns, because it would largely increase the receipts from that source “by causing an animated competition for the honor of paying the most income tax.” It has not had precisely that effect here. Our people are modest folk, quite unambitious of such barren honor. Content with simple affluence, they seek not empty fame.

An up-country judge, having sentenced a thief to three years in the penitentiary, the fellow began to curse; whereupon the judge withdrew his former sentence, and gave him seven years. The majesty of the law may not be trifled with in California. This is all we have to say—except that the judge’s name is Eno, and that we should like to assist at his funeral.

At the meeting of the Board of Education, President General Cobb stated his reason for favoring the dismissal of Professor Williams: “The Professor could not work in harmony with the lady teachers under him.” This is a grievous fault, and grievously hath Williams answered it; but can anybody work in harmony with a schoolmarm? Can Cobb?

A correspondent of a literary paper frankly admits that he cannot learn to like Shakespeare. We recommend a careful study of the modern sensational drama. If that does not assist him his case may be regarded as hopeless, and the sooner he enters upon the duty for which nature has best fitted him the better. Let him engage at once as dramatic critic upon a daily newspaper.

Dr. Stone has been edifying his congregation with that well authenticated story about Samson slaying three thousand Philistines with the jaw-bone of an ass. We have always religiously believed this narrative, but never had conviction so fully brought home to our hearts as when witnessing the ease with which Dr. Stone wielded the same weapon.

The following important information from the Shanghae News Letter will be read with absorbing interest in this country: “Yunnan has the largest number of Fu, Shensi the least; Yunnan also has the largest number of Chou, and Chekiang the least; Chihli has the largest number of Hien, and Kweichow the least!”

A city paper, alluding to the shameless manner in which abandoned women expose themselves in certain quarters of the town, says the streets are “virtually blockaded.” A blockade of women! Nonsense; if stopped by any such obstruction we should walk right through them. Out upon such timorous reporters!

A correspondent of the Chicago Tribune says: “I can tell American women that what men want of them is less talk about their political rights, and more babies.” It is hoped this will open the eyes of our ladies to the paramount necessity of producing twins, instead of the absurd single babies now in vogue.

A lady advertised a lecture at Mercantile Library Hall last Monday evening. An ungallant public stayed away, and though walls have ears they have no money, and the lecture was not delivered. The lady’s subject was to have been “Life Among the Soldiers.” Poor thing; we advise her to return to it.

Ex-Minister Webb informs the President that Brazil has no more respect for our government than for that of Hayti. With charming simplicity the telegraph adds that Mr. Webb suggests that Brazil ought to be thrashed; and that the president is of his way of thinking. This is delicious.

(Source: California State Library, Microfilm Collection)