San Francisco News Letter/December 26, 1868
John K. Wubben! We should just like to know how long San Francisco has got to bear the reproach of harboring this Wubben viper. Is there no law by which he can be compelled to take his Wubben ducks to some other market? Can’t he be saddled on Oakland, or Suisun, or Benecia, until after the holidays? We are tired of Wubben, and consider him a pest second only to the small-pox. Wubben, indeed! Are we never to hear the last of this fearful name? Certainly the degradation must be complete of a community that can rest supinely under Wubbenism, and make no effort to throw off the Wubben chain. Again we ask, is there no law by which John K. Wubben can be ejected from a community shocked at his daily atrocities and writhing under the humiliation of the continued and open outrage of his presence? A friend suggests that Mr. Wubben is not the fiend we have painted him: that he is, on the contrary, a perfectly respectable and hard-working mechanic, living on Pine street. Personally we know nothing of Mr. Wubben, and have never heard anything about him. But we find his name in the City Directory, and it is clear there is something wrong about the man. What business has a man with such a name? Why, in addition, is he called John? Why, if he be an honest citizen, this suppression of his middle name? Wubben—John Wubben—John K. Wubben. Ha!
Oakland, if not imitative, is nothing, and she must needs have a pest-house. The village press speaks of it vaguely as located somewhere outside the city, but omits to mention that it is conveniently situated within a few yards of the San Pablo road, which is the main thoroughfare leading to the place, and immediately to windward of a few young ladies seminaries, or what-ye-call-ems. The latter arrangement is particularly good. It enables the callow younglings to contemplate from their open windows some of the miseries appertaining to the outside world, and to snuff the savor of disease. They thus acquire knowledge not taught in their text book, albeit the waters of knowledge in this instance are not those of life. There are a few dwelling houses in that vicinity, but none within less than a hundred yards. Now, who put the pest house there? Of course Mayor Merritt for one, and Supervisor Shattuck. Not our Supervisor Shattuck. Oakland’s imitation of us include the adoption of even our worst evils. [Singularly enough J. W. Dwinelle had nothing to do with it; he must have been out of town.] So far, no one has been bold enough to catch these two individuals, and rub their noses in the infections slime of their conveniently located pest-house, but we live in hope.
It appears that a portion of the information by which the press has been able to expose the shocking and inhuman cruelties and abuses of the Small-pox, Hospital, was derived from the nurses. The latter, including one of seven years’ standing, have been dismissed by Messrs. Cole, Shattuck and Harrold, Hospital Committee. From Cole, this comtemptible business was to have been expected; but we should be sorry to believe that Shattuck had concurred with him. Still Shattuck has surprised us sometimes, lately. We had looked for better things from Shattuck. All hands have been disappointed in him. It is unfortunate that we (the press), should feel compelled to keep Mr. Cole in this state of irritation and wrath; he appears to wreak his vengeance on the Hospital patients no less than the nurses. It is no more than natural for one of these nasty, petty minds, to pull back and kick back when it is attempted to be either led or driven, and try to obstruct the team which it refuses to help draw. Every mule-teamster knows the trick—when the critter sulks, and an efficient remedy has been found in the outward application of rawhide—liberally laid on.
“Put money in thy purse;” aye, and take it from the purse of some one else. Such is the principle—here is the manner of applying it: Get up a fair—a charitable fair—a fair for the benefit of somebody or something, it matters little whom or what. You are supposed to be a lady—a young lady—a comely young lady, of manifold attractions and winning ways. The youth, the comeliness, the attractions, but, most of all, the Ways, are to be enlisted in the business. The business is selling gambling tickets. Don’t scruple to address a stranger, using the ways in place of an introduction. Follow his track like a sleuth hound—we mean it—and compel him to invest just to be rid of you. You have now begun well. You have prostituted the youth, the comeliness, the attractions, and the ways for gain. For filthy lucre you surrendered your modesty and decency. You have little more to part with. Complete the transfer and go home.
The Rev. Elder Jacob Knapp—who sometime figured rather conspicuously, though involuntarily, in our columns—left the city of which the News Letter is the hope and the pride, on last Tuesday. Since the Elder began his gentle ministrations in California we have said some unkind things of him, and he has pointed out divers errors in us. But great minds never thoroughly harmonize, and we fell inly assured that the Elder wished us as much prosperity as is consistent with his honest belief that we are a blight and a curse. Equally to us hath been given a spirit of charity; we trust the Elder’s voyage to New York, and his passage to heaven may be equally prosperous; and with both in mind we bid him a fervent God-speed.
William. I Nichols—we suppose his name is William—the Reverend William I. Nichols—delivered a “humorous, descriptive and practical lecture” on Tuesday evening at Congress Hall. It was entitled “White Pine Nuggets dug by a Parson.” He illustrated his subject by exhibiting “specimens worth twelve dollars per pound.” We suppose “sermons in stones” is obvious enough; we leave the ingenious reader to apply the ready witticism as best suits him. We think those specimens that William dug out of the Secretary’s office of some mining company, besides illustrating the richness of White Pine, threw some light also upon the cheapness of clerical advertising. Very transparent, very indeed, William—if that’s your name.
In the following quotation from the Alta California newspaper, we have suppressed but a single word—indicated by the dash (—). In reading it with this suppression our readers cannot fail to make a most ludicrous application of the paragraph: “If from these manifestations we are driven to the conclusion that we have at the head of the affair an obfuscated individual who has no idea of the connection of things—who babbles in serene composure about this proposition and that, without the faintest idea in how far those propositions agree or conflict –a spectacle to gods and men—we can not be justly charged with bias or prejudice. Mr.—has been his own satirist!
Look first upon this picture: “A bark has been riding at anchor in the creek off the Webster-street Wharf during the past two days. The presence in our creek of a three-masted vessel has been the theme of conversation with many persons, and it brings up visions to their minds of the future of our city.”—Oakland Transcript. Then on that: “So many interesting things occur among us these lively times that it will keep a man stirring to post you up on what is transpiring. New San Diego wears the appearance of an old seaport. We have now in port, one bark, one brig, and two large-sized schooners, besides a number of small vessels!”—Bulletin Correspondence.
The San Jose Mercury, with a sort of I-told-you-so air, says that the establishing of our new commercial rival at the Straits of Carquinez is the work of Sacramento—which seems to be true enough. The Mercury further implies that is the way the viper which we have warmed in our bosom until it has developed into the State Capital, takes to sting us. Well, let it sting: it is a very mild sting, indeed, considering the nature of the beast. So far all right, but at the declaration that all this might have been avoided by making San Jose the capital, we open our mouths and laugh long and loudly.
It is a relief to have Christmas arrive, if only to relax the mental strain of the agonized reporters who have been at their wits’ ends for terms to describe the fat cattle paraded for slaughter by Litchfield, O’Neil, Green, Molt, Lick and other ambitions butchers. The Alta boldly took the animal by the horns, and as it enumerated each, calmly pronounced one “the largest ever seen upon this coast,” the second “the finest ever raised in this country,” the next, “the fattest cattle which will be killed during the holidays.”
We have received—from the publishers doubtless—a Thanksgiving sermon by Dr. Wadsworth. It is handsomely bound, in pamphlet form, with green covers, and presents a really attractive appearance. It is precisely ten inches in length by five and a half in width, and is said to contain nineteen pages. We have seldom seen a neater specimen of typography than is presented by the exterior of this pamphlet, and would advise the parsons to get all their sermons done at the same establishment.
The citizens of Oakland have gravely determined not to take any San Francisco paper which speaks of their village as the “Terminopolis,” or calls it the “bucolic district.” This is perfectly right, and we rejoice to see that the good country people have the proper spirit. However, we don’t fear, and shall come out each Saturday with the usual interesting mélange of Oakland intelligence—if such a thing exists. Terminopolis! Terminopolis! Terminopolis! There.
We have necessarily omitted a multitude of articles headed “How to enjoy a Christmas Dinner, and How Much Turkey a Reader of the News Letter Can Safely Gorge.” We can give no advice in the premises, but recommend in all cases of gluttony a ride on a velocipede to the Cliff House and back. This will, in nine cases out of ten, restore the patient so that he may repeat the old pleasures and solicit new ones in the shortest possible time.
It was said, lately, that if you threw a stone at a dog, and missed him, you would hit an insurance solicitor; and it might have been added that if you threw a stone at a solicitor, you would occasionally hit a dog. The new combination of underwriters agrees to pay no more commissions to these gentry, which ameliorates the nuisance. The defenceless citizen is still exposed to attempts upon his “life.”
Nearly every week for more than a year we have printed the name of the House Carpenters’ Eight-hour League. To say that it affords us pleasure is not a fair expression of our opinion.—Call. [We did not know that a feeling of pleasure was an opinion under any circumstances, but if so, we feel perfect beatitude that the House Carpenters’ Eight-hour League is an unmitigated humbug.
The editor of the Times relates a private conversation between a convict and a drunken soldier. As the course of the Times gives no color of probability to the supposition that its editor was ever a soldier—however much it might imply chronic inebriation if we could but ignore the saying in vino veritas—the conclusion to which we are driven is obvious. He was the convict.
San Diego is putting on airs; she has put a stop to bull-fights. Really this seems a superfluous () manners when the same sport may be witnessed at Santa Cruz, and thence throughout the Southern Coast. Is not San Diego dropping her barbarous amusements somewhat prematurely, and before she is prepared with any sufficient substitute.
Col. Holt, the retiring President of the Board of Education, was presented by the lady teachers of the Lincoln Grammar School with a came. How blessings brighten as they take their flight. The Colonel might have remained for years in the Board and no one would have thought him worthy to receive a cane in this way.
Charles O’Neil was, it seems, temporarily insane when he threw his wife off the balcony, and broke her precious neck. Charles O’Neil, would that we had but had the sentencing of thee—there would have been another neck broken. We yearn for a law making temporary insanity a capital offense.
The Oakland News accuse San Francisco of being one of the wickedest cities in the Union. Lord bless you, News, if you had only as many criminals in proportion to your population as we, you would have material for neither Board of Supervisors nor a village Press.
Gen. A. M. Winn has petitioned the Board of Supervisors to enforce the Eight-hour regulations in contracts upon public buildings. We should like to see this man Winn go to work under any regulations; but those adopted at San Quentin would exactly meet his needs.
It is said that Forney and Gorham (together!) are to run an official newspaper in Washington. If the Devil will set up an opposition, we will lay four to one on the former to out-lobby, out-blackguard, and out-lie him—and run him off his hoofs in six months.
Governor Haight visited Sacramento one day last week, which extorts from the Union the bitter remark that “Time was when the Capital of the State was considered the proper place for the Governor’s residence; it is different now.” Heigh-ho!
The people of Cincinnati have chopped the liberty-poles and flag-staves into fire-wood for the poor. We notice that Oakland has three; let them be incontinently cut up for the benefit of the City Treasury.
A victim of charitable fairs has furnished, for the use of future lexicographers, the following local definition: Beauty: noun, uncommon—A thing kindly given by Providence to enable its possessor to swindle her admirers and other idiots.
A Nevada paper, speaking of intemperance, says half the inhabitants of the delectable State are never in their normal condition. They are, though; their normal condition is to be in a “dreadful State.”
The city front, along Davis and Drumm streets, the dirtiest portion of San Francisco, is almost free of small-pox. The moral is obvious, and seems to have been drawn by a great many persons we meet.
The Growler Guards were out in character yesterday morning, and complimented the News Letter office by riding past it. We were grateful for this particular kind of compliment. They looked frightful.
Oakland has finally effected her loan. For collaterals the make Oaklanders pledged their honor and the females their virtue. Neither is likely to be redeemed, and will be disposed of under the hammer.
Mr. Shaw, contractor of supplies for the Hospital and Alms House, prays the Board of Supervisors for relief. If we were in the Board he would be very expeditiously relieved—of his contract.
We wish to do the Health Officer, and the Board of Heath, and the Health Committee of the Board of Supervisors, ample justice.—Times. [There is scarcely hemp enough in the city.
The editor of the Sacramento Union says our “rings” must be overthrown by new men of more liberal and enlarged views. How, then, does he expect to do it.
The Times has an article headed. “Useless Destruction of Property.” We did not read it, but suppose it refers to the waste of ink by the editor’s pen.
There is a company of some kind in the city calling themselves California Tigers. Such ridiculous pretension merits nothing but stripes.
(Source: California State Library, Microfilm Collection)
The works of Ambrose Bierce and other major journalists are freely available from The Archive of American Journalism: www.historicjournalism.com