San Francisco News Letter/February 6, 1869
“Hear the Crier!” “What the devil art thou?”
“One that will play the devil, sir, with you.”
The telegraph tells us that President Johnson is to be a candidate for the position of governor of Tennessee. That is a step in the right direction. The theory of our government is that every man is a sovereign, and that all the officers of government are the servants of the people. Of course, then, the greater the office, the more decidedly the servant. Mr. De Quincy says that “If once a man indulges in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; from robbing he next comes to drinking; from that to ill manners and procrastination. Once enter this downward path, and you know not where you’ll stop.” It is evident that Mr. Johnson echoes this idea. If once a man becomes president of the United States, very soon he comes to ink little of being governor of Tennessee; from that he may next come to be an assemblyman; from that to bring justice of the peace, then deputy constable, and finally a man who holds no office. Less and less will he be the servant of the people. Little y little he will gain his independence, till finally, without any duties to perform for his fellow citizens, he will step forth a sovereign Man.
The publication of the Occident (Pennsylvania organ in this city) has been suspended.—Call. [We are stricken with remorse, but if brothers Eells and Walsworth will kindly contribute to the News Letter we shall be obliged—to reject their communications. After all the Occident has not suspended. The rumor was doubtless founded upon the following elegant paragraph in last week’s issue: “Dogs is the best animal for man; they do more for man than growned hogs or koons or gotes. Gotes smell. The end.” But the Rev. Dr. Woodbridge comes forward to rescue the unsavory “gote,” and by transferring the offensive odor to his own clerical hands it is hoped that he may be able to make it a cleaner animal. That was a vicious thing for the R. v. Dr. Eells to do—that giving a parting kick at decency, as he backed out of the editorial field and took a “moonlight” walk.
A negro has just arrived here from New York. He is eighty years of age, and was here forty years ago He has been offered a large sum to join the Pioneers, and the Academy of Sciences has placed at his disposal a case of petrified worms, a disemboweled beetle, and three pillboxes of powdered sail The Dashaways have tendered him the freedom of their bar, and the doors of the Young Men’s Christian Association billiard room have been flung open to him The Independent Order of Red Men have conferred upon him the title of Well Preserved Muck-a-Muck, and the Druids have presented him with a thumbscrew and a pair of gold-mounted flesh-pincers It is hardly necessary to remark that he is in the real estate line, and claims possession of about half of San Francisco by virtue of a Mexican grant. The Alta will be his organ.
We have received from our good friend, Geo. Mantagu Hicks, a letter from Paris, neatly lithographed We have no doubt but Geo. Montagu has conferred a similar honor upon every newspaper in the state, and we shall watch with considerable interest for his letter in the bucolic journals, with the stereotyped introduction: “From our own.” –News Letter, Jan. 30th. “This morning we find the Call, Herald and Chronicle each has a special correspondence from Paris of a column or more in length, exactly alike. The Herald calls it “Special Correspondence to the Daily Herald.” The Chronicle says, “From Our Own Correspondent”; and the Call, “Correspondence of the Morning Call.”—Evening Bulletin, Jan. 30th. [Haw, haw, haw. This is weally chawming.]
John Wilson, the circus man, publishes a card in the Herald, in which he makes use of the following horrid language: “In this connection, I may perhaps be excused for noticing the malignant attacks of a certain cheap and obscure morning sheet, IN WHICH I DO NOT ADVERTISE! The conductors of this short-lived journal have already been branded in a court of public justice as BLACKMAILERS! and they have, very properly, been ostracized fro respectable society, as social outcasts and disreputable characters.” John Wilson, aren’t you ashamed? “Ostracized from respectable society,” indeed! Are you not aware, Johnny, that one of these gentlemen attends the most aristocratic weddings in town? Fie, fie!
The Bricklayers’ Protective Association gave a ball on Monday evening at Union Hall. Each guest was required to bring with him a brick, as a badge of honor. This necessitated the wearing of tall hats, which contributed vastly to the absurdity of the affair. One fellow went in kid gloves, but was incontinently expelled. Several had their boots blacked, but this was voted snobbish, and the man who sported a tail-coat can recover the same by applying to the secretary. The eight-hour law was rigidly enforced at supper.
A correspondent of the Bulletin has solved the problem what to do with thieves. He says that after his third offense, the culprit should be sent to “a house of detention to pass the rest of his life,” and that “when his prison term has expired he should not be treated as a criminal, but rather as a person of weak mind.” The man who could have the heart to treat as a criminal one who has served out his sentence of imprisonment for life must be a moral monster—or at least a medical student.
The Rev. Eli Corwin delivered a lecture last Tuesday evening to the Young Men’s Christian Association upon “The Mystery of Motion.” It was, of course, largely attended by velocipede enthusiasts. It is quite gratifying to observe the religious world moving in this matter. After all, there is little of mystery about it; you have only to keep your balance and your temper, and kick convulsively at an imaginary dog in front of your vehicle.
At a late sitting of the British Academy of Medicine, Dr. Poggioli read a paper upon “The Development of the Intellect by Electricity.” We have observed that on mornings after that perambulating electricity shop has been absent from the corner of Montgomery and California streets, the Alta is intellectually stagnant—and at all other times. If this discovery has any bearing upon the Doctor’s theory he is welcome to it.
The Bulletin claims that a “ring” has been formed to levy a tax per front foot on lands near proposed sites for the new City Hall, and the Times disbelieves, because “as yet no authoritative proposition has been made with regard to any site for a new City Hall.” Allow us. Was there ever, in San Francisco, an authoritative proposition made for a site for any purpose until the same had been determined by a “ring”?
The persecution of the Rev. Mr. Hamilton, of Oakland, by the Synod, has of course resulted in making that gentleman very popular with his congregation. It gives us exceptional pleasure to record anything in favor of an Oakland congregation. Truly, common sense is spreading ,and we should not be surprised to learn that the Rev. B.T. Martin had himself contracted the prevailing epidemic.
The Call opposes velocipedes because they frighten horses It is possible that wagons frighten horses when they first encounter them If the Call desires, as usual, to trim its sails to the popular breeze, let it stoutly oppose horses That this advice is suicidally disinterested is shown by the fact that we favor the wheeled animal—except for table use
The Rev Eli Corwin, in his lecture a few evenings since, said it was “unaccountable to us how Jupiter, a swifter and vastly larger planet than the earth, should spin erect like a top, while the earth was whirling with what the children designate a wabbling motion.” The wabbling motion of the earth is certainly not due to the weight of the Rev. Eli Corwin’s brain upon the California side.
A skull was dug up at the corner of Leidesdorff and Commercial streets. It was of a peculiar shape, retreating rapidly from the eyebrows, and culminating in a point a-top. The dailies seem to think this something extraordinary. It is noticeable, however, that the Alta preserves a discreet silence, and hats in that establishment are worn lower down than usual.
It is always a misfortune to die, but when one has taken the trouble, at the last moment, to come to California, that he may do it quietly and privately, it is infernally vexatious to have the Alta get hold of one’s name, and parade it as that of a widely known and respected citizen, a pioneer and a relic of ’49. So we have been told by a hecatomb of injured ghosts.
Within the last five days there is not an editor of a single leading daily in San Francisco—ourselves excepted—but has been publicly branded as a thief and a liar by some other editor of a leading daily.—Figaro. [If our little contemporary had added that the branding was, in most cases, just and well deserved, it would have told an exceeding great truth.]
If anyone is curious to see a specimen of pure, idiomatic and well-sustained English, the Town Crier takes pleasure in referring him to an editorial article in Tuesday’s Bulletin, entitled “Self-Inflicted Plagues.” If he can read that article without grammatical indignation, he has our sympathy, and is competent to edit that paper.
A lecturer, recently, told his audience that they should be thankful for earthquakes, as they were absolutely necessary to prevent terrestrial stagnation. This is very comforting to the dwellers upon our “made ground,” and one can now contemplate with unruffled serenity the interesting descent of a heavy cornice upon one’s head.
A morning cotemporary, in its semi-editorial column of Minor Topics, noticed the killing of some woodchucks in Wisconsin. Another morning cotemporary, in its Theatrical Record, will soon have occasion to record the annihilation of a more offensive animal, under the caption “Our Critic Roasted to Death by the News Letter.”
The case was remarkable, in the first place, in that a jury could be found in the state of Nevada to agree where interests of such magnitude were at stake—Herald. [What charming verdancy! The Herald is too young to know the process by which juries become unanimous in our sister state, when interests of magnitude are at stake
The dying words of men are usually regarded as peculiarly solemn and worthy of attention, and we do not know why the dying words of newspapers should not be entitled to a like significance.—Times [Why, then, do you and everyone else pay so little attention to the words, words, words of the Barnacle?]
The Board of Education met on Tuesday evening, but at half-past seven o’clock there was not a quorom present, and President Cobb adjourned the meeting It is hoped that this will teach the members the importance of being on hand at the legal hour—when President Cobb has an engagement.
A negro made an assault upon a woman and got his lip bit off. We trust this trifling circumstance will convince our colored population how unfitted in nature they are to indulge in Caucasian diversions. The negro can vote and hold office creditably, but there are some things that are entirely beyond his powers.
The Barnacle prays the city authorities to stop the Sunday evening exhibitions at Wilson’s Circus. Incredible as it may seem Mr. Wilson had previously overlooked the obvious advantages of advertising in the Barnacle. We trust he is now brought to a sense of his duty. Pretty Barnacle!
Mr George Gordon writes to the Bulletin about mortar He says one of the most important ingredients in good mortar is time. Doesn’t he mean lime? Time, George, is money; but it does not stick well. How would a trowel-full of sugar on each brick do?
A parish priest in Aspinwall writes a letter to the Call, in which he says he is sick and poor. If he relies upon his letters to the Call to restore his health and replenish his purse, he will pass to heaven through the gates of poverty, in calm rest, gladly rejoicing, right away.
Somebody has attempted to rob the safe in the office of the city and county treasurer. This is rushing matters; the impatient scoundrel ought to try his hand at being a supervisor first. From supervisor to thief the transition is natural and easy.
Gran’ma Alta ungrammatically says: “These sort of people increase in geometrical proportion as we go backwards.” This is supposed to be Granny’s first admission that she was crawfishing and being supplanted by a different lot.
The Bulletin favors a “literary qualification” to the right of suffrage. This is supposed to mean that anyone who has sufficient literary qualifications to edit the Bulletin ought to be allowed to vote—from which view we dissent.
To be retained in jail six months as a witness, it is only necessary to see one Chinaman shoot another and be too poor to give bail. Moral: either be rich, or when the Celestial draws his pistol look the other way.
Mr. Charles Dilke, the author of Greater Britain, calls Lone Mountain “the most lovely of all the cemeteries of America.” Such a lie entitles him to actual possession of a lot there, which may he speedily secure.
An advertisement of Willis’ Band announces new and better instruments and “better men.” If the change indicated by the latter promise has been a complete one, Willis’ Band no longer exists.
The Alta has an article headed “When and How to Talk.” If any instruction can be given on this subject, we know of no place where it ought to be so welcome as at the Alta establishment.
Since a certain aristocratic wedding, the dailies speak of thieves as “uninvited guests.” We have received a letter from the county jail, complaining bitterly of this injustice.
The citizens of Reno are endeavoring to get the state university established at that place. The university should require the town to give bonds to remain there.
The Tax-payers’ Union has assumed the duty of watching the city official. We have assumed the duty of watching the Tax-Payers’ Union.
If the Morning Call will refrain from misquoting Tom Hood, we will refrain from calling attention to it. That’s fair.
All Parepa Rosa’s solos now end in a duet; the other voice being a squall in the minor key. It is not known whom Carl suspects.
In bad order—the crossings on Kearny Street. In bad odor—a newspaper on California Street.
(Source: California State Library, Microfilm Collection)
The historic works of Ambrose Bierce and other major journalists are freely available from The Archive of American Journalism: www.historicjournalism.com