The Town Crier

San Francisco News Letter/January 30, 1869

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

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

 On dit—after a careful and thorough search throughout the older settled portions of the country, Mr. Grant cannot find good metal enough to fill his Cabinet, and so has got to come to California. On dit—John Conness has long had his eye on the Department of the Interior, and if he doesn’t get into the interior of that department, there will be more insolence and impudence distributed around than ever he has circulated from his seat in the Senate. On dit—The Alta people know exactly who is to be the Secretary of the Interior. On dit—Psh-sh-sh. There is a person connected with a morning sheet, who can smoke and sign his name, who knows that Conness, with all his impudence, will not be Secretary of the Interior under Grant. On dit—That a person connected with the Alta thinks—that he is going to be Secretary of the Interior in Grant’s Cabinet. On dit—That the first two letters of the name of that new Secretary are Fred. McC., and that he is indorsed by one Woodward, part proprietor of a very dull daily, and by a former Naval Office of this port, and various other persons who get regular wages from Fred.—but by nobody else. On dit—That Fred. McC. will never be Secretary of the Interior—nor anything else worthy of mention.

We are sick and tired of the House Carpenters’ Eight-hour League. Not that we have any dealings with that sapient organization, but that its name is so persistently obtruded upon us in the public prints. A mandamus is about to be issued to prevent the Superintendent of Streets from inserting a clause in his contracts, stipulating that the work shall be done under the Eight-hour system. The last action of the League is to undertake the defense, and insist upon the Eight-hour stipulation. We sincerely trust that that mandamus will issue, and that this active League may have the satisfaction of expending a few thousands in a fruitless contest. If another mandamus could be served upon Gen. Winn to prevent his annoying every sensible reader of the newspapers with his dreary twaddle about the rights and dignity of labor, it would be a foretaste of that perfection of satisfaction we shall eventually feel, when he finds his true level in some useful occupation at San Quentin….That mandamus has issued.

Our religious cotemporary of the Occident has a Department of Mining. The pious editorial eye may habitually be cocked aspiringly toward heaven, but it will occasionally take a furtive and side-long squint toward the main chance. The golden Nicolson of the New Jerusalem is tempting, very, but vexatiously remote, and, after all, uncertain; but the yellow nuggets of the Foot Hills and the virgin deposits of White Pine are an established verity: and a goodly portion of them may be gathered by judicious advertising. Last week the mining intelligence was neatly rounded off thus: “To be really successful, become a Christian.” To speculators in “feet,” prospectors, jumpers, drifters and hydraulicers, this dry bit of practical advice cannot be too highly commended.

The decennial discovery of gold in England is announced; this time, the county is Sutherland; commonly it takes place in Wales. The excitement lasts about thirty-two hours. London is telegraphed for a scientific party; he comes by the next lightning-express; examines the locality, calls attention to the fact that any extensive deposit of ore is not likely to be developed in Devonian shales, or Old Red, or Upper Carboniferous, as the case may be; and the excitement simmers down. Unusually obstinate cases have required a week for complete cure; but we do not remember to have seen in an English paper a statement like that we copied awhile ago from the New York Times, wherein a scientific Dutchman had discovered a “mine” of gold in the Kaatskills.

It is said that Mr. Caleb Cushing was sent to Bogota to negotiate for a ship canal across the Isthmus of Panama, and that he has returned unsuccessful. If the only obstruction in the way of that ship-canal is a half-breed government at Bogota, that government must go down. This is the long and short of it. The proposition that a handful of these yellow obstructives are to apply a brake to the commerce of the world is simply monstrous. The equality of nations is—like that of men—all very fine on paper, but it won’t do when it comes to obstruct business. No, sir—not in the nineteenth century. Grotius be hanged and Puffendorf be blowed! This is a matter of business.

The Barnacle endeavors to tag itself on the Sacramento Union, and claims that the combined influence of the two was what brought about the reduction of fares on the Central Pacific: “For ourselves, we do not regret a word that we have published on the subject.” As not a word of what the Barnacle has advanced in the matter has ever been in the remotest manner alluded to, and as its name has never been mentioned in the discussion, it certainly has no very strong reasons for being overcome with remorse.

Sunday schools for the Chinese have been established in various parts of the city. Inside, the Chinamen master the theory of Christianity by means of the New Testament; outside, they are made acquainted with its practice through the agency of loose building material. For Christianizing the heathen, the Bible and the Brick-bat go hand in hand. The persuasive eloquence of the former is beautifully supplemented by the convincing logic of the latter. Vive Bible, vive Brick-bat!

The Bulletin and Herald have taken to squabbling in their commercial columns. We had hardly expected this of the Bulletin. Everyone knows both the value and ability of its commercial column, and it is under no necessity for self defense—by whomsoever attacked. If the Herald and Alta choose to fall to, nobody will object; the exhibition is amusing. But our evening paper will best consult the dignity of its mission by keeping out of that sort of thing.

The Occident, noticing the action of the Synod which put an end to the preaching of the Rev. Mr. Hamilton, says it did so because he expounded doctrines contrary to the belief of the Presbyterian Church. Very true, but will Dr. Eells kindly tell his readers what those obnoxious doctrines were? We dare him to do it! Even he and his reverend associate would hardly care to announce publicly their belief in roasted infants with brimstone sauce.

Granny Alta has got her back up at the prospect of leveling Telegraph Hill—has in fact clapped on a very Grecian Bend of righteous indignation. Rest easy, Alta, in the sweet assurance that you will not be taken into the account at all in this thing; but if you provoke us we shall not only raze Telegraph, but Russian, Rincon, and all other hills; not even sparing the mole-hill which the auctioneers have thrown up on California Street.

The 486 ounces of silk-worms’ eggs sold by I. N. Hoag to Hentsch & Berton, and forwarded by them to Italy, are reported from in terms of high praise. It is said that the Italian government has written to its consul here, representing the importance of the Italian silk interest of a superior class of eggs, which will have only to bear transportation from California, instead of the much longer transportation from China and Japan.

Jeems Pipes writes to the Times, from New York, in his usual happy vein. The object of his letter is, apparently, to unbosom himself of some very indigestible jokes which have been “lying heavy.” It won’t do Stephen; we’ve all tried those jokes for the last twenty years, and it’s about time they were relegated to the classic pages of the almanacs, and you to the quiet shades of Pipesville.

Speaking of the lunar eclipse Wednesday evening, the Times says: “The darkening of the disk began on what appeared to be the upper and northern portion of the same, as seen from this city. [Delicious!]

The National Baptist is down upon revivalists, and particularly severe upon Mr. Earle. Why? Because: “Who can tell how many faithful and efficient pastors have been driven from their fields, as part of the results of these most successful and blessed revivals?” The National Baptist is, of course, edited by a pastor. Competition in the business of saving souls is, emphatically, not the life of trade.

A reporter of a Sacramento paper fainted from witnessing a post-mortem examination. What chicken-heartedness! We’ll lay ten to one that Fitz Symth shall assist at an autopsy, an amputation, two suicides, a murder, a brace of hangings, a half dozen resurrections and a batch of decapitations within half an hour and eat you six dozen fried afterward, finishing up with a Scotch reel.

But a few years ago Oakland was but a sleepy village of the oaks—a delightful resort of picnickers and excursionists from San Francisco, and almost dependent for its daily bread upon the crumbs that dropped from the rich man’s table on this side the Bay.—Herald [That is an old sort of retrospection by which one is enabled to see things as they are.

The Alta contends with unwonted warmth that the secular press has no right to discuss religious matters. It feels keenly its own deficiency, and would dissuade its more virile brethren from a course in which its own impotence has been manifest. Take heart, Fwedewick; even Origen discussed these matters to some purpose.

It was their paper, more than all other state influences combined, that set the Central Pacific Company in motion and secured for their work the state and county aids required to start them.—Sacramento Union. [For a good genuine article of native cheek commend us to the Union. Caloric congeals at a high temperature than this.]

Jones is the name of the confidence man who victimized an Oakland clergyman.—Call. [Then Jones is the name of the man who is deserving of our high admiration. The man who can victimize an Oakland clergyman is no ordinary mortal; his genius, if properly directed, would compass the theft of acorns from a blind pig. We revere Jones.

Gen. Grant being reported as unfavorable to the Alabama treaty, the Times thinks he must have some new light upon the subject: for, look you, the Times all along thought it an excellent treaty. But Gen. Grant’s disapproval is too much for its anchored faith, and after some shuffling it disapproves also.

A Young Men’s Christian Association in Delaware has reported adversely the abolition of the whipping-post. Nor can it safely be abolished so long as public sentiment reports adversely to the abolition of Young Men Christian Associations. They are correlative evils.

Mr. Stockton is the son of the celebrated commodore by that name, who memorable for the part he took in the conquest of California, and whose name borne by one of the principal streets of San Francisco.—Bulletin. [Does the Stockton Gazette purpose submitting tamely to this dead cut?]

As soon as a lawsuit of the slightest consequence turns up (say the Spring Valley water matter), the efficient city attorney begs for $500 to retain an efficient attorney to attend to it. We have no doubt that it is money in the city’s pocket to pay this money out.

The Rev. John Doughty preached again last Sunday. Subject: “What to pray for in repeating the Lord’s Prayer.” John Doughty, my boy, we pray to be delivered from evil, and the supplication has a pointed reference to yourself.

Somebody is getting up an American Newspaper Directory, with name and description of every paper in the country. Fancy him essaying a description the Barnacle, with our present stock of vituperative adjectives.

An American schooner ran her bowsprit into a British iron ship, and the local editor of the Bulletin crows innocently about “Yankee pine through British iron.” It is natural that one wooden head should be in sympathy with another.

Aren’t you ashamed, Alta, to go and pitch into Dr. Benton, the humble psychologist, under the pretense that he did not advertise with you? It is altogether too thin; the Doctor paid you to do it.

A man was yesterday arrested for cruelty to an animal. His horse baulked and after pious quotations from the Examiner the man proceeded to bite his tail. Hippopophagy is not recognized by the “Society for the Prevention,” etc.

Dead body of an infant found. It was floating in the Bay, near Black Point. A Chinaman was seen on Meiggs’ wharf about a week previously. It is thought that he may have had something to do with it.

Daily Morning Call.—Most reliable and independent journal on the Pacific Coast. Ready at all times to back down squarely from any statement, at the behest of the Improved Order of Red-skins.

On last Sunday evening the pastor of the Central M. E. Church preached from the text “I was a stranger and ye took me in.” Who has been swindling this man? For shame, Central Methodists!

The Alta is teaching the community how to construct earthquake-proof buildings, citing as examples those constructed by its advertisers. The community remains vexatiously obdurate.

“Letters from the People” is obsolete. “Asinine Polemics” is now proper thing. Will Mr. Rockwell do us the favor to make the correction? Barnes would like to contribute.

“Caxton” predicts that we shall have an earthquake on the 27th inst. [Then “Caxton” has made a donkey of himself. N. B. This was written on 26th. Fact.]

The sooner the Bulletin “shuts up” in the question of Southern Pacific railroad, the sooner it will quit talking of a matter which it knows nothing whatsoever about.

“One would suppose that this century had been put back a few hundred years.”—Alta. [To be put back a few hundred years in one century is very good.]

Helen Tracy has been doing Queen Elizabeth at the Boston Theater! This woman will be playing Jack Falstaff next; she is capable of anything.

Straits of Carquinez means Straits of the Serpent.—Call. [The place, from its name, is suggestive of the condition of the Sacramento Union.]

We have a remarkable piece of intelligence from over the bay. “Oak is dull.” When shall we have that subaqueous telegraph?

Mary Nary was fined twenty dollars for stealing a corset from one Alexandra. One Alec should keep his corset laced.

“It would be impertinent in us to defend the faith of either church.”—[Rather.]

(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: