ePub 版

Here are to be seen people from all countries, and of all tongues. Chinese, with their white garments, their broad-brimmed hats that look like umbrellas, their pigtails, and their thick-soled shoes; swells from Europe, with their modern jaunty dress, their coxcombical walk, and mocking air; gold-washers from "up the country," with their dishevelled hair, long beards, enormous boots, and torn clothes, looking very like highwaymen; pedlars, with their insinuating manners, and well-brushed coats, principally Germans; sailors chewing their quids of tobacco, with their little hats stuck on one side of the head, their carelessly knotted neckerchiefs, and their faces often glowing from recently imbibed potations;-in a word, take San Francisco all in all, it is a most extraordinary mosaic, impossible to describe correctly.

There is no great display of public buildings at San Francisco. The churches are very few in number, and by no means handsome. No lofty spire arises towards heaven in a town filled only with all that is earthly; a few places dedicated to the worship of God are fitted up in old ships lying in the harbour, but, truth to tell, the worshippers seem to be very scanty in number. Nor are the theatres in general particularly handsome on the outside; the "Jenny Lind Theatre," however, is a substantial stone building, of good proportions, and tolerably fair architectural design. But even the histrionic art is not much valued in a place where the price-current and the auction catalogue are the most approved studies. Nor does literature flourish here: the very newspapers are filled with the most barefaced advertisements and impudent puffs, all inserted in the hope of gaining money. Every house is provided with numerous water-buckets, to be filled in case of fire; a misfortune which has so often occurred (generally the work of incendiaries), that every precaution is now taken to guard against it. Within the above-mentioned Jenny Lind Theatre is an open space, in the centre of which is erected a high tribune; a sort of court of judicature is held here, where justice is dispensed in a very summary way. For the administration of the laws in San Francisco partakes of the same fortuitous nature that prevails in all else. People seem to be convinced of the truth of the old saying, "Summum jus summa injuria," and to be of the same way of thinking as the well-known professor at Upsala, who remarked, "Justice, my friend, is relative." Law is one of the most expensive articles of luxury here; one cannot offer a lawyer less than twenty dollars for an hour's consultation. Until lately there was no regular police in the town, and as robbery and murder were the order of the day, several of the more respectable individuals formed themselves into a "Committee of Safety." Thieves were caught, murderers were imprisoned, and many a scoundrel whom the mighty arm of the law could not reach, was hung without ceremony on the nearest lamp-post. Lynch law was resorted to with all its terrible severity, with all its fearful haste, leaving not a moment for one parting prayer-but to it must thanks be given that safety is now almost insured. One can-I tried it myself-leave one's luggage in the street, on the wharf, on a steam-boat, or in any other public place, and find it again uninjured in the same spot. The police, however, are now well organised, as strong, and as much upon the alert as in any European town.

But the gambling-houses, which abound here, still retain their lawless character. It is sad to visit these nests of iniquity-these torture-chambers

of the soul! How often has not laboriously earned gold been swallowed up in the abyss of the gambling-table! How often has not the sight of the empty purse led to despair and guilt! It is not for amusement's or form's sake that yon players are girded with wide belts, from which protrude the muzzles of pistols and revolvers. Not unfrequently are these carried to settle with the unfair bankers, who are likewise armed; and instances have been known where no less than six shots have been fired before the dispute has ended by the one being bespattered with the heart's blood of the other. But the fatal weapons are not always turned against the false bankers, who, besides the many artifices in which they are so well skilled, often enter into secret plots with the restaurateurs to drug the drink of the customers, that plunder may be carried on the more easily, and without any fear of punishment. How frequently have not these pistols been pointed by their owners against themselves! Here, as in every place where the demon of play renders man less rational than the brutes, all that remains sometimes of the promising youth who had quitted his kindred and his friends to labour for a competence to be enjoyed in future years, of the once respectable man, or fine fellow, who, in the delirium of gambling, has forgotten wife and child, is a raving maniac, or a blood-stained corpse.

My impressions of San Francisco, I do not deny, were in the highest degree unpleasing, nay, revolting. Everything savours of a race against time, of a craving for gain, of the grasp of avarice, and of fraud, imposture, or illusion. No incentive is found here but the love of money; the glitter of gold outshines everything else. Mammon is the idol to which all sacrifice here, and in whose service men put forth all their energies, and even become clever and wise.

We fell in here with some Swedes, who received us with the greatest hospitality, and to whom the arrival of a frigate from their dear native home was as unexpected a pleasure as the sight of our countrymen in this distant land was to ourselves. We were told that above five hundred Swedes had emigrated to this country; and though some of these were leading lives by no means reputable, the greater number were engaged in honest and thriving business, and were far from casting any slur upon the Swedish name.

During our stay at San Francisco, which was about twelve days, two events engaged the public attention, and as they were characteristic of America I shall briefly mention them. The one was the election of President of the United States; flags waved in all directions, placards were affixed everywhere, and the salutes, expressive of the public joy, were so energetic, that panes of glass were broken in a great many windows. But three days after this outburst of enthusiasm, arrived the intelligence of the death of Henry Clay, the great statesman and eloquent speaker. The signboards were immediately covered with crape, and the shops and houses were hung with black; the flags were hoisted half-mast high, and many of the inhabitants put on mourning, as they do with us on the occasion of a monarch's death. Yet it was merely a citizen without a long line of ancestry, without high official position, without military renown, and without wealth, who had descended into the grave. But still it was a patriot of whom his native country was proud, because his whole life had been devoted to promote its good; it was a name honoured over the whole extent of the republic; and from north to south, from the Atlantic

to the Pacific, every one grieved for his loss and cherished his memory. What a spur to the exertion of individuals, when a whole country can thus unite to bear witness to the superiority of one man!

Heartily tired of San Francisco, I longed to visit the interior of the country, where I might behold a little of North American scenery, and where I might acquire some knowledge of the gold-digging, which had lured so many from their homes. Accordingly, I betook myself one afternoon to the "Pacific Wharf," where three steamers were about to start for Sacramento. In Europe, steam-boats generally take their departure in the morning, so that the passengers should have daylight to see the shores they are passing. But here, in this land of business, the travelling is done by night, that not a moment of the day may be lost which might be employed in money-making. I speedily found myself on board the Antelope-but, heavens! in what company! I fancied myself cast into a modern Noah's ark, where, though there was no zoological museum, there was a veritable othnographical cabinet, with specimens from all parts of the world-amongst them oddities of all kinds. After some time and trouble in threading my way through the dense crowd with their strange physiognomies, I succeeded in finding a place on deck whereon to stretch myself, among a knot of jabbering Chinese, who had their portmanteaus for their pillows. I had left all my professional dignity behind with my messmates in the Eugenie, and neither myself nor my purse were the worse for this. Travelling in California is extremely expensive; a journey of eight days will cost as much here as would be spent in six months' travelling in Sweden.

We steered up the bay, whose north-east corner forms the mouth of the mighty Sacramento river. From the islands which we passed uprose millions of birds, scared by the sound of the steamer. The coast was lofty and imposing, but bare and ugly. We passed close to the town of VALLEJO, where a general of the same name lived some few years ago like a little king, and, rich in his immense droves of cattle, undertook to build a metropolis, with public offices, and a college, but he was nearly ruined by the speculation, and was reduced, if not to positive beggary, at least to comparative poverty. We touched at Benicia, a Californian military station, and shortly after we found ourselves in the river, which is about as broad as the Thames at London, or the Rhine at Cologne. The shores here are low, and thickly lined with willows, among which are mingled tall poplar-trees; on either side stretch apparently interminable green plains, that seem only lost in the distant horizon. Farther up, the river becomes narrower, and the coast higher; and here and there the appearance of a dwelling-house shows that the country is not uninhabited. How different, in the course of a few years, may not these immense plains become, if cultivated by industrious agriculturists, who will seek to find their wealth from other productions than gold, and will exchange the hammer and spade of the gold-digger for the quiet plough! Thriving towns will then embellish the banks of this majestic river, and there, where but a few years ago the beaver built undisturbed and unobserved his curious dwelling, will roll the mighty stream of human population.

We arrived at Sacramento at about three o'clock in the morning, and I availed myself of the dawning light of day to look about me a little in this new scene.


WE have already seen by what a curious chain of circumstances the fate of Marshal Marmont became attached to that of the Bourbons, and it is gratifying to find, in the present volume, that he served his new master more faithfully than he had done the old. The main cause for this may be found in the fact that his vanity was flattered by the representatives of the ancient régime; and he found himself suddenly a great man among the countless small celebrities who aspired to power as the reward for their fidelity. The provisional government which was established between the abdication of Napoleon and the return of Louis was entrusted to men entirely subservient to personal interests, and quite innocent of any generous or patriotic feelings. The principal actor among them was M. de Talleyrand, and any description of his character would be superfluous at the present day. He was neither so bad nor so capable a man as people have thought proper to represent him. His experience of mankind enabled him to invent new methods of corruption unknown before his time; but although well suited for any crafty piece of diplomacy, he was perfectly useless as the head of a government. He was, in short, a most useful instrument in the hands of an established authority, but he never was suited to take the initiative, owing to his want of firmness. The other members of the government were mere nonentities, whose very existence is forgotten at the present day. Hence it is not surprising that grievous errors were committed. In the first place, they quite neglected the army, which had been the first to recognise their authority. The consequence was, that the desertion from the ranks assumed such gigantic proportions, that Marmont became seriously alarmed for the safety of the nation, and consulted Marshals Ney and Macdonald on the subject. They agreed in his views, and demanded a conference with the provisional government. After numerous delays, Marmont succeeded in obtaining an interview, which ended in his threatening to throw the Abbé Louis out of window for using improper language to him. It is needless to add, that this very soon broke up the conference, and the condition of the army remained a moot point.

Another subject which troubled Marmont at this period was the retention of the tricolor cockade. Talleyrand was of the contrary opinion; and although Marmont received a promise from the Emperor Alexander that an article should appear in the Moniteur to the effect that the white cockade had been employed as a sign of momentary rallying, but that, as the whole of France was now agreed on the return of the Bourbons, it would give way to the colours beneath which such great deeds had been achieved, Talleyrand gained the day in the following


The provisional government wrote to Marshal Jourdan, commanding at Rouen, that my corps d'armée had assumed the white cockade, which was not the case, and he, at the same instant, issued a general order that it should be worn by his troops. When I returned to this point, they replied that I was

* Memoires du Maréchal Marmont. Vol. VII. Paris: Perrotin.

very tenacious, for the doyen of the armies of the republic had given the example. Marshal Jourdan had no idea of the part he was cajoled into playing; he had not foreseen that he would become the instrument of the émigrés. This great change, whose consequences were so grave, was, therefore, effected by a species of jugglery. Faithful to my convictions, I retained this cockade, and wore it when I went to meet Monsieur at the barrière on the 12th April. The next day, as not a single person still adhered to it, I took it off.

On the arrival of Monsieur he was received with the utmost enthusiasm, not emanating, however, from any affection for the Bourbons, for that generation hardly knew their name. The favourable reception merely expressed the feeling of weariness felt with the fallen power, whose oppression during the last years had been unendurable. The presence of the Bourbons seemed, consequently, to afford a guarantee of a species of freedom for the future. In the mean while, the man who had once been the idol of France was gnawing his heartstrings at Fontainebleau, whence he set out for Elba, accompanied by commissioners representing the various sovereigns of Europe. From the report of Count Waldburg-Truchsess, representative of Prussia, we are enabled to furnish some curious details about his journey to the coast:

About a quarter of a league on the other side of Orgon, Napoleon thought it indispensable to take the precaution of disguising himself: he put on a shabby blue great-coat, a civilian's hat with a white cockade, and mounted a post-horse to gallop before his carriage, thus wishing to pass for a courier. As we could not keep up with him, we arrived at St. Canal some considerable time after him. Ignorant of the means he had employed to conceal himself from the people, we fancied him in the greatest danger, for his carriage was surrounded by furious men trying to open the doors; they were, fortunately, securely closed, and this saved General Bertrand. The obstinacy of the women astounded us still more; they begged us to give him up to them, saying, "He has so well deserved it, that we only ask what is right.'

At about two miles from St. Canal we caught up the emperor's carriage, which soon after stopped at a poor inn situated on the high road, and called “La Calade." We followed it, and here learned for the first time the masquerade he had employed, by means of which he had arrived here in safety. He had only been accompanied by one courier, and his suite, from the general down to the marmiton, had mounted the white cockade, with which they must have provided themselves beforehand. His valet-de-chambre came to meet us, and begged us to address the emperor as Colonel Campbell, for he had passed himself off to the hostess as such. We promised to do so, and I was the first to enter a sort of bedroom, where I was struck to find the former sovereign of the world plunged in profound reflections, and resting his head on his hands. I did not recognise him at first, and drew near him. He started up on hearing a footstep. He made me a sign to say nothing, ordered me to sit down near him, and all the time the hostess was in the room he only spoke of indifferent matters. But when she went out he returned to his old position. I considered it advisable to leave him alone, but he begged us to come in at intervals, that his presence might not be suspected.

We told him that we had been informed Colonel Campbell had passed through this very place the previous day for Toulon, so then he resolved to take the name of Lord Burgherst.

We sat down to table; but as the dinner had not been prepared by his own cooks, he could not make up his mind to take any nourishment, through fear of being poisoned. Still, on seeing us eat with good appetite, he was ashamed to let us see the fears which assailed him, and took everything that was offered him he pretended to taste it, but sent away his plate without tasting. His

« 上一頁繼續 »