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As ever is the Past to Youth and Age, and marked
While bright and joyous like an angel-bride,
He sighed, and feared to hope,—and thus he checked
Inwoven with the gaudy, glitt'ring name
But o'er the hot delusion blasted all
CALIFORNIA, HO! How mysterious and unsearchable are the footsteps of Providence ! Clouds, dark and impenetrable, often fall around and before us, and we may strain our eyes in vain to learn our real position and the tendency of our course ; but when time has borne us through the gloom out into the clear sunlight and we cast a glance backward upon our track, from which those clouds are now swept away, the mystery is unveiled—the unerring guidance of Deity is distinctly traced. Every close inspector of his past life cannot fail to see, that, while in numberless instances those actions and events which seemed most to favor his plans have proved their greatest obstructions ; on the other hand, occurrences foretokening naught but evil have resulted in signal advantage—that joy and beauty have beamed where he looked only for distaste and deformity that success has greeted him where failure seemed inevitable. However man may pride himself on his strength of intellect and farreaching sagacity, there is yet a secret but mighty power upon him whose control he cannot shake off.
“ There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we may."
The same wondrous Providence is over all, alike to guide the swallow's flight and to control the movements of nations. How often has young Liberty, when thrown into difficulty and danger, contrary to expectation and almost against hope, by some surprising turn of events, come forth from her perils clothed in fresh beauty and vigor! How often has some tyrannical power, secure in the even flow of prosperity, and boasting in the flush of success, been overtaken by sudden disaster, its security turned to consternation, and its boasting to beggary, while at the same time the uninhabited waste has been made to "bud and blossom as the rose,” under the culture of " a nation born in a day.” Verily, the Lord reigneth,“ He sitteth on his viewless throne,” and by a resistless energy disposeth the relations of men to suit the purposes of his will.
In the recent history of California, that world-renowned, wondrous spot of earth, is presented an impressive example of the Divine control over human affairs. But three or four swift years have passed us by since all that western region lay as silent and tranquil in the possession of a few scattered people, as the waters of the Pacific that slumber along its coast. The long mountain sides groaned under a heavy growth of magnificent pines and goodly cedars, among whose darkly shaded trunks the axe of the woodman had never resounded. There, the gruff black bear, fattening in undisturbed security, waddled lazily over the soft pine carpet spread yearly for his dainty feet, and squirrels red, black, and grey, chattered merrily to the many-voiced echoes. No sound of white man's voice or footstep ever disturbed the beauty and sublimity of the place ; but the eagle's scream, the caw of that indomitable and everywhere-present bird, the crow, as with outstretched wings he poised himself on the topmost branch of the pine, swaying to and fro in the storm-wind, or the wild beast's voice, were the only sounds familiar to those old woods. Down from these lonely retreats rushed numberless streamlets which, meeting in the valleys below, flowed onward in tranquil and majestic solitude to the ocean. Along their banks and stretching away on either side to the mountain bases lay extensive fields, sometimes amounting even to vast prairies, of remarkable beauty and fertility, but for the most part unvisited and uncultivated by man. The black and strong soil produced spontaneously a luxuriant growth of deep-colored herbage that was never disturbed, save by the hoof of the wild ox or the light tread of the elk as he sought at noonday to bathe in the placid stream or enjoy the cool, fresh shade of the trees upon its bank. In few and plain words, all the vast resources of that extensive region lay neglected and, of course, profitless to mankind. Its immense forests of heavy and beautiful timber stood waiting to be floated down the rivers to the noblest harbor in the world, and there moulded into the ministers of a thrifty commerce. Its broad fields of melting richness needed only the plough and the scattered seed to load them with heavy and most precious crops, to the joy of the cultivator and the sustenance of hungry humanity. There were, indeed, numerous tribes of savage redmen lurking in the narrow defiles and along the bases of the mountains, who, however, in their proud degradation disdained, of course, to cultivate the soil. True to their ferocious nature, they chose rather to spend the night in celebrating the war-dance around the council-fire, tossing on high their polished weapons that sent a gleam far back into the rayless forest, throwing themselves into the wildest attitudes and their painted faces into the most hideous contortions, with an occasional whoop that thrilled and penetrated the woods for miles, startling the very wild beast from his repose! In suchlike scenes they found their savage pleasure during the long hours of night, while, wearied by the excitement of the dance and this tumult of the passions, the day was spent in listless, dreamy indolence or in plying the streams for fish and the woods for game. Verily, those noble woods, those deep streams and fertile fields were never designed for such inhabitants! As I have before intimated, there was, beside, here and there a Mexican hamlet nestled amid the verdure ; but that sparse and oppressed population were little in advance of their Indian neighbors in agriculture and every species of thrifty industry. The shiftless, dilapidated appearance of the out-buildings and the delightful disorder prevailing among the various implements of husbandry and other appurtenances of almost every dwelling indicated the lethargic indolence of the proprietors. Religion held out no golden crown, to be won only by vigorous warfare under the banner of the Crossdistinction in the State was beyond their hope or wish—and what motive to action remained ? Plainly none, save the indulgence of the appetites and fleshly inclinations. The glorious beauty and richness Nature had spread so profusely around failed to arouse their intoxicated
souls. No signs or sounds of industry were anywhere distinguishable. Indeed, the whole face of that land on the livelong summer day, presented an aspect as silent and dreany, yet as beautiful, as the silvery cloud that floated in the sky above it. Could but the spirit of activity and enterprise be breathed into those pulseless Mexicans, the magic scene of cities rising, commerce skimming the seas and rivers with her white wings, forests leveled, and fields waving with golden harvests, would be speedily presented. But the deathlike imbecility of their government, the paralyzing effects of a grinding religion forbade any such hope. Neither in regard to them nor their posterity was such an achievement ever to be expected. For though hordes of offspring were reared, according to the general principle that the number of children is inversely as the parent's respectability and enterprise, yet it was only to experience the miserable fortunes of their fathers, or to die prematurely of filth and idleness. There remained then to California no hope while in her present circumstances. The noble resources of her forests and fields must remain undeveloped, her deep streams roll onward still, without a burden on their bosom save the Indian canoe. The people must continue to enjoy their demon-haunted dream of indolence, strangers to the unalloyed sweetness of a virtuous and industrious life, as well as to the intense pleasure of intellectual cultivation, and, what is more painful still, without one pure beam from that immortality that shines through the tomb to the follower of Christ. A new race must be introduced, a new government and a new religion ere this Eden can be reclaimed to the blessing of man and the true and happy worship of God. But whither can the friend of humanity, who surveys this tempting region, look for the realization of his hopes ? Torpidity is the very soul that pervades earth, air and sea——whence then is to come the life-giving leaven that will be sufficient to reani. mate the whole lump? If the eye run over the entire American continent, north and south, it meets no brighter spot, none more hopeful in freedom, knowledge or religion than the very one to be reclaimed ; none, I should say, save one. Far away to the eastward, spread over & vast country, is the sleepless, dauntless race of Anglo-Saxons. The low thunders of their incessant industry are heard even on these silent shores. Flashes of their intelligence and liberty and holy religion sometimes brighten on the horizon of this night of the mind and heart, but with only a transient glow that leaves the darkness profounder than before. Yet here all hopes must center. Though no signs of release from misrule greet the Californian, and though the Saxon loves liberty too well to barter it for the richest possessions under a capricious and domineering authority, yet from the United States alone must redemption come, or this enchanting land will slumber on forever, a dead loss to its Creator and to mankind. But in the Great Maker's harmony there is no chord that will not vibrate to His purposes. Redemption will come and that right early. When Liberty is forth-leaping a newborn goddess from the womb of mind, wherein the germ was originally planted, and that, too, in lands the most enslaved and hopeless, when the light of knowledge and pure Christianity is struggling to illumine the clouds of ignorance and superstition, like the heat-lightning at midnight, appearing first in faint and transient glimmerings, then widening and brightening till it glows over the whole celestial vault, it is impossible that no new ray dawn on the Western Hemisphere, in one portion of which those blessings are already enjoyed in their highest perfection. How the work is to be done is beyond the reach of human ken. We have only to be still and observe the movements of Providence.
For a long series of years sources of distrust and dissatisfaction had been constantly multiplying between the United States and Mexico. Within a few months especially, these sources had rapidly augmented in number and importance, till at length and on a sudden, the wisdom or wickedness of rulers plunged the two nations into war. I know not how it may have been with others, but in my earliest childhood I could never think of war but with a feeling of intensest astonishment and horror. In my boyish dreams its ghastly terrors have been painted to me, I doubt not, in something very near to the vividness of reality. It may have resulted from cowardice, but often have I stood in “th' imminent, deadly breach," and felt the keen thrust of the enemy's blade, or the stinging, burning, fainting sensation of the bullet flying through my vitals. In the empty show of military parade, the penetrating peal of the bugle, the rattle and roar of drums, the screaming of fifes, the fluttering of banners, the glitter of a thousand bayonets, the tossing of a thousand plumes, the prancing of the war horse, the shouting of the captains and the noise of the moving host, which avail so often to hide the foul intent, have never been able to shut out from my imagination the pallid faces of the dead or the unearthly shrieks and groans of the dying. And is not war indeed a revolting and fiendish work? We too often look upon an army of soldiers, clad in military habiliments and marching on to battle, as no more than so many decorated puppets set in regular order, a certain proportion of which by the working of some hidden machinery will, as a matter of course, be tumbled over by the rest and left behind, while the remnant will move off the field to be arranged and trimmed for a second like maneuver. We forget that each individual of the vast multitude is the once well-known and esteemed citizen, the son, the brother, the hus. band or the father, possessed of all the high hopes, tender affections and darling objects that make life so intensely desirable. Oh, is it not a most unnatural sight to see hostile lines of such beings, with such relations, kept in being by the same Hand, lifting their weapons and throwing the fatal bullet into the heart which they are bound to animate and cheer by words of kindness and heavenly love, or transfixing with the bayonet the body around which they are commanded to throw the arm of protection and brotherhood! Yet such was the spectacle now presented by our own and a sister Republic. Verily, it would seem that the Almighty himself must fail to bring good out of such infernal evil !
At the very opening of the contest, the impetuous Saxon plunged forward into the enemy's country, and the hostile armies disappeared like mist before him, in slaughter or flight. Without meeting a single