« السابقةمتابعة »
were passed against them, but it took Jonson's play “The Alchemist” to laugh away their hold.
123. elixir vitæ : (Arabic, el iksir, plus Latin, vitæ) literally, the philosopher's stone of life. Another fad of the alchemists.
125. Albertus Magnus : “ Albert the Great” (1193—1280), a member of the Dominican order of monks. Cornelius Agrippa: (1486–1535) a student of magic. Paracelsus : Philippus Aureolus Paracelsus (1493–1541), a physician and alchemist. friar who created the prophetic Brazen Head : the legendary “Famous History of Friar Bacon ” records the construction of such a thing. Transactions of the Royal Society : the volumes containing the discussions of the Royal Society and also the papers read before it. This association was founded about 1660 for the advancement of science.
Francis Bret Harte, or as he later called himself Bret Harte, was born in Albany, New York, August 25, 1836. He came of mixed English, Dutch, and Hebrew stock. The family led a wandering life, full of privations, till the death of the father, a schoolmaster, in 1845. In 1853 the widow moved to California, where she married Colonel Andrew Williams. Thither the son followed her in 1854.
As tutor, express messenger, printer, drug clerk, miner, and editor he spent the three years till 1857, when he settled in San Francisco, where he became a printer in the office of The Golden Era. Soon he began to contribute articles to the paper, and was promoted to the editorial room. In 1862 he married Miss Anna Griswold, and in 1864 he was appointed secretary of the California mint. He continued writing, and in the same year was engaged on a weekly, The Californian. In 1867 the first collection of his poems was published under the title of “The Lost Galleon and Other Tales.” When The Overland Monthly was founded in the next year Bret Harte became its first editor. To its second number he contributed Luck of Roaring Camp.” Though received with much question in California, it met a most enthusiastic reception in the East, the columns of The Atlantic Monthly being thrown open to him. This success he followed six months later by another, “ The Outcasts of Poker Flat.” His next great success was the poem “Plain Language from Truthful James,” which was in the September, 1870, number of the magazine. It made him famous though he attached little importance to it. In this year he was made Professor of Recent Literature in the University of California.
Debt, friction with the new owner of The Overland, and a growing lack of sympathy with the late settlers, caused Bret Harte to leave California in 1871. He came East and devoted himself entirely to writing, his work being published for one year altogether in The Atlantic Monthly. But his ever recurring financial difficulties becoming acute, he did some lecturing in addition. In 1876 appeared his only novel, “ Gabriel Conroy,” which was not a success. His money difficulties continuing, his friends came to the rescue
and secured his appointment as United States Consul at Crefeld, Germany. Leaving his wife, whom he never saw again, he sailed in 1878. At this post he continued for two years, his life being varied by a lecture tour England. In 1880 he was transferred to the more lucrative consulship at Glasgow.
In Glasgow he remained for five years, writing, meeting some eminent writers, and visiting different parts of the country. In 1885, a new President having taken office, he was superseded in his consulship. He then settled in London, devoting himself to writing with only an occasional trip away, once as far as Switzerland. In 1901 he died.
MERWIN: The Life of Bret Harte.
WOODBERRY: America in Literature.
NOTES TO "THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT”
This story was first published in The Overland Monthly of San Francisco in 1869.
PAGE 134. Poker Flat: an actual place in Sierra County, California. The name is typical of a large class of western geographic names bestowed by rough uneducated men when the West was new. moral atmosphere : these western mining towns in 1850 in a region which had just become a part of the United States as a result of the War with Mexico, were largely unorganized and without regularly constituted government. The bad element did as it pleased until the better people got tired. Then a “vigilance committee” would be organized, which would either drive out the undesirables, as in this story, or would execute the entire lot.
135. sluice robber : one way of separating gold from the gravel and sand in which it is found is to put the mixture into a slanting trough, called a sluice, through which water is run. As these sluices were sometimes of considerable length, it was not a difficult matter for a man to rob one.
136. Parthian: the Parthians inhabited a part of ancient Persia. It was their custom when retreating to continue to shoot arrows at their enemy.
142. Covenanter: one of that body of Scotchmen who had bound themselves by a solemn covenant or agreement in the seventeenth century to uphold the Presbyterian faith. This act required force of character, since it was in defiance of King Charles I, and this force was shown in the vigor of their hymns.
144. Iliad : the ancient Greek epic poem, ascribed to Homer, which tells the story of the war of the Greeks against Troy. Alexander Pope (1688–1744), an English poet, who rather freely translated the poem.
147. Derringer : a pistol, so called from the name of the inventor.
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson, the son of a man of some means, was born in Edinburgh, November 30, 1850. The Louis form of his second name was merely a caprice in spelling adopted by the boy, and never altered the pronunciation of the original by his family. An only child, afflicted with poor health, he was an object of solicitude, notably to his nurse, Alison Cunningham, to whose loving devotion the world owes an unpayable debt. Stevenson's appreciation of her faithful ministrations is beautifully voiced in the dedication of his “ A Child's Garden of Verses ” (1885). After some schooling, made more or less desultory by ill-health, he attended Edinburgh University. The family profession was lighthouse engineering, and though he gave it enough attention to receive a medal for a suggested improvement on a lighthouse lamp, his heart was not in engineering, so he compromised with his father on law. He was called to the Scottish bar and rode on circuit with the court, but, becoming master of his destiny, he abandoned law for literature.
Literature was the serious purpose of his life and to he gave an ardor of industry which is amazing. He worked at the mastery of its technique for years, till he gained that felicity of expression which has made his writings classical. His earliest publications were essays, often inspired by his trips abroad in search of health. On one of these in France in 1876 he met his future wife, Mrs. Osbourne, an American. Other such trips are recorded in “ An Inland Voyage” (1878) and in “Travels with a Donkey” (1879). In 1879 he came to America, travelling in a rough way to California, an experience made use of in his book “An Amateur Emigrant.” As a consequence of this trip, he fell desperately ill in San Francisco, where he was nursed by Mrs. Osbourne, whom he married in 1880. His convalescence in an abandoned mining camp is recorded in “The Silverado Squatters ” (1883). Returning to Scotland, they found the climate impossible for his weak lungs, consequently they tried various places on the Continent. Throughout his ill-health he heroically kept at work, publishing from time to time books of essays