The prevalence of sickness at the mines has sent a few people back here; but, with the commencement of the rainy season, I anticipate that there will be plenty of labour in the market, and that its value will become correspondingly depreciated. In the meantime, the general aspect of the town is forlorn and deserted; stores are shut, houses blocked up, and in the harbour ships ride solitary and defenceless.
Letter from the Author to his Brother in England.
MONTEREY, October 11th, 1848.
DEAR GEORGE,—I take advantage of the departure of a courier sent by Colonel Mason, the United States Governor of California, to Washington, with dispatches, to let you know what I have been about during the five months which have elapsed since I last wrote you. Long before you receive this you will have heard in England of the extraordinary occurrences which have taken plate out here. My last letter, which I hope you received, told you of the failure of the emigration scheme to Oregon, and of my intention of leaving that barren desert-like place, the first possible opportunity. A friend of mine, of whom I have before spoken to you, namely, Mr. Malcolm, a Scotchman, and a thorough practical agriculturist, was anxious to shift his quarters to California, the soil of which country was represented by every one who had visited it as of extraordinary fertility. We had heard of the war that was going on between the United States and Mexico having extended itself to that country, and Mr. Malcolm prevailed on me to accompany him to San Francisco, where he thought I might manage to obtain an appointment in the United States army. We made the voyage together, and the accompanying diary—of which more by-and-by—commences with an account of our first setting out.
But to return to California. I assure you it is hardly possible for any accounts of the gold mines, and of what I may call gold gravel and sand, to be exaggerated. The El Dorado of the early voyagers to America has really been discovered; and what its consequences may be, not only upon this continent, but upon the world, wiser heads—heads more versed than mine is in monetary science—must tell. There is much speculation here as to the effects which the late wonderful discovery will produce in the States and the old country. Of course we expect to be inundated with emigrants, coming, I suppose, from every part of the world, and truly, for all I can tell, there will be gold enough for all.
And now, the first question you will ask me is, whether I have made my fortune? I reply, my old bad luck has not forsaken me. I always seem to come in for monkey’s allowance—more kicks than halfpence. Three months ago I thought my fortune was made, and that I might come home a South American nabob. Nothing of the kind. Here I was, almost on the spot, when the first news of the gold was received. I have worked hard, and