Title: California and the Californians
Author: David Starr Jordan
Release Date: December, 2003 [EBook #4755] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on March 12, 2002]
Character set encoding: ASCII
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California and the Californians
David Starr Jordan
President Stanford University
The Californian loves his state because his state loves him. He returns her love with a fierce affection that to men who do not know California is always a surprise. Hence he is impatient of outside criticism. Those who do not love California cannot understand her, and, to his mind, their shafts, however aimed, fly wide of the mark. Thus, to say that California is commercially asleep, that her industries are gambling ventures, that her local politics is in the hands of professional pickpockets, that her small towns are the shabbiest in Christendom, that her saloons control more constituents than her churches, that she is the slave of corporations, that she knows no such thing as public opinion, that she has not yet learned to distinguish enterprise from highway robbery, nor reform from blackmail, — all these statements, and others even more unpleasant, the Californian may admit in discussion, or may say for himself, but he does not find them acceptable from others. They may be more or less true, in certain times and places, but the conditions which have permitted them will likewise mend them. It is said in the Alps that “not all the vulgar people who come to Chamouny can ever make Chamouny vulgar.” For similar reasons, not all the sordid people who drift overland can ever vulgarize California. Her fascination endures, whatever the accidents of population.
The charm of California has, in the main, three sources — scenery, climate, and freedom of life.
To know the glory of California scenery, one must live close to it through the changing years. From Siskiyou to San Diego, from Alturas to Tia Juana, from Mendocino to Mariposa, from Tahoe to the Farallones, lake, crag, or chasm, forest, mountain, valley, or island, river, bay, or jutting headland, every one bears the stamp of its own peculiar beauty, a singular blending of richness, wildness and warmth. Coastwise everywhere sea and mountains meet, and the surf of the cold Japanese current breaks in turbulent beauty against tall “rincones” and jagged reefs of rock. Slumbering amid the hills of the Coast Range,
“A misty camp of mountains pitched tumultuously”,
lie golden valleys dotted with wide-limbed oaks, or smothered under over-weighted fruit trees. Here, too, crumble to ruins the old Franciscan missions, each in its own fair valley, passing monuments of California’s first page of written history.