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dancing bears, dignified owls, waltzing
lions, marching blackbirds, pot-bellied doves,
acrobatic swine, and a mass of inanimate
objects the pictorial and symbolical meaning
of which it is only given to a pursuivant-at-arms
to understand. In the crests, besides
animals, there are the dod trick, the army in
Bombastes Furioso, the constant arm sticking
up like the pigeon leg out of a pie, heads on
the point of daggers, men on rocking-horses,
fools' heads, venerable bearded faces looking
over the edge of the shield like Socrates in a
warm bath, and legs kicking out right and
left, as if the owner had fallen head-first into
the heraldic cauldron.

Looking at the highly refined aristocracy
of the nineteenth century, with their art
treasures, their pictures, their music, their
statues, their love of harmony and grace
in dress and furniture, it is marvellous to
find them struggling to trace themselves back
to a race of men, who could have been
nothing but rude, untaught, brutal savages.
Still more marvellous is it to find them clinging
to a set of uncouth symbols, that were
invented to convey ideas to a generation of
chine-splitting, head-cracking ruffians, who
could neither read nor write.

In deference to my lady, I have followed
in the footsteps of my neighbours. The seal
to my letters is as large as a raspberry
tart. I have had my arms painted on the
panels of my carriage; and, when one of the
family dies, I shall hang up, outside the mansion,
a black-bordered escutcheon, as large as a
public-house sign-board. Sometimes I fancy
that I see a practical man looking at the
unwieldy elephant, the compound monster,
the head of the Hottentot Venus, the lively
boar, the consequential birds, and the three
small-tooth combs, with something like
contempt, and I feel inclined to rush out and
shake him by the hand, telling him that I
agree with his sentiments exactly.


EIGHT years ago,* we called attention to
the fabulous rise of San Francisco. A village
of twenty-six huts in eighteen hundred and
forty-eight, in eighteen hundred and fifty it
was a densely-populated city of some
thousands of habitations; though these habitations
were but of canvas and chip, it is true, and
filled with questionable inmates. But, from
eighteen hundred and fifty to eighteen
hundred and fifty-five, what a city it became!
Rife with murders; mad with gaming, drink,
and riot; a city wherein no honest woman
was to be seen, and which appalled even the
most reckless of the dishonestwherein the
family was unknown, and where the wildest
dreams of unconventional bachelorhood found
more than realisation; a city teeming with
all the vagabonds and ruffians of Europeall
the rowdies and loafers of America; given
up as a prey to every evil passion of mankind,
and where lawlessness and crime held equal
court. Such was San Francisco in the first
days of the gold fever, before fermentation
had wrought purification. We can scarcely
wonder at the mad excitement that took
possession of the world at this wonderful
consolidation of those visions of Dorados
and Tom Tiddler's Grounds which have
always floated, in poetry or sport, before its
mind. When even a small boy could pick
up in a day fourteen dollars' worth of pure
gold from the very mud of the city itself,
what marvellous things might not be possible
to the sturdy worker on the virgin soil, to the
careful miner, and the knowing mineralogist!
What a prospect of speedy wealth for the
impatient of slow gains! what a sudden
vault on the uppermost spoke of Fortune's
wheel for those ground under the tire below!
what a fascinating way of paying off one's
debts for the insolvent scapegrace! of
returning honoured and full-handed for the
outlawed debtor! All the desires of
humanity were concentrated on those Californian
riches; and, perhaps, never since the
world began was there such a seething mass
of passionate emotion and fiery thoughts as
might be found burning under the canvas
sheds of San Francisco, and on the busy
diggings up the stream. No man's life was
safe, and every man had to defend his earnings
with his life. Revolvers, bowie knives,
and cutlasses were as necessary parts of his
equipment as shoes and shirts; and murders
in the open day, and in the most crowded
parts of the city, were far more common than
the police charge of "drunk and disorderly"
with us, or a wordy war between cabmen
and fishwives. The offscourings of humanity
meeting together made a tolerably
unpalatable social mess; and though almost every
nation in the world had its representatives
in California, there was very little difference
in the degree of rascaldom and ruffianism
which they embodied. It was a question of
language and personal habits much more than
of national virtue or the morality of races.

* Household Words, No. 14, June 29, 1850.

What is the San Francisco of to-day,
compared with the San Francisco of five, or even
three, years ago ? We are bound to confess,
that a more wonderful shaping of society has
never been witnessed, nor a more rapid
establishment of natural law, order, and stability,
out of the extreme of ruffianly licence. Five
years ago, as we have said, the city was a gipsy
encampment of canvas tents and wooden huts.
Now, there are stone churches and hospitals,
stately colleges and roomy schools, private
houses, mansions, and palaces, banks and
warehouses, a custom-house, an exchange,
and substantial stores; and wood and canvas
have disappeared from all but the more
neglected outskirts. Five years ago, the streets
were almost impassable in winter, and very
nearly as bad in summer; for it was but an
exchange between mud into which you sank