October 16, 2005

Recently read and briefly noted 1

Roughing It by Mark Twain

In 1861, Mark Twain's brother was appointed Secretary of the Nevada Territory, and Twain went along as his secretary. Out there, the silver rush was in full swing with all the attendant folly that vast, sudden (and almost totally baseless) wealth brings.

"Think of a city with not one solitary poor man in it! One would suppose that when month after month went by and still not a wild cat mine [by wild cat I mean, in general terms, any claim not located on the mother vein, i.e., the "Comstock") yielded a ton of rock worth crushing, the people would begin to wonder if they were not putting too much faith in their prospective riches; but there was not a thought of such a thing. They burrowed away, bought and sold, and were happy."

And there's more. Stagecoaches, Mormons, buffalos, outlaws, Lake Mono, silver mining, wild and woolly territorial journalism, catastrophes, legal tomfoolery, poetry, gunfighting, and then Twain gets bored of all that and goes to California and then on to Hawaii. This is the definition of a rollicking good book.


Post a Comment

<< Home