Scenes At The Gold Diggings
from Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion
Within these pages herewith we present five pictures so expressive and characteristic, that
but few words are required by way of explanation. The series tell a connected story at a glance.
The first picture represents the manner in which the gold diggers of California are
accustomed to occupy themselves on a rainy day, viz., in mending their clothes, and repairing
their boots and tools—in-door occupation, and a very necessary duty.
The second picture is rather a ludicrous one, and represents an interior view of a man's
cabin, which has been taken possession of by one of the numerous bears that abound in the
diggings, and which seeming to have regaled itself sufficiently on the stores of the cabin is now
seen warming itself, after the style of a human being across a chair.
The third picture is a very fine and expressive one, representing the miners engaged in
weighing the dust which has cost them so much labor to procure. The tools of their calling are
strewn upon the table before them, eating utensils, firearms and scales. One is enjoying his pipe
and another looks on thoughtfully at the operation of weighing performed by his comrade.
The fourth picture represents the miners engaged in performing their culinary duty. One is
actively engaged over the fire, with the food, the savory smell of which attracts the dog hard
by, who eyes it wishfully, while the other miner is pounding up corn with a pestle and mortar, to
make a pudding with which to finish the meal. Hunger is said to be the best sauce for supper, and
consequently, as these hardy sons of toil have plenty of appetite, we must suppose that their
sauce is of the choices sort.
The fifth and last picture, represents the miners washing their clothing on the river's bank,
and hanging the clothes to dry on the branches of the trees. Their wants are simple and easily
supplied. They require neither starching nor ironing for their coarse under clothes, and they are
quickly cleansed and ready for use without the laundress's care. To many this life, aside from
the idea of profit by the obtaining of gold, has its charms; and we must confess that we do not
wonder that a feeling of this character should possess many a stout heart and gallant spirit. The
very flower of New England youth—that is to say, its bone and sinew—have emigrated to the shores
of the Pacific, in search of the shining metal and of adventure. As we have before taken occasion
to remark, there are very few families, even, who do not count one ore more members of their
circle as among the gold seekers and California adventurers. The consequence of this immense
amount of manual labor devoted to the purpose of mining, is to increase both the yield of gold
and the mortality of the country, which to a vast number of constitutions, proves fatal. And
while some return enriched with gold, to the scenes of their childhood, a vast number die at a
distance from friends and home.
Many philosophize and say that the discovery of gold in California is, in reality, a curse
rather than a blessing. They adduce all the contingent evils that have resulted from the matter,
but forget that they cannot divine the hidden purpose of Divine Providence, that has thus
revealed the hidden wealth of the earth to men's eyes. The ways of Providence are inscrutable,
and no man can fathom them. But that the discovery of gold in California and Australia savors of
some goodly use beyond its apparent application, we have not the shadow of a doubt. It seems to
have been reserved till this day, as one important auxiliary in bringing the whole world under
the influences of civilization and religion.