After The Gold Rush

Since Twain’s death, only Hunter Thompson occasionally matched that great writer’s vigor. But Twain wrote this stuff routinely, spending an entire career blurring and combining pomposity, exaggeration, and the truth. This was Twain observing the wrecked landscape of California after the Gold Rush of 1849, reflecting on the men who did it:

“It was a driving, vigorous, restless population in those days. It was a curious population. It was the only population of the kind that the world has ever seen gathered together, and it is not likely that the world will ever see its like again. For observe, it was an assemblage of two hundred thousand young men—not simpering, dainty, kid-gloved weaklings, but stalwart, muscular, dauntless young braves, brimful of push and energy, and royally endowed with every attribute that goes to make up a peerless and magnificent manhood—the very pick and choice of the world’s glorious ones. No women, no children, no gray and stooping veterans,—none but erect, bright-eyed, quick-moving, strong-handed young giants—the strangest population, the finest population, the most gallant host that ever trooped down the startled solitudes of an unpeopled land. And where are they now? Scattered to the ends of the earth—or prematurely aged and decrepit—or shot or stabbed in street affrays—or dead of disappointed hopes and broken hearts—all gone, or nearly all—victims devoted upon the altar of the golden calf—the noblest holocaust that ever wafted its sacrificial incense heavenward. It is pitiful to think upon.” 

– Mark Twain, Roughing It (1872)

A free read here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3177 (external link)

About thomasfarley01

Freelance writer specializing in outdoor subjects, particularly rocks, gems and minerals.
This entry was posted in Thoughts on writing, Uncategorized, Writing by others, Writing tips and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s