From our California Correspondent.
Fort John, Amador Co., Cal.,
June 24th, 1855.
“The coachman loudly cracked his whip,
The horses pranced and reared, ---“
FRIEND ROCK: --
Did you ever ride in stagecoach? Of course you have; but did you invariably go to sleep, or keep awake to observe and study the characters, and criticize the words and actions of your fellow passengers?
It is a queer study, and quite instructive and amusing too, sometimes. I was riding once in a coach from Stockton to Double Springs, up the Calaveras road, and as is usually the case in California, my fellow passengers were a “motley crew” of various nations. There were three Chinamen, a Dutch girl, and fat old Mexican lady, a Frenchman, and three of us Americans. It was a sultry day, and it, together with the monotonous roll of the coach, as we passed over the level plains, made us all, more or less somnolent. The three Chinamen on the front seat were soon sound and last asleep, weaving from side to side, and against each other, as the coach rolled. One of my American friends was unconsciously paying his respects to the Dutch girl, while the other, with an india-rubber hinge situated in the back of his neck, bowed fiercely and unremittingly, to nothing in particular. I tried to engage in conversation with the Mexican lady, but all to no purpose, for she and the Dutch girl opposite, with both eyes shut, were establishing a mutual understanding.
The old Frenchman, with a rare paper in his hand, containing an account of the doings of the “allied forces” in the East, bowed with great characteristic politeness to the company generally, and to me in particular, until his head inclined forward and gradually assumed the position of a butting ram. I tried hard to keep awake; I whistles “Yankee Doodle,” coughed, spit, and gazed out on the face of the country, but I saw nothing but level, sleep looking fields of grain, enclosed by long monotonous wire fences.
A zig-zag tortuous, “Virginia fence” enlivened the scene for a short time, but at the end of it came a terrible sleepy looking mule, standing with ears lopped forward, and both eyes shut, under the shade of a great lazy oak tree. My eyes closed; I saw no more: I gradually became a large Russian city, white the old Frenchman’s head was transformed into a huge bomb-shell, about to be projected at my walls. From this pleasing delusion, I was suddently awakened by a heavy shock, which send all us rear passengers to the front, charging. The old Frenchman was rubbing the side of his head with his hand, exclaiming sacrrre, with a terrible roll of his tongue, while I, after readjusting my neck, which was partially dislocated by the shock, jumped out to see what night be the matter. We had only stopped at a ranch, to change horses, and in driving up to the house, our “John” had carelessly run the near fore wheel against a tree, bringing us up “all standing,” or “tumbling,” just which you please. The Frenchman went into the house, and consoled himself with a “capita de cognac.” The Dutch girl called for a glass of lager beer.” The Mexican senora called for a glass of water, with un poco de aqua diente” to “qualify” it; fresh horses were harnessed in, and we were soon on our way again. We were shortly among the fast hills of the Sierra, and the ground being rather rough and uneven, there was not much chance for sleep, so the most of us entered into mutual conversation. My two American friends seemed to be transcendentally inclined, for the subject of the conversation was “the quickness of thought.” One of them was a hale, hearty old gentleman, of about sixty years of age, while the other was a pale, slim, nervous looking man, of about thirty-five.
I listened with much interest to their conversation, as they gradually warmed with the immensity of the subject. The younger, especially, seemed to be completely carried away with the greatness of the idea, and could hardly find words of sufficient comprehensiveness to express his feelings on the subject; indeed, he was several times at a loss for words, and the old gentleman had to help him out.—“Thought,” said the old gentleman, stumping his cane down on the floor of the coach, by way of emphasis, “thought pervades the universe; it is universal and diffuses itself through our being. It is transcendental, and floats in the immensity of space; it rules our brain, and guides all our actions.”
“Ah!” ejaculated the younger, clasping his hands convulsively together, what says Milton? The immortal Milton?” “D—m Milton!” exclaimed the elder with warmth;-- what did he know about it; he couldn’t begin to comprehend the immensity of the subject.” “Pshaw! The quickness of thought can’t be comprehended or described. The ‘iron horse’ speeds swiftly over the level track, the report of the rifle quickly follows the flash, and the whizzing bullet flies swiftly through the air.—The howling winds blow swift, and the report of a cannon at a distance is borne quickly to our ears, but sir, can any of these be compared to the quickness of thought? No sir? I tell you they can’t begin.” The younger had become more and more excited, and as the old man concluded, with hands clasped, and his eyes rolling ludicrously around, he exclaimed, in a state of nervous agitation,-- “Heavens! – sir; thought! Is the very height of sublimity. Its quickness is not to be comprehended by any moral mind. The magnetic telegraph sir, is—is—nothing to it. Thought! Sir, is as much swifter than—is as much swifter than—than” – “chain lightning, as chain lightning is swifter than an ox-team,” added I, by way of a “wind up” to his grand peroration, for he had got up to such a pitch of eloquence, that I thought he needed assistance to get down from it. He sprang forward, and grasped me by both hands, exclaiming:-- “You have it sir! –you have it! You have compressed the whole idea into a nut-shell! You have hit the nail on the head!” “This gentleman,” and he, turning to the old man—but the old fellow was thrown back in his seat, with the tears fairly running down his cheeks, and almost bursting with convulsive laughter. The Chinamen too, were laughing, although they didn’t understand a word of what had been said. The old Frenchman politely took a huge pinch of snuff, to keep from laughing, as he observed, “un discussion ver comique Messieurs.” Our nervous friend looked extremely silly, but what he might have said more, was lost to us, as the coach now stopped at the hotel, where he left us, we thanking him for the pleasure his conversation had afforded us. “Crack went the whip, round went the wheels,” and away we whirled again on our road to Double Springs, where I took leave of my fellow passengers.
The weather is very warm here in the mines now; yesterday the thermometer stood at 102 degrees in the shade, at noon. Preparations are being made in all parts of the country, to celebrate the “ever glorious fourth,” properly, and no doubt it will be trotted through in style. But let’s quit for the present, as my sheet is filled; so, good bye. BEN BOLT.