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- The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Tales - 1/79 -


THE WRITINGS OF BRET HARTE

THE LUCK OF ROARING CAMP AND OTHER TALES

WITH CONDENSED NOVELS, SPANISH AND AMERICAN LEGENDS, AND EARLIER PAPERS

By BRET HARTE

_WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY THE AUTHOR_

PUBLISHERS' NOTE

In 1882, it was felt to be desirable that Mr. Harte's scattered work should be brought together in convenient form, and the result was a compact edition of five volumes. After that date, as before, he continued to produce poems, tales, sketches, and romances in steady succession, and in 1897 his publishers undertook a uniform and orderly presentation of the results of more than thirty years of his literary activity. The fourteen volumes that embodied those results were enriched by Introductions and a Glossary prepared by Mr. Harte himself.

The present Riverside Edition is based on the collection made in 1897, but is enlarged by the inclusion of later work.

Boston, 4 Park Street, Autumn, 1902.

CONTENTS

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

THE LUCK OF ROARING CAMP AND OTHER SKETCHES. The Luck Of Roaring Camp The Outcasts Of Poker Flat Miggles Tennessee's Partner The Idyl Of Red Gulch Brown Of Calaveras

CONDENSED NOVELS. Muck-A-Muck: A Modern Indian Novel Selina Sedilia The Ninety-Nine Guardsmen Miss Mix Mr. Midshipman Breezy: A Naval Officer Guy Heavystone; Or, "Entire:" A Muscular Novel John Jenkins; Or, The Smoker Reformed Fantine. After The French Of Victor Hugo "La Femme." After The French Of M. Michelet The Dweller Of The Threshold N. N.: Being A Novel In The French Paragraphic Style No Title Handsome Is As Handsome Does Lothaw; Or, The Adventures Of A Young Gentleman In Search Of A Religion The Haunted Man: A Christmas Story Terence Denville Mary Mcgillup The Hoodlum Band; Or, The Boy Chief, The Infant Politician, And The Pirate Prodigy

EARLIER SKETCHES. M'liss: An Idyl Of Red Mountain. I. Smith's Pocket II. Which Contains A Dream Of The Just Aristides III. Under The Greenwood Tree IV. Which Has A Good Moral Tendency V. "Open Sesame" VI. The Trials Of Mrs. Morpher VII. The People vs. John Doe Waters VIII. The Author To The Reader--Explanatory IX. Cleaning Up X. The Red Rock High-Water Mark A Lonely Ride The Man Of No Account Notes By Flood And Field Waiting For The Ship: A Fort Point Idyl A Night At Wingdam

SPANISH AND AMERICAN LEGENDS. The Legend Of Monte Del Diablo The Right Eye Of The Commander The Legend Of Devil's Point The Adventure Of Padre Vicentio: A Legend Of San Francisco The Devil And The Broker: A Medieval Legend The Ogress Of Silver Land; Or, The Diverting History Of Prince Badfellah And Prince Bulleboye The Christmas Gift That Came To Rupert: A Story For Little Soldiers

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

The opportunity here offered [Footnote: By the appearance in England several years ago of an edition of the author's writings as then collected.] to give some account of the genesis of these Californian sketches, and the conditions under which they were conceived, is peculiarly tempting to an author who has been obliged to retain a decent professional reticence under a cloud of ingenious surmise, theory, and misinterpretation. He very gladly seizes this opportunity to establish the chronology of the sketches, and incidentally to show that what are considered the "happy accidents" of literature are very apt to be the results of quite logical and often prosaic processes.

The author's _first_ volume was published in 1865 in a thin book of verse, containing, besides the titular poem, "The Lost Galleon," various patriotic contributions to the lyrics of the Civil War, then raging, and certain better known humorous pieces, which have been hitherto interspersed with his later poems in separate volumes, but are now restored to their former companionship. This was followed in 1867 by "The Condensed Novels," originally contributed to the "San Francisco Californian," a journal then edited by the author, and a number of local sketches entitled "Bohemian Papers," making a single not very plethoric volume, the author's first book of prose. But he deems it worthy of consideration that during this period, i.e. from 1862 to 1866, he produced "The Society upon the Stanislaus" and "The Story of M'liss,"--the first a dialectical poem, the second a Californian romance,--his first efforts toward indicating a peculiarly characteristic Western American literature. He would like to offer these facts as evidence of his very early, half-boyish but very enthusiastic belief in such a possibility,--a belief which never deserted him, and which, a few years later, from the better-known pages of "The Overland Monthly," he was able to demonstrate to a larger and more cosmopolitan audience in the story of "The Luck of Roaring Camp" and the poem of the "Heathen Chinee." But it was one of the anomalies of the very condition of life that he worked amidst, and endeavored to portray, that these first efforts were rewarded by very little success; and, as he will presently show, even "The Luck of Roaring Camp" depended for its recognition in California upon its success elsewhere. Hence the critical reader will observe that the bulk of these earlier efforts, as shown in the first two volumes, were marked by very little flavor of the soil, but were addressed to an audience half foreign in their sympathies, and still imbued with Eastern or New England habits and literary traditions. "Home" was still potent with these voluntary exiles in their moments of relaxation. Eastern magazines and current Eastern literature formed their literary recreation, and the sale of the better class of periodicals was singularly great. Nor was the taste confined to American literature. The illustrated and satirical English journals were as frequently seen in California as in Massachusetts; and the author records that he has experienced more difficulty in procuring a copy of "Punch" in an English provincial town than was his fortune at "Red Dog" or "One-Horse Gulch." An audience thus liberally equipped and familiar with the best modern writers was naturally critical and exacting, and no one appreciates more than he does the salutary effects of this severe discipline upon his earlier efforts.

When the first number of "The Overland Monthly" appeared, the author, then its editor, called the publisher's attention to the lack of any distinctive Californian romance in its pages, and averred that, should no other contribution come in, he himself would supply the omission in the next number. No other contribution was offered, and the author, having the plot and general idea already in his mind, in a few days sent the manuscript of "The Luck of Roaring Camp" to the printer. He had not yet received the proof-sheets when he was suddenly summoned to the office of the publisher, whom he found standing the picture of dismay and anxiety with the proof before him. The indignation and stupefaction of the author can be well understood when he was told that the printer, instead of returning the proofs to him, submitted them to the publisher, with the emphatic declaration that the matter thereof was so indecent, irreligious, and improper that his proof- reader--a young lady--had with difficulty been induced to continue its perusal, and that he, as a friend of the publisher and a well-wisher of the magazine, was impelled to present to him personally this shameless evidence of the manner in which the editor was imperilling the future of that enterprise. It should be premised that the critic was a man of character and standing, the head of a large printing establishment, a church member, and, the author thinks, a deacon. In which circumstances the publisher frankly admitted to the author that, while he could not agree with all of the printer's criticisms, he thought the story open to grave objection, and its publication of doubtful expediency.

Believing only that he was the victim of some extraordinary typographical blunder, the author at once sat down and read the proof. In its new dress, with the metamorphosis of type,--that metamorphosis which every writer so well knows changes his relations to it and makes it no longer seem a part of himself,--he was able to read it with something of the freshness of an untold tale. As he read on he found himself affected, even as he had been affected in the conception and writing of it--a feeling so incompatible with the charges against it, that he could only lay it down and declare emphatically, albeit hopelessly, that he could really see nothing objectionable in it. Other opinions were sought and given. To the author's surprise, he found himself in the minority. Finally, the story was submitted to three gentlemen of culture and experience, friends of publisher and author,--who were unable, however, to come to any clear decision. It was, however, suggested to the author that, assuming the natural hypothesis that his editorial reasoning might be warped by his literary predilections in a consideration of one of his own productions, a personal sacrifice would at this juncture be in the last degree heroic. This last suggestion had the effect of ending all further discussion, for he at once informed the publisher that the question of the propriety of the story was no longer at issue: the only question was of his capacity to exercise the proper editorial judgment; and that unless he was permitted to test that capacity by the publication of the story, and abide squarely by the result, he must resign his editorial position. The publisher, possibly struck with the author's confidence, possibly from kindliness of disposition to a younger man, yielded, and "The Luck of Roaring Camp" was published in the current number of the magazine for which it was written, as it was written, without emendation, omission, alteration, or apology. A not inconsiderable part of the grotesqueness of the situation was the feeling, which the author retained throughout the whole affair, of the perfect sincerity, good faith, and seriousness of his friend's--the printer's--objection, and for many days thereafter he was haunted by a consideration of the sufferings of this conscientious man, obliged to assist materially in disseminating the


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