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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/816

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

journals of California rapidly deteriorated in quality, as they lost home support, and they either suspended or became mere advertising publications. Conditions of literary life in California changed during the decade that witnessed the driving of the last spike of the first railroad across the continent. Most of the writers who had earned reputations went elsewhere, and those who stayed became more and more conscious of the fact that they also should have gone. It is not too much to say that along in the early seventies, Californians, always a reading people, became thoroughly aware of the existence of the publications of the rest of the United States. After the crash that followed, when every local journal felt for the first time the competition that a daily mail implies, a few single-hearted men and women revived the magazine, and an entirely different line of weekly publications was established. The old journals had no models, and practically recognized nothing ouside of "the coast"; the new journals, far less original, and developing as yet no writers of national reputation, have become better established financially, and depend considerably upon a circulation in other parts of the country. The chief characteristic of most of them, however, is an exaggerated dread of being considered "provincial," and one can not gratify them more than by praising the "Parisian style" of their local epigrams and illustrations.

The first literature of California was purely American in its best features, and accurately reflected the frank egotism and splendid energy of the young commonwealth, that had as yet felt little or none of the life-struggle in which the rest of the world was engaged. But when the stress came, and the land of ease and plenty, high wages, large profits, and abundant comfort knew hard times, the only book of the era was Progress and Poverty. Luck of Roaring Camps, Big Jack Smalls, and similarly picturesque studies born of the mingling of Russian, Spanish, and American currents, could no more be written in California. The "Great Bonanza" period came and went; the new Constitution agitation, Kearney's sand-lotters, McGlashan's anti-Chinese boycotters, were chapters in the State's history, but no representative book, except George's Progress and Poverty, came to the surface, though the raw materials of half a dozen novels were contained in this transition era. Instead of crystallizing into permanent literary form, the agitation caused by new economic conditions became chiefly political.

During the period of revolt and uncertainty, business suffered, speculation increased, and many men withdrew capital from California. The railroad-builders had brought the State into the general order of things, and life on the old scheme had become impossible, though the war, the clinging of Californians to gold