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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, November 20, 1910, Image 11

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The San Francisco Sunday Call
Arthur L. Price
A FRIEND traveling in Scotland
has recently pent us a picture
postcard from the "bonny, bonny
banks of Loch Lomond." Of It
h« cays: The loch Is not much at the
'% »Ide of Tahoe, but It has romantlo asso
ciations and has given us an Immortal
sor.g, which Is going «om«."
To read the succinct messao wii
again to regret that California* was
not «ottled In what might be called th*
* ballad agre of literature, \u25a0when man —
and woman, too — lived much out o*
door* and human experience and plo
sion were Interwoven with the land
scape la so many a 6plenfild song and
ballad. Eherwood forest has been per
petuated in ihe knowledge of the Eng
lish race because !t was the abiding
place of Robin Hood. Robin Hood had
t&« advantage of following his trade at
a time when highway robbery was con
sidered a commendable occupation,
somewhat n.r.alagous to the profession
of bribe giving today — to be deprecated,
If at all, with a cute wink and a mental
reservation. By the time that Blfl^k
Bart was operating through the nobler
forests of California the art of the
holdup man had fallen Into disrepute,
and when Evans and Sonntag. last of
their tribe, appeared, even the sym
pathy for them was a negative and in
effective quantity.
Of oourse, romance does not dep<»r 3
on sin or crime for Its appeals. 3ut v!6
leriee Is a concomitant part of the bn!
lad, and In this age of ease it Is diffi
cult to resurrect that virile form of art
«yen for tl.e sake of California's srplen
fild scenery. A new basis of romance
must be found to be equal to the no
bility of California and to express It. A
new writer should develop what will
make the glories of California end her
people as well known as Dv Maurier
made the Latin quarter of Paris or as
Ibsen has made the lmmorals of Nor
way. Bret Harte in his earlier short
•torles, as concise, passionate and pic
turesque as ballads in prose. Indelibly
Impressed one Eide of the state's life on
the mind of the reading world. Helen
Hunt Jackson, in "Ramona," tragically,
\u25a0ympathctically, sweetly, 6howed an
rther aspect, but her 6tory will always
» have the defect, to American readers at
least, that it exalts the Indian race be
yond our empirical knowledge of it.
Mrs. Gertrude Atherton In her agile
stories. "th« Splendid Idle Forties,"
gave graphic pictures of a most pic
turesque Eide of California of 60 years
V" e,?o, and Frank Norris, in "The Octo
pus," breathed the broad spirit of the
California valleys. Those citations are
strong instances of the steps In the
right direction, rather are striking ex
amples of the vigorous influence which
California has exerted upon the minds
and hearts of writers. Few states In
the union, none in the west, have de
veloped such a literature. But no other
state has th* warmth, the color, the
diversity, of California. We want liter
' eture to be still more deeply inculcated
with the epirit of California's romance.
Filled with that desire, it is with hope
that we take up Ernest Peixotto's new
and richly illustrated book. "Romantlo
California." which has just been pub
lished by Charles Scribner's Sons, New
Before going further let us under
stand that Peixotto is an artist, \u25a0was an
artist before he was a writer, and will
be an artist after he has laid aside his
pen. Now the commentary may pro
On first reading Peixotto's work the
Californian may feel a sensation of
disappointment. It seems not full
enough with "news." But that sensa-
tlon readily fades when the realization
comes that the book is written not so
tnuch for Californians, who already
have at least a cursory knowledge of
the romantic values of their state, but
has been % prepared for strangers, for
easterners, for Europeans, who would
have no means of securing such a
knowledge without the aid of a book
like Peixotto's. The disappointment
would be occasioned by the fact that
the work Is cursory. But what it may
lose by being cursory it more than
makes up by being comprehensive. In
I sparing his work. If Peixotto had
*"' oted his 219 pages to El Camlno
**}<:a.l. as he might have done with honor
to himself and respect to the subject,
there would not have been a single
>tge left for Bret Harte's country or
the Bohemian club plays or Italy In
California, or the other subjects he has
:aken up In his sweep through the
rtate for the romantic and the plctur-
isque. Necessarily the several articles
m the book could not be each of great
*»ngth. The book had to be broad and
iketchy to cover the state, and Peixotto
sas covered the state splendidly in his
>ook. If exquisite bits of romance may
iave been excluded, there has been
sicluded much which can not but
irouso a wide curiosity on the part of
;he reader to learn more of this won-
lerful land of California.
The scope of the book may be *uc-
ilnctly given by quoting the table of
rontents. It is:
Italy in California—L The vintage. 11.
fcbout the city.
Sketching in the inferno (at Cypress
joint and the Monterey peninsula).
Eouvenirs of the past —L The mission
w»ns. 11. El Camlno Real (Spain s king's
\u25a0rghway). 111. Two old Spanish Call-
•ornia towns (the period of conquest).
Through Bret Harte's country.
Little Journeys from San Francisco—
1 The peninsula. 11. The region of
Tamaipais. IIL The Piedmont hills.
The Farallones.
A midsummer night's entertainment,
In the mountains.
Peixotto's work as an artist Is known
\u25a0d San Francisco, where be was raised ;
md had his first artistic influences,
lince his novitiate. In art he has tray-
tied. He has already published two
. »ther books uniform with "Romantic
California" —"By Italian Seas" and
Through the French "Provinces,** all
tandsome books. This new work is II-
ustrated with both wash and^pen and
tik line drawings. The drawing of
/ Msherman's wharf is a worthy exam- .
kde of the skill' of the artist and his
~wa for the salient picturesqueness of
Vs subject, \u0084 .
1 One of the purposes of the book, the.
rriter-artlst states is to open up new
vistas for the traveler In California, to
point out new wonders, fresh coins from
the mint of romance. To accomplish
that feat he has neglected one feature
Of San Francisco life —and let heaven
praise him for that —he has not men
tioned Chinatown. It takes Imagina
tlon. courage, fortitude, determination,
to write of this western metropolis of
ours without intruding its exotic east
crn settlement into the tale. Particu
i ariy when one is an artist, with ian
eye for the generous "color of the orient.
However, the only glory of Golden Gate
park which the artist thought worthy
Of mention was the Japanese tea gar
den. The garden Is a dainty place, a
curious and perfect growth set among
the hardier features of the park, but
why is"lt the most striking, the most
Pelxotto's' eye did not discover the
golden California poppy In his excur
si onß about the state There may be
a glint of lts spiendid gold in the book,
but it escaped us. It would be a curl-
OU3 omission, for Peixotto. like the
artist that •> he, is, has seen the true
coi or Of the state in all Its tints and
gi OWB> from the purple of the grape
to the g^y Of the sand dunes—he sees
them golden.
To elve an-idea'of that color scheme.
we may <jUOte sentences from his de
scrlption of San Francisco:
"its site, originally, was made up-of
endlesß dunes Of golden sarid covered
with greasewood and blue lupin. The
bay of San Francisco has. been Justly
compared with all the famous harbors
of th«rTTOrtd. and surely it,merits com
parison with the best of them. In its
roadsteads the united navies of the
world could anchor; the Gulf of Naples
can boast no purer blue'than its azure
g^y and no finer silhouette than pur
pj e Tamalpals looming to. the north."
Nature having given the outline, the
artlst demands that the .detail be filled
In by man. "Yet man,':, he', says, "has
added little to Its loveliness,, nay —I
say it j n sorrow—has detracted much
from it. San' Francisco has been living
through so strenuous a constructive
period that she has had but little time
for, thoughts of beauty. Let us hope,
however, that, with;, our other. Ameri
can cities, she will soon - be able to
awake to a dream of civil embellish
ment—of beauty as an asset to wealth—
and make of her water front, her, Tele[
graph hill,and her North beach shore
boulevards' that -I will draw the
crowd" to "linger within her "gates." .
In his preface Peixotto 'lures the
reader on to the delights of California.-
He says:'- • . . ;.%..; .
"California's-frultfulness," her vequa
ble climate,; the .wealth >.of <;her. fields
and flowers, have been sung, and well
sung, and all--the world • admits v the'
beauty of her garden'spots. 'Her mild';
winters are known, but'she has, too,
cool* summers'when'the. mountain fast-
nesses are open, when the sky Is ever
cloudless and the sea breezes blow
fresh from the Pacific.
"Her Spanish discoverers had just
been reading Ordonez " de Montalvo's,
then but recently published translation
of Lobelra's 'Amadis de Gaula' and the
additions thereto that he had entitled
<Las Sergas de Esplandian.V So, when
they came up this • rugged shore that
they mistook for an island - separated
from the mainland by a long. gulf, they
named it in honor of that imaginary
isle California, 'at the right hand of
the Indies, and very' near the terres
trial paradise,' . described \u25a0by Montalvo
In these exploits; of Esplandian. This
wonderful land was peopled with dusky
i Amazons, who bestrode great beasts
and fought griffons and other monsters;
They, owed allegiance to their queen,
Calafla; their arms were all of gold, as
well as the trappings of their, horses,
\u25a0 no other -metal being known upon the
Island. . "*\u25a0 "\u25a0 -. .-.- - . '- ';. - . -..- .-. ; : ' \u25a0
"The Spaniard did not hold this land
of gold quite long, enough: to see hi 3
vision fulfilled, but California has de
veloped far beyond his wildest dreams.
"It Is the writer's conviction that
apart from the precious endowments of
nature, California possesses many /of
the charms that we are accustomed to
associate only with certain parts. of the
old worldr namely, a " romantic, . historic
background revealed In unfrequented
spots- unknown- to^the, general. tourist;
an appeal !to the* lover of \u25a0 the pic
turesque, unfamiliar las ;yet,;buC when
more t. generally realized, calculated to
make the state a mecca for our able
landscape painters, as .well as certain
manifestations, such as the Grove plays
and 'the -performances'; in the Greek
theater :, that "are ito '-be reckoned with
in •: the artistic ; development of our
oountry/. -~: ;"- .•\u25a0_.\u25a0 ; ;1--..':'>
"To; pointy out tJiese less " : known at
tractions, of Jthe 'Golden State is the
ob J ect of the present book."
Among Peixotto's ! "artistic finds" in
California. has-been. the environment of
the Italians! dwelling In the: state,, both
in the city and in the vineclad country
districts. : His \u25a0 most? sympathetic pas
sages and his most delightful, draw
ings; have to \u25a0do '.with: the ; residence An
California of * the\ folk of t Italy.; * His
fascination '" Is -1 contagious. ; - He* rejoices
In his "finds." •Of them he , says : .\u25a0 "But
southern : California' ; has "i often C enough
been \ called ,< 'our : Italy,', and \ it ~''< is « not
so\ much my purpose to s follow these
reconstructions of Italy in ; California as
to seek, out the veritable bits of, the
-motherland that are to be found within
its borders. For , there are real . bits
of Italy .in Calif ornia— colonies' , that
retain- their traditions Intact, living the
picturesque life of the old country,-cul
tivating : their -patches of basilico for
the minestra; . drying /their strings' of
garlic on the rooftops, or mending their
brown nets in the sunlight, by the sea.
V"IV "I visited the -vineyards,", writes Pei
xotto, "named for -the township in
Piedmont that '•-: produces the most re-,
nowned of'v Italian sparkling wines^
the Astl -spumante. ; v i ;
"Situated on one of the upper reaches
of; the Russian river, in .a wide, and
comely valley, j surrounded ; by partially
wooded hills, with^the • tall .shafts of
redwoods, last remains of the northern
\u25a0 woods, punctuating .their crests from:
time to ; time, Asti recallß I the foothills ;
of ; the Bergamesque Alps .! or; the '\u25a0 lower
Blopesi of the* Apennines. ;
>!*While visiting:^ here, I -veritably
passed; my time, in Italy.: for every one
I \u25a0\u25a0] \u25a0: met'v and I . saw; was
Italian." v^ -^- '>.•\u25a0\u25a0 \u25a0 ."-' \u25a0.- \u25a0-.. : : '\u25a0: \u25a0
He rejoices In the picturesqueness of
the Italian quarter; ln i San Francisco—
of Grant avenue^ (nee Dupont* street),
of Montgomery • of . Broadway,
where, l he writes, ; ."you will; flnd ' the
principal Restaurants ; (cheer, for the
tourist who should* have the: book),
bona fide r trattorie like -;the v Trbvatore
and ' the \f FloW-i d'ltalla, I where '5 white
- aproned .^waiters >.: serve .; mines tra "'.-: and
! f ritto misto,* breaded -cutlets and sabag- ,
lone, while *a ' piccolo ; brings ; bottles ' of
; wine Tfrom "a. counter tucked^under ,the
"«talrs.Vv'C-l.", '.'\u25a0''\u25a0''-' f :'\u25a0\u25a0"' .'-"•"'•.:>' '\u25a0\u25a0--' -": ' ' '\u25a0
:.:He ;" tells. of \ the, theaters and? of the,
fall of^the marionettes: before >the' ap->
proach of - the ? blatant : nickelodeonsTand ;
moving, 1 picture -shows". •\u25a0 He; extols i, the
> excellent drama at " the Italian '. theater."
: . RegtetJlng ' the loss, in : the', fire C of
much that was , Interesting, the/artist
.rejoices In, one charm that seems per
manent: v ' :- . _[ " ,
\u25a0 "Fisherman's wharf still remains,
however, to delight the- lover of the
picturesque. . • ; . . • ; "'" ' '\u25a0- '-•-''
• "In a rectangular basin, with but a
1 single exit -to the; bay. He the lateen
sailed fishing smacks— blue, -green,: or
t striped with red and yellow— with their
warm brown sails shading of.;
. fishermen, gathered I around* their deml-[
Johns . of wine. •' • '• ' Most:.' of • the
fishermen are Ligurlans, and still count
In soldi, awaiting the day 'when, with
-a tidy sum, they, may return to 'the old
country to settle themselves '\u25a0' in some
(tiny villa in the olive groves above the
» sea. 1 '<\u25a0\u25a0 Many such! a \u25a0 one ; have I encoun-'
tere'd," passing his j old*, age in .the safe
harbors of Sestrl or Chiavari-rmen who %
have fished for years the far . waters of
-San Francisco bay." '
Peixotto, the "landscape ; artist, finds
his passion on the Monterey, peninsula.
Bewitched jby the uncanny; cypress that
i make the "seventeen^ mile, drive" ' and
':\u25a0 Its adjacent^forests w aiplace,'as;he says;
"where " Dante - might • have; waited T and *
dreamed \u25a0 his tragedies, i and ( through <
• their solitudes the erlkoenlg.might dash
-upon his Usable 'charger." \u25a0 : .
";.\u25a0; ln describing .the; weird • groups of
these'r nervous 'trees ..the artist ; ln.'the '
writer^ dominates;/ and;, the^form-' and -I
I sense of the uncanny i" grove! Is depicted \,
In print. as. well'asi ln line. \u25a0•'".He'^writes:.*i
\u25a0 \u25a0 :" "Af ter.'all.^the ' features of the coast, -
unique of their kind, are' those' fantastic
cypresses- that clothe lts'rocky promon
tories .with I their ; ' growth—"
strong,' durable, as the rocks^ themselves,,
built to; resist : . the' stoutest : grale. : i 'Away^
they; grow: more; reason- r
ably,: spreading I their? tops! like* giant;
umbrellas, dull,: thick and resistant,' and,
of, a :rich velvety V green* .^ But Jclbse?, to s
the. water: their. ltves'are spent i ; lnicon- : ; ;
stant' battle* withlthe 'wind,; their.' young;;
shoots ;lopped;off,Jkilled by) the blast?
from. the : sea ward '/side,,; forcing^ their;
: growth '" constantly;;;; In -i one << direction, ;\u25a0
. driving them" land ward''and ! givinff them
that strange fleeing movement that, to
my mind, is their salient characteristic."
Not an adept with sensitive English.
Peixotto 1 has caught at a graphic phrase
when he describes "the cypress of Mon
terey as having "that "strange l fleeing
movement." 'they seem,
bending, skulking -with their; deformed
stride from the' fresh, open Pacific^
[Peixotto is not yet-through with the
eerie grove. "And- In this : battle." -he
continues, ."toppling, i struggling with a
one sided weight, their great" trunks
throw, out wedge shaped buttresses and
their branches thicken aloft Into strange
elbows-— flying buttresses,". as: it; were —
.that. present a thin' edge to the wind,
but a broad, flat surface to support the
great \u25a0 weight ; overhead. Their, limbs
by this process become .'contorted and
twisted ": into ;^the\ strangest possible
shapes, rendered- stranger^ still by the
presence; of ;p. ruddy/ sea nioss; that
clings close -to . their sunder side — the
trentepbhlia— of the colorof rusted Iron
or of ; clotted blood."* ;>. " .;
Successful and :forceful as the, writer
is. In his; description of < the "trees, the
artist in Peixotto here triumphs and his
sketch of the -trees ogives "better th«
spirit' of their desperate [plight there
on . the •\u25a0 edge of; a* continent, "bearing In
the : i face"; of/ the great, angry ; sea the
brunt fof -the* battle between that tre
mendous element and their own impru
dent-clan.. V , ; .
s Landscape, \u25a0 however it may warm the
blood of the painter, does not constitute
romance— though i what* glorious oppor
tunity ;f or romance does the nobility of
California's ;.landscape ; suggest! "; There
must - be '•[men fan'd » women, vitality -and
tradition! to give; romance Its trappings.
Though [not>oi keen ; in ; his \u25a0 appreciation
of this -more vital aspect >of • "Romantic
Calif ornia;"';Peixotto /doe's x , not
it.> Imthe, parti of- the jbook,; ''Souvenirs
of the •:Past,".--he;tells j the -reminders
in [ Calif ornla~ of .the ! Spanish ; days* and
hints ofjthe.wealth' of story ?behind the
adobe.wallsHhat line.the]King's?hlgh
way from Sari". Dlegb ito Sonoma. '
v Of-theymisslqn;bells;he rw'rltes: ~\i .'
;. : -'rwhat - memories :. they evoke— thes s
mission .bells. The ringing « of -;- their
\u25a0liver chimes, one by one, as Fathe*
-Junipero founded his chain of mis
sions up and down , the coast, waked to
life sleeping valleys and lofty moun
tains that hitherto had known no othe?
sound than the soft voices of nature
- or- 1 the quiet singing of the natives—
the music of their clappers called the
Indian ! neophyte to prayer, to deca
dence and to his final annihilation — the
clang of their brazen tongues ru£*>
moned the cassocked friar from con
templation,ln his bower decked garden
to the cool white nave of the mission
church— summoned, too, the dark eyed
Spanish lady from the stillness of he?
patio to prayer before the curved wood
altars, to her marriage, to the baptism
of her children.
"IJesplte neglect and Time's destroy-*
Ing finger, however, in many of Cali
fornia's missions the bells survive and
still nans In their campanarlos — In
some they even summon a few wor
shipers to prayer. Four bells at San
Juan Caplatrano — a like number at San
Gabriel — three .at Santa Inez, rins
their matins and their vespers. San
Antonio's voice Is hushed, to be sure.
out may yet he r«snrrected. And only
recently we listened as the lonely bell
at San Miguel rang cut the angelus at
eventide" and at San Luis Oblspo on a
peaceful Sabbath morning we heard
the cracked bell from the tower sum
mon to mass a few swarthy men and a
handful of dark women clad In black
and wearing shawls upon their heads."
Of early mission life the writer gives
several glimpses, word pictures which
will be fresh and sweet to the stranger
in California, probably, too, to many
a native Callfornlan who has not yet
sensed the wonderful beauty of early
California life.
With what recklessness do we speak
of "early California" life, as If we were
going back into some primitive Mosaic
period or a Columbian epoch. It is not
70 years ago- when the missions and
mission life were In the full flower of
their prosperity and activity and the
merry shout of cabrlllo and the demure
\u25a0 laugh of Spanish maiden lightened the
traveler as he rode* along El Camino
Real, which Peixotto has just trav
ersed In an automoDlle.
"It is not a highway In Spain — this
Camino Real — that I mean to follow."
says Peixotto. "but a highway In our
own land. Spanish as any in Iberia,
a road of infinite variety, long enough
to traverse that peninsula, and running.
as it would there, from the desert
wastes of mountain plateaus to the
orange groves and palmetto of soft
lands of sunshine.
"While our patriot fathers were
struggling for their liberties along our
eastern seaboard, an old padre — el ln
fatigable operario de la Vina del Senor.*
as his friend and companion calls him —
was establishing his missions along our
western coast. His chain of churches,
when completed, was linked by this
road, * known to the Spaniard a3 El
Camino. Real, the king's highway— tha
only road marked by Duflot de Maufras
on his map of upper California, pub
lished In Paris just two years bef oro
the American .occupation. It still re
mains the lonely highway' that It al
ways was, the only road connecting
the old missions— a mere long stretch
upon the bare brown hills that skirt
the sea." . ;,->',
There Is much^more In the book that
Is worthy of comment. Peixotto found
Sonoma,. the old settlement of General
Vallejo, which still retains adobe
ghosts of Its former Spanish life. Ha
outlines the bear flag party's adventure
at Sonoma, which, he generously says,
"reads like a' bit of early revolutionary
But Monterey, as is Its heritage, wins
the most regard from Peixotto. It
must be remembered that the artist is
not writing a history of California, but
a reader of this book can secure a
sweeping idea, of • .the state's early
story, and here and there, tucked away
between words* of eelor and apprecia
tion of line, 13 a brief anecdote, a de
scription of a native ceremony, the ac
count ;of a .Monterey wedding under
the Spanish, regime, a skeptical version
of . story of General Sherman and
the gold of ophir rose In the senorlt&'s
front yard, such, glimpses of life that
Justify the title of the volume, •'Ro
mantic California."
A A is devoted to Bret Harte's
country, along .Table mountain. Poverty
flat, Chinese camp and Angels. With
sketches and anecdotes he reviews the
country as" it Is today, different in many
respects'; from -.the district Harts knew,
but still retaining some shreds of the
old romantic si Irit with which Bret
Harte : clothed it. *
;The Bohemian club will appreciate
the tribute paid to Its jinks, and the
dweller ,in -,' the McClotTd country will
honor Peixotto for the honor. he has
done to that romantic wood and river
land." •

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