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Old 08-18-2013, 12:31 PM  
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Lotos-Land

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If ever one were justified in rising out of the path of exact narration, and indulging in a brief spell of the fanciful or ideal, it is in thinking of California when the white men came. A narrow strip of seaboard, the air low breathing and of tender tone, with green and grizzly mountains for a background, all opening toward the sunwaves of this is our lotos-land, where fancy may place the lotos-tree, with its leaves like the ears of elephants, and its branches drooping down from heaven. Among these branches are birds of sweetest song, whose strains are fresh from paradise, and under their shadow angels. pause and rest. The seeds of this tree each encloses an houri; and from its roots spring the two rivers which flow by the invisible throne of Allah. Sitting on a lotos-tree, rising from the watery mud, the Egyptians picture deity, while the great desert prophet places a lotos-tree in his seventh heaven.

It is a winterless earth's end perpetually refreshed by ocean, a land surpassed neither by the island grotto of Calypso, the Elysian fields of Homer, nor the island valley of Avalon seen by King Arthur iu his dying thought. Here day after day, and year after year, may come the stranger, and eat the lotos, and be happy; he may eat the lotos and forget the old home and country, forget the wife and children, content forever to rest in this strange land, waking to fall asleep again, and dream day-dreams and night-dreams, as he floats silently down the sluggish stream of time. Here might be placed the Hebrew's Eden, or the beatitude of the Buddhist; here may the dark-eyed Italian enjoy his dolce far niente, and the sighing ghost of Charles Lamb find a region beyond the domain of conscience. And I doubt not, if proper search be made, that here may be found the singing-tree of the Arabian tale, the leaves whereof are mouths, each one of which discourses harmonious music.

At either end of this seaboard strip is a beautiful bay; San Diego, in the south, the starting-point in Alta California of the Franciscan friars in their tour northward, the initial point in their line of mission buildings, San Francisco being the northern terminus.
This is but a tiny bit of a book written by Hubert Howe Bancroft in 1888. After wading through his other tomes, this really amazed me. If you want to read more, check out my blog, Father Serra's Legacy.

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Old 08-20-2013, 08:06 PM  
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Parts II and III have been posted and part IV will be there tomorrow.

What amazed me about Bancroft is the beauty of this prose when he was actually nothing more than a compiler/editor with others gather all the information for him.

An early, partial review of the work - he shows his 19th Century bigotry and racism throughout, along with the Protestant/American dislike of anything Catholic. He shows his feelings that all the Indians were innocent savages torn from their Eden by the heartless priests. All Spanish/Mexicans were ill-educated, lazy and would only perform "work" that called for being on the back of a horse. While extremely friendly with visitors, their intercine arguments and dislikes stopped them from having a workable government. In Monterey, only two of the business belonged to Mexicans, all the others by foreigners. In fact, the captain of the port was an Englishman!

I wonder how many of his "facts" were thus slanted by his personal bias.

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Old 08-31-2013, 07:24 PM  
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Check out my comments on what we were taught in school about early California @ http://msgdaleday.blogspot.com

I also learned where the derogative word “Greaser” came from!
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