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"THE fitful flame of Young Romance," fed
by the Arabian Nights' Entertainments,
Fairy tales and Heathen Mythologies; the
wonderful fables of Genii and Magicians;
stories of towns springing up, ready-built, out
of deserts; tales of cities paved with gold; the
Happy Valley of Rasselas; the territories of
Oberon and Titania, Robert Owen's New
Harmony, and the land of Cockaigne;
Gulliver's Travels, the Adventures of Peter
Wilkins, legends of beggars made kings, and
mendicants millionaires; Sinbad the Sailor,
Baron Munchausen, Law of Laurieston, Major
Longbow, Colonel Crocket, the Poyais loan;
illimitable exaggeration; undaunted lying;
the most rampant schemes of the most rabid
speculators; the wildest visions of the maddest
poet; the airiest castle of the most Utopian
lunatic any one of these, and all of them
put together, do not exceed the wondrous
web of realities that is being daily woven
around both hemispheres of the globe. Not
to mention conversations carried on thousands
of miles apart, by means of electricity, and a
hundred other marvels that Science has
converted into commonplaces, we would now
confine ourselves to the latest " wonderful
wonder that has ever been wondered at"—
the gold region of California; but more
especially to its capital, San Francisco.

The story of the magic growth of this city
would have defied belief, had it not rapidly
grown up literally under the " eyes of Europe."
When the returns were made to the United
States' authorities in 1831, it contained three
hundred and seventy-one individuals, and very
few more resided in it up to the discovery of
gold at Slitter's Mill, in the Sacramento River.
Even in April, 1849, we learn from a credible
eye-witness, that there were only from thirty
to forty houses in San Francisco; and that
the population was so small, that so many as
twenty-five persons could never be seen out
of doors at one time. There now lie before
us two prints; one of San Francisco, taken in
November, 1848, soon after the discovery was
made, and another exactly a year afterwards.
In the first, we are able to count twenty-six
huts and other dwellings dotted about at
uneven distances, and four small ships in
the harbour. In the second, the habitations
are countless. The hollow, upon which the city
partly stands, presents a bird's-eye view of
roofs, packed so closely together, that the houses
they cover are innumerable; while the sides of
the surrounding hills are thickly strewed with
tents and temporary dwellings. On every
side are buildings of all kinds, begun or
half-finished, but the greater part of them
mere canvas sheds, open in front, and
displaying all sorts of signs, in all languages.
Great quantities of goods are piled up in the
open air, for want of a place to store them.
The streets are full of people, hurrying to and
fro, and of as diverse and bizarre a character
as the houses: Yankees of every possible
variety, native Californians in sarapes and
sombreros, Chilians, Sonorians, Kanakas from
Hawaii, Chinese with long tails, Malays and
others in whose embrowned and bearded
visages it is impossible to recognise any
especial nationality. In the midst is the
plaza, now dignified by the name of
Portsmouth Square. It lies on the slope of the
hill; and, from a high pole in front of a long
one-story adobe building used as the Custom
House, the American flag is flying. On the
lower side is the Parker House Hotel. The
Bay of San Francisco is black with the hulls
of ships, and a thick forest of masts intercepts
the landscapes of the opposite coast and the
islet of Yerba Buena. Flags of all nations
flutter in the breeze, and the smoke of three
steamers is borne away on its wings in dense
wreaths.—The first picture is one of stagnation
and poverty, the other presents activity and
wealth in glowing colours.

"Verily," says the correspondent of a Boston
Paper, " the place was in itself a marvel.
To say that it was daily enlarged by from
twenty to thirty houses may not sound very
remarkable after all the stories that have
been told; yet this, for a country which
imported both lumber and houses, and where
labour was then ten dollars a day, is an
extraordinary growth. The rapidity with
which a ready-made house is put up and
inhabited, strikes the stranger in San Francisco
as little short of magic. He walks over an
open lot in his before-breakfast strollthe
next morning, a house complete, with a family
inside, blocks up his way. He goes down
to the bay and looks out on the shipping
two or three days afterward a row of