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Mr. [?] Brooks

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Brooks, Mr. The Office Book records "[Chip:] A Lynch Trial in California" [III, 611-12. Sept. 20, 1851], as arriving at the editorial office "per C. Buxton Esq." Payment is recorded as "Enclosed & sent." Editorial comment prefaced to the item states that the writer is "a University Graduate who was an eyewitness" to the lynch trial, and that his communication is dated from Grass Valley, Nevada County, May 23,1851. The "communication" may be an authentic one; or, like another "Brooks" publication, it may be a hoax. 




      In 1849 the London publisher David Bogue brought out Four Months among the Gold-Finders in AIta California: Being the Diary of an Expedition from San Francisco to the Gold Districts. By J. Tyrwhitt Brooks, MD. The book was highly successful, It was noticed by all reviewers, brought out in the year of publication in a New York edition, and translated into several foreign languages. For some years it passed current as an authentic description of conditions in the diggings and as the "true account" of the gold discovery told by Captain Sutter to the English doctor and recorded by him (so he wrote), "as near as I can recollect, in the Captain's own words." Finally, the diary came to the attention of Sutter. He indignantly declared it fictitious. 
      "J. Tyrwhitt Brooks" was Henry Vizetelly (1820-1894), printer, publisher, journalist, contributor to (among other periodicals) A.Y.R. He had been inspired to write the fictitious diary by reading Frémont's report on his expedition to Oregon and California. In Glances Back through Seventy Years, VizeteIly recounted the procedure gone through by him and his publisher to keep secret the authorship of the book. 
      If Vizetelly could masquerade so convincingly as the doctor who administers calomel and febrifuge to one of his fellow gold-seekers and dresses the wounds of others, he could equally well have masqueraded as the university graduate who helps start a lyceum in the "rising town" of Grass Valley, is present at the lynch trial, and explains the necessity of retaining lynch law. 
      The "C. Buxton Esq:' through whose agency the item arrived at the editorial office may be Charles Buxton, 1823-1871, M.P., with whom VizeteIly was acquainted. Buxton was among the members of Parliament who agreed to give their support to the London penny daily that Vizetelly, in 1864, planned to establish (Glances Back through Seventy Years, II,118-19)· 
      The Examiner reprinted four paragraphs of "A Lynch Trial."

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971. 

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