BRET HARTE. 7
nnnself into the changeful stream of humanity
which ebbed and flowed among the young cities by
the sea, the pine-clad ridges of the Sierra, and the
rude camps of the gold-hunters which were then
breaking the stillness of long unvexed solitudes.
No age nor condition, no quality of manhood,
nor grade of moral or mental culture was unrepre¬
sented in that motley tide of migration. The
dreamy young student, the future poet of the
Argonauts of 1849, drifted on with the rest.
For two or three years he, like all the restless
wanderers of those days, pursued a various calling
and had no fixed abode. An unsatisfied desire for
change, a half-confessed impatience with long
tarrying in any spot, seemed to possess every soul.
Mining camps and even thrifty towns were de¬
populated in a single day, the unnoted casualties of
their rough life emptying a few places, the rest
being eagerly left behind by men who drifted far
and wide; their lately coveted " claims" were
quickly occupied by other rovers from other fields.
Harte mined a little, taught school a little, tried
his hand at type-setting and frontier journalism,
climbed mountains and threaded ravines as the
mounted messenger of an express company, or
acted as agent for that company in some of the
mountain towns which we have learned to know so
well as Sandy Bar. Poker Flat, and Wingdam.