~Part Six~

Ah yes, I would have killed, back East, as opposed to out West where a man—once upon a time—was at least afforded the dignity of murder. No, it's all a show now. It's no accident a circus is full of rings, some maddening shape to circle about again and again, traveling great distances to go nowhere at all, those who could afford admission just behind the glare of the lights, their laughter, their fear, their disgust, their delight utterly inscrutable-nay, indecipherable-to you, the ENTERTAINMENT.

Perhaps I would have more wholeheartedly endorsed the Southern Cause and done so earlier had I known the graciousness of Southern living firsthand, but—alas—I was on horseback nearly alone in the desert mountains getting shot at by Pauites and Blackfeet and Sioux. You know, my clown act. My pantomime, which surely shall send me to the devil somewhat ere my time! Meanwhile, back in Charleston and Huntsville, plantation owners gathered their families round the pianoforte to read the latest verse of Sidney Lanier whilst leaning elegantly against a marble lintel above the hearth. So, no, I was not afforded that experience, Dear Reader, but I sure as HELL didn't have time for the latest political cause to come out of Boston, either!

I did not know that life! I did not know either of those good lives: North or South! I carved out my own in the West with my bare hands and I have never been one to fight another man's battles. That is the heart of bureaucracy, isn't it? Is that not the business of factory life in which every man does his small, meaningless part, denied at every turn his own private whole? What is the North, but a corporation? What prude truly believes exploitation exists only below the Mason-Dixon Line?

And, if you think, Dear Reader, I have twisted myself of late into a moral contortion intended to delude no one by myself—and you sure do think just that, Dear Reader—I assure you this is no new stance on my part.

To put it most simply, allow me to quote what I once wrote about the climate of California: "Accounting for a northern latitude's possessing a southern climate is, after all, much like accounting for a northern man's possessing southern principles; many circumstances, in either case, must be taken into the account." I wrote that when I was 25 years old; indeed, the child is the father of the man.

After everything, after my wife passed, and my children were scattered to the four winds, I at least had some reminder of what came before. Somewhere remained a boy with one brash gesture left him, yet a man who refused to creep around. Lansford Warren Hastings, Esquire, all of 23 years old elected to lead the Oregon-bound pioneers of 1842! Lansford Warren Hastings, taking the breath away of his elders!