. . . I have said that the trip was de rigueur. No sooner do you announce to your friends in New York that you are going to California than they immediately cry out, "Ah, then you will see the Yo Semite!" . . .
I have known Californians who went to New York, and returned home without seeing the Adirondacks; but wo betide the wandering Easterner if he seek the Pacific without bringing a trip to Yo Semite back with him! All along the railroad westward he is badgered with inquiries as to the probable date of his journey to Yo Semite; and when, after the long ride across the continent, he is received at last within the hospitable walls of one of San Francisco's grand hotels, the first thing he receives is the card of the agent for Yo Semite, who encloses a small map showing the three different modes of reaching the same. . . .
The dawn breaks in the morning of the next day, and shining red as fire through the pine knots of the log cabin where Hutchings dwells, strikes our leaden eyelids and bids us arise. Reluctantly we do so. This is the end of our wanderings. Here is the great prize to obtain a view of which we have come so many weary miles. Now we are to be repaid for all. We make a hurried toilet, and as quickly as our stiffened limbs will permit, we drag out to see the view which shall awe us, shall make us lose our identity, shall cause us to feel as though we were in the spirit land."*
And what do we see? Tall rocks, a few tall trees, a high and narrow waterfall, a pretty little river! No more. A lovely natural scene, I grant you; but oh! where in this broad and beautiful land of ours are not lovely natural scenes the rule? Words cannot tell the feelings of cold despair which came over me and all our party as we looked about us. Was it for this we had so suffered? . . .
We never rallied from that first impression.
"But that stone wall is nearly a mile high."
It may be so, but it does not look it; and if it did, the stars are higher, and, thank God, the stars shine at home!
"That waterfall is eleven times higher than Niagara."
Indeed! It looks like a fireman's hose playing over the top of Stewart's store.
. . . By another day some of us are well enough to mount again and begin our search after Beauty. We find an occasional rattlesnake, unlimited fatigue, and the tombstone of a man who was kicked to death by his horse. The trips are very wearying, the scenery very grand, very beautiful, but we are in no condition to enjoy it. We never get in such condition, and the universal verdict with us is that if every one of the waterfalls in Yo Semite were magnified, every one of its granite domes were an Olympus, if its rivers were the Rhine, and its valley the fairy gardens of Versailles, the sight of it would not repay one for the suffering involved in getting to it. And the plain truth is that nine out of ten who visit Yo Semite think this, but they will not say what they think. Some people, it is true, never have an opinion of their own, but parrot-like repeat the refrain which has been set them to sing. You remember in the pages of Most Glorious Twain the ugly little girl they saw in the Holy Land, and frank Mark's astonishment at everybody's bawling out in chorus, "What Madonna like beauty!" He knew there was an explanation. He afterward found the keynote. It was struck in old Grimes's (Dead) Book on the Holy Land. So with the Yo Semite. "I felt awed!--the spirit land--losing your own identity."
O travelled monkey! Dare to tell the truth, why do you not? Because you are afraid some other travelled monkey will say you "can't appreciate" the scenery which it makes your head ache to look at, and your bones ache to get at. Because you are a coward, or because you know you have made an idiot of yourself, and flung away your money by handfuls, and endured the tortures of purgatory; and you are ashamed to confess yourself so easily taken in and done for--man of the world that you are. But I am only a woman, and I confess all.