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Henry George
by [?]

Life is a sequence–the logical, farseeing mind is a cumulative consequence. Men who are wise at forty were not idle at twenty. “Read anything half an hour a day, and in ten years you will be learned,” says Emerson.

Henry George worked and read, and the “Junta” gave him the first taste of that intoxicating thing, thinking on one’s feet. We grow by expression, and never really know a thing until we tell it to somebody else. Henry George was getting an education, getting it in the only way any one ever can, or has, or does–getting it by doing.

But the wanderlust was again at work; California was calling–the land of miracle–and printer’s ink began to pall. Henry George was a sailor; every part of a sailing ship was to him familiar–from bilge- water to pennant, from bowsprit to sternpost. He could swab the mainmast, reef the topsail in a squall, preside in the cook’s-galley, or if the mate were drunk and the captain ashore he could take charge of the ship, put for open sea and ride out the storm by scudding before the wind.

Ships in need of sailors were lying in the offing. When young Henry George took a walk it was always along the docks. He knew every ship there in the Delaware, and visited with the sailormen, who told of the happenings in far-off climes. News from California much interested him; California was another America, hopelessly separated from us by an impassable range of forbidding mountains, reinforced with desert plains, peopled only by hostile savages. But the sea was an open highway to this land of enchantment. California called! And finally Henry George overcame temptation by succumbing to it, and sailed away southward in the staunch little ship “Shubrick,” bound for the modern Eldorado by way of Cape Horn. It was a six months’ passage, with many stops and much trading, and time that seem lifted out of the calendar and thrown away. Henry George arrived in California penniless. But he had health and a willingness to work. He became a farmhand, a tramp pedler, a laborer shoveling gravel into a sluice-way and standing all day knee-deep in water. It was all good, for it taught the youth that life was life; and wherever you go you carry your mental and spiritual assets, as well as your cares, on the crupper. Then there came a job in the composing-room of a newspaper, and the life-work of Henry George was really begun, for his employers had discovered that he could “rastle the dic.,” and if copy were scarce he could create it.

* * * * *

The gold-fever got into the blood of Henry George, and his savings became a shining mark for the mining-shark. A thousand men lose money at mining where one strikes pay-gravel. Henry George was one of the thousand.

He got good wages and boarded at the best hotel in San Francisco, the “What Cheer House.” This storied hostelry was owned by a man named Woodward, who had a few ideas of his own. Woodward not only hated Rum, Romanism and Rebellion, but also women. Woodward was a confirmed bachelor, having been confirmed by a lady bachelor in some dark, mysterious way, years before. So no woman was allowed either to stop at the hotel or to work in it. The labor was done by Chinese, and Henry George wrote home to his sisters, describing the place as an immaculate conception.

Next to the fact that no women were allowed in the “What Cheer House,” was the further more astounding proposition that the place was run on absolutely temperance principles, thus, for the time at least, silencing that hoary adage of the genus wiseacre that no hotel can succeed without a bar. Woodward became rich, and from the proceeds of his temperance hotel founded Woodward Gardens–a park beloved by all who know their San Francisco.