Words not normally used in the ordinary speech of today will be highlighted, with definitions following the poem.
Excerpt From, "The Centennial History of Oregon 1811-1911"
By Joseph Gaston * Volume One
As characteristic of the people and the times, the following lines contributed at that time to the "Oregon Spectator" by John Carey of Yamhill county, a pioneer of 1847, who wrote over the signature of "O.P.Q." is given here as veritable history:
Nor be thou a deceiver,
But sing in plain poetic strains
The present "yellow fever".
And then I looked, and lo! I saw
A Herald bright advancing -
A being from some other clime
On golden pinions dancing.
And as he neared the mighty crowd
He made this proclamation
In tones so clear, distinct and loud
It startled half the nation.
"Why do you labor here," he cried,
"For merely life and pleasure,
While just beyond that mountain gray
Lies wealth beyond all measure?
The road is plain, the way is smooth,
'Tis neither rough nor thorny;
come, leave this rugged vale and go
With me to California.
There wealth untold is bought and sold
And each may be partaker!
Where fifty tons of finest gold
Are dug from every acre!"
At sound of gold both young and old
Forsook their occupation,
And wild confusion seemed to rule
In every situation.
An old cordwainer heard the news,
And though not much elated,
He left his pile of boots and shoes
And just evaporated.
The cooper left his tubs and pails,
His buckets and his piggins;
The sailor left his yards and sails,
And started for the "diggins".
The farmer left his plough and steers,
The merchant left his measure,
The tailor dropped his goose and shears
And went to gather treasure.
A pedagogue attired incog,
Gave ear to what was stated,
Forsook his stool, bestrode a mule,
And then absquatulated.
A boatman, too, forsook his crew,
Let fall his oar and paddle,
And stole his neighbor's iron-gray,
But went without a saddle.
The joiner dropped his square and jack,
The carpenter his chisel,
The peddler laid aside his pack
And all prepared to mizzle.
The woodman dropped his trusty axe,
The tanner left his leather,
The miller left his pile of sacks
And all went off together.
The doctor cocked his eye askance,
The promised wealth descrying,
Then wheeled his horse and off he pranced
And left his patients dying.
The preacher dropped the holy Book.
And grasped the mad illusion;
The herdsman left his flock and crook
Amid the wild confusion.
The judge consigned to cold neglect
The great judicial ermine,
But just which way his honor went
I could not well determine.
And then I saw far in the rear
A fat, purse-proud attorney
Collect his last retaining fee
And start upon his journey.
And when each brain in that vast train
Was perfectly inverted,
My slumbers broke and I awoke
And found the place deserted.
YELLOW FEVER: Lust to search for Gold.
PINIONS: The wing of a bird.
HERALD: A person who carries or proclaims important news; a messenger.
CLIME: the weather in some location.
FORSOOK: To give up or to renounce.
CORDWAINER: A worker in cordwain, or cordovan leather; a shoemaker.
COOPER: One that makes or repairs wooden barrels and tubs. PIGGINS: Small wooden container w/handle, most commonly used for feeding pigs.
PEDAGOGUE: A schoolteacher; an educator.
INCOG: One whose identity is disguised or concealed.
BESTRODE: To sit or stand on with the legs astride; straddle.
ABSQUATULATED: To depart in a hurry.
IRON-GRAY: A color; in this case the color of his neighbors horse.
JOINER: A carpenter, especially a cabinetmaker.
PEDDLER: One who travels about selling wares for a living.
MIZZLE: To make a sudden departure.
TANNER: One who converts hide into leather.
MILLER: One who works in, operates, or owns a mill, especially a grain mill.
ASKANCE: With a sideways glance of disapproval, suspicion, or distrust.
DESCRYING: To discover by careful observation or scrutiny; detect.
CROOK: An implement or tool, such as a bishop's crosier or a shepherd's staff, with a bent or curved part.
ERMINE: Office or functions of a judge, whose state robe, lined with ermine, is emblematical of purity and honor without stain.