A stranger arriving on Williams Creek is struck with the grotesque appearance
of miners and the singular manner of life which they lead. If he happens
to be from an old settled community, he is very apt to place the miner on
the same social level with the common laborer of his own country; but on
a more intimate acquaintance with him, he discovers that many of the men
who wield a pick and shovel have been men of respectable standing in civilized
countries; some of them have been lawyers, or physicians, officers (military
and naval) and merchants, and accustomed to move in the highest circles
of soci ety.
But his astonishment at discovering their intelligence is not so great as at the direction their ambition seems to take. It would appear that the climax of their ambition is to excel at card playing. The man who cannot play a good game of "draw poker," "seven-up", "freeze-out", or cribbage", is voted green horn and unworthy the association of good men and true, while the man who is an expert in those games is envied by man and the admired of all. It is truly a lamentable state of affairs when men whose youth gave promise of brighter things, waster their hours night after night playing poker at limits varying from twenty-five cents to one dollar. Some men it is true play poker with a limit of twenty dollars, but then these are the great men of the country, and they feel the importance of their positions. Perhaps this would be a pardonable offence were they ignorant of the crime they commit; but they are well aware that by thus converting night into day, by going to bed at 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon they are shortening their lives by a considerable period, besides rendering themselves unfit to move in good society, when they have an opportunity of returning to civilized life.
Just observe one of those men after one of the sitting up nights, his eyes are red and swollen, generally one boot over the leg of his pants and the other inside, with a face six inches longer than ordinary, in short, a very dejected appearance in general, so much so that a bystander is very apt to exclaim, "There goes the veritable last rose of summer." As I myself, an immaculate, may venture to give some sound advice to miners. I would recommend them to engage in some practical study, such as useful reading or the acquirement of any modern language, Spanish or French for instance, and I will venture to assure them that if they only expend half the time and energy on the acquirement of any foreign language as they do on cards, they will become quite proficient in the same.
Yours respectfully, CENSOR April, 1866