“It was an assemblage of two hundred thousand young men- not simpering, dainty, kid-gloved weaklings, but stalwart, muscular, dauntless young braves, brimful of push and energy, and royally endowed with with every attribute that goes to make up a peerless and magnificent manhood- the very pick and choice of the worlds glorious ones. No women, no children, no gray and stooping veterans, – none but erect, bright eyed, quick moving, strong handed young giants- the strangest population, the finest population, the most gallant host to have ever trooped down the startled solitudes of an unpeopled land. And where are they now? Scattered to the ends of the earth- or prematurely aged and decrepit- or shot and stabbed in street affrays – or dead of disappointed hopes and broken hearts- all gone, or nearly all- victims devoted upon the alter of the golden calf- the noblest holocaust that ever wafted its sacrificial incense heavenward. It is pitiful to think upon.”
Roughing It – Mark Twain
Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful clear,
And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could hear;
With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped there in the cold,
A half-dead thing in a stark, dead world, clean mad for the muck called gold;
While high overhead, green, yellow and red, the North Lights swept in bars?
- extract from The Shooting of Dan McGrew by R.W. ServiceRead less