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In the Footprints of the Padres   By: (1843-1909)

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[Illustration: Life at the Mission of Dolores, 1855]

IN THE FOOTPRINTS OF THE PADRES

BY CHARLES WARREN STODDARD

NEW AND ENLARGED EDITION

INTRODUCTION BY CHARLES PHILLIPS

SAN FRANCISCO A.M. Robertson MCMXII

TO MY FATHER SAMUEL BURR STODDARD, ESQ. FOR HALF A CENTURY A CITIZEN OF SAN FRANCISCO

THOUGH THE KINDNESS OF THE EDITORS OF THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, THE CENTURY MAGAZINE, THE OVERLAND MONTHLY, THE AVE MARIA, NOTRE DAME, INDIANA, THE VICTORIAN REVIEW, MELBOURNE

INTRODUCTION

Since the first and second editions of "In the Footprints of the Padres" appeared, many things have transpired. San Francisco has been destroyed and rebuilt, and in its holocaust most of the old landmarks mentioned in the pages that follow as then existing, have been obliterated. Since then, too, the gentle heart, much of whose story is told herein, has been hushed in death. Charles Warren Stoddard has followed on in the footprints of the Padres he loved so well. He abides with us no longer, save in the sweetest of memories, memories which are kept ever new by the unforgettable writings which he left behind him. He passed away April 23, 1909, and lies sleeping now under the cypresses of his beloved Monterey.

Charles Warren Stoddard was possessed of unique literary gifts that were all his own. These gifts shine out in the pages of this book. Here we find that mustang humor of his forever kicking its silver heels with the most upsetting suddenness into the honeyed sweetness of his flowing poetry. Here, too, we find that gift of word painting which makes all his writings a brilliant gallery of rich hued and soft lighted wonder. Of the green thickets of the redwood forests he says, in "Primeval California": "A dense undergrowth of light green foliage caught and held the sunlight like so much spray." So do Stoddard's pages catch and hold the lights and shadows of a world which is the more beautiful because he beheld it and sang of it for sing he did. His prose is the essence of poetry.

In my autograph copy of "The Footprints of the Padres" Stoddard wrote: "A new memory of Old Monterey is the richer for our meeting here for the first time in the flesh. We have often met in spirit ere this." Whenever we would go walking together, he and I, through the streets of that old Monterey, old no longer save in memory, he would invariably take me to a certain high board fence, and looking through an opening show me the ruins of an adobe house nothing but a broken fireplace left, moss grown and crumbling away. "That is my old California," he would say, while his sweet voice was shaken with tears. That desolated hearth seemed to him the symbol of the California which he had known and loved.... But no, the old California that Stoddard loved lives on, and will, because he caught and preserved its spirit and its coloring, its light and life and music. As the redwood thicket holds the sunlight, so do Stoddard's words keep bright and living, though viewed through a mist of tears, the California of other days.

In this new edition of "The Footprints" some changes will be found, changes which all will agree make an improvement over the original volume. "Primeval California," first published in October, 1881, in the old Scribner's (now The Century) Magazine, when James G. Holland was its editor, is at times Stoddard at his best. "In Yosemite Shadows" shows us the young Stoddard full of boyish enthusiasm he could not have been more than twenty when it was written and published, in the old Overland, then edited by Bret Harte. It is more than a gloriously poetic description of Yosemite, when Yosemite still dreamed in its virgin beauty; it is the revelation of a poet's beginnings, for it gives us in the rough, just finding their way to the light, all those gifts which later won Stoddard his fame.

The third addition to this volume is "An Affair of the Misty City," a valuable chapter, since it is wholly autobiographical, and at the same time embodies pen portraits of all the celebrities of California's first literary days, that famous group of which Stoddard was one... Continue reading book >>




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