There is such a confounded prejudice against the Alta that we don't suppose it will be a bit of use our saying that it is not as stupid as it used to be. It's a fact nevertheless. The Alta is improving. It has a good London correspondent; then look at those letters from "Harry Palmer in the Humboldt!" Don't they show genius? Read "Charlie's" "Notes by the Way through Napa Valley." His description of Calistoga is a sweet thing in descriptions. He talks of "the perfumed breezes that in the sweet springtide and summer play and gambol there." Yes, and think of the perfumed "sports" that in the sweet spring and summer play and gamble there! You forgot to mention them in your description, Charlie. How many notes, by the way, did you get for that puff of Calistoga, Charlie? It doesn't signify; business is business. On Saturday the Alta had a leader on "The Policy of Louis Napoleon!" There's pluck for you! There's moral hardihood! People may laugh at the Alta writing on such a subject as the policy of Louis Napoleon, but that leader was not half bad; there was nothing very new in it, but it was written in tolerably good English. Then Fitz Smythe, though he never will learn to write the English language correctly, has almost given up his insane attempts to make one joke before he dies. Altogether, the Alta is certainly improving. Even the commercial reporter is getting lively and sportive, and to make up for the suppression of the "Poets' Corner," quotes little bits of poetry. We have hopes that the Alta will become a newspaper yet.
[published in Early Tales & Sketches, Volume 2, 1864-1865,
University of California Press, 1981, pp. 499-500.]
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