National Geographic : 1915 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE runs in "prospects," and calls up, as he runs along, vivid pictures of sun-struck canyons and sudden odors of sage and chaparral. AH SING AND HIS DAUGHTER He still looks with huge disfavor upon Ah Sing, flapping in loose cloth shoes along Chinatown's narrow alleys. In his time he gave poor Ah the devil's own time of it, hunting him with the same venom his grandson displays to the Jap. Time, however, brings its surceases. The best of servants, most faithful of friends, a true gentleman in his quiet reservations, the Chinaman has won a permanent place in California's life. Forty thousand of him - save for the "tong wars," during which he practices race suicide with a hatchet-live at peace in San Francisco; also he has lived down the reputation for "tricks that are vain" foisted upon him by Bret Harte. His word passes everywhere for his bond. His daughter, little Miss Ah, is a living proof of his complete patriation. That which it has done for little Miss San Francisco, developing her into the love liest creature in all the world, the climate has also done for little Miss Ah. She is twice as tall and ten times as pretty as her sallow, short-footed slave mother. Slim and delicately colored by nature helped out a bit, perhaps, by a rabbit's foot-she is to be seen any day in bevies of three or more, happy and free, full of giggles and chatter, lending the color of her blue, cerise, or mauve pantaloons to the duller costumes on Market Street. Yet so much has she become a part of San Francisco's life that none but a ten derfoot stares at her. And that which climate has done for Miss Ah it is also doing for higher things, promoting greater loveliness in music, painting, sculpture, letters, all the arts. It is trite, now, to draw the parallel between California and ancient Greece, yet the causes which made the latter are already at work to develop in the former a like sensitiveness to the beautiful. The cold northlands were always the mother of great deeds. First in conquest, later in the inventions that make for material well-being, they led the world. But while their children were still chanting their boisterous sagas to the clashing of shields, the cadences of real song, rhythms of true poetry, were rising and falling in the southlands in harmony with the surge and recession of Mediterranean waves. That climate is the mother of art, then, there can be no doubt. In a pleasant land, where neither tweaking cold nor ener vating heat chill or enervate the mind, it will inevitably make its highest flights, and those ideal conditions which made the Mediterranean the cradle of the arts are duplicated in California. From the virile sowing of pioneer seed which, as under the breath of a mighty wind, was brought in from the four quarters of the world by the "gold rush" of '49, has al ready issued a crop of great writers and poets. A LONG LIST OF AUTHORS First, Joaquin Miller, Ina Coolbrith, Bret Harte, Charles Warren Stoddard, Edwin Markham, each celebrating in his or her own inimitable way the spread of desert or mountain, misty canyons, ca thedral redwoods, oak-studded meads and riven valleys, bound in between the snow capped Sierras and vast blue spread of the sea. After them came a second crop Frank Norris and Jack London, Mary Austin, George Sterling, John Fleming Wilson, James Hopper, Gertrude Ather ton-and upon their heels now comes treading a greater host-poets, painters, writers, actors, playwrights, good crafts men-all who would have stood out as notable figures in the less crowded fields of 20 years ago. And with such a be ginning, what can be the end-but the creation of a second Greece? The Exposition, with its warm color, great spaces, and huge masses rising from the ruins of a burned city, is at once a product and manifestation of this later Grecian spirit. Where else could its colorful beauty have been so perfectly at home, after granting the spirit to pro duce it ? It is true that it has been called into existence only to serve the need of an hour; but that merely increases the wonder of it!