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Such persons, and indeed all who seek to improve their minds by indulging a wholesome curiosity as to the private history of the good and great of earth, will be glad to hear that this question of “Who is Joseph Bowers ?" is about to be definitely answered.
Through the kindness of Messrs. Hyde and Seekim of Vallecitos, we have been permitted to glance over the proof-sheets of their forthcoming work, the title of which is given above, and to make therefrom such selections as we may deem sufficient to interest the public in promoting the filial design of the younger Bowers, to transmit the name and virtues of his honored sire to posterity.
Joseph Bowers the elder (or as he is familiarly known, « Old Joe Bowers "), we learn from this history, was born in Ypsilanti, Washtenaw county, Michigan, on the first day of April, 1776, of "poor but honest parents." His father, during the troubles of the revolutionary struggle, was engaged in business as a malefactor in western New York, from which part f the country he was compelled to emigrate, by the prejudio:s and annoyances of the bigoted settlers among whom he had for many years conducted his operations. Emigrating suddenly, in fact “with such precipitation,” says the narrator, " that my grandfather took nothing with him of his large property, but a single shirt, which he happened to have about him at the time he formed his resolution," he found himself after a journey of several days, of vicissitude and suffering, upon the summit of a hill overlooking a beautiful valley in the fertile State of Michigan. Struck by the beauty
of the surrounding scenery, he leaped from the ground in his enthusiasm, and cracking his heels twice together while in the air (" by which " says the narrator, with much naïveté,
my grandfather didn't mean anything, it was just a way he'd got”), he uttered the stirring cry of “Yip ksilanti !" from which memorable circumstance the place thereafter took
Here he finally settled, and marrying afterward a young lady whom the author somewhat obscurely speaks of
one of 'em,” had issue, the subject of this narrative, and finally ended his career of usefulness, by falling from a cart in which he had been standing, addressing a numerous audience, and in which fall he unfortunately broke his neck.
Our limits will not permit us at present to do more than glance hastily over the stirring incidents in the life of the elder Bowers. He appears to have been connected in some way with almost every prominent event of the times in which he lived. We find him a servant and afterwards a confidential friend and adviser of Gen. Cass; consulted on matters of religion by Gen. Jackson; an admirer of one of Col. Dick Johnson's daughters (by the way it was Bowers who slew Tecumseh !), an ardent admirer and intimate friend of Mr. Tyler; Gen. Pillow's military adviser; special messenger from Mr. Polk to Santa Anna; professional adviser of Mr. Corwin in the matter of the Gardner Claim; the first to nominate Mr. Pierce for the Presidency, and after his arrival in California, the agent of Limantour; friend and Secretary of Pio Pico; adviser of Walker; amanuensis for Peck; owner of a great part of the extended Water Front of San. Francisco, and a partner in a celebrated Candy Manufactory on Long Wharf, with a Branch in Washington street. His literary labors and success have been great; few of your readers but have seen his signature (Anon.) in Newspapers, Magazines, the New Reader and First Class Books; he has edited several of our City papers, and we add it in a whis
The author of Idealina.
We may hereafter revert to these incidents in his eventful life; at present, as we before remarked, our limits forbid our enlarging upon them, as we wish to make room for a few extracts from the work, which, exhibiting the great man's manner of thought and expression, will do more toward giving our readers an insight into his character, than would pages of his biography,—we quote from p. 45, vol. 1:
“ My father had been much annoyed by reading certain lotters from New York to the Alta California, signed 'W.' The plagiarisms and egotistic remarks of which they were made up disgusted him. They remind me, he said-expectorating upon the carpet, a habit he had when much offended of the back of a lady's dress; they are all hooks and I's. I ventured to ask him, why he did not reply to them? Sir, said he, making a beautiful adaptation that I have never heard equalled, "Where impudence is wit, 'tis folly to reply!""
Comment is unnecessary; let us proceed, p. 47, vol. 1.
“On arriving at Nevada, we unsaddled and turned out our horses, and taking our saddles and blankets beneath our arms, repaired to the Inn. My father was exceedingly fatigued by the journey, and hastened to throw himself into the first chair that offered. As he did so, I thoughtlessly drew the chair from under him, and much to my sorrow and chagrin he fell with great violence upon the floor. The shock with which he came down discomposed him not a little, and a paper of pump tacks which had fallen from the table and scattered over the floor exactly where he was seated, materially increased his uneasiness.
"I shall not soon forget his indignant reproof. "Joseph, my son,' said he, 'never, never again attempt a practical joke; it is a false, unfeeling, traitorous amusement. Remember, sir,' said he, as he painfully rose, and reached to the table for a small claw hammer to draw the tacks, remember the fate of the first practical joker and profit thereby;' I ventured humbly to ask him who this was; Judas Iscariot,' he replied with bitterness, “he sold his master, and you know well what came of it. I was overpowered with remorse."
This is very affecting. On p. 49, we find the following:
66 We were much disturbed during the night by the hoarse braying of a donkey in the stable-yard. I remarked to my father that he (the donkey) was suffering with a bronchial complaint; and on his inquiring why, replied, that he had an ass-ma, subsequently explaining the intended play upon the word asthma. Upon comprehending with some difficulty my meaning, my father immediately rose, and taking his blanket, in indignant silence left the room and the house, passing the night, as I afterwards learned, in angry meditation beneath a tree in the Plaza."
Very properly we think. The following is rather amusing, p. 108, vol. 1:
“After his second interview with Senator Peck, I endeavored to learn from my father the result of his proposal. "Peck talks a great deal,' said he, “but it is very difficult to tell what he is going to do; or to what side he belongs. In fact I begin to believe he is all talk and no cider!'"
Precisely the opinion expressed by a number of others. Turning back to page 82, vol. 1, we find the following:
“I turned to my father and asked him why it was that women were so frequently robbed by pick-pockets, in public carriages; they must,' I observed, "be conscious that the rogues are feeling about them.' 'Yes,' he replied, “but ' a fellow feeling makes them wondrous kind." I was struck by the force of this remark.”
Probably. Thus much for young Joe. On taking up the second volume, we find it mainly filled with incidents in the life of the elder Bowers, from the pen of the lamented J. P. Squibob, who, it appears, during his life, contemplated getting up, himself, the work which young Bowers has completed. We make a Sow Extracts in which the style of the lamented S will be readily recognized.
"No man,' said Bowers, sententiously, should indulge in more than one bad habit at a time. If I am a drunkard, it is no reason why I should ruin my character by gambling or licentiousness; or, if I love the ladies inordinately,' and here the old fellow looked indescribably waggish, 'why should I add to the enormity by indulging also in cards and liquor ? No,' added he, one bad habit is enough for any man to indulge in.' "
66 And why, Mr. Bowers,' said Jones, 'have you given up smoking??
666 Because I chews,' replied the old fellow, with a quiet chuckle, and therein I carry out my principle."