to Huckleberry Finn and the negro Jim
and Pudd'nhead Wilson
, when one feels Mark Twain
's power in sheer description and episode, his magic in evoking landscape and atmosphere, his blazing scorn at injustice and cruelty, his contempt for quacks.
, another discoverer of the West
, wears less well than Mark Twain
as a personal figure, but has a sure place in the evolution of the American
short story, and he did for the mining-camps of California
wrought for the Mississippi River
: he became their profane poet.
Yet he was never really of them.
He was the clever outsider, with a prospector's eye, looking for literary material, and finding a whole rich mine of it-a bigger and richer, in fact, than he was really qualified to work.
But he located a golden vein of it with an instinct that did credit to his dash of Hebrew blood.
Born in Albany
, a teacher's son, brought up on books and in many cities, Harte
emigrated to California
in 1854 at the age of sixteen.
He became in turn a drug-clerk, teacher, type-setter, editor, and even Secretary
of the California Mint
— his nearest approach, apparently, to the actual work of the mines.
In 1868, while editor of The Overland monthly
, he wrote the short