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Complete Poetical Works of Bret Harte

Bret Harte

Library of Alexandria
He began trying his pen in The Golden Era of San Francisco, where he was working as a compositor; and when The Californian, edited by Charles Henry Webb, was started in 1864 as a literary newspaper, he was one of a group of brilliant young fellows—Mark Twain, Charles Warren Stoddard, Webb himself, and Prentice Mulford—who gave at once a new interest in California beside what mining and agriculture caused. Here in an early number appeared The Ballad of the Emeu, and he contributed many poems, grave and gay, as well as prose in a great variety of form. At the same time he was appointed Secretary of the United States Branch Mint at San Francisco, holding the office till 1870. In Boston he entered into an arrangement with the predecessors of the publishers of this volume, and his contributions appeared in their periodicals and were gathered into volumes. The arrangement in one form or another continued to the time of his death, and has for witness a stately array of comely volumes; but the prose has far outstripped the poetry. There are few writers of Mr. Harte’s prodigality of nature who have used with so much fine reserve their faculty for melodious verse, and the present volume contains the entire body of his poetical work, growing by minute accretions during thirty odd years. In 1878 he was appointed United States Consul at Crefeld, Germany, and after that date he resided, with little interruption, on the Continent or in England. He was transferred to Glasgow in March, 1880, and remained there until July, 1885. During the rest of his life he made his home in London. His foreign residence is disclosed in a number of prose sketches and tales and in one or two poems; but life abroad never dimmed the vividness of the impressions made on him by the experience of his early manhood when he partook of the elixir vitae of California, and the stories which from year to year flowed from an apparently inexhaustible fountain glittered with the gold washed down from the mountain slopes of that country which through his imagination he had made so peculiarly his own. Mr. Harte died suddenly at Camberley, England, May 6, 1902