April 10, 1862: Stockton
I had been invited to lecture in Stockton [this] evening…and went up [last night], arriving [this] morning. I was well received, hospitably entertained, and had a good time generally—got tall puffs in the three daily papers for my lecture.
The State Lunatic Asylum is [here], and as the trustees were to have a meeting, I was invited to go up, which I did, and spent several hours visiting the institution while they were transacting their business. There are more insane in this state, by far, in proportion to the whole population, than in any other state in the Union. I need not dilate on the reasons. High mental excitement, desperate characters, disappointed hopes of miners, the unnatural mode of life incident to mining, separation of families, and the indiscretions and infidelity to the marriage vows incident to these separations—these and other reasons have produced this frightful result.Four hundred and thirty unfortunates are crowded into this institution, only intended to accommodate two hundred and fifty. The proportion of men is more than twice as great as women—there were over three hundred men there. Near two hundred were out in a great yard, surrounded by high brick walls, in the warm, bright, spring sun—some lolling on benches, some talking, swinging on ropes in a sort of gymnasium, “speechifying,” singing, praying, etc. Some were sullen and silent, some talkative, some bombastic, some modest.
One spoke to me in German and was delighted to hear me answer in the same tongue. He announced that he was the Emperor of Austria, but was illegally deprived of his liberty here, that Queen Victoria wished him to marry one of her daughters—all of which he told me over and over and besought earnestly my assistance in helping him obtain his rights. He followed me closely for half an hour, closely imitated my actions in everything I did, and before I left the building I heard he had formally applied to the keeper of his ward for permission to accompany me to England.We went up to the tower and enjoyed a perfectly magnificent prospect. The great plain around Stockton is some forty or fifty miles wide from east to west, and to both the north and south stretches to the horizon, literally as level as the sea and seeming as boundless. In the west and southwest lies the rugged Mount Diablo Range, to the northwest lie the ranges north of Napa, while along the eastern horizon the snowy “Sierras” (Sierra Nevada) stretch away for a hundred miles, their pure white snows glistening in the clear sun.
[This] evening I lectured—had a good house for so small a place—and all seemed well pleased. After the lecture I was invited with a few others to the house of the mayor of the city, where an oyster and champagne supper awaited us. Both were freely partaken of and it was two o’clock before we left.