May 26, 2002
In 1875, Victorian lit-crit fixture Anthony Trollope writes on visiting San Francisco for the first time:
After first bemoaning the young city's architectural shortcomings - "There is almost nothing to see in San Francisco that is worth seeing" - Trollope goes on to detect a certain nascent hyper-optimism breeding among the city's entrepreneurial class:
In trade there is a speculative rashness which ought to ensure ruin according to our old world ideas, but which seems to be rewarded by very general success. The stranger may of course remember if he pleases that the millionaire who builds a mighty palace is seen and heard of and encountered at all corners, while the bankrupt will probably sink unseen into obscurity. But in San Francisco there is not much of bankrupcy; and when it does occur no one seems to be so little impressed as the bankrupt. There is a goodnature, a forbearance, and an easy giving of trust which to an old fashioned Englishman like myself seems to be most dangerous, but which I was assured there form the readiest mode of building up a great commercial community.
Of course in such a condition of things there are men who know how the wind is going to blow, who make the wind blow this way and that, who can raise the price of shares by fictitious purchases, and then sell, or depreciate them by fictitious sales and then buy ... the knowing men build palaces and seem to be troubled by no seared consciences.
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