This is the world of the young Jack London.
Based on a photograph posted on Facebook of Wyatt Earp’s
Second-Class Saloon. Nome, Alaska, 1901.
“We were those wandering hordes of ruffians, knife-fighters, drifters, Faro demons and con men with gold dreams, high hopes and low-down liquor and lust in our blood. Law and order came here to this cold place, but it was for them, the coiffured-city-dandies and thinned-skinned tender-foots, not us. Our law was as we wished it to be. Our order is filled at the lacquered pine bar of the Second-Class Saloon. We are forging this wilderness, whipping it, shaping it, cursing it, bending it to fit our will. But never do we run from it. I would suggest wholeheartedly that that entitles us to our pleasurable indulgences.
We’re land-pirates. Gypsies of the Northland. Cutthroats with crowns. Scoundrels with thrones. That’s who we are. We comport ourselves with swaggering righteousness. There’s righteousness, then there’s wilderness righteousness. Our woman-folk, both those with their inestimable sacrifices who accompany their husbands and those brave paid ladies, with their voluptuous endowments, have been an elixir to our strife and endeavors. Without them, we’re stir crazy, the lot of us.
Meeting resistance is our specialty. Loss of life or limb in our pursuits are incidentals in our mission. In our collective ambitions, only the stout of mind and body survive. ‘Come hither Darwin lad, and test your thesis! Gold or timber. It doesn’t matter. We’ll subjugate this place – till now an uninhabitable wilderness. We’ll dwell in those regions where the wolves once held sway.
Morality and civilization are such unnatural things. Takes lots of time to make a diamond. It’s more often the ill-timed, ill-advised neutering of Western function, duty, and destiny that besets and quivers discovery, expansion. From wars, disease, and traitors to destiny. Properness and goodness have their place, but not now and not here. Just ballast to be jettisoned, if not appropriate to our desires. We’re diving headlong into the belly of snowy fire and forging our trophies of conquest! If those who follow will polish and preserve it, all will be well. Though likely some bastard do-gooder will come along one day and break it into bits, such as a spoiled-brat-child would. So, let’s all drink, and be ready for any son-of-a-bitch who tries to stop us!”