As every one knows, the real purpose of a preface to a history is to give the author an opportunity - quite casually, of course - to toss modest floral tributes at himself as he tells you not only what a Matchless Volume he has just written, but as well calls attention to the erudition employed by himself in going only to original sources for his information, and in so doing consulting freely the works of Confucius, Tatistchev and Sheherazade - all in their original tongues. If this is done with sufficient dash and elan, as the gentle reader holds the M. V. in her hands, tears of grief will gather in her left eye at the thought of all the people dead and gone who will never have the opportunity of reading the M. V., while in her right eye crystal drops of joy will glisten over the feast of reason that will soon be hers.
Now, as to our erudition as the author of The Story of Arizona, permit us to say that the languages employed by the early chroniclers of the Southwest were Spanish, Injun and Mediaeval Arizonese. Just to show our familiarity with the liquid vowels of Castile we here modestly state that we can remark in Spanish, "The shoes of our uncle's cousin are two sizes too large to be worn by our brother-in-law's stepson," with all the grace of a Cervantes. "Me hace V. el favor de pasarme el chili con came," as De Tornos so truly says. In Injun we can call to a Pima as we meet him in the road, "Pap V hay!" as nonchalantly as a Salt River missionary, and when it comes to Arizonese, we look only with sadness upon the tenderfoot who calls a reata a lariat and thinks a remuda is a new Hooverized war bread.
If there is any doubt in the minds of the gentle reader about our access to Original Sources we can only say that when we arrived in Arizona, John Hance was still engaged in digging the Grand Canyon and Herbert Patrick had barely completed the hump on Camelback Mountain, from which it will be seen that at least a part of what has been here indicted has the authority of contemporaneous observation; as for the rest, we have spared ourselves no labor in always going to the fact factory for facts.
While we may seem to be wasting a good deal of high-priced paper on this preface, we must say that in trying to compress the events of nearly four centuries into a single volume we found that our space would not permit any elaborate system of notes and citations. Many of our sources of information will be found in the bibliography contained herein. We also obtained much valuable information from bulletins issued by different branches of the University of Arizona and the United States Forestry Service, as well as from the proceedings of the State Legislatures and from different Arizona officials, including the Secretary of State, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Adjutant General and the State Game Warden.
To come down to the primary purpose of this M. v., while we have seriously endeavored to make the story a comprehensive, if brief, survey of the evolution of the land of Father Kino into the Commonwealth we now know as Arizona, making it in a way a pageant of cowled friars, steel-capped Spanish conquistadores, painted Indians, bewhiskered miners, swaggering cowboys, and finally, the prophetic-eyed reclaimers of the desert, its first object is to give entertainment to the reader - something, after all, that should not wholly be lost sight of on the part of the author.
Also, we have kept in mind that when Mrs. Emerson de Moliere Browning, of Phoenix, or Mrs. Many Horses, of the Navajo Reservation, is called upon to prepare a "paper" to be read before her respective woman's club, she has the right to expect that when she turns to The Story of Arizona she may do so in the unwavering faith that there is an authority somewhere for all that has been set down therein. In retelling stories that have more than one version, like the account of the Oatman tragedy, the killing of Mangas Colorado or the Penole Treaty, we have used the one that seemed to bear the most evidence of accuracy.
Under the weight of our responsibilities to Mrs. Many Horses, we regret that we have had to be, at times, statistical; that in spite of our most stringent quarantine regulations, figures and dry facts would creep in. In consequence, while there are chapters that even we are willing to admit are not wholly without interest, there are others that read in places with the jocund sprightliness of an abstract of title. We would like to mark these arid spots with danger signals, but our skeptical publisher fears we might get them in the wrong place, and comfortably assures us that the reader will find them soon enough as it is.
Finally, if we should be accused of putting more emphasis upon the picturesque than upon the ponderous, of spending more time with Padre Garces and the young man who dropped his sweetheart into the muddy waters of an irrigation ditch than with him who sits in the seat of the mighty, we can only say that we never intended writing a Who's Who. We'd lots rather be accused of writing Who's Interesting - and vital.
It would probably be suspected, even if we didn't mention it, that another pen than ours had a prominent part in writing the chapter on Arizona Plant Life. Personally, our relations with trees and flowers are entirely friendly. We can tell a pine from an oak at a glance, know the bank where the Wild Thyme runs her overdraft, and have watched beds of poppies metamorphose dull brown earth to a cloth of gold for many springs; but when it comes to introducing the public to the plants of the State, not only by their nicknames, like "Johnny Jump-ups" or "Owls' Clover," but also occasionally dropping such awful noms de flora as Baccharis sarathroides, just to show one's familiarity with the language of the horticultural Horace, we know it is time for us to call for help.
Now, we believe that when one is looking for a dentist or a photographer to operate on him, the best is none too good. We also believe that when one has found one that can keep him from looking like either Mutt or Jeff - or can fill an aching void with concentrated comfort - he has discovered a blessing straight from the gods. That is the way we felt when Professor Thornber said he would help us out.
If John J. Thornber, A. M., needed an introduction to nature lovers of our section of out-of-doors, we would simply say that he is the professor of botany at the University of Arizona and "the" pre-eminent authority on his specialty in the Southwest. As that isn't necessary, we will only mention that he is the kind of a man who likes above all things to get out into the wilds during vacation where he will sit down with his shrubs and plants and hold conversation with them as he does with his students in classroom. Do they reciprocate his affection? Do they? Why, within twenty-four hours they are telling him how the four-o'clocks managed with the advanced time; how Miss Iris Douglasiana got overheated and almost had a sunstroke; and how Old Man Cactus got his feet too wet during the last rain and had dreadful spinal rheumatism.
So you see, Gentle Reader, with an authority like this, statements mentioned in the Plant chapter have upon them a most incontrovertible seal of authority. WILL H. ROBINSON.
Chandler, Arizona, June 30, 1918.
Notes About Book:
Source: The Story of Arizona. Written by Will H. Robinson. Published by the Berryhill Company, Phoenix, Arizona, 1919.
Online Publication: The manuscript was scanned and then ocr'd. Minimal editing has been done, and readers can and should expect some errors in the textual output.