At the same time let the advice be well understood before it is either commented upon or followed, Readiness is one thing; intermeddling is another. Only on occasions of grave necessity should the Vigilantes let their power be known. bet the civil authority, as it increases in strength, gradually arrogate to itself the exclusive punishment of crime. This is what is needed, and what every good citizen must desire; but let the Vigilantes, with bright arms and renewed ammunition, stand ready to back the law; and to bulwark the Territory against all disturbers of its peace, when too strong for legal repression, and when it fails or is unable to meet the emergency of the hour. Peace and justice we must have, and it is what the citizens will have in this community; through the courts if possible; but peace and justice are rights, and courts are only means to an end, admittedly the very best and most desirable means; and if they fail, the people, the republic that created them, can do their work for them. Above all things, let the resistless authority of the Vigilantes, whose power reaches from end to end of Montana, be never exerted except as the result of careful deliberation, scrupulous examination of fair evidence, and the cail of imperative Necessity; which, as she knows no law, must judge without it, taking Justice for her counsellor and guide.
Less than three years ago, this home of well-ordered industry, progress and social order, was a den of cut-throats and murderers. Who has affected the change? The Vigilantes; and there is nothing on their record for which an apology is either necessary or expedient. Look at Montana, that has a committee; and turn to Idaho, that has none. Our own peaceful current of Territorial lives run smoothly, and more placidly, indeed, than the Eastern states today; but in Idaho, one of their own papers lately asserted that in one county sixty homicides had been committed, without a conviction; and another declares that the cemeteries are full of the corpses of veterans in crime and their victims.
Leave us the power of the people as a last resort; and, where governments break down, the citizens will save the State. No man need be ashamed of his connection with the Virginia Vigi- lantes. Look at their record and say if it is not a proud one. It has been marvelous that politics have never intruded into the magic circle; yet so it is, has been, and probably will be. Men of all ranks, ages, nations, creeds and politics are among them; and all moves like a clock, as can be seen on the first alarm. Fortified in the right, and acting in good conscience, they are "just, and fear not." Their numbers are great; in fact, it is stated that few good men are not in their ranks, and the presence of the most respectable citizens make their deliberation calm, and the result impartially just.
In presenting this work to the people, the author knows full well that the great amount of labor bestowed upon it is no recommendation of its excellence to a public that judges of results and not of processes; but one thing is sure; so far as extended research and a desire to tell the truth can affect the credibility of such a narrative, this history has been indited subject to both these regulations, since the pen of the writer gave the first chapter to the public.
If it shall serve to amuse a dull hour, or to inform the residents of the Eastern states and of other lands of the manners and habits of the mountaineers, and of the life of danger and excitement that the miners in new countries have to lead before peace and order are settled on an enduring foundation -the author is satisfied.
If. in any case his readers are misinformed, it is because he has been himself deceived.
As a literary production he will be rejoiced to receive the entire silence of critics as his best reward. He knows full well what criticism it deserves, and is only anxious to escape unnoticed. And now, throwing down his pencil, he heaves a sigh of relief, thankfully murmuring, "Well, it is done at last."