When Saint Mark of Missouri traveled west and eventually wound up in Virginia City, toiling for the Territorial Enterprise, he logged a couple unsuccessful stints as a gold miner.
With so many people striking it rich, he initially labored under the misguided notion that his fortune would be found with ease. Along the way, as he recounted in “Roughing It,” he learned a lesson about the nature of gold and men.
He wrote, “Moralizing, I observed, then, that 'all that glitters is not gold.'
"Mr. Ballou said I could go further than that, and lay it up among my treasures of knowledge, that nothing that glitters is gold. So I learned then, once for all, that gold in its native state is but dull, unornamental stuff, and that only lowborn metals excite the admiration of the ignorant with an ostentatious glitter. However, like the rest of the world, I still go on underrating men of gold and glorifying men of mica. Commonplace human nature cannot rise above that.”
In my years mining human nature in Las Vegas, I have met men scores of “men of mica,” some of them while they held high office and higher stock prices.