Charles Frederick Holder.

The Californian (Volume 4) online

. (page 23 of 120)
Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 23 of 120)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


press of duty, neglected to preserve
many of the important documents.

Of these later missions. San Fernan-
do was the most prosperous. Her
vineyards vied with those of sunny
Spain, and even as late as 1840, 2,000
gallons each of superior wine and
brandy were produced.

With all her wealth and pride, how-
ever, her doom, like all the rest, was
sealed. The padres who had labored
there so earnestly turned away lest
they should be called upon to witness



i.54



THE MISSIONS OF CALIFORNIA.







PORTION OK SAN ANTONIO I)K PADUA MISSION.



EM K5

■-VV «■- :.



the overthrow of their life-work.
With secularization came dissolution.
In 1846, the once proud mission went
under the hammer. It was sold to
one Kulogio Celis for $14,000. Later,
however, by decisions of the court,
the chapel and the immediately sur-
rounding property reverted to the
church, in whose custody the romantic
ruins are still retained.

San Luis Rey de Francia, once the
queen of the missions and by far the
grandest adobe edifice ever reared in
California to the glorification of His
name, has at last appealed availingly
for its preservation. It is soon to be
restored to the dignity of its former
glorv by the Franciscan monks, they
of the order who reared it, when it
will no longer be included among the
mission ruins, but known as the col-
lege of San Luis Rey.

The mission was founded June 13,
1798, by Presidente Lasuen, assisted
by Padres Santiago and Peyri, under
the most favorable auspices. It was
erected not far from a beautiful wind-
ing river, amid lands that were won-
derfully productive, yielding support
to a large neophyte population and
affording pasture to immense herds of
cattle.

Padre Peyri, than whom no soldier
of Christ was ever more faithful,
guided the destinies of San Luis Rey
from its rise to its downfall. Pathetic



indeed was the parting
of the venerable friar
with his children, as he
gathered them together
in the mission garden to
receive his parting bless-
ing. Broken-hearted he
turned his feet away and
became a wandering pil-
grim, traveling on and
on, until he finally fell
ill and died in Rome.
Though far from the
scenes he loved, they
were no less dimmed by
distance — his last bless-
ings being watted over
the seas for the Indian
children of San Luis Rey.

The final mission established in
the south was Santa Inez, named
in honor of the good St. Agnes, whose
adobe church still remains in a fair
state of preservation. Its style of
architecture was unimpressive as its




r.RWKYARP OV SAN LUIS RKY.



156



THE MISSIONS OF CALIFORNIA.




ARCADE, SAN FERNANDO.



history has been uneventful, yet for its w
romantic past, it is regarded as one of w
California's precious heir-
looms.

Thus have we seen how
the dream of Junipero
Serra, that mission stations
might dot the line from
San Diego to San Francis-
co, was realized.

What glorious days were
they for the impoverished
traveler! Indeed, it is quite
enough to make our mod-
ern tramp wish he had been
ushered into existence a
hundred years ago, instead
of in this age of greed and
inhumanity.

Bidding adieu to the
bending bay of San Diego
and the. blooming hills
around, the traveler could
easily make a mission or
two in half a day. Arriv-
ing at one of the monas-
teries, a rap of the big iron
knocker would summon a
friendly friar, who would
lead the dusty newcomer
into the inner precincts and
regale him with food and
drink. Meanwhile, his
horse, footsore and wearv.




OLD PALM NK.
FERNANI



ould be led to the corral and his
ants attended to. If the animal
were lame, or too much
fatigued to proceed further,
he was supplanted by a
mission steed, while he re-
mained till his masters
return a week, a month,
or a year hence It was no
unusual tiling for a traveler
to be entertained so royally
as to be disinclined to de-
part, and it mattered not
how long he remained; he
was never invited to go.
A pity that such hospitality
should die with the mis-
sions !

While the mission sys-
tem was already on the
wane, two new establish-
ments were effected north
of the bay — San Rafael and
San Francisco Solano. The
immediate reason for the
birth of the new missions
was the desire to remove as
many neophytes as possible
from San Francisco de
Assisi, where pulmonary
diseases were rendering the
mortality frightful. In
fact, so alarmed were the
gentiles becoming, that



THE MISSIONS OF CALIFORNIA.



157



fiery sacrifices were offered up nightly
to " Chinigchinich," that he might
drive away the evil spirit rampant
among them.

Believing that the balmy breezes of
the country over the bay would prove
beneficial to the dying race, Padres
Luis Taboada and Altimira determined
upon planting missions there. The
buildings were crude, and for the most
part built of wood, with roofs of
grass. At Solano, a stone structure
was begun, but it met with disas-
ter during erection, and was never
completed.

These, the last of the California
missions, were the puniest institutions
of all. The mission system had out-
lived itself under the existing condi-
tions ; the curtain was about to be
rung down upon the most gigantic
scheme of missionary work the world
ever saw.

What were the results? Thirty
thousand savages had been rescued
from superstition and iniquity in a
little less than half a century. The
natives had been instructed in the arts
of polite nations ; they were taught to
clothe their nakedness, to dwell in
houses, wherein the family, the foun-
dation of church and state had become
a fixed institution, and to relegate
woman to her proper sphere ; the



industries of thrifty peoples were
taught them, and in these they had
become proficient. All this was being
accomplished when the shadows of
secularization began to lengthen.
Then came the revolution. The moral
support of the padres withdrawn,
many of the savages reverted to the
free lives of their forefathers. The
conflict between fifty years of civiliza-
tion, and centuries of barbarism, was
too great. Yet the fact remains that
wonderful things had been achieved
by those early fathers of our State.
If the fabric which they reared tot-
tered and fell, there arose from its
ruins a civilization more elevated than
that of which even Serra himself had
dreamed.

These friars, the " pilgrim fathers "
of California, do we not owe them
deep debts of gratitude ? Are they not
entitled to our most exalted opinions ?
Such instances of abnegation and
sacrifice of self are rare in the history
of modern times, and we as Cali-
fornians should appreciate them. How
can w r e manifest it ? Simply by pre-
serving from further disintegration
the crumbling sanctuaries, beneath
whose walls lie many of the bcdies of
the Franciscan friars, who laid the
foundation-stone of our Western civili-
zation.










-.. Mil - -•



Vol. IV— ir




OME old
sage has
tried to
make us be-
lieve that
the antici-
pation of pleasure far exceeds the real-
ity ; but one morning in the month
of April, a light-hearted party of con-
genial souls determined that no croak-
ing of pessimistic proverb- makers
should disturb their gaiety. For were
they not just starting out on a coach
to realize the dream of their lives ?

For four successive days we are to
drive along the Riviera di Ponente,
whose lovely shores, smiled upon by
a never-fading sunshine, are kissed by
the waves of one of the most beautiful
seas on the earth, and blessed by a
soft, balmy air, which soothes the
weary and seems to banish from the
careworn even the remembrance of
anxiety.

The start is made bright and early,
and as we bowl along that fine avenue,
the Promenade des Anglais, the cheery
coach-horn is blown in parting salute
to our friends on the hotel porch.
With a smart cracking of the whip
and much display of skill, we set out
at a rattling pace which certainly
promises well .

Just past the new Jetee Promenade
we turn away from the sea, and cross
the Paillon River. Then we skirt
the town and begin to ascend Mount



BARBOUR.

Gros, or Great Mountain, by the
famous Upper Corniche Road. And
here we toil along slowly, for it is a
long and steep ascent, with ever-
recurring glimpses of charming scen-
ery both above and below us.

Soon there is a sudden turn, and the
town of Nice lies far below in all its
beauty. There is the crescent shore
as far as the Cape of Antibes, twenty-
five miles away, and here are the dis-
tant hills, dotted with white villas
among the green foliage. Thicker and
thicker they grow, until massed into
a city which, from our stronghold,
looks strangely and purely white.

We can readily distinguish, curving
around close to the edge of the shore,
the celebrated Promenade which the
English residents of Nice built in
1822, with the philanthropic motive
of employing the poor of the town
during a season of want. It is bor-
dered on one side with fine white
villas and mansions, each in its gar-
den of palms, orange trees and rose
bushes, and rare plants ; and on the
other side by the waters of the beauti-
ful Bay of the Angels. The avenue is
rightly regarded as one of the hand-
somest in the world.

The old town of Nice, with its dark,
narrow streets, lies nearer, and the
Chateau Hill rises out of it to the left,
315 feet high, while close below us is
the Port with its Mole and fine harbor.
We cast back lingering looks on the
beloved town, for Nizza la Bella holds
ever a warm place in our hearts.



158



FROM NICE TO GENOA.



59



Now the view below us is shut off,
but we soon catch a glimpse of some-
thing interesting above, for we are
approaching the Observatory which
stands out in bold relief, its vast white
dome penciled against the deep blue
sky. It contains one of the largest
telescopes in the world, and was given
with all its contents, to the city of
Nice, in 1881, by Monsieur Bischoff-
heim — the entire expense being
defrayed by him. The dome is opened
for observation, and is surrounded by
other buildings connected with its
work. The library, a handsome build-
ing, near at hand, is about 250 feet
long. It all reminds one of the Lick
Observatory on a smaller scale.
Another turn shows us the Paillon
again far below, just where it divides
into two streams, near which the
small twin villages of L'Ariane and
Drappo are wedged tightly in between
its forks.

Just beyond a sharp ascent, we
round a corner and catch a minute's
view of Monte Carlo, which is miles
below us and looks like a tiny white



bijou in the embrace of the sparkling
emerald sea.

Our next picture is a view of Ville-
franche, with its light-house on the
point and its olive-clad slopes covering
the sides of the hills. Here lies the
harbor for the Mediterranean Squadron
of French vessels, and it is with a
thrill of delight that we discover the
stars and stripes floating from three
or four of our own brave ships. This
little town of Villefranche, or Villa
Franca, as the Italians call it. was
founded in 1295 by Charles II., King
of Naples ; it has been in the posses-
sion of the Dukes of Savoy, then of
the French, in 1792, next passing, in
1 8 14, to the ownership of the Sardin-
ians. In i860, the little town, with its
near neighbor, Nice, reverted once
more to France, which government is
still in possession.

We catch a glimpse of the harbor,
fort and arsenal, but soon all this is
hidden from view and we find our-
selves in a region known as ' ' Petite
Afrique," so sunny are its sloping
hillsides. This quaint little nook of




PORTO MAVRIZIO.



6o



FROM NICE TO GENOA.



the Riviera is blessed with a soft and
equable temperature by the interven-
tion of massive rocks, which tower far
above and afford ample protection
from the wind blasts of the north.
These declivities are largely covered
with olive and lemon trees, which add
the charm of their soft coloring and
delicate perfume to the spot.

Just beyond we go through the Pass,
1,750 feet above the sea — the highest
point reached by this grand driveway —
and cross the ridge near Mt. des
Forcas.

At a sharp bend in the road sud-
denly appears before us what seems to
be a huge eagle's nest, or human eyrie.
Perched upon the apex of a mountain
of solid rock, its crumbling, sombre-
hued dwellings apparently carved out
of the cliffs themselves, stands Eze —
1 , 300 feet high — and a curiousexample
of a ninth century Roman village.
Its closely massed houses, clinging
far up on the tip of the peak are half
deserted and the grand old ruin, a
Saracenic castle, though weak in its
square battlements is still measurably
firm on its foundations. Here has it
stood since the year 814, looking down
in times of peace upon one of the
most beautiful scenes imaginable, and
in times of war grimly holding its own
against all besiegers.

When we leave our coach on the
broad Corniche road, and climb by a
donkey path up the steep rock sides of
the little village, we are well rewarded
for our toil. Far below us, projecting
into the sea, lies the peninsula of St.
Jean, and just this side of it the St.
Hospice Point. We can discern its
tiny church which is built on
the foundation of an ancient tem-
ple of Isis, whence some say this
village derives the name of Eze.
Below, at the edge of the sea, is the
railway station from which a steep and
stony donkey road leads to the set-
tlement above.

Returning once more to our coach,
we start off on our sinuous route, and
are soon greeted with a first sight of
La Turbie. Just across a wild gorge it



stands — a mediaeval village, 1,640 feet
above the sea, and connected with
Monte Carlo beneath, by a terraced
footpath of 860 steps.

Here, 1,400 souls eke out their mis-
erable existence in darkness and mis-
ery. Into the narrow recesses of some
of these streets, and beyond the thick
walls of these poor abodes, the sun-
light never penetrates. As the inhab-
itants swarm out of their dingy
doorways in response to the cheery
sound of our coach horn, we see
only feeble old men, a few sad-looking
decrepit women and many pale-faced
children. The shadows of the.se
gloomy streets, and the poverty ap-
parent on every side is depressing.

The great attraction of La Turbie
is its historic tower, erected A. D. 13,
to commemorate the victory over the
Ligurian tribes. This was the ancient
Roman station of Trophae Augusti, on
the Via Julia, and the once solid but
now dilapidated Roman fort stood in-
tact for 1 , 700 years. It towered above
these beautiful shores, a veritable
beacon of strength and durability, and
resisted many an invasion until one
of the rulers of Monaco, in the time
of Louis XIV., ruthlessly reduced it to
its present condition. From its top,
whither we ascend conducted by four
little girls as guides, the view is one
of surpassing beauty.

Many hundred feet below lies Monte
Carlo, the fairy-like gardens of the
Casino appearing like a small spot of
bright green verdure against the blue.
Monaco projects curiously into the
sea, and the intervening slopes are
resplendent with olive and locust
groves and innumerable terraced
plantations of lemons.

From the Tete du Chieu mountain
near at hand the finest view on the
Riviera might be obtained, but that
the French Government has placed
a fortress there and reserves the
spot for their own exclusive edifica-
tion.

Fortunately, however, just at the
edge of the bluff, near the little inn
of La Turbie, there exists a sort of



l62



FROM NICE TO GENOA.



natural platform protected by a
wall, and supplied with a stone
bench for the accommodation
of travelers. Here one may lean
over and look down directly
upon Monte Carlo and its ex-
quisite surroundings. Beautiful
enchantress — w hat ineffable
harm have you wrought among
the children of men ! Even as
a siren you draw them to your
embrace, only to crush them at
last and cast them into outer
darkness !

We tear ourselves away reluctantly.
The road now descends at once and
we spin rapidly past Roquebrune,
another ancient village, built of and
among the "brown rocks" as its
name implies. Our route lies just
below it, and we look up at the great
ruined castle of the Lascaris', de-
scended from the Byzantine Emperors,
and ceded by them to Charles Gri-
maldi, an ancestor of the present
Prince of Monaco.

In about an hour's drive from La
Turbie we reach Mentone. The town
is charmingly situated on the bay of
the same name, which is divided by a
rocky promontory into two arms called
the East and West Bay. There is a




TOWER OF C/ESAR— LA TURBIE.

ruined castle near the point, and the
ancient tower of St. Agnese, built for
protection against Saracenic invasion,
is on the hill above. The old town
with its dark streets is in marked con-
trast to the new town stretching along
the beach, of which the Promenade du
Midi and the Jardin Public are the
favorite resorts. Perched 1,280 feet
above, on the rocks, is Castellar, from
which poor little village there is a
magnificent prospect of the Mediter-
ranean and the coast line. Just out-
side of Mentone are some famous bone
caves, six in number, known as the
Red Rock Caverns, where quantities
of debris have been discovered, which
were deposited in past ages, such as




VIEW OF MENTONE FROM BENNETT'



FROM NICE TO GENOA.



163



leolithic skeletons of giant man, stone
implements and fossilized food.

For some time our route lies close
to the sea, but we soon mount a ridge
of serrated crags which commands a
fine view of the shore.

We now approach the picturesque
Bridge of St. Louis which crosses a
gorge 215 feet deep, forming the
boundary line between France and
Italy. From this point there are
charming views of the French coast.



officer is present to report him, his
sense of duty must be stronger than
the average of those of his class
throughout Italy.

Just beyond the frontier is Dr.
Bennet's residence. He is an English
physician who came here .some years
ago suffering from pulmonary com-
plaint, and becoming completely
restored to health, has built a villa in
this charming location overlooking
the town below. The view of Men-





Up -








fi^^v


mJr




: :f










W \^B ■ 'i»


1


WiiJtfl






*"i»
!•**


T


*


~-~-~~-^^zm* * -.'^sl




'


u"P *a


w 0mmm










M


■ j


^ J
















*mk




mm


>


/tn, , jg^'j -'






■*jM










™ -

1*0


■ a J^m


H ?




J -'' V ' -""'-.- ■-> .; : ;^ - / ;£■'





BRIDGE OF ST. LOUIS ON THE FRONTIER.



Just beyond is the Italian dogana, or
custom-house, and here on the very
border of Italy we meet with a phe-
nomenon never before encountered in
our travels abroad — a customs in-
spector who refuses a gift. This
lowly official has been so very com-
plaisant, passing our effects without
examination and wishing us a cheerful
' ' Buon Viaggio ' ' that one of our party
offers him a small douceur, which,
without showing offense, he politely
declines. That man has the courage
of a hero. Realizing from bitter ex-
perience how poorly all Italian govern-
ment officials are paid, and in consid-
eration of the fact that no superior



tone from his vine-covered tower, is
not to be exceeded on this coast.
Driving for another hour and gaining
once more the level of the sea, we soon
reach Bordighera. There are palms
everywhere ; gardens and groves,
and nurseries and borders of palms —
some of which are many hundreds of
years old.

This little town has furnished the
Easter palms at Rome, ever since the
year 1586. How the grant was ob-
tained by Bresca, the brave old sea
captain, is a curious story. Standing
with the crowd in the open Piazza,
before the Cathedral of St. Peters, he
was gazing with breathless interest at



104



FROM NICE TO GENOA.



the workmen engaged in erecting the
Egyptian obelisk. So momentous and
difficult a task was this regarded that
Pope Sixtus V. forbade any one to
utter a loud word during the opera-
tion, on pain of death. . All went




OLD OLIVE TREE NKAR SAN RE.MO.

well until the massive stone column
reached a certain angle when, to the
horror of the multitude and the despair
of the engineer, it ceased to move.
Various expedients were resorted to
without avail, and all seemed lost,
when suddenly a voice broke the
silence, crying, " Aiga, dai de Taiga
ae corde ! — Water, give water to the
ropes ! " The suggestion, which came
from the old sailor, was quickly acted
upon ; the obelisk slowly righted
itself and was successfully raised to
the position it now occupies.

When the trembling Bresca was
brought a prisoner before the Pope
for punishment, the latter not only
pardoned his offence, but offered to
grant him any reasonable request.
The unselfish soul of the man showed



itself when, instead of petitioning for
some personal preferment, he begged
that the right of furnishing the palms
for Easter should be bestowed upon
his famil)' and the villagers of Bordi-
ghera, his birthplace. The request
was granted, and is respected to this
day.

About three miles' further drive
along this charming shore, close by
the sea, brings us to Ospedaletti,
where the principal attractions are a
fine hotel and an unused casino. The
latter brings to mind the many de-
serted Italian villages one sees high
up among the rocky hills along this
coast. This casino, however, although
silent and empty, cannot like them be
called deserted, since it has never
been occupied.

Some twelve years ago the Credit
Lyonnais of France formed a stock
company, calling it the Credit Fon-
der, and the latter began to invest
largely in land around Ospedaletti.
They bought up large tracts of real
estate, opened a hotel, and erected
this expensive white stone structure
for a Casino, hoping that visitors
would flock in large numbers to the
place, and that it would prove a sec-
ond Nice or Monte Carlo. But the
Italian Government absolutely refused
to issue to them a license for gambling,
and the whole scheme fell through.
Thus the beautiful Casino stands
with empty halls, serving merely as
an ornamental addition to the sur-
rounding landscape.

As we near San Remo we pass the
historic olive tree reputed to be over
400 years old. It looks sturdy and
strong, with grotesquely gnarled stems
branching and twisting around its
huge trunk.

At San Remo we stop for the night.
The old town, which nestles on the
slopes of two hills, consists of a net-
work of narrow lanes and alleys, with
archways overhead connecting the
houses in the event of an earthquake.
The new town lies at its feet close
along the sea. The upper public gar-
den, called the Jardin V Imperatrice,



FROM NICE TO GENOA.



'65



is a charming spot, opened
only a few years ago under
the auspices of the Em-
press of Russia.

We visit the market
place and stroll through
the old town until we lose
ourselves in its narrow
precincts. It is here that
we see a vignette of two
old women against the
black shadow of an arched
doorway, carrying on their
heads a heavy sack of pota-
toes, seemingly uncon-
scious of its weight.

Rolling merrily out of
San Remo, our voices are hushed as we
drive past the Villa Zirio, for it was
here that the large-hearted Emperor
Frederick III. of Germany, fought his
brave battle with death. All that affec-
tion and wealth could offer was placed
at his feet, as a tribute of the esteem
in which he was held, but it availed
nothing. We drive past the pictur-
esque little pilgrim church of the
Madonna della Guardia, and skirting
the small village of Anna, cross the
Taggia River. Five miles above, far
up on the mountain, lies Taggia, that
obscure little place in which Guvanni
Ruffini, the author of that fascinating
book, "Doctor Antonio," once lived.

We soon turn a sharp point and
Porto Maurizio lies below us. It adds
a symmetrical touch to the view, for
it is built on a conical hill. Our road




JUST BEYOND ALBENGA.

makes the ascent half way, and then
turning to the left descends abruptly
once more to the level of the sea,
where, looking back we can plainly
distinguish the fine church with its
two square towers, and roof divided
into arches and domes.

And now, a mile further on, we
approach our next resting-place,
Oneglia. After a cheerful repast of
frittata, animella di vitella, pise Hi,
celata l and dolce, with vino ordi?iario,
we stroll through the arcades in the
town, the inhabitants stopping to
stare at us, which compliment we re-



Online LibraryCharles Frederick HolderThe Californian (Volume 4) → online text (page 23 of 120)