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where one may spend days without leaving the grounds of the hotel.

[Illustration: DRIVE THROUGH GROUNDS, DEL MONTE HOTEL
From Photograph by Putnam & Valentine]

Before one begins the exploration of the peninsula he should gain some
idea of the historic wealth of Monterey. No other town on the Pacific
Coast can vie with this quiet little seaport in this particular.
Discovered by Spaniards under Viscaino in 1602—before the Pilgrim
Fathers landed—it was named in honor of the Count of Monterey, ninth
viceroy of Mexico. It was the record of this explorer and his testimony
to the beauty of the spot that led good Father Serra to select Monterey
as the site of his second mission, as related elsewhere in this book.
This was in 1770, one year after the founding of San Diego. It will be
recalled that the first expedition sent out from San Diego returned
without reaching Monterey, but it did discover the great harbor of
San Francisco. The second expedition, accompanied by Serra himself,
resulted successfully and the good Franciscan had the joy of dedicating
San Carlos Borromeo in this beautiful spot. The presidio, or military
establishment of the soldiers who came with Serra, was located on the
present site of the town and later Monterey was made the provincial
capital, a distinction which it retained after the Mexican revolt
in 1822 until the American occupation in 1846. It was the center of
brilliant social life and gallant adventure during the old Spanish
days—some hint of which may be gleaned from our description of the
second act of the mission play, which is represented to have taken
place at San Carlos. There were battles with pirates who more than once
attempted to sack the town and who caused the wreck of many ships by
erecting false lights on the shore. But all this came to an end and a
new era no less picturesque was opened when the two small vessels, the
Cyane and the United States, entered the harbor in July 1846. A landing
party under the commander, Commodore Sloat, came ashore and hoisted the
stars and stripes over the old custom-house, which is standing to-day,
still surmounted by the staff which bore the historic flag. We saw this
when we began our round of the town—a long, low building guarded by a
lone cypress and consisting of two square pavilions with balconies, with
a lower edifice between in which dances and social events were held.

It is now used as a lodge room for the Monterey Chapter of the Native
Sons of the Golden West and is usually closed to visitors. We had the
good fortune to find it open and in charge of a very interesting Native
Son, an old-time resident of the town, whose personal experience dated
back to the time of the American occupation. He showed us the various
relics collected by the organization, among them the base of the old
flag-pole, the trunk of a tree blazed by Kit Carson, and two chairs made
from the oak under which Viscaino and Serra are said to have landed. He
also told us many incidents in the early history of Monterey and I shall
never forget his comment on the result of the work of the missions.

"Ah, they were grand old fellows, those Spanish priests; they ridded
California of the Indians and a good job it was—if you don't think so,
look at Mexico, where they still exist. Civilization and the white man's
diseases were the Spaniard's gifts to the Indian and they finally wiped
him out of existence."

Certainly an unique if not very cheerful or appreciative view of the
work of the Franciscan fathers.

There is a broad plaza before the custom-house and from this the
principal streets of the town begin and each seems distinctive of
a particular phase of Monterey. Modern improvements have followed
Alvarado, while Main is bordered with adobes—some old and tumble-down
but nevertheless very picturesque with their tile roofs, white walls,
and little gardens bright with roses and geraniums. On this street is
the house occupied by Thomas Larkin, the last American consul, who was
much involved in the intrigue preceding the American conquest. To the
rear of this house is a little rose-embowered, one-room cottage which
was occupied by two young lieutenants, Sherman and Halleck, whose names
were afterwards to become so famous in the Civil War.

And this is not the only romantic memory of Sherman still existing in
Monterey. Over an arched gateway a sign, "The Sherman Rose," attracted
our attention. We made bold to enter and knocked at the door of
the solid old stone house inside the enclosure. A little old woman,
good-looking in spite of her years, answered our call, but soon made it
clear that she spoke no English. She pointed to the ancient rose-vine,
several inches in diameter, which scattered its huge fragrant yellow
blooms in reckless profusion over the trellis above our heads and we
understood that this was the rose which legend declares Sherman and a
lovely young senorita of Old Monterey planted as a pledge of mutual
affection. But we did not know at the time that the old lady who so
kindly showed us about the house and gardens and gave us little bouquets
of geraniums and rosebuds is reputed in Monterey to be the identical
senorita of the story. I think there must be some mythical elements in
this supposition, for the lady hardly looked the years made necessary
by the fact that Sherman was in Monterey nearly seventy years ago. The
legend is that Sherman, when stationed in Monterey, was enamored of
Senorita Bonifacio, the most beautiful young woman of the town. In the
midst of his romance the young lieutenant was ordered to the east and
when he called on his inamorata to acquaint her with the mournful news
he wore a Cloth-of-Gold rose in his coat. His sweetheart took the rose,
saying,

"Together we will plant this rose and if it lives and flourishes I shall
know that your love is true."

He replied, "When it blooms I will come back and claim you."

But whether the story is true or not, it had not the usual ending, for
the young officer never returned to redeem his pledge.

Not far from the Larkin house is the long, low, colonnaded home of
Alvarado, the last Spanish governor, and near it stands Colton Hall,
famous as the meeting-place of the constitutional convention which
assembled within its walls on the day that California was admitted to
the Union. Its handsome Grecian facade, with a portico supported by two
tall white columns, reminds one of some of the stately Colonial homes
of the Southern States. It now serves the very useful though somewhat
plebeian purpose of the tax collector's office. Some day we hope it may
be converted into a museum to house the historic relics of Monterey.
It took its name from Walter Colton, the chaplain of the convention and
first American alcade or mayor of the town. A diary which he kept during
the three years of his office records many stirring incidents of Old
California.

Another structure nearing the century mark, built in 1832, is the
Washington Hotel, though that was not its original name, and near
it is the ramshackle old adobe known by common consent as the Robert
Louis Stevenson house. For the well-beloved author was for four months
of 1879 a resident of the town at a time when his health and fortunes
seemed at their lowest ebb. Even then he was the leading spirit of a
little coterie of Bohemians—artists and litterateurs—among them Charles
Warner Stoddard, Jules Tavernier, and William Keith, who often met for
dinner in the restaurant kept by Jules Simonneau. To the last named,
Stevenson gives credit for saving his life by careful nursing during
a severe illness which he suffered shortly after coming to Monterey.
Simonneau was a rough, full-bearded old frontiersman, but he conceived
an attachment for Stevenson which lasted to the day of his death, and
never, even under stress of direst need, would he part with the letters
or autographed books which the author had sent him. Neither would he
permit the publication of any portion of the correspondence—"letters
from one gentleman to another," as it was his whim to refer to them.
After his death, which occurred a few years ago, his daughter sold the
collection to a San Francisco gentleman and it is to be hoped that the
letters will ultimately find their way into print, revealing as they do
a very intimate and lovable side of Stevenson's character.

The house was in a sad state of disrepair, the first floor being
occupied by a sign-painter's shop at the time of our visit. An erect
old fellow, who looked as if his chief failing might be a too free
indulgence in one of California's chief products, came out to greet us
as we paused before the house, and pointed out the room the great writer
occupied during his stay in Monterey. It must have been hard indeed for
this prince of optimists to "travel hopefully" under the conditions that
surrounded him those few months of his life—exiled, penniless, and ill,
domiciled in such rude and comfortless quarters, he must have been as
near despair as at any time in his career, yet out of it all came some
of his best work.

Our informant refused a fee in a lordly manner.

"I'm a retired officer of the United States Navy, a classmate of Bob
Evans, and I was on the Minnesota during the fight with the Merrimac,"
he declared, and left us with a formal military salute.

Our picture, the work of a Monterey artist, shows the harsh outlines and
bare surroundings of the old house accentuated by a flood of California
sunshine.

[Illustration: ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON HOUSE
From Original Painting by Clark Hobart]

There are many other interesting and picturesque old buildings about
the town, among them several that claim the distinction of being the
first—or last—of their kind in the state. A tumble-down frame structure
is declared to have been the first wooden house in California, built
in 1849 of lumber brought from Australia. Talk of "carrying coals to
Newcastle," what is that to bringing lumber ten thousand miles to the
home of the redwood! The first brick house and the first adobe are also
to be seen in the town and the first theatre—where Jenny Lind sang in
1861—still stands.

As one views the historic buildings of Monterey, the painful thought
is forced upon him that nearly all are in a deplorable state of
dilapidation and that many will have disappeared in a few years unless
steps are taken to restore and preserve them. Neither Monterey nor the
State of California can afford to lose these memorials of the romantic
days of old and it is to be hoped that an enlightened movement to
protect them, as well as the missions, may soon be inaugurated by the
state.

The one ancient building in Monterey which bears its years very lightly
is the fine old church of San Carlos. This is often confused with the
mission, but the fact is that it was the parish, or presidio church,
as it was called in Spanish days, and was really built as a place of
worship for the soldiers, who were at considerable distance from the
mission proper at Carmel. There were often bickerings between the
Indians and soldiers and the monks judged it best to give the latter
a separate chapel. The church was built some time later than the
mission—the exact date is not clear—and was enlarged and restored about
sixty years ago. The material is light brown stone quarried in the
vicinity and the roof is of modern tiles. The pavement in front of the
church is made of curious octagonal blocks which we took for artificial
stone, but which are really the vertebrae of a whale—reminding us that
at one time whale-fishing expeditions often went out from Monterey.

The interior is that of a modern Catholic church, but there are numerous
relics in the vestry which the priest in charge exhibits to visitors for
a small fee; candlesticks and vessels in silver and brass, and richly
broidered vestments and altar cloths. Most interesting are many relics
of Father Serra, including several books inscribed by his own hand.
These were brought from Carmel Mission when it was finally abandoned.

Another object that aroused our curiosity was the trunk of a huge oak
set in cement and carefully preserved. This, the priest told us, was the
Serra Oak, under which Viscaino landed in 1602 and which sheltered Serra
himself in 1770, when he took possession of Monterey for the king of
Spain. It grew near the present entrance of the presidio, but withered
and died shortly after Father Serra passed away. The trunk was thrown
into the sea to dispose of it, but two pious Mexicans dragged it ashore
and it was finally placed where we saw it, in the garden of San Carlos
Church.

The church stands on the hill which overlooks the town and of old must
have been the first object reared by human hands to greet the incoming
mariners. At one time it commanded a fine view of the bay, but this is
now obstructed by the buildings of St. Joseph School.

[Illustration: CARMEL MISSION
From Photograph by Dassonville]

Monterey was one of the points visited by Dana in 1835, towards the end
of the Spanish domination, and the picture he gives is a charming one:

"The pretty lawn on which the village stands, as green as sun and rain
could make it; the low adobe houses with red tiles; the pine wood on the
south; the small soiled tri-color flag flying and the discordant din
of drums and trumpets for the noon parade," were the salient features
of the town that he sets down. Of these, the low adobe houses with the
red tiles and the pine wood still remain, but the green lawn and the
tri-color flag of Spain are to be seen no more.

After the town the mission will be the next goal of the tourist—if,
indeed, it has not been the first object to engage his attention.
It is on the other side of the peninsula, some five miles from the
Del Monte and a short distance beyond the lovely little village of
Carmel-by-the-Sea. The road for half the distance climbs a steady grade
and then drops down through the village to the shore of the bay. Here,
within a stone's throw of the rippling water, sheltered by the hills
on the land side, stands the restored mission church which probably
outranks all its contemporaries in historic significance. For it was
in a sense the home of the pious old monk whose zeal and energy were
responsible for the long chain of Christian missions; and in its solemn
confines he was laid to rest. We saw in it a striking resemblance to
the presidio church which we had just left, a square, simple bell-tower
with a domed roof to the left of the fachada, which is of the prevailing
Spanish type. This is broken by a star window of simple yet pleasing
design—the only attempt at artistic effect about the severely plain
old structure. As it stands, it is the result of a restoration, thirty
years ago, from an almost complete ruin—just how complete one may judge
from a drawing made by Henry Sandham for Mrs. Jackson's "Glimpses of
California," which appeared in 1882. Only two slender arches of the
roof were standing then and the space between the walls was filled with
unsightly piles of debris. Underneath this was the grave of the reverend
founder, Father Serra, the exact location of which was lost. No doubt
the earnest appeal of the author of "Ramona" had much to do with the
rescue of Carmel Mission Church from the fate which threatened it. She
wrote:

"It is a disgrace to both the Catholic Church and the State of
California that the grand old ruin, with its sacred sepulchres, should
be left to crumble away. If nothing is done to protect and save it, one
short hundred years more will see it a shapeless, wind-swept mound of
sand. It is not in our power to confer honor or bring dishonor on the
illustrious dead. We ourselves, alone, are dishonored when we fail in
reverence to them. The grave of Junipero Serra may be buried centuries
deep, and its very place forgotten; yet his name will not perish, nor
his fame suffer. But for the men of the country whose civilization he
founded and of the church whose faith he so glorified, to permit his
burial-place to sink into oblivion is a shame indeed."

Such an appeal could hardly pass unheeded; the old church rose from its
ruins and the grave of Serra was discovered near the altar. Above it
on the wall is a marble tablet with a Latin inscription which may be
translated as follows:

"Here lie the remains
of the Administrator Rev. Father
Junipero Serra
Order of Saint Francis
Founder of the California Missions
And President
Buried in peace.
Died 28th day of August A. D. 1784
And his companions
Rev. Fathers
John Crespi
Julian Lopez
and
Francis Lasuen
May they rest in peace."

Surely it is a pleasant resting-place for the weary old priest and no
doubt the spot above all others which he himself would have chosen.
Could he look back on his field of work to-day perhaps his sorrow for
the wreck and ruin of his cherished dream might be mitigated by the
tributes of an alien people to his sincerity of purpose and beauty of
character.

Beautiful as was the situation of nearly all the missions, we were
inclined to give to Carmel preeminence in this regard. Around it glows
the gold of the California poppy; a bright, peaceful river glides
quietly past; rugged, pine-crested hills rise on either side and a short
distance down the valley is the blue gleam of Carmel Bay, edged by a
wide crescent of yellow sand. Beyond this is the rugged, cypress-crowned
headland, Point Lobos—why called the Point of Wolves I do not know
unless it be that the insatiable waves that gnaw ceaselessly at the
granite rocks suggested to some poetic soul the idea of ravenous beasts.

The mission is the sole object in this magnificent setting. The tiny cot
of the keeper and a quiet farm-house are almost the only indications of
human life in the pleasant vale. The monastery has vanished and only a
bank of adobe shows where the cloisters stood. The roof of the church
has been renewed, but the walls are still covered with the ancient
plaster, which has weather-stained to mottled pink and old ivory. It is
now guarded with loving care and with the reviving interest in things
ancient and romantic in California is sure to be preserved to tell
to future ages the story of the brave and true Little Brother of St.
Francis, who sleeps his long sleep in its hallowed precincts.

Carmel's story may be told in few words. Founded by Serra himself in
1770, it did not reach its zenith of prosperity until after his death,
which occurred in 1784. The story of his last illness and demise—a
pathetic yet inspiring one—is beautifully told in Mrs. Jackson's
"California Sketches." It was on August 28th that he finally passed
away, so quietly and peacefully that all thought him sleeping. The
distress and sorrow of his Indian charges on learning of his death is
one of the strongest tributes to his lovable character. A year after his
death his successor as president was chosen—Padre Lasuen, who himself
founded several missions, as we have seen.

[Illustration: CYPRESSES, POINT LOBOS
From Photograph by Putnam & Valentine]

The hospitality of the fathers is shown by the recorded incident of the
English navigator, Vancouver, who reached Monterey in 1787. Lasuen gave
a grand dinner and even a display of fireworks in honor of his guest,
although he belonged to a nation very unfriendly to Spain. The good
priest, however, was rebuked by the governor, who was away at the time,
for allowing the Englishman to discover the weakness of the Spanish
defenses in California.

Carmel Mission declined earlier and more rapidly than many of its
contemporaries, for in 1833, the year prior to secularization, there
were only one hundred and fifty Indians remaining and in a decade these
had dwindled to less than fifty. In 1845 the property was completely
abandoned and sold at auction for a mere trifle. No one cared for the
building and seven years later the tile roof fell in. Of the restoration
we have already told.

One will hardly return from the mission without a glance about Carmel
village. Indeed, if he be fond of quiet retirement, and his time
permits, he may even be tempted to a sojourn of a day or more. It is
a delightfully rural place, its cottages scattered through fragrant
pines which cover most of its site, and running down to a clean, white
beach along the bay, from which one has a splendid view of the opposite
shore, including Point Lobos. Carmel is a favorite resort for college
professors and there are numerous artists who find much material for
their skill in the immediate vicinity. Our frontispiece, "The Gate
of Val Paiso Canyon," is the work of a talented member of the Carmel
Colony and a fine example of some of the striking and virile things they
produce—though we must concede them a great advantage in the wealth of
striking and virile subjects so readily at hand. Carmel claims that its
climate is even more genial and equable than that of the other side of
the peninsula—but I believe I stated at the outset that climate is not
to be discussed in this book.

No road in the whole country is more famous than Monterey's
seventeen-mile drive; one could never become weary of its glorious bits
of coast—wide vistas of summer seas and gnarled old cypresses, found
nowhere else in the New World. It is still called the seventeen-mile
drive, though it has been added to until there are forty miles of
macadam boulevard on the peninsula. Leaving Monterey we passed the
presidio, where a regiment of United States regulars is permanently
stationed—being mostly troops enroute to, or returning from, the
Philippines. Near the entrance is a marble statue of the patron saint of
Monterey, Father Serra, commemorating his landing in 1770. It shows the
good priest stepping from the boat, Bible in hand, to begin work in the
new field. This monument was the gift of Mrs. Leland Stanford, to whose
munificence California is so greatly indebted. A cross just outside the
entrance, standing in the place of the ancient oak whose dead trunk we
saw at San Carlos Church, is supposed to mark the exact landing-spot
of both Serra and Viscaino. There is also the Sloat monument, reared of
stones from every county in the state, which commemorates the raising of
the American flag by the admiral in 1846. The roads in the presidio are
open to motors and one may witness the daily military exercises from a
comfortable seat in his car.

[Illustration: EVENING NEAR MONTEREY
From Original Painting by Sydney J. Yard]

Beyond the presidio is Pacific Grove, a resort town nearly as large as
Monterey—just why "Pacific Grove" is not clear, for there are not many
trees in the town. It was founded in 1869 as a camp-meeting ground and
is still famous as a headquarters for religious societies. From here
one may take a glass-bottomed boat to view the "marine gardens," which
are said to surpass those at Avalon.

Beyond Pacific Grove we passed through a dense pine forest—this is the
Pacific Grove, perhaps—and coming into the open, we followed white sand
dunes for some distance along the sea. A sign, "Moss Beach," called for
an immediate halt and the ladies found treasures untold in the strange,
brilliantly colored bits of moss and sea-weed washed ashore here in
unlimited quantities. It is a wild, boulder-strewn bit of beach, damp
with spray and resonant with the swish of the waves among the rocks.
Beyond here the road continues through dunes, brilliant in places with
pink and yellow sand-flowers. We passed Point Joe, Restless Sea—where
two opposing currents wrestle in an eternal maelstrom—Bird Rocks, and
Seal Rocks—the latter the home of the largest sea-lion colony on the
coast. The sea was glorious beyond description; perhaps the same is
true of any sunny day at Monterey, and nearly all days at Monterey are
sunny. It showed all tones of blue, from solid indigo to pale sapphire,
with a strip of light emerald near the shore, edged by the long, white
breakers chafing on the beach. Here and there, at some distance from the
shore, the deep-blue expanse was broken by patches of royal purple—an
effect produced by the floating kelp. A clear azure sky bent down to
the wide circle of the horizon, with an occasional white sail or steamer
to break the sweep of one's vision over the waste of shining water. It
is not strange that Stevenson, who had seen and written so much of the
sea, should say of such a scene, "No other coast have I enjoyed so much


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Online LibraryThomas D. MurphyOn Sunset Highways → online text (page 16 of 25)