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.
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.