Saturday, March 5, 2011

How San Francisco was almost called Don Gaspar

From Chapter XVII, How the Leather-Jackets rode north:

During all those decades of the wars, the Spanish rule in Mexico had sunk further into languor, but at last the King sent a man to stir life up. This was Jose de Galvez, Andalusian-born of the fiery south, with full shares of Spanish pride and Spanish cruelty, and a triple share of restless energy. Wherever the tight-lipped Galvez went, the land seemed to break into a sweat of energy. No careful man wished to arouse the cold glitter of his eyes, and sometimes he crossed the line of sanity, imagining himself King of Sweden or of Prussia, or even God Almighty.

Most of his energy he loosed upon the western coast. He looked at what charts and reports were available, and saw the notations of harbors with the names Viscaino had given them--San Diego and Monterey. There was also a vaguely known bay, not mentioned by Visaino, called San Francisco.

It had come by its name in 1595. A certain Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno, commanding the galleon from Manila, made a landfall far along the California coast, and sailing southward, entered a good harbor. On November 7, he landed and took possession. The time of year was well past the day of St. Francis, but there was with the ship a Franciscan father, whose own name was also Francisco. This father "baptized" the land, doubtless by pouring water upon it symbolically as in baptizing a child, and the bay was thus named San Francisco. The galleon itself was wrecked, but Cermeno and his men got back to Mexico in a longboat.

Seven years later Viscaino reached the same bay, but as usual, displacing the names of others, he called it Don Gaspar, for the Viceroy. Nevertheless the name San Francisco remained, somewhat dubiously.

* * *

I'm enjoying mentally substituting Don Gaspar for San Francisco: the Don Gaspar Giants, "I left my heart in Don Gaspar," Rice-a-roni would be a Don Gaspar treat, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in Don Gaspar"... You get the point.

Also, we've just received Stewart's delightfully entertaining book, in which he uses expressions like the abovementioned "the land seemed to break into a sweat of energy," in remainder, which we're selling for $7.98.

1 comment:

Clark said...

I can't believe you didn't use any diacritical marks on the Spanish names.