Be all this as it may, however, the missions of California passed away, leaving practically nothing behind them but a memory. Yet this is surely a memory to be cherished by all who feel a pious reverence for the past, and whose hearts are responsive to the sense of tears that there is in mortal things. And alike for those who live beneath the blue skies of California, and for those who wander awhile as visitors among her scenes of wonder and enchantment, the old mission buildings will ever be objects of curious and unique interest. Survivals from a by-gone era, embodiments not only of the purposes of their founders, but of the faith which built the great cathedrals of Europe, they stand pathetic figures in a world to which they do not seem to belong. In the noise and bustle of the civilization which is taking possession of what was once their territory, they have no share. The life about them looks towards the future. They point mutely to the past. A tender sentiment clings about them; in their hushed enclosures we breathe a drowsy old-world atmosphere of peace; to linger within their walls, to muse in their graveyards, is to step out of the noisy present into the silence of departed years. In a land where everything is of yesterday, and whose marvellous natural beauties are but rarely touched with the associations of history or charms of romance, these things have a subtle and peculiar power — a magic not to be resisted by any one who turns aside for an hour or two from the highways of the modern world, to dream among the scenes where the old padres toiled and died. And as in imagination he there calls up the ghostly figures of neophyte and soldier and priest, now busy with the day’s task-work, now kneeling at twilight mass in the dimly-lighted chapel; as the murmur of strange voices and the faint music of bell and chant steal in upon his ears; he will hardly fail to realize that, however much or little the Franciscan missionaries accomplished for California, they have passed down to our prosaic after-generation a legacy of poetry, whereof the sweetness will not soon die away.
*** End of the project gutenberg EBOOK, the Famous missions of California ***
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