CHAPTER XI: HON. REGINALD F. DEL VALLE
To define a gentleman one might go far afield without disclosing a more pronounced exemplar than is Hon. Reginald F. del Valle, eldest son of Don Ygnacio and Señora del Valle, who of all the human documents yet living is most readily identified as the person Mrs. Jackson had in mind in the idealization of the character of Felipe in the romance. Attire him in Spanish garb, as the artist Henry Sandham has properly done, and the portraits are not wholly unlike.
Senator del Valle left Camulos ranch early in life to prepare himself for the practice of law, a profession he has graced for a quarter of a century in Los Angeles. Without undue self-seeking upon his part he has during that period been honored with many positions of distinction and trust. He always has been a consistent and active member of the Democratic
It is an interesting circumstance, in this connection, that the romance of Mrs. Jackson closes with the arrival and settlement of Felipe and his beautiful bride in the Mexican capital. Of this the author says: ‘‘The story of the romance of their lives, being widely rumored, greatly enhanced the interest with which they were welcomed. The beautiful young Señora Moreno was the theme of the city; and Felipe's bosom thrilled with pride to see the gentle dignity of demeanor by which she was distinguished in all assemblages.’’
In the spring of 1913 affairs throughout the Republic of Mexico were in such chaotic condition, owing to the movements of various revolutionary bodies, that the Administration at Washington felt impelled to withhold recognition of the provisional government represented by General Huerta until reliable assurances could be given of its ability to maintain a stable government and to give adequate protection to the lives and property of all classes of people. That dependable information might be obtained from the various opposing factions in the republic, President Wilson determined to send a personal representative into Mexico, to report such facts as might be developed directly to him, to the end that such action as might finally be taken by the government of the United States should be based upon indisputable facts, gathered by a person wholly disinterested. The mission was a peculiarly delicate one, calling for the highest order of intelligence, of tact and diplomacy. That the distinction should fall upon Hon. Reginald Francisco del Valle, of California, was not calculated to surprise anyone, since his entire fitness for the trust was and is universally recognized.
A WINDOW IN RAMONA'S BEDROOM, CAMULOS DWELLING
HON. REGINALD F. DEL VALLE,
This mission to the capital of Mexico calls vividly to mind the consummation of the story of Ramona. Felipe and Ramona, with the latter's infant daughter, went to Monterey, where they boarded a vessel and sailed for Mexico City, and were there married and lived.
The somewhat phenomenal presentation of ‘‘The Mission Play’’, Mr. John S. McGroarty's magnificent and educational creation, at old San Gabriel, near Los Angeles, daily during the spring and summer of 1913, and later in San Francisco and other cities, has significance in this connection from the circumstance that the title role was assumed by Miss Lucretia Louise del Valle, the only child of the Senator, and the further fact that the old garret at Camulos contributed very largely to the young lady's strikingly beautiful native wardrobe, deemed essential to the proper presentation of the play.
Senator del Valle has related to the authors the effect of Ramona on his mother's family. They suffered in two ways, he said. The public accepted his mother, Señora del Valle, the widowed owner of Camulos ranch, as the original of the character of Señora Moreno of the romance, and to her were attributed all the faults, imperfections and eccentricities of Señora Moreno. Public prejudice and criticism were harshly directed toward the noble and saintly Señora del Valle, who was in life the direct opposite of Señora Moreno in the latter's hatred and cruelty of Ramona. The authors especially refer the reader to the chapter in this volume of which Señora del Valle is the subject.
For several years subsequent to the publication of Ramona, 1884, tourist excursions to California were mainly those conducted by a Boston firm, and were composed of New England people. Camulos ranch, the home of Ramona,
SEñORA DOñA YSABEL DEL VALLE,
MISS LUCRETIA LOUISE DEL VALLE,
Senator del Valle yet grows indignant when talking of the conduct of the New Englanders. They were rude, he asserts, and wholly ill-mannered. They picked the flowers and fruit, swarmed over the yard and gardens, took valuable articles for souvenirs, and invaded the dwelling uninvited; and, on one occasion, when in the room described in the novel as having been the sleeping apartment of Ramona, a woman threw herself on the bed, exclaiming, ‘‘Now I can say I have laid on Ramona's bed.’’
Such unseemly and rough conduct resulted in the ranch being closed to the Boston firm's excursionists, Senator del Valle himself writing the order to the firm, and declaiming against the perpetration of ‘‘Boston manners,’’ as he put it, on Camulos ranch.