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T the termination of a war between France A and Spain, in 1795, all the Spanish possessions in the island of Hispaniola were ceded to France, by the 9th article of the treaty of peace. To assist in the accomplishment of this session, a Spanish squadron was despatched to the island at the appointed time, commanded by Don Gabriel de Aristizabal, lieutenant-general of the royal armada. On the 11th December, 1795, that commander wrote to the Field-Marshal and Governor, Don Joaquin Garcia, resident at San Domingo, that, being informed that the remains of the celebrated Admiral Don Christopher Columbus lay in the cathedral of that city, he felt it incumbent upon him as a Spaniard, and as commander-in-chief of His Majesty's squadron of operation, to solicit the translation of the ashes of that hero to the islaud of Cuba, which had 1ikewise been discovered by him, and where he had first planted the standard of the cross. He expressed a desire that this should be done officially, and with great care and formality, that it might not remain in the power of any one, by a careless transportation of these honored remains, to lose a relic connected with an event which formed the most glorious epoch of Spanish history; and that it might be manifested to all nations, that Spaniards, notwithstanding the lapse of ages, never ceased to pay all honors to the remains of that “worthy and adventurous general of the seas”; nor abandoned them, when the various public bodies, representing the Spanish dominion, emigrated from . the island. As he had not time, without great inconvenience, to consult the sovereign on this subject, he had recourse to the Governor, as royal vice-patron of the island, hoping that his solicitation might be granted, and the remains of the Admiral exhumed and conveyed to the island of Cuba, in the ship San /orenzo. The generous wishes of this high-minded Spaniard met with warm concurrence on the part of the Governor. He informed him in reply, that the Duke of Veraguas, lineal successor of Coluimbus, had maniiested the same solicitude, and had sent directions
that the necessary measures should be taken at his expense; and had at the same time expressed a wish that the bones of the Adelantado, Don Bartholomew Columbus, should likewise be exhumed; transmitting inscriptions to be put upon the sepulchres of both. He added, that although the King had given no orders on the subject, yet the proposition being so accordant with the grateful feelings of the Spanish nation, and meeting with the concurrence of all the authorities of the island, he was ready on his part to carry it into execution. The Commandant-General Aristizabal then made a similar communication to the Archbishop of Cuba, Don Fernando Portillo y Torres, whose metropolis was then the city of San Domingo, hoping to receive his countenance and aid in this pious undertaking. The reply of the Archbishop was couched in terms of high courtesy towards the gallant commander, and deep reverence for the memory of Columbus, and expressed a zeal in rendering this tribute of gratitude and respect to the remains of one who had done so much for the glory of the nation. The persons empowered to act for the Duke of Veraguas, the venerable dean and chapter of the cathedral, and all the other persons and authorities to whom Don Gabriel de Aristizabal made similar communications, manifested the same eagerness to assist in the performance of this solemn and affecting rite.
The worthy commander, Aristizabal, having taken all these preparatory steps with great form and punctilio, so that the ceremony should be performed in a public and striking manner, suitable to the fame of Columbus, the whole was carried into effect with becoming pomp and solemnity.
On the 20th December, 1795, the most distinguished persons of the place, the dignitaries of the Church, and civil and military officers, assembled in the metropolitan cathedral. In the presence of this august assemblage, a small vault was opened above the chancel, in the principal wall on the right side of the high altar. Within were found the fragments of a leaden coffin, a number of bones, and a quantity of mould, evidently the remains of a human body. These were carefully collected and put in a case of gilded lead, about half an ell in length and breadth, and a third in heighth, secured by an iron lock, the key of which was delivered to the Archbishop. The case was enclosed in a coffin covered with black velvet and ornamented with lace and fringe of gold. The whole was then placed in a temporary tomb or mausoleum.
On the following day there was another grand convocation at the cathedral, when the vigils and masses for the dead were solemnly chanted by the Archbishop, accompanied by the Commandant-General of the ar. *nada, the Ibominican and Franciscan friars, and the friars of the Order of Mercy, together with the rest