Diary of Alfred Burton Welch

7/15 Saturday, 1899

Ate well today –went to arsenal and got a sword and looked at the collection of curios which the Spanish have been collecting for 300 years. Great piles of bolos and machetes. Big awkward things. Bamboo “mud” guns & gas-pipe cannon, bound with bamboo cords and cannon balls of lava stones. Stands of old guns, pin fire muzzle-loaders, spears highly polished, blowguns.

Visited Manila Cathedral in p.m. with its splendid old paintings, tombs, marble pillars, galleries & lofty altars, ablaze. Gloomy & quiet with a few people kneeling very straight, a prince of Italy, nobles, prelates, friars, soldiers, favorites, Inquisitors, “pobres” & a U.S. officer. At the organ in the center of the church was seated a black-robed priest, “old & haggard,” but still with an eye like the ancient mariner.

His dry, bony hand wandered over the black keys, and the sublime music bursting forth in mighty volume seems to pray & weep to chant & groan.

Fall upon their knees before the high altar, the strange multitude murmurs prayers –while from some gallery comes the monotonous wail of the Miserere & the dolorous chant echoes thro’ the arches, rises & falls and, at last, sobbing & trembling, dies away like the song of sorrow of a penitent world. As the mournful chant draws to a close the organ falls in a crash –the murmur hushes, and it almost seems as tho from the ivory images upon the altars drops floods of sorrowful tears. No wonder Catholicism has such a hold upon semi-barbarous nations. Her ceremonies are simply grand. Slept in Room 6, Joteleria Espanol.