April 18, 1794
Madrid, April 18. Post Captain D. Alexandro Malaspina, Commander of the King’s corvettes Descubierta and Atrevida, which left Cadiz in July 1789 to circumnavigate the globe, announced from Manila, among much good news regarding the successful results of the expedition, the great loss suffered through the death of Colonel D. Antonio de Pineda, First Lieutenant of the Royal Guards of the Spanish Infantry. This officer demonstrated his military knowledge and his courage during the last war with the British, planning the army operations against their position on Gibraltar, and serving under the command of Rear Admiral D. Buenaventura Moreno during the assault on Gibraltar, notably aboard the floating battery ship Pastora, and in the succeeding encounter of the two squadrons at Cape Espartel. After peace was declared he returned to cultivate his deep interest in Physics and Natural History, in which he already had a strong background, arriving at such a level of understanding in these sciences that he was chosen to go as Naturalist on such a glorious and valuable enterprise, full of difficulties and dangers of all kinds.
Passion excited him to fulfil this assignment with enthusiasm, as was evident during the expedition, because on every coast at which the vessels arrived, Pineda set off in search of objects of natural history, traversing mountains and forests and identifying volcanoes and mines, not hesitating in the presence of any danger, nor taking the necessary precautions to keep himself healthy in diverse climates and temperatures, dedicating everything to his duties. Hence the results have been much to be admired, for the number and excellence of the acquisitions in the 3 natural kingdoms, and for the observations and analysis in his journals. However, he became a victim of his excessive love of work, since, when returning to Manila (after spending 2 and a half months traversing most of the island of Luzon, through almost impassable mountains and in continuous danger of being attacked by the vicious and cruel Indian inhabitants) and even though he felt the effects on his very fragile health, he insisted on continuing with his duties rather than attempting to recover, perhaps hoping to be able to do so later in the capital city. Finally in the small town of Badoc, in the province of Ilocos, he had an apoplectic episode, and recovered his senses only to demonstrate a strong faith in his religion, the same strength that he displayed in his social obligations, passing away on the night of June 23, 1792, at 38 years of age.
When finalised, the publication of this most important voyage of the corvettes will demonstrate the valuable knowledge of D. Antonio Pineda, and his insatiable devotion to observation and its recording. Meanwhile, the Commander and Officers of these ships and the other companions in this worthy enterprise, appreciative judges of his talents and virtues, given the loss that they experienced, held in the Church of San Agustin de Manila the most solemn obsequies for his soul: and to preserve his memory financed and built close by a monument (on which they also placed a plaque) with the following inscription written by D. Tadeás Haenke, another well-known naturalist on the expedition.
VIRTUTE. IN. PATRIAM. BELLO. AMISQUE. INSIGNI
NATURAE. DEMUM. INDEFESSO. SCRUTATORI
TRIENNI. ARDUO. ITINERE. ORBIS. EXTREMA. ADIIT
TELLURIS. VISCERA. PELAGI. ABYSSOS. ANDIUMQUE. CACUMINA. LUSTRANS
VITAE. SIMUL. ET. LABORUM. GRAVIUM
DIEM. SUPREMUM. OBIIT. IN. LUCONIA. PHILIPPICARUM
VI. CALENDAS. IULII. MDCCXCII
PRAEMATURAM. OPTIMI. MORTEM
LUGET. PATRIA. LUGET. FAUNA. LUGENT. AMICI
QUI. HOCCE. POSUERE. MONUMENTUM.*
The King is sensible of the sacrifice of his most useful servant, and also of the loss to the sciences that [His Majesty] has promoted. His Majesty, when sent the first news of the death of Pineda, readily agreed that a good military pension should be established for his brother D. Arcadio, Senior Lieutenant, employed on the same expedition, and charged with organising the most important records of the deceased; and to reimburse the expenses of the mentioned monument and plaque with funds from the Royal State Treasury, and to have another one engraved at Court, with greater care to the subject; [the wording?] will be published shortly. His Majesty provided this reward for the dedication and merits of D. Antonio de Pineda as encouragement to those who are dedicated to the sciences, as another way to show his appreciation for them.
* Andrew David et al, translators of Malaspina's journal (London, Hakluyt Society, 2003. Vol II, p.413) offer the following translation: "Antonio Pineda, a military commander who was outstanding in his love of his country in war. Distinguished in arms, he was, in addition, a tireless researcher into the ways of Nature. In a laborious journey of three years, he reached the limits of the globe, where he investigated the bowels of the earth, the depths of the ocean, and the peaks of the Andes. The last day of his life and heavy labours came upon him in Luzon in the Philippines on VI Calends July MDCCXCII. His homeland mourns, Nature mourns, as do his friends, who set up this monument, lamenting the premature death of this, the best of men." A note on the same page indicates that Haenke erred in assigning the Roman date, which corresponds to June 26, three days after Pineda's death.
Original Spanish text courtesy of Robert King. Translated by Maria Guadalupe Soto de Podritske, Lorill Ireland and John Black.
Updated: June 13, 2018