Letter No. 10
Jan. 11th, 1857
My dear Father,
Since writing you as far back as November 24th last, I have had since the pleasure of receiving your valued and interesting letter of Oct. 22. Having been somewhat occupied the last few days, and rather at a loss for time to finish sundry letters for Manila, I must beg you to excuse me for not writing more than a few lines by this opportunity, which leaves early on the morning. You will be pleased to learn that the letter to an American friend alluded to in my last lines was productive of some effect. On the part of Russell and Sturgis he writes me that they are prepared to advance funds to the extent of $12-15,000 to build a camarin (go-down) of stone, and go into produce operations. I expect the first remittance in money by an early opportunity, and have already secured a piece of ground on the side of the creek for building on; at present the business will be in the coasting trade to Manila, but I am endeavouring to get them to commence direct shipments from this place to Europe, Australia, and America (although they don’t think it quite feasible yet); I have hopes of bringing about a direct export trade in time. I shall have some difficulty in getting a stone building properly erected here, especially as the water lots are swampy and require a good deal of filling in, but I shall let you know from time to time how things are getting on. If the projected produce operations turn out satisfactory R & S are prepared to extend them as far as possible; though unless they send me some foreign ships (as I am continually impressing on them) much will not be done for some time, there being a good many competitors, and produce – though increasing rapidly each year – still scarce. They proposed that I should take a share in the profit or loss of the coming transactions, but I prefer to act merely as their agent for a commission, as the loss of a vessel, (there being no insurance) or any untoward event, might knock me financially speaking on the head.
I am sorry that there is no answer from Camarines about the steamer project, but it is expected soon, though I am always inclined to augur that it will not be very encouraging for the present. I think that before very long, however, the scheme will be got to work in some quarter or other, especially as the Government has just sent an engineer officer from here to commence working the Cebu coal mines which will yield very good coal at an easy distance from the sea. Cebu is about 30 leagues from Iloilo. Mr. Ker is still at Batavia – I have a letter from him dated in October in which he says he doesn’t know when he will get back to Manila, and adds promiscuously, “I liked your relations very much.” I expect he will have to stop a long time at Batavia and give up his Australian trip.
For a quiet place like this we have been rather dissipated lately. A ball and a dinner on New Year’s day, another dinner and ball on the 6th, and this morning a big breakfast at the Lieutenant Governor’s, not to speak of a very grand ball given tonight by the principal native of the place to this latter functionary, for which I am about (it now being 8 o’clock) to dress. The Lt. Gov. is about to leave, which I am sorry, for he fraternized with me considerably; but his successor seems to be also a very good specimen. The Lt. Gov. here is a legal functionary, who decides in civil and legal cases beyond the sphere of the Governor who is a military man. At the second dinner alluded to, which took place at the Government house, the L.G. insanely proposed “the health of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria of England, and that of her worthy representative in this province.” I, of course, looked unutterable things. At these dinners, breakfasts and balls there have generally been some 35 to 40 Europeans present, some from other parts of the province.
Tomorrow morning early I start in the “Rosalia” with the Governor to accompany the No. 2 functionary part of the way on his voyage. We disembark at the little archipelago called Selanyan, formerly alluded to by me, and then the Governor and myself ride across the country and through the northern towns of the province, to tobacco districts and as far as the Capiz boundary and perhaps pay a flying visit to the chief town of Capiz itself. I am glad of this opportunity of seeing something of the interior so as to be able to speak in my report “as one having authority” from actual experience.
We shall probably be away from this town for about 10 to 12 days. I have Nanny’s and Henry’s welcome letters of October 2nd; the latter I will answer before long, but for the present will not insult the brilliant writer of the former with a frantic scrap which would be all I would manage by this conveyance. I hope Henry won’t remain long at his present unattractive station. Your accounts of the “E. Bell” and the “Rose Ellis” are still far from reassuring. I regret to see.
Col. Charles told me this morning the Government had approved of his projected lighthouses, and ordered them to be commenced forthwith, which is a good thing. The buoys are also to be laid down. I am rather afraid of the proposed business, the collection of produce requiring so much caution and experience, and more activity that I can afford to spare. If only I can get the foreign trade direct; once set going it would be all right. I expect to get to Iloilo next month. My house there will cost me $35 per month at the usual exchange of 4.6 per dollar ($) equal to L94 per annum. I must now be off to join the Terpsichorean crew – though my part will be confined to the ornamental wall-flower department, as N.L. doesn’t super-add dancing to his other accomplishment. With best love to Mother and all, I remain my dear Father
Your affectionate son,