Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Letters of Nicholas Loney (16)

Letter No. 16


January 8th, 1859

“Rosalia” to Manila

My dear Nanny,

I wrote you a small note from Manila the day before shipping myself per “Soledad;” and eight days after, a boat pulled by four swarthy indigenes was observed to detached itself from a gaily painted barque in the outer harbour of Iloilo and land two coves upon a wharf. One of these coves was the Biscayan skipper of the “Soledad,” high Don Santiago de Lierra; the lowly cognomen of the other, though decidedly one of those “not generally known,” may perhaps not be unfamiliar to you under the mysterious initials, N.L.

To my surprise I found H.M.S.V. “Magicienne” anchored near the Iloilo fort. It seemed that while on voyage to Labuan, Sir J.B. (John Bowring) was attacked by fever and ague, and instead of going to Borneo they bore up for Zamboanga and after staying there a day or two came on to Iloilo. The steamer arrived here on the afternoon of the 30th December, and the “Soledad” on the morning of the 31st. I found J.B. installed at the house of Ulsurrum and Co., which had been placed at his disposal by the Governor, the latter’s own temporary one being rather too small for the purpose. Higgin had offered him ours, for which J.B. thanked him, but said he must place himself in the Governor’s hands.

It was proposed to show J.B. something of the country, and the next morning after going to a ball at Molo the night before, which J.B., the Captain and some of the officers also patronized, we started off for Janiuay, a large pueblo about 18 miles off, passing through Jaro, Santa Barbara and Cabatuan. The Governor drove Sir J.B. and myself as far as Cabatuan, and Captain Vansittart and J.B.’s secretary came in my carriage, the padres of Jaro and San Barbara and D. Jose Coscolluela and D.V. Ulsurrum bringing up the rear. At Cabatuan we breakfasted at the convent of Padre Ramon Alquigan, and then went on to Janiuay where Fray Miguel Carvod gave us another breakfast, after which we had a siesta, and then a dinner in the afternoon. Then we started for Iloilo – I, with young Mr. Secretary Payne and Captain Vansittart, and J.B. with the Governor. Got back to Iloilo late in the evening, and partook of another spread given by the Governor at Ulsurrum’s house. Next day whirled off again to the pueblos along the coast. Molo, Arevalo, Oton, Tigbuan, and Guimbal, returning to Iloilo late and again prandializing with the Governor. The following morning the steamer left. While we were rushing through the country Higgin took charge of feeding several of the officers and inducting them into the New Year festivities at Molo, and some of them slept on shore at our house.

Sir J.B. and Captain V. and Payne much admired the beauty and fertility of the country through which we passed on the first day’s journey, and in visiting the towns on the coast J.B. was struck with the amount of population and the extent to which the native manufactures are carried on. At the breakfast and collations at the convents, sundry small speeches were made and toasts proposed and J.B. got on very well on these occasions, speaking Spanish capitally. On the whole, especially as I believe, he intends writing a book about China and the Philippines which will have the effect of directing attention to this quarter.[i] I think his visit will be productive of good, though it is to be regretted that he did not or could not come as a private individual so as to have avoided giving his Spanish entertainers so much trouble. Our poor old Governor gave himself no rest day or night to treat his guest as well as possible and must have spent a lot of money besides. Some of the padres also did the hospitable on the “Bodas de Camacho[ii] scale. The fare at our “Umble domicile” was not on a very regal scale as the “good things” I bought on the “Soledad” could not be landed in time.

I brought J.B. to the Consulate on the morning he left, showed him my reports, of which he requested copies, and posted him up about the port in general.[iii] I did not see much of the officers of the “Magicienne.” Those I knew were a Lieutenant Sharpe, the purser W. Alexander, Harvey the master, and the chaplain who name I forget. The first lieutenant’s name was Soady. I saw and spoke to him on board but did not know at the time that he is a Devonshire or Cornishman, and I believe I have heard a family of that name sometimes spoken of at home. He seemed a very good fellow, and I am told that he was very much liked on board, and that the men would do anything for him. I got Captain Vansittart to give a passage to Manila to a priest who wished to go and attend the chapter meeting of the Augustinian order at Manila.

A good many of the other padres went on board to see him off and to see the vessel, and looked very funny in their long white habits groping about the engine room and lower decks. I cannot write you any more on this present occasion, and you must excuse this insipid letter. Some detestable business letters occupy the feeble N.L. mind. If I do not find time to write Father by this copy, please tell him that things go on pretty well.

With best love to Mother and all, I remain

Your affectionate brother,


[i] Sir John Bowring wrote “A Visit to the Philippine Islands,” London, 1859.

[ii] From Cervantes’ novel, “Don Quixote,” used idiomatically to mean on a grand scale or lavishly.

[iii] Other reports by Nicholas Loney found by Fr. Horacio dela Costa, S.J. in the British Museum are kept in the Ateneo University Museum. Their inclusion in this book was not possible due to lack of time.

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