Letter No. 22
Tabucan House, Iloilo
February 28th, 1866
My dear Father,
Your letter of Dec. 18th to Robert and myself is duly at hand bought by the “Anastasia,” which arrived the day before yesterday after getting on shore at Point Tomonton on the Negros coast. A small war steamer went out to give her assistance but on nearing the spot founder her under sail. A fatality seems to attend the Glasgow vessels for Iloilo, as they always get on shore, or require repairs, but in the present instance I don’t think the “Anastasia” has suffered much.
In my last letter I told you that I was starting for Negros to consult as to what was to be done after the damage caused by the “devouring element,” to speak penny-a-linerly. I found the manager of Matabang[i] and his engineer-in-chief, Mr. Stevens, prowling about the ruins. There were lots of ashes about, if they had been inclined to take to sackcloth also, but on the contrary the burnt out parties seemed to be rather jollier than usual. They slept in the convent at Minuluan where the Padre gave them a room and behaved very kindly to them, but during the day they remained at the estate, taking their meals in a shed. The scene, as you may imagine, was desolate enough with the bare posts of the boiling house, store house, and dwelling house all charred and still smoking, and the machinery blackened and twisted with the effects of the fire. The actual damage, however, was not very great, and with some $2,000 (L400) things may be put to rights again. The engineer, Mr. Stevens, I learnt behaved very well, and if it had not been for his exertions in rushing in with water, more of the machinery would have gone. The young Spaniard Manuel also did his duty. When the house was burnt down, he lost all but what he stood in, except two shirts at the washerwoman’s. The latter fact revealed that he had not apparently very extensive transactions with the “Dhoby.” The Matabang disaster will be reparable as to its more immediate consequences for about $2,000. If we do not come short of funds for repairing and going on planting cane we shall recover from the hit.
The canes planted are looking remarkably well, and that “winged evil” the locusts keeps off, there being at present no trace of him save the mark of his malignant and saw-like tooth on the growing leaf. Mr. Costeker duly arrived four days ago and has taken up his quarters with me at Tabucan. We are now all working with a will and are buying sugar to a most satisfactory extent. We dispatch the “Valdora” today for Liverpool by Hamburg. The “Anastasia” with piece goods commences to discharge, and we expect three vessels for sugar.
Robert’s health continues quite good and I think his spirits have risen since after the late fire if anything, strange as it may seem. Leontine is well. I must tell you that about May or so she expects to add to the small community at Iloilo a juvenile of some sort, so that your grandchildren will be added to by one if the Fates permit. She was to have written Harriet by this opportunity, but I almost doubt if the letter will be ready in time. Robert will write you about Buchanan’s machinery. I am in a great hurry, and remain with love to all,
Your affectionate son,
P.S. Brackenbury was appointed Consul for Lisbon, and has left already.
[i] A sugar refinery located near the present-day town of Victorias in northern Negros Occidental.