Life in Feejee, or, Five Years among the Cannibals
Arrival at Manilla—Its Inhabitants—Its Buildings—Bazars—Visit to the Pina Factory—The Escolta—Departure from Manilla—Return to the Young Williams's Group—Its Inhabitants—Our Departure—The Greenwich Islands—The Dangerous Reef—Pleasant Island.
|March 10.||Arrived at Manilla.|
|11.||Having received an invitation from the gentlemen of the well-known firm of Peel, Hubbell & Co., we have page 186to-day removed to their spacious dwelling. The house is one of the largest, if not the largest in Manilla, and built, I presume, like all Spanish houses in warm climates. Not understanding the art, or even the technical terms of architecture, I will not attempt a description. I perceive, however, that the building is situated on the margin of a river, opposite the city, and the river is well filled with vessels of different kinds, from whence issue sounds of all sorts. I have learned that it is not the fashion for foreign ladies to make much use of their feet. Carriages and servants are provided.|
|12.||Yesterday Mr. W. having engaged a carriage and coachman for the time that we remain here, we started, after dinner, for a drive into the country. We first passed through several crowded streets in the suburbs, and then came into the open country. The land is perfectly level, the roads smooth, our carriage easy, and we enjoyed a most delightful ride. It was far more agreeable than riding o'er the mountain wave.|
|13.||During our afternoon drive, we took a view of the city of Manilla. It is enclosed by a massive wall, outside of which are several draw-bridges, which afford entrance to the city. I believe that no foreigners reside within the walls,—the place being mostly occupied by the Governor and those connected with Government. In the evening we received a call from Capt. Doane and his wife, of ship Congaree, of Boston.|
|14.||Last evening we rode into the city, to listen to music played by four different bands belonging to the army. These bands are composed of native musicians, who play each a quarter of an hour in the square opposite the Governor's palace, and then repair to the Calsada and play another hour. Marches and martial tunes are played during half the time, and the other half, waltz-page 187es, songs, &c. As near as I could judge, they played with taste and skill. These musical banquets are given semi-weekly.|
|15.||The inhabitants of the suburbs are exceedingly numerous, and I am always glad when we have passed their crowded thoroughfares. The bazars are extensive and numerous, and are held by the natives. Besides these, nearly every native house that is situated on the roads leading into the open country, has its booth in front containing provisions. Spirituous liquors are observed for sale in great abundance; yet among all the crowds of Manilla, I have not seen one intoxicated person. The suburbs are divided into towns, or rather districts, each one having its church, its padres and spies, and all other things appertaining to Popery. Of the Spanish government I know nothing, therefore can write nothing; but will leave the subject to others.|
During our afternoon drives I have observed that the dwelling-houses of Manilla appear to consist of three classes. First, the heavy stone edifices, with their red tiled roofs, which are occupied by Spanish and European residents of distinction; second, those of wood and bamboo, or such appear to be the materials, with a roof of thatch; a little veranda runs along the front, which is often prettily ornamented. Owing to the occurrence of earthquakes, no glass is used for windows, but small panes of pearl shell instead. This class of buildings appears to be inhabited by the better or richer sort of Indians. Then comes the third and lowest class; these are built of bamboo and grass, and the most of them are in the most dilapidated condition. Their inhabitants appear to care far less about their personal comfort than the savages we so lately left on the islands of the South Pacific. These dwellings, however, are not uncom-page 188fort able at this season of the year, when their occupants live mostly in the open air; but how they contrive to keep dry during the rainy season, is more than I can determine. Owing to the miasma arising from the humidity of the country, the churches and stone buildings present an ancient appearance; indeed, some of the churches are of ancient date, having been built some two hundred and fifty years. Opposite the front of the house of which I am now an inmate, stands an ancient building that was used as an Inquisition about sixty years ago, when Inquisitors and Inquisitions were tolerated. I often gaze on the small apertures which once afforded their little quantum of light to the dungeons of the prisoners, and fancy what must have been their emotions. The young and the lovely have no doubt been immured within its walls for the vilest of purposes, and their end was death. Who shall describe the manner of it?
In the evening we called at the mansion of Mr. Sturgis, United States' Consul, to see Capt. Doane and his wife, but they had left for their vessel, expecting to sail in the morning. Mrs, P. has accompanied her husband in his sea voyages for eleven years past.
|17.||Mr. W. called on board the Congaree. Mrs. D. sent me a dear little lap-dog, with a black nose and two bright black eyes. As I have no pet, I expect to love it very much. At noon Mr. Edwards sent to my room a ripe pomegranate, which was quite a curiosity to me. The fruit was full of seeds, which reminded me of one of the Arabian tales.|
It is the custom of the Spanish, as well as Indian ladies, to smoke cigars, and sometimes, though not frequently, I have seen well-dressed ladies in their carriages indulging in this highly delicate and refined luxury. The native Indians all use the odorous herb, and page 189to-day, as we spoke of visiting the Pina establishment, one of the gentlemen of the house remarked that if a cigar was offered me, I must not decline the civility.
At the manufactory we were shown some most beautifully embroidered articles, consisting of mantles, shawls, handkerchiefs, collars, capes and coifs,—all of which are done with the sewing needle by native women. It is not known from whence they acquired this beautiful art; some suppose from the Japanese. Before our departure, we were offered chocolate and cigars from a silver tray. I remembered the advice heretofore given; consequently, I took a cup of chocolate, while Mr. W, helped himself to a cigar.
During our pleasant rides, I have often observed negroes mingling, here and there, amidst this dense population. I am told that they are from the interior of the island, and that the original inhabitants of these isles are of that race. They have been driven from the coasts, no one knows where, but have not become extinct. Manilla is situated on the largest of the Philippines. The Spanish took possession of the place some three hundred years ago. Since then, for a time, it was in the hands of the English, from whom it was ransomed in 1809. The native population is estimated at two hundred thousand, and the white residents are about four thousand. An army of fifteen thousand natives, commanded mostly by Spanish officers, is maintained by the Government for the safety of the whole. To prevent conspiracies and revolt in the army, it is composed of natives from the different provinces, who, speaking a different dialect, can hold but little communication with each other. Frequent changes are also made from one division to another.
About nine o'clock in the evening, which is the fash-page 190ionable hour for making calls, Mr. Sturgis and lady called to see us. We regretted much that we were away. I presume that this journal would scarcely be recognized as having been penned by a female, unless there should be a word, now and then, about dress. The Spanish and European ladies wear dresses of white muslin, made after the Parisian and London fashions, with the exception of the sleeves, which are worn short. The Spanish ladies wear no bonnets or caps, but the English wear both. There are not more than half a dozen of the latter in the place. The elderly Spanish ladies wear their hair combed straight back from the forehead, over the top of the head,—a most unbecoming fashion. The younger ones dress their hair plainly, as many do with us at home. No curls are worn, nor is a stray hair allowed to wander from the fold. It is said that the Spanish ladies wear no stockings. This may be slander. I had no opportunity for personal observation.
The costume of the Mestizoes consists of a full skirt of a bright plaid gingham or silk, and a short jacket of some thin material; a handkerchief is often worn over the shoulders. These are of various descriptions; some are pina, and others are of muslin or lace, which are embroidered; their raven tresses shining and beautiful, are confined by golden ornaments. The Indian women wear a plain piece of cloth, without plait or fold, fastened to the waist and falling to the feet; a jacket and handkerchief, as above described, cover the upper parts of their persons. Many wear their beautiful hair hanging loosely behind. Four of their toes are thrust into a beautifully embroidered slipper without heels.
On our arrival at this place, I was informed that ladies did not go a shopping, but purchased all that was wanted at their own dwellings, where the articles were page 191brought by the shopmen. After my informant had left the room, I exclaimed, "Not go a shopping! A lady not go a shopping! Who originated so barbarous a custom? Some bachelors I —; oh, no, not any of that class; but some cross, miserly, money-loving Benedict must have instituted a custom so savage. Not go a shopping!" I muttered in a loud tone. I then remained silent for a time, deeply cogitating; the result of my cogitations I will record for the benefit of those who may be similarly situated. I am a stranger, I thought, a sojourner for a short time. I expect to become acquainted with no one out of this house. I would do nothing to disgrace its honorable occupants, but I must be convinced that going a shopping will do so before I can deprive myself of the indulgence. I have no particular caste to lose, and I will go a shopping.
There is a certain street in Manilla called the Escolta. On each side of the street are rows of low, mean-looking buildings; but one scarcely notices these, for inside are all sorts of fine things kept for sale by Chinese shopmen. Accordingly, in pursuance of my determination, we sometimes visited these Chinese repositories. On entering one of these shops, we admired the neatness with which their goods were arranged. Each building is precisely of the same form and dimensions, consequently, there is no variety. A small apartment fronts the street, and one supposes, on entering the shop, they see all it contains; but this is not the case. Opposite the entrance, a very narrow door is perceived. One day we asked to look at some crape shawls. We saw the man squeeze through a narrow door; we did the same, and I found that we had entered an apartment of equal dimensions with the front. As Mr. W. was engaged in conversation with the shopman, I slipped page 192through another door, and continued my way till I had passed through five or six similar apartments, filled with rich goods. We found English piece goods a little cheaper than they can be obtained at our stores. There is an abundance of Chinese curiosities and toys, no doubt, for sale in Manilla, but I can never learn where; therefore, the numerous nephews and nieces will be none the richer for aunt Mary's visit to the Eastern city.
Called at the mansion of Mr. Sturgis; but we were too early, for they had not returned from their ride. We left our cards with the porter at the gate.
Whatever streets we pass, and wherever we go, we meet an abundance of "Holy Fathers." Some are clad in white gowns, others in black, blue and gray. They wear enormous black hats, with less than a yard of brim rolled up at the sides. These gowned persons, I presume, keep the natives more in awe than the army; they are like flies,—in every body's mess. Some of them are very corpulent, and rather roguish looking. They generally reside in monasteries connected with the churches.
There were, in times past, numerous holidays during the year, in which ceremonies were performed relating to Popery, but they are now reduced to about twenty-five; six being held at Christmas.
The amusements of the lower orders are cock-fighting and kite-flying, which usually occur on Sundays and holidays. The fowls are trained with the greatest tenderness and care. A short time since, the dwelling of a poor man was discovered in flames. One of his children (a babe) and his chanticleer were its only occupants; and as the man could save but one, the fowl was saved and the babe perished. A neighbor asked why he did not save his child, instead of the fowl. "The fowl," replied the affectionate parent, "earns me bread, and my page 193child only consumes it." The doors of the churches are surrounded by natives, each with a noble looking crower in his arms, waiting the appearance of its owner from their confessions and prayers. It is too bad that the fowls are not allowed to enter the churches and receive absolution with their masters.
An account of one day in Manilla is a history of the whole. We rise at any hour we choose, and ring for a cup of coffee, tea, or chocolate; breakfast at ten, partake of a lunch at one, dine at four, and ride till dark, if we choose. On our return repair to the piazza, sip a cup of tea, after which, if there is music, go and listen to it; if not, go and ride on the Calsada, or remain at home, just as we choose. The gentlemen of the firm of Peel, Hubbell & Co., have shown every attention to our convenience and personal comfort, for which we owe them many thanks.
Mr. W. having completed the sale of his cargo to some profit, and brought his affairs to a close, we took leave of our hospitable entertainers and embarked on board the Zotoff. Here I found that some changes had been made. The chief mate had been discharged, and the second mate had been promoted to fill the vacancy. A foreigner had been chosen from the forecastle to act as second mate. Mr. Smith, the mate, and one or two of the crew objected to going on the next voyage, unless one of the sailors (an American) who was shipped in Salem, and who had been the cause of exciting a great deal of ill-feeling during the voyage, should be discharged. Many complaints of the man had been entered to the captain, but he was so fair to the face, and so smart and active, that a deaf ear had been turned to them all. On our arrival at Manilla, how-page 194ever, he was fully convinced of the fellow's mischief-making propensities, and he was discharged forthwith. On going ashore, he asserted that he was the son-in-law of one of our most respectable Salem merchants, having married his daughter. The truth was, he had married a servant of the same. On our passage to the bark, we had been told by the Government officer who accompanied us, that two sailors, deserters from the United States ship Columbus, who had left Manilla a few days previous, were secreted on board the bark. On our arrival, inquiry was made, but no one had seen them. The Columbus remained in Manilla but a few days, as the cholera appeared on board in its most malignant form. Several died and many new cases occurred.
Our land comforts are ended for the present,—our carriage is dismissed,—white dresses and all finery are laid aside,—our anchor is again raised, and we depart to visit unknown lands and sail o'er lonely seas. Should I not shed a tear at this place?
|8.||We are now clear of shoals, rocks and islands, and are once more upon the open sea, with the pleasing variety of ocean and sky one day, and sky and ocean the next. We left Manilla by the Bashee passage. As we entered the bay of Manilla by the Straits of St. Bernardino, we have now made the entire circuit of Luzon. The island is about one thousand and fifty miles in circumference. The second day out, the two deserters from the United States ship Columbus appeared on the deck of our vessel. I presume that they had become hungry. They stated that they succeeded page 195in secreting themselves on board the day before the vessel sailed from M. One of the men is an Italian, and had been on board the Columbus nearly three years, which was the time he enlisted for. In a few months he would have been entitled to his discharge, and received his pay. Now he has forfeited the whole, and owns only the clothes that he is wearing. He does not complain of ill-treatment, but gives as a reason for his desertion his desire of change. Truly, a sailor is like the sea, "ever restless, ever changing." The other deserter is a stupid looking fellow, of no particular nation, I believe.|
|June 7.||We passed a group of islands of coral formation, called Hasmy's Group. We have been chased by two enormous sharks. They were hungry, and we gave them no food. During our passage thus far, we have had continual head winds with very light breezes. We have lost by death several turkeys, and a number of the long-faced gentry. Their change of life, probably, did not agree with their constitutions. A monkey lies very ill with ill usage from his master, (one of the sailors,) who beats him every day to make him love him. I think the man must have taken lessons of some Irish husbands of the lower order; but the poor little monkey's affections are not to be gained by "the bating."|
|10.||We anchored in a fine little lagoon at the Young Williams's group, after a passage of sixty-seven days from Manilla. We run the distance from here to Manilla in fourteen days. We have on board numerous visitors, who signified by signs that they had recognized our vessel. A boat has gone to "sara sara,"—the reefs.|
The boat returned last evening, and reported that but little "beech de mer" was to be seen on the reefs. The men visited a small uninhabited island, but report nothing worthy of note. Several natives slept on page 196board last night, and there are now from twenty-five to thirty canoes alongside. Some have a quantity of cooked fish and bread-fruit on board. I can discover no weapons, and the persons of the natives are so free from scars, I am inclined to think they have never learned the art of war. Mr. W.'s talk to them is like Mosaic work. His sentences are a mingling of English, Feejeean and Spanish; but they understand gesticulation the best. We learn that a chief is called Samola. As a party came on board this morning, we observed that one of the number appeared of superior rank to the rest. They approached Mr. W. with an offering of cocoa-nuts, and two boxes resembling in form infants' coffins. An officer of royalty, no doubt, then pointed to Mr. W. and to the vessel, seeming to say, "You are the chief of this vessel." He then pointed to his superior and to the land, signifying that he was the chief of the land. He then called Mr. W. "Samola," and his own chief by the same name, which made the whole plain to us. His presents were accepted, and others returned. They appeared highly delighted with knives, scissors and razors.
Fish-hooks were prized next. They call a fish "eek," very like eka, which word is used for fish in nearly every known isle of the South Seas. They have brought some fowls for sale, which they call "malek." In the morning I showed them a hen's egg, and signified to them that I would like to have some brought. In the afternoon two little trembling chicks were brought, looking as though they had burst their shell on their passage to the bark, and half a dozen eggs; on breaking which, I found them inhabited.
Several canoes that were here in the morning, sailed to a distant part of the group; —another evidence that the inhabitants are at peace. One native presented me page 197with a dozen of delicious fruit, unlike any that I have seen. It was about the size of an orange, but of an irregular form. The rind is like that of the bread-fruit, and there is a core inside like it; the core is surrounded by kernels of the size and form of the hazel nut; the pulp is of bright yellow, emitting a delightful odor, and of a delicious taste; the kernels are strung upon a stick, roasted and then eaten.
Some of the natives yesterday brought a small quantity of "beech de mer," and the mate, with four men accompanying him, explored the reefs again, but reported the fish as not being sufficiently plentiful to induce our stay at the place. Our exploring expedition also visited an island that they supposed inhabited. Several natives accompanied them. They only saw a few natives, however, and one house (the Astor of the island, probably). The building was of rather extensive dimensions and kept by a blind man. This did not appear to be the season for company, as the house was not full. Two females were seen peeping at the strangers, but on being observed by their lords, boys were sent to stone the ladies from the premises.
As the order was given this morning to man the windlass, an application was made to the captain by one of the crew to be discharged. This man had been shipped in Manilla from a whaling vessel, and now the sight of land induced him to wish for another change. Mr. W. inquired why he wished for a discharge so soon. He replied, that he did not like the "beech de mer" trade. The reason not being deemed sufficient, his request was not granted.
We sighted a group of islands called the Greenwich Islands. We counted about twenty in number, and from one of them an extensive reef stretched out page 198several miles directly in our track. This was not looked for, as the group was merely designated on the chart by one little dot. The reef runs west north-west from the isle, and is some eight miles in extent. Daylight appeared in the morning just in time to show us our dangerous proximity to this dangerous place. In one half hour more our destruction would have been sure.
The bark was hove to, and a boat manned and sent to examine the reefs around the isles that lay the nearest to the vessel. The article that is so highly prized by the Chinese epicure was not found to inhabit this portion of the seas, and our exploring expedition seemed likely to turn out a deploring one. A canoe was seen at one time, which seemed in a hurry to escape from our observation, and was soon hidden from view. With a glass we observed several houses on one island, but no inhabitant appeared in sight. Being curious to see the natives, I regretted their timidity. The group, like the Young Williams's, was of coral formation, appearing scarcely above the level of the ocean, and apparently covered with the cocoa-nut trees.
While engaged at my morning toilet, I heard a sudden rush to the quarter deck, followed by the rattling of ropes and other confused sounds. I felt alarmed, thinking that some one had fallen into the briny element; but I was soon undeceived, and from the tremendous flapping was led to suppose that we had received a visitor of distinction from the same element. I hastened to "sara sara," and perceived Mr. Shark, from "blue ocean." He was a dancing master, I presume, as he continued for a long time exhibiting his knowledge of that beautiful accomplishment for our amusement. When the people had become satiated with the exhibition, they dragged the visitor very unceremoniously to the main page 199deck, and, horrible to relate, cut him in two parts. This cruel act, however, did not prevent him from continuing his favorite pastime for the space of an hour.
This reminds me of a well authenticated shark story, which I will record. While we were at Mathuata, I observed that the man, Harry, of whose horrid death at Navu I have previously given an account, had lost two of his fingers. I inquired where he had deposited them. "In the jaws of a shark," he replied. He then related the following story, to which I scarcely gave credence at the time. Afterwards, however, I heard the fact affirmed by two eye-witnesses of respectable character. He stated that while a sailor on board a brig lying at one of the islands, they caught a shark one day just before the dinner hour. Immediately after he was taken, the head was severed from the body, and both parts were left on the deck till the men had dined, smoked and talked their hour of noon; after which, their attention was again turned to the shark, not supposing that any life remained in the dissevered parts, after so long a time had elapsed since it was taken and separated. Harry, with another, first took the head and raised it to the rail of the vessel to throw it overboard. As they were about to plunge it into the deep, Harry cried out, "Stop! let us have prayers over the head, and bury it Christian fashion." At that moment the jaws opened and snapped off two of his fingers. The hrad was dropped, and notwithstanding the lesson, the lips of the profane Harry did not cease to utter impious oaths.
|30.||The two past nights the centipedes have been exercising their vocal powers to please us; but strange beings that we are, we are not amused by Mr. Shark's dancing, nor by the music of the vocalists from Feejee. The latter were discovered to-day, and immediately ex-page 200ecuted. We have now been trying to sail towards Feejee for three months; but calms, light airs and head winds appear to have formed a combination against us. "An surely," in Irish phrase, "we are advancing in retrograde motion." About once in six or seven days we are favored with copious showers, which we deem a great blessing, as they supply us with an abundance of pure water, which the sailor and the traveller of the sandy desert alone know how to appreciate. The time would be somewhat tedious to me, were it not beguiled by the perusal of books.|
|July 12.||At eight o'clock, A. M., we discovered a group of low islands, not mentioned on our charts. Twenty-two were counted. Owing to a contrary current we could not conveniently visit them.|
We arrived at Pleasant Island, or the whaler's depot, I think it should be called. No anchorage being found, the bark lay to, and we were visited by the inhabitants in great numbers. An African negro, as black as Africans ever are, came off in one of the first canoes. He was asked if there were any white men on the island. "Oh, yes, sir, there be three besides myself," was his reply. The white men soon came off, bringing a sick pig and a well one for sale. One of the men, called Bob, was the captain, I presume, as he appeared a very confident, bold, business sort of a fellow. They are all deserters from whalers. He informed me that there were about fifteen hundred inhabitants on the island,—that they were divided into tribes, each tribe having a petty chief, and the whole being governed by a queen. They perform no religions ceremonies, but believe in the immortality of the soul. When a chief dies, they believe he becomes a star, page 201(a poor material, I should judge, to make such brilliants of,) and when a poor man dies, his spirit has to wander about on the island in dark and unfrequented places. There are often wars among them, but they seldom kill their enemies,—they only kind o' play fight. With regard to the white men, Capt. Bob coolly stated that not more than three or four could agree to remain on the island at a time, as they usually got to fighting and killed each other; but three years had now elapsed since the last white man was killed.
None of the vegetables or fruits usually found in tropical climates are found here, except the cocoa-nut. These, with fish, are the food of the natives. They raise pigs and fowls for the supply of their whaling visitors. Capt. Bob, however, does not allow the natives to sell the pigs themselves. He kindly takes possession of any long face that happens to be brought for sale by other than his own clan, sells it at sixpence a pound, and indemnifies the owner with such a quantity of tobacco as he thinks best. He allowed the natives to sell their fowls, which they did for one negro head of tobacco apiece. The black man did not belong to Bob's clan, and lived at another part of the island. He appeared much better than the trio composing Bob's company. He asked me if I could give him a Bible or a Testament, or even a few leaves of a Bible. I felt happy that it was in my power to comply with his request. Capt. Bob regretted our short stay at the isle, as I was the first white lady that he had ever seen at the place, although he had been here seven years. He would have been happy to have had Mr. W. and myself visit the queen, and to have shown us the island. The sick pig he brought was of very large dimensions. It appeared feeble, but Mr. W. was assured that it was only page 202exhaustion occasioned by his journey from the land to the vessel, not being accustomed to travel by water. As we had long been without fresh provisions, Mr. W. paid eleven dollars in cash for long face.
Our decks were completely filled with native men and young girls, who stole every thing they could lay their hands upon. I saw them handing shirts, trowsers, sailors' knives and various other articles over the sides of the vessel; but supposing that palm-leaf hats, of which great numbers were brought for sale, had been bought by the seamen with them, I said nothing about it. They brought a quantity of lines to sell. Mr. W. stood on the quarter deck, buying them, and had them passed into the house, which was filled with natives; and as the lines and cocoa-nuts were passed in on one side, the honest natives dexterously passed them out on the other, selling them again. This was continued for some time before they were discovered. All that they brought was sold for tobacco, and I was almost stunned by the vociferous cry of the girls, of "Captain's woman, give me chaw tobacco." They placed no value upon cloth, which was offered them, although they wore nothing but a "leku," made of grass. The whole conduct of this people was boisterous, rude, and immodest in the extreme. The girls came on board for the vilest of purposes, but stated that their purposes were not accomplished, as the sailors were afraid of "Captain's woman."
This little island, which is only six miles in circumference, was discovered by Capt. Fearn in 1798. Its inhabitants then resembled in character those that I have before described as belonging to the Young Williams's group. Whaling vessels have, been in the habit of visiting this place for many years, and here are shown the page 203effects of a heathen intercourse with white (I can scarcely say civilized) men from civilized lands. It is true that at home this class appear like civilized beings, but it is too often the case that when men visit foreign climes, their conduct shows that they have left their pouls at home.
Here is a practical illustration that civilization does not follow intercourse with civilized people, unless accompanied with the gospel. I believe that the state of society at Tahiti and the Sandwich Islands would have been no better than this, had not the gospel been close upon the white man's track. Such in a few years would Feejee become, were not the gospel there to counteract in some measure the baneful consequences of intercourse with trading vessels. The reason why it has not already become so, is, that the dangerous character of the natives has hitherto prevented a free intercourse with them, I presume that there is no class of beings to be found upon this mundane world (Chinese excepted), whose minds would be found more impervious to gospel influences than the inhabitants of Pleasant Island.