Had a delightful ride to-day into the country, which reminded me of home; but it takes away half the pleasure of riding into the country to go through the suburbs, which are very extensive, and filled with babies and pigs, which are brought up in the same style.
The first thing I heard this morning was the ringing of bells, and the military crossing the bridge as they returned from mass. About ten we rode out through the city to visit the churches. The cathedral was not open. We went first to San Domingo. It is a pretty church, but rather gaudy. There were several women there who had just been to confession. They go away happy, thinking they are absolved from all sins, and ready to begin a new list ! We then went home, and dined, with eleven Americans. After dinner rode upon the Calzada and through the city, and on our return had some music and two Indian dancers, who danced the fandango, keeping time with the castanets. They were very graceful in their movements. After tea drove to the Palace Square to hear the music of the three fine bands, which play here every Sunday and holiday from 8 to 9 p.m.
With the Spaniards it is Saturday ; for in going round Cape Horn, when this island was discovered, they gained a day. There is not much appearance of the Sabbath here, as everybody is at work, and the noise is as great as usual. After dinner I had a most delightful ride on the Calzada. On our return we came near meeting the Host ; but, fortunately, Mr. S. was before us on horseback, and turned back to stop our carriage, for, if we had met it, we should have been obliged to alight and kneel, which in the present state of the roads would not have been very agreeable. We returned, and took tea with ten gentlemen. I have improved so much now that I sit down to table without the least fear.
Had a charming ride this afternoon with Mr. R. Rode in Spanish style, without my bonnet None of the ladies wear bonnets. Manila abounds in pleasant drives, and on Sundays and feast-days they all ride back and forth on the Calzada till dark; but there are many pleasanter drives than this, I think. This afternoon we met a funeral. They bury their dead here without coffins, and carry them through the streets laid on a square board covered with a purple cloth. At each corner a torch is borne by four men, and then follow the friends, though there is no order in the procession. The mourners wore a sort of purple hood and scarf. The men carried children in their arms. There were several babes a month or two old. The burying-ground is quite picturesque in appearance, and the higher classes are buried in the wall, which is eight feet thick. They are put into small recesses, which are then built up with bricks and lime By paying twenty-five dollars a Spaniard can be buried in the wall, but no foreigner can have a place in this ground. Everything we see here makes us value more our own country and its privileges !
We also met two ladies on horseback. They have curious saddles here, something like a chair. The ladies were dressed in most singular style. They had on red gowns, a white muslin kerchief on the neck, and another thrown loosely over the head, with a broad-brimmed beaver hat over it. They rode very fast. We returned by the beach and the Calzada, and saw a great many sights that would have shocked a young lady in America ; but I have now got quite hardened.
We awoke this morning early, and found the rain was pouring down in torrents. I had just made up my mind to spend a dull day, and to amuse myself by writing letters, when Mr. Johnson called out that Uncle was coming. We jumped with delight to think we were so soon relieved. We breakfasted, and about nine started for Manila in a government boat. It rained hard, but there was a covering to the boat, so that we did not get wet. I really do not know what to say about Manila. You cannot get any idea of it from description. I am told it is like all Spanish towns, the forts, convents, and churches taking up a large part of the place. The roofs of the houses are covered with tiles. They are mostly of one story only, and some are very spacious. They have no glass windows; but they are made of pearl-shell in little squares, and some of them have Venetian blinds. The houses are all whitewashed, but are soon turned black by the climate, which gives the whole city the appearance of having been smoked, as by a great fire. An immense number of people live on the water in boats. We arrived at Mr. Russell’s about ten o’clock. The boats go directly to the gate. The house is fine and spacious. The rooms are all on one floor, very high, and immensely large. We found a number of American gentlemen there, and after dinner I had a most delightful ride with Mr. R. on the Calzada, where we met all the nobility of Manila. It is the fashion to ride there every day about six. No ladies walk out. Our postilion stopped very suddenly, and Mr. R. told me that it was the hour of vespers, when every one is obliged to stop and say a short prayer.