My dear Parents: Early this morning Manilla was in sight, and about eight miles distant. At nine A.M. a Spanish gun-boat came off to us. It was a queer-looking thing in the distance, a row of long oars on each side, clawing over the water, appearing like the approach of some great spider. The officer and interpreter came on board ; and soon after two other boats came for the news, The officer was a large man, with gray hair, and a gold band around his cap, and puffing away at a cigar, as if it was a part of himself, He came into the cabin, and took the lists of crew and passengers, &c. He examined our passports, and said that we should have them when we left Manilla. I learn that they are very strict in their rules and regulations with foreigners. For instance, if I had not my passport I could not have landed til I had obtained one; and, as it is now, I cannot take any of my baggage on shore to-day. However, I took under my arm a white spencer, and no objection was made. All the baggage has to undergo an inspection from the custom-house officers.
As our vessel would not get up for some time, we accepted the invitation of the officer to go ashore in his boat. Mr. Napper come with the officer, and invited us to his house. He was very polite, and made us sit down to a lunch with him. He seemed quite interested in natural history, showing us his collection of shells, and stuffed birds, and animals, which he had collected in Australia. | He keeps pleasant accommodations for strangers, and a store as a ship’s chandlery underneath. There is one other hotel here, kept by a Frenchman. But this has the pleasantest situation, with its rear upon the river close to the landing, and commands a view of the harbor from its verandas.
As wo approached in our boat, the city had a very ancient appearance; and, as I should fancy from our distant view, looked much like Jerusalem. The walls were of a dull gray color, the roofs and domes of a rusty red, and the style indicated an existence of several centuries. Everything seems novel and curious, as in China.
I was congratulating myself on not having seen any mosquitoes during the day, thinking that we might bo free from them in Manilla ; but I was mistaken ; for at dark they exhibited themselves in large force, and commenced their dirges and attacks.
I sent my letter of introduction to Mr. K., who very promptly called on me. He came in a fine carriage, with horses driven by an Indian postilion ; and, after a little conversation, took me to call at a private boarding-house, kept by a Spanish lady, Doña ——, I do not remember the name. Mr. K. did the talking, and I the silent bowing. I looked at the room, und was pleased with the general appearance of things around, but did not conclude to occupy them at present.
I called on Mr. Griswold, of the house of Messrs. Russell & Sturgis, delivered letters of introduction, and dined with him in the afternoon. Towards evening I rode with Captain Saunders out on the Calzada. This is a fine, large, shaded avenue, encircling one side of the city, outside the fortifications, and is the favorite resort for the Spanish and foreigners, who take a drive in their carriages after the business and heat of the day are over. There were quite a number of Americans mingling in, whose easy, off-hand expressions would distinguish them from the set faces of the Spanish. All the residents who move in good society here keep their carriages and servants, and all strangers adopt their practice.
I suppose I may say I have commenced speaking Spanish ; for, having occasion to say two words, “adios, señora,” to a Spanish lady, I said adios, but forgot the señora.
There is at the hotel an orang-outang, and I am already one of his particular friends. Ho will come, with a mournful expression, and lay his hands in mine, first one and then the other, and run to my chair for protection, when in fear. He is quick and high-tempered when crossed in his feelings, though not inclined to bite, or to injure any one. Nothing annoys him more than to offer him something to eat and then to withdraw it before he can take it. In his disappointment he will scream, throw himself down, and tumble over, striking bis head passionately upon the floor. He is naturally very tame and gentle, and will sit at the table, use a spoon, and drink from a cup or tumbler — seeming a connecting link between the brute and human species.
I amused myself to-day in looking at the great variety of persona who passed my window. They appeared to be a mixture of Spanish and Indian blood, and are called by the Spanish Mestizos. Most of the females are quite pretty ; jet black hair hangs in large tresses down the back, or is arranged on the head. There is to be seen among them as great a variety of complexion as there are shades of color. Their dress, of such bright colors, in checks, makes them look very odd. As I walked in one of the principal streets, there were persons sitting, in two long rows, one on each side of the street, selling various calicoes and piñas.