When it was in my power, I would accompany my guests in their excursions, and then the chase was abundant and full of interest, because I ever took care to guide them towards places abounding in game and very picturesque. Sometimes I would take them to the isle of Socolme, a still more curious place indeed than the bat islands. Socolme is a circular lake—being one league in circumference—in the midst of the great lake of Bay, from which it is separated by a cordon or ribbon of land; or, to express myself better, by a mountain which rises to an elevation of from twelve to fifteen hundred feet; the centre of the mountain at the summit is occupied by the lake of Socolme, and is evidently the crater of an extinct volcano. Both sides are completely covered with large trees of luxuriant growth. It is on the border of the small lake—where the Indians never go, through fear of the caymans—that almost all the aquatic birds of the grand lake resort to lay their eggs. Every tree, white with the guano which they deposit there, is covered with birds'-nests, full of eggs and birds of every size and age.
One day, in company of my brother and Mr. Hamilton Lindsay,  an Englishman, who was as fearless an explorer as ourselves, I started from the plantation, with the intention of having some light canoes carried across the high ground which separates the Socolme lake from the lake of Bay, and of using them on the lake; and, after overcoming many difficulties, we, by the assistance of our Indians, carried out this project.
We were the first tourists that ever ventured to expose our lives on this Socolme lake. The Indians who had come with us refused most decidedly to enter the boats, and exerted all their eloquence to prevent us from going on the water. They spoke to us thus:—
"You are going, for no good purpose, to expose yourselves to very great dangers, against which you have no means of defence, for before you have gone far you will see thousands of caymans rising out of the deep water; they will come to attack you, and what can you oppose to those ferocious and invulnerable monsters? Your guns and bullets cannot wound them. And as for escape by rowing quickly, that is not possible. In their own element they swim much faster than your canoes, and when they come up to you they will turn your boats up-side-down with far more ease than you can drive it along; and then the frightful scene will begin, from which you cannot escape."
There was much good sense in what they said, and there can be no doubt that it was most imprudent of us to embark in a little frail canoe, and to make a trip over a lake inhabited by such numbers of caymans, and especially since it was to be feared that the lake did not supply fish enough to satisfy their voracity; and of course when enraged by hunger they were more to be dreaded.
But we were never deterred by dangers or difficulties; so, taking no account of the prognostics of my prudent Indians, we, while they were delivering their long speeches, had lashed together two canoes for greater security.
We had not proceeded many yards from the bank, when we all experienced feelings of alarm, attributable, no doubt, to the expectation of danger being immediate, as well as to the aspect of the place which presented itself to our view.
We were down in the deepest part of a gulf, surrounded by lofty and precipitous mountains, which were externally covered with very thick vegetation. They, on all sides, presented a barrier, through which it was impossible to pass. The shadows which they cast over the water, at the extreme point of the lake, produced the effect of half darkness, which, in conjunction with the silence prevailing in that dismal solitude, gave it an aspect so dreary and saddening, as to produce in us most painful feelings; each of us as it were, struck with terror, kept his thoughts to himself, and no one spoke.
Our canoes went on, moving farther and farther from the brink from which we had embarked; and it glided easily over the glassy sheet of water, which is never agitated by even the roughest gales, and does not receive the rays of the sun except when that luminary is at the zenith.
The silence in which we were absorbed was suddenly broken by the appearance of a cayman, which raised its hideous head, and opened its enormous jaws, as if about to swallow the canoes, as it darted after us.
The moment was come; the grand drama announced by the Indians was about to be realised, or all our fears would be dissipated without any delay. There was not one instant to be spared, and we had no choice but to try and escape as fast as we could, for the enemy was gaining on us, and it would be madness to await his attack. I was steering, and I exerted myself to the utmost to get away from the danger and to escape to the shore. But the amphibious beast was approaching so fast that he could almost seize us, when Lindsay, running all risks, fired his gun direct at the brute.
The effect produced by the detonation was prodigious, for, as it were by enchantment, it dispelled all our apprehensions. The awful silence was broken in the most striking manner; the cayman was frightened, and sank abruptly to the bottom of the lake; hundreds of echoes resounded from all sides, like the discharges of a rifle corps, and these were repeated to the tops of the mountains, while clouds of cormorants, starting from all the trees around, uttered their screaming and piercing cries, in which they were joined by the Indians, who shouted with joy on seeing from the bank the flight of the hostile beast, of which they are always so much afraid.
All then became tranquil, and we proceeded at our leisure. From time to time a cayman made his appearance; but the explosions caused by our firing soon drove the monsters down into the deepest parts of the lake, more frightened than hurt, for even when we struck them our balls rebounded from their scales without piercing them.
We went close to the large trees, the branches of which were spreading over the water; they were thickly covered with nests, filled with eggs, and so great a quantity of young birds, that we not only captured as many as we wished, but could have filled several boats with them.
The cormorants, alarmed by the explosions we made, whirled over us continually, like an immense cloud, during the time we troubled their gloomy abode, and seemed to "disturb their solitary reign;" but they did not wish to go far from their nests, in which their young broods were crying out for parental care.
After we had rowed round the lake, we came to the spot from which we started, having ended our expedition happily without any accident, and even without having incurred all the dangers that our Indians, who were awaiting our return in order to take our boats once more across the mountain, had wished to make us believe.
Resolved not to finish the excursion without producing some beneficial results for the sake of scientific knowledge, we measured the circumference of the lake, which we found to be about two miles and a-half. We were able to take soundings in the deepest parts towards the middle, where we found the depth about three hundred feet; while at some few fathoms from the banks we found it was invariably one hundred and eighty feet. And here the remark may be made, that in no part of the great Lake of Bay has the depth been found to exceed seventy-five feet; from which it may be concluded, as we have previously stated, that the lake of Socolme is formed within the crater of an extinct volcano, its waters having percolated or filtered through from the outer lake of Bay.
From Socolme I took my guests to Los Banos, at the foot of a mountain, several thousand feet high, from which several springs of boiling water flow into the lake, and, mixing with its waters, produce every temperature to be desired in a natural bath. There also, on the hill, we were sure to meet with good and plentiful sport. Wild pigeons and beautiful doves, perched upon majestic trees, "mistrustful of their doom," allowed our sportsmen to approach very near, and they never returned from "the baths" without having "bagged" plenty of them.
Upon our appointed days of relaxation from labour, we would go into the neighbouring woods, and wage war on the monkeys, our harvest's greatest enemies. As soon as a little dog, purposely brought up to this mode of warfare, warned us by his barkings that marauders were in sight, we repaired to the spot, and then the firing was opened. Fright seized hold on the mischievous tribe, every member of which hid itself in its tree, and became as invisible as it possibly could. But the little dog would not leave his post, while we would turn round the tree, and never failed discovering the hidden inmate. We then commence the attack, not ceasing until pug was laid prostrate. After having made several victims, I sent them to be hung up on forks around the sugar-cane fields, as scarecrows to those that had escaped; I, however, always sent the largest one to Father Miguel, our excellent curate, who was very fond of a monkey ragout.
Sometimes I would take my guests to a distance of several days' march, to show them admirable views, cascades, grottoes, or those wonders of vegetation produced by the fertile nature of the Philippines.
One day, Mr. Lindsay, the most intrepid traveller I had ever known, and who had recently accompanied me to the lake of Socolme, proposed to me to go with him to the grotto of San-Mateo, a place that several travellers and myself had visited more than once, but always in so incomplete a manner, that we had only been able to explore a small portion of it. I was too well pleased with the proposal not to accept it with eagerness; but this time I resolved that I would not return from this expedition, as I had from former ones, without having made every possible effort to explore its dimensions and recesses. Lindsay, Dr. Genu, and my brother, participated in my resolution of verifying whether or not there was any semblance of truth in what the Indians related concerning that grotto; or if, as I had so often experienced it myself, their poetic minds did not create what had never existed. Their old Indian traditions attributed to that cavern an immense extent. There, they would say, are to be seen fairy palaces, with which nothing could be compared, and which were the residences of fantastical beings. Determined, then, on seeing with our own eyes all these wonders, we set out for San-Mateo, taking with us an Indian, having with him a crowbar and a couple of pickaxes, to dig us out a way, should we have the chance of prolonging our subterraneous walk beyond the limits which we all already knew. We also took with us a good provision of flambeaus, so necessary to put our project into execution. We arrived early at San-Mateo, and spent the remaining part of the day in visiting admirable views and situations in the neighbourhood. We also went down into the bed of a torrent that takes its source in the mountains, and passes through the north side of this district; there we saw several Indians, male and female, all busy in washing the sand in search of gold-dust. Their daily produce at this work varies from one to ten francs; this depends on the more or less fortunate vein that perchance they fall on. This trade, together with the tilling of land—to be equalled by no other in fertility—and hewing timber for building, which is to be found most plentifully on the neighbouring mountains, is all the wealth of the inhabitants, who, in most part, live in abundance and prosperity.
At the next day's dawn we were on our way to the grotto, which is about two hours' walk from the village. The road, which is bordered by nature's most beautiful productions in vegetation, traverses the finest rice plantations, and is of most easy access; however, about half-way, it suddenly becomes dangerous and even difficult. Here we leave the cultivated fields, and follow along the banks of the river, which flows in the midst of not very high mountains, and has so many bends, twistings, and meanderings, that, in order to cross it, it is necessary at almost every moment to have recourse to swimming, and then to take the narrow paths leading from its margin. Nothing, until at a very short distance from the grotto, interrupts the monotony of these rural sites and situations. The traveller plods his way through a gorge, or ravine, where upon all sides the view is bounded by rocks, and a long line of verdant vegetation, composed of the shrubs that cover the hills. But through a vast winding, or rather turning, made by the river, the eye is suddenly dazzled by the splendid panorama that seems to develop itself and move on with fairy magnificence. Let the reader imagine that he is standing at the base of two immense mountains, resembling two pyramids in their form, both equally alike and similar in height. The space that intervenes between them allows the eye to plunge into the distance, and to discover there a tableau, a picture, or view, which is impossible to be described. Between the two monster mountains the river has found an issue, and there the traveller beholds it at his feet, precipitating itself like an impetuous torrent in the midst of white marble rocks. The water, both limpid and glossy, seems to play with every object that impedes its course; at one moment it will form a noisy cascade, and then suddenly disappear at the foot of an enormous rock, and soon after appear again, bubbling and foaming, just as if some supernatural strength had worked it from the bowels of the earth. Farther on, and in forming itself into a continuous number of minor cascades, this same river flows, with a vast silvery surface, over a bed of marble, as white and as brilliant as alabaster, and falls upon others of still equal whiteness. Finally, after having passed over all difficulties, all dangers, it flows with much more modesty over a humble bed, where may be seen the reflection of the admirable vegetation its banks are embellished with.
The famous grotto is situated in the mountain on the right side of the river, which the traveller crosses over by jumping from one block of marble to another; and then, after having ascended a steep height of about two hundred yards, he finds himself at the entrance to the grotto, whither I shall conduct the reader step by step.
The entrance, the form of which is almost regular, represents pretty well the portico of a church, with a full arch, adorned with verdant festoons, composed of creeping plants and bind-weeds. When the visitor has once passed under the portico he enters into a large and spacious hall, studded with stalactites of a very yellowish colour, and there a dense crowd of bats, frightened by the light of the torches, fly out with great noise and precipitation. For about a hundred paces, in advancing towards the interior, the vault continues to be very lofty, and the gallery is spacious; but suddenly the former declines immensely, and the latter becomes so narrow that it scarce admits of a passage for one man, who is obliged to crawl on his hands and knees to pass through, and continue in this painful position for about a hundred yards. And now the gallery becomes wide again, and the vault rises several feet high. But here, again, a new difficulty soon presents itself, and which must be overcome; a sort of wall, three or four yards high, must be climbed over, and immediately behind which lies a most dangerous subterraneous place, where two enormous precipices, with open mouths on a level with the ground, seem ready to swallow up the imprudent traveller, who, although he have his torch lighted, would not walk, step by step, and with the greatest precaution, through this gloomy labyrinth. A few stones thrown into these gulfs attest, by the hollow noise produced by their falling to the bottom, that they are several hundred feet deep. Then the gallery, which is still wide and spacious, runs on without presenting anything remarkable till the visitor arrives on the spot where the last researches stopped at. Here it seems to terminate by a sort of rotunda, surrounded by stalactites of divers forms, and which, in one part, represents a real dome supported by columns. This dome looks over a small lake, out of which a murmuring stream flows continually into the precipices already described. It was here that we began our serious investigations, desirous of ascertaining if it were possible to prolong this subterraneous peregrination. We dived several times into the lake without discovering anything favourable to our desires; we then directed our steps to the right, examining all the while, by the light of our torches, the smallest gaps to be seen in the sides of the gallery, when at last, after many unsuccessful attempts, we discovered a hole through which a man's arm could scarcely pass. By introducing a torch into it, how great was our surprise to see within it an immense space, studded with rock-crystal. I need not add that such a discovery inspired us with the greatest desire of more closely examining that which we had but an imperfect view of. We therefore set our Indian to work with his pick-axe, to widen the hole and make a passage for us; his labour went on slowly, he struck his blows gently and cautiously, so as to avoid a falling-in of the rock, which would not only have marred our hopes, but would, besides, have caused a great disaster. The vault of rocks suspended over our heads might bury us all alive, and, as will be seen by the sequel, the precautions we had taken were not fruitless. At the very moment when our hopes were about to be realised,—the aperture being now wide enough to admit of us passing through it—suddenly, and above our heads, we heard a hollow prolonged rustling noise that froze us to death; the vault had been shaken, and we dreaded its falling upon us. For a moment, which seemed to us, however, very long, we were all terrified; the Indian himself was standing as motionless as a statue, with his hands upon the handle of his pick-axe, just in the same position as he was when he gave his last blow. After a moment's solemn silence, when our fright had a little subsided, we began to examine the nature of the danger we had just escaped. Above our heads a long and wide split ran along the vault to a distance of several yards, and, at the place where it stopped, an enormous rock, detached from the dome, had been most providentially impeded in its fall downwards by one of the columns, which, acting as a sort of buttress, kept it suspended over the opening we had just made. Having, after mature examination, ascertained that the column and the rock were pretty solid, like rash men, accustomed to daunt all danger and surmount any sort of obstacle and difficulty, we resolved upon gliding one by one into the dangerous yawning. Dr. Genu, who till then had kept a profound silence, on hearing of our resolution was suddenly seized with such a panic fear that he recovered his voice, imploring and begging of us to take him out of the cavern; and, as if he had been suddenly seized with a sort of vertigo, he told us, with interrupted accents, that he could not breathe—that he felt himself as if he were smothering—that his heart was beating so violently, were he to stay any longer amidst the dangers we were running he was certain of dying from the effects of a rupture of the heart. He offered all he possessed on earth to him who would save his life, and with clasped hands he supplicated our Indians not to forsake him, but to guide him out of the place. We therefore took compassion upon his state of mind, and allowed the Indian to guide him out; but as soon as the latter returned, and having ascertained during his absence that neither the rocky fragment nor the column had stirred, but which had been the momentary cause of our alarm, we put our project into execution, and like serpents, one after the other, we crawled into the dangerous opening, which was scarcely large enough for our passing through. We soon ceased thinking of our past dangers, nor did our present imprudence much pre-occupy our minds, all our attention being entirely absorbed by what presented itself to our ravished eyes. Here we were in the midst of a saloon wearing a most fairy aspect, and, by the light of our torches, the vault, the floor, and the wall were shining and dazzling, as if they had been covered over with the most admirably transparent rock-crystal. Even in some places did the hand of man seem to have presided over the ornamenting of this enchanted palace. Numberless stalactites and stalagmites, as pellucid as the limpid stream that has just been seized by the frost, assumed here and there the most fantastic forms and shapes—they represented brilliant draperies, rows of columns, lustres, and chandeliers. At one end, close to the wall, was to be seen an altar, with steps leading up to it, and which seemed to be in expectation of the priest to celebrate divine service. It would be impossible for my pen to describe everything that transported us with joy, and drew forth our admiration; we really imagined ourselves to be in one of the Arabian Nights' palaces, and the Indians themselves were far from guessing the one-half of the wonders we had just discovered.
Having left this dazzling palace, we continued our underground ramble, penetrating more and more into the bowels of the earth, following step by step a winding labyrinth, but which for a whole half-league offered nothing remarkable to our view, except now and then the sight of the very great dangers our undauntable curiosity urged us on to. In certain parts the vault no longer presented the aspect of being as solid as stone, earth alone seemed to be its component parts; and here and there, recent proofs of falling-in showed us that still more considerable ones might take place, and cut off from us all means of retreat. Nevertheless we pushed on still, far beyond our present adventurous discovery, and at last arrived at a new, magnificent, and extensive space, all bespangled, like the first, with brilliant stalactites, and in no way inferior to the former in the gorgeous beauty of its details. Here again we gave ourselves up to the most minute examination of the many wonders surrounding us, and which shone like prisms by the light of our torches. We gathered from off the ground several small stalagmites, as large and as round as hazel-nuts, and so like that fruit, when preserved, that some days later, at a ball at Manilla, we presented some of them to the ladies, whose first movement was to put them to their mouth; but soon finding out their mistake, they entreated to be allowed to keep them, to have them, as they said, converted into ear-ring drops. Having fully enjoyed the beautiful and brilliant spectacle presented to our eyes, we now began to feel the effects of hunger and fatigue. We had been walking in this subterraneous domain to the extent of more than three miles, had taken no rest or refreshment since morning, and the day was already far advanced.
I have often experienced that our moral strength decreases in proportion as our physical strength does; and of course we must have been in that state when sinister suppositions took possession of our imaginations. One of our party communicated to us a reflection he had just made—which was, that a falling-in might have taken place between us and the issue from the grotto; or, what appeared still more probable, that the enormous rock, that was suspended and buttressed up by the column, might have fallen down, and thus bar up all passage through the hole we had so rashly made. Had such a misfortune happened to us, what a horrible situation we should have been in! We could hope for no help from without, even from our friend Genu, who, as we had witnessed, had been so upset by fear; so that, rather than suffer the anguish and die the death of the wretch buried alive in a sepulchre, our poignards must have been our last resource.
All these reflections, which we analysed and commented upon, one by one, made us resolve upon returning, and leaving to others, more imprudent than ourselves, if any there be, the care of exploring the space we had still to travel over. We soon got over the ground that separated us from the place we had most to dread. Providence had favoured and protected us—the large fragment of rock, that object of all our fears, was still propped up. One after the other did we squeeze ourselves through the narrow opening, avoiding as much as possible the least friction, till at last we had all passed through. Joyous indeed were we on seeing ourselves out of danger after so perilous an enterprise, and we were already beginning to direct our steps towards the outlet of the cavern, when suddenly a hollow, prolonged noise, and below our feet a rapid trembling excited once more all our fears. But those fears were soon calmed by our Indian, who came running towards us at full speed, brandishing in his hand his pick-axe. The imprudent fellow, unwilling to sacrifice it, had waited till we were some paces distant, and then pulling it to him most forcibly, while all the while he took good care to keep quickly moving away, when thanks to Providence, or to his own nimbleness, he was not crushed to atoms by the fragment of the rock, which, being no longer buttressed up by the column that had been shaken, had fallen to the ground, completely stopping up the issue through which we had passed one after the other: so that no doubt no one, after us, will be able to penetrate into the beautiful part of that grotto which we had just passed through so fortunately. After this last episode we no longer hesitated in returning, and it was with great delight that we beheld once more the great luminary of the world, and found our friend Genu sitting upon a block of marble, reflecting on our long absence, and, at the same time, on our unqualifiable temerity.
Dumont d'Urville—Rear-Admiral Laplace: Desertion of Sailors from his Ship—I recover them for him—Origin of the Inhabitants of the Philippine Islands—Their General Disposition—Hospitality and Respect for Old Age—Tagal Marriage Ceremony—Indian Legal Eloquence—Explanation of the Matrimonial Speeches—The Caymans, or Alligators—Instances of their Ferocity—Imprudence and Death of my Shepherd—Method of entrapping the Monster which had devoured him—We Attack and eventually Capture it—Its Dimensions—We Dissect and Examine the Contents of its Stomach—Boa-Constrictors—Their large size—Attack of a Boa-Constrictor on a Wild Boar—We Kill and Skin it—Unsuccessful Attempt to capture a Boa-Constrictor alive—A Man Devoured—Dangerous Venomous Reptiles.
I shall perhaps be accused of exaggeration for what I say of the enjoyments and emotions of my existence at Jala-Jala: nevertheless I adhere to the strict truth, and it would be very easy for me to cite the names of many persons in support of the truth of all my narrative. Moreover, the various travellers who have spent some time at my habitation have published, in their works, the tableau or recital of my existence in the midst of my dear Indians, who were all so devoted to me. Among other works, I shall cite "The Voyage Round the World," by the unfortunate Dumont d'Urville; and that of Rear-Admiral Laplace, in each of which works will be found a special article dedicated to Jala-Jala. 
Since I have named M. Laplace, I shall here relate a little anecdote of which he was the hero, and which will show to what a degree my influence was generally considered and looked up to in the province of Lagune.
Several sailors, belonging to the crew of the frigate commanded by M. Laplace, had deserted at Manilla, and, notwithstanding all the searches that the Spanish government had caused to be made, it was found impossible to discover the hiding-place of five of them. M. Laplace coming to pay a few weeks' visit to my little domain, the governor said to him: "If you wish to find out your men you have only to apply to M. Gironiere—no one will discover them if he do not; convey to him my orders to set out immediately in pursuit of them."
On arriving at my habitation M. Laplace communicated to me this order, but I was too independent to think of executing it: my business and occupation had nothing to do with deserters. A few days afterwards a captain, accompanied by about a hundred soldiers, under his orders, arrived at Jala-Jala, to inform M. Laplace that he had scoured the province without being able to obtain the least news of the deserters, whom he had been looking after for the last fortnight; at which news M. Laplace was very much grieved, and coming to me, said: "M. de la Gironiere, I perceive I shall be obliged to sail without the hands that have deserted, if you yourself will not look after them. I therefore beg and beseech of you to sacrifice a little of your time, and render me that important service."
This entreaty was no order: it was a prayer, a supplication, that was addressed to me, consequently I took but little time to reply as follows: "Commander, in one hour hence I shall be on my way, and before forty-eight hours are expired you shall have your men here."
"Oh! take care," replied he; "mind, you have to do with more than rough fellows: do not therefore expose your life, and should they perchance make any resistance, give them no quarter, but fire on them."
A few minutes afterwards, accompanied by my faithful lieutenant and one soldier, I crossed over the lake, and went in the direction where I thought that the French sailors had taken refuge. I was soon on their track; and on the second day afterwards I fulfilled the promise I had made Commander Laplace, and delivered up to him his five deserters against whom I had been obliged to employ neither violence nor fire-arms.
I have already had the occasion of speaking about the Tagalocs, and describing their disposition. However, I have not yet entered into the necessary details to make well known a population so submissive to the Spaniards, and whose primitive origin never can be anything but hypothesis—yea, a true problem.
It is probable, and almost incontestible, that the Philippine Islands were primitively peopled by aborigines, a small race of negroes still inhabiting the interior of the forests in pretty large numbers, called Ajetas by the Tagalocs, and Negritos by the Spaniards. Doubtless at a very distant period the Malays invaded the shores, and drove the indigenous population into the interior beyond the mountains; afterwards, whether by accidents on sea, or desirous of availing themselves of the richness of the soil, they were joined by the Chinese, the Japanese, the inhabitants of the archipelago of the South Seas, the Javanese, and even the Indians. It must not, then, be wondered at, that from the mixture proceeding from the union of these various people, all of unequal physiognomy, there have risen the different nuances, distinctions and types; upon which, however, is generally depicted Malay physiognomy and cruelty.
The Tagal is well made, rather tall than otherwise. His hair is long, his beard thin, his colour brass-like, yet sometimes inclining to European whiteness; his eye expanded and vivacious, somewhat a la Chinoise; nose large; and, true to the Malay race, his cheek bones are high and prominent. He is passionately fond of dancing and music; is, when in love, very loving; cruel towards his enemies; never forgives an act of injustice, and ever avenges it with his poignard, which—like the kris with the Malays—is his favourite weapon. Whenever he has pledged his word in serious business, it is sacred; he gives himself passionately to games of hazard; he is a good husband, a good father; jealous of his wife's honour, but careless of his daughter's; who, despite any little faux-pas, meets with no difficulty in getting a husband.
The Tagal is of very sober habits: all he requires is water, a little rice, and salt-fish. In his estimation an aged man is an object of great veneration; and where there exists a family of them in all periods of life, the youngest is naturally most subservient to the eldest.
The Tagal, like the Arab, is hospitably inclined, without any sentiment of egotism, and certainly without any other idea than that of relieving suffering humanity: so that when a stranger appears before an Indian hut at meal-time, were the poor Indian only to have what was strictly necessary for his family, it is his greatest pleasure to invite and press the stranger to take a place at his humble board, and partake of his family cheer. When an old man, whose days are dwindling to the shortest span, can work no longer, he is sure to find a refuge, an asylum, a home, at a neighbour's, where he is looked upon as one of the family. There he may remain till he is called to "that bourne from whence no traveller returns."
Amongst the Tagals the marriage ceremony is somewhat peculiar. It is preceded by two other ceremonies, the first of which is called Tain manoc, Tagal words, signifying or meaning "the cock looking after his hen." Therefore, when once a young man has informed his father and mother that he has a predeliction for a young Indian girl, his parents pay a visit to the young girl's parents upon some fine evening, and after some very ordinary chat the mamma of the young man offers a piaster to the mamma of the young lady. Should the future mother-in-law accept, the young lover is admitted, and then his future mother-in-law is sure to go and spend the very same piaster in betel and cocoa-wine. During the greater portion of the night the whole company assembled upon the occasion chews betel, drinks cocoa-wine, and discusses upon all other subjects but marriage. The young men never make their appearance till the piaster has been accepted, because in that case they look upon it as being the first and most essential step towards their marriage.
On the next day the young man pays a visit to the mother, father, and other relatives of his affianced bride. There he is received as one of the family; he sleeps there, he lodges there, takes a part in all the labours, and most particularly in those labours depending upon the young maid's superintendence. He now undertakes a service or task that lasts, more or less, two, three, or four years, during which time he must look well to himself; for if anything be found out against him he is discarded, and never more can pretend to the hand of her he would espouse.
The Spaniards did their best to suppress this custom, on account of the inconveniencies it entailed. Very often the father of a young girl, in order to keep in his service a man who cost him nothing, keeps on this state of servitude indefinitely, and sometimes dismisses him who has served him for two or three years, and takes another under the same title of pretendant, or lover. But it also frequently happens that if the two lovers grow impatient for the celebration of the marriage ceremony—for "hope deferred maketh the heart sick,"—some day or other the girl takes the young man by the hair, and presenting him to the curate of the village, tells him she has just run away with her lover, therefore they must be married. The wedding ceremony then takes place without the consent of the parents. But were the young man to carry off the young girl, he would be severely punished, and she restored to her family.
If all things have passed off in good order, if the lover has undergone two or three years of voluntary slavery, and if his future relations be quite satisfied with his conduct and temper, then comes the day of the second ceremony, called Tajin-bojol, "the young man desirous of tying the union knot."
This second ceremony is a grand festival-day. The relations and friends of both families are all assembled at the bride's house, and divided into two camps, each of which discusses the interests of the young couple; but each family has an advocate, who alone has the right to speak in favour of his client. The relations have no right to speak; they only make, in a low tone of voice, to their advocate, the observations they think fit.
The Indian woman never brings a marriage portion with her. When she takes a husband unto herself she possesses nothing; the young man alone brings the portion, and this is why the young girl's advocate speaks first, and asks for it, in order to settle the basis of the treaty.
I will here set before my readers the speeches of two advocates in a ceremony of this kind, at which I had the curiosity to be present. In order not to wound the susceptibility of the parties, the advocates never speak but in allegorical terms, and at the ceremony which I honoured with my presence the advocate of the young Indian girl thus began:—
"A young man and a young girl were joined together in the holy bands of wedlock; they possessed nothing—nay, they had not even a shelter. For several years the young woman was very badly off. At last her misfortunes came to an end, and one day she found herself in a fine large cottage that was her own. She became the mother of a pretty little babe, a girl, and on the day of her confinement there appeared unto her an angel, who said to her:—'Bear in mind thy marriage, and the time of penury thou didst go through. The child that has just been born unto thee will I take under my protection. When she will have grown up and be a fine lass, give her but to him who will build her up a temple, where there will be ten columns, each composed of ten stones. If thou dost not execute these my orders thy daughter will be as miserable as thou hast been thyself.'"
After this short speech, the adverse advocate replied:—"Once upon a time there lived a queen, whose kingdom lay on the sea-side. Amongst the laws of her realm there was one which she followed with the greatest rigour. Every ship arriving in her states' harbour could, according to that law, cast anchor but at one hundred fathoms deep, and he who violated the said law was put to death without pity or remorse. Now it came to pass one day that a brave captain of a ship was surprised by a dreadful tempest, and after many fruitless endeavours to save his vessel, he was obliged to put into the queen's harbour, and cast anchor there, although his cable was only eighty fathoms long, for he preferred death on the scaffold to the loss of his ship and crew. The enraged queen commanded him to her audit chamber. He obeyed, and throwing himself at her feet, told her that necessity alone had compelled him to infringe upon the laws, and that, having but eighty fathoms long, he could not possibly cast out a hundred, so he besought her most graciously to pardon him."
And here ended his speech, but the other advocate took it up, and thus went on:—
"The queen, moved to pity by the prayer of the suppliant captain, and his inability to cast his anchor one hundred fathoms deep, instantly pardoned him, and well did she devise."
On hearing these last words joy shone upon every countenance, and the musicians began playing on the guitar. The bride and bridegroom, who had been waiting in an adjoining chamber, now made their appearance. The young man took from off his neck his rosary, or string of beads, put it round the young girl's neck, and took back hers in lieu of the one he had given her. The night was spent in dancing and merriment, and the marriage ceremony—just as Christian-like as our own—was arranged to take place in a week.
I shall now, just as I heard it myself, give the explanation of the advocates' speeches, which I did not entirely understand. The bride's mother had married without a wedding portion on her husband's side, so she had gone through very adverse and pinching circumstances. The temple that the angel had told her to demand for her daughter was, a house; and the ten columns, composed of ten stones each, signified that with the house a sum of one hundred piasters would be requisite—that is, twenty pounds sterling.
The speech of the young man's advocate explained that he would give the house, as he said nothing about it; but, being worth only eighty piasters, he threw himself at the feet of the parents of his betrothed, that the twenty piasters which he was minus, might offer no obstacle to his marriage. The pardon accorded by the queen signified the grace shown to the young man, who was accepted with his eighty piasters only.
The servitude which precedes matrimony, and of which I have spoken, was practised long before the conquest of these isles by the Spaniards. This would seem to prove the origin I attribute to the Tagalocs, whom I believe to be descended from the Malays, and these latter, being all Mussulmans, would naturally have preserved some of the ancient patriarchal customs.
Believing that I have sufficiently described the Indians and their habits, I will now introduce to my readers two species of monsters that I have often bad occasion to observe, mid even to combat—the one a denizen of forests, the boa constrictor; the other of lakes and rivers, the cayman or alligator. At the period at which I first occupied my habitation, and began to colonise the village of Jala-Jala, caymans abounded on that side of the lake. From my windows I daily saw them sporting in the water, and waylaying and snapping at the dogs that ventured too near the brink. One day, a female servant of my wife's, having been so imprudent as to bathe at the edge of the lake, was surprised by one of them, a monster of enormous size. One of my guards came up at the moment she was being carried off; he fired his musket at the brute, and hit it under the fore-leg, or arm-pit, which is the only vulnerable part. But the wound was insufficient to check the cayman's progress, and it disappeared with its prey. Nevertheless, this little bullet hole was the cause of its death; and here it is to be observed, that the slightest wound received by the cayman is incurable. The shrimps which abound in the lake get into the orifice, gradually their number increases, until at last they penetrate deep into the solid flesh, and into the very interior of the body. This is what happened to the one which devoured my wife's maid. A month after the frightful occurrence the cayman was found dead upon the bank, five or six leagues from my house. Some Indians brought back to me the unfortunate woman's earrings, which they had found in the monster's stomach.
Upon another occasion, a Chinese was riding onwards in advance of me. We reached a river, and I let him go on alone, in order to ascertain whether the river was very deep or not. Suddenly, three or four caymans which lay in waiting under the water, threw themselves upon him; horse and rider disappeared, and for some minutes afterwards the water was tinged with blood.
I was curious to obtain a near view of one of these voracious animals, and, at the time when they frequented the vicinity of my house, I made several attempts to accomplish my wishes. One night I baited a huge hook, secured by a chain and strong cord, with an entire sheep. Next morning, sheep and chain had disappeared. I lay in wait for the creatures with my gun, but the bullets rebounded, half flattened upon their scales, without doing the slightest injury. One evening that a large dog of mine had died, belonging to a race peculiar to the Philippines, and exceeding in size any of the canine species of Europe, I had his carcass dragged to the shore of the lake, and hid myself in a little thicket, with my gun ready cocked, in the event of any cayman presenting itself to carry off the bait. Presently I fell asleep; when I awoke, the dog had disappeared, the cayman, luckily for me, not mistaking his prey.
In the course of a few years' time, these monsters had disappeared from the environs of Jala-Jala; but one morning, when out with my shepherds, at some leagues' distance from my house, we came to a river, which could only be crossed by swimming. One of my people said to me:
"Master, the water is deep here, and we are in the courses where the caymans abound; an accident soon happens, let us try further up the river, and pass over in a shallower spot."
We were about to follow this advice, when another man, more rash than his comrades, said: "I'm not afraid of caymans!" and spurred his horse into the stream. He had scarcely got half-way across, when we perceived a monstrous cayman rise and advance to meet him. We uttered a warning shout, the Indian himself perceived the danger, threw himself from his horse, and swam for the bank with all his strength. He had already reached it, but imprudently stopped behind the trunk of a tree that had been felled by the force of the current, and where he had the water up to his knees. Believing himself secure, he drew his cutlass, and watched the movements of the cayman, which, meanwhile, had reached the horse just as, the Indian quitted the animal. Rearing his enormous head out of the water, the monster threw himself upon the steed and seized him by the saddle. The horse made a violent effort, the girths broke, and thus enabled him to reach the shore. Soon, however, finding that his prey had escaped, the cayman dropped the saddle, and made towards the Indian. We perceived this movement, and quickly cried out: "Run, run, or the cayman will have you!" The Indian, however, would not stir, but calmly waited, cutlass in hand. The monster advanced towards him; the Indian struck him a blow on the head, which took no more effect than a flip of the fingers would have on the horns of a bull. The cayman made a spring, seized him by one of his thighs, and for more than a minute we beheld my poor shepherd—his body erect above the surface of the water, his hands joined, his eyes turned to heaven, in the attitude of a man imploring Divine mercy—dragged back again into the lake. The drama was over: the cayman's stomach was his tomb. During these agonizing moments, we all remained silent, but no sooner had my poor shepherd disappeared than we all swore to avenge him.
I caused to be made three nets of strong cords, each of which nets was large enough to form a complete barrier across the river. I also had a hut built, and put an Indian to live in it, whose duty was to keep constant watch, and to let me know as soon as the cayman returned to the river. He watched in vain, for upwards of two months, but at the end of that time he came and told me that the monster had seized a horse, and had dragged it into the river to devour at leisure. I immediately repaired to the spot, accompanied by my guards, and by my priest, who positively would see a cayman hunt, and by an American friend of mine, Mr. Russell,  who was then staying with me. I had the nets spread at intervals, so that the cayman could not escape back into the lake. This operation was not effected without some acts of imprudence; thus, for instance, when the nets were arranged, an Indian dived to make sure that they were at the bottom, and that our enemy could not escape by passing below them. But it might very well have happened that the cayman was in the interval between the nets, and so have gobbled up my Indian. Fortunately everything passed off as we wished. When all was ready, I launched three pirogues, strongly fastened together, side by side, with some Indians in the centre, armed with lances, and with long bamboos, with which they could touch the bottom. At last, all measures having been taken to attain my end, without risk of accident, my Indians began to explore the river with their long bamboos.
An animal so formidable in size as the one we were in search of, could not hide himself very easily, and soon we beheld him on the surface of the river, lashing the water with his long tail, snapping and clattering with his jaws, and endeavouring to get at those who disturbed him in his retreat. A universal shout of joy greeted his appearance; the Indians in the pirogues hurled their lances at him, whilst we, upon either shore of the lake, fired a volley. The bullets rebounded from the monster's scales, which they were unable to penetrate; the keener lances made their way between the scales, and entered into the cayman's body some eight or ten inches. Thereupon he disappeared, swimming with incredible rapidity, and reached the first net. The resistance it opposed turned him back; he re-ascended the river, and again appeared on the top of the water. This violent movement, broke the staves of the lances which the Indians had stuck into him, and the iron alone remained in the wounds. Each time that he appeared the firing recommenced, and fresh lances were plunged into his enormous body. Perceiving, however, how ineffectual firearms were to pierce his cuirass of invulnerable scales, I excited him by my shouts and gestures, and when he came to the edge of the water, opening his enormous jaws all ready to devour me, I approached the muzzle of my gun to within a few inches, and fired both barrels, in the hope that the bullets would find something softer than scales in the interior of that formidable cavern, and that they would penetrate to his brain. All was futile. The jaws closed with a terrible noise, seizing only the fire and smoke that issued from my gun, and the balls flattened against his bones without injuring them. The animal, which had now become furious, made inconceivable efforts to seize one of his enemies; his strength seemed to increase, rather than to diminish, whilst our resources were nearly exhausted. Almost all our lances were sticking in his body, and our ammunition drew to an end. The fight had lasted more than six hours, without any result that could make us hope for its speedy termination, when an Indian struck the cayman, whilst at the bottom of the water, with a lance of unusual strength and size. Another Indian, at his comrade's request, struck two vigorous blows with a mace upon the but-end of the lance; the iron entered deep into the animal's body, and immediately, with a movement as swift as lightning, he darted towards the nets and disappeared. The lance pole, detached from the iron head, returned to the surface of the water; for some minutes we waited in vain for the monster's re-appearance; we thought that his last effort had enabled him to reach the lake, and that our chase would result fruitlessly. We hauled in the first net, a large hole in which convinced us that our supposition was correct. The second net was in the same condition as the first. Disheartened by our failure, we were hauling in the third, when we felt a strong resistance. Several of the Indians began to drag it towards the bank, and presently, to our great joy, we saw the cayman upon the surface of the water. He was expiring. We threw over him several lassos of strong cords, and when he was well secured, we drew him to land. It was no easy matter to haul him up on the bank; the strength of forty Indians hardly sufficed. When at last we had got him completely out of the water, and had him before our eyes, we stood stupified with astonishment, for it was a very different thing to see his body thus and to see him swimming, when he was fighting against us. Mr. Russell, a very competent person, was charged with his measurements. From the extremity of his nostrils to the tip of his tail, he was found to be twenty-seven feet long, and his circumference was eleven feet, measured under the arm pits. His belly was much more voluminous, but we thought it unnecessary to measure him there, judging that the horse upon which he had breakfasted must considerably have increased his bulk.
This process at an end, we took counsel as to what we should do with the dead cayman. Every one gave his opinion. My wish was to convey it bodily to my residence, but that was impossible; it would have required a vessel of five or six tons burthen, and we could not procure such a craft. One man wanted the skin, the Indians begged for the flesh, to dry it, and use it as a specific against asthma. They affirm, that any asthmatic person who nourishes himself for a certain time with this flesh, is infallibly cured. Somebody else desired to have the fat, as an antidote to rheumatic pains; and, finally, my worthy priest demanded that the stomach should be opened, in order to ascertain how many Christians the monster had devoured. Every time, he said, that a cayman eats a Christian he swallows a large pebble; thus, the number of pebbles we should find in him would positively indicate the number of the faithful to whom his enormous stomach had afforded sepulture. To satisfy everybody, I sent for an axe wherewith, to cut off the head, which I reserved for myself, abandoning the rest of the carcass to all who had taken part in the capture. It was no easy matter to decapitate the monster. The axe buried itself in the flesh to half-way up the handle without reaching the bones; at last, after many efforts, we succeeded in getting the head off. Then we opened the stomach, and took out of it, by fragments, the horse which had been devoured by the monster that morning. The cayman does not masticate, he snaps off a huge lump with his teeth, and swallows it entire. Thus we found the whole of the horse, divided only into seven or eight pieces. Then we came to about a hundred and fifty pounds' weight of pebbles, varying from the size of a fist to that of a walnut. When my priest saw this great quantity of stones:
"It is a mere tale," he could not help saying; "it is impossible that this animal could have devoured so great a number of Christians."
It was eight o'clock at night when we had finished the cutting up. I left the body to our assistants, and had the head placed in a boat to convey it to my house. I very much desired to preserve this monstrous trophy as nearly as possible in the state in which it then was, but that would have required a great quantity of arsenical soap, and I was out of that chemical. So I made up my mind to dissect it, and preserve the skeleton. I weighed it before detaching the ligaments; its weight was four hundred and fifty pounds; its length, from the nose to the first vertebrae, five feet six inches.
I found all my bullets, which had become flattened against the bones of the jaws and palate as they would have done against a plate of iron. The lance thrust which had slain the cayman was a chance—a sort of miracle. When the Indian struck with his mace upon the but-end of the pole, the iron pierced through the nape, into the vertebral column, and penetrated the spinal marrow, the only vulnerable part.
When this formidable head was well prepared, and the bones dried and whitened, I had the pleasure of presenting it to my friend Russell, who has since deposited it in the museum at Boston, United States.
The other monster, of which I have promised a description, is the boa-constrictor. The species is common in the Philippines, but it is rare to meet with a specimen of very large dimensions. It is possible, nay probable, that centuries of time are necessary for this reptile to attain its largest size; and to such an age, the various accidents to which animals are exposed, rarely suffer it to attain. Full-sized boas are consequently to be met with only in the gloomiest, most remote, and most solitary forests.
I have seen many boas of ordinary size, such as are found in our European collections. There were some, indeed, that inhabited my house, and one night I found one, two yards long, in possession of my bed. Several times, when passing through the woods with my Indians, I heard the piercing cries of a wild boar. On approaching the spot whence they proceeded, we almost invariably found a wild boar, about whose body a boa had twisted its folds, and was gradually hoisting him up into the tree round which it had coiled itself.
When the wild boar had reached a certain height, the snake pressed him against a tree with a force that crushed his bones and stifled him. Then the boa let its prey fall, descended the tree, and prepared to swallow it. This last operation was much too lengthy for us to await its end. To simplify matters, I sent a ball into the boa's head. My Indians took the flesh to dry it for food, and the skin to make dagger sheaths of. It is unnecessary to say that the wild boar was not forgotten, although it was a prey that had cost us but little trouble to secure. One day an Indian surprised one of these reptiles asleep, after it had swallowed an enormous deer. Its size was so great, that a buffalo waggon would have been necessary to transport it to the village. The Indian cut it in pieces, and contented himself with as much as he could carry off. Having been informed of this, I sent after the remains, and my people brought me a piece about eight feet long, and so large in circumference that the skin, when dried, enveloped the tallest man like a cloak. I presented it to my friend Hamilton Lindsay.
I had not yet seen any of these largest sized serpents alive, when, one afternoon, crossing the mountains with two of my shepherds, our attention was drawn to the constant barking of my dogs, which seemed to be assailing some animal that stood upon its defence. We at first thought that it was a buffalo that they had roused from its lair, and approached the spot with due caution. My dogs were dispersed along the brink of a deep ravine, in which was an enormous boa constrictor. The monster raised his head to a height of five or six feet, directing it from one edge to the other of the ravine, and menacing his assailants with his forked tongue; but the dogs, more active than he was, easily avoided his attacks. My first impulse was to shoot him; but then it occurred to me to take him alive, and to send him to France. Assuredly he would have been the most monstrous boa that had ever been seen there. To carry my design into execution we manufactured nooses of cane, strong enough to resist the efforts of the most powerful wild buffalo. With great precaution we succeeded in passing one of our nooses round the boa's neck; then we tied him tightly to a tree, in such a manner as to keep his head at its usual height—about six feet from the ground. This done, we crossed to the other side of the ravine, and threw another noose over him, which we secured like the first. When he felt himself thus fixed at both ends, he coiled and writhed, and grappled several little trees which grew within his reach along the edge of the ravine. Unluckily for him everything yielded to his efforts: he tore up the young trees by the roots, broke off the branches, and dislodged enormous stones, round which he sought in vain to obtain the hold or point of resistance he needed. The nooses were strong, and withstood his almost furious efforts.
To convey an animal like this, several buffaloes and a whole system of cordage were necessary. Night approached; confident in our nooses, we left the place, proposing to return next morning and complete the capture; but we reckoned without our host. In the night the boa changed his tactics, got his body round some huge blocks of basalt, and finally succeeded in breaking his bonds and getting clear off. When I had assured myself that our prey had escaped us, and that all search for the reptile in the neighbourhood would be futile, my disappointment was very great, for I much doubted if a like opportunity would ever present itself. It is only on rare occasions that accidents are caused by these enormous reptiles. I once knew of a man becoming their victim. It happened thus:—
This man having committed some offence, ran away, and sought refuge in a cavern. His father, who alone knew the place of his concealment, visited him occasionally to supply him with food. One day he found, in place of his son, an enormous boa sleeping. He killed it, and found his son in its stomach. The poor wretch had been surprised in the night, crushed to death, and swallowed. The curate of the village, who had gone in quest of the body to give it burial, and who saw the remains of the boa, described them to me as being of an almost incredible size. Unfortunately this circumstance happened at a considerable distance from my habitation, and I was only made acquainted with the particulars when it was too late to verify them myself: but still there is nothing surprising that a boa which can swallow a deer should as easily swallow a man. Several other feats of a similar nature were related to me by the Indians. They told me of their comrades, who, roaming about the woods, had been seized by boas, crushed against trees, and afterwards devoured; but I was always on my guard against Indian tales, and I am only able to verify positively the instance, I have just cited, which was related to me by the curate of the village, as well as by many other witnesses. Still there would be nothing surprising that a similar accident should occur more than once.
The boa is one of the serpents the least to be feared among those infesting the Philippines. Of an exceedingly venomous description is one which the Indians call dajon-palay, (rice leaf). Burning with a red-hot ember is the only antidote to its bite; if that be not promptly resorted to, horrible sufferings are followed by certain death. The alin-morani is another kind, eight or ten feet long, and, if anything, more dangerous still than the "rice leaf," inasmuch as its bite is deeper, and more difficult to cauterise. I was never bitten by any of these reptiles, despite the slight precaution I observed in wandering about the woods, by night as well as by day.
Twice only I endangered myself: the first time was by treading upon a dajon-palay; I was warned by a movement under my foot. I pressed hard with that leg, and saw the snake's little head stretching out to bite me on the ankle; fortunately my foot was on him at so short a distance from his head that he could not get at me. I drew my dagger, and cut off his head. On another occasion, I noticed two eagles rising and falling like arrows amongst the bushes, always at the same place. Curious to see what kind of animal they were attacking, I approached the place; but no sooner had I done so, than an enormous alin-morani, furious with the wounds the eagles had inflicted on him, advanced to meet me. I retreated; he coiled himself up, gave a spring, and almost caught me on the face. By an instantaneous movement, I made a spring backwards, and avoided him; but I took care not to turn my back and run, for then I should have been lost. The serpent returned to the charge, bounding towards me; I again avoided him, and was trying, but in vain, to reach him with my dagger, when an Indian, who perceived me from a distance, ran up, armed with a stout switch, and rid me of him.
The Prosperity and Happiness of my Life at Jala-Jala—Destructiveness of the Locusts—Agriculture in the Philippines—My Herds of Oxen, Buffaloes, and Horses—My Wife presents me with a Daughter, who Dies—The Admiration of the Indian Women for my Wife—Birth of my Son—Continued Prosperity—Death of my brother Henry—My Friendship with Malvilain—His Marriage with my eldest Sister—His Premature Death—I take my Wife to Manilla—Melancholy Adieus—We Return to Jala-Jala—Death of my Wife—My friend Vidie—I determine to Return to France.
Never was life more actively spent, or more crowded with emotions, than the time I passed at Jala-Jala, but it suited my tastes and my character, and I enjoyed as perfect happiness as one can look for when far away from one's home and country. My Anna was to me an angel of goodness; my Indians were happy, peace and plenty smiled upon their families; my fields were covered with abundant crops, and my pasturages with numerous herds. It was not, however, without great difficulty and much toil that I accomplished my aim; how often did I find all my courage and all my philosophy necessary to face, without despair, reverses which it was impossible for me to avoid? How often did I behold hurricanes and inundations destroy the fine harvest that I had protected with so much labour against the buffaloes, the wild boars, the monkeys, and even against an insect more destructive still than all the other pests which I have just mentioned—the locust, one of the plagues of Egypt, apparently transported into this province, and which almost regularly, every seven years, leave the isles of the south in clouds, and fall upon Luzon, bringing desolation, and often famine. It is indeed necessary to have witnessed this desolation to be able to form any idea of it. When the locusts arrive, a fire-coloured cloud is perceived in the horizon, formed of countless myriads of these destructive insects. They fly rapidly, often covering, in a closely packed body, a space of two or three leagues in diameter, and occupy from five to six consecutive hours in passing over head. If they perceive a fine green field they pounce down upon it, and in a few minutes all verdure has disappeared, the ground is stripped completely bare; they then continue their flight elsewhere, bearing on their wings destruction and famine. At evening it is in the forests, upon the trees, that they take shelter. They hang in such dense masses upon the ends of the boughs that they break down even the stoutest limbs from the trees. During the night, from the spot where they are reposing, there issues a continual croaking, and so loud a noise, that one scarcely believes it to be produced by so small an insect. The following morning they leave at day-break, and the trees upon which they have reposed are left stripped and broken, as though the lightning had swept the forest in every direction; they pursue their course elsewhere to commit fresh ravages. At certain periods they remain on vast plains or on fertile mountains; where, elongating the extremity of their bodies in the form of a gimblet, they pierce the earth to the depth of an inch and upwards to deposit their eggs. The operation of laying being completed, they leave the ground pierced like a sieve, and disappear, for their existence has now reached its termination. Three weeks afterwards, however, the eggs open, and myriads of young locusts swarm the earth. On the spot where they are born, whatever will serve them for food is quickly consumed. As soon as they have acquired sufficient strength they abandon their birth-place, destroy all kinds of vegetation that comes in their way, and direct their course to the cultivated fields, which they desolate until the period when their wings appear. They then take flight in order to devastate more distant plantations.
As may be seen, agriculture in the Philippines presents many difficulties, but it also yields results that may be looked for in vain in any other country. During the years which are exempt from the calamities I have described the earth is covered with riches; every kind of colonial produce is raised in extraordinary abundance, frequently in the proportion of eighty to one, and on many plantations two crops of the same species are harvested in one year. The rich and extensive pasturages offer great facilities for raising a large number of cattle, which absolutely cost nothing but the trifling wages paid by the proprietor to a few shepherds.
Upon my property I possessed three herds—one of three thousand head of oxen, another of eight hundred buffaloes, and the other of six hundred horses. At that period of the year when the rice was harvested, the shepherds explored the mountains, and drove these animals to a vast plain at a short distance from my dwelling. This plain was covered by these three species of domesticated animals, and presented, especially to the proprietor, an admirable sight. At night they were herded in large cattle-folds, near the village, and on the following day a selection was made of the oxen that were fit for slaughter, of the horses that were old enough for breaking-in, of the buffaloes that were strong enough to be employed in working. The herds were then re-driven to the plain, there to remain until night. This operation lasted during a fortnight, after which time the animals were set at liberty until the same period of the following year. When at liberty the herd divided itself into bands, and thus roamed about the mountains and the valleys they had previously quitted, the only trouble caused to the shepherds being an occasional ramble about the spots where the animals tranquilly grazed.
Around me all was prosperity. My Indians were also happy, and entertained towards me a respect and obedience bordering on idolatry. My brother gave me every assistance in my labours, and when near my beloved Anna I forgot all the toils and the contrarieties I had experienced. About this time a new source of hope sprung up, which augmented the happiness I enjoyed with her, and made her dearer to me than ever. During several months the health of my wife had changed: she then found all the symptoms of pregnancy. We had been married twelve years, and she had never yet shown any signs of maternity. I was so persuaded that we should never have children that the derangement of her health was causing me serious uneasiness, when one morning as I was going to my work she said to me: "I don't feel well to-day, and I wish you to remain with me." Two hours afterwards, to my great surprise, she gave premature birth to a little girl, whose arrival no one expected. The infant was born before the due time, and lived only one hour, just sufficient to receive baptism, which I administered to her. This was the second human being that had expired in the house of Jala-Jala; but she was also the first that had there first drawn the breath of life. The regret which we all experienced from the loss was softened by the certainty that my dear Anna might again become a mother, under more favourable circumstances. Her health was speedily re-established, and she was again gay and beautiful as ever: indeed she appeared so handsome, that often Indian women came from a long distance for the sole purpose of looking at her. They would remain for half-an-hour gazing at her, and afterwards returned to their villages, where they gave birth to creatures little resembling the model which they had taken such pains to observe, with a confidence approaching to simplicity.
Eventually Anna exhibited new signs of maternity; her pregnancy went through the usual course, and her health was not much affected. In due time she presented me with a little boy, weakly and delicate, but full of life. Our joy was at the highest, for we possessed that which we had so long wished for, and that which alone was in my opinion wanting.
My Indians were delighted with the birth, and for several days there was a round of rejoicings at Jala-Jala; and my Anna, although confined to bed, was obliged to receive visits, at first from all the women and maidens of the village, and afterwards from all the Indians who were fathers of families. Each brought some little present for the newly born, and the cleverest man of them was commissioned to express a compliment in the name of all; which comprised their best wishes for the happiness of the mother and child, and full assurances of the satisfaction they felt in thinking that they would one day be ruled over by the son of the master from whom they had experienced so much kindness, and who had conferred upon them such benefits. Their gratitude was sincere.
The news of the accouchement of my wife brought a very numerous party of friends and relations to my house, where they waited for the baptism, which took place in my drawing-room. Anna, then almost thoroughly well, was present on the occasion: my son was named Henry, after his uncle. At this time I was happy; Oh, so truly happy! for my wishes were nearly gratified. There was but one not so—and that was to see again my aged mother and my sisters; but I hoped that the time was not far distant when I should realise the project of revisiting my native country. My farming speculation was most prosperous: my receipts were every year on the increase; my fields were covered with the richest crops of sugar-canes, to the cultivation of which, and of rice, I had joined that of coffee. My brother had taken upon himself the management of a very large plantation, which promised the most brilliant results; and appeared likely to secure the premium which the Spanish government had promised to give to the proprietor of a plantation of eighty thousand feet of coffee in product. But, alas! the period of my happiness had passed away, and what pain and what grief was I not doomed to suffer before I again saw my native country.
My brother—my poor Henry—committed some imprudences, and was suddenly attacked with an intermittent fever, which in a few days carried him off.
My Anna and I shed abundance of tears, for we both loved Henry with the warmest affection. For several years we had lived together; he participated in all our labours, our troubles, and our pleasures. He was the only relative I had in the Philippines. He had left France, where he had filled an honourable position, with the sole object of coming to see me, and of aiding me in the great task which I had undertaken. His amiable qualities and his excellent heart had endeared him to us: his loss was irreparable, and the thought that I had no longer a brother added poignancy to my bitter grief. Prudent, the youngest, had died at Madagascar; Robert, the next to me, died at La Planche, near Nantes, in the little dwelling where we spent our childhood; and my poor Henry at Jala-Jala. I erected a simple tomb for him near the door of the church, and for several months Jala-Jala was a place of grief and mourning.
We had scarcely begun, not indeed to console ourselves, but rather to bear with resignation the loss we had experienced, when a new dispensation of fate came to strike me to the earth.
On my arrival in the Philippines, and while I resided at Cavite, I formed a close connection with Malvilain, a native of St. Malo, and mate of a ship from that port. During several years which he spent at Cavite our friendship was most intimate. A day seldom passed that we did not see each other, and two days never, for we were much attached. Our two ships were at anchor in the port, not far one from the other. One day as I was walking on deck, waiting for a boat to take me on board Malvilain's ship, I saw his crew at work in regulating one of the masts, when a rope suddenly snapped, and the mast fell with a frightful crash on the deck, in the midst of the men, amongst whom Malvilain was standing. From the deck of my own ship I beheld all that passed on that of my friend, who I thought was killed or wounded. My feelings were worked to the highest pitch of anguish and alarm; I could not control myself; I jumped into the water and swam to his ship, where I had the pleasure of finding him uninjured, although considerably stunned by the danger from which he had escaped. Wet as I was from my sea-bath I caught him in my arms, and pressed him to my heart; and then hastened to afford relief to some of the crew, who had not been so fortunate to escape without injury as he had been.
Another time I was the cause of serious alarm to Malvilain. One day, a mass of black and thick clouds was gathered close over the point of Cavite, and a frightful—that is, a tropical—storm burst. The claps of thunder followed each other from minute to minute, and before each clap the lightning, in long serpent-like lines of fire, darted from the clouds, and drove on to the point of Cavite, where it tore up the ground of the little plain situate at the extremity, and near which the ships were moored. Notwithstanding the storm I was going to see Malvilain, and was almost in the act of placing my foot on the deck of his vessel, when the lightning fell into the sea so near to me that I lost my breath. Instantly I felt an acute pain in the back, as if a burning torch had been laid between my shoulders. The pain was so violent, that the moment I recovered myself I uttered a sharp scream. Malvilain, who was within a few paces of me, felt very sensibly the electric shock which had struck me, and, on hearing my cry, imagined that I was dangerously hurt. He rushed towards me and held me in his arms until I was able to give every assurance of my recovery. The electric fluid had grazed me, but without causing any positive injury.
I have related these two slight anecdotes to show the intimacy that subsisted between us, and how I afterwards suffered in my dearest affections.
My existence has to this day, when I write these lines, been filled with such extraordinary facts, that I have been naturally led to believe that the destiny of man is regulated by an order of things which must infallibly be accomplished. This idea has had great influence over me, and taught me to endure all the evils which have afflicted me. Was it, then, my destiny which bound me to Malvilain, and bound him to me in the same manner? I have no doubt of it.
Some days before the terrible scourge of the cholera broke out in the Philippines, Malvilain's ship set sail for France. With hearts oppressed with grief we separated, after promising each that we should meet again; but, alas! fate had ordained it otherwise. Malvilain returned home, went to Nantes to take the command of a ship, and there became acquainted with my eldest sister, and married her. This news, which reached me while I resided in Manilla, gave me the greatest satisfaction, for if I had had to choose a husband for my dear sister Emilie, this marriage was the only one to satisfy the wishes I had formed for the happiness of both.
After his marriage Malvilain continued to sail from the port of Nantes. His noble disposition and his accurate knowledge of his duties caused him to be highly esteemed by the leading merchants. His affairs were in a state sufficiently good as not to require him to expose himself longer to the dangers of the sea, and he was on his last voyage, when, at the Mauritius, he was attacked by an illness, which carried him off, leaving my sister inconsolable, and with three very young girls to lament him.
This fresh and irreparable loss, the news of which had then reached me, added to my grief for the sad death of my poor brother. Every calamity seemed to oppress me. After some years of happiness I saw, by little and little, disappear from this world, the persons on whom I had concentrated my dearest affections; but, alas! I had not even then reached the term of my sorrows, for other and most bitter sufferings were still to be passed through.
I saw with pleasure my boy was enjoying the best health, and that he was daily increasing in strength; and yet I was far from being happy, and to the melancholy caused by the losses I had experienced was added another most fearful alarm. My beloved Anna had never thoroughly recovered after her accouchement, and day by day her health was growing weaker. She did not seem aware of her state. Her happiness at being a mother was so great that she did not think of her own condition.
I had gathered in my sugar-cane crop, which was most abundant, and my plantations were finished, when, wishing to procure some amusement for my wife, I proposed to go and spend some time at the house of her sister Josephine, for whom she entertained the warmest affection. She, with great pleasure, agreed to do so. We set out with our dear little Henry and his nurse, and took up our quarters at the house of my brother-in-law, Don Julian Calderon, then residing in a pretty country-house on the banks of the river Pasig, half a league from Manilla.
Of the three sisters of my wife, Josephine was the one for whom I had the most affection: I loved her as I did my own sister. The day of our arrival was one of rejoicing. All our friends at Manilla came to see us, and Anna was so pleased in seeing our little Henry admired that her health seemed to have improved considerably; but this apparent amelioration lasted but a few days, and soon, to my grief, I saw that she was growing worse than ever. I sent for the only medical man in Manilla in whom I had confidence, my friend Genu. He came frequently to see her, and after six weeks of constant attention, he advised me to take her back to my residence near the lake, where persons attacked with the same malady as my dear Anna had often recovered. As she herself wished to return, I appointed a day for our departure. A commodious boat, with good rowers, was ready for us on the Pasig, at the end of my brother-in-law's garden; and a numerous assemblage of our friends accompanied us to the water's edge. The moment of separation was one of most melancholy feelings to us all. The countenance of each seemed to ask: "Shall we meet again?" My sister-in-law Josephine, in a flood of tears, threw herself into Anna's arms. I had great difficulty in separating them; but we were obliged to set out. I took my wife into the boat, and then those two sisters, who had always maintained towards each other the most tender love, addressed with their voices their last adieus, while promising not to be long separated, and that they would see each other very soon.
Those painful adieus and the sufferings of my wife caused the trip, which we had often previously made with the greatest gaiety, to be melancholy and silent. On our arrival, I did not look on Jala-Jala with the usual feelings of satisfaction. I had my poor patient placed in bed, and did not quit her room, hoping by my continual care to afford her some relief in her sufferings. But, alas! from day to day the malady made fearful progress. I was in despair. I wrote to Josephine, and sent a boat to Manilla for her to come and take care of her sister, who was most anxious to see her. The boat returned without her; but a letter from kind-hearted Josephine informed me that she was herself dangerously ill, and confined to her room, and could not even leave her bed; that she was very sorry for it, but I might assure Anna that they would soon be re-united, never again to be separated.
Fifty days—longer to me than a century—had scarcely elapsed since our return to Jala-Jala than all my hopes vanished. Death was approaching with rapid strides, and the fatal moment was at hand when I was to be separated from her whom I loved with such intensity. She preserved her senses to the last, and saw my profound melancholy, and my features altered by grief; and finding her last hour was near, she called me to her, and said: "Adieu, my beloved Paul, adieu. Console thyself—we shall meet again in Heaven! Preserve thyself for the sake of our dear boy. When I shall be no more, return home to thy own country, to see thy aged mother. Never marry again, except in France, if thy mother requires thee to do so. Do not marry in the Philippines, for thou wilt never find a companion here to love thee as I have loved." These words were the last which this good and gentle angel spoke. The most sacred ties, the tenderest and purest union, were then severed—my Anna was no more! I held her lifeless body clasped in my arms, as if I hoped by my caresses to recall her to life; but, alas! her destiny was decided!
It required absolute force to tear me from the precious remains which I pressed against my heart, and to draw me into a neighbouring room, where my son was. While I pressed him convulsively to my breast, I wished to weep; but my eyes were tearless, and I was insensible to the caresses even of my poor child.
The strongest constitution cannot resist the fatigue of fifty days of constant watching and uneasiness; and the state of annihilation in which I was, both physically and morally, after despair had taken the place of the glimmering hope which sustained us to the last moment, was such that I fell into a state of insensibility, which ended in a profound sleep. I awoke on the following day with my son in my arms. But how frightful was my state on awaking. All that was horrible in my position presented itself to my imagination. Alas! she was no more; my adorable companion, that beloved angel and consolatrix, who had, on my account, abandoned all—parents, friends, and the pleasures of a capital—to shut herself up with me in a deserted wilderness, where she was exposed to a thousand dangers, and had but me to support her. She was no more; and fatal destiny had torn her from me, to sink me for ever in desolation and grief.
The funeral took place on the following day, and was attended by every inhabitant of Jala-Jala. Her body was deposited near the altar in the humble church which I had caused to be erected, and before which altar she had so often poured forth prayers for my happiness.
For a long time mourning and consternation reigned in Jala-Jala. All my Indians showed the deepest sympathy for the loss which they had suffered. Anna was, during her life, beloved even to idolatry, and after her death she was most sincerely lamented.
For several days I continued in a thorough depression, unable to attend to anything, except to the cares which my son, then my only remaining consolation, required. Three weeks elapsed before I quitted the room in which my poor wife had expired. I then received a note from Josephine, in which she stated that her illness had grown worse. The note ended with these words: "Come, my dear Paul; come to me: we shall weep together. I feel that your presence will afford some consolation."
I did not hesitate to comply with the request of dear Josephine, for whom I entertained an affection as if for my own sister. My presence might prove a solace to her, and I myself felt that it would prove to me a great consolation to see a person who had so sincerely loved my Anna. The hope of being useful to her re-animated my courage a little. I left my house under the care of Prosper Vidie, an excellent friend, who during the last days of my wife's life had not quitted me, and departed, accompanied by my son.
After the first emotion which Josephine and I felt on meeting, and when we both had shed abundant tears, I examined her state. It required a strong effort on my part to conceal from her my anxiety, on finding her labouring under a most serious malady, and which gave me grounds for fearing that a fresh misfortune was not far distant. Alas! my forebodings were correct; for eight days afterwards poor Josephine expired in my arms, after the most poignant sufferings. What abundant sources of woe in so short a space of time! It required a constitution strong as mine was to bear up against such a number of sorrows, and not to fail under the burthen.
When I had paid the last duties to my sister-in-law I went back to Jala-Jala. To me everything was burthensome. I was obliged to betake myself to my forests and to my mountains, in order to recover a little calmness. Some months passed over before I could attend to my affairs; but the last wishes of my poor wife required to be fulfilled, and I was to quit the Philippines and return to my country. I commenced preparations for the purpose. I made over my establishment to my friend Vidie, who was, as I considered, the person best adapted for carrying out my plans, and for treating my poor Indians well. He requested me to stop a little time with him, and to show him the secrets of my little government. I consented, and the more willingly, as those few months would serve to render my son stronger, and better able to support the fatigues of a long voyage. I therefore remained at Jala-Jala; but life had become painful to me, and without an object, so that it was positively a trouble. There was nothing to distract me—nothing to remove the most painful thoughts from me. The pretty spots of Jala-Jala, over which I had often looked with the greatest pleasure, had become altogether indifferent to me. I sought out the most melancholy and silent places. I often went to the banks of a rivulet, concealed in the midst of high mountains, and shaded by lofty trees. This spot was perhaps known to no other person; and probably no human being had ever previously been seated in it. There I gave free vent to my bitter recollections—my wife, my brothers, my sister-in-law, engrossed my imagination. When the thought of my son drove away these sombre reveries, I returned slowly to my house, where I found the poor child, who, by his caresses, seemed to try to find some way to cause a change in my grief; but they seemed only to recall the time when Anna always came to welcome me home, and when, clasping me in her arms, she caused me to forget all the toil and trouble I met with when absent from her. Alas! that blissful time had flown away, and was never to return; and in losing my companion I lost every happiness.
My friend Vidie tried every means in his power to rouse me. He spoke to me often of France, of my mother, and of the consolation I should feel on presenting my son to her. The love of my country, and the thought of finding there those affections of which I stood so much in need, was a soft balm, which lulled for a while the sufferings that were constantly vibrating in the bottom of my heart.
My Indians were deeply afflicted on learning the resolution I had taken of quitting them. They showed their trouble by saying to me, every time they addressed me! "Oh, master: what will become of us when we shall not see you again?" I quieted them as well as I could, by assuring them that Vidie would exert himself for their welfare; that when my son should be grown up, I would come back with him and then never leave them. They answered me with their prayers: "May God grant it, master! But what a long time we shall have to pass without seeing you! However, we shall not forget you."
My friend Adolphe Barrot visits me at Jala-Jala—The Bamboo Cane—The Cocoa-Nut Tree—The Banana—Majestic Forests of Gigantic Trees—The Leeches—A Tropical Storm in a Forest—An Indian Bridge—"Bernard the Hermit"—We arrive at Binangon-de-Lampon—The Ajetas—Veneration of the Ajetas for their Dead—Poison used by the Ajetas—I carry away a Skeleton—We Embark on the Pacific in an old Canoe, reach Maoban, and ultimately arrive at Jala-Jala.
At this epoch of my recollections, in the midst of my melancholy and of my troubles, I formed an intimate and enduring friendship with a compatriot, a good and excellent man, for whom I always preserve the attachment first formed in a foreign country, several thousand leagues from home. I now speak of Adolphe Barrot, who was sent as consul-general to Manilla. He came with several friends to spend some days at Jala-Jala. Being unwilling that he should suffer any unpleasantness from the state of my feelings, I endeavoured to render his stay at Jala-Jala as agreeable as in my power. I arranged several hunting and shooting parties, and excursions through the mountains and on the lake. For his sake I resumed my old mode of life, such as I had been used to before I was overwhelmed by misfortune.
The days which I thus spent in company with Adolphe Barrot aroused within me my former taste for exercise, and my ruling passion for adventure. My friend Vidie—always with the intention of exciting me to action—pressed me very much to go and visit a certain class of the natives which I had often expressed a wish to examine. My affairs being almost regulated; my son being placed under his care, and that of his nurse, and of a housekeeper in whom I had every confidence; I was induced, by this feeling of security, and by the instances of my friend, to proceed to visit the district of the Ajetas, or Black-men, who were a wild race, altogether in a state of nature. They were the aborigines of the Philippines, and had for a long time been masters of Luzon. At a time not very far distant, when the Spaniards conquered the country, the Ajetas levied a kind of black-mail from the Tagalese villages situated on the banks of the lake of Bay. At a fixed period they quitted their forests, entered the villages, and forced the inhabitants to give them a certain quantity of rice and maize; and if the Tagalese refused or were unable to pay these contributions, they cut off a number of heads, which they carried away as trophies for their barbarian festivities. After the conquest of the Philippines by the Spaniards, the latter took upon themselves the defence of the Tagalese, and the Ajetas, terrified by their fire-arms, remained in the forests, and did not re-appear among the Indians.