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Everett, F. H.
Manuscript Journal Describing the Events of an 18 month Sojourn in the Philippines, while Shooting Birds for Collectors in England, 1876-1878

octavo, entries closely written on 123 pages, plus blanks, bound in contemporary black boards, somewhat rubbed and scuffed, entries in very good, clean and legible condition.

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F. Everett is engaged in the enterprise of collecting bird specimens in the Philippines by his brother Alfred (Alf). Everett is a young man, not yet “of age” who hopes not only to earn money, but also to build his self confidence in the enterprise. Everett gives detailed descriptions of the country and the various small towns and jungle villages he visits, the work of shooting and skinning birds and the hardships which become more apparent as time goes on and which include the somewhat perilous voyages between islands. Everett and his brother Alf find it difficult in maintaining the schedule required to maintain a profit, and Everett himself is constantly assailed by feelings of his own inadequacy. Fever, ague, dysentery are not uncommon, and extreme discomfort is ever present. Alf is constantly laid up with fever and the writer is frequently attacked by ague, small wonder, as he is frequently up to his knees in water. From time to time they ship consignments of bird skins and other specimens back to England. Everett describes the birds they shoot and skin, including birds of paradise, trojans, argus pheasants, hornbills, hawks, eagles cockatoos, etc.  Everett records the financial difficulties and worries of making the expedition pay, his own gnawing self-doubts, and in short presents a vivid picture of a most unusual experience. Eventually, disillusioned, he signs an agreement to work for 6 months for Smith, Bell & Co., in Cebu, and the end of the journal finds him in Tacloban, on the way to Manila, and preparing to return to England. Rare journal, 19th century Philippine manuscript material is very uncommon, particularly in English.

 

Sample Quotations

 

“… I am to have everything found & £60 p.a. & if the profits exceed my salary at the rate of 10% I am to have 5% of the excess…”  They leave the London docks aboard the Braemar Castle, on November 22, 1876 and reach Penang on January 1, 1877, and Singapore two days later, from whence they embark for Manila on the 20th (fare $ 80.00 each). At Manila they put up at Lala’s Hotel ($ 2. per diem) while making necessary arrangements with Consul, hiring interpreter, cook etc., and by the 29th leave for San Mateo in 3 small gigs (“very rough road”).

 

Then Everett’s adventure begins in earnest:

 

“4/1/77 In five days we have obtained over fifty specimens the value of which we reckon is abt £17. We are two or three miles from the mountains but there is some very good shooting in the fields and alongside the little streams they are edged chiefly with clumps of bamboo. The water buffaloes are rather a bother they do not like white men, tho’ they are as tame as can be with the natives there are often a couple of hundred of them in the rice fields we have to navigate so as not to come within fifty yards of them in crossing this takes a long time very often & takes up time that ought to be spent shooting. I manage to kill about one bird in two shots this is better than I expected to be able to do at first… My Spanish is very much behind hand I must work it up. We have an interpreter (at $ 12 per month) & a cook at $ 6 per month) I can glean a good deal from them. We have decided to collect a few butterflies here tho they are common I hope to begin tomorrow… We shall want more stores & ammunition soon. Alf went to Manila on the 8th for stores … brought back powder & shot… we were out shooting when they arrived & I came in wet up to my hips having been in the water to fetch a bird Alf shot a hawk…  A has engaged another interpreter Pedro by name he was with the last English consul for a time… We have got now 168 skins & 61 species we value them at £42 & our expenses from the time we left Manila to the time we got back there at £50 We also reckon that we have money enough to take us down to Paraquas to Porta Princessa & Balabac & to last us for eight months in this time we shall likely send home three or four more collections.”

 

“15/3/77 … Our first collection goes home by the next ship worth about £70 contains 300 skins & abt 90 species has just covered expenses according to Alfs estimate. The last week at Malbran had to work single handed Alf had a bad rash on his face & thought it wisest to lie up for a week at M The day he left I began to get it & was too seedy to shoot the whole week. I managed to look to the skinning & with Pedro’s help got through over fifty birds including seven hawks & two Hornbills. Alf values my week at £17 which is the best we had although I only got two new species. I am now getting more accustomed to the multitude of novel sights, scenes & mode of living, people, etc, etc & in consequence my memory is becoming clearer … For this reason I want to stick to collecting as I shall have most leisure thinking time to learn in. At present I do not know three hundred Spanish words correctly… but if Alf leaves me at Cebu for three months, I think he’ll open his eyes when he comes back at present he thinks I have not the energy or the power to learn…”

 

“25th The “Sorsagon” did not leave Manila till the 17th, there was a ship on the bar at the mouth of the Pasig which blocked up the whole of the narrow exit. So we went back to Lala’s for the night At eight o’clock on the 17th we were on board & soon after hauled off, getting clear of the river about nine. We had two priests on board they appeared to be very quiet men & pretty well informed although not of a high class… We passed the Island of Tablas close in, it appears to be well wooded & looks a good spot for collecting … The old jungle for miles round Cebu has been cleared some years ago, the hills are still quite bare of trees, nothing but coarse grass appears to thrive there now. Alf pitched upon some coal mines belonging to a Chinese mestizo in the old jungle near Campostela .. about ten miles from Cebu… A small steamer was going to Campostela,,, offered us a passage in her which we gladly accepted as well as an introduction to the proprietor, Isaac Con ai. Leaving Cebu soon after six on the 21st we arrived at Campostela & were put up by Isaac in an empty house of his for the day so next day fortified with a letter of introduction to his manager, Pedro, we set out to walk our traps & servants to follow in the coal wagons… It turned out to be more than eleven miles & pretty decent mountains to travel over… Yesterday collecting was begun & resulted in twelve birds being registered as secured. …”

 

“3 - 6-77 … We collected at the mines from the 24th of March to the 21st of April. Alf was down once with a sharp attack of Fever which lasted best part of a week… Collecting very hard work the country very hilly & very few birds to be got. There are no deer or Horn-bills this side of the Island. … We hired four more hands & got passports to Bohol intending to take only a few traps with us enough for a months stay … We left Cebu early Sunday morning .. we arrived at Batuan the seventh in the afternoon & put up at the Tribunal collected for a week till the Oriana returned from Cebu to take cargo up to Surigan got about 120 skins worth about £30 … While we were at B a report arrived that the governor of S was coming so we had to remove to another house. The country round is capital collecting ground being flat & covered with old jungle & a thin undergrowth as well, there are plenty Hornbills three or four sorts, we observed over sixty other species of which we obtained fifty. Alf wants to return there again to go up the river to the range of mountains that run like a backbone all along this strip of Mindanao. We are now at, or rather four miles from Surigan in a Nipal shantee belonging to Senor Castro a Tagalo he has lived here over forty years & owns a rice farm. …”

 

12/ shooting 13th left Dinagat for Surigao in boat to get passports for Cebu going in boat to get more powder etc. Left Surigao 8 am took two Spaniards on board for Panaon engineers special Commission from Spain to examine the mines Arrived at South end of Panaon abt 5 slept in boat  got as far as Massin in Leyte 16th anchored at south end of Mactan… 26th Sunday San Juan’s day Fiesta again rained in the middle of the procession…Alf has been seedy ever since I arrived it is not fever, but everything he takes comes up again. While I was away he collected a large number of Beetles, twenty eight Lemurs, a few shells & birds. …”

 

“9th left for the coast of Leyte in the Cananero Panay she carries a fine swivel in her bows & two Falconets fastened to her bulwarks astern. The Comandante is learning English from Don Thomas Heighington a native of Bristol. He has been roughing it amongst these Islands for about eleven years & is now pulled to pieces by fever. Besides being pretty hard up. The Panay is nearly flat bottomed only draws four feet … The Commandante landed me at a small village called Timoliag some way from Siloan. I took a Banca & got as far as Maliebog by night & decided to go into the mountains instead of proceeding to Siloan as I had at first intended. 10th collected a few birds… 12th Left for the mountains with six men to carry my traps did not reach our destination till past six. A small nipal shantee in the middle of a large abaca plantation, dimensions are 18 ft x 12ft swarming with ants, neither tables nor chairs & anything but watertight, no grub to be got nearer than Maliebog. All the hills composed of coral… 21st Fine, men turned up from Amparo … Left for A at 1 o’clock  arrived 4.30 walked part of the way barefoot & got nicely knocked about for my pains nothing but limestone splendid torrents forming & running in their channels crossed several small ones skirted along the edge of one large one, for over a couple of miles, sometimes up to our knees in water at others scrambling amongst the roots of trees & over great boulders, finally we crossed it where it was abt fifty yards wide, only four feet deep, yesterday it was ten feet at the same place Saw a number of large Horn bills & as soon as I arrived obtained a few splendid looking Benpresters. …”

 

“10th South Leyte There is a Casco going to Ubay from here when the weather permits I am arranging to go in her… 11th M is a little better this morning… I think my best plan will be to stick at Ubay if I can get there, till my money is all gone. It is the dry season there & I am told there are lots of Birds & especially Horn Bills there. Im sure I hope there are for Im not much above £23 in birds & Alf by my non appearance in Cebu will expect that I am doing up to 18/ per diem in birds alone.   Alf is sure to have left Cebu before I get there. The next batch of collections is to be distpatched by the beginning of September, say a months time, I must make up £40 in Birds by that time.”

 

“… Masin is a large village of about 10,000 inhabitants. Hemp (abaca) & sugar the chief exports. Way to the back is a range of hills composed of Limestone. The village reaches from the beach to their base a distance of less than half a mile, at some points less. The hills are for the most part bare but some have little second growth on them, in the gorges & rifts may still be seen a little old jungle. Away in the more distant hills at their summits protruding from out of the old jungle with which these are covered are great masses of Limestone resembling in their structure & whitish appearance ancient turrets, castles &c … outside Masin stretches a reef bare at low water an entrance at the South side, this natural harbor although it is certainly very small & shallow still affords considerable shelter for small craft from the rollers that come thundering during the SW Monsoon. … The sea was too bad for us to fetch the landing at Cebu so we had to land two miles lower down. L walked to Cadell’s… Alf is in Negros, Dumaguete. Arrived in Cebu 28th July having done nothing in Placer Left about 1st for D. advises me to go to Mactan till I hear from him. He is looking for a smash. If the Marquis does not advance we shall have to draw a Bill on our collection in September, which will be cutting off our hopes of cash in January. This is as near to a crash as will or can come just now. … Still we must have nearly £80 worth to send in the first week of September if we want to draw $ 200 I have only about £30 & cannot reckon on more than £5 in Mactan…”

 

“Cordova I left Cebu for Mactan (Cordova) 22s in the afternoon, found the Pueblo to consist of seven or possibly eight tumbledown nipah shanties no Casa Real so I invaded the Tenentes house & am stuck in a corner of the only room with a transparent curtain hung up as a “screen” Birds very wild & moulting, wind, thunder, rain in abundance… House contains squalling brats by the thousand old women dozens & is inundated with men – far the lowest type of Indians I have met with yet… My Rice tea etc will be out in three days more if Alf does not turn up soon I shall have to send to Cebu for more nothing is to be got here. My idea in the event of the Marquis failing is to discharge Pedro & Martin & keep only the cook Alf got in Surigao go to Leyte & the small islands close by at the North end, from thence Manila wards by short stages, forwarding the bulk of our things to Manila by steamer from Cebu & if necessary keeping our collection with us till we reach Manila & then draw a good big bill on them & clear outstanding bills…. it will be a great pity if we have to leave out Bohol it has never been visited yet & it is not likely Alf will be able to come down this way again…”

 

“17/9/77 Amparo I little thought when last I wrote that my next entry would be at Amparo again. Early on the morning of the 8th I got a note from Alf he had arrived from Dumaguete the afternoon before, as soon as I could get my passport signed I moved to Cebu… I found Alf busy packing skins, his birds etc value £50 or about that, my beetles he puts much higher than I did, so that my total is a little under £48. This collection went by the “Butuan” (14th consisted of three cases skins, skeletons, & shells & 1 (cased) cask of reptiles etc. Total value say £95 Alf drew a bill for £30 - $ 150 & we have another $ 100 left, we have discharged Martin & paid his passage to Manila $ 8, it is a good riddance…”

 

 

“28th Panaon San Francisco I moved here last Monday 24th leaving Amparo at Midday slept on the Banco off San Roque  & arrived here 11 a.m. the 25th I went out in the evening & had six shots, one at a white headed hawk one at a large Leyte Hornbill & four at a Spilonis. This last did not even trouble itself to move to another tree when I fired. I thought after the first shot that it was too badly wounded to fly, but no, while loading for a fifth try it sailed off to another tree close bye & just after, three Hornbills flew into the same tree I had my sixth bang at one of them & of course missed…. I have observed about thirty species of birds myself & the natives report a good many mamalia as being common I have offered pretty good prices, so perhaps something will turn up soon. In one day good shooting I might easily knock up £5 … Here I am now within three weeks of being of age & not supporting myself in a bona fide manner, but still I have something to be satisfied about namely that I am earning Alf more than I used to do, I can collect & skin much better then when at Surigao… Secondly, I have gained much more confidence in my own abilities & should not now fear taking a berth in a first class house in Manila or any place for that matter… I have got nice little plan for work sketched out either for my returning home, or for my settling here. I may say it is a greater programme than I have ever dared to contemplate…”

 

“October 2nd San Francisco Shooting pretty well this morning, brought in Hypsepetes Shrike & Woodpecker ♀, lost the ♂ of this last from my button hole, whilst trying to get out of the jungle after failing to come up with some calls I had quite lost myself in some thick scrub growing in a regular swamp how I got into it I don’t know, but I took a long while getting out again. I wounded two Baluds & missed twice … 3ed A little better work today had eleven shots killed seven & wounded four which got away ( 3 cockatoos & g shrike a Cagu brought in  total to date £5. 12. 4 . … I shot a callo, wounded it the first shot, & then had four more before I could polish it off after all I had to kill it by hand when it fell, the big shot is not big enough to kill, & I have only a few slugs with me. I have brought my total up to £ 7 10.0 this is getting better but I ought in two more days to be up to £ 13. I do not observe many new species now, I have only recognized 33, but as yet I have done nothing with the small birds.”

 

“7th Sunday. Total up to £ 11.14.0. Skins 35 observed 40 species. I have enough paper, wool & no one shot for about another week… Yesterday I got two Callo in two shots one quite young. I have been much better the last few days & consequently shooting better… I am not over fond of this extreme isolation, not even my boy (Carlos) can understand half I say to him.”

 

“Talibon Bohol 28/ My first Sunday alone here. Alf left for Cebu last Thursday about 1 pm. We moved to Masin from Amparo on the 17th & took Banca to this on the 19th arriving here the 20th Saturday late in the afternoon (6 pm). Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday we all worked together & knocked up 53 skins the last twenty of which I skinned on Thursday. Since Alf has gone my shooting has been a little better & I have just kept up the 30/ average We stand thus for this month (up to yesterday night) 11 days 80 skins total value £ 16. 14.0, or 4/ in hand of this. … I expect the Banca back tomorrow night bringing stores for me from Cebu. I shall then make tracks for a pueblo in the mountains said to be in the old jungle close to a river if this is true I ought to get a lot there. I got the information from the Cura here who is a Spaniard & rather a decent individual. It is said also to be eight hours walk but that may mean anything, as we have learned by experience. This village (Talibon) is planted on the edge of a plain stretching far away inland to a low line of hills quite bare, except at one place a little to the right which has a sprinkling of trees left … There is a new church building a very large & handsome structure it will be when finished, that is if an earthquake does not tumble it over. The houses are built seperately & thickly surrounded with plaintains, a capital way of avoiding fires, & which makes the village look very pretty… I can get I think another weeks work out of this place I have observed 43 species, obtained 33 & paired 15. This two months ought to be a pretty comfortable time, that is if I can keep well in every way …”

 

“2/11/ Move to Danau tomorrow. The Banca returned from Cebu with traps 28th News – Marquis & Harry both sent cash two letters from Higgins second noting arrival of Cebu collection, first about Luzon lot, Marquis took £93 (more than we valued the entire collection at his prices are 6/ to the size of a thrush 10/ to that of a Bantam & 20/ for everything above. This leaves no doubt as to our making money though it is only a little. His Lordship was well pleased with this lot … & is publishing a pamphlet on it. … but as I am getting letters to the Tenente at Danau from the Cura & Capitan telling them to get me a House … I saw the people today at the conento with whom Semper lived in Ubay, they told me through the Cura that he was in Bojol two years, with his wife. He spent six months in the Hills & collected large quantities of everything, Birds, beetles animals &c &c, but did not shoot Birds because “they were useless from being struck by the shot.” (Humbug.) I am to collect a lot of everything in the bird line even a series of the common ones, our former supply seems inadequate, in other words lots of skins value nil, but with the higher value for the Marquis I can make up my pound a day I dare say…”

“Danau 5/11/ Arrived here last night after a two day tramp at least 20 miles … This place is a real fraud the village the Cura said  had ‘bastante casas’, which turns out to be under ten ( I can only see six or seven so far). … the latter is one small river with steep hills more or less cleared at the base, the nearest about two miles off a little second growth about nearly the same distance off. Tall grass all over the plain (about 3 to 4 feet) certainly there are a few stray trees about on the plain amongst the grass I have had a tramp round but have not seen anything worth mentioning. There are very few pathways & it is next to impossible to get anything in the grass… If the machados do not bring in anything I shall return to Talibon in a week…”

 

“18th Sunday Bohol … I have had bad feet & not been able to do much inland shooting but took a banca to some rocks in the strait & blazed away sitting I got in four days shooting 42 skins & threw away a number too badly hit to save. Very few fresh species as yet. It will be some days yet before I can put a shoe on, I have a deep cut on the sole of my left foot which is festering. Fungus sore of course… The Marquis makes 85 species in the Luzon lot, two quite new, & some twenty of special interest, but there are a few Luzon skins in the Cebu lot, enough I expect to bring his share up to £ 100. If this be so we are working at a paying rate, though nothing very grand, my poor work here will pull us back a bit… Talibon … My future is as yet however almost if not quite as unsettled, although I realise the fact that my life is destined for the Philippine Islands & I am gradually making up my mind to the unpleasant fact, that I must break for good and all with all the English ties that bind me …”

 

“Cebu January 1878 … I hope to go home in June or rather July there is no fear of my not working I have undertaken to skin birds for Oscar Berger at three reales each; I hope by this to realise fifteen dollars profit, I have bought all the instruments I shall require & have already skinned four. I want to get some birds too on Alfs account so as to knock down my debt to him a little & also a few for Cadell. 8th I have taken six dollars worth in the lottery that is drawn today, I think however I should do better if I saved the money but the temptation of getting perhaps ‘a pile’ is too great & one always hopes to pay expenses, the most I shall spend in the next six months is £ 6 after all it is no great sum. I have today dispatched my Bojol collection, I kept back twenty eight common skins all duplicates for Berger I shall get a few dollars out of them.”

 

 

 

“July 78 … Tacloban is a very quiet place on a round point of land hidden by cocoa nut trees there is very little to be seen from the sea but when on land it turns out to be a well planned village all the streets being at right angles to one another, there is a very good market place the governors house is little better than a ruin the church tall & barn like Nipal thatch. Some of the houses look well built. The Plaza is well laid out and surrounded with fine old trees. Today being ‘Fiesta’ as usual there is no work to be done, we have yet to load 1000 bales hemp for Manila, so that we may hope to get away Saturday morning & therefore should be in Manila Monday this is quite close enough as I have to cash cheques & buy a few things.”