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Nabal Chronicle.

JANUARY, 1851.


Letter from Com. Bate, R.N., H.M.8. Royalist, August 1850. We sailed from Hong-Kong on the 3rd of April, and after obtaining some off-shore soundings to render more complete our survey of the Lema Group, and contiguous islands which front the Canton estuary, our course was shaped for Manila, where we arrived on the 11th. Our passage however was delayed for twenty-four hours by a gale from the north-east, which occasioned our being set in that time about twenty miles to the S.S.W.

In a Spanish chart of the Phillippine Islands, published in 1808, are two banks, laid down about thirty leagues to the westward of Cape Bolina, for the alleged position of which two ships, named the Sta. Anna and St. Joaquin are said to be accountable. As these banks lie very much in the track of vessels frequenting Hong-Kong and Manila, and no mention of them being made in Horsburgh's Directory, we passed over their reported position, obtaining no ground with 120 fathoms so

* Our best charts afford us no kind of hydrographic description of the eastern shore of this island. Any account of its ports and bays, is yet as a sealed book to the navigator, and although it is occupied by a series of settlements, with a population of about 150 souls, each displaying the flag of Spain, we look in vain for that description in the Spanish chart of the Phillippine Islands that would enable him to visit them with confidence, and safety to his vessel. In this sad dearth of information, the following extract from an account of the Royalists visit there in the course of last summer, under the command of Com. Baté, may prove useful to him, while the charts resulting from that officer's important surveys, as well as his sailing directions for them, are in course of preparation.-ED.

NO. 1.-VOL. XX.

there is something wrong there. Remaining at Manila until the evening of the 20th, we sailed for the north coast of Palawan.

After a succession of light airs, currents, and calms, we anchored on the evening of the 26th, off an island at the south-western extremity of the Linacapan Group, for the purpose of commencing our survey of the east coast of Palawan, which by the end of May we had advanced as far as the large island of Dumarran, having completely delineated the intermediate coast line, as well as the numerous islands that front it.

At various distances averaging about fifteen miles throughout, the extent of coast that we had surveyed, are situated small Spanish settlements; the population of each being about 150, some more, and perhaps some less. They are peopled by a kind of half-caste native and Manila people, speaking not very good Spanish, but acknowledging their allegiance to that country. These villages generally occupy a commanding position over the immediate neighbouring land, and are enclosed in a rude kind of stockade. A small portion of the ground is cleared, upon which rice, sweet potatoes, and tobacco is grown, although in quantities more than sufficient for their own consumption.

The people are employed collecting tortoise-shell, bees' wax, and trepang. A small traffic is carried on with the contiguous settlements by means of canoes, in the bows of which a brass swivel or 3-pound gun is generally to be seen to protect them, as they say, from the Moroos, a piratical tribe which visits them now and then from the southward in large prahus; possibly they are Bornean pirates, who carry on a systematic course of plunder here, as elsewhere, for wherever we have been, the people have invariably expressed themselves as continually labouring under anxiety from them. The houses are constructed of trebong, and built upon piles raised eight or ten feet from the ground.

The two most important settlements on the coast, are at a place called erroneously Port Taitai in our charts, and on the Island of Dumarran. The former is situated in the south-west extremity of a deep and spacious bay, which is interspersed with numerous coral patches, and fronted by several remarkable high precipitous islands, of limestone formation; reefs extend from these also, upon one of which the Royalist struck on the evening of the 15th of May.

The Spaniards first planted themselves here, in 1600, and erected a stockade upon the right bank of what is now a diminutive mangrove creek. It was however after a few years abandoned, and a permanent fortress, built of madrepore, was raised half-a-mile to the eastward, upon the extremity of a narrow isthmus, which is nearly isolated at high water; but when the tide is out (which rises and falls seven feet,) the sand dries considerably beyond it. The fort is in rather a dilapidated state, its walls (thirty feet high,) are surmounted by a narrow parapet, in the embrasures of which, six pieces of brass and honeycombed iron ordnance of 12-pound calibre, are very indifferently mounted. The garrison, if it may be so termed, consists of 100 half-caste Spanish and Manila soldiers, but these may be regarded more is a militia.

The population is said to consist of 600 persons, many of whom live, as they term it " in the mountains," that is, in the interior, where they

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