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Life of Jose Rizal: The Period of Preparation
« on: February 21, 2008, 09:31:24 pm »

The Period of Preparation

Rizal disembarked at Marseilles, saw a little of that famous port, and
then went by rail to Barcelona, crossing the Pyrenees, the desolate
ruggedness of which contrasted with the picturesque luxuriance
of his tropical home, and remained a day at the frontier town of
Port-Bou. The customary Spanish disregard of tourists compared very
unfavorably with the courteous attention which he had remarked on his
arrival at Marseilles, for the custom house officers on the Spanish
frontier rather reminded him of the class of employes found in Manila.

At Barcelona he met many who had been his schoolmates in the Ateneo
and others to whom he was known by name. It was the custom of the
Filipino students there to hold reunions every other Sunday at the
cafe, for their limited resources did not permit the daily visits
which were the Spanish custom. In honor of the new arrival a special
gathering occurred in a favorite cafe in Plaza de Catalonia. The
characteristics of the Spaniards and the features of Barcelona were
all described for Rizal's benefit, and he had to answer a host of
questions about the changes which had occurred in Manila. Most of his
answers were to the effect that old defects had not yet been remedied
nor incompetent officials supplanted, and he gave a rather hopeless
view of the future of their country. Somewhat in this gloomy mood,
he wrote home for a newly established Tagalog newspaper of Manila,
his views of "Love of country," an article not so optimistic as most
of his later writings.

In Barcelona he remained but a short time, long enough, however, to
see the historic sights around that city, which was established by
Hannibal, had numbered many noted Romans among its residents, and in
later days was the scene of the return of Columbus from his voyages in
the New World, bringing with him samples of Redskins, birds and other
novel products of the unknown country. Then there were the magnificent
boulevards, the handsome dwellings, the interest which the citizens
took in adorning their city and the pride in the results, and above
all, the disgust at all things Spanish and the loyalty to Catalonia,
rather than to the "mother-fatherland."

The Catalan was the most progressive type in Spain, but he had no
love for his compatriots, was ever complaining of their "manana"
habits and of the evils that were bound to exist in a country where
Church and State were so inextricably intermingled. Many Catalans were
avowedly republicans. Signs might be seen on the outside of buildings
telling of the location of republican clubs, unpopular officials
were hooted in the streets, the newspapers were intemperate in their
criticism of the government, and a campaign was carried on openly
which aimed at changing from a monarchy to a democracy, without any
apparent molestation from the authorities. All these things impressed
the lad who had seen in his own country the most respectfully worded
complaints of unquestionable abuses treated as treason, bringing not
merely punishment, but opprobrium as well.

He, himself, in order to obtain a better education, had had to leave
his country stealthily like a fugitive from justice, and his family, to
save themselves from persecution, were compelled to profess ignorance
of his plans and movements. His name was entered in Santo Tomas at the
opening of the new term, with the fees paid, and Paciano had gone to
Manila pretending to be looking for this brother whom he had assisted
out of the country.

Early in the fall Rizal removed to Madrid and entered the Central
University there. His short residence in Barcelona was possibly for
the purpose of correcting the irregularity in his passport, for in
that town it would be easier to obtain a cedula, and with this his
way in the national University would be made smoother. He enrolled in
two courses, medicine, and literature and philosophy; besides these
he studied sculpture, drawing and art in San Carlos, and took private
lessons in languages from Mr. Hughes, a well-known instructor of the
city. With all these labors it is not strange that he did not mingle
largely in social life, and lack of funds and want of clothes, which
have been suggested as reasons for this, seem hardly adequate. Jose had
left Manila with some seven hundred pesos and a diamond ring. Besides,
he received funds from his father monthly, which were sent through
his cousin, Antonio Rivera, of Manila, for fear that the landlords
might revenge themselves upon their tenant for the slight which his
son had cast upon their university in deserting it for a Peninsular
institution. It was no easy task in those days for a lad from the
provinces to get out of the Islands for study abroad.

Rizal frequently attended the theater, choosing especially the higher
class dramas, occasionally went to a masked ball, played the lotteries
in small amounts but regularly, and for the rest devoted most of
his money to the purchase of books. The greater part of these were
second-hand, but he bought several standard works in good editions,
many with bindings de luxe. Among the books first purchased figure
a Spanish translation of the "Lives of the Presidents of the United
States," from Washington to Johnson, morocco bound, gilt-edged,
and illustrated with steel engravings--certainly an expensive book;
a "History of the English Revolution;" a comparison of the Romans
and the Teutons, and several other books which indicated interest in
the freer system of the Anglo-Saxons. Later, another "History of the
Presidents," to Cleveland, was added to his library.

The following lines, said to be addressed to his mother, were written
about this time, evidently during an attack of homesickness:

  "You Ask Me for Verses"

  (Translated by Charles Derbyshire)

  You bid me now to strike the lyre,
  That mute and torn so long has lain;
  And yet I cannot wake the strain,
  Nor will the Muse one note inspire!
  Coldly it shakes in accents dire,
  As if my soul itself to wring,
  And when its sound seems but to fling
  A jest at its own low lament;
  So in sad isolation pent,
  My soul can neither feel nor sing.

  There was a time--ah, 'tis too true--
  But that time long ago has past--
  When upon me the Muse had cast
  Indulgent smile and friendship's due;
  But of that age now all too few
  The thoughts that with me yet will stay;
  As from the hours of festive play
  There linger on mysterious notes,
  And in our minds the memory floats
  Of minstrelsy and music gay.

  A plant I am, that scarcely grown,
  Was torn from out its Eastern bed,
  Where all around perfume is shed,
  And life but as a dream is known;
  The land that I can call my own,

  By me forgotten ne'er to be,
  Where trilling birds their song taught me,
  And cascades with their ceaseless roar,
  And all along the spreading shore
  The murmurs of the sounding sea.

  While yet in childhood's happy day,
  I learned upon its sun to smile,
  And in my breast there seemed the while
  Seething volcanic fires to play.
  A bard I was, and my wish alway
  To call upon the fleeting wind,
  With all the force of verse and mind:
  "Go forth, and spread around its fame,
  From zone to zone with glad acclaim,
  And earth to heaven together bind!"

  But it I left, and now no more--
  Like a tree that is broken and sere--
  My natal gods bring the echo clear
  Of songs that in past times they bore;
  Wide seas I cross'd to foreign shore,
  With hope of change and other fate;
  My folly was made clear too late,
  For in the place of good I sought
  The seas reveal'd unto me naught,
  But made death's specter on me wait.

  All these fond fancies that were mine,
  All love, all feeling, all emprise,
  Were left beneath the sunny skies,
  Which o'er that flowery region shine;
  So press no more that plea of thine,

  For songs of love from out a heart
  That coldly lies a thing apart;
  Since now with tortur'd soul I haste
  Unresting o'er the desert waste,
  And lifeless gone is all my art.

In Madrid a number of young Filipinos were intense enthusiasts over
political agitation, and with the recklessness of youth, were careless
of what they said or how they said it, so long as it brought no danger
to them. A sort of Philippine social club had been organized by older
Filipinos and Spaniards interested in the Philippines, with the idea
of quietly assisting toward improved insular conditions, but it became
so radical under the influence of this younger majority, that its
conservative members were compelled to drop out and the club broke
up. The young men were constantly holding meetings to revive it, but
never arrived at any effective conclusions. Rizal was present at some
of these meetings and suggested that a good means of propaganda would
be a book telling the truth about Philippine conditions and illustrated
by Filipino artists. At first the project was severely criticised;
later a few conformed to the plan, and Rizal believed that his scheme
was in a fair way of accomplishment. At the meeting to discuss the
details, however, each member of the company wanted to write upon the
Filipino woman, and therest of the subjects scarcely interested any of
them. Rizal was disgusted with this trifling and dropped the affair,
nor did he ever again seem to take any very enthusiastic interest in
such popular movements. His more mature mind put him out of sympathy
with the younger men. Their admiration gave him great prestige, but
his popularity did not arise from comradeship, as he had but very
few intimates.

Early in his stay in Madrid, Rizal had come across a second-hand
copy, in two volumes, of a French novel, which he bought to improve
his knowledge of that language. It was Eugene Sue's "The Wandering
Jew," that work which transformed the France of the nineteenth
century. However one may agree or disagree with its teachings and
concede or dispute its literary merits, it cannot be denied that it
was the most powerful book in its effects on the century, surpassing
even Mrs. Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin," which is usually credited
with having hurried on the American Civil War and brought about
the termination of African slavery in the United States. The book,
he writes in his diary, affected him powerfully, not to tears, but
with a tremendous sympathy for the unfortunates that made him willing
to risk everything in their behalf. It seemed to him that such a
presentation of Philippine conditions would certainly arouse Spain,
but his modesty forbade his saying that he was going to write a book
like the French masterpiece. Still, from this time his recollections
of his youth and the stories which he could get from his companions
were written down and revised, till finally the half had been prepared
of what was finally the novel "Noli Me Tangere."

Through Spaniards who still remembered Jose's uncle, he joined a
lodge of Masons called the "Acacia." At this time few Filipinos in
Spain had joined the institution, and those were mostly men much more
mature than himself. Thus he met leaders of Spanish national life who
were men of state affairs and much more sedate, men with broader views
and more settled opinions than the irresponsible class with whom his
school companions were accustomed to associate. A distinction must
be made between the Masonry of this time and the much more popular
institution in which Filipinos later figured so largely when Professor
Miguel Morayta became head of the Grand Lodge which for a time was
a rival of that to which the "Acacia" owed allegiance, and finally
triumphed over it.

In 1884 Rizal had begun his studies in English; he had been studying
French during and since his voyage to Spain; Italian was acquired
apparently at a time when the exposition of Genoa had attracted Spanish
interest toward Italy, and largely through the reading of Italian
translations of works which he knew in other languages. German, too,
he had started to study, but had not advanced far with it. Thus Rizal
was preparing himself for the travels through Europe which he had
intended to make from the time when he first left his home, for he
well knew that it was only by knowing the language of a country that
it would be possible for him to study the people, see in what way
they differed from his own, and find out which of their customs and
what lessons from their history might be of advantage to the Filipinos.

A feature in Rizal's social life was a weekly visit to the home of
Don Pablo Ortigas y Reyes, a liberal Spaniard who had been Civil
Governor of Manila in General de La Torre's time. Here Filipino
students gathered, and were entertained by the charming daughter of
the home, Consuelo, who was the person to whom were dedicated the
verses of Rizal usually entitled "a la Senorita C. O. y R."

In Rizal's later days he found a regular relaxation in playing chess,
in which he was skilled, with the venerable ex-president of the
short-lived Spanish republic, Pi y Margal. This statesman was accused
of German tendencies because of his inclination toward Anglo-Saxon
safeguards for liberty, and was a champion of general education as
a preparation for a freer Spain.

Rizal usually was present on public occasions in Filipino circles
and took a leading part in them, as, for example, when he delivered
the principal address at the banquet given by the Madrid Filipino
colony in honor of their artist countrymen, after Luna and Hidalgo
had won prizes in the Madrid National exposition. He was also at the
New Year's banquet when the students gathered in the restaurant to
bid farewell to the old and usher in the new year, and his was the
chief speech, summarizing the remarks of the others.

In 1885, having completed the second of his two courses, with his
credentials of licentiate in medicine and also in philosophy and
literature, Rizal made a trip through the country provinces to
study the Spanish peasant, for the rural people, he thought, being
agriculturists, would be most like the farmer folk of his native
land. Surely the Filipinos did not suffer in the comparison, for the
Spanish peasants had not greatly changed from the day when they were
so masterfully described by Cervantes. It seemed to Rizal almost like
being in Don Quixote's land, so many were the figures who might have
been the characters in the book.

The fall of '85 found Rizal in Paris, studying art, visiting the
various museums and associating with the Lunas, the Taveras and
other Filipino residents of the French capital, for there had been
a considerable colony in that city ever since the troubles of 1872
had driven the Tavera family into exile and they had made their home
in that city. In Paris a fourth of "Noli Me Tangere" was written,
and Rizal specialized in ophthalmology, devoting his attention to
those eye troubles that were most prevalent in the Philippines and
least understood. His mother's growing blindness made him covet the
skill which might enable him to restore her sight. So successfully
did he study that he became the favorite pupil of Doctor L. de
Weckert, the leading authority among the oculists of France, and
author of a three-volume standard work. Rizal next went to Germany,
having continued his studies in its language in the French capital,
and was present at Heidelberg on the five hundredth anniversary of
the foundation of the University.

Because he had no passport he could only attend lectures, but could
not regularly matriculate. He lived in one of the student boarding
houses, with a number of law students, and when he was proposed for
membership in the Chess Club he was registered in the Club books as
being a student of law like the men who proposed him. These Chess
Club gatherings were quite a feature of the town, being held in the
large saloons with several hundred people present, and the contests
of skill were eagerly watched by shrewd and competent judges. Rizal
was a clever player, and left something of a record among the experts.

The following lines were written by Rizal in a letter home while he
was a student in Germany:

  To the Flowers of Heidelberg

  (translation by Charles Derbyshire)

  Go to my native land, go, foreign flowers,
  Sown by the traveler on his way;
  And there beneath its azure sky,
  Where all of my affections lie;
  There from the weary pilgrim say,
  What faith is his in that land of ours!

  Go there and tell how when the dawn,
  Her early light diffusing,
  Your petals first flung open wide;
  His steps beside chill Neckar drawn,
  You see him silent by your side,
  Upon its Spring perennial musing.

  Saw how when morning's light,
  All your fragrance stealing,
  Whispers to you as in mirth
  Playful songs of love's delight,
  He, too, murmurs his love's feeling
  In the tongue he learned at birth.

  That when the sun on Koenigstuhl's height
  Pours out its golden flood,
  And with its slowly warming light
  Gives life vale and grove and wood,
  He greets that sun, here only upraising,
  Which in his native land is at its zenith blazing.

  And tell there of that day he stood,
  Near to a ruin'd castle gray,
  By Neckar's banks, or shady wood,
  And pluck'd you from beside the way;
  Tell, too, the tale to you addressed,
  And how with tender care,
  Your bending leaves he press'd
  'Twixt pages of some volume rare.

  Bear then, O flowers, love's message bear;
  My love to all the lov'd ones there,
  Peace to my country--fruitful land--
  Faith whereon its sons may stand,
  And virtue for its daughters' care;
  All those beloved creatures greet,
  That still around home's altar meet.

  And when you come unto its shore,
  This kiss I now on you bestow,
  Fling where the winged breezes blow;
  That borne on them it may hover o'er
  All that I love, esteem, and adore.

  But though, O flowers, you come unto that land,
  And still perchance your colors hold;
  So far from this heroic strand,
  Whose soil first bade your life unfold,
  Still here your fragrance will expand;
  Your soul that never quits the earth
  Whose light smiled on you at your birth.

From Heidelberg he went to Leipzig, then famous for the new studies
in psychology which were making the science of the mind almost as
exact as that of the body, and became interested in the comparison
of race characteristics as influenced by environment, history and
language. This probably accounts for the advanced views held by Rizal,
who was thoroughly abreast of the new psychology. These ideas were
since popularized in America largely through Professor Hugo Munsterberg
of Harvard University, who was a fellow-student of Rizal at Heidelberg
and also had been at Leipzig.

A little later Rizal went to Berlin and there became acquainted with
a number of men who had studied the Philippines and knew it as none
whom he had ever met previously. Chief among these was Doctor Jagor,
the author of the book which ten years before had inspired in him his
life purpose of preparing his people for the time when America should
come to the Philippines. Then there was Doctor Rudolf Virchow, head of
the Anthropological Society and one of the greatest scientists in the
world. Virchow was of intensely democratic ideals, he was a statesman
as well as a scientist, and the interest of the young student in the
history of his country and in everything else which concerned it,
and his sincere earnestness, so intelligently directed toward helping
his country, made Rizal at once a prime favorite. Under Virchow's
sponsorship he became a member of the Berlin Anthropological Society.

Rizal lived in the third floor of a corner lodging house not very
far from the University; in this room he spent much of his time,
putting the finishing touches to what he had previously written of
his novel, and there he wrote the latter half of "Noli Me Tangere"
The German influence, and absence from the Philippines for so long a
time, had modified his early radical views, and the book had now become
less an effort to arouse the Spanish sense of justice than a means of
education for Filipinos by pointing out their shortcomings. Perhaps a
Spanish school history which he had read in Madrid deserves a part of
the credit for this changed point of view, since in that the author,
treating of Spain's early misfortunes, brings out the fact that
misgovernment may be due quite as much to the hypocrisy, servility
and undeserving character of the people as it is to the corruption,
tyranny and cruelty of the rulers.

The printer of "Noli Me Tangere" lived in a neighboring street, and,
like most printers in Germany, worked for a very moderate compensation,
so that the volume of over four hundred pages cost less than a fourth
of what it would have done in England, or one half of what it would
cost in economical Spain. Yet even at so modest a price, Rizal was
delayed in the publication until one fortunate morning he received a
visit from a countryman, Doctor Maximo Viola, who invited him to take a
pedestrian trip. Rizal responded that his interests kept him in Berlin
at that time as he was awaiting funds from home with which to publish
a book he had just completed, and showed him the manuscript. Doctor
Viola was much interested and offered to use the money he had put
aside for the trip to help pay the publisher. So the work went ahead,
and when the delayed remittance from his family arrived, Rizal repaid
the obligation. Then the two sallied forth on their trip.

After a considerable tour of the historic spots and scenic places
in Germany, they arrived at Dresden, where Doctor Rizal was warmly
greeted by Doctor A. B. Meyer, the Director of the Royal Saxony
Ethnographical Institute. He was an authority upon Philippine matters,
for some years before he had visited the Islands to make a study of
the people. With a countryman resident in the Philippines, Doctor
Meyer made careful and thorough scientific investigations, and his
conclusions were more favorable to the Filipinos than the published
views of many of the unscientific Spanish observers.

In the Museum of Art at Dresden, Rizal saw a painting of "Prometheus
Bound," which recalled to him a representation of the same idea
in a French gallery, and from memory he modeled this figure, which
especially appealed to him as being typical of his country.

In Austrian territory he first visited Doctor Ferdinand Blumentritt,
whom Rizal had known by reputation for many years and with whom he had
long corresponded. The two friends stayed at the Hotel Roderkrebs,
but were guests at the table of the Austrian professor, whose wife
gave them appetizing demonstrations of the characteristic cookery
of Hungary. During Rizal's stay he was very much interested in a
gathering of tourists, arranged to make known the beauties of that
picturesque region, sometimes called the Austrian Switzerland, and
he delivered an address upon this occasion. It is noteworthy that
the present interest in attracting tourists to the Philippines, as
an economic benefit to the country, was anticipated by Doctor Rizal
and that he was always looking up methods used in foreign countries
for building up tourists' travel.

One day, while the visitors were discussing Philippine matters with
their host, Doctor Rizal made an off hand sketch of Doctor Blumentritt,
on a scrap of paper which happened to be at hand, so characteristic
that it serves as an excellent portrait, and it has been preserved
among the Rizal relics which Doctor Blumentritt had treasured of the
friend for whom he had so much respect and affection.

With a letter of introduction to a friend of Doctor Blumentritt in
Vienna, Nordenfels, the greatest of Austrian novelists, Doctor Viola
and Doctor Rizal went on to the capital, where they were entertained
by the Concordia Club. So favorable was the impression that Rizal
made upon Mr. Nordenfels that an answer was written to the note of
introduction, thanking the professor for having brought to his notice
a person whom he had found so companionable and whose genius he so
much admired. Nordenfels had been interested in Spanish subjects,
and was able to discuss intelligently the peculiar development of
Castilian civilization and the politics of the Spanish metropolis as
they affected the overseas possessions.

After having seen Rome and a little more of Italy, they embarked for
the Philippines, again on the French mail, from Marseilles, coming
by way of Saigon, where a rice steamer was taken for Manila.

Produced by Jeroen Hellingman and Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders


A Study of the Growth of Free Ideas in the Trans-Pacific American






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