193. Rizal, Dapitan, 19 December 1898

  A poet's dream among the mists of the Rhine - Poor wing less butterfly dreaming of flowers and the pure atmosphere of other regions - From the present evil much future good will be gathered - A flower grows in the mire - From my present misfortune, I will get something good some day - I believe I have the seed - Specimen of natural history lost in the sinking of the Normandy - The Tagalog grammar is finished - His life in Dapitan - The impostor Pablo Mercado.

  Dapitan, 19 December 1893
 

Mr. Fernando Blumentritt

My dearest friend,

Tu solus fidelis reminisceris mei!(1) Your postcard with the affectionate New Year greetings of your family came to me like the fragrant breeze from the forests of pines. I saw again the Ringplatz where we had that little supper, the Ober Gymnasium, etc. And when so many remembrances again surge in my memory, I cannot help but exclaim with the poet Espronceda:

Dónde volaron, jay! aquellas horas,
De juventud, de amor, de ventura,
Regaladas de músicas sonoras
Adornadus de luz y de hermosura?
Imágenes de oro bullidoras,
Sus alas de carm ín y nieve pura
Al sol de mi esperanza desplegando
Volaban jay! en derredor cantando.(2)

But, everything has vanished, as you Germans say. The wings of the butterfly have been burnt in the beautiful radiance of light ... and the butterfly now lies on the ground thinking of the rays of the sun, of the flowers, and of the pure and tranquil atmosphere of other regions.

I become melancholy when I think of it a long time. Let time run! Non ragioniam di lor ma lascia passare e guarda, I add, quoting Dante.(3) I am very fatalistic, like an oriental that I am, and I believe that from the present evil can be gathered much future good - flowers grow in putrid manure. From my present misfortune, I shall get something good some day. I believe I have the seed. What will be, will be!

Another thing. Dr. Schadenberg writes me now that the Natural History I sent to A. B. Meyer has been lost in the sinking of the Normandy. It is a pity, because I was counting on getting some Russian books in exchange for that remittance.

My Tagalog grammar or rather, my studies on the Tagalog language, is now finished. When I finished it, I was the master of what I began. How true is what Cantú says: He who begins a book is not even the pupil of the one who finishes it. How I miss now the Kawi Sprache(2) of Humboldt that I have in my library at Hong Kong!

I am sending you enclosed some ferns and sampaguitas(4) gathered from my garden. Nimm den duftigen Hauch meines gartens an; es sind die Lieblingen, eines mussigen Verbanntes. Ich bin melancholisch gestimmt jetzt, Ich weiss nicht was soll es bedeuten,(5) as Heine said.

I am going to tell you how we live here. I have a square house, another hexagonal, and another octagonal - all made of bamboo, wood and nipa. In the square one my mother, my sister Trinidad, a nephew, and I live. In the octagonal my boys live - some boys whom I teach arithmetic, Spanish, and English - and now and then a patient who has been operated on. In the hexagonal are my chickens. From my house I hear the murmur of a crystalline rivulet that comes from the high rocks. I see the beach, the sea where I have two small crafts - two canoes or barotos, as they call them here. I have many fruit trees - mangoes, lanzone, guayabanos, baluno, nanka, etc. I have rabbits, dogs, cats, etc. I get up early - at 5:00. I visit my fields, I feed the chickens, I wake up my folks, and start them moving. At 7:30 we take breakfast - tea pastry, cheese, sweets, etc. Afterwards I treat my poor patients who come to my land. I dress and go to the town in my baroto, I treat the people there and I return at 12:00 and take lunch. Afterwards I teach the boys until 4:00 and I spend the afternoon farming. I spend the evening reading and studying.

My mother is very glad that you remember us and that the friendship you profess us has not diminished at all. She, like myself, and all those in the house wish you also a Happy New Year.

We are planning to celebrate Christmas at home. We shall remember you. I have made little paper lanterns to illuminate my garden.

A man(6) has come to me here sent by persons who are considered respectable by many with the object of wresting from me some papers and books. I did not wish to do anything against him, but I found out later, that he was posing as my relative, etc., etc., and so I reported him to the commander who immediately seized him and sent him to Manila. Et ille ipse declaravit, missum esse a monachis ven fratribus ex quibus receperat septuagita quinque dollars. (And he himself declared that he was sent by the friars from whom he received seventy-five pesos.)

I close this letter saying to you: Prosit Neujahr! (Happy New Year!) My family sends to yours the most affectionate wishes and regards.

  Your brother,
Rizal

 

The commander here is not called Lillo de Gracia but Mr. Juan Sitges y Pichardo; he is a physician.


(1) You alone faithful friend, remember me!
(2) Free translation :

Whereto, oh, did they fly - those hours
Of youth, of love, of fortune,
Caressed by sonorous tones
With light and beauty adorned?
Boisterous images of gold
Their wings of carmine and pure snow
To the sun of my hope unfolding
Alas, flew round about singing.
(3) From Dante Alighieri's La Divina Commedia, Canto III, stanza 17:

Fama di loro il mondo esser non lassa.
misericordia e giustizia li sdegna:
non ragioniam di lor, n2a guarda e passa.
(Report of them the world permits not to exist; Mercy and Justice disdains them: let us not speak of them; but look, and pass.)
(4) Nictantes sambac.
(5) Receive these fragrant breezes from my garden; they are the favorite of an idle exile. I am melancholy now-a-days, I do not know what it signifies.
(6) He refers to the impostor "Pablo Mercado". According to the investigation conducted by the gobernadorcillo of Dapitan, Mr. Anastacio Adriático; at the instance of Rizal, the true name of the impostor was Florencio Nanaman, as indicated in his personal cedula (certificate) and was thirty years old, single, and native of Cagayan de Misamis. He was sent to Rizal by the Recollect friars of Cagayan de Misamis to get from him some writings that would prove his separatist ideas. For his mission he was given decent clothes, a picture of Rizal, to enable him to identify him, a pair of buttons with the initials P.M., to make Rizal believe that he was really his relative Pablo Mercado, seventy pesos, and the promise of a generous reward upon his return should he succeed. (See Retana, Vida y escritos del Dr. José Rizal, Madrid, 1907, pp. 320-322.)

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updated: March 10, 1998
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