195. Rizal, Dapitan, 31 July 1894

  Condolence to the Blumentritt family - Rizal, abaca merchant - Teaching the people of Dapitan to revive their industries - Copy of Chau Ju-Kua's account of the Philippines? - He will publish his Tagalog Grammar as soon as he is free - He is learning Bisayan and teaching Dapitan boys - And Miss Loleng? - I can still see her running after us with her schoolbag, greeting us with her little hand and smiling with her eyes." - Rizal writes in different languages in order not to forget them - A mathematics book. - The path in the middle of a dark forest.

  Dapitan, 31 July 1894
  My Brother,

When I received your note today, I felt very sad. Though I did not come to know your father, I share your sorrow. My parents are also old and some day they will also go! Yes, how lonely we shall be in this world! Blessed are those who rest at last! When shall I be permitted to finish the work? May our father rest in peace!

My life passes peacefully and monotonously! To kill time and to be able to help a little the inhabitants of this place, I have become a merchant. I buy abaca and I send it to Manila. Luck has favored me this month; I made P200 in one stroke.

How is my German? I believe it is a little oxidized.(l)

You would certainly oblige me, my dear, if you send me a copy of that interesting account of the Chinese about my country.(2) Do you remember that Mr. Hirth's translation?

My Tagalog grammar about the Tagal is long ago finished: I intend to publish it as soon as I shall be set at liberty. It will bring to light so many things that I believe nobody thought of. I make references to the Bisaya, Malay, and Madecassis(3) according to Dr. Brandstetter.(4) Greet him, if you ever write to him. My life now is quiet, peaceful, retired and without glory, but I think it is useful too. I teach here the poor but intelligent boys reading, Spanish, English, mathematics, and geometry; moreover I teach them to behave like men. I taught the men here how to get a better way of earning their living and they think I am right. We have begun and success crowned our trials.

This Gewalttätigkeit exerced upon me gave me a new language, the Bisaya; taught me how to steer a vessel and to manage a canoe; made me better acquainted with my country and presented me with some thousands of dollars! God can send you your fortune amidst the persecutions of your fiends! How do you find my English?

You do not tell me about your dear family. How are Madame and little Mlle. Loleng? When I think of her (Loleng) I see her always following the coach with her schoolbag, running after us like a butterfly around a flower! The little one was greeting us with her charming little hand and smiling at us with her eyes. Ah, now she is no longer a child and one cannot play and frolic with her! The golden days of Leitmeritz, as you would say, are over, they are over. It is a delightful little vision that shall never be erased from my memory. Tell them for me that I kiss their hands!(5)

I try to write you in various languages because here I speak with no one in these tongues and I am forgetting them. Thanks to our friend A. B. Meyer I have German books. By the way, today I am sending him birds and animals. If he wishes to send me books in exchange, I would prefer that you suggest to him a good complete treatise on mathematics in French. You ought to know better than I the best authors of mathematics. I ask for French for its clarity and method. Is there something better than Cirode? If it should cost too much never mind. From Cebu certain Messrs. Koch send me Das Echo and Fliegende Blätter; from Manila the Ethnographic Review. I have a magazine, Scientific American, and from London thev send me the Saturday Review! I am well provided with reading matter. I operate on three or five patients a week. Many are poor but some pay.

I should like to close this letter in the language of Dante but it seems to me that what I knew before I have now forgotten. Lucky are you who are in Europe, in correspondence with literary men and scholars and you can exchange ideas whenever you please. As for me I am here

Nel nezzo del cammin' della mia vitta
ini una selva oscura ...(6)

Enough for now. Another time I shall be a little more discreet in my language.

  Your friend who never forgets you,

  I got operated my dear Mother of cataract. Thank God she is perfectly well now and can write and read with easy. She and my young sister send you their best friendship and to your dear family too.
(1) The following three paragraphs are in English.
(2) It refers to the travel account of the Chinese geographer Chau Ju-Kua in his book Chu-fan-tse in the last quarter of the XII century, in which he describes also the Philippine Archipelago under the name Ma-yi among the countries in the Far East visited by him.
(3) Could it be the Malagasi of Madagascar?
(4) Dr. Renward Brandstetter of Lucerne, distinguished student of the Malayans.
(5) This paragraph is in French. (6) From Dante Alighieri's La Divina Commedia, Canto I, stanza 1:
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.
(In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark wood,
where the straight way was lost.)
(7) In Rizal's English.

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created: July 30, 1996
updated: March 10, 1998
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