Correspondence of Rizal to his Family 1876


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      Just as in Spain I had for fellow travelers an Englishman and two Frenchmen whose company I quiet enjoyed, especially that of the Englishman who was traveling to learn Spanish; in France my fellow travelers were two Spaniards who were going to London to study English. We passed through Bourdeaux, Poitiers, Tours, Blois, and Orleans until Paris. I mention here only the first class cities. Many memories were awakened in my mind at the sight of these cities full of history or that fill history, above all the heroes of novels whose lives were supposed to have been spent in those places, like the Three Musketeers, etc. etc. The environs of Paris are very beautiful and very picturesque. There are little houses with gardens and the churches, like all those we have seen along the road, are of Gothic style, so pure, so tall are their turrets that with the landscape they form and constitute the enchantment of the traveler. From Hendaye on, the politeness and urbanity of the people are noticeable; if you address anyone, he replies amiably and takes off his hat, and when you pay or given them anything, they don’t fail to thank you, just as for the slightest collision or stumbling, they ask you for pardon or excuse. In Paris it is even more so. What Grant says that the English in comparison with the French are barbarians, I can apply to myself. Having been accustomed to a certain kind of treatment for many months, now that I’m in Paris, I find myself and I consider myself almost rude. This is the great generality.

      Well then, as I was saying, I arrived at Paris Sunday morning and stopped at the hotel where Filipinos use to stay and where Zamora (1) is. My room costs me seven pesos a month, without board or light, for here everything is dear.

      Early in the morning I went out for a stroll, and by the long time that I walked and the little I covered, I can imagine how big is this city that they call “Babylon.” Fill with magnificent houses the entire area of Calamba, Cabuyao, and Santa Rosa and you’ll have Paris more or less. That is the way I figure it out because to traverse it in a coach from one extreme to the other takes more than an hour and a half. Here man is a real ant; there are streets whose ends cannot be seen and nevertheless they are straight, wide and very well laid out, shops and department stores everywhere; coaches for hire are said to reach 25,000. Passers-by animate and throng the streets, the restaurants, cafés, bouillons, beer halls, parks and monuments. On every street, however small it may be, there is at least one hotel and these hotels are filled up with travelers from all parts of the world who come and go, so that there are always seen new faces, trunks, and suitcases everywhere, different attires, strange types, including us. Here they call us Japanese, because there are a large number of them around.

      On the first day I did nothing else but walk and walk. I saw the Champs Elysées is an extensive park from the Place de la Concorde to the Arch of the Carousel, wide and long, filled with trees, with theaters on both sides in which plays and concerts are held at night, with cafés, exhibitions, flowers, and plants. There many persons go to sew under the trees or to read. There are children with their nurses, etc., etc. The Champs Elysées at night is full of people.

      The Vendôme Column (2) is tall and big, full of bas-reliefs depicting the wars of Napoleon in Germany, crowned by his statue holding in his hand the symbol of victory and a globe. He wears the emperor’s attire.

      I’ve not yet seen the Theater of the Opera except its exterior; it is magnificent and elegant and worthy of Paris. As to the rest, La Ilustración (3) that we have has its picture. It is crowned with magnificent groups of gilded allegorical figures.

      The Peace de la Concorde is an immense and wide circle inside which stands the Obelisk of Luxor. Matrons seated around it represent the principal French cities. The principle Stasbourg, formerly belonged to France and now to Germany, is also represented there, but in mourning and with a crown of everlasting and funereal decorations. (4)

      The Church of the Madeleine is stately, beautiful, and purely of Grecian style. It is an imposing edifice and presents a beautiful view. It is open for worship.

      For the sake of economy the majority of the people in Paris eat at the restaurants or bouillons. The Bouillons Duval of the butcher Duval are found everywhere; they are neat and clean and one can eat in them quite well for two and a half pesetas. Those who wait on tables are women and the food is good and inexpensive. We usually go there.

      The first evening we went to the theater. This is the most sumptuous public edifice I’ve seen until the present. It is of Indian architecture, fantastically grandiose, full of mirrors and illuminated with electric light, decorated with gigantic statues. Indian also: Elephant heads and those fanciful drawings in which gold, red, and blue are combined to form a strange mass that creates a vivid impression. Huge mirrors, conveniently placed, prolong the series of columns so that one imagines himself inside a very extensive temple in Ellora (5) or Mahabalipur. The troupe of dancers performing there is composed of three hundred persons, and allegorical dances, like the “Excelsior” in which is shown the victory of Progress over the evil genius, exhausting all the advances of the art of scenography, employing lavishly tinsel, costumes, and electric light jointly with magic, are held there every night for the enchantment of Parisians and foreigners.

      The floor of the houses here, like those over there is made of wood and waxed unlike in Madrid which is of brick or flagstone. The least one can spend daily for board and lodging is 7 pesetas.

      The following day, the 18th, we Zamora, Cunanan, (6) and I, visited the Laennec Hospital (7) and we were present at the treatment of patients by Dr. Nicaise. I marveled at the progress and facilities found in this small hospital, superior to those of San Carlos at Madrid. As they all took us for Japanese here, they told us they would introduce us to Mr. Saint Rémy who was in Japan for a long time. I took charge of clearing up the confusion.

      We had a quick look at the establishment they call Bon Marché (literally cheap), one of the four or five very big department stores here, the others being La Louvre, Le Printemps, La Belle Jardiniére, and others. In these establishments are sold all kinds of articles except food, though I believe I have seen a café and a restaurant. It occupies an entire block with all the floors of the buildings as large as the space between our house and the telegraph office. So that you may be able to form an idea of how big it is, it keep 150 Norman and English horses whose only work is to deliver the purchases of buyers, the horses occupying an entire large building. With respect to Norman horses, mine, though small, resembles them closely for its broad haunches and thick musculature. They serve only as draft horses and they are very strong; there are some that are like elephants.

      We have seen the church of Notre Dame of Paris in which for 50 cents we were shown the treasures, relics, sacred vessels, the gifts of different sovereigns, vestments of the most famous cardinals and archbishops; we went up the tower which reminded me much of Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris upon seeing the sculptured monsters that served as decoration. There we were shown the bells called bourdon and the one taken from Sevastopol. (8)

      We saw many buildings besides from outside, but as I’m thinking of visiting them all, I shall tell you about them later.

      On the 20th we visited the Lariboisiére Hospital where Pardo (Felix) (9) is an extern and there we attended the examination of various women’s diseases.

      On the 21st, after attending an operation performed by Dr. Duplay, we went to the Jardin d’Acclimation located outside of Paris in the Bois de Boulogne. There we found plants of all kinds and birds most rare and beautiful. Everything that the imagination can conceive in forms and colors is there: Sparrows, from the paquing (10) to the multicolored bird representing the entire color scale all species of doves, the rarest chickens, parrots, etc. etc., ostriches, cranes, cassowaries, elephants, seals, deer, oxen, gazelle, giraffe, zebra, horses, etc. and even men of different countries are exhibited there with their customs and manners. There is also an aquarium where through the glass may be seen eels, corals, and sponges, and from the red fish to the green, blue, and even black specimens. There is also a small place set aside for the hatching or artificial incubation of chicken eggs. The eggs are placed in boxes with a temperature of 39 degrees. Their method of fattening them quickly is by keeping them in narrow boxes to impede their movement and feeding them through a tin tube that reaches until the stomach or crew with corn that does not pass through the mouth. In fifteen days they become so fat that nothing more can be desired.

      Inside the Jardin d’Acclimatation there are also tramways that take tourists or sightseers around. There are cafés, restaurants, concerts, an equestrian school, gymnasium, and even water closets. Trees of all kinds shade the roads and there are flowers and roses of different shapes and colors.

      Until now I haven’t seen more than this.

      Henceforth, as I do more sightseeing, I shall write you more. Unfortunately it costs something to go sightseeing, for one has to pay for transportation, tickets, and tips; and then Paris is so big and so complicated that one gets lost easily on any street.

      It is very possible that this letter may go together with my letter from Madrid and consequently this will serve only as a description. On 1st July I intend to move to the Latin Quarter where the cost of living is a little cheaper.

      (The rest of the letter is missing.)


     (1) Dr. Filipe Zamora, wealthy Filipino physician who was at Paris for specialization. Returning to the Philippines, he became a famous obstetrician and general practitioner. He also resided at Saigon, practicing his profession.

     (2) The Vendôme Column is 44 meters high covered with the bronze of 1,200 canons taken from the enemy by the Grand Army of Napoleon in 1805.
     (3) La Illustración Española y Americana, an illustrated magazine published at Madrid, to which Rizal’s family was a subscriber.
     (4) As a result of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) France lost Alsance and Lorraine and she didn’t cease to mourn her loss until 1918 when she regained them after the First World War (1914-1918). Strasbourg is the capital city of Alsance.
     (5) A temple carved in the rock in Hyderabad, India.
     (6) Mariano Cunanan, wealthy landowner of Pampanga, who was then studying agriculture at Paris. It was he who offered to finance the Colegio Moderno that Rizal planned to establish at Hong Kong.
     (7) Named after the eminent French physician René Laennéc (1781-1826), discoverer of auscultation [a listening, often with the aid of a stethoscope, to sounds in the chest, abdomen, etc. so as to determine the condition of the heart, lungs, etc.].
     (8) A naval base on the Criméa, laid siege during the Crimean War, 1854-1855.
     (9) A Filipino physician and noted sculptor, brother of Dr. T. H. Pardo de Tavera.
     (10)Also called mayang-paking in Tagalog, or Luzon brown weaver, Munie Cabanisi.

Tour of Paris continued -- National Panorama -- Palace of Industry -- Hotel Dieu --Museum of Orfila -- Jardin des Plantes -- Luxembourg Palace -- Hotel des Invalides

Paris, 124 Rue de Rennes, Quarter Latin (1)

My dear parents and brothers,

      In my previous letter of the 21 or 22 June I gave you some slight information about the various buildings and monuments that I have seen in this great city. As a mail boat is leaving tomorrow for that part of the world, I write you this to continue giving you some ideas, however slight, of all that I have seen since then.

      It seems to me that in my previous letter I concluded with my visit to the Jardin d’Acclimtation. I shall begin this then with the Summer Circus. This is an area or circus like any other set alongside for gymnastic or equestrian performances, located almost at the end of the Champs Elysées. The artists who perform there are of the kind of Chiarini, (2) though inferior in quality and number to those of the Italian impresario. However, despite the fact that Paris is a capital of numberless types of entertainment and despite the mediocrity of slight importance of this spectacle, the theater is always full to the brim, doubtless owing to the many foreigners who invade it and the many adventures -- men and women -- who seem to have made a rendezvous there.

      The National Panorama (3) is like all those of its kind. If you remember those of Marseille and Madrid that I described to you previously, you can form an approximate idea of it. Only that in that of Paris can be seen what it was in the time of the Franco-Prussian War. They are the Battle of Champigny and the horrors inside the city of Paris. This panorama is well as the Summer Circus and the Palace of Industry are all in the Champs Elysées of Monte Cristo. (4)

      The Palace of Industry is a very big building constructed in 1855 and designed for diverse exhibitions of arts and trades. Admission usually costs 2 francs or 50 centimes on Sundays and Thursdays. There I saw an exhibition of Japanese painting and many men and women, principally foreign artists who took me for one from Japan, and they approached me and asked me for information about it. I gave them and told them all that I knew and when I could I escaped through the history of Japan and her old modern constitution. I spoke a little about the Japanese artists, whose biographies I knew, like Totsugueu, Senko, Nampo, and others. They asked me about their methods and they were enchanted. But then it occurred to one of the young ladies to ask me about the meaning of those characters written below the paintings and I found myself in a tight spot, for fearing that there might be someone among those various visitors who understood Japanese characters, they would catch me in the very act of telling a lie. Then I told them that the mikado, having set up Japan in European style, had sent us to Europe since we were very young and we have become Europeanized, which added to the difficulty of Japanese writing, which was not as simple as the European, explained why we have not studied our native tongue. In Europe, or rather in France, all those who are of our type and are dressed like them are Japanese (Chinese in Spain); likewise, all who wear a beard are called Castilas (Spaniards). In this exhibition I saw also very beautiful paintings and sculptures by European artists, precious stones, antiquities, furniture belonging to different epochs, weapons, Indians, Muslim, and Hebrew books, tiles, jars, and others. I spent there about three hours, although I went around running, I admired above all a painting of a nymph asleep in moonlight among clouds and mist.

      The Hotel Dieu is a big hospital of three stories, magnificently and hygienically built, with courts and gardens, on the Ile de la Cité on the Siene. It has five floors on each side. Taking us for some attachés of the embassy (without our telling it) they showed us everything including the kitchens that serve by means of small tramways. It is very clean and if I’m not mistaken, the hospital accommodates very comfortably 300 patients. Inside one observes complete silence and circumspection. It is truly a refuge for the sick. It has magnificent verandahs where convalescents take a walk.

      The Museum of Orfila (5) is of the greatest importance to students of medicine. All can go there to study human and comparative anatomy including its innermost secrets, from the comparative anatomy including its innermost secrets, from the dwarf to the giant, the fish to man, from the cell to the organ. There is a table there made by an Italian and presented, I believe, to Napoleon III. This table is made of human livers, intestines, bones, flesh, lungs, and ears. The learned Italian knew how to harden them in such a way that they became as hard as marble and these different substances of the human body formed fanciful designs; however I believe that there are many persons who will not dare to eat on that table. The process is unknown, the secret having been lost, it seems.

      There was also the picture of a famous dwarf, scarcely three handbreadths tall. He was a nobleman, attired in the same garb that he wore when he was living. But the characteristic of this dwarf is that he is neither deformed nor hunchbacked nor is his head big like others; he is, on the contrary, very well proportioned: a head like an orange, proportionally tiny hands, feet, and legs, and a very pleasant and winsome face. They say he was very learned, very affable and polite, and lived 30 years or more.

      I saw there among various seeds casuy (acajou, pronounced ahachu), and lumbang. (6) Every day affords free admission.

      The Jardin des Plantes is the name of a large area very near the Seine, full of plants of different kinds, with museums of zoology, geology, and another of skeletons only. There were also an infinite number of animals. I was able only to go through the different sections for plants, to see the ducks, geese, deer, six or seven tigers, as many lions (one lioness enclosed with a cub), bears, panthers, wild boar, hogs, dogs, oxen, ounces, jaguars, large and small snakes, vipers, tortoises, eight or nine crocodiles stretched out in the sun, fish, etc. All of these were fed and tended in accordance with their different temperaments, like the boas and snakes with woolen blankets over them, the crocodiles with their ponds, the tortoises the same etc. The government has professors there to conduct courses in botany, zoology, and geology free to the public. There are also gigantic skeletons of whales, cachalots, (7) and other animals. I’m planning to come back some seven times to see the museums. The public is admitted free. I don’t know if I have already told you and if not, I’m going to say it now, that here the people go to the free public gardens and promenades; the men to stroll or study, and also some women who bring sewing basket, sit on the benches under the trees, and there work better than at their homes, and nobody bothers them. It is here that I see this for the first time, and thus they spend the day on the Champ Elysées, Palais Royal, Luxemgbourg Jarden des Plantes, etc.

      Here there are also water closets on the streets where for 15 centimes one can use them and they even provide one with soap. There is excessive cleanliness. This is very convenient in these big cities just like the free urinals profusely distributed as in Madrid also.

      As to the Luxembourg Garden I have seen only a part of it. When I shall have seen it better, I’ll give you some information about it. Of the Luxembourg Palace I have seen only the museum of painting and sculpture of living artists. There are magnificent paintings there I knew through the illustrations in El Mundo Ilustrado, (8) superb marble statues that it would be impossible for me to enumerate. The principal ones are those by Sulambo, “St. John the Baptist,” by Titian, Raphael, de Vinci, and others. All the artists from Clouet to those of our time represent the French school and their art can be studied step by step. Attracting attention are two paintings by Lethiére (9) -- “The Death of Cleopatra” and “Brutus Condemning his Two Sons.” The father, as consul, is seated beside another who hides his face in his mantle; at Brutus’ feet lies the head of his son, his body being carried away by others; the executioner is standing; the other son is ready to die; they implore and beg the father to spare the life of his son: Brutus, inflexible, somber, silent, meditating, not daring to look at his son, with his hands twitched, is pallid. It is a sublime painting. Also shown are the following: “Battles of Napoleon” by Gros, and “Endymion Asleep in the Moonlight,” and the grand painting of “Cain and Abel” by Prud'hon. On this floor is located also what is called Apollo Gallery, because of a painting of this god on the ceiling. One who has not seen this gallery cannot form an idea of what a palace would be like. Profusely decorated, gilt, painting, sculpture, precious stones-- all these vie for the attention of the dazed visitor. . I refrain from describing it.

      There is a hall in which the jewels of kings and queens are exhibited: Scepters, crowns, rings, necklaces, etc. Another hall is full of pencil, pen, and sepia sketches by great painters. Other halls are full of Grecian, Roman, and Etruscan jars and amphorae taken from Pompeii and other excavations so numerous that there are enough for the whole province of Laguna.

      On the third floor there are also paintings: The Museum of the Navy, the Chinese, and de Lesseps.

      I believe that to study this museum well, one year, going there every day would not suffice; in the superficial way I do it, three or four days are enough. It is open to the public except on Monday, and admission is free. There I saw the room and alcove where Henry IV died. Catherine de Medici must have walked through the same places as we do.

      I Saw last the Hotel des Invalides where the tomb of Napoleon I (in the church of St. Louis), beneath the cupola, is. The tomb is simple, grandiose, imposing, worthy of the genius of the great man. In a circular crypt, 10 or 15 meters in diameter, is placed the sarcophagus of well-polished reddish stone, without unnecessary decorations. It is of a single piece, four meters long, two meters wide; it contains his remains. A laurel mosaic wreath and twelve colossal white marble statues representing his most famous victories surrounded it. Everything there is serious and imposing and the light that comes from the cupola augments further the effects. Foreigners and even the English stand there fixedly in veneration and respect. Behind the main altar is the entrance to the crypt made of dark marble with two colossal caryatides bearing crown, scepter, sword, and the globe on cushions. They seem to be the somber guardians -- two giants guarding the sepulcher of a demi-god. Above are inscribed the words in his testaments. (10) The tombs of Bertrand, (11) Duroc, Turenne, Vauban, and Jerome and Joseph Bonaparte surround that of Napoleon

      From there one goes to the Museum of Artillery, of armors, where those of the most famous kings are, the guns of the Louis’s, Henry’s, and even of Napoleon, the swords from the primitive ones of stone to those of the generals of the republic, empire, and restoration. One may encounter flags, seized trophies, cannons, Japanese and Chinese weapons, garbs of different warriors of Oceania, Africa, and America, the armor of the Gauls, Greeks, and Romans -- all of these are models. It seems incredible but the costumes and weapons of the savages of the small islands of Borneo are found there but those of the Philippines are not even remembered. There was also one of the Emperor of China, full of gold and diamonds that was seized during the war.

      The Hotel des Invalides is a grand edifice built by Louis XIV to provide shelter for poor soldiers. It has 5,000 rooms, but only 600 live there. Everything there radiates discipline and there are old military men or those without legs, arms, etc. The spirit of Napoleon I pervades its atmosphere and the impression produced by the whole is special. It could be said that it is the mansion of remembrance; because I know not what loneliness there is wherever death, old age, and misfortune dwell. There is even a statue of a marshal of Napoleon with an amputated leg. It is the refuge of the aged, victims of other’s passions.

      This is all that I have seen until now.

      As you must have noted I’m now in the Latin Quarter because where I was before was expensive and here I can live for less than six pesetas a day, and, moreover, this house is much better.

      Undoubtedly, whatever they may like to say, the French are very affable, at least on the outside, and this is noticeable not only among the upper classes but also among the poor and middle class. As I was saying, I now live alone, because Zamora and Cunanan had gone to London. My landlady, Madame Desjardins, belongs to the middle class, as we, my Comadre Juliana over there would say. Well then, the first day we ate . . . (The rest of the letter is missing.)


     (1) The Latin Quarter, the district in which are located the Sorbonne, Institute of France, and Luxembourg, famous for its Bohemian life.

     (2) An Italian showman who brought a troupe twice to the Philippines; once in 1882 and again in 1890 or 1891.
     (3) About the Panorama at Marseille, see his letter number 15 anté.
     (4) Rizal’s family possessed the biggest private library in Calamba. Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo was widely read in the Philippines and Rizal read it when he was only 12 years old, a student at the Atenéo Municipal.
     (5) Named after Mathieu Orfila (1787-1853). French physician and chemist, who made important contributions to toxicology.
     (6) Tangantangan or Solanum sanctum; tuba, Croton tiglium; lumbang, Aleuritis molucca Willd.
     (7) Sperm whale.
     (8) An illustrated publication in Rizal’s home library at Kalamba.
     (9) Guillaume Lethiére (1760-1832). French painter.
     (10)Above the entrance to the chapel of the Hotel des Invalides were inscribed the following words: “Je désire que mes cendres reposent sur les bords de la Seine au milieu de ce peuple francais que j’ai tant aimé.” (“I wish my ashes to rest on the banks of the Seine amidst the French people I have loved so much.”) This was written by Napoleon at St. Helena, where he was exiled, in the codicil to his testament on 16 April 1821, twenty days before his death. His wish was fulfilled on 15 December 1840 when his bones were brought to Paris and deposited in the chapel of the Hotel des Invalides by order of King Louis Philippe of Orleans.

     (11)Geraud Christophe-Michel Duroc (1772-1844), French general and grand marshal under the empire / Count Henri-Gratien Bertrand (1773-1844), faithful aide-de-camp of Napoleon I who stayed with him during the period of his exile at Elba and St. Helena. It was he who brought Napoleon’s bones to Parish in 1840. / Vicomte Henri de la Tour d’Auvergne Turenne (1611 - 1675), French marshal. Marquis Sebastian de Vauban (1633 - 1707), French military engineer and marshal of France. / Jerome Bonaparte (1784 - 1860), king of Westphalia and marshal of France, brother of Napoleon I. Joseph Bonaparte (1768 - 1844), king of Spain (1801 - 1813), brother of Napoleon I.

Tour of Paris continued -- The Bullier -- Musée de Grivín -- The Louvre Museum -- Its vastness and treasures.

[Paris, July 1883]

(Words in the letter are missing) *

      . . . . boy, energetic and inspired, unlike those we have over there who are effeminate and phlegmatic; one Eve, the Sibyl of Cumae, Abel, etc. Among the paintings the most notable was a Roman orgy, in the period of decadence, in the presence of the statues of the virtuous patricians of the republican epoch and the consulate. Judging by the grave looks of the statues it seems that their shadows are irritated by; the sight of the imprudent bacchanals. The death of Julius Caesar, a grand painting reproduced in Cantu’s. (1) The last days of Corinth and the capture of Jerusalem give an idea of the horrors of the sack of a city. Virginia, lying dead on the beach, is a poetic and melancholy composition. Cain fleeing with his family is frightful; the birth of Venus by Bouguereau seems like morbid and elastic flesh, and other paintings that vie in beauty.

      The Bullier is a dance hall to which all students go and even those who are not. They go there to dance frenetically and the hall, despite its spaciousness, is full of men and women. The French dance consists of walking to and fro and twirling. The quadrille is a dance in which the men make contortions like puppets. I don’t understand it except the drunken or mad enthusiasm of the dancers. There we met some personages of various embassies, and as we were there -- Zamora, Cunanan, and I -- they said in a low voice that we were perhaps the envoys of Tonkin sent there to settle the question of the war. The admission fee is one peseta.

      The Musée de Grévin belongs to a private person and being such one has to pay 2 francs to enter it. Exhibited there are wax figures of famous personages that are so accurate and lifelike that one is completely deceived. There are wax figures of Bismarck, Garibaldi, Arabi, Czar Alexander II, Alexander III at his coronation, De Lesseps, Victor Hugo, Skobeleff, Sarah Bernhardt, Gambetta, Emilie Zola, Alphonse Daudet, Gounod, and others.

      I visited also the Louvre Museum and to go through it rapidly I spent three days, from 10 o’clock in the morning until 5 o’clock in the afternoon without rest. That was filled with foreigners. The Louvre -- that old palace of Francis I that his royal successors went on embellishing, that resisted so many centuries, wars, and revolutions, the theater of the plots and mysteries of the Valois, Medicis, and Bourbons -- is perhaps the most important edifice of Paris. It stands on the bank of the Seine. Its exterior is quite severe, somber, and august, in spite of its numerous sculptures, bas-relief, and other decorations that bear the stamp of the different conquering races. The Commune burnt part of it down. It is very big and perhaps as long s from Capitana Danday’s porter’s lodge to that of Captain Basio or longer. Its courts are immense and can serve for horseback riding for twenty-five equestrians galloping at full speed. When I recall as I look at it so many histories, so many events, so many crimes, as well as so many glories, that took place there, it seems to me that momentarily a historic face would appear on its balconies. But times have changed and there no longer strolls through its immense galleries neither a Francis I nor a Henry Ii to meet Gabriel of Montgomery, nor ailing Francis II with Mary Stuart, nor Charles X, silent and pensive, unhappy in his youth, nor the criminal Henry III nor Henry IV with his court -- nothing of this sort is now seen. Instead of the ladies, soldiers, musketeers, pages, and nobles, instead of the Guises, (2) Bueil, (3) Bayards, (4) only curious Englishmen, Germans in dark suits are seen there and nevertheless the places are the same, the same staircases worn out by so many generations, the same alcoves and even the same paintings.

      The entire ground floor is occupied by the following: the Egyptian and Assyrian museum, Greek and Roman sculpture, the Christian, Renaissance, and modern sculpture, and the antiquities of Asia Minor. In the Egyptian museum on the ground floor are colossal sphinxes, Isis, Osiris, and Apis; chapels constructed by a single stone, that is, monoliths, cippus, Egyptian sepulchers, also monoliths, papyrus with inscriptions, paintings, sacred vessels; and going upstairs one sees Egyptian objects pertaining to worship, civil life, sepulchers, mummies, idols, crocodiles, cats, dogs, and birds all mummified -- the whole world, the whole social, political, civil, and religious life, seemingly a mute corpse but, in fact, expressive and eloquent, that tells us about the past, the past grandeur, sufferings, and crimes perhaps. The impression that these objects make on the visitor is sad. On seeing them one is carried back to the temples of Karnak, of Philae, or to the pyramids built by so many Pharaonic dynasties. But it is observed that religion is the most common stamp of Egyptian life which is not so among the Assyrians. In the Assyrian Museum are big, enormous pieces of stone with colossal bas-relief (see Cantu) of men with body of a bull and with wings. There are statues of the Assyrian Hercules who choked lions without effort, friezes, capitals, bas-relief of the chase, animals, and sacrifices belonging to the palaces of Nineveh and Babylon, of the Khorsabad, built by; Sennacherib, Sardanapalus, and others. There are also Phoenician sarcophagi of marble and others, or because it recalls very ancient times -- cities enveloped in the dust of ruins and destruction -- the truth is that it is desolate and recalls those feasts of Balthazar, Semiramis, Nisus, Cyrus, and Darius. I imagined the mysterious hand writing, “Mine, Tekel, Parsin.” (5)

      The Asiatic antiquities (of Asia Minor) demonstrate the cradle of Greek art. In this museum are seen archaic statues. From the standardized, symbolic, religious rigidity art little by little developed Hellenic grace and elegance. But attracting attention are two enormous pieces, pieces of fluted column from a Greek temple (Apollo Didyma) of two and a half meters in diameter. If one would reconstruct in his imagination the building whose columns are before him and he recalls the elegant proportions of Greek art, this temple, in my opinion, must be gigantic and larger than the known ones. Friezes of combats of amazons show that the warriors seize them forthwith by the hair in fighting them.

      The museum of antique marbles, or rather Greek and Roman sculpture is the largest collection I have seen of first class works, though it is said that it does not surpass the great ones of Italy. There a complete course in mythology can be studied by just looking at the statues and groups. Another course may be had on Roman history with the busts of the consuls and emperors as well as with their statues. The very celebrated “Venus of Milo” is there, recognized as the best of all despite its being without arms; a colossal Melpomene of four meters. The statues that I had seen only in pictures are all there and one spends three hours in going through them superficially and comes out of it with a confused imagination. Christian sculpture presents a great contrast to that of the pagan, and in spite of its infancy it gives nothing but a feeling of grace and beauty, of mysticism, something that speaks of heaven and the soul.

      The sculpture of the Renaissance and of the modern period despises the pagan and scarcely deigns to cast a glance at the Christian. It is indeed beautiful, genuine, elegant, grandiose, and, at times, sublime. Calling attention are two slaves by Michaelangelo, a Diana by Coujon, and several by Pudget and Coustou.

      The second floor is assigned to painting and Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities, and jewels of the kings of France. There are the Italian school with Leonardo de Vinci, Raphael, Titian, and Correggio with their best virgins; the Dutch with their landscapes by Ruysdael, Bergheim, and others; the German and Sebald Behann, Helbein, and others; the Flemish with Rubens and Van Dyck; the Spanish with Murillo, Valasquez, and Rivera among which is the great “Concepción” by Murillo alongside the masterpieces . . . . (The rest of the letter is missing)


      * One assumes that the fragment of this letter is to Rizal’s parents, judging from its similarity to his preceding letters to them about Paris.

     (1) Cesar Cantu’s History of the World was a very popular book then. Rizal read it at the age of 12 when he was studying at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila.

     (2) Name of a powerful French noble family: Duke of Guise (1519 - 1563). Henri I de Lorraine (1550 - 1588), and others.
     (3) Jean de Bueil (1405 - 1480), called “The Scourge of the English,” associated with the glory of Jeanne d’Arc.
     (4) Cierre du Terrail, Lord Baynard (1473 - 1524), French captain, whose bravery and generosity aroused the admiration even of his enemies, winning him the appellation of “Knight without fear and without reproach.”
     (5) "Counted, weighed, divided,” the ominous words that appeared mysteriously on the wall of the banquet hall of King Balthazar.

Studying French at Paris -- Cost of living -- Regrets passing of Fr. Leoncio López -- The pro-friar Fr. Villafranca

124 Rue de Rennes, Paris

20 July 1883

My dear brother,

      I received your letter, I have read it, and I thank you for what you tell me for various reasons. I was going to give you in this letter my little descriptions of Paris but as I have no time and I have to answer first your letter, I’ll do everything possible now, leaving the rest for the second mail in case I can’t finish. I don’t know if the success of your harvest satisfies you and you consider it worthy of your efforts and toil, but I believe that you ought not to get discouraged because of this as I’m hurrying to finish my studies, go home, and be useful to the family and to others. Don’t think that I say this to excuse my expenses; frankly it is what I wish. As you must have seen, I’ve anticipated our family’s permission and it was because I had no time to wait for it; but as I imagined that you would always guess the basis of my good intentions, I was sure that you first of all and our parents would approve my plan. Here I’m in Paris studying French, which is very difficult, since month ago, and I’m planning to stay here until September. One more year in Madrid and perhaps I may realize your wish. With 50 pesos one can live in Paris, without smoking, without drinking coffee, or going to the theater, or ordering clothes. The house in which I’m staying, which is in the Latin Quarter, costs me ten pesos, light four pesos, food thirty-two and some centimes, the laundry the rest and at that I’m on the fourth floor. Paris is the most expensive capital city in Europe; I can live in this city when I already have a profession and I can devote myself to some work that will earn me a livelihood; otherwise with 50 pesos it is impossible for me to live here. Inquire from foreigners who come from Europe these days and they will tell you the same. One can live cheaper if he eats horsemeat, cat instead of rabbit, goes to the taverns where one can eat for one peseta and 50 cents. I’m keeping up this bravado that brought me here out of self-respect, so that they may not say that I’m killing myself for 50 pesos. God knows how many months at Madrid I shall need to recover from the advanced expenses I’m incurring here. I’ve borrowed from Zamora -- when I still had money and didn’t need it -- 100 pesos if by any chance I would lack money here. I hope that you will pay him all at once, my two monthly allowances instead of sending them to me. It’s all a matter of paying me one month in advance. He was going to send home that money because he didn’t need it and I told him then that he could give it to me and he could collect at home to which he agreed, for in that way he wouldn’t spend one cent more.

      I felt deeply the death of the parish priest (1) not precisely for being a friend but being a good curate, which is a very rare thing, a rara avis. My blood boils every time I read what you say about Father Villafranca, but I’m satisfied because he supports and justifies all my prepossessions against him. Had I acted otherwise, perhaps I would have to say that I have been deceived. A bonze or a Brahman couldn’t have done more. If the clergymen themselves, the virtuous ministers of God, who demand secrets and avoid scandals, who use good, big words; they who believe themselves as guileless as doves and prudent as the serpent; they who speak of respect for elders and respect for the grave; they who always talk of fasting, prayers, and the Mass, who have God on their lips while they rob the poor of their money to enrich themselves, threaten to disclose the faults committed in youth in order to insult the illustrious memory of a learned old man, who perhaps had wept over his misdeeds and had been a lesser hypocrite than those who pretend to judge him. Less couldn’t be expected from a pro-friar and that shows me that I’m fair in my judgment. Had I been there I would have challenged him to divulge the offenses of the deceased curate and let me see if he isn’t the dung beetle who spends his time in unearthing filth and dirt. Let me see who’ll pick up the first stone to throw it at the late Father Leoncio and I’m sure that every one from the archbishop to Father Ambrosio (2) will consider himself without the right to do it. Ah, those who contribute to knowledge and virtue nothing but stupid dogmatism and vulgar hypocrisy! I believe I can guess the mean hatreds of the wretched. Well, may the Thanksgiving Masses do much good to those curates, but I don’t know if the ears in heaven will be closed when they go up there carried by their avarice and ignorance. When I see so much fanaticism mixed with such vulgar passions; when I see so much wretchedness among those . . . . (The rest of the letter is missing.


     (1) Father Leoncio López. See letter 50 ante.

     (2) Father Ambrosio Villafranca

Some monuments in Parish - Pantheon -- Jardin des Plantes -- Abbey of Cluny -- Julian Baths -- French national holiday -- Palace of Versailles.

124 Rue de Rennes, Paris

2 August 1883

My dear parents,

      The last time I wrote you I had to cut off abruptly my letter because I lacked time to finish it to my liking. Since then nothing new has happened to me, so that I’ll say in this nothing more than what I wished to write in that letter. I will write about some monuments in Paris and its environs that I have visited and to make some little observations, and I’ll begin with the Pantheon.

      This has had two names -- that of St. Genevieve after the saint to which it was dedicated and that of Pantheon for containing the sepulchers of all the great men of France. Soufflot devised the plan of the building and its construction was begun under Louis XV. They say it is very magnificent and it is in fact. Its interior has this form, the first I have seen. Its elegant columns, its lofty cupola, the brilliant light that penetrates through it -- all give it the theatrical, monumental aspect of a very elegant edifice, but not of a Christian church such as are usually seen. I believe that this is due to the two steps that are on each side, the absence of a choir and decorations, though there are excellent frescoes. It’s simply splendid. For 16 centimes one can go down to the underground vault. It is immense and only semi-illuminated by the light that penetrates through some insufficient skylights. The guide who conducts us carries a lantern. There are the sepulchers of the philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau, fathers of modern ideas. Voltaire has a magnificent statue by Houdon. Rousseau’s tomb is in front of it. A hand holding a torch emerges from his tomb. Those who say that this is not in very good taste are right and moreover it is quite equivocal, because it could be said that he set the world on fire or he illuminated the world. There are also the tombs of Marshal Lannes, Soufflot, and others. There is a place where an echo reverberates in a way that is surprising -- be beating a kind of drum one hears cannon shots, thus reproducing all the noise of a battle.

      In the Jardin des Plantes there is a museum of natural history that I believe I have already mentioned. There I found the egg of the epyornis (1) as large as half a loaf of sugar, (2) that is, like a lankâ, (3) though very much bigger. Could it be the roc? Beside it an ostrich egg appears like the tiny egg of a dove. There are a very large number of monkeys ranging from the one that resembles a dog, or rather the synocephalus, to the gorilla. I don’t know yet if Darwin’s theory is very acceptable; it would be advisable to study it to determine on what to rely concerning the creation of mankind. I saw there also bulls and other big animals. The aurochs is the biggest I saw, though it does not resemble much the bison that we know over there; and I saw a Normandy cow which is about four fingers taller than I at the withers. Our carabao and our animals are not missing there; but it took me pains to find the carabao and it looked like a pig beside the others, so small it seemed, and nevertheless it must be one of the biggest of those over there. I shall not tell you anymore about the desiccated lions, tigers, panthers, and bears of which there is an infinity there, nor of the crocodiles, alligators of all kinds, from the one with a head like this to the one that we have over there; nor of the tortoise ranging from one which is a meter and a half long and a meter tall to the smallest of about the size of a copper coin. There is a very pretty cicala (cicada). I would not finish mentioning all those desiccated animals, fish, and whales that occupy three floors of a big building. One German says that this museum is as good as that one at London, though not better arranged. But indeed I’m going to tell you about two large cabinets full of little birds of all colors, ranging in size from the blowfly to the half pipit. (4) They are green, blue, red, gold, violet, dark, bronze, but all are brilliant. Their beaks, like needles, are shine as if varnished. They are enough to make Emilio and Antonio (5) dream for a week. I stood ecstatic before those marvels, those winged rubies and topazes. As to the butterflies, I have not yet seen the yellow and black specimens, but even then they occupy an immense space -- all the walls of our ante-hall cannot hold them. They are some very small ones of the size of an onzita (5) and there are very big ones, some are all blue, all flesh colored, all red, yell, or black; some are of mixed colors; some resemble the colors of the rainbow. Philippine birds that abound there are the calos and the talic-tics; there are at least eight specimens; one of them is from south Luzon, perhaps from Laguna. The geology section is impressive and marvelous! There were all kinds of metals, crystals, precious stones, soils, antediluvian and pre-Adamic fish. There I saw red, yellow, and white emeralds, green and blue topazes, rubies of all colors, brilliants and diamonds of all colors; it is a copy of the Regent. It takes four hours just to go around without looking closely. One leaves that place dispirited and with the sad thought that one does not know the names and properties of so many beings and so many things. So many things are unknown to me. And nevertheless I saw there a young girl, accompanied by a professor, who was studying all those minerals, their names, their classifications and she was not very far behind!

      In the Jardin are roses of all colors and of all kinds of petals in excess. There I saw a Lebanon cedar. After finishing of course, if possible, I’ll return to Paris to study science and agriculture. A countryman of ours Cunanan, (7) is studying this science here in Paris in one of the government schools. Here the agriculturist is much more learned than many bishops and lawyers over there. It is a very deep study that I was astounded to find a gardener of a town giving me the botanical classification of all plants. Everybody here talks to you about thermometers, barometers, archometers, history, physics, just as there we talk about the miracles of St. Augustin and St. Procopio of which we are better informed than the saints themselves.

      I visited also the old Abbey of Cluny, an old Gothic edifice, and very well preserved, former residence of the revered monks that they kept as their lodging-house whenever they came to Paris. It is very big and very beautiful and the poor monks rested there. It is now a museum of antiquities of the middle age and the modern period. There are many curious things belonging to the pious generations, so much praised for their Christian virtues by the layman who knows history. There I saw the padlocks that husbands put on certain parts of the body of their wives so that they might not err; the instruments of the Inquisition; paintings (side by side are those obscene and religious) that the blessed monks had on their choirs. I believe that at the time the locksmiths must have been very stupid or the husbands were very stupid, that they would like always to place the devil beside God in order to mix the useful with the sweet as a wise precept demands.

      Beside this abbey are the Julian thermal baths, or rather the Roman baths of the emperors. The building is simple but big, solid and majestic. There are Roman statues, altars, etc. It is said that it was there that Julian the Apostate was burnt. I could hardly believe it. In this same Hotel de Cluny there is a department were all kinds of footwear used in the world can be studied. So that you may see how complete it is, I saw slippers there with red tops, designs, and embroidery of the Chinese of Rosario Street, (8) straw slippers costing a peseta, and other used ones. It is there and not elsewhere that we can find out which country has the smallest feet but natural ones. Our women are not left behind. Upon going down the Hotel de Cluny I saw a woman that at first I took for a Filipino mestizo: Blue skirt, white shawl, and with the same coiffure as a Filipino woman, only her sleeves were very narrow in the European style. Were it not for her Nordic physiognomy and her speaking French fairly well, I would have been deceived. I inquired who she might be and nobody knew.

      July 14th is the national holiday here, the anniversary of the taking of the Bastille. All houses, excepting those of establishments are closed; there are fantastic illuminations, fireworks; traffic is suspended; people invade the boulevards and promenades, and Paris at night seems like a float in a Holy Week procession. In the Bois de Boulogne there is a parade and review of troops: 40,000 soldiers. Numerous people go there despite the continual rain. Zamora, Paterno, Cunanan and I paid 3 pesetas each to stand up on some poor benches; others paid more and every now and then a bench collapsed and women, young ladies, old men, and children fell rolling down the ground and there was general laughter. Then they would again climb up and again they fell. Beside us was a very serious Englishman standing on a large barrel full of water and as a poor Englishman feared that the cover might give in and he would have a sulbu (9) bath, he stood balancing himself on the rim of his throne that cost him 3 francs. And he, himself, laughed. Finally at two o’clock sharp the review began. The president of the republic as well as the ministers had arrived ten minutes before in order not to miss any part of the program. I was surprised that all of them came in carriages drawn by only two horses. I almost looked down on them comparing them with our captains general and archbishops who have the good sense of always riding in carriages drawn by four horses, and Mr. Yriate who once did the same. The more horses that draw one’s carriage may give the impression of importance and intelligence. I have always believed this and no friar can convince me of the contrary, not even the most eloquent preachers of Manila. I refrain from describing the spectacle of that militia, the cadets, of St. Cyr (10) who, they say, are all smart and competent; those of the chief of staff, the engineers -- that youth whose duty is to take revenge (11) and to pay a debt, whose patrimony is without blemish and without victory, attracted my attention; then the infantry, a forest of bayonets; afterwards the cavalry with their shining helmets and floating manse of the horses that give them a martial air and serious aspect; the artillery and all the cuirassiers on horseback dressed in shining armor moving rapidly. “Forty thousand men, seven times the population of Calamba. Foreign governments sent their military men to see the review.

      Later we saw the Palace of Versailles, former residence of the Bourbons and the Bonapartes, now a vast historical museum. This palace is at most one hour by train from Paris. It is a beautiful and grand palace built under Louis XIV, with its garden, park, and two Trainons, or rather two small palaces, if such they can be called. Although I saw it hurriedly, nevertheless I was able to note the rooms of Napoleon I, his study, the hall where Marshall Bazaine was tried, the rooms of Louis XIV, XV, XVI, those of the queens, their wives -- those in the Grand Trianon. In the Petit Trianon only traces of the life of Marie Antoinette are visible -- the great simplicity, even in her dressing and work rooms. There is a plan, a hemisphere, there reportedly made by Louis XVI. There is also a cluster of flowers one of which is a clock. The rooms of Napoleon I are of a yellow color. They assert that Napoleon I did not use to live in those palaces. In the carriage house we saw many carriages, the most conspicuous being a gold as well as the biggest and the most beautiful one. Charles X used it when once he was crowned. It is valued at the minimum, one million francs.

      The garden and the park are most beautiful: there where formerly walked only a gilded youth and a pompous court, full of various preoccupations, passions perhaps, miseries perhaps, misfortune, perhaps, now that place is desolate and hardly . . . . (Note: the rest of the letter is missing.)


     (1) Epyornis is an ostrich-like bird whose eggs are a foot long and 9 inches in diameter, genus Aepyornis.

     (2) A pilon of sugar was sugar molded in large clay jars, weighing about 100 pounds. This was the way sugar was marked in the Philippines during the Spanish regime.
     (3) Or, langka Artocarpus integrifolia L.
     (4) Pipit is a Tagalog name for the northern willow warbler, Acanthopneuste borealis.
     (5) His nephews, son of Narcisa and Anotonio López.
     (6) Onzita was an old Spanish gold coin, the size of the present (1960) Philippine silver ten-centavo piece.
     (7) See note, letter 5, anté.
     (8) It was in downtown Manila, a Chinese business district. The name of the street as well as its character remains to this day (1960).
     (9) Tagalog word meaning “dip;” that is a “dip bath.”
     (10)The state military academy in France, the equivalent of the American West Point Military Academy.
     (11)Rizal alludes to the cry of the French patriots for “Revenge” after the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) when the new German Empire (1871-1919) annexed the French provinces of Alsace and Lorraine.

Vacillating between the law course and the philosophy and letters course -- Madrid Summer disagrees with him -- Two Calamba youth -- Filipinos at Madrid -- Japanese Students -- Only one Filipino is studying agriculture -- Probable new minister of colonies.

7 - 1st Floor, Center, San Miguel, Madrid

11 September 1883

My dear parents,

      From the 31st August, the date of my last letter, to the present few events worthy of mention have occurred here. Since the sixth of this month, I’ve been in this house whose address is indicated above and where I pay 16 reals a day, that is, four pesetas. It is without electricity, which I myself have to buy. However, as I don’t feel well here, I hope to find another living quarters with better conditions. I’m vacillating whether to take the examination in Roman Law and pursue the law course, which here lasts seven years, or to give it up and take literature and philosophy to pursue the course in Philosophy and Letters, which is not known there, of three years duration, and qualifies one for a professorship.

      I’ve read here the terrible happenings in Java, an island near there, which have horrified us. I’m prepared to hear elaborate censure of this affair.

      The prevailing temperature here is tolerable at present and the cold that is sometimes felt is quite notable.

      As I’m not yet sure of keeping this room, I wish you to continue sending your letters to the house of Esteban, No. 34 4th floor, Calle del Barquillo, where Esteban Villenueva lives.

      Vicente Gonzalez is going there on the first of October. It is very probable that he will be the one to carry my letters for that time.

      Summer here was very bad for me and because of it I’m somewhat thin, though my health has not been impaired in the least. I believe that winter will restore my former good health.

      The family of Villa Abrille is here; his son has just called on me.

      As you will perhaps reply to this letter towards the end of October or the beginning of November, I’ll receive it here towards the end of December at most. I expect by then some news about Christmas.

      I don’t know what had become of Tacio, whether he has been definitely expelled from the college of the Jesuit Fathers or not. In the first case, I believe Capitán Juan can send him to some school abroad, for Tacio does not lack ability; he only lacks the proper environment and good guidance. I believe that his disposition will be corrected in distant lands. However, I don’t favor his studying at Madrid. If by chance his father wants Tacio to study a course of his choice, it seems to me that there is not country better than England to make a useful and serious man out of his son. England has a character very much in harmony with Capitán Juan’s manner of thinking.

      I don’t know how Dandoy (1) is now that the principal obstacle that formerly stood on his way has unfortunately disappeared. If he plans to come to study music, he can take advantage of this opportunity to go to Italy, a country where the cost of living is very cheap, or Germany where one can also live with little, in order to cultivate and perfect his art for which he manifests so much aptitude. Luna (2) is now at Rome and he is a great painter; he earns his own livelihood. I don’t despair then of seeing Dandoy here, warbling in Italian or coughing out German.

      Filipinos abound here. There are merchants, travelers, tourists, employees, military men, students, artists, lawyers, physicians, agents, politicians, cooks, servants, coachmen, women, children, and old men. I can’t ascertain what the effect of this will be after the end of ten years. It’s highly to be desired that we don’t remain behind. In spite of the fact that not everything sown is harvested, nevertheless I believe the harvest will exceed the grain sown. We are waiting here for some countrymen who would like to engage in industry, like for example, the manufacture of paper, glass, porcelain, textile, and other products that would be of very great utility over there.

      The majority of the Japanese, who are at Paris, study artillery and engineering, and we study law and medicine. Why don’t we study arts and industry? We already have one countryman who is studying agriculture but unfortunately he is the only one. (3)

      I’m expecting a letter from you by this mail. I haven’t received a letter from the family for so long a time.

      Because we absolutely lack news about the doings and happenings in that country, which the newspapers here scarcely remember, we long and wait for the arrival of the mail boats, which quite often disappoint us.

      It seems that the present ministry is going to fall and will be replaced by the minister of the colonies, the Count of Xiquerra, a person of very good intentions and aspirations, who is know to be very slightly venal or not at all, and a man of a rather independent mind. He is moreover very energetic and endowed with good will. Above all he is modest.

      With nothing more, please bless me. I embrace all my sisters and brothers-in-law, kisses to the little nephews. When shall I receive a letter from Emilio or from any one of them?

      I send my regards to my friends and relatives, also to Capitán Juan Banatin.

      J. Rizal


     (1) Leandro López, brother of Antonio López, Rizal’s brother-in-law, of promising musical ability.
     (2) The celebrated Filipino painter Juan Luna (1857-1899). Rizal wrote an article about him that appeared in the weekly La Ilustración, Barcelona, 28 February 1886.
     (3) Mariano Cunanan of Pampanga. See letter 51, ante.

Madrid weather -- Living with Lete and the Llorentes -- Gymnastic lessons -- Drawing classes -- Christmas Greetings -- Christmas at Madrid -- Eager for family news -- Political trends in Eager for family news -- Political trends in Europe -- The Columbus banquet.

15 Baño, 1st floor, Madrid

28 October 1883

Mr. Francisco Rizal Mercado

My Dear Parents,

      Though without letters from you to give me news about your health, I know, however, through another person that you are admirably well, which makes me infinitely happy. As for myself, I’m perfectly well, without any ailment or sickness, thank God. The cold season comes rather late. Last year, by the 15th or 20th of October, almost everybody in Madrid was already wrapped up in cloak or overcoat and chilblains were beginning to show on ears and fingers. I still go around without an overcoat although at night I carelessly put it on. However, the rains have converted Madrid into a repugnant puddle.

      I now live with Lete and the two Llorentes. Between us four, we have taken the first floor of house No. 15 on Baño Street to which you can henceforth address your letters. We have rented the furniture for 12 pesos for two years and the house costs us 19 pesos a month, which together with the cost of light, maid, water etc., etc., costs each of us 8 ½ pesos a month. Add to this the cost of lunch which is 10 reales fuertes daily, that is, 15 pesos a month, and we save 1 ½ pesos, because formerly we paid 24 pesos a month in worse conditions -- poor lodgings and poor food. With this I send you the plan of the house. In this way we avoid being exploited too much by the leeches; we live more comfortably and more decently at least, because we aren’t crowded as in barracks, tyrannized by landladies and landlords. Our house is rather elegant, above all, the parlor and the study, which are very prettily papered.

      As I remember having told you in my previous letter I have classes from eight in the morning until eight quarter at night, excepting a half hour that I spend taking lunch, that is, from two thirty to three o’clock in the afternoon. The gymnasium agrees well with me. Persons of all ages and of both sexes, also social classes, go there. However the gymnasium is inferior to those we have at Manila as to its equipment and location. Girls from four to five, even young ladies of 17 and 18, young men, gentlemen, and old men of sixty exercise, an hour and a half. We have seen bumps, lameness, defective hands or arms corrected little by little. By going there in groups of six or seven, one pays only 2 pesos each, but as many of our countrymen leave, we have to pay 3 pesos each month.

      My drawing classes -- landscape, perspective, and ancient -- at the Academy (1) keep me busy five hours. My professor of landscape is a Belgian, Mr. Haes, and is the best in his field here. I want to know this branch of the fine arts, inasmuch as the Philippines is a country of landscapes, and models for drawing or painting figures are hard to find there. After having seen the school of fine arts at Paris, this one of crowded “villa” is disillusioning. Were it not for the building it could almost be said that it is equipped on a level of that at Manila, only here they give neither pencil, paper, crayon, nor colors, as in that of Don Agustín. (2)

      Because of the slow movement of ships, this letter probably will not get there until about the 15th or 20th of December, I wish you now a happy and poetic Christmas with its pre-Christmas Masses and the poto bombóng and salabat (3) which ought to be the joy of the little nephews and nieces. With respect to this, I’m waiting to know the name of the new nephew (4) that my sister Olimpia is going to give us. The uncles, aunts, and grandparents can prepare little Christmas presents. To their bad luck I’m very faraway, thought it is true that neither did I give them any present when I was there. I don’t know how we shall spend Christmas here. It seems to be that, if it is like that of last year, I can save myself the trouble. Everybody, from the maid, postman, newsboy, barber, bootblack, gate-keeper, café waiter, university beadle, tailor, to the shoemaker -- all ask one for a Christmas present, although they know that one is as clean as the paten. For lack of nephews and godchildren then, we have here a whole craving humanity, the majority of whom, like the night-watchers, dedicate poor vying verses to one, others send little paintings, the theater ushers [some small nothing], and finally others, like the clothes pressers, nothing at all. From this can be deduced that here occurs the reverse of what happens there: the Chinese shoemaker, the Chinese water-carrier, and every Chinese is the one who gives presents to his customers.

      I’m glad to know that the civil guard has found the money, which was stolen from my sister Neneng. This is what they have written me from Manila; I’m not very sure of it. It is true the news didn’t come from home, but after all, provided it is true, it does not matter if others told it.

      If sometimes it may occur to you to write me, tell me something about the affairs of the family, for although I can’t do anything for it, nevertheless I’m sufficiently interested in it to wish to know what is happening to it. I would be happy, though, that nothing bad has happened since the last letter of the month of May that I received from there until this date.

      Concerning news in general of Madrid, nothing new has occurred here since the last events at Paris: the charge of ministry, (5) the majority of whose ministers are very well known at their homes; as proof of that, there is Mr. Suarez Inclán, minister of colonies, of recognized obscurity; Europe continually threatened with a frightful conflagration; the scepter of the world that is slipping from the trembling hands of decrepit France; the northern countries preparing to pick it up; Russia whose emperor has the sword of Nihilism over his head like Damocles of antiquity -- this is civilized Europe.

      The banquet in honor of Columbus was held here; to attend it one must pay 8 pesos, and to make a toast (it seems to me) one pays 16 pesos. Those who shone there were the American (6) Mr. Calaño with his poetic eloquence, or an eloquent poem, and Mr. Romero Robledo with his fluency and very tendentious speech. A countryman of ours from the Visayas, Mr. Graciano López, delivered there a speech complaining about the administration at Manila with such sublime Hispanic sensitivity that he won many times the applause and the bravos of Americans and Spaniards. It was a pity that the banquet held under such happy auspices should end with a duel between an American and a Spaniard.

      With nothing more for now, regards to all our relatives and friends, kisses to the nephews, embraces to my sisters and brothers-in-law. Bless your son who loves you truly.


      The articles you sent me through Paterno arrived, but the jars of jelly and bagoong were broken and their contents spilled.


     (1) Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, Madrid.

     (2) Don Augustín Sáez, director of the school of fine arts in Manila.
     (3) Poto bombóng or puto bumbóng is steamed ground glutinous rice cooked in bamboo joints about six inches long and seasoned with a little salt and eaten with sugar and grated fresh coconut. Salabat is a beverage made of sugar and water flavored with ginger. It is the beverage that accompanies the puto bombóng. The puto is cooked on the sidewalks of the streets leading to the church.
     (4) He was Aristeo Ubaldo (1883 - 1954), who later became a noted ophthalmologist and professor at the College of Medicine, University of the Philippines.
     (5) Posada Herrera succeeded the ministry of Sagasta Martinez Campos (8 February 1881 to 13 October 1883).
     (6) “American” here means Latin American.

Unfair treatment of Filipino engraver Figueroa in the filing of a professional chair at the Acadamia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando -- Rumors of war between France and Germany -- Announcing his graduation from the medical college in 1884-- Republican demonstration at Madrid.

15 Baño, First floor, Madrid

21 November 1883

My Dear Parents and Brothers,

      Although it may seem strange, living in a city may also be monotonous, even if this city may also be monotonous, even if this city is called Madrid; but the truth is that leading a regulated life and not mixing in other people’s business is also monotonous and I have no news to give you. I am well and healthy as one can be in this cold weather and the chilblains that it produces.

      Our fellow countryman Figueroa (1) who competed for the professorship of engraving at the Academia de San Fernando had the bad luck of being treated with the same very natural and common injustice as they did to another, because they preferred one whose works occupied the third place. In vain were the protests presented by the . . . (illegible) competitors and newspapers. The position was already assigned before the competition was held. I don’t know what this young man will decide to do now.

      The crown prince of Germany will arrive here day after tomorrow. This event is given much importance and, it seems, may lead to a Hispanic-German alliance or German-Hispanic alliance. It is said that the war between France and Germany is inevitable. I believe that we shall witness stupendous things and events.

      Next June, when the academic year ends, I shall graduate in medicine. If you want me to get the degree of Doctor of Medicine, you should write me. It’s a matter of one year more and hundreds of pesos for fees.

      Of the things that you sent me the guava jelly and the two jars of bagoong arrived in very good condition; the mango jelly was rather fair; the sotanjon, miqui, bijon, (2) etc. good; the rest were broken and spoiled.

      We aren’t badly off in our little house. It only seems that the maids steal our petroleum for their light. But this is inevitable. The cold weather is late in coming, but the chilblains abound.

      You’ll probably receive this letter towards the end of this year. I therefore wish you a happier and better New Year than that of last year. Please tell it to my brothers-in-law and other relatives. For that date I expect some letters from you, because it is five months now that I don’t receive even a line from the family. I hear that letters are intercepted and you don’t receive my letters. Hence, I intend to stop writing until you inform me of what is happening to them. I’m so little informed of what is happening there that I don’t know if my sister Olimpia is living at home or in the town or at Taal; the same is true regarding Sra. Neneng and Sra. Sisa. It’s a little bothersome to find out these things from persons who are strangers and not close to us.

      With nothing more for now, I desire your well-being and good health. I send my regards to my brothers, brothers-in-law, friends, and relatives.



      One recent Sunday there was held here a republican demonstration. Four thousand men went to the tomb of Figueras, the first president of the Republic, to pay him homage. There they delivered speeches, letters were read, and they made protests. All of this was in the very center of the capital city. Such occurrences describe these communities.


     (1) Melecio Figueroa, considered one of the best Filipino engravers, who studied at the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando at Madrid.

     (2) These are different kinds of Chinese noodles that are relished by Filipinos.

Rizal asks for family pictures -- Maternal solicitude -- God’s blessings on the Rizal family

Calamba, 27 November 1883

My Dear Son,

      On the 13th of this month we ate at your Aunt Betang’s house and on the 14th we slept there, because we three had our group picture taken to send to you so that you will not get sad. We happen to talk about your great desire to see our pictures. Even though it is hard for my eyes, I’m writing you, so that you may receive a letter from me.

      It is very necessary that I tell you that, when you are not doing anything, you recall the time when you were yet very young, before you learned to read, you were devoted to the Holly Virgin, the Merciful Lady. She watched over you until you learned almost miraculously. I acknowledge that the learning that you have attained is due to the many rosaries you recited to her. May we not forget this.

      Why is it that in one of your letters, it seems that you do not favor our praying in the church? I’m going to tell you that since you left this place, in addition to my special offerings for you, I urge fervently the saints to whom I pray to preserve and protect you.

      Now I’m going to mention to you one by one my new debts to the Lord. On 6 June 1882 Lucía delivered a baby boy who was named José. On 15 September 1882 Neneng gave birth to a boy who was named Alfredo. On 14 June 1883 Sisa gave birth to a girl who was given the name María Consolación; on 3 September 1883 Olimpia gave birth to a boy who was named Aristeo; on 24 November 1883 Lucía gave birth to a girl. On the 26 of this month Neneng gave birth to a girl also. Both girls are not yet baptized but they will be on Sunday. Here many die of childbirth but they went through it safely. The terrible cholera visited this place followed by beriberi and the destructive typhoon, but we were not affected, because of God’s mercy that seems to have sheltered and supported us. Thieves stole 4,000 pesos from Neneng. She recovered it, except for a small amount. Just see if it is not proper for you, my children, to help me to be grateful for all these debts, so that in the end we may be granted another one, which is that we may meet and be together again. Let us give thanks to the Lord. I remain your mother who wishes the welfare of your soul.

      Teodora Alonso


      I gave your Uncle Antonio 25 pesos as my Christmas present to you.

Reasons for not writing Rizal -- Family News

Calamba, 27 November 1883

My Dearest Brother,

      Don’t mind my failure to write you and don’t resent it. It is not due to my lack of regard for you but to the sickness that visited us. First of all was the cholera. Because of it we moved to our parents’ house where we are now all living together with our dear parents and sisters. From that time until now we are still here. Secondly, the priest became sick and died. For over two months we forgot the time that elapsed. And now Dandoy has been confined in bed for over one month suffering from fever like that of Tacio, son of Captáin Juan. Through God’s mercy our own family escaped all these mishaps, as Mother says in her letter, and for this we ought to be endlessly thankful to the Creator for taking care of us. On account of his old age, Father now and then complains of body pains, but he still eats well.

      Your sister who loves you and your nephews Emilio, Angélica, Isabel, and Consuelo embrace you.

      Narcisa Rizal

Some news

[Calamba, 27 November 1883]

My Dearest Brother,

      Don’t resent our failure to write you; it is because we lack news. Manolo is already dead. Loleng has already been married after having been deposited here for four months. Cirilo is gravely ill. Policarpio is here with us and is very lazy to study. I’m going to write you later about other things that happened to L. Command your sister who never forgets you though you are far away.

      María Rizal

Always thinking of Rizal -- Present of handkerchiefs from Catigbac -- Regards from friends.

[Calamba, 27 November 1883]

My Beloved Brother,

      Though we have not written you for a long time, we don’t forget you and we often remember you. What I can tell you is that every Sunday Chopeng and we hold a concert. Perhaps you will receive by the next mail the handkerchiefs woven in Lipa sent to you by Catigbac (1) -- only six yellow ones, the other six being left here at the house and twelve pink ones. With regard to the money you got from Zamora and Uncle Antonio Father has paid them. Ursula and Victoria are sending you regards and they say that you must not forget them. As to the kundiman (2) you are asking for, there is none in good Tagalog. Command your sister who never forgets you.

      Josefa Rizal


     (1) Mariano Catigbac or Katigbak, Rizal’s friend.

     (2) Kundiman is a plaintive Philippine folksong

Suffering from intermittent fever -- Pilgrimage to Antipolo

[Calamba, 27 November 1883]

Dear Brother,

      We received your letter of the month of July. When your letter arrived, I was sick with fever, called intermittent fever. I was in bed for almost five months, from April to August. I was very sad, fearing that we may never see each other again. When I got well, I went to Antipolo (1) to hear Mass. My companions were Sra. Neneng and brother-in-law Maneng. There I became stout.

      Trinidad Rizal


     (1) Town where the miraculous Virgin of Peace and Good Voyage is venerated.

Dandoy is sick -- Leonor is pitiful

[Calamba, 27 November 1883]

Dear friend,

      I wish to tell you that we are here at your house and that Dandoy has been sick for a long time. If you wish to hear Dandoy hum Italian and cough German, come here and you will hear a coughing without equal, surpassing even the cough that you want him to learn. How are you? Who are your girls there? Write us if you have already many . . . I’m sure your girls there are very many. The most pitiful is Leonor, (2) your former acquaintance. Regards to you and command us.

      Sofía López


     (1) Her pet name is Chopeng and she is a sister of his brother-in-law Antonioi López and his friend Dandoy or Leonardo López. She also sings.

     (2) Leonor Rivera, Rizal’s fiancée.

Her son, Aristeo

[Calamba, 27 November 1883]

Dear Brother,

      Don’t be resentful if I have not written you for a long time. It is only because of my numerous duties. Now I wish to tell you that you have a new nephew (Aristeo). He is very big and is waiting for you anxiously. Perhaps when you return, you will know many people.


      Olimpia (1)


     (1) Olimpia Rizal was married to Silvestre Ubaldo

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