Correspondence of Rizal to his Family 1876

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1886

Christmas in Paris -- A pair of Grecian vases pained by Rizal -- Good behavior of French children -- The mansion of Dr. Wecker -- Rizal is going to Germany where there are very good professors -- Already writes French as he does Spanish --He already can perform all kinds of eye operations -- Winter in Paris -- Eye operations by Dr. Wecker -- Pardo de Tavera family at Paris -- Rizal wrote the illustrated story of the monkey and the turtle in Paz Pardo de Tavera's album.

65 Boulevard Argo, Paris

1 January 1886

My dear parents,

      Today, the 1st day of the year, the mail leaves and I take advantage of the few minutes that my work at the clinic, courtesy calls, etc. leave me free to tell you something of how I spend these days.

      For the sake of the truth I'll tell you that here Christmas and the New Year are holidays for children and employees only and the children receive toys and the latter presents. However, it must be added that the New Year is the feast of the young people who receive gifts from their friends and acquaintances on this day. I presented to Miss Pardo (1) a pair of Grecian vases painted by me -- one representing the Filipinos at pastime (cockfighting) and the other portraying Filipinos at work (milk vendors, prisoners, etc.) I spent Christmas at the house of this family at the invitation of the brother and where I will spend this evening also. As I already told you, there we always talk about the Philippines. Doña Juliana is a genuine Filipino through and through, nor sus cuatro costados, as it is commonly said.

      Beginning with the 24 December all the sidewalks of the boulevards are filled with baraques, or little stalls, of toys, fruits, etc., like the Quiapo fair (Baraque is pronounced "barac", whence barraca.) A multitude of people stroll there -- children, young and old people. The government organizes entertainment for the children only. Actors, actresses, and artists play for free for the entertainment of the children who know how to reciprocate well this solicitude by behaving very considerately. I don't get tired admiring the education of French children. It seems like a story when they are compared with the children there of whether Spaniards or Filipinos. On the street, on the omnibus, in the carriages, on the promenades, at home, everywhere, they are well behaved. They don't shout or cry; they don't bother. This very morning, on the omnibus, there was a boy of about five seated on the knees of his mother and he was very quiet and very formal, saying not a single word. After awhile another woman with another child almost of the same age came and they sat in front. The two boys looked at each other in silence without saying a word, but as the trip was long they did not remain silent. One started smiling and the other one also. One extended his hand smiling and half closing his eyes; the other took it and they started talking in their childish language and in a low voice. Later, one took out from under his coat a top and showed it to the other who examined it closely smiling and returned it with signs of satisfaction. They don't fight or shout. In the big bazaars where families go to do all kinds of shopping, there are immense halls full of vyingly beautiful toys. Well, children go there, look and bear the tricks of wonderfully made dolls, mechanical toys, horses, and many others, and you'll not hear either a cry or a shout or a plea to their parents to buy them those toys. They think that if they have behaved well during the whole year, on the morning of the 25th December they would come upon them and if not, all is well. The children of the poor go there to look at them only and they don't touch them or say a word in a loud voice, but those who see those little eyes can read what they feel in their hearts. This education seems to me conclusive evidence in favor of the new system of educating a man in the love for the good and his fellowmen.

      The mansion of Professor de Wecker is located on the Avenue d'Antin, number 31. It is a magnificent building with a most elegant appearance even in that district where sumptuous palaces abound. In Spain I didn't see a similar thing. At the entrance one comes upon mottled marble of all colors, very well arranged, a magnificent chimney -- which conditions the air when one has to take off his overcoat -- standing in the middle of the hall, which presents an extraordinary sight. Upon one's arrival he is met by lackeys who take his cane, umbrella, and overcoat and conduct him to the first floor through a carpeted stairway and with ancient Spanish tapestry. The waiting room, where one stays while he is announced to the owner of the house, is full of magnificent paintings of the Dutch, French, Spanish, and Italian schools. Among these were one by Ruisdael and one by Julio Romano, believing to be Rosa Bonheur, a very precious Raphael. Inside are sculptures in marble and bronze, a boy fisherman, a gift of the queen of Italy, very old altarpieces, and in an alcove a magnificent Portuguese bedstead which some believe costs from two to three thousand pesos. The second floor of the house is destined for receptions and the dining room is there with its big chimney and two tables of malachite and gilded bronze, paintings of flowers and fruits to gladden the eye. The rooms and apartments whose walls are all covered with white silk have a delicate, elegant aspect with their tiny gray, blue, and violent designs and the matching furniture. Through a small stairway, all carpeted also, one goes up to the third floor occupied by the sister with two daughters. This part of the house is also decorated but in another style, although it is equally excellent. The walls are red or pink and gilt very well combined. Gay furniture and smiling pictures indicate that a lady with young children live there. The sewing room and the room for piano study were all appropriate and adequate. We find the toys and dolls of the children seated in chairs as on a reception day. Those who have seen this mansion agree that it is one of the best in Paris and one cannot help but admire the good taste and the exquisite tact of the owner who knew how to combine and harmonize the elegant and the serious, the old and the modern. Wecker speaks German, French, English, and Spanish. Luna, introduced by me on Christmas Day, was seized with admiration and enchanted. He couldn't help but admit that what Pardo told him as well as the things I had related to him were exact and even pallid. If by chance you'll send me money, do it through the Shanghai Banking Corporation, because through Spanish firms, much is lost, while through this bank I gain a few pesetas per 100 when I cash it, for English money is worth more than the Spanish.

      15 - January

      I was not able to send this letter though the previous mail for lack of time. I'll continue it now.

      On the day before yesterday I received a draft for 200 pesos that, upon being cashed, yielded only 192 pesos because of the 4% discount. With more reason than ever I'll repeat to you now what I have told you. If you're going to send me money, do it through the Chartered Bank of India, Australia, and China, which is very much better. If those 200 pesos had been sent through that bank, they would have given me some 204 or 205 francs, as it happens to Resurrección, who always collects more than what they send him.

      The money couldn't have arrived more timely because I was already somewhat hard pressed. Fortunately Luna collected one thousand pesos (2) from the Senate and so we two had something to spend these days. You say that you'll send me money in February. You need not send me until the 4th of April or towards the end of March, for with what I have I'm going to Germany where the cost of living, they say, is very low, and I'll try to make the money last until the beginning of May. There's no need to sell either watch or horse. At Paris, though there is much to study, on the other hand the cost of living is very hand. In Germany one can study fairly well and by staying in a provincial capital I can wait for the crisis to pass away. In the meantime I shall study German and a few other things besides eye diseases. There are very good professors in Germany. In the meanwhile you may continue sending me your letters here at Paris, 65 Boulevard Arago. Until July or August I shall be in Germany and later in England and afterwards go home. If the news has not been misleading or exaggerated, don't worry about sending me money for I have enough to live on until the 1st of May. As to the rest, I shall write you about this from Germany where I expect to be on the first of February. I want to make the most of this year and go home at once. I already wrote French with the same facility as Spanish, at last as the municipal secretaries there write the latter. It is a very precious language but indeed very difficult. I already understand perfectly everything said to me, except when they speak argot. The Parisians speak very fast.

      With regard to the study of eye diseases, I'm doing very well: I know already how to perform all kinds of operations. I only need to be trained in the study of what is going on at the bottom of the eye that requires much practice. In Germany, I have been told, this is taught very well but one must register and pay 10 pesos a month. I'm going to Germany with about 100 pesos, which will probably be reduced to 75 after deducting traveling expenses. If I find out that the cost of living is really cheap, I'll register and if it is not too much, I have more than enough time with two or three months. In six months I expect to learn German, study a trade, and continue my specialization. In five months, though living with Filipinos, I learned French.

      It was terribly cold this week. For four or five days it snowed and we had ice more than five fingers thick . . . the second a tiny red point without brilliance. One must cock up the ear in order not to be run over by the vehicles, for, as there are streets paved with wood on which a vehicle hardly makes a noise, one can easily be run over in crossing the street or boulevard. In foggy nights thieves abound. They rob you and then run away, and they can't be seen within five paces. It is like as if they have entered your house. Traffic is sometimes suspended when there is too much fog. A foggy night at Paris is like a night in our town. The difference is that this night, instead of being dark, is white and there are no civil guards who trample on you. They say that, as to fog, London leaves Paris far behind.

      From 50 to 100 patients go daily to the clinic of Wecker. There are days when they perform as many as ten major operations. Many cross-eyes are set aright. Yesterday we fixed a woman-cook who is more cross-eyed than Emilio and Mr. Mariano put together; in two minutes her eyes were put in their proper places. Yesterday also Wecker removed the eye of a young man whom a baron had shot . . . lives on the Avenue de l'Emperatrice. The baron paid 18,000 francs as indemnity. The lad, who is not more than 13 years old, lost his eyes, but Wecker put in another of crystal that will not be detected because it will move like a real one. During the operation, he shouted only once and it was painful at that. Cross-eyed children of four or five months and old men of sixty and seventy and even a woman of 85 also go there to be operated on. I remember an old man who had been blind for 65 years; since he was eight years old he couldn't see; he was very much satisfied. In the past days there went there a young tall woman, very tall -- at least a handbreadth taller than I -- very elegant, beautiful, with a bad eye that couldn't see and it was white. Wecker had to blacken her eye, which was not difficult and which needs only time to heal. As it was a cosmetic operation, she could not complain and she smiled. It is true that the eye is rendered insensitive so that the patients stand up and say that they have felt absolutely nothing. There are those who don't feel the operation and they only find it out when they already begin to see.

      If I receive enough money, then I shall pay 12 pesos a month and I shall have the right to attend everything, all the treatments, and to operate from time to time which is very advantageous. You can't imagine what can be learned at this clinic. The doctors there are one Italian, one Greek, one Austrian, one North American, three South Americans, two Spaniards, four French, one German, one Pole, and I. All of us understand each other in French; now and then I speak with the Italian and the North American in their native tongues. The Greek has nothing of the Greek, such as those who have studied Greek history imagine. He is a little short with thin beard, very dark complexion, ill formed, etc. A Greek of the Age of Pericles would have taken him for a barbarian.

      My mode of life doesn't change. Luna and I eat here at the studio and as he has many friends at Paris, families who hold soirées at their homes often invite him. For this reason he eats outside often. The Pardo family who lives here also invites me to eat at their home from time to time. Then Luna, Resurrección, and I go there. On such days we do nothing else but talk about our country -- its likes, food, customs, etc. The family is very amiable. The mother (widow) is a sister of Gorricho and remains very Filipino in everything. Her sons Trinidad and Felix Paredo are both physicians; her daughter Paz speaks French and English and she is very amiable, and also very Filipino. She dresses with much elegance, and in her movements and manner of looking she resembles Sra. Itching. She is beautiful and svelte and it said she is going to marry Luna. She asked me to write something in her album and I wrote the story of the monkey and the turtle with illustrations. The young women in Europe usually have the custom of keeping an album (not of pictures) in which they ask their friends to put there drawings, dedications, verses, etc., etc. and they keep them as souvenirs.

      In the Filipino colony here there is a man about whom always something silly is told. Everything stupid, curious, or unusual must be his. If he were there, even if he were of Manila, they would certainly take him for one from Parañaque. (3) I believe the man has been in Paris for seven or ten years and he has not learned French; as to the rest, he is a good man.

      I believe that by the end of next year or the beginning of 1887, I should leave Europe and return to the Philippines. That is the most time I should stay in these countries. If I prolong my stay, I shall spend much. I owe. . .

      ____________

     (1) Miss Paz Pardo de Tavera, later Mrs. Juan Luna, resided at Paris with her family. Doña Juliana Gorricho was her mother; Felix and Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, both physicians, were her brothers. Felix became also a renowned sculptor and Trinidad, a man of letters and statesman.

     (2) In payment for his paintings, The Battle of Lepanto, bought by the Senate of Spain.
     (3) Some allege that the natives of Parañaque often boast or exaggerate.

Family news -- Death of José -- Milling season -- Good price for sugar -- Rising land rent

Calamba, 2 February 1886

Mr. José Rizal

Paris

My dear brother-in-law,

      We received your letter and we are informed of its content.

      The reason why we have not written you a long to me is that whenever I pick up a pen to write you to inform you of the death of our José, it seemed as if a painful wound is touched. So, by constantly postponing it, this time has come. The remedy I apply to the said wound is "Thanks that José has died. He will not suffer any more what we are suffering."

      The hardship and badness of the times when you were here have been doubled.

      Delfina has two sisters, next to José. Her name is Concepción. A girl followed her whose name is Patrocinio, who is the baby now. Perhaps when you return, you will not finish in one day embracing your nephews.

      At this time we are milling, so that Mother with Pangoy * has gone to Sr. Paciano's mill in Pansol. Lucía also left for Hagdang Bató. Thanks be to God that it seems that the sugar harvest here is good. However, it is said the price is high, but when the time to sell comes, it is low, unlike the dues and fees paid to the Hacienda (Calamba Estate) that increase every year.

      We are all in good health and perhaps when you arrive here, you'll find everything just like when you left. Lucia is like before, when you went abroad.

      Command your very affectionate brother in-law.

      Mariano Herbosa

      _________________

     * The pet name of Josefa, a sister of Rizal.


Many bandits -- Gay novena -- Study painless childbirth -- Come home soon.

Calamba, 2 February 1886

Dear brother,

      The reason we have not written you is already told in Mariano's letter. What I can tell you is that here there is much disturbance and there is said to be many bandits, as well as many persons inspecting patients.

      Today it is very gay here at my father-in-law's house, because of the last day of the novena in honor of Our Lady of Aransasu. You already know the custom here: there is plenty of food, visitors, and singing.

      I request you to study painless childbirth and the method of increasing the mother's supply of milk. This is what we need here.

      Father and Mother are worried lest you may not see them any more. Therefore, you think of coming home, so that we may see each other again and we may take a bath in Hagdang Bató, there in our new land, which I consider the best bathing place.

      Regards and command your sister who is waiting for your return.

      Your sister,

      Lucía Rizal

German and French housekeeping -- The dining room must be gay, attractive, and pleasant -- Suitable decorations for the dining room -- Table arrangement

In his eagerness to educate his sisters, Rizal describes dining room arrangement and decorations he had seen in Europe in this letter to his sister, María, whom he considered a bright woman.

Heidelberg, 7 February 1886

Miss María Rizal

My very dear sister,

      There goes the first letter on German territory in order to have the pleasure of receiving your reply. The object of this letter is to relate to you some particular things that may be of interest to you and besides of use to you, such as how German and French women keep their houses. Although French taste reigns everywhere, nevertheless it is modified in every locality and according to the status and imagination or the people. Speaking about the dining room, for example, in Europe it is the general feeling that it must be gay, attractive, and pleasant. In the houses of the very rich you'll see paintings of landscape, fruits, and animals by the greatest masters. You'll see painted oysters, prawns, lobsters, fish, etc., etc. Others who cannot afford to pay so much are satisfied with copies and the poorest with lithographs. In some houses in Germany and particularly in Holland, what I see in pictures is that they hang on the walls old plates with more or less color, with more or less designs. In some houses they'll show you the plate belonging to a grandfather, to a grandmother -- a huge plate fifty years old, a century perhaps, and in the Pardo's house at Paris I saw beside some plates of Chinese porcelain nearly two centuries old, blue plates like those from China we have for daily use, if I'm not mistaken, and have this shape: (Sketch) These plate decorations are very charming, above all when this designs are fanciful and the colors are gay. On the other hand Italian houses have on their walls gay bottles of Chianti wine whose lower parts are wrapped in straw, their neck being very slender (Sketch), and placed in the corners are small baskets of fruits which are also very pretty. In some houses they have hanging parasites alternating with cages of birds like canaries, linnets, etc. No serious or sad subjects, for some persons would get indigestion, and in truth they are right. When it's time to eat, eat well; when it's time to pray, pray well. Our dining room there, that is, the landing or antehall, could be decorated with parasites and plates, for we have neither paintings of landscapes, nor big pictures. White plates are not used for decoration because they are confused with the wall. I remember that when we were small we had some plates with designs of little figures and landscapes on their hollows. For these I know that some would give even five pesos each for they are now rare.

      The plates are hung in the following way: take three pieces of wire, their sizes depending on the weight or size of the objects they are to support, and they are bent at the end, for example, (Sketch) and in this hook the edge of the plate is inserted; the three wires are joined at the back and a kind of ring is made to hang it on a nail so that in front it will look like this (Sketch) and at the back (Sketch).

      The parasitic plants -- in this we can excel all European houses, if we have good taste -- are hung more easily. There are three ways of placing them: Suspended, attached to a post, and in little baskets set on a table (Sketches). Generally iron wire is used because it becomes more beautiful as it becomes oxidized or rusty. This is easier for us because it doesn't cost money and there is an abundance of parasitic plants in our country, especially in our province.

      The flasks and bottles chosen are those that have fanciful shapes and if they are wrapped in straw like the demijohns, for example, the better. They are usually filled with black wine or colored liquor. The more covered with cobwebs in their corners these flasks are the better they are. They are usually placed at a sufficient height and they are not usually moved from there. For this purpose they use a board attached to the wall in the following way: (Sketch)

      On the dining table they usually place flowers in the middle alternately with the dishes of sweets, pickles, and fruits. Today it is no longer customary, at least in Paris, to put big fruit dishes on the middle of the table. They use to put flowers in small glass dishes with water so that they will not wilt. In winter when flowers are very expensive, it is not unusual to see tables with half, or completely dry flowers, but over there, where it doesn't cost anything to have them fresh, they would be out of place.

      I can tell you many more things about this, but my letter is already very long and it is not fitting.

      This is enough for the present then and I shall be glad if this could be of some use to you.

      Your brother who embraces you,

      Rizal

      Heidelberg, 7 February 1886



Rizal's arrival at Heidelberg -- The German student -- Student duels and associations -- Impressions of Heidelberg.

Heidelberg, 16 Karlstrasse
9 February, 1886

My dear parents and brothers,

      As I announced o you in my previous letter, I left for Paris on Monday, the 1st of February, and I came to Germany. I stopped one day at Strasbourg. Aviscourt (1) is the last town on the Franco-German frontier and upon crossing this one notes that he is in a new country, for everywhere one sees only uniforms, militarism, throughout Germany the railroad employees being all military men. From France snow accompanied me on the way, that is, from Nancy until Wilwisheim. Until I reached Strasbourg, I couldn't understand anyone well, for although they almost all spoke French and German, nevertheless the German confuse the v with the f, b with p, d with t in such a way that the French spoken by them seems to be disguised German. The geese announced to me that I was nearing Strasbourg, the city of the foie gras, a delicacy made of the fat or swollen liver of geese of which much is sold.



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