Correspondence of Rizal to his Family 1876


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      Strasbourg is now the capital of Alsace and Lorraine or Elsass and Lothringen, as the Germans say. It is a gloomy city despite its commerce. Everywhere can be seen the vestiges of the bombardment of 1870, here a bullet, over there a cracked wall, farther on a destroyed tower of a fortress, a hole, a helmet encased in hard granite.

      The inhabitants take pleasure in showing the city to travelers. As was to be expected, I visited the famous cathedral and I climbed up its tower 142 meters high, the fourth in height, if I'm not mistaken, of the towers in Europe. I climbed up 500 steps until the platform from which can be seen almost the whole Rhine Valley, the Black Forest, the Vosges, etc. This tower suffered no less during the bombardment, but it has been repaired. There is a very notable thing inside the cathedral and it is the most complicated mechanism of a clock that is built to run for a long time, being self-winding. It is the second reconstruction of a clock of the 13th century. (2) In a corner of the square there is an old wooden house said to be Gutenberg's. Strasbourg as well as he other towns I have seen are full of soldiers. I observed that many people greet me on the way and at every moment I was obliged to lift up my hat.

      From Strasbourg I came directly to Heidelberg, and although I passed near the famous Baden, I didn't stop, for considering the state of my purse, it was not prudent to make so many stops. Moreover, Baden is for pleasure, especially in the summer. Beside my 2nd class compartment was a 1st class one occupied by a Russian prince and princess. Every time they went down the train coach they were rendered military honors. Germany is a country of great order and subordination.

      I arrived at Heidelberg on Wednesday, at half past two in the afternoon. The town seemed gay to me. Only students with red, yellow, white, blue caps of leather, etc. are seen on the streets. They say that the students belong to different corporations that fight one another for fun. When they fight, they have all parts of the body covered except the face and the eyes that are protected with goggles of steel mesh so that the head and the cheeks are the most exposed. They use a very sharp saber with which they fight by raising the arm over the head. The German student has fine presence, tall, and is very robust. On the night of my arrival, wishing to obtain information about a good professor of ophthalmology, I inquired about the beer-hall where students gather, and I was directed to the Guldeen Bierbraucrie. I found there some eight or nine, with yellow caps, of the corporation Schwabe (Swabia). I introduced myself and in my semi-German I asked them. Instantly they stirred, asked one another, and gave me all the necessary information. They invited me to sit with them and drink beer. Because of my lack of practice in speaking German and not being accomplished to bear it, conversation was difficult; and because they hardly spoke French, we resorted to Latin and we used this language part of the evening until one who knew French came. The majority of these who were there, eight out of ten, had the left cheek with large scars -- there was one who had more than 15 and the one who spoke French with me had, besides eight or ten large scars, his head bandaged, for just a few days ago, he lost a portion of his scalp . . . The German student is kind, courteous, modest, and is not boastful. When he greets, he lifts up his cap entirely, throwing it forward. That night they didn't let me pay at all for my beer as I was a stranger and recently arrived. The next time I shall have to pay in accordance with the custom of each one paying for his own. When they drink, they have the custom of toasting the health of everyone saying, "Prosit!" or "Prost!" and holding forth the glass toward the person to whose health they are drinking. They invited me to join their society, but upon knowing that I couldn't remain among them for a long time, they said it was useless, for it would be of no benefit to me. At least six months were necessary for probation and another six months to be admitted into it. These young men take a singular pleasure in making themselves look ugly, for there are among them some who really possess masculine beauty on one hand and on the other patched up skin. There was one who had already fought 54 times. Not all the students are members of these corporations.

      Now I'm living in a boarding house. The cost of living is not as cheap as I expected, for room, food, service, and light cost me something like 28 pesos a month. Undoubtedly it is very much cheaper than in Paris, but it is not as I supposed, so that the money that I thought would last until the end of April will only suffice until the beginning of this month. It is very cold; there is so much snowfall that it is necessary to keep the fire burning continuously lest one freeze. I live in a pretty good house; its owner is called Nebel; my neighbor is a young Englishman who came to study German and we speak in our semi-German and when we couldn't understand each other we speak English. At mealtime German is spoken. Little by little I'm getting to understand it. As I intend to change house to see if I can find a cheaper one, it would be desirable that you address me thus:


      Herrn Joseph Rizal

      General Delivery

      Or, better, you write me at Paris: 65 Boulevard Arago, Luna's studio address, for I don't know how long I'm staying here.

      As I have already told you, it would be better if you write me every fifteen days via the French mailboat, because it makes the trip faster. The drafts may come the Chartered Bank, etc.

      Heidelberg is in a valley between two mountains; on one-side flows the Neckar across which are two stone bridges. Yesterday and before yesterday, many persons were skating on the frozen portion near the river. The mountains are covered with snow and in the afternoons could be seen many people strolling among the ruins of the celebrated castle that can be seen from my window. There is only one theater; there are four or five Catholic and Protestant churches and they say that one of them is used one half by Catholics and the other by the Protestants. German food is not disagreeable, only it is full of potatoes. Day and night potatoes are served with everything. At night they serve tea with potatoes and cold meat. The majority of the women have studied French and they have a smattering of it. In general they are tall, big, not very blond though fairly so. They are very amiable and very sincere.

      German lads are even less curious than the French. In Paris, for example, I still saw some lads looking at me curiously on account of my type, but here they pass me by without stopping. Sometimes I take hold of their head and turn it a little; they submit and then walk away without saying a word.

      The waitress at the beer-hall where I go is called Mina. She writes her language very well in accordance with orthography. We always talk to each other through writing for as my ears are not yet accustomed to the accentuation, I need to see the words written down. She writes her language in two ways, as she says, Lateinische and Doutsche; that is, in Latin and German characters. For example Inseln Philippinen -- Infeln Pfilippinen. The German characters are the ones generally used.

      I end this letter now and until the next mail.

      Your son and brother who loves you sincerely.


      My friend Velentin Ventura whom I owe many favors is going there. He lives on Dulumbayan Street. If you go to Manila, I would appreciate very much if you would call on him. It is better that you continue writing me in Paris, 65 Boulevard Arago, for, as I'm staying a short time here at Heidelberg, the letters may get lost.


     (1) From 1871 to 1919 part of this frontier town belong to France and part to Germany.

     (2) This is a large astronomical clock. An angel strikes a bell for the quarter hours; a genius reverses his hour-glass every hour; a symbolic deity steps out of his niche each day -- Apollo on Sunday, Diana on Monday and so one; each day at noon the Twelve Apostles march around the figure of the Savior, while in the morning a cock on the highest pinnacle stretches his neck, flaps his wings, and crows.

Rizal attending Dr. Otto Becker's Augen Klinik -- Illumination of the Castle -- A tour of the Castle -- Rizal continues to study German.

16 Karlstrassse, Heidelberg

26 February 1886

My dear parents and brothers,

      I hope that you have received my previous letter and you are enjoying good health, which is ever my constant desire.

      For some 13 days now I've been attending the clinic for eye diseases (Augen Klinik) in this city under the direction of another famous oculist called Otto Becker. He is not as famous nor is he such a great surgeon as Dr. de Wecker of Paris; but in Germany he enjoys much renown and he has written many books. At the beginning I hardly understood a few words, for German is very difficult to follow on account of its unusual construction, but now I'm beginning to understand the words and I expect to be able to speak it fairly well within six months. Here we don't perform so many operations as in Paris: the 24,000 inhabitants of this city cannot provide so many patients, even if there is only one clinic. Paris, they say, has 2,000,000 inhabitants, but the truth is it has also very many oculists. When I shall know enough of the great advancement of German science and I shall be able to speak German somewhat perfectly, I intend to go to London or return to Paris that is the intellectual city par excellence, where . . . continually boils, and study a little with my first professor who had advised me to go back to him and I had promised him that I would do so.

      Recently on the occasion of the arrival of a German poet, very much beloved in this city, they illuminated the castle with fireworks. Don't think that it is like the fireworks there on feast days. Here they discharge some 15 or 16 rockets, Bengal lights, and no firecrackers; and with red light burning inside the ruins in such a way that only the glow is seen and not the flames, the walls, big towers, corridors, and all that remained of the ruined castle are revealed now by silhouettes, now by direct illumination. It is beautiful to see in the midst of the darkness those grandiose ruins all red and black with neither flames nor lighters visible, and all were simultaneously illuminated . . . (illegible) . . . I say that almost always for there are also others: . . . the students with lighted torches went around the streets on the occasion of the anniversary of the Elector. I don't know exactly what it was about for I was not able to understand well the long explanation the maid has just given me this morning.

      Last Sunday I visited the interior of the castle, which is the part . . . (illegible). An old woman, tall, erect, serious, and with a sad voice, was my guide. She seems to be the shadow of the ruins or some witch who dwells in these somber and deserted places. All the walls are dismantled, the statues are mutilated, the arches cracked; ivy grows everywhere. The old woman recited in a sad and grave voice, pointing out the various places: "This is the hall of the pages, here they played games; there the waiting room; further on is the library, adjoining it is the study room with its big chimney full of drawings. The audience hall, the hall of justice, the big dining room, the hall of the English in which was held the wedding of some princes of Great Britain. The kitchen where they roasted a whole ox with the immense hearth under the high and monumental chimney used for it still preserved. The jail, the octagonal tower, etc., etc." Sometimes one goes through dark, narrow, low corridors, going up and down little stairways one reaches a large hall whose roof is supported by massive arches: now and then a dormer window lets in some light to expose the dismal and ruinous state of the old palace of the Counts of the Palatinate some of whom became emperors. At times a small door opens on one side of the corridor into a dark and humid room -- it is the jail; sometimes it is the room of the warden maybe; sometimes it is a little spiral stairway that gets lost above among the ruins and below in the shadows of the underground. There are two huge casks for wine in this castle -- the larger one is thirteen paces long by eleven in width and holds, according to what they say, 230,000 bottles of wine, which seems to me probable for on top of it even five pairs can dance very easily. In the museum of curiosities of the castle are the pictures of all those who belonged to the noble house: women and men and even some who do not, like those of the most illustrious citizens who lived or were born in Heidelberg as Vows, (1) Melanchton. (2) There I saw pictures of Luther and his wife Catarina de Roca and the right that was used in their wedding, which has this shape more or less (sketch). The death mask of Kotzebue shows his wound and that of his assassin, the student Sand, who was beheaded at Mannheim. His hair and blood are preserved. I saw also a letter of Marshal Ney, a passport signed by Louis XVI in the last sad days and many more autographs more or less complete, more or less important. Among the pictures there is a pair that ought to be mentioned -- they are two pictures of a noblewoman belonging to a noble family that represents her youth and old age. Her picture when she was young shows her to be a serene beauty, winsome, ingenious, and tender; that of her old age, however, is of a witch that reminded me of the grotesque description of an old woman in the story of two friends, one of the awits (3) of Tuason of Pasig. (4) There also are the old images only, before which perhaps the proud and cruel elector took of his hat and knelt, maybe after ordering the death of some unfortunate man. Today nobody takes off his hat before them, and the humblest man, the son perhaps of a slave of the late lord, passes by, examines them curiously, and partly continues on his way.

      Tomorrow I am going to change my residence and move to No. 12, Ludwigsplatz, near the university. The room alone with service, light, and heating costs me eight pesos a month or 32 marks, each mark is worth 2 reals fuertes. If we were in the midst of winter, it would cost me more for I would have to spend for the heating. I shall eat at the restaurant during the day and at night take supper in my room in German style, that is, a cup of tea, bread, and butter. I believe that in the midst of winter, it would cost me more for I would have lodging until the end of April when I expect to receive my monthly allowance.

      I spend half of the day in the study of German and the other half in the diseases of the eye. Twice a week I go to the bierbraurei, or beer hall, to speak German with my student friends.

      Three times I have gone to see their duels at Hirschgasse and I have witnessed from 20 to 25 of them; each time 7, 8, or 9 fight and several times the duels were bloody. One that I saw received as many as six wounds during the duel; sometimes they are not wounded. They fight only among themselves, corporation against corporation, many times without any motive, for those who choose the adversaries are the sponsors; it is just to test bravery, according to them. There are five Corps Students here and they are Vandalia, Guestfalia, Saxoborussia, Renania, and Swabia and their respective caps are red, green, white, blue and yellow. Don't think that I belong to any of these corporations; I would need to stay at least one year, for they require six months trial. The Swabians are my friends.

      It has been very cold here and everywhere I see only ice forming capricious figures, stalactites, of crystal, rocks, on which the rays of the sun play, producing most beautiful colors.

      I wish you to keep well and healthy and that we may see each other soon, which will be absolutely next year. Regards to all who will remember me.

      Your son and brothers,



     (1) Johann Heinrich Vows (1751-1826), German poet and translator of the Iliad, Odyssey, etc.

     (2) Philip Schwartzert Melanchton (1497-1560), German Lutheran theologian professor, and religious reformer.
     (3) Awits are stories in verse. Awit also means song. It's a Tagalog term.
     (4) Rizal refers to José Tuason, teacher, poet and playwright, who lived at Navotas, now in Rizal Province. A native of Balanga, Bataan, he was the author of the popular song Ang magtanim ay hindi biro, of the poems Ang Matandang Sariwa. Awit ng Manananim, a play entitled Mga Siphayo ng Pag-ibig, and others.

Family affairs -- "I should like you to become a master oculist".

Calamba, 27 February 1886

Mr. José Rizal


My dear brother,

      My laziness in writing you started when my letter to you and that of our beloved Mother were lost, nut never have I lacked the will nor have I lacked the will nor have I forgotten you. No, my brother, not everything you say in your letter is true. You know well how your sisters and also our brothers are. What I'm sorry about is the loss of that letter that our Mother sent you, written with her own hand, giving you some salutary advice, for you know the concern and duty of a good mother, who is solicitous about the eternal happiness of her children, and imagine the trouble she took to finish that letter with her eyesight as it is. The news that I can give you is that the health of our parents is better these days. In the past months our Mother suffered from stomach pain. We too, your nephews and nieces and their parents, are well; in short, the whole family.

      I suppose you don't know yet that I'm now the mother of six children. In this letter you will see the names of the three older ones written by themselves, and of the last ones, the older was Isabel, the deceased one, and the two, one girl and one boy, are called Consolación and Leoncio López, who is as fat as a melon. The children of Sra. Neneng are three: They are called Alfredo, Adela, and Abelardo. Olimpia's shortly will be three, like Sra. Neneng's. The two who are not here are called Aristeo and Cesario; the older one called Aristeo, what a lively boy he is! His godfather is Sr. Paciano. He will be a useful boy when he gets older. At the age of tow, he already knows a great deal. He is the only consolation of our parents, I tell you, because when you see this child, even if you are angry, you will be obliged to laugh, so funny is he.

      The delay of this letter is due to an eye ailment that we call singao (1) from which I was suffering when I received your letter. If you meet María Lecaroz, greet her in my behalf and give her a thousand regards from me, in case she still remembers me.

      May you fare well and I wish you to be a master oculist or second to your Professor Wecker.

      Your sister who esteems you,

      Narcisa Rizal

      (Emilio López, Angelica López, Antonio López)

      I expect this letter to have many mistakes and perhaps you will say that I'm having a hard time with Spanish. But I'm following your example and the saying that "he who does not take a risk will not reach Spain." Dandoy is sending you regards and is asking if one can buy an electric pin there. According to Zamora, physician, he bought his there. Let us know.

      The Same


     (1) Singao is a Tagalog term meaning inflammation.

Impression of German women -- Advice to his sister -- Read and read attentively -- Knowledge should be the principal adornment of women

Germany, Thursday 11 March 1886

Miss Trinidad Rizal

My dear sister Trining,

      Since I left our country, I have received only four or five lines written by your hand, one or two insignificant news about you and nothing more. I don't know how you are and I cannot imagine your person. You were very small when I left. Now within two months you are going to be 18 years and in four years I suppose that you have grown up and you are becoming a young lady. At your age, German women seem to be 20 or 24 years, as much for their faces as for their ways. The German women seem to be 20 or 24 years, as much for their faces as for their ways. The German woman is serious, studious, and diligent, and as their clothes do not have plenty of color, and generally they have only three or four, they do not pay much attention to their clothes or to jewels. They dress their hair simply, which is thin, but beautiful in their childhood. They go everywhere walking so nimbly or faster than men, carrying their books, their baskets, without minding anyone and only their own business. As I said to Pangoy, they love their homes and they study cooking with as much diligence as they do music and drawing.

      If our sister María had been educated in Germany, she would have been notable, because German women are active and somewhat masculine. They are not afraid of men. They are more concerned with the substance than with appearances. Until now I have not heard women quarreling, which in Madrid is the daily bread.

      It is a pity that in our country the principal adornment of all women almost always consists of clothes and finery rather than of knowledge. In our provinces, women still preserve a virtue that compensates for their little instruction -- the virtue of industry and tenderness. In no women in Europe have I found the latter virtue in such a high degree as among the women there. If these qualities that nature gives to the women there were exalted by intellectual qualities, as it happens in Europe, the Filipino family has nothing to envy the European. For this reason, now that you are still young and you have time to learn, it is necessary that you study by reading and reading attentively. It is a pity that you allow yourself to be dominated by laziness when it takes so little effort to shake it off. It is enough to form only the habit of study and later everything goes by itself.

      I hope to receive a letter from you to see whether you are progressing or not. If you can, write me in Spanish.

      Your brother,


Winter in Heidelberg -- Continues studying ophthalmology and German -- The Fackelzug -- Carnival -- he practices at the hospital, but he would like to return to Paris, to Dr. Wecker's clinic.

12 Ludwigsplatz, Heidelberg
11 March 1886

My dear Parents and Brothers,

      As I announced to you in my previous letter, I'm now in this new house, in front of the University itself, and in which I intend to remain all the time I have to be in this city, until I can go to Berlin, which will be within a few months.

      During last week and half of this it had been very cold and snow fell during that time in the mountain as well as in the city. The wind blows with great force, beats the tree branches, and makes the snow whirl, lashing and reddening the face. Despite the fact that I'm not sanguine, my cheeks are red and at that I'm not very stout. Despite the cold, the wind, and the snow, I continue going to the hospital and studying ophthalmology and German every day. I'm progressing fairly in German, for now I can make myself understood by everyone, only that I don't understand everybody, for many here speak a patois or dialect which is not the classic German, or high German that I study.

      Although snow makes many suffer on account of the cold it causes, on the other hand it entertains children and the youth. The children make snowballs with which they attack one another. The young people ride in sledges or they slide from a height on a mountain path down to a valley below.

      It is worth describing to you the Fackelzug or the torch festival that I mentioned to you in my previous letter. On the occasion of the election of the Rector, the students, numbering from 650 to 700, hold this celebration. All are dressed in the uniform of their corporations, usually preceded by two bearing duel swords. Each corporation selects its finest young men and these lead the march. Ahead go the Rector and the highest official in a carriage and behind them march the students with bands of music. All carry lighted and walk at a light gait. The effect is beautiful and wonderful. After going through the streets of Heidelberg, they all gather at this square and form a square leaving a big space in the middle. At a given signal all throw their torches up in the air -- seven hundred torches fluttering in space. Those that fall are picked up and thrown up again, while all sing in chorus Gaudeamus igitur to the beat of the music and the clashing of the swords. Here it is the student who prevails; without students Heidelberg is a dead city. One Saturday there will be another Fackelzug as a farewell, for March and April are vacation months.

      Carnival passed away with more gaiety, though with very much less pomp and animation than in Madrid. Very few masks, 20 or 30 floats only, but as the German is serious during the whole year, on Shrove Tuesday he makes up and enjoys himself. The street where they stroll is moreover narrow, so that all the merry-making is concentrated and the people enliven with their presence what luxury and movement do in other places. L In spite of the cold and the wind that makes the ears crack, there were some little jokes, throwing of peas from carriage to carriage, and . . .

      The German language is becoming clearer to me. It no longer seems to be so obscure and difficult as at the beginning. I hope that within five months I'll speak it like Spanish. I'm afraid that I may forget the latter language, for until the present, since I arrived in Germany, I haven't found anyone who knows Spanish. On the other hand, I spoke Tagalog once with a German who stayed a long time at Singapore and who spoke Malay. Although we couldn't understand each other very well, nevertheless I encountered many words similar to Tagalog.

      Now I lead an entirely different life from what I had lately. I eat outside. The house with service costs me 28 marks -- this is 7 pesos, each mark being worth 2 reales fuertes. Breakfast served at the house costs me 40 pfennigs; I lunch at the restaurant; for 2 reales 18 cuartos they give me soup, three dishes, dessert, and wine, besides potatoes, salad, cabbage and other vegetables, for it must be noted that German cooking is all full of vegetables and many things mixed together. At night I buy two small rolls that cost three cuartos, cheese, fruits, and a piece of sausage or butter. All in all, the heating, light, laundry, room, and food cost me some 30 pesos a month or a little less. Add to these expenses the cleaning . . ., etc. so that for 40 pesos one can live well in Germany, if one doesn't have to buy clothes and to travel from time to time.

      At the hospital I practice and examine patients who come every day. The professor corrects our mistakes in diagnosis; I help in the treatment and although I don't see so many operations as I did in Paris, here I study more the practical side. If I receive sufficient money in April or May, I intend to enroll in a regular course in ophthalmology either in Leipzig, Halle, or Berlin. God willing, I don't intend to remain in Germany longer than until November at most in order to go afterward to England in December and remain there during the spring of 1887 and go again to Paris to observe the operations of Dr. de Wecker who, as a surgeon, it seems to me, is very superior to anyone I have been with until the present. From there I can return to the Philippines and manage very suitably a clinic for dye diseases.

      Until now I haven't received a letter from you since the last that I received from my brother at the beginning of January. You may continue sending me your letters to Paris and send them through the French mail boat that departs from there every fortnight.

      A German promised me one of these days. . .

Spring at Heidelberg -- Rapid progress in the study of German.

A fragment of a letter by Rizal.

12 Ludwigsplatz, Heidelberg

20 March 1886

My dear parents and brothers,

      Winter is over and this is now spring. Here the changes of the season are greatly appreciated for a great contrast is noted in the change. After the cold of a severe winter, after so much ice and so much snow and so much fog, in two or three days, the sky turns blue, the air becomes moderately warm, snow and ice melt. Men lay aside their wraps and overcoats and the women put on lighter dresses of various colors. The change of seasons is more notable in Germany than in Madrid. Now my windows are open; I hear and see the children playing noisily in the square whose trees are beginning to sprout again. This is so beautiful that one feels like singing.

      Everyone tells me that I have made very rapid and surprising progress in the German language. Now I already speak it and the Germans understand me; that is, high German or hochdeutsch, for I don't speak or study the dialect spoken in this city or the Heidelberger Deutsch, being a dialect and neither a scientific nor literary language. I hope that before the end of the eight months I have fixed, I shall be able to leave Germany and go to England, or wherever you think convenient.

      I shall have money to live on for 27 days and to pay the house rent. If by chance I don't receive money until May, Luna has spontaneously offered to send me money any time I may need it as he has some, for being a good painter, half the year he is poor and the other half he seems like a millionaire.

      Were it not for the fact that I have to order underwear -- what I have was the one I brought from Manila mended and re-mended -- my allowance could be further reduced, but now it is not possible for me, for, although food here is not expensive, the . . .

He sends Rizal money -- Paciano is planning to abandon Pansol. -- Asks Rizal to send him a remedy for malaria.

Calamba, 23 May 1886

Dear Brother,

      Enclosed you will receive a draft for 188 pesos against the Hong Kong Bank, in accordance to what you told me in your preceding letter. It turns out more costly than in another bank, for here the discount does not exceed 2 1/2 % while in that bank it is six.

      I finished the milling on the 18th of this month and in spite of the low price of sugar, I'm very much satisfied for having finished this work, because at last I can rest at home after having spent five months away from it. It is true that this rest will not be for more than a couple of months, after which I shall have to attend to the preparations for the coming harvest, but after all, it is two months of relaxation from work. Our harvest was more than ordinary.

      This year, if things turn out well for me, I shall try to have my own land, giving Pansol either to Silvestre or to anybody else or return it to the Estate, because it is not possible for a farmer to support himself in these lands which are overloaded with rent, considering the bad price of sugar. The land where I'm planning to go has the worst sanitary conditions -- it is malarial -- but it does not matter, we are all mortals. The only thing that I would regret is if I shold be caught by this disease at the beginning of my work, because then they would say the lands of the Estate are very much better than one's own by any means, a saying, as you will understand, which is highly prejudicial. If you know of an effective remedyagainst this disease, it would not be superfluous for you to send it to me.

      The whole family is good health, except for one thing or other that I refrain from telling yhou to save you one more displeasure.


Rizal has received neither money nor letters from home -- Would like to go home and help the family -- In Europe postal employees are honest.

Wilhelmsfeld, (1) 9 June 1886

My Dear Parents and Brothers,

      Since the beginning of January until now, I haven't received either a letter or a draft, though according to my calculation I ought to receive money a month ago, for what I have would barely lost until the beginning of May. The next mail doesn't arrive until after two weeks, and as I haen't received your advice to give up, I continue hoping . . . In Germany I have neither a countryman nor a true friend to turn to. Luna has been lending me the whole past month, but my friend is poor and besides has his brother at Paris and has to support two. I expected to receive through the latter, who arrived two weeks ago, the watch my brother promised me, but undoubtedly you didn't know he was leaving.

      I repeat once more, lest you may have forgotten it, the convenience and necessity of writing me in advance when you cannot send me the promised amount. Thus, I shall be at ease knowing by what to abide and I don't contract obligations which later will cause me displeasures that are not easy to imagine.

      If you don't have much to tell me, a postal cared with four or five words would suffice, which is very convenient and costs one half. With an expenditue of four cuartos, you save me many displeasures. this is always easy to do.

      It is my serious and ardent desire to go home, for it seems to me that I cause too much expense and I wish to help the family in whatever way I can. I'm tired of Europe and I'm afraid to ruin the family, for they say that business is very bad. I wish to go home as soon as possible in order to be with you.

      When you send me a draft, send me through the following mail the 2nd copy, and the 3rd copy through the one after that, in order that incase it is lost, the amount can be collected. I fear that that is what might have happened this time, for I can't explain the delay and lack of letters. In Europe postal employees are very honest and diligent, at least in France, Germany, and England. It is seldom that a letter gets lost.



      Please answer this letter.

Olimpia received a letter from Rizal.

Calamba, 11 July 1886

Mr. José Rizal,

My dear brother-in-law,

      For some months I have not written you even two or three words on account of my duties and manner of living; excuse me then for this silence.

      Now I'll explain to you everything. Since 2 October when we left Albay, we have been in this town of Calamba. On 22 April last Olimpia gave birth to a robust boy but he came out dead and could not be baptized. Olimpia until now enjoys good health as well as Aris (Aristeo), César, and I, and all those in the house.

      Maria was married to Daniel, son of Manuel Cruz of Biñan, on 5 June last, and they live in that town.

      Olimpia received a letter from you and she has not answered you because she is busy in her store. When I closed this to drop it in the post office, she was taking a bath and she could not write some words in it. Probably she will write you when we receive the reply to this and she will give you some news.

      With nothing more, I'll give you news in my next letter.

      Your brother-in-law who loves you,


Description of the Calamba fiesta - Rizal is advised to study hydrotherapy.

Calamba, 18 July 1886

Dear brother,

      With this letter go three that I have written since January. I don't write often or by every mail because I see nothing important to communicate to you on account of the monotonous life that we lead here, or perhaps of my own barrenness, both things that I cannot remedy.

      The town fiesta, like everything, passed away with its music, which this year was fairly good. There were some fireworks, half of which were not fired because they became humid. There were two nights of theatrical performances in which Ratia and Fernández (1) took part. The first night, after the second act, the orchestra and the spectators, to protect themselves from the rain, hurriedly went up the platform where some were seated, some standing, some squatting, and many in Turkish style, remaining there until the performance was over. It was a pleasure to see that crowd for its varied assortment: There were friars with military caps and military men with cowls. In the performance the second night nothing happened except that it was finished at 5:00 o'clock in the morning. The procession of the first day got wet when it was halfway, having to return immediately to church. I liked very much the Mass because the theatrical company sang with a well-tuned orchestra. My conscience that day told me that I attended a profane rather than a religious function. The sermon depicted to us the delights of paradise and the horrible torments of hell and judging by the silence of the audience, I deduced that the sermon edified us very much, but I was greatly undeceived when we left the church. In short, there was such an unusual attendance of gamblers that made this, according to some, a second Cavite, if not the first, because they gambled at their pleasure and nobody molested them. And why should they be molested when they gambled with their own money and perhaps pawning their children or even their wives. There was no reason for disturbing them, because if they lost, they hurt only themselves and not a third party. Never were the wife and children considered a third party in relation to the father and husband. On the other hand, everyone looked after his own welfare and I knew of one who, in the opinion of everybody, enjoyed the most during those days because he was the only one capable of getting the most from the fiesta -- a man more smart and cunning than either Porta or Cardona. (I don't know exactly with whom to compare him.) I don't covet that kind of entertainment because not everybody has the same character. There you have the description of the town fiesta that, although it is written without orthography, many words, or figures of Speech, it has the merit of containing the truth, which to me is the principal thing.

      Talking one day with Sevio, son of Capitan Quico, he told me that he was waiting impatiently for you so that you might treat the tumor in his left eye, the result of the lash he administered his horse which in the rebound hit him. The tumor is of the size of a calumbibit. (2) It is so serious that in hot days his right eye can no longer see clearly and it causes him intense headaches. I told him that I did not know the date of your return and he added that I write you proposing that if it is not convenient for you to come to Calamba, whether because of the distance or any other thing, he is ready to meet you at Hong, Kong, should it be convenient for you to perform the operation there. In endorsing to you his proposition, I don't mean to convey that I approve it. I know that unfortunately there are still many among our countrymen who, having been obliged to give their fellowman some money, already think that they have a right to demand from them the impossible. Hence, the poor physician who has not been lucky in his treatment, besides not being paid willingly, becomes the object of a thousand murmurings. Aside from this are the comments by the father on your fear to come to the Philippines to save the family reprimands. I make all these observations for your guidance. Now, if he goes to Paris, as some have advised him, I don't say no. But the lad is not courageous enough to undertake such a trip and he is right because, if in Madrid they made fun of a Tuvino, in Paris . . .

      If you have finished translating any work of Schiller and you don't need it, send it to me so that I can have it printed. Last year I amused myself translating Mary Stuart but because of the poverty of the language or my inadequate knowledge of Tagalog and Spanish, in two days of assiduous labor, I translated only a page and a half, and badly. I had to give up.

      Furnish me with information of the best schools there. We have many nephews the majority of whom are promising. It is a pity that these ones should fall into the hands of teachers who teach unwillingly and do so only for show. It is true that they inculcate in children very sane principles, such as fear and humility, the first being the beginning of wisdom and the second of apostolic and civic virtue, but it is also true that fear and humility lead to dullness.

      When you return to Paris, find out the price of a comb and an electric bottom and write me about it. The comb is for Sra. Neneng and the bottom is for me. This is still a novelty here; Zamora is the only one who has worn it for the first time.

      Carrillo and Guivelondo insistently ask me to give you their regards.

      The whole family is in good health. Maria married Daniel F. Cruz of Biñan, son of Manuel Cruz and one Revilla, and now they live sometimes in Biñan and sometimes in Sta. Cruz and from time to time they come to the house. Maneng will enroll in the law course this year. And Silvestre is thinking of returning to the telegraph office. You already know that he left the service almost a year ago as it suited him better to open a little store than to go around the Islands; but now, as this store, that is not worth two hundred pesos, must pay a tax of thirty or forty pesos, it is right to give it up. Otherwise, after four years, capital and labor will vanish like smoke.

      Your brother,


      P. S.

      If you have any time left, you ought to study hydrotherapy as a specialty. The variety of our mineral springs in Calamba and Los Baños could be useful to you. Many bathers instinctively and daily go to Pansol for the treatment of their ailments. Some are cured, others remain in the same condition, but very few or no one become worse. If they knew how to use the waters properly, they might get better results.


     (1) Nemesio Ratia and Praxedes (Teyeng) Fernández, were both celebrated Filipino actors.
     (2) Calumbibit or Kalumbibit (Frutex Globulorurn Klitsji.)

25O pesos -- Locust infestation.

Calamba, 27 August 1886

Dear brother,

      We received your four letters on the 24th of this month after an interruption of nearly two months.

      As I' m suffering from acute dysentery, about three weeks ago, I sent to Manila 1.00 pesos to be sent through the Tuason firm. They got the draft not from Tuason but from Vara, so that I doubt if you can cash it in Frankfurt, though surely in Madrid. This will cost you delay, favor, and postage; but as the draft cannot be returned any more, there is no alternative but to use it. Be satisfied with that amount for the present, because our sugar is still in the warehouse, despite your good news. When it is sold, I'll send you some more money immediately.

      They offer 220 pesos for the chestnut horse, I asked only 250 pesos and I sold it, first, because I don't use it and then it is getting old.

      I received the photographs of the married gentlemen -- Luna and Resurrección.

      I wish to know how much is the cost of printing a work there in Leipzig or anywhere else, so that I can have ready the amount or borrow it, because the situation of our brothers-in-law does not permit them to help you.

      In my next letter, I shall write longer, if this sickness leaves me.

      Your brother,


      Whole towns, like Calamba, Santo Tomás, and Tanawan, are covered with locusts, a plague that destroys all kinds of plants.

Family news - Onerous system of taxation and rentals - A receipt which is not a receipt - Locusts - Rizal's father will send him money for the- doctorate and purchase of medical instruments -- Patients waiting for Rizal.

Calamba, 29 August 1886

Mr. José Rizal

Dearest brother,

      We received your very dear letter of 2nd July and we are informed of its content. Don't be surprised at the long interval between our letters, because we are trying to look for good news to give you. Now we realize that we are failing in our duty towards you and so we are going to write you often instead.

      We and your three nephews, who are here at home, are well and in good health, except a little inflammation of Delfina's eye, which is the cause of her absence from school. What a pity she did not become a boy! She is bright and very studious. Her mother is always telling her not to read because her inflammation might worsen, but only she is too hardheaded.

      Concha and Patrocinio are not yet studying. If you will stay there a long time before coming home, perhaps, Delfina will be able to write you also.

      We admit the mistake of not writing you often; it should be once or twice in two months; from now on we are going to write you often. Marcosa died long before our son. She died of her old illness though she was operated on twice, once by Mr. Juan Burk and again by his nephew.

      The tax! With regard to your question on this, the answer is very long, as it is the cause of the Prevailing misery here. What I can write you will be only one half of the story and even Dumas, senior, cannot exhaust the subject. Nevertheless, I'll try to write what I can, though I may not be able to give a complete story, you may at least know half of it. Here you there are many kinds of taxes. What they call irrigated riceland, even if it has no water, must pay a tax of 50 cavanes of palay (unhusked rice) and land with six cavanes of seed pay 5 pesos in cash. The land they call dry land that is planted to sugar cane, maize, and others pay different rates. Even if the agreed amount is 3O pesos for land with six cavanes of seed, if they see that the harvest is good, they increase the tax, but they don't decrease it, if the harvest is poor. There is land whose tax is 25 pesos or 2O pesos, according to custom.

      The most troublesome are the residential lots in the town. There is no fixed rule that is followed, only their whim. Hence, even if it is only one span in size, if a stone wall is added, 50 pesos must be paid, the lowest being 20 pesos. But a nipa or cogon house pays only one peso for an area of ten fathoms square.

      Another feature of this system is that on the day you accept the conditions, the contract will be written which cannot be changed for four years, but the tax is increased every year. For these reasons, for two years now the payment of tax is confused and little by little the fear of the residents here of the word "vacant" is being dispelled, which our ancestors had feared so much. The result is bargaining, like they do in buying fish. It is advisable to offer a low figure and payment can be postponed, unlike before when people were very much afraid to pay after May. I'm looking for a receipt to send you, but I cannot find any, because we don't get a receipt every time we pay. Any way it is valueless as it does not state the amount paid; it only says that the tax for that year has been paid, without stating whether it is five centavos, twenty-five centavos, one hundred, or one thousand pesos. The residents who ask or get the said receipt accept it with closed eyes. The receipt has no signature in the place where the amount paid ought to be, although it bears their name. Until now I cannot comprehend why some are signed and others are not. This is more or less what is happening here in the payment of the land tax and it has been so for many years since I can remember. Besides this, the taxes on the plants in the fields that are far from the town, like the land in Pansol, are various. The tax on the palay is separate from the tax on maize, mongo, or garlic. There is no limit to this tax, for they fix it themselves. Since July no one buys sugar and since June locusts are all over the town and they are (destroying palay and sugar cane, which is what we regret here. The governor gave 50 pesos to pay the catchers of locusts, but when they took them to the town hall they were paid only 25 cents a cavan and a half; and it seems that the locusts are not decreasing. According to the guess of the residents here only 300 cavanes of locusts have been caught in this town. Many still remain. Though the governor has not sent any more money, the people have not stopped catching them.

      Father says that he will send you money for the purchase of instruments for eye treatment and also for your doctorate. Perhaps you will receive it when the sugar is sold. It is desirable that you come back here. Eusebio Elepañio, son of Capitán Quico, is one of the many waiting, for you, because of his eye, which has a tumor inside. Many physicians in Manila have treated him, but they have not cured him. Formerly he was going to Hong Kong for treatment, but when he heard that you were coming, he did not proceed any more and said that he would ask you to treat him. We are all very anxious to embrace you. Every day we mention your homecoming. Let me advise you to prepare sturdy implements, all the things that you may need here, before you return. You know already the weakness of our house.

      Many regards and command us. Delfina, Concha, and Patrocinio kiss your hand.

      Your very affectionate servant who kisses your hand,

      Mariano Herbosa

Family news -- Longing for his return

Calamba, 29 August 1886

Dearest brother,

      Though my letters to you are far apart, my affection and good wishes for you never wane. What I like is good works and not beautiful words. We hardly have any news for you. Perhaps Maria and Daniel have written you. With the exception of this, there is nothing new here. What I can tell you is that every day, every month, our desire for your return increases and we are anxious to see you and embrace you. Perhaps when you return you will find conditions here quite different from there, on account of the poverty and gloom of the times. The wind that blows here hurts the eyes. Because we are accustomed to this kind of life, we don't feel it very much. For our misery our remedy is the Spanish word paciencia (patience). If you have a better remedy, don't forget to bring it along.

      We are all well, thanks to God's mercy. Mother and Father are well. Let us hope that we shall meet again in good health. Sra. Sisa had an abortion this month.

      Your sister,

      Lucía Rizal

Rizal' s Tagalog version of Wilhelm Tell - Reform of Tagalog Orthography - Estimated cost of printing Noli me Tángre

40-11 Albertstrasse, Leipzig

12 October 1886

My dear brother,

      There I'm sending you at last the translation of Wilhelm Tell by Schiller which was delayed one week, being unable to finish it sooner on account of my numerous tasks. I'm aware of its many mistakes that I entrust to you and my brothers-in-law to correct. It is almost a literal translation. I'm forgetting Tagalog a little, as I don't speak it with anyone. I wanted to introduce a slight reform into Tagalog orthography in order to make it easier and follow the ancient system of writing of our ancestors. For example, I have completely discarded the c which we don't have, because our camí and cayó, for example, have another sound: It is a k with aspiration, for example, kh. Ou was also useless for neither do we have it nor does the sound of qu heard among us. Neither did I ever want to use y except at the beginning of a syllable like the old Tagalog y. You have to therefore correct it in many words where it is at the end. In short, read the note that I put on the last page.

      I lacked many words, for example, for the word Freiheit or liberty. The Tagalog word kaligtasan cannot be used, because this means that formerly he was in some prison, slavery, etc. I found in the translation of Amor Patrio the noun malayá, kalayaban that Marcelo del Pilar uses. In the only Tagalog book I have -- Florante -- I don't find an equivalent noun. The same thing happened to me with the word, Bund, ligá in Spanish, alliance in French. The word tipánan that is translated in Arca de la alianza or fidelis arca doesn't suffice, it seems to me. If you find a better word, substitute it. For the word Vogt or governor, I used the translation given to Pilate, hukúm. For the prose I used purposely the very difficult forms of Tagalog verbs that only Tagalogs understand. In short, I hope you and the others would correct it, not entirely and following the Spanish translation that you have there, which, whatever may be said, is not a direct translation from the German but from the French. Had I more time I would have reviewed it again. I shall do it when I will be there and publish translations of French, English, German, Italian, and Spanish classics too.

      I received the draft of 366 marks for which I thank you, and if they cash it, I shall leave for Berlin at the end of this month. As you must have observed, here we lose 9 % and still we are not sure of cashing it. I request that henceforth you would always remit to me through Tuason or the English bank. If they don't cash this here and I have to collect it in Madrid, imagine what I shall get, for here with the draft from Madrid to Germany, I shall lose another 9 % at the least. Therefore, that Mr. Vaca would collect 18 % just to make me spend for stamps, wait a long time, and bother my friends at Madrid. If Mr. Vaca were an honest person, he ought not to have dared accept an amount for remittance and charge so high if he was not sure that his signature would be honored, for his action can be judged very harshly. I believe that it would be better for you to remit it to me always to Paris, because the value of French money is always rising while that of Spanish is going down. A peseta that is worth a franc in the Philippines, in Germany is worth very much less.

      With respect to my book, I was mistaken in my estimate. I thought that 1,500 copies would cost me 200 pesos. Now that I have talked with the printers and they have computed it, they ask me about 500 pesos for 1,000 copies for which reason I have desisted from publishing it. However, there is one who asks me about 400 pesos for 1,000 copies of 450 pages, each of 38 lines, like the enclosed. This amount seems to me big and at that in Leipzig printing is the cheapest in all Europe. They ask me 12 pesos for each sheet while at Madrid it costs from 20 to 25 pesos. I don't therefore dare ask you for this amount, for I consider it big for a work that may perchance produce more grief than joy. For this reason, I shall wait for chance, for the lottery, and see if I win. As to the rest, payment is in three installments, at the start, the middle, and the end of the printing, which will take five months. It is very painful for me to give up publishing this work on which I have worked day and night for a period of many months and on which I have pinned great hopes. With this I wish to make myself known, for I suppose that it would not pass unnoticed; on the contrary, it will be the object of much discussion. If I can't publish it, if luck doesn't favor me, I leave Germany. . .

Rizal visiting schools and churches so that he can bring home the best he can find abroad -- Christmas celebration in Europe -- Comparative education of children and its results.

Berlin, 11 November 1886
Jaegerstrasse 71-111

Mr. Manuel T. Hidalgo and

Mrs. Saturnia Rizal de Hidalgo

My dear brothers:

      Although I have already told in my letters to our parents all the news I have, nevertheless this does not excuse me from writing to you. As you already known, I am here in Germany going from city to city, from town to town, visiting all the educational centers, the town schools, the parishes, the churches, and many times after listening to a Catholic sermon, I go to a Protestant church to attend the services there and sometimes to the synagogue of the Jews. Everything that can teach me something interests me, so that I can bring to the Philippines the best that I find here. There are here some beautiful and good customs, like for example those of Christmas, which it gives me pleasure to describe here for it is not found in Spain and you have not read about it in Spanish books. On Christmas eve they bring from the forest a pine tree and this tree is chosen because, besides being erect, it is the only tree which keeps its leaves during winter -- I say it badly; not really leaves, but a kind of needle. It is decorated with tinsel, paper, lights, dolls, candy, fruits, dainties, etc., and at nighttime, it is shown to the children (who should not see the preparation of it), and around this tree the family celebrates Christmas. They say, and I have also read it that in England there is another custom that is for older persons. In certain parts of the house is hung a twig of mistletoe or gui in French. When a young man and woman find themselves under it and he does not kiss her, he must pay a fine or give her a present. For this reason, many young men stroll the streets carrying a twig of mistletoe. When they see a pretty girl, they approach her and kiss her. When she looks up and sees the mistletoe held over her head by the mischievous young man, she smiles, keeps quiet, and says nothing. This is very English.

      The only custom I have seen in Madrid, which perhaps we have adapted, is eat a fish called besugo and roast turkey, which shows that the Spaniards do not indulge in poems for children and young people, or as the vulgar expression goes, they do not go around the bush. They attend more to the positive or to the stomach. And "Carambas!" they would say; let us be amused and let children and young people seek their own amusement as best they can. They do seek their own diversion with the result that the children and young people in Spain lack the result that the children and young people in Spain lack the charming innocence and candor of those of the North, without malice, without great preoccupation. A good young woman can walk alone in the streets until ten o'clock at night without being molested. A pretty girl, well educated and rich, can travel safely for leagues and leagues alone with her handbag and luggage. This is because here they know how to give each age its due, unlike in other countries where children are not allowed to be themselves, to make noise or to play. Instead they are made to recite the rosary and novena until the poor youngsters become very sleepy and understand nothing of what is going on. Consequently when they reach the age of reason, they pray just as they have prayed when they were children without understanding what they are saying; they fall asleep or think of nonsense. Nothing can destroy a thing more than the abuse of it, and praying can also be abused.

      This is how I have written you, filling four sheets of paper without saying anything, which shows that one can write even when one has no news to tell. Please write me.

      Your brother,


Allowance and money for the Noli -- Don't come home before receiving Paciano's letter

Sta. Cruz, Manila
29 November 1886

Mr. José Rizal

Esteemed José,

      I send you enclosed a draft for 300 pesos that you can collect from the Berlin Bank, but the firm that issued that draft told me that you could collect it there in Leipzig, as it must have a branch there in that important city. I made it so in order that it will not suffer many discounts for transfer, as I suppose you know that the transfer of money from one point to another causes a diminution in its amount. You will write us if this suits you, or what would be a more economical and easier way to cash, so that I can follow it in the future as well as how to send it to reach you in a short time without bothering Mr. Luna.

      Paciano says you must not make any decision concerning your return to the Philippines while you receive no letter from him that will not be very long now. One hundred pesos of the draft is your allowance and the two hundred for the printing of your work and winter suits.

      Hidalgo's mother died on the 15th instant. Nanay (Mother) and Trining (Trinidad) were here in Manila on the 7th and we called on your friend Cabangis to thank for him for delivering to the two of us of Hidalgo the two boxes of your books without charging us anything. I believe you ought to do the same by letter. He lives in front of the Tondo church.

      I can write nothing more for now. Olimpia and my two boys are here. We are well as those in Calamba.

      Your brother-in-law who esteems you,

      Silvestre Ubaldo

Rizal tells his mother about his religious beliefs -- His concept of God - Job was not a patient man contrary to popular belief

71 Jaegerstrasse, Berlin
3 December 1886

Mrs. Teodora Alonzo,

My dearest mother,

      Although I haven't received news about your health for months now, I flatter myself, however, with the belief that my brothers you are enjoying the best of health, for otherwise in, and brothers-in-law would have already informed me about it. I don't know absolutely how you spend your time there, how you amuse yourselves, and live. I imagine that you lay with your grandchildren the whole day which is the best and most wholesome thing to do -- to rejoice at everything the good God sends us, at the world, light, air, at all the blessings He bestows upon us. That is the way I imagine it in my humble opinion, that God above also rejoices at seeing his creatures contented and happy with the worldly possessions He has given them, just as my parents ought to be happy when they see their children and grandchildren happy, laughing and leaving all the plates on the table clean, for I don't believe that God is like those haughty misers who give a sumptuous feast, but wouldn't want their guests to eat turkey or ham but only rice and salt, and better still if they fast. This is then my way of thinking, partly philosophical, partly naturalistic. And may God forgive me if I believe thus, for it is my concept of a good father. For this reason, I pity the good Benedictines and Carthusians (1) when I read their histories (stories?) of their penitence.

      In truth, were I God, I would leave them without food or drink, giving them besides . . . rheumatism, and other bothersome ailments so that they might have cause for penitence for every hour of their useless and lachrymose life. They say notwithstanding that they do contract many diseases, but these are due to the filth in which they live rather than being sent by God, for God is not filth nor does He cause diseases if we age to believe the holy book of the little forbearing job. Because you must know that Job didn't have much patience. The man, it is true, suffered the death of his children and the loss of his herd but be couldn't bear sickness nor the gossip of his friends and he cursed terribly the day of his conception and birth, which is . . . (illegible) . . . nor when I had the itch nor in those moments when I was rubbed with ubas de gogo (2) which was never agreeable to me, nor when I heard Father Cueto preach two hours on the Most Holy Trinity, the most boresome that one can hit upon in this life. When Father Cueto preaches, he makes the friends of Job very small indeed. Well now, I haven't cursed the day of my conception nor have I ever called Father Cueto a "bad man "devoid of intelligence", nor have I told him . . . (illegible) as he did and mind you I was a child and the least forbearing and the most (illegible) and talkative that Calmba has produced; I don't hush up even the most insignificant thoughts. It is evident that Job was neither a very patient man nor . . . (illegible), as he is believed to be. Those who speak of the "patience of Job" haven't read Job and if they have read him, they haven't understood the language that they read, etc., etc. After putting things in their proper places -- not allow ourselves to be guided by what may repeat -- I return to my theme, that of religion in the family, for I know you like religious topics. And as I have no other thing to talk to you about, I shall devote myself to it principally

      I can say that until now the constitution of the Filipino family, of the Tagalog at least, is one of the best, if not the best, I have yet seen in my trips. I believe it would be perfect had it not some defects that I'm not going to state now. Because I don't want to write anything that is dark and gloomy that will make us feel sad. You'll remember what I told you in talking about the curate of Wilhelmsfeld, that be didn't invite his son to drink with him during their trips but instead he drank alone, although he knew very well that the hapless boy was very thirsty, a thing a Tagalog father would never have done. Well then, what neither a Tagalog lad would have done, a German did. The hapless lad was traveling with his father and mother and the three, being thirsty, entered a tavern and the father ordered two glasses of beer. How?" exclaimed the lad and "For mother? Doesn't mother drink beer?"

      Now I remember other customs, those of the Scotch. It is said that when the son gets to be twenty-five years old, the father presents him with an account of all that he had spent for him, and he goes into a deal with him, he bargains, and finally they agree on the manner of paying this debt.


     (1) The Benedictines are of the monastic order that follow the strict rules of St. Benedict. The Carthusians belong to an austere monastic order founded by St. Bruno in 1086 in the mountainous region near Grenoble, France.

     (2) Gogo or gugo (Entada scandens, Benth.) is the Tagalog name of the bark of a tropical vine which, pounded and soaked in water, yields a soap like liquid which is used for shampooing. The residue is called ubas and is commonly used for scrubbing the body or kitchen utensils, the floor, and the like.

Paciano is against Rizal's immediate return - He advises him to await the verdict on his novel, Noli me Tangere - Rizal's Tagalog translation of William Tell is not very idiomatic -- The new parish priest leads an exemplary life -- Abuses of the civil guard.

NOTE: The original letter was badly damaged.

Calamba, Laguna

8 December 1886

      In your last letter you said that you would like to come home after your work is printed. I sent you through Silvestre a sum that is perhaps insufficient for your needs. Though I wished to send you more, I would not do it on account of the present scarcity. If I'm in favor of its printing, I'm not in favor of your return at present.

      Remember that before you left I wanted you to go to France. You preferred Spain; I didn't oppose your wish and I let you go. Now leave to me to decide your return. It is true our parents are already old. However, I suppose that love resides in the heart and not in the eyes or elsewhere. I understand since the beginning that your life there is hard on account of the smallness and irregularity of your allowance, but do consider that you are only sharing our misery. Nevertheless, I'm not insisting on what I want. I will insist on it if we had the good luck that our sugar was sold at a good price, or if you were earning something there. Because you do not, you are master of yourself. However, it may not be bad if you would wait there for the verdict of others on your book. If it is favorable as you expect, it is well and you can light a candle, but if it is not, as I expect, not even a regard will be suitable for you. What is the content of this book? If it is the truth, then you are mistaken in your hopes; if it is false and contains unsuitable praises, I cannot believe it, because it is not in accordance with your nature. If this book only had the influence of the lump of earth of Virgil that pacified Cerberus, as Dante said, I'm going to agree with you. Inasmuch as you don't know that secret and besides we are still alive, I don't count on it as you do. I say that we are still alive because I suppose that that lump of earth became the human body. You can say that the fear of God should not be mixed with the fear of valuing oneself. One who owns a little valuable thing guards it so that it can be used at the proper time and will not put in just any place were it can be stolen. Franco himself, the doctor, is desirous of speaking to mother in order to tell her not to let you come home because it would be a great pity and he says that his advice is due to his deep affection for you. Because friends and not friends have reached the same conclusion shows that there must be some truth in it.

      At Maquiling there is a threatening storm. It is only waiting for the time. This should not surprise those who know that this is the town of typhoons over which Aeolus (1) presides.

      Cabañgis has delivered to us the two boxes of books without accepting absolutely anything for freight, customs dues, and other expenses.

      I received the atlas as well as the translation of William Tell by mail. The latter is fairly acceptable, especially since you have not used this dialect for more than four years, but for us who use no other language, it leaves much to be desired. Your version, in my opinion, is not very idiomatic. There are passages that, though they are perfectly translated, are difficult to understand. As to the modification of Tagalog orthography, I don't dare do it. Is the name of one man enough to impose it like the authority of an academy? Will it be acceptable by all? I doubt it; but if this change can be introduced it is time to do it, because the Tagalog language still lacks good books. In view of this translation, I have resumed with Capitan Matías the translation of Mary Stuart, following a different method: Literal translation when this is understandable and free when literal translation is somewhat confusing, without disregarding the meaning of the text. You ask me to tell you about the parish priest, etc. If I had a good pen, what a beautiful description could I make you of varied themes, but as unfortunately I don't have one, be satisfied with what God has given me. In order not to scandalize you, I shall begin with the parish priest who, as I already told you in one of my letters, is a good priest who lives quietly and alone in his convent. He practices charity towards the needy; he eats what his servants serve him, without any complaint, however poor and meager it may be. Not in favor of house visits, he goes out of the convent only to go to the church and from the church he goes back to the convent. He leads so simple a life that some days past he went to the fields with a sacristan to exorcise the cloud of locusts that were devastating our plantations. Many people assured having seen them fly away because of it, but indeed no. The stubborn locusts either did not understand Latin or perhaps they followed a force superior to exorcism, because the fact is they continued destroying in such a way that the greater part of the fields was left without seeds. He shows no enthusiasm for modern progress and science, not because of the same spirit that animates those of his kind, but because be does not like . . . (damaged) Sometimes his patience is exhausted, but this happens only at the communion rail where he delivers sermons to those women who take communion daily who hardly open their mouths and cover themselves well with their veils. As a citizen, he does not meddle in the affairs of the town hall, much less impose his will. He does not court girls, as it is customary; in short, there you have a priest who is one of the rare exceptions among the clergy. As to Father Domingo, it is another thing. It is true that he does not yet deviate from virtue like the rest. He likes very much to be surrounded by women members of the Dominican society, like fish in water. He promotes gatherings and dinners attended by the profane all for the laudable purpose of gaining heaven through the easiest way. He preaches perpetual virginity, like the one they observed, to his goddaughters of the confessions and if any ewe had the misfortune of straying into the woods, the devil take her for he has nothing to do with her. Every night he visits his goddaughters of the confession in order to see them or watch over them. In this man, as I see it, everything is life, movement, and youth, while in the other, age, tranquillity, and aloofness.

      Since the latest reform, the posts of alcaldes mayores (1) (provincial chief executives) were replaced by those of the civil governor and a judge of the first instance in each province. The one in this province is a gentleman of advanced age. Some say he is upright, others assert that he is not. As for me, I don't know him. I saw him once from our window at the Hacienda building. Whether he demands a monthly subsidy from the governadorcillos (municipal executives) or he permits gambling (cockfight or cards) in certain houses for heavy fees is something I don't know. As to the judge, everybody tells me that he is upright, which for me is already something. As judges hardly have time to sign, they administer justice through desk officials: L'Hopital himself would commit grave injustice with such a personnel: problematic persons who live decently on an insignificant salary.

      As to the civil guard, you already know the great services rendered by this institution; little remains for me to tell you about it. Its commander is a bright man; he knows how to live. If he needs meat and other things for his table, he informs Clibano. If he has no honey or palay, he sends for them at the neighbors' homes. If he wants chickens and eggs, he gives the guard four reales to buy them in the countryside with the instruction to bring back two dozen chickens and hundreds of eggs. If he needs something in Manila, he spies on a neighbor who has the bad luck of going there to order through him so many things and bring them gratis et amore. He needs lime, stone, tiles, bricks, etc.; he finds an abundant supply in this blessed town. In short, if he needs servants to clean his house, he solves his problem easily be sending out every morning a guard to hunt for half a dozen men, whether they hold a personal cedula or not, to do the job. The servant of a neighbor who lives in front of his house was kept in his house a whole day (perhaps without food). Furious, his master requested the gobernadorcillo for a testimony of such abuse. Being his debtor, he did not deny it, but he excused himself inventing a pretext. He appealed to the senior lieutenant, but he excused with many pretexts. The neighbor by force had to accept peace. Abuses are perpetuated not because tyrants want to, but because the tyrannized ones allow them. (Voltaire) Just as they gave Alexander of Russia the appellation of "Blessed," to this gobernadorcillo they give the title "Capitán, the Very Good." (2) His true name is Luis Francés though he has nothing of that. The senior lieutenant is Nicolás Llamas, who, though physically big, seems to me a weakling. As can be seen, the law of compensation rules even in exceptional countries.

      Your brother,


      If we get to sell the sugar, I'm going to send you the amount lacking for the printing.

      There is great poverty in this town; one third of the people eat only once a day.


     (1) The alcalde mayor of a province exercised both executive and judicial functions. The reforms mentioned separated these junctions, hence the civil governor and the judge for each province.
     (2) Capitáng totoong na pacabait is a Tagalog phrase that may means "a very accommodating capitan." The Tagalog term mabait, or na pacabait has a broad meaning; it may mean, "kind, good natured, accommodating, generous, etc."

Rizal celebrates Christmas for being the birthday of a great man who first proclaimed the equality of men - Rizal dreams of his mother often - Rizal sees General Moltke walking unattended in the park - How different from petty colonial officials!

71 Jaegerstrasse, Berlin 25 December 1886

My dearest mother,

      Today, Christmas, I take up the pen to write you a few lines; I want to devote a few hours this morning to a mental conversation with you while I think constantly that probably at this time the little grandchildren are bustling to bliss the hands of the grandparents to receive the expected Christmas gifts. Above my room the boys of the carpenter are enjoying themselves as they run around and blow a cornet, which probably was given to them last night, which was children's day.

      I celebrated Christmas with a countryman who has come from Barcelona -- the physician Mr. Máximo Viola -- sharing with him a chicken, beer, etc., etc. You know that since I attained the age of discretion, I have always tried to celebrate this holiday of a great man who was the first to proclaim the equality of men and because this holiday always brings me back many memories of the paternal home. Since I have been in Europe I have celebrated it sometimes in the company with countrymen, sometimes alone, and I haven't hesitated to spend for it the little money I have.

      For three nights now I have continually dreamed of you and sometimes the dream is repeated in a single night. I should not like to be superstitious, even though the Bible and the gospels believe in dreams, but I like to believe that you are constantly thinking of me and that makes my brain reproduce what is going on in yours, for after all my brain is a part of yours, and it is not surprising, because when I'm asleep here, you are awake there and so on.

      For almost about a week nothing but snow falls; I'm wrong, people walking on the street also fall, for snow is slippery when it is treaded upon. My friend Viola and I walk carefully, holding on to each other so that in case one falls, he can grasp the other.

      One of these days, while we were walking through the park, we saw behind us a tall military man dressed like a private without decoration or galloons, but wearing a cap and a raincoat. The military man walked slowly but he made long strides. At a certain distance I thought I recognized with surprise the famous General Moltke, but the fact that he was walking all alone and simply made me doubt, because I'm accustomed to see sergeants and second lieutenants of the civil guard who know how to give themselves importance and put on airs. And in fact it was the great Moltke, the foremost strategists of the century, who has conquered three nations, for a few steps he met some military men who saluted him with great respect. People who knew him turned around to look at him and watch him. Many passed him by without saluting him and Moltke didn't mind it, which makes him to me inferior to our lieutenants of the civil guards and certain mayors and friars who consider it a great crime for the rest not to remove their hats in their presence. But, what are we to do? The poor fellows are right, for after God had denied them intelligence, reason, and common sense, after society had denied them education, instruction, and consideration and we, the Indios, would deny them the salute, what else would be left to these hapless men in this vale of tears but a piece of rope with which to hang themselves? So that I'm very repentant of my past conduct toward Lieutenant Porta and some friars besides and henceforth I propose to salute them in order not to leave them in despair lest God ask me to render an account of the damnation of a Christian soul. For this reason, I want and I wanted to remedy and correct my foolishness as a boy looking for all those I might have offended, but it seems that I'm in bad luck for I haven't heard again from anyone of them, not even a single word. Moreover, and to conclude this question of saluting, it is good to distinguish the worthy persons, from the nonentities.

      The afternoon is gloomy because snow is falling again. However, the past days were no longer cold. The sleds go around the streets; the Spree, or the river, is beginning to freeze in the places where the water eddies. However, it is expected that this winter will not be as cold as the previous one.

      Here in Berlin there are only two Catholic churches, both . .

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