European Travels and Study
So, on May 5, 1882, after he had been recalled by
cipher telegram from Kalamba where he had been staying for a short visit, he
embarked for Singapore on the mail steamer "Salvadora" and after the
six day that the journey then took he transferred to a foreign passenger ship
that carried him to Barcelona. There was quite in distinguished passenger list
of returning officials and their families among whom Rizal figured, according to
his passport, as "José Mercado a native of the district of Santa
Cruz." Paciano furnished the funds but as soon as his father learned of José's
going he arranged to send him money regularly through Antonio Rivera. This round
about way was necessary as life would not have been pleasant for any provincial
family known to have sent one of its sons abroad to be educated, especially for
a family like the Mercado’s who were tenants on an estate which was part of
the university endowment.
From Barcelona Rizal quickly went to Madrid and
continued his double course in philosophy and letters and in medicine. Besides
he found time for more lessons in drawing and painting, and studied languages
under special teachers. In l884 he received the degree of Licenciate in Medicine
and the following year, on his twenty-fourth birthday, the like degree in
Philosophy and in Letters, and with highest honors.
On the voyage to Spain or just after arrival, Rizal
wrote and sent back to a Manila Tagalog daily an article on love of native land,
and he continued to write for the paper during the short time it lived.
The Filipino students in Spain knew Rizal by
reputation, many of them had been schoolmates of his, and they enthusiastically
welcomed him, but in their gayety he took no part. He recognized in everything
else to have money to spend on books and his first purchases included
"Picturesque America", "Lives of the Presidents of the United
States", "The Anglo-Saxons", "The English Revolution”
and other indications
that then, as he said later, "the free peoples interested him most."
The affectation and love of display of some of his
countrymen disgusted him and at the same time convinced him of a theory he later
declared in regard to race prejudice. This same disgust, he reasoned, is felt
toward the ostentatious new-rich and the braggart self-made man, only these when
they come to their senses are no longer distinguishable from the rest of the
world while the man of color must suffer for the foolishness of his fellows. So
he who by nature was little inclined to be self-conceited, boasting or loud came
to be even more unaffected, simpler in dress and reposeful in manner as he tried
to make himself as different as possible from a type he detested. Yet this was
at no sacrifice of dignity but rather brought out more strongly his voice of
character. His many and close friendships with all who knew him, and- that his
most intimate friends were of the white race, (one of his Spanish jailers even
asked to be relieved of his charge because the association was making him too
fond of his prisoner) seem to show that Dr. Rizal's theory was right.
One day, after an association aimed to help the
Philippines had gone to pieces because no one seemed willing to do anything
unless he were sure of all the glory, some of the students met in an effort to
revive it. The effort was not successful and then Rizal proposed all joining in
a book, illustrated by Filipino artists, to tell Spain about the real
Philippines. The plan was enthusiastically received but though there was
eagerness to write about the "The Filipina Woman" the other subjects
were neglected. Rizal was disappointed and dropped the subject. Then he came
across, in a secondhand bookstore, a French copy of "The Wandering
Jew" and bought it to get practice in reading the language. The book
affected him powerfully and he realized what an aid to the Philippines such a
way of revealing its wrongs would be, but he dreaded the appearance of
self-conceit in announcing that he was going to write a book like Eugene Sue's.
So he said nothing to any one, yet the idea of writing Noli Me Tangere
was constantly in his mind from the night of January of 1884 when he finished
the French novel.
During his stay in Madrid, Dr. Rizal was made a
freemason in Acacia Lodge No. 9 of the "Gran Oriente de España" at
whose head was then Manuel Becerra, later Minister of Ultramar, or Colonies.
Among the persons with whom he thus became acquainted were Manuel Ruiz Zorilla,
Praxedes M. Sagasta, Emilio Castelar and Victor Balaguer, all prominent in the
politics of Spain. However slight the association, it came in the formative
period of the young student's life and turned his thoughts into constructive
lines rather than destructive. He no longer thought only of getting rid of
Spanish sovereignty but began to question what sort of a government was to
replace it. At Barcelona he had seen the monument of General Prim whose motto
had been "More liberal today than yesterday, more liberal tomorrow than in
today" yet he knew how opposed the Spanish patriot had been to a Spanish
republic because Spaniards were not prepared for it. So he resolved to prepare
the Filipinos and the campaign of education that he saw being waged by Spaniards
in Spain Rizal thought would be no more unpatriotic or anti-Spanish if carried
on by a Filipino for the Philippines. Already he had become convinced of one
political truth that was to separate him from other leaders of his countrymen,
that the condition of the common people and not the form of the government is
the all-important thing.
From Madrid, after a short trip through the more
backward provinces because these were the country regions of Spain and so more
fairly to be compared with the Philippines, Dr. Rizal in 1885 went to Paris and
continued his medicine studies under an eye specialist. Association with artists
and seeing the treasures of the city's rich galleries also assisted in his art
For the political part Masonry again was responsible.
The Spanish Masonry of which Rizal was a member but held relations with a rival
organization over which Prof. Miguel Morayta presided did not recognize the
Grand Orient of France. So in Rue Cadet 16 he was initiated into this irregular
body, which had been responsible for the French Revolution, and, because it did
not require of its adherents belief in God, was an outcast in the Masonic world.
There he heard much of the "rights of man" and again had it impressed
upon him that it was the liberty of the people and not the independence of the
government that made freedom.
The next year found Rizal in Germany, studying
ophthalmology and enrolled as a student of law in the famous university at
Heidelberg. During the vacation he visited Wilhelmsdorf and compared its simple
villagers with the country folk of his own land. At this time he became
acquainted with the great Masonic poet Goethe and from the Wilhelm Meister
series, apparently among the most treasured books in his library, Dr. Rizal
learned that man has duties as well as rights, So as a Mason he came to be of
the philosophic school of the Teutonic and Anglo-Saxon peoples rather than of
the political kind common in the Latin countries.
Leipzig was his next home and for its
"Illustrated News" he wrote interestingly of his summer in
Wilhelmsdorf. Here he met Dr. Jaegor in whose "Travels in the
Philippines" he had read ten years before that "the Americans are
evidently destined to bring to a full development the germs originated by the
Spanish." With the great geographer he discussed the education and training
needed to prepare his countrymen successfully to compete with an energetic,
creative and progressive nation, for he recognized the justice of the criticism
that his countrymen had dreamed away their best days.
Dr. Virchow, probably the best known scientist of that time, was another new acquaintance, destined to become, a close friend, By him Rizal was introduced into the Berlin Ethnographical Society and ten years later when the society was mourning the loss of the member whose illegal execution by the Spanish they considered a murder it was Dr. Virchow who presided in the memorial services.