Chapter 22: - Page 9 of 11

The Performance

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

He’s trying to play the Monte Cristo, remarked a lady who prided herself on being literary.

Or purveyor to the Palace! added her escort, jealous of Simoun.

In the students’ box, Pecson, Sandoval, and Isagani had remained, while Tadeo had gone to engage Don Custodio in conversation about his projects, and Makaraig to hold an interview with Pepay.

In no way, as I have observed to you before, friend Isagani, declared Sandoval with violent gestures and a sonorous voice, so that the ladies near the box, the daughters of the rich man who was in debt to Tadeo, might hear him, in no way does the French language possess the rich sonorousness or the varied and elegant cadence of the Castilian tongue.  I cannot conceive, I cannot imagine, I cannot form any idea of French orators, and I doubt that they have ever had any or can have any now in the strict construction of the term orator, because we must not confuse the name orator with the words babbler and charlatan, for these can exist in any country, in all the regions of the inhabited world, among the cold and curt Englishmen as among the lively and impressionable Frenchmen.

Thus he delivered a magnificent review of the nations, with his poetical characterizations and most resounding epithets.  Isagani nodded assent, with his thoughts fixed on Paulita, whom he had surprised gazing at him with an expressive look which contained a wealth of meaning.  He tried to divine what those eyes were expressing—those eyes that were so eloquent and not at all deceptive.

Now you who are a poet, a slave to rhyme and meter, a son of the Muses, continued Sandoval, with an elegant wave of his hand, as though he were saluting, on the horizon, the Nine Sisters, do you comprehend, can you conceive, how a language so harsh and unmusical as French can give birth to poets of such gigantic stature as our Garcilasos, our Herreras, our Esproncedas, our Calderons?

Nevertheless, objected Pecson, Victor Hugo—

Victor Hugo, my friend Pecson, if Victor Hugo is a poet, it is because he owes it to Spain, because it is an established fact, it is a matter beyond all doubt, a thing admitted even by the Frenchmen themselves, so envious of Spain, that if Victor Hugo has genius, if he really is a poet, it is because his childhood was spent in Madrid; there he drank in his first impressions, there his brain was molded, there his imagination was colored, his heart modeled, and the most beautiful concepts of his mind born.  And after all, who is Victor Hugo? Is he to be compared at all with our modern—

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