Chapter 31: - Page 2 of 4

The High Official

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Your Excellency will pardon me, observed the high official, who happened to be present, but I’ve been told that this boy is a medical student and his teachers speak well of him.  If he remains a prisoner he’ll lose a year, and as this year he finishes—

The high official’s interference in behalf of Basilio, instead of helping, harmed him.  For some time there had been between this official and his Excellency strained relations and bad feelings, augmented by frequent clashes.

Yes? So much the greater reason that he should be kept prisoner; a year longer in his studies, instead of injuring him, will do good, not only to himself but to all who afterwards fall into his hands.  One doesn’t become a bad physician by extensive practise.  So much the more reason that he should remain! Soon the filibustering reformers will say that we are not looking out for the country! concluded his Excellency with a sarcastic laugh.

The high official realized that he had made a false move and took Basilio’s case to heart.  But it seems to me that this young man is the most innocent of all, he rejoined rather timidly.

Books have been seized in his possession, observed the secretary.

Yes, works on medicine and pamphlets written by Peninsulars, with the leaves uncut, and besides, what does that signify? Moreover, this young man was not present at the banquet in the pansitería, he hasn’t mixed up in anything. As I’ve said, he’s the most innocent—

So much the better! exclaimed his Excellency jocosely.  In that way the punishment will prove more salutary and exemplary, since it inspires greater terror.  To govern is to act in this way, my dear sir, as it is often expedient to sacrifice the welfare of one to the welfare of many. But I’m doing more—from the welfare of one will result the welfare of all, the principle of endangered authority is preserved, prestige is respected and maintained.  By this act of mine I’m correcting my own and other people’s faults.

The high official restrained himself with an effort and, disregarding the allusion, decided to take another tack.  But doesn’t your Excellency fear the—responsibility?

What have I to fear? rejoined the General impatiently.  Haven’t I discretionary powers? Can’t I do what I please for the better government of these islands? What have I to fear? Can some menial perhaps arraign me before the tribunals and exact from me responsibility? Even though he had the means, he would have to consult the Ministry first, and the Minister—

He waved his hand and burst out into laughter.

The Minister who appointed me, the devil knows where he is, and he will feel honored in being able to welcome me when I return.  The present one, I don’t even think of him, and the devil take him too! The one that relieves him will find himself in so many difficulties with his new duties that he won’t be able to fool with trifles.  I, my dear sir, have nothing over me but my conscience, I act according to my conscience, and my conscience is satisfied, so I don’t care a straw for the opinions of this one and that.  My conscience, my dear sir, my conscience!

Learn this Filipino word:

sinangkalan