Chapter 36: - Page 2 of 5

Ben-Zayb’s Afflictions

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

Afterwards, to form a contrast, the picture of the thief: fear, madness, confusion, the fierce look, the distorted features, and—force of moral superiority in the race—his religious awe to see assembled there such august personages! Here came in opportunely a long imprecation, a harangue, a diatribe against the perversion of good customs, hence the necessity of a permanent military tribunal, a declaration of martial law within the limits already so declared, special legislation, energetic and repressive, because it is in every way needful, it is of imperative importance to impress upon the malefactors and criminals that if the heart is generous and paternal for those who are submissive and obedient to the law, the hand is strong, firm, inexorable, hard, and severe for those who against all reason fail to respect it and who insult the sacred institutions of the fatherland.  Yes, gentlemen, this is demanded not only for the welfare of these islands, not only for the welfare of all mankind, but also in the name of Spain, the honor of the Spanish name, the prestige of the Iberian people, because before all things else Spaniards we are, and the flag of Spain, etc.

He terminated the article with this farewell: Go in peace, gallant warrior, you who with expert hand have guided the destinies of this country in such calamitous times! Go in peace to breathe the balmy breezes of Manzanares! [1] We shall remain here like faithful sentinels to venerate your memory, to admire your wise dispositions, to avenge the infamous attempt upon your splendid gift, which we will recover even if we have to dry up the seas! Such a precious relic will be for this country an eternal monument to your splendor, your presence of mind, your gallantry!

In this rather confused way he concluded the article and before dawn sent it to the printing-office, of course with the censor’s permit.  Then he went to sleep like Napoleon, after he had arranged the plan for the battle of Jena.

But at dawn he was awakened to have the sheets of copy returned with a note from the editor saying that his Excellency had positively and severely forbidden any mention of the affair, and had further ordered the denial of any versions and comments that might get abroad, discrediting them as exaggerated rumors.

To Ben-Zayb this blow was the murder of a beautiful and sturdy child, born and nurtured with such great pain and fatigue.  Where now hurl the Catilinarian pride, the splendid exhibition of warlike crime-avenging materials? And to think that within a month or two he was going to leave the Philippines, and the article could not be published in Spain, since how could he say those things about the criminals of Madrid, where other ideas prevailed, where extenuating circumstances were sought, where facts were weighed, where there were juries, and so on? Articles such as his were like certain poisonous rums that are manufactured in Europe, good enough to be sold among the negroes, good for negroes, [2] with the difference that if the negroes did not drink them they would not be destroyed, while Ben-Zayb’s articles, whether the Filipinos read them or not, had their effect.

If only some other crime might be committed today or tomorrow, he mused.

[1] A town in Ciudad Real province, Spain.—Tr.

[2] The italicized words are in English in the original.—Tr.

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