Chapter 1: - Page 8 of 10

A Social Gathering

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Padre, his Excellency is the Vice-Regal Patron! shouted the soldier, rising to his feet.

Excellency! Vice-Regal Patron! What of that! retorted the Franciscan, also rising. In other times he would have been dragged down a staircase as the religious orders once did with the impious Governor Bustamente.[8] Those were indeed the days of faith.

I warn you that I can’t permit this! His Excellency represents his Majesty the King!

King or rook! What difference does that make? For us there is no king other than the legitimate[9]

Halt! shouted the lieutenant in a threatening tone, as if he were commanding his soldiers.  Either you withdraw what you have said or tomorrow I will report it to his Excellency!

Go ahead—right now—go on! was the sarcastic rejoinder of Fray Damaso as he approached the officer with clenched fists.  Do you think that because I wear the cloth, I’m afraid?  Go now, while I can lend you my carriage!

The dispute was taking a ludicrous turn, but fortunately the Dominican intervened.  Gentlemen, he began in an authoritative tone and with the nasal twang that so well becomes the friars, you must not confuse things or seek for offenses where there are none.  We must distinguish in the words of Fray Damaso those of the man from those of the priest.  The latter, as such, per se, can never give offense, because they spring from absolute truth, while in those of the man there is a secondary distinction to be made: those which he utters ab irato, those which he utters ex ore, but not in corde, and those which he does utter in corde.  These last are the only ones that can really offend, and only according to whether they pre-existed as a motive in mente, or arose solely per accidens in the heat of the discussion, if there really exist—

[8] As a result of his severity in enforcing the payment of sums due the royal treasury on account of the galleon trade, in which the religious orders were heavily interested, Governor Fernando de Bustillos Bustamente y Rueda met a violent death at the hands of a mob headed by friars, October 11, 1719. See Blair and Robertson, The Philippine Islands, Vol. XLIV; Montero y Vidal, Historia General de Filipinas, Vol. I, Chap. XXXV.—TR.

[9] A reference to the fact that the clerical party in Spain refused to accept the decree of Ferdinand VII setting aside the Salic law and naming his daughter Isabella as his successor, and, upon the death of Ferdinand, supported the claim of the nearest male heir, Don Carlos de Bourbon, thus giving rise to the Carlist movement. Some writers state that severe measures had to be adopted to compel many of the friars in the Philippines to use the feminine pronoun in their prayers for the sovereign, just whom the reverend gentlemen expected to deceive not being explained.—TR.

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