Chapter 25: - Page 4 of 8

In the House of the Sage

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

The old man shook his head as if to drive away that thought, and continued: The second thing I can advise is that you consult the curate, the gobernadorcillo, and all persons in authority.  They will give you bad, stupid, or useless advice, but consultation doesn’t mean compliance, although you should make it appear that you are taking their advice and acting according to it.

Ibarra reflected a moment before he replied: The advice is good, but difficult to follow.  Couldn’t I go ahead with my idea without a shadow being thrown upon it? Couldn’t a worthy enterprise make its way over everything, since truth doesn’t need to borrow garments from error?

Nobody loves the naked truth! answered the old man.  That is good in theory and practicable in the world of which youth dreams. Here is the schoolmaster, who has struggled in a vacuum; with the enthusiasm of a child, he has sought the good, yet he has won only jests and laughter.  You have said that you are a stranger in your own country, and I believe it.  The very first day you arrived you began by wounding the vanity of a priest who is regarded by the people as a saint, and as a sage among his fellows.  God grant that such a misstep may not have already determined your future! Because the Dominicans and Augustinians look with disdain on the guingón habit, the rope girdle, and the immodest foot-wear, because a learned doctor in Santo Tomas[1] may have once recalled that Pope Innocent III described the statutes of that order as more fit for hogs than men, don’t believe but that all of them work hand in hand to affirm what a preacher once said, ‘The most insignificant lay brother can do more than the government with all its soldiers!’ Cave ne cadas![2] Gold is powerful—the golden calf has thrown God down from His altars many times, and that too since the days of Moses!

I’m not so pessimistic nor does life appear to me so perilous in my country, said Ibarra with a smile. I believe that those fears are somewhat exaggerated and I hope to be able to carry out my plans without meeting any great opposition in that quarter.

Yes, if they extend their hands to you; no, if they withhold them.  All your efforts will be shattered against the walls of the rectory if the friar so much as waves his girdle or shakes his habit; tomorrow the alcalde will on some pretext deny you what today he has granted; no mother will allow her son to attend the school, and then all your labors will produce a counter-effect—they will dishearten those who afterwards may wish to attempt altruistic undertakings.

[1] The College of Santo Tomas was established in 1619 through a legacy of books and money left for that purpose by Fray Miguel de Benavides, O. P., second archbishop of Manila. By royal decree and papal bull, it became in 1645 the Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, and never, during the Spanish régime, got beyond the Thomistic theology in its courses of instruction.—TR.

[2] Take heed lest you fall!

Learn this Filipino word:

maghunos-dilì