The HERALD to-day publishes a remarkable poem written by a remarkable man.. Dr. Jose Rizal, the martyr of the Philippines, wrote it while in Manila prison awaiting his execution. The life and death of Dr. Rizal make a story full of adventure and romance, the last scenes of which include his marriage, two hours before his execution. The subsequent career of his widow as a commander of insurgent troops is also full of interest. Whatever may be the ultimate fate of the Philippine Islands, the death of Dr. Jose Rizal will be remembered as an exquisite piece of heroic martyrdom. His life was filled with romance.
He was a leader in the uprising against Spanish tyranny, and the love of his native country took precedence over all else. It did not require his remarkable poem, written but a few hours before his execution and which the HEKALD prints to-day, to prove that.
Rizal was not an adventurer. He was a man of culture, a learned physician, and as president of the Manila University was looked upon as a leader in the educational and scientific as well as the social life of his "beloved Filipinas." But above all he was a lover of equality. Spain's yoke did not chafe his shoulders, but he looked about him,
and saw that his fellow countrymen were not so fortunate. "Why should my lot be different from theirs?" exclaimed this impetuous
South Sea islander.
No idle dreamer was this man. It is true he was a poet, but he was a poet of humanity. He did not view life through rose colored glasses. He looked the world squarely in the face, and his muse held a scalpel in her hand. He tore the bandages from the blinded eyes of Justice, that she might see the hypocrisy, the cruelty, the oppression which surrounded her. He was not satisfied In his own mind that the pen was mightier than the sword. "I will find out," he said. And he fought with both. As a revolutionist he at once became prominent. The natives of the lower class regarded him with superstitious awe and reverence. They said he was favored of the gods. It was while living in exile at Perin, on the island of Dapitan, that Dr. Rizal met the woman who became his wife and his widow in one day—December 6, 1896. On that day he was led out in the prison yard, at Manila, and shot in the back.
Just before his execution he prophesied that if the sentence of death was carried out Spain would lose the Philippines within ten years. He little dreamed that in less than eighteen months the gallant Dewey would enter Manila Harbor and humble Spain in the dust.
The romantic marriage in Manila prison was one of the notable events in ipe career of this remarkable man. The bride was born at Hong Kong, although her parents were Europeans. Her father was in poor health, and in August, 1894, she accompanied him to Manila, where it was thought the climate would be beneficial. After a sojourn of six months at Manila they journeyed to Perin, were Dr. Rizal was called in as attending physician. was a case of love at first sight, and ultimately the engagement mas announced. Upon promise of his freedom Dr. Rizal was tricked into returning to Manila, where he was placed on board the Bpanish cruiser Castilla and conveyed to Spain.
On arriving at Barcelona lie was detained the authorities, who declared that he was one of the chiefs of the Katapunan and ordered that he be sent back to Manila for trial. The time of execution was fixed for December 6. At six o'clock on that fateful morning Miss Taufer was admitted to his cell. A priest was in attendance upon the condemned man. In two hours the execution would take place. The scene was most affecting. Dr. Rizal, seized with a sudden inspiration, proposed that a marriage ceremorty be performed, to which Miss Taufer eagerly assented.And there, with the early rays of the tropical sun streaming through the little barred window of the cell, resting like a benediction upon Che heads o r t h e sad little group, the solemn words were spoken which joined the lovers in the holy bonds of wedlock.
"Till death do us part," repeated the bride and groom. A stifled sob burst from the throat of the sombre robed priest.
The wife remained with her husband until the summons came. Then they led her away. Dr. Rizal was conducted to the place of execution. He remarked that he freely forgave all those who had done him evil as he hoped for forgiveness himself. There was no tremor in his voice as he spoke. A hush fell upon the group of soldiery as he proudly asserted
his martyrdom and predicted the downfall of Spanish rule.
At last the fatal moment arrived. The order was given to fire. There was the rattle of musketry, and the rigid body of the heroof the Philippines swayed, then fell forward. The surgeons pronounced him stone dead. Seven Spanish bullets had penetrated his back and ploughed their way through the vitals.A week later the widow set off on foot for the rebel camp at Imus. She was hailed as a modern Joan of Arc, and was received with a great demonstration. She assumed command of a company of insurgents armed with rifles and took the field, winning more than one victory over the Spanish troops.
She made her headquarters at Naic, in Cavite Province. Mrs. Rizal is now in this country, and is said to be working with a view of creating a Philippine Junta, to work in conjunction, with the Cuban Junta.
SOURCE: NEW YORK HERALD, SUNDAY, JUNE 5, 1898