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JOSE RIZAL: LONDON EXPERIENCE

On May 24, 1888 Rizal arrived in the well-known port city of Liverpool. He immediately had
a good impression on the British Isles. He wrote to his family, Liverpool is a big and
beautiful city and its celebrated port is magnificent and the customhouse is quite good. He
stayed for a night to rest and the next day he went straightaway to the City of London. When
he arrived in London, Rizal used his time learning. He was determined to improve his
knowledge on the English language while he also engaged his interest in Philippine studies.
Concurrently, he annotated the work of Antonio de Morga the Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas
(a rare book that is available in the British Museum).
Looking for a house that was just near the British Museum, he boarded in with a private
family at No. 37 Chalcot Crescent, Primrose Hill. The Becketts welcomed Jose like family. In
fact, Rizal was provided with two rooms to occupy; one was used for sleeping while the other
one

was

used

for

studying,

writing

and

receiving

callers.

Jose

spent

his

time

researching about the Philippines or visiting his friend Dr. Antonio Ma. Regidor, a Filipino
lawyer in exile. Rizal found Sundays in London to be uninteresting. He wrote:
Sundays here are very boresome; every place is closed, there are neither shops nor
theaters, and if music is played, it is only religious music. Hardly can one see a poor coach
going through streets.[1]
This caused Rizal to spend his Sundays in the house of Dr. Reinhold Rost, the librarian of the
Ministry of Foreign affairs and the person who gave him access to the British Museum. Here
he enjoyed the German doctors collection of books about the Philippines. He learned to play
cricket and boxing with the sons of Dr. Rost.
Annotating and studying the Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (1609) was the main goal of Rizal
in the English capital. He compared the work of Morga to those of Fr. Chirino, Fr. Colin, Fr.
Plasencia and many more. He conveyed each historical document available to study the
history of the Philippines. Rizal studied the history of his country and annotated the work not
to profit money, but for his interest and love for the Philippines. He wrote to Blumentritt:
I am now very busy with Morga. I am planning to copy the entire work and present a new
edition to the public, especially the Filipino public. Dr. Antonio Regidor wishes to be my
financier. What do you think? With the Morga I wish also to publish your Tribes of Mindanao
as well some new documents that I found in the British Museum. I hope you will help me
with this undertaking. I need your advice and with your knowledge of things Philippine you

can show me the right path so that I may not work in vain. I do this only for my country,
because this work will not bring either honor or money.[2]
Rizal extended study on the Philippine islands led him to push and look for more sources
around Europe. On September 1888, he visited the city of Paris to acquire possible historical
documents in the Bibliotheque Nacional or the National Library of France. During his stay
there, he met Juan Luna and wife Paz Pardo De Tavera. When he was able to obtain the
books and documents he needed for research, he returned to London. Before spending the
holidays in London, Rizal made another trip and went to Spain to hear the most recent news
about political activities in the Philippines. While he was there, he met Marcelo H. Del Pilar
and Mariano Ponce whom he became friends with for their mutual interest to attain reforms
for the Philippines.
Rizal went back and spent Christmas in London with the Becketts. He told Blumentritt in a
letter that this was his favorite season to celebrate, that it does not only remind him of
happy days during his childhood but also of history (Rizal was pertaining to the birth of Jesus
Christ). Together with the letter were 2 bust of Roman emperors that Rizal bought in the
British Museum. One for Blumentritt and the other one for Dr. Czepelack. These busts served
as Christmas presents from Rizal. This showed the Filipino characteristic of sharing gifts
during the Christmas season.[3]
While Jose was busy doing his researching in the British Museum, he did not forget to write
different articles. Rizal made his first entry in the La Solidaridad entitled Los Agriculturos
Filipinos an article about a Filipino farmers suffering. He also wrote the La Vision del Fray
Rodriguez, a satire about religion. The famous Letter to the Young Women of Malolos was
also written by Rizal during his stay in London. Also, he contributed articles to the journal of
Asian Studies of Dr. Rost.
It must not be forgotten that Rizal had a romantic relationship with the eldest daughter of
Mr. Beckett Gertrude. She was the first one to fall in love with Rizal and they spent their
friendship bonding with each other. Unfortunately, Rizal decided to move into Paris to
continue his study and experience the life in the French capital. It was hard for Jose to leave
the Becketts for beautiful memories were shared with the family.
Rizals stay in London marked a significant chapter of his life. In London, he had devoted his
self in the study of history. He took advantage of all the documents and sources available in
the well known British Museum. In London he experienced the kind of life with the people of

England. Rizals goal of improving his self in the English language, annotating the work of
Morga, and engaging in Philippine studies were all achieved before he left the city.
Studying and annotating the Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas was the greatest achievement of
national hero Jose Rizal during his stay in London. He considered Morgas work because he
was a layman not a religious chronicler. He took the opportunity of the availability of the
original book in the British Museum. Rizal here was credited in re-writing Philippine history
but in fact Jose Rizal should be considered the first scholar to write Philippine history from a
point of view of a Filipino. London played a big part in making Rizal who he is.

Rizal in London
2 June 1888
Dr. Reinhold Rost and family tendered in their house a tea party in Rizals honor. Rizal saw in the Rosts house a good
Filipiniana library. (Dr. Reinhold Rost, a book lover, librarian of the Minister of Foreign Relations of England and famous
Malayalogist, had especial predilections for Rizal whom he used to call Hombre perla).
23 June 1888
He thought of publishing the second edition of the Noli Me Tangere with the illustrations of Juan Luna and with slight
changes. He wanted to correct the typographical errors and the erroneous citation of Shakespeare which should be that of
Schiller.
27 June 1888
In a letter, he requested Mariano Ponce to send more Copies of the Noli Me Tangere to the Philippines. He told Ponce that
the question of writing with more or less literature is just secondary; what is essential is to think and to feel rightly, to
work for an object and the pen will take charge of transmitting the ideas.
9 July 1888
Rizal asked Pof. Blumentritt for advice whether or not to answer Senator vida who denounced him (Rizal) in the Senate in
Madrid as an intimate friendof Prince Bismarch, and his novel as anti-Catholic, preaching protestant and socialist.
12 July 1888
The Hispano-Filipino association was reorganized by the Filipinos in Madrid and by theSpaniards sympathizing the cause of
the filipinos, headed by Sr. Morayta.
26 July 1888
It was decided to write in the press and artile which would teach Senator Vida courtesy and honesty. Earlier, he had written
a letter to the Senator in Madrid whose answer he was waiting for.
27 July 1888
Rizal wrote a letter to Mariano Ponce (Naning) telling the latter of his experience in his travel Manila via Hongkong, Japan
and North America, and the people he met in Hongkong, who he said, are enthusiastic about the Noli and are studious and
patriots.
16 August 1888

Rizal was admitted to the reading room of the British Museum of London.
August 1888
He was busy with the Morga. He thought of copying the whole book and annotating it for publication as his gift to the
Filipinos. Dr. Antonio Regidor, one of the exiles of the 1872 event, promised to be his capitalist. Along with the Morga he
wanted also to publish Blumentritts "Tribes of Mindanao" including some new documents which he found in the British
Museum.
18 August 1888
With the intention of writing the continuation of his first novel, Rizal asked Mariano Ponce in a letter to send him two or
more copies of the Noli. Rizal planned t hav a picture taken : one copy to be sent to Ponce and the other to be included in
the publication of the second novel.