To the Philippine Youth
The subject of Doctor Rizal’s first prize-winning poem was The Philippine Youth, and its theme was “Growth.” The study of the growth of free ideas, as illustrated in this book of his lineage, life and labors, may therefore fittingly be dedicated to the “fair hope of the fatherland.”
Except in the case of some few men of great genius, those who are accustomed to absolutism cannot comprehend democracy. Therefore our nation is relying on its young men and young women; on the rising, instructed generation, for the secure establishment of popular self-government in the Philippines. This was Rizal’s own idea, for he said, through the old philosopher in “Noli me Tangere,” that he was not writing for his own generation but for a coming, instructed generation that would understand his hidden meaning.
Your public school education gives you the democratic view-point, which the genius of Rizal gave him; in the fifty-five volumes of the Blair-Robertson translation of Philippine historical material there is available today more about your country’s past than the entire contents of the British Museum afforded him; and you have the guidance in the new paths that Rizal struck out, of the life of a hero who, farsightedly or providentially, as you may later decide, was the forerunner of the present régime.
But you will do as he would have done, neither accept anything because it is written, nor reject it because it does not fall in with your prejudices—study out the truth for yourselves. Page viIntroduction
In writing a biography, the author, if he be discriminating, selects, with great care, the salient features of the life story of the one whom he deems worthy of being portrayed as a person possessed of preëminent qualities that make for a character and greatness. Indeed to write biography at all, one should have that nice sense of proportion that makes him instinctively seize upon only those points that do advance his theme. Boswell has given the world an example of biography that is often wearisome in the extreme, although he wrote about a man who occupied in his time a commanding position. Because Johnson was Johnson the world accepts Boswell, and loves to talk of the minuteness of Boswell’s portrayal, yet how many read him, or if they do read him, have the patience to read him to the end?
In writing the life of the greatest of the Filipinos, Mr. Craig has displayed judgment. Saturated as he is with endless details of Rizal’s life, he has had the good taste to select those incidents or those phases of Rizal’s life that exhibit his greatness of soul and that show the factors that were the most potent in shaping his character and in controlling his purposes and actions.
A biography written with this chastening of wealth cannot fail to be instructive and worthy of study. If one were to point out but a single benefit that can accrue from a study of biography written as Mr. Craig has done that of Rizal, he would mention, I believe, that to the character of the student, for one cannot study seriously about men of character without being affected by that study....