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Biarrritz Vacation and Romance with Nelly Boustead (1891)

To seek solace for his disappointments in Madrid, Rizal took a vacation in theresort
city of Biarritz on the fabulous French Riviera. He was a guest of the richBoustead
family at its winter residence- Villa Eliada. He had befriended Mr.Boustead and his
wife and the two charming daughters Adelina and Nellie. Hewas used to fence with
the Boustead sisters at the studio of Juan Luna. It was inBiarritz where he had a
serious romance with Nellie and finished the last chapter of his novel, El
Filibusterismo.

1.With the Bousteads in Biarritz.


February 1891- Rizal arrived in Biarritz.He was warmly welcomed by the Bousteads,
particularly Mr. Boustead whohad taken a great liking for him because of his
remarkable talents. As a familyguest, he was treated with friendliness and
hospitality by Mrs. Boustead, Adelina, Nellie, and Aunt Isabel.The one-month
vacation in Biarritz worked wonders for Rizal. His sorrowingheat began to sing once
more with joy and his health improved withremarkable swiftness.Writing from
Biarritz to Mariano Ponce on February 11, 1891 he said: I have put on much weight
since I arrived here; my cheeks are no longer shrunken as before for the reason
that I go to bed early and I have no cares
2.

Romance with Nellie Boustead.

Biarritz, with its romantic gardens, delightful villas, and panoramic beauties, isan
ideal setting for romance. Rizal having lost his beloved Leonor came toentertain
considerable affection for Nellie, the prettier and younger daughter of his host. He
found her a real Filipina, highly intelligent, vivacious intemperament and morally
upright. He wrote to his intimate friends, exceptProf. Blumentritt, of his love for
Nellie, also called Nelly, and his intention topropose marriage to her. As early as on
February 4, 1891, M.H. del Pilar teased him about changing the o in Noli to an e,
which means Noli to Nelly. Antonio Luna, who had previously loved and lost Nelly,
encouraged Rizal towoo and marry her. From Madrid, he wrote to Rizal, saying:
With respect to Nelly, frankly, I think there is nothing between us more thanone of
those friendships enlivened by being fellow countrymen. It seems tome that that
there is nothing more. My word of honor. I had been her fianc,we wrote to each
other. I like her because I knew how worthy she was, butcircumstances beyond our
control made all that happiness one cherishedevaporated. She is good; she is
naturally endowed with qualities admirable ina young women and I believed that
she will bring happiness not only to youbut to any other man who is worthy of
her. . .I congratulate you as onecongratulates a friend. Congratulations!

With the encouragement of his close friends, Rizal courted Nelly who, in
turn,reciprocated his affection. Unfortunately, their romance beneath the
lovelyBiarritz moon did not have a happy fairy tale finale.
Rizal marriage proposal failed for two reasons:1. He refused to give up his Catholic
faith and be converted intoProtestantism, as Nelly demanded.2.Nellys mother did
not like Rizal as a son-in-law. Nelly Boustead, being a good Protestant, wanted Rizal
to espouseProtestantism before their marriage. Rizal, being a man of firm
conviction,refused. Although he became a Mason, he remained loyal to the
Catholicreligion, the faith of his clan. Years later, when he was living in exile in
Dapitan, he refuted Father Pablo Pastells accusation that he was Protestant as
follows:
As to being a Protestant. . . If Your Reverence only knew what I had lost for not
accepting Protestantism, you would not say such thing. Had I not alwaysrespected
the religious idea, had I held religion as a matter of convenience or an art getting
along in this life, instead of being a poor exile, I would now be a rich man, free, and
covered with honors.
Nellys mother, like the mother of Leonor Rivera, had no wish to entrust her
daughters happiness to a man who was poor in material things, a physician
without a paying clientele, a writer who earned nothing from his pen, and areformer
who was persecuted by the friars and the government officials in hisown country.
Although they could not get married, Rizal and Nellie parted as good friends.When
he learned that Rizal was leaving Europe, she sent him a farewellletter, saying:
Now that you are leaving I wish you a happy trip and ma
y you triumph inyour undertakings, and above all, may the Lord look down on you
with favour and guide your way giving you much blessings, and may you learn to
enjoy!
My remembrance will accompany you as also my prayers.
3.

El Filibusterismo Finished in Biarritz.

Frustrated in romance, Rizal found consolation in writing. While wooing Nellie and
enjoying so many magnificent moonlight nights with her, he kept working on his
second novel which he began to write in Calamba in 1887.
On March 29, 1891, the eve of his departure from Biarritz to Paris, he finishedthe
manuscript El Filibusterismo, writing to Blumentritt on that date, he said:
I have finished my book! Oh, no, I have not written in it my idea of revengeagainst
my enemies but only what is for the good of those who are suffering,for the rights of

the Tagalog race, though brown and may not have good features! Surely, I will leave
tomorrow for Paris, and from there I dont know where I am going.

4.To Paris and Back to Brussels.


March 30, 1891- Rizal bade farewell to the hospitable and friendlyBousteads and
proceeded to Paris by train. He stayed at home of hisfriend, Valentin Ventura, on 4
Reu de Chateaudum.
From Paris, he wrote to his friend, Jose Ma. Basa, in Hong Kong, on April 4,
expressing his desire to go to that British colony and practiseophthalmology in order
to earn his living. In this letter, he requestedBasa to advance him amount for a first
class steamer ticket fromEurope to Hong Kong.
By the middle of April, 1891, Rizal was back in Brussels. Where hewas happily
received by Marie and Suzzane Jacoby (his landladies)and, above all, by Petite
Suzzane (the Belgian girl who loved him).

5. Retirement from the Propaganda Movement.


Since abdicating his leadership in Madrid in January, 1891, owing tothe intrigues of
his jealous compatriots, Rizal retired from thePropaganda Movement, or reform
crusade. He desired to publish hissecond novel, to practise his medical profession,
and later, when hebecame finally independent, he expected to make a more
vigorous
campaign for his countrys redemption.
From Brussels, on May 1,1891, he notified the Propaganda authoritiesin Manila to
cancel his monthly allowance and devote the money tosome better cause, such as
the education of young Filipino student inEurope. His notification was contained in a
letter addressed to Mr. A.L.Lorena (pseudonym of Deodato Arellano), as follows;
Through the kindness of J.A.; I received your letter of 13 Februarywith a draft of
P100 that the Propaganda is sending me for the monthsof January and February and
I thank you for such attention.In order to avoid its increasing attentions I believe my
retirement isnecessary. I will establish myself and earn my living. Mt chosen placeis
either in the Philippine, Hong Kong, or Japan, because Europeseems to me a place of
exile and I am hereby notifying thePropaganda of my intention so that it may make
my decision.With the P50 that it send me monthly it could do something
better,which is to defray the cost of the education of another young man whois not
the same situation as I am. Though such an amount is sufficientto live on in any
place in Europe, it is not enough for one who wishesto accomplish something and to
carry out the plans that he maycherish.Consequently, I have asked friend Basa to

furnish me with the fundsfor my return, so that I can start earning a small fortune. If
at last, theend of a few years, I become financially independent, I shall be able
toundertake a more vigorous and effective campaign than that I havebeen doing
until now.
6.Rizal

Stopped Writing for La Solidaridad.

Simultaneous with his retirement from the Propaganda Movement, Rizal ceased
writing articles for La Solidaridad. Many of his friends in Spain urged him to continue
writing for the patriotic periodical, because his articles always attractedconsiderable
attention in European countries. M.H del Pilar himself realized the need for Rizals
collaboration in both the Propaganda Movement and in the La
Solidaridadnewspaper because the enthusiasm for the reform crusade inSpain was
declining.
August 7, 1891, he wrote to Rizal begging forgiveness for anyresentment and
requesting him to resume writing for the La Solidaridad. In short, he said in his
letter, if you have any resentment, I beg you to put it aside; if you consider me at
fault,and this fault is pardonable, forgive me. . . We would much likethat you resume
writing for it; not only would we strengthen LaSolidaridad but we would defeat the
friar intrigue in thePhilippines. In his reply to Del Pilars letter, Rizal wrote denying
any
resentment and explaining why he stopped writing for LaSolidaridad as follows:
I am extremely surprised at your letter, telling me about resentments,
disagreements, and reconciliations, etc. I believeit is useless to talk about what
does not exist, and if it hasexisted, it ought to have evaporated in the past. I think
like youdo, that there being nothing, one ought not to waste time talkingabout it.If I
stopped writing for La Solidaridad, it was because for severalreasons: 1st, I need
time to work on my book; 2nd, I wantedother Filipinos to work also; 3rd, I considered
it very importanttothe party that there be unity in the work; and you are already
atthe top and I also have my own ideas; it is better to leave youalone to direct the
policy such as you understand it and I do notmiddle in it. This has two advantages:
it leaves both us free,and it increases your prestige, which is very
necessary,inasmuch as men of prestige are needed in the country. Thisdoes not
mean to say that I need to work and follow the courseof your work. I am like an
army crops who, at a neededmoment, you will see arrive to descend upon the flanks
of theenemy before you. Only I ask God to give me the means to do it. . . I fight for
the nation, the Philippines.
7.

Revising the Fili for Publication.

In Brussels Rizal worked day after day revising thefinished manuscript of El


Filibusterismo and readied it for printing. Apparently, the revision was mostly
completedon May 30, 1891. On this date he wrote Jose Ma. Bsa:
My book is now ready to go to press; the first twenty chapters are already
corrected and can be printed and Iam recopying the rest. If I receive any money you
willsurely have it in July. I am writing it with more ardour than the Noli and although
it is not so cheerful, at least itis more profound and more perfect. . . In case I do
notreceive money, will you ask them to send me money for the printing of my book?
If not, I will be leaving this place and be with you.
Two weeks later, on June 13, Rizal informed Basa:
I am now negotiating with a printing firm and as I do not know if it will be printed
here (Belgium) or in Spain, Icannot send it to you as yet. In case it is not
publishhere, I will send it to you by the next mail. Only threechapters are left to be
corrected. It is longer than theNoli, first part. It will be finished before the 16 th of
thismonth. If by chance anything happens to me, I leave itspublication to Antonio
Luna, including its correction. . . If my Noli (sic. Fili-Z.) is not publish, I shall board a
train onthe following day when I receive your letter with thepassage-money; but if
my book is published I shall haveto wait until it comes off the press.