Max Havelaar (Wikisource)/31
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Prologue - Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Chapter 4 - Chapter 5 - Chapter 6 - Chapter 7 - Chapter 8 - Chapter 9 - Chapter 10 - Chapter 11 - Chapter 12 - Chapter 13 - Chapter 14 - Chapter 15 - Chapter 16 - Chapter 17 - Chapter 18 - Chapter 19 - Chapter 20 - Chapter 21 - Chapter 22 - Chapter 23 - Chapter 24 - Chapter 25 - Chapter 26 - Chapter 27 - Chapter 28 - Chapter 29 - Chapter 30 - Chapter 31 - Chapter 32 - Chapter 33 - Chapter 34 - Chapter 35 - Chapter 36 - Chapter 37 - Chapter 38 - Chapter 39
I finished the story of Saïdjah quickly. I would have written more if I felt like describing something horrible. The reader will have notices that I tarried a long time while Saïdjah waitd under the ketapan, as if I was reluctant to start the final dénouenemt, and that I wrote it quickly with aversion. And yet I had no intention to do so when I started my story about Saïdjah. At first I was afraid that I needed stronger colours to touch the reader while describing these horrible circumstances. After a while I found that it would be like insulting my readers, if I believed that I had to add more blood to the painting.
Yet I could have done this. I have documents here – but no, I'd rather confess something.
Yes, a confession, reader! I do not know whether Saïdjah loved Adinda. Not whether he went to Batavia. Not whether he was killed in the Lampongs with Dutch bayonets. I do not know whether his father fell under the caning which he got for leaving Badoer without a permit. I do not know whether Adinda counted the moons by carving in her rice block.
I do not know all this!
But I know more than all this. I know and I can prove that there were many Adindas and many Saïdjahs and that, what is just a story in particular, is truth in general. I said that I could mention the names of people who, just like the parents of Saïdjah and Adinda, where forced to leave their country because they were extorted. It is not my purpose to give information which would be suitable for a court of justice which has to decide over the way the Dutch authority is exercised in the Indies, information which would only have power of evidence for someone who has the patience to read it with attention and interest, as cannot be expected from the general audience which seeks entertainment in literature. Therefore, instead of boring names of persons and places and dates, in stead of a copy of the list of thefts and extortions, of which I have the information, I attempted to picture what can happen in the heats of the poor people who are robbed of the things they need to stay alive, or even, I only let you guess, fearing to lie which I drew the circumference of things which I never experienced.
But about the main matter. Oh, I wish that I was called to give evidence of what I wrote! Oh, I wish that one said: "Saïdjah is only fiction - he never sung that song – there was no Adinda in Badoer!" But it must be said with the power and the will to do justice, as soon as I have proven that I am not a gossiper!
Is there a lie in the parable of the good Samaritan, because never a raided traveller was cared for in a Samaritan inn? Is there a lie in the parable of the sower, because no farmer will throw his seed on a rock? Or – to descend to more equality to my book – one should not deny the truth which is the main message in Uncle Tom's cabin, although Evangeline never existed. Will you say to the author of this immortal – immortal, not because of art or talent, but because if meaning and impression – plea: "You are a liar, slaves were not mistreated, there is unthruth in your book, it's only a novel". Wasn't she forced – rather than mentioning boring facts – to five a story which described the facts, so that people would realise the truth which penetrated, through the story, in their hearts? Would her book have been chosen if she had given it the form of a document for a trial of justice? Is it her fault – or mine – that the truth, to be accessible, must so often be clothed like a story?
And to those who say that I only idealised Saïdjah and his love, I only ask how they can know this. Very few Europeans will take the trouble to bend down and watch the problems of the told of coffee and sugar which are called "natives". But even if their remarks are well-founded, whoso has objections as a proof against the main intention of my book, gives me a great victory. For they are, in translation: "The evil you fight, does not exist, and not in such a high degree, because the native is not like your Saïdjah – there is not so much evil in the maltreatment of the Javanese as there would have been if you had drawn your Saïdjah with more exactitude. A Soendanese does not sing such songs, does not love like that, has no such feelings, and so...
No, Minister of Colonies, no, retired Governors-General, I do not ask you to prove that! You should prove that the population is not mistreated, and it doe not matter whether there are sentimental Saïdjahs among the population. Or would you say that it is allowed to steal water buffaloes from people who do not love, who do not sing mournful songs, who are not sentimental?
If you attack me on a literary area, I'd have to defend the image of Saïdjah, but on a political area I immediately capitulate against al remarks on correctness, to prevent that the big question will be asked in the wrong area. I do not care at all whether people consider me an unskilled painter, as long as they admit that the mistreatment of the native is: far reaching! This was the word on the document of Havelaar's predecessor, which was shown by the Controller Verbrugge: it is here in front of me.
But I have other evidence. And this is fortunate, for Havelaar's predecessor could also have made an error.
Alas, if he made an error, he has been seriously punished for it. He was murdered.