Letters of a Javanese princess/Chapter 75

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LXXV[1]

Rembang, August 10, 1904.

MOESKA Dearest:

I think of you so much! Above all do I think of you now, always with a feeling of tenderness, but at the same time, a deep sadness.

Sadness because you are so far from me, and will be even further removed beyond my reach. Why must it be that just those souls that are most closely akin should be separated so far from one another? I am so unhappy when I let myself long for you. I sit still, looking straight ahead, neither hearing nor seeing what is happening around me. I live in the past, that sweet and that bitter past, when I was so eager for suffering, and where your love is interwoven always like a garland of light. I suffered and I rejoiced. My heart is full of sadness, but also of gratitude, for the happiness which your love has brought me. I never cease to thank God for having brought you to us.

Why is it that the Javanese is so poor, they ask? And at the same time, they are thinking how they will be able to get more money out of him. Who will that money come from? Naturally from the little man for whose woe and weal we express such extreme concern that a whole commission is named to inquire into the cause of his retrogression; “What makes the Javanese so poor?” When grass-cutters who earn 10 or 12 cents a day are made to pay a trade tax. Every time a goat or a sheep is butchered a tax of twenty cents is paid. A Satee[2]-merchant who butchers two every day, must pay this tax, which amounts to one hundred and forty-four florins in the course of a year. What is left for his profit? Barely enough to live on.

I learned much of this at my parents’ house, but here where my husband shares every thought with me, where I share his whole life, his work and his troubles, I have come to know of conditions of which I was not only in ignorance, but the very existence of which I did not dream. There is so much crying injustice, and he who loves righteousness and holds office, must suffer indeed. He must see much, and do much himself that is against all principles of right.

··········

Good-day, Moeska ; perhaps this will be my last letter to you. Think sometimes of your daughter who loves you and your husband so dearly, and who presses you now to her heart.


  1. To Mevrouw Abendanon.
  2. Satee is a dish composed of meat strung on a stick and roasted.