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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Multatuli’s Last Words to the Reader
By Eduard Douwes Dekker (Multatuli) (1820–1887)
 
From ‘Max Havelaar’

YES, I, Multatuli, “who have suffered much,”—I take the pen. I do not make any excuses for the form of my book,—that form was thought proper to obtain my object…. I will be read! Yes, I will be read. I will be read by statesmen who are obliged to pay attention to the signs of the times; by men of letters, who must also look into the book of which so many bad things are said; by merchants, who have an interest in the coffee auctions; by lady’s-maids, who read me for a few farthings; by governors-general in retirement; by ministers who have something to do; by the lackeys of these Excellencies; by mutes, who, more majorum, will say that I attack God Almighty, when I attack only the god which they made according to their own image; by the members of the representative chambers, who must know what happens in the extensive possessions over the sea which belong to Holland….  1
  Ay, I shall be read!  2
  When I obtain this I shall be content, for I did not intend to write well…. I wished to write so as to be heard; and as one who cries “Stop thief!” does not care about the style of his impromptu address to the public, I too am indifferent to criticism of the manner in which I cried my “Stop thief!”  3
  “The book is a medley; there is no order, nothing but a desire to make a sensation. The style is bad; the author is inexperienced; no talent, no method.”  4
  Good! good!… all very well!… but the Javanese are ill-treated. For the merit of my book is this: that refutation of its main features is impossible. And the greater the disapprobation of my book the better I shall be pleased, for the chance of being heard will be so much the greater;—and that is what I desire.  5
  But you whom I dare to interrupt in your business or in your retirement,—ye ministers and governors-general,—do not calculate too much upon the inexperience of my pen. I could exercise it, and perhaps by dint of some exertion, attain to that skill which would make the truth heard by the people. Then I should ask of that people a place in the representative chambers, were it only to protest against the certificates which are given vice versa by Indian functionaries.  6
  To protest against the endless expeditions sent, and heroic deeds performed against poor miserable creatures, whose ill treatment has driven them to revolt.  7
  To protest against the cowardice of general orders, that brand the honor of the nation by invoking public charity on behalf of the victims of inveterate piracy.  8
  It is true those rebels were reduced by starvation to skeletons, while those pirates could defend themselves.  9
  And if that place were refused me,… if I were still disbelieved,… then I should translate my book into the few languages that I know, and the many that I yet can learn, to put that question to Europe which I have in vain put to Holland.  10
  And in every capital such a refrain as this would be heard: “There is a band of robbers between Germany and the Scheldt!”  11
  And if this were of no avail,… then I should translate my book into Malay, Javanese, Soudanese, Alfoer, Boegi, and Battah.  12
  And I should sharpen Klewangs, the scimitars and the sabres, by rousing with warlike songs the minds of those martyrs whom I have promised to help—I, Multatuli, would do this!  13
  Yes! delivery and help, lawfully if possible;—lawfully with violence if need be.  14
  And that would be very pernicious to the COFFEE AUCTIONS OF THE DUTCH TRADING COMPANY!  15
  For I am no fly-rescuing poet, no rapt dreamer like the down-trodden Havelaar, who did his duty with the courage of a lion, and endured starvation with the patience of a marmot in winter.  16
  This book is an introduction….  17
  I shall increase in strength and sharpness of weapons, according as it may be necessary.  18
  Heaven grant that it may not be necessary!…  19
  No, it will not be necessary! For it is to thee I dedicate my book: WILLIAM THE THIRD, King, Grand Duke, Prince,… more than Prince, Grand Duke, and King,… EMPEROR of the magnificent empire of INSULIND, which winds about the equator like a garland of emeralds!…  20
  I ask THEE if it be thine IMPERIAL will that the Havelaars should be bespattered with the mud of Slymerings and Drystubbles; and that thy more than thirty millions of SUBJECTS far away should be ill treated and should suffer extortion in THY name!  21
 
 
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