recollection of a scene under an apple-tree in the garden
-- *1* Don Francisco Graell, an officer of dragoons in service during the War of the Seven Towns in 1750, gives the following description of the church of the mission of San Miguel: `La iglesia es muy capaz, toda de piedra de silleria con tres naves y media naranja. Muy bien pintada y dorada con un portico magnifico y de bellisima arquitectura, bovedas y media naranja son de madera, el altar mayor de talla, sin dorar y le falta el ultimo cuerpo.' *2* `Galerias con columnas, barandillas y escaleras de piedra entallada' (Don Francisco Graell). See also P. Cardiel (`Declaracion de la Verdad', p. 247), `En todos los pueblos hay reloj de sol y de ruedas,' etc. The work of Padre Cardiel was written in 1750 in the missions of Paraguay, but remained unpublished till 1800, when it appeared in Buenos Ayres from the press of Juan A. Alsina, Calle de Mexico 1422. It is, perhaps, after the `Conquista Espiritual' of Father Ruiz Montoya, the most powerful contemporary justification of the policy of the Jesuits in Paraguay. It is powerfully but simply written, and contains withal that saving grace of humour which has, from the beginning of the world, been a stumbling-block to fools. *3* The mission of San Miguel had 1,353 families in it, or say 6,635 souls. San Francisco de Borja contained 650 families, or 2,793 souls (Report by Manuel Querini to the King, dated Cordoba de Tucuman, y Agosto 1o, 1750). --
The greatest difficulty which the Jesuits had to face was the natural indolence of their neophytes. Quite unaccustomed as they were to regular work of any kind, the ordinary European system, as practised in the Spanish settlements, promptly reduced them to despair, and often killed them off in hundreds. Therefore the Jesuits instituted the semi-communal system of agriculture and of public works with which their name will be associated for ever in America.
-- * In their extensive missions in the provinces of Chiquitos and Moxos they pursued the same system. As they were much more isolated in those provinces than in Paraguay, and consequently much less interfered with, it was there that their peculiar system most flourished. After the expulsion of the Jesuits from America in 1767, the Spaniards in Alta Peru, and subsequently the Bolivians, had the sense to follow the Jesuit plan in its entirety; whereas Bucareli, the Viceroy of Buenos Ayres, entirely changed the Jesuits' rule in Paraguay. The consequence was that in Bolivia the Indians, instead of dispersing as they did in Paraguay, remained in the missions, and D'Orbigny (`Fragment d'un Voyage au Centre de l'Ame/rique Me/ridianale') saw at the missions of Santiago and El Santo Corazon, in the province of Chiquitos, the remains of the Jesuits' polity. There were ten missions in Chiquitos, and fifteen in Moxos. At the present time the Franciscans have some small establishments in Bolivia. --
The celebrated Dr. Francia, dictator of Paraguay, used to refer to the Jesuits as `cunning rogues',*1* and, as he certainly himself was versed in every phase of cunningness, perhaps his estimate -- to some extent, at least -- was just. A rogue in politics is but a man who disagrees with you; but, still, it wanted no little knowledge of mankind to present a daily task to men, unversed in any kind of labour, as of the nature of a pleasure in itself. The difficulty was enormous, as the Indians seemed never to have come under the primeval curse, but passed their lives in wandering about, occasionally cultivating just sufficient for their needs. Whether a missionary, Jesuit, or Jansenist, Protestant, Catholic, or Mohammedan, does well in forcing his own mode of life and faith on those who live a happier, freer life than any his instructor can hold out to them is a moot point. Only the future can resolve the question, and judge of what we do to-day -- no doubt with good intentions, but with the ignorance born of our self-conceit. Much of the misery of the world has been brought about with good intentions; but of the Jesuits, at least, it can be said that what they did in Paraguay did not spread death and extinction to the tribes with whom they dealt.*2* So to the task of agriculture the Jesuits marshalled their neophytes to the sound of music, and in procession to the fields, with a saint borne high aloft, the community each day at sunrise took its way. Along the paths, at stated intervals, were shrines of saints, and before each of them they prayed, and between each shrine sang hymns.*3* As the procession advanced, it became gradually smaller as groups of Indians dropped off to work the various fields, and finally the priest and acolyte with the musicians returned alone.*4* At mid-day, before eating, they all united and sang hymns, and then, after their meal and siesta, returned to work till sundown, when the procession again re-formed, and the labourers, singing, returned to their abodes. A pleasing and Arcadian style of tillage, and different from the system of the `swinked' labourer in more northern climes. But even then the hymnal day was not concluded; for after a brief rest they all repaired to church to sing the `rosary', and then to sup and bed. On rainy days they worked at other industries in the same half-Arcadian, half-communistic manner, only they sang their hymns in church instead of in the fields. The system was so different to that under which the Indians endured their lives in the `encomiendas' and the `mitas' of the Spanish settlements, that the fact alone is sufficient to account for much of the contemporary hatred which the Jesuits incurred.
-- *1* `Pillos muy ladinos' (Robertson, `Letters from Paraguay'). *2* Ferrer del Rio, in his `Coleccion de los articulos de la Esperanza sobre Carlos III.' (Madrid, 1859), says: `Fuera de las misiones de los Jesuitas particularmente en el Paraguay se consideraban los Indios entre los seres mas infelices del mundo.'
Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa, in their celebrated `Secret Report' (`Noticias Secretas de America'): `La compan~ia (de Jesus) atiende a sus fines particularmente con los misioneros que llevan de Espan~a; pero con todo eso no se olvida de la conversion de los Indios, ni tiene abandonado este asunto pues aunque van poco adelante en el, que es lo que no se esperimenten en las demas religiones.' *3* Many travellers, as Azara, Demersay, Du Graty, and D'Orbigny, have remarked how fond of music was the Guarani race, and how soon they learned the use of European instruments. D'Orbigny (`Fragment d'un Voyage au Centre de l'Ame/rique Me/ridianale'), in his interesting account of the mission of El Santo Corazon, in the district of Chiquitos, says: `Je fus tre\s e/tonne/ d'entendre exe/cuter apre\s les danses indige\nes des morceaux de Rossini et . . . de Weber . . . la grande messe chante/e en musique e/tait exe/cute/e d'une manie\re tre\s remarquable pour des Indiens.'
Vargas Machuca, in his most curious and rare `Milicia y Descripcion de las Indias', says, under the heading of `Musica del Indio': `Usan sus musicas antiguas en sus regocijos, y son muy tristes en la tonada.' To-day the Indians of Paraguay have songs known as `tristes'. The brigadier Don Diego de Alvear, in his `Relacion de Misiones' (Coleccion de Angelis), says that the first to teach the Guaranis European music was a Flemish Jesuit, P. Juan Basco, who had been `maestro de capilla' to the Archduke Albert. *4* See also P. Cardiel, `Declaracion de la Verdad', p. 274: `. . . y esta acabada, se toca a/ Misa a/ que entran todos cantando el Bendito, y alabado en su lengua, o/ en Castellano, que en las dos lenguas lo saben.' --
Imagine a semi-communistic settlement set close to the borders of Rhodesia, in which thousands of Kaffirs passed a life analogous to that passed by the Indians of the missions -- cared for and fed by the community, looked after in every smallest particular of their lives -- and what a flood of calumny would be let loose upon the unfortunate devisers of the scheme! Firstly, to withdraw thousands of `natives' from the labour market would be a crime against all progress, and then to treat them kindly would be heresy, and to seclude them from the contamination of the scum of Europe in the settlements would be termed unnatural; for we know that native races derive most benefit from free competition with the least fitted of our population to instruct. But besides agriculture the enormous cattle-farms* of the mission territory gave occupation to many of the neophytes. The life on cattle-farms gave less scope for supervision, and we may suppose that the herders and the cattlemen were more like Gauchos; but Gauchos under religious discipline, half-centaurs in the field, sitting a plunging half-wild colt as if they were part of him, and when on foot at home submissive to the Jesuits, constant in church, but not so fierce and bloodthirsty as their descendants soon became after the withdrawal of the mission rule.
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