would shine. What should I ask for? They would come to
Perhaps the foregoing simple description, written by an Indian in Guarani, and translated by someone who has preserved in Spanish all the curious inversions of the Guarani, presents as good a picture of the daily life of a mission priest in Paraguay as any that has ever been given to the public by writers much more ambitious than myself or Neenguiru. Nicolas Neenguiru, the writer of the letter, afterwards figured in the war against the Portuguese, and several of his letters are preserved in the archives of Simancas, though none so interesting and simple as that I have transcribed.
Dobrizhoffer, in his history of the Abipones, says of him that he was a simple Indian, whom often he had seen put in the stocks for petty faults; at any rate, he seems to have been one of those Indians whom the Jesuits had at least favourably impressed by the system they employed. After the manner in which he wrote, hundreds of Indians must have thought, or else the missions, placed as they were, surrounded on all sides by enemies, could not have endured a single day. What was it, then, which raised the Jesuits up so many and so powerful enemies in Paraguay, when in the districts of the Moxos* and the Chiquitos where their power was to the full as great, amongst the Indians, they never had a quarrel with the Spaniards till the day they were expelled? Many and various causes contributed to all they underwent, but most undoubtedly two reasons must have brought about their fall.
-- * Perhaps the entire isolation of the Jesuits in these two provinces accounts for their absolute quiet; and if this is so, it goes far to prove that they were right to attempt the same isolation in Paraguay. The comparative nearness of the Spanish settlements frustrated their attempts in this instance. --
Since the time of Cardenas, the report that the Jesuits had rich mines, which they worked on the sly, had been persistently on the increase. Although disproved a thousand times, it still remained; even to-day, in spite of `science' and its wonderful discoveries, there are many in Paraguay who cherish dreams of discovering Jesuit mines. Humanity loves to deceive itself, although there are plenty ready to deceive it; and if men can both forge for themselves fables and at the same time damage their neighbours in so doing, their pleasure is intense. I take it that many really believed the stories of the mines, being unable to credit that anyone would live far from the world, surrounded but by Indians, for any other reason than to be rich. But let a country have rich minerals, even if they exist but in imagination, and it becomes a crime against humanity to shut it up. So that it would appear one of the reasons which induced hatred against the Jesuits was the idea that they had enormous mineral wealth, which either they did not work or else worked in secret for the benefit of their society.
The other reason was the question of slavery. Once get it well into your head that you and yours are `reasoning men'* (`gente de razon'), and that all coloured people are irrational, and slavery follows as a natural sequence; for `reasoning men' have wit to make a gun, and on the gun all reason takes it stand. From the first instant of their arrival in America, the Jesuits had maintained a firm front against the enslavement of the Indians. They may have had their faults in Europe, and in the larger centres of population in America; but where they came in contact with the Indians, theirs was the sole voice raised upon their side.
-- * For `reasoning men', and how this monstrous superstition still prevails in Venezuela, see the charming book of S. Perez Triana, `De Bogota al Atlantico', etc., pp. 156-158 (Paris: Impresa Sud Americana). A really interesting book of travels, without cant, and without an eye on the public. Strange to relate, the author seems to have killed nothing during his journey. --
In 1593 Padre Juan Romero, sent from Peru as Superior to Paraguay, on his arrival gave up an estate (with Indians in `encomienda') which his predecessors had enjoyed, alleging that he did not wish to give the example of making profit out of the unpaid labour of the Indians,* and that without their work the estate was valueless.
On many occasions, notably in the time of Cardenas, the Jesuits openly withstood all slavery, and amongst the concessions that Ruiz Montoya obtained from the King of Spain was one declaring all the Indians to be free.*1* If more examples of the hatred that their attitude on slavery called forth were wanting, it is to be remembered that in 1640, when Montoya and Tano returned from Spain, and affixed the edict of the Pope on the church doors in Piritinanga, threatening with excommunication all slave-holders, a cry of robbery went forth, and the Jesuits were banished from the town. But in this matter of slavery there is no saying what view any one given man will take upon it when he finds himself in such a country as America was during the time the Jesuits were in Paraguay. Don Felix de Azara, a liberal and a philosopher, a man of science, and who has left us perhaps the best description both of Paraguay and of the River Plate, written in the eighteenth century, yet was a partisan of slavery.*2* In a most curious passage for a Liberal philosopher, he says:*3* `The Court ordered Don Francisco, Judge of the High Court of Charcas, to go to Peru in the character of visitor. The first measure which he took, in 1612, was to order that in future no one should go to the Indians' houses with the pretext of reducing them (i.e., to civilization), and that no `encomiendas' (fiefs) should be given of the kind we have explained -- that is to say, with personal service (of the Indians). I cannot understand on what he could have founded a measure so politically absurd; but as that judge favoured the `ideas of the Jesuits', it is suspected that they dictated his conduct.'
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