which began in 1903, has been rich in personal episodes.
Neither in Mexico nor in Peru do things grow less in telling, and we may well suppose the stories of the mines the Indians told to Cardenas became colossal; for at last the Alcalde of Cochabamba wrote on the subject to the Count of Salvatierra, the Viceroy of Peru.
As Charlevoix says, `it seemed as if it all worked to the advantage of the holy missionary, who, not content with saving souls, did not forget the interests of his native land.' In the middle of his triumphs, being recalled to Lima, no one doubted that it was in order to confer with the Viceroy about the supposititious mines. Others, again, imagined that a mitre was destined for the successful evangelist, and therefore many, even quite poor people, pressed forward to offer funds to help him on his way. With quite apostolic assurance, he took all that was offered to him, being certain, as some think, that, the mines being real, he could some day repay with usury all he had borrowed, or, as others said, being indifferent about the matter, and trusting to repay in that better country where no usury exists and where no gold corrupts.
The Viceroy, being a man of little faith, sent to investigate the supposititious mines, but found them non-existent.
The superiors of Cardenas, as judicious as the higher officers of the Franciscan Order often proved themselves throughout America, informed him that he had given offence to many by his public scourgings and processions carrying a cross, and, most of all, that in his sermons propositions had escaped him of a nature likely to bring him under the censure of the Holy Office. A convent in Lima was assigned to him as a retreat and place of meditation on the virtues of submission and obedience.
As we may well believe, no man who felt he had the stuff within himself to make a saint ever cared much for obedience or submission, except in others; so in his convent, instead of meditating on his faults, he passed his time in writing a memorial to the Council of the Indies, setting forth his views on the way in which to spread the gospel amongst the Indians. Nothing was better calculated to win him favour. Every Indian baptized was so much yearly gain to the Spanish Government.
Conversion and taxation always went hand-in-hand, and therefore Indians who, unbaptized, brought nothing to the treasury, having received the Gospel truths, were taxed so much a head to show them that from thenceforth they were Christians. Thus, we find that in the Paraguayan missions each Indian paid a dollar every year as a sort of poll-tax, and most of the disputes between the Viceroys of Paraguay and the Jesuits arose from the number of the Indians taxable. The Viceroys always alleged that the population of the missions never increased, on account of the Jesuits returning false numbers to avoid the tax.
Cardenas specially inculcated, in his memorial to the Council of the Indies, that it was not expedient to place the Indians under the regular clergy, a theory of which he himself was destined to become a great antagonist. Promotion, as we know, cometh neither from the east nor from the west; so it fell out that during his retreat, through the influence of his friend Don Juan de Solorzano, a celebrated lawyer, who had heard him preach when Governor of Guancavelico, he found himself named Bishop of Asuncion del Paraguay. This piece of luck opened the doors of his convent to him, and he repaired at once to Potosi to wait the arrival of the Papal Bull authorizing him to take possession of his bishopric. There he appeared in the habit of his Order, a little wooden cross upon his breast, and a green hat upon his head, a costume which, if not quite fitting to his new dignity, was at least suited to the Indian taste.
His biographer informs us that, without a word to anyone, he began to preach and hear confessions. Being absolutely without resources, he was reduced to distribute indulgences and little objects of piety, and at the end of every sermon to send his green hat round the audience. His talent for preaching stood him in good stead, and after every sermon gifts were showered upon him, and a crowd accompanied him home.
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