1920 I added to that the direction of the country’s disorganized
Don Bernardino, on his side, was occupied in animating the populace against the Jesuits with all the fervour of an Apostle. Naturally, he first commenced by launching his usual sentence of excommunication against them, and having done so returned again to Yaguaron. This village, like other Paraguayan villages, many of which in times gone by have been the scenes of stirring episodes, retains to-day but little to distinguish it. Nature has proved too powerful in the long-run for men to fight against. On every side the woods seem ready to overwhelm the place. Grass grows between the wooden steps of the neglected church; seibos, lapachos, espinillos de olor, all bound together with lianas, encroach to the verges of the little clearings in which grows mandioca, looking like a field of sticks. All day the parrots scream, and toucans and picaflores dart about; at evening the monkeys howl in chorus; at night the jaguar prowls about, and giant bats fasten upon the incautious sleeper, or, fixing themselves upon a horse, leave him exhausted in the morning with the loss of blood.
When Cardenas used the place as a sort of Avignon from which to safely utter his anathemas, it must have worn a different aspect. No doubt processions and ceremonies were continual, with carrying about the saints in public, a custom which the Paraguayans irreverently refer to as `sacando a/ luz los bultos'.* Messengers (`chasquis'), no doubt, came and went perpetually, as is the custom in countries such as Paraguay, where news is valuable and horseflesh cheap. Thereto flocked, to a moral certainty, all the broken soldiers who swarmed in countries like Peru and Paraguay, with Indian `caciques' looking out for work to do when white men quarrelled and throats were to be cut. Priests went and came, friars and missionaries; and Cardenas most certainly, who loved effect, gave all his emerald ring to kiss, and made those promises which leaders of revolt lavish on everyone in times of difficulty.
-- * Literally, `taking out the blocks to air'. The effigies are made of hard and heavy wood, and I remember once in Concepcion de Paraguay assisting on a sweltering day to carry a Madonna weighing about five hundredweight. --
When the Indian contingent arrived, the Governor marched upon Yaguaron, although the air was positively lurid with excommunications. The Bishop, rushing to the church, was intercepted by the Governor, who seized his arm and tried to stop him. Cardenas struggled with him, and declared him excommunicated for laying his hand upon the anointed of the Lord. But, most unfortunately, there was no Fitz-Urse at hand to rid the Governor of so turbulent a priest. A mulatto* woman rushed to the Bishop's aid, together with some priests. This gave him time to gain the altar and seize the Host, which he exposed at once to the public gaze, and for the moment all present fell upon their knees. Turning to the Governor, he asked what he wanted with armed men in a church. The Governor replied he had come to banish him from Paraguay, by order of the Viceroy, for having infringed upon the temporal power. Cardenas, taken aback, replied he would obey, and, turning to the people, took them all for witnesses. The Governor, no doubt thinking he was dealing with an honest Araucan chief, retired. The Bishop immediately denounced the Governor in a furious sermon, after which he left the church, carrying the Host in full procession, accompanied by the choir singing the `Pange Lingua', followed by a band of Indian women with their hair dishevelled, and carrying green branches in their hands. He then returned to the church, and from the pulpit denounced the Governor, who, standing at the door surrounded by a group of arquebusiers blowing their matches, answered him furiously.
-- * The proverb says in Paraguay, `No se fia de mula ni mulata'. --
The honours, so to speak, being thus equally divided, it remained for one side or the other to negotiate. Cardenas, knowing himself much abler in negotiations than his adversary, proposed a conference, in which he bore himself so skilfully that he made the Governor consent to dismiss his Indians, and allow him six days to make his preparations for the road. This settled, at dead of night he set out for the capital. Arrived there, he showed himself in public in his green hat, having upon his breast a little box of glass in which he bore the Host. A band of priests escorted him, all with arms concealed beneath their cloaks, in the true spirit of the Church militant. The bells were rung, and every effort strained to raise a tumult, but all in vain. He had to throw himself for refuge into the convent of the Franciscans.
At once he set about to fortify the place to stand a siege. In several places he constructed embrasures for guns, and pierced the walls for musketry. But, thinking that his best defence lay in the folly of the people -- as public men always have done, and do -- he sent to the Cathedral for a statue of the Blessed Virgin, and another of San Blas, and placed them at the gate. Then, remembering that calumny was a most serviceable weapon, he put about the town a report that the Indians from the missions had pillaged Yaguaron, and that they even then were marching on the place. Again recurring to the edict of Charles V., which he pretended to have found, he issued a proclamation that, as the present Governor was excommunicated, and therefore could not govern, the office being vacant, he intended to nominate another in his stead. His subsequent behaviour shows most clearly that he wished to nominate himself.
Again both sides sent off a relation of their doings to the High Court of Charcas. Don Bernardino wrote in his that the Jesuits had offered the Governor thirty thousand crowns, and placed a thousand men at his command, if he would expel the Bishop from the country, under the belief that he (Don Bernardino) knew of their hidden mines in the mission territory. His witnesses were students and priests, and one of these proving recalcitrant, the Bishop had him heavily chained, and then suspended outside the convent of the Franciscans.
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