in Hohenzollern Germany; the next year I was expelled from
The Bishop, not to be outdone, also prepared a statement, in which he accused his adversary of all the crimes that he could think of, and confirmed his statement with an oath. The chapter, thinking things were in an impossible condition, besought that the fine laid on the excommunicated folk should be raised or lessened, as it appeared to them there was not money in the town to satisfy it. Cardenas refused, and thus four months elapsed. Soon after this arrived one Father Truxillo, of the Order of St. Francis, who came from Tucuman as Vice-Provincial. Cardenas, thinking, as they were both Franciscans, that Truxillo must needs be favourable to his cause, made him his Vicar-General, with power to bind and to unloose -- that is, to free the excommunicated folk from all their disabilities if, on examination, it seemed good to him. Truxillo, who was quite unbiassed as to matters in Asuncion, looked into everything, and declared the Governor and everybody ought to be absolved. He further gave it as his opinion that, the affair having gone to the high court at Charcas, he could do nothing but give an interim decree. Don Bernardino heard the news at Itati, an Indian village a few miles outside Asuncion. From thence he went to a somewhat larger village called Yaguaron, and shut himself up in a convent, after declaring everyone (except the superior clergy) under the severest censure of the Church if they should dare approach. Not a bad place for prayer and meditation is Yaguaron. A score or two of little houses, built of straw and wood and thatched with palm-leaves, straggle on the hillside above the shores of a great camalote-covered* lake. Parrots scream noisily amongst the trees, and red macaws hover like hawks over the little patches of maize and mandioca planted amongst the palms. Round every house is set a grove of orange-trees, mingled with lemons, sweet limes, and guayabas. Inside the houses all is so clean that you could eat from any floor with less repulsion than from the plates at a first-class hotel. A place where life slips on as listless and luxuriant as the growth of a banana, and where at evening time, when the women of the place go to fetch water in a long line with earthen jars balanced upon their heads, the golden age seems less improbable even than in Theocritus. To Yaguaron the higher clergy flocked to intercede for the good people of Asuncion, all except Father Truxillo, who, knowing something of his Bishop, did not go. That he was wise, events proved shortly. Two canons -- Diego Ponce de Leon and Fernando Sanchez -- he imprisoned in their rooms, calling them traitors to their Bishop and their Church. Deputations came from the capital to beg for their release, but all in vain. The Bishop answered them that he had set his mind to purge his diocese of traitors; and the two canons remained in prison. After a detention which lasted forty days, they escaped and fled to Corrientes, which must have looked upon Asuncion as a vast madhouse. Truxillo, who seems to have been a man not quite so absolutely devoid of sense as the other clergy, endeavoured to organize a religious `coup d'etat'; but, most unfortunately, a letter he had written to some of the saner clergy fell into the Bishop's hands. Excommunications now positively rained upon the land. The Governor, the Jesuits, the Dominicans, each had their turn; but, curiously enough, the poorer people still stood firm to Cardenas, thinking, no doubt, a man who treated all the richer sort so harshly must do something for the poor. Nothing, however, was further from the thoughts of Cardenas, who thought the whole world circled round himself. The Bishop's nephew having returned to Corrientes and his former naughty life, Don Bernardino, casting about for another secretary, came on one Francisco Nieto, an apostate from the Order of St. Francis, and living openly with an Indian woman, by whom he had a son. Him the Bishop made his chaplain, then his confessor; and poor Nieto found himself obliged to send his Indian wife away in spite of all his protests and his wish to live obscurely as he had been living before his elevation to the post of secretary. A veritable beachcomber Father Francisco Nieto seems to have been, and the type of many a European in Paraguay, who asks no better than to forget the tedium of our modern life and pass his days in a little palm-thatched hut lost in a clearing of a wood or near some lake.
-- * Camalote is a species of water-lily which forms a thick covering on stagnant rivers and lakes in Paraguay and in the Argentine Republic. --
So in Asuncion things went from bad to worse. Such trade as then existed was at a standstill, and bands of starving people swarmed in the streets, whilst the incursions of the savage Indians daily became more frequent. In fact, Asuncion was but a type of what the world would be under the domination of any of the sects without the counterpoise of any civil power. The Governor, seeing the misery on every side, determined, like an honest man, to pocket up his pride and reconcile himself with Cardenas at any price. So, setting forth with all his staff, he came to Yaguaron. There, like a penitent, he had to bear a reprimand before the assembled village and engage to pay a fine before the rancorous churchman would relieve him from the ban. The weakness of the Governor had the effect that might have been expected, and heavy fines were laid on all and sundry who had in any manner displeased the Bishop or leaned to the other side in the course of the dispute.
Right in the middle of the struggle between the clerical and lay authorities, a band of over three hundred Guaycurus appeared before the town. Unluckily, all the chief officers of the garrison were excommunicated, and thus incapable of doing anything to defend the place. Foolish as Cardenas most indubitably was, his folly did not carry him so far as to leave the capital of his diocese quite undefended. Still, he would not give way first, and only at the moment when the Indians seemed prepared to attack the town, at the entreaty of a `pious virgin', he raised the excommunication on the Governor and his officers for fifteen days. The Governor, instead of, like a sensible man, seizing the Bishop and giving him to the `cacique' of the Guaycurus, led out his troops and drove the Indians off. That very night he found himself once more under the censure of the Church, and the conflict with his opponent more bitter than at first. The Viceroy of Peru, the Marquis of Mancera, indignant at the weakness of the Governor, wrote sharply to him, reprimanding him and telling him at once to assert himself and force the Bishop to confine himself to matters spiritual. On the Governor's attempt to reassert himself, the answer was a general interdict laying the entire capital under the Church's ban. On this, he marched to Yaguaron with all his troops, resolved to take the Bishop prisoner; but he, seeing the troops approach, went out at once, fell on the Governor's neck, and straightway absolved him.
After the absolution came a banquet, which must have been a little constrained, one might imagine, and even less amusing than the regulation dinner-party of the London season, where one sits between two half-naked and perspiring women eating half-raw meat and drinking fiery wines with the thermometer at eighty in the shade. Thus disembarrassed from the Governor, Don Bernardino turned his attention to the Jesuits, and signified to them that he intended to take the education of the young out of their hands. This was a mortal affront to the Jesuits, as they have always understood that men, just as the other animals, can only learn whilst young. Hard upon this new step, Cardenas issued an edict forbidding them to preach or hear confessions. As for the Governor, the Bishop did not fear him, and the poorer people of Asuncion had always inclined to the Bishop's party, either through terror of the Church's ban or from their natural instinct that the Bishop was against the Government.
But Cardenas saw clearly that, to deal as he wished with the Jesuits, he must entirely gain the Governor's confidence. This he tried to do by sending to him one Father Lopez, Provincial of the Dominicans. This Lopez was an able and apparently quite honest man, for he told the Governor that the wish of Cardenas was to expel the Jesuits from Paraguay, and from their missions, warning him at the same time not to allow himself to be made use of by the Bishop in his design. From that moment the two adversaries seemed to have changed characters, and Don Gregorio became as cautious as a churchman, whereas the Bishop seemed to lose all his diplomacy.
To all the protestations of friendship which were addressed to him, the Governor answered so adroitly that the Bishop fell into the trap, and thought he had secured a partner to help him in the expulsion of the Jesuits. Finally, at Yaguaron, during a sermon, he formulated his celebrated charges against the Jesuits, which, set on foot by him in 1644, eventually caused the expulsion of the whole Order from America, and, though refuted a thousand times, still linger in the writing of all those who treat the question down to the present day. The charges were seven in number, and so ingeniously contrived that royal, national, and domestic indignation were all aroused by them. The first was that the Jesuits prevented the Indians from paying*1* their annual taxes to the crown. Secondly, that the Jesuits kept back the tithes from Bishops and Archbishops.*2* Thirdly, he said the Jesuits had rich mines in their possession, and that the product of these mines was all sent out of the country to the general fund at Rome. This the Jesuits disproved on several occasions, but, as often happens in such cases, proof was of no avail against the folly of mankind, to whom it seemed incredible that the Jesuits should bury themselves in deserts to preach to savages, unless there was some countervailing advantage to be gained. Even the fact that at the expulsion of the Company of Jesus from America no treasure at all was found at any of their colleges or missions did not dispel the conviction that they owned rich mines. The fourth charge was that the Jesuits were not particular about the secrets of the confessional, and that they used the information thus acquired for their own selfish ends. Further, that Father Ruiz de Montoya had acquired from the King, under a misapprehension, a royal edict,*3* giving the territory of the missions to the Jesuits, thus taking the fruits of their conquest from the Spanish colonists. Fifthly, that the Jesuits entered Paraguay possessed but of the clothes upon their backs, that they had made themselves into the sovereign rulers of a great territory, but that he was going to expel them, as the Venetians had expelled them from Venetia.*4* Sixthly, that even the Portuguese of San Paulo de Piritinanga had expelled them.*5* His last assertion was that he himself, together with the Bishop of Tucuman and others, had secret orders from the King to expel the Jesuits from their dioceses, but that the other Bishops lacked the courage which he (Cardenas) was then about to show. He wound up all by saying that, once the Jesuits were gone, the King would once again enjoy his rights, the Church be once again restored to freedom, and, lastly, that there would be plenty of Indians for the settlers to enslave. Quite possibly enough, the public, ever generous to a fault with other people's goods, cared little for the rights of a King who lived ten thousand miles away; and as for the Church, it seems most probable they failed to see the peril that she ran. But when the Bishop spoke of enslaving the Indians, they saw the Jesuits must go, for from the conquest the Jesuits had stood between the settlers and their prey. All things considered, Don Bernardino made a remarkable discourse that Sunday morning in the palm-thatched village by the lake, for the echo of it still resounds in the religious world against the Jesuits.
-- *1* This was untrue, as the Jesuit missions were not at that time (1644) apportioned into parishes under the authority of the Jesuits, and such tribute as then was customary was all collected by government officials. *2* This was also untrue, as the tithes were never regulated in Paraguay till 1649. *3* This accusation was quite untrue, for the edict referred to was not obtained under misapprehension, but after a complete exposition of all the facts. Moreover, it was subsequently renewed on several occasions by the Spanish Kings. *4* The Venetians did not expel the Jesuits, they left Venetia of their own accord. *5* Fathers Montoya and Tano went respectively to Rome and to Madrid to lay the sorrows of the Indians before the King and Pope. Having obtained the edict from the King that Cardenas referred to, and a brief from the Pope (Urban VIII.) forbidding slavery, they had the hardihood to appear within the city of San Paulo and affix both edicts to the church door. As was to be expected, the Paulistas immediately expelled them from their territories, and hence the semi-truth of the sixth charge made by Bishop Cardenas. --
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