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annihilation of the ‘People’s Will’, was just beginning.

way 2023-12-02 04:33:38941973

In the dim future, when some shadow of common-sense dawns on the world, and when men recognise that it is better to let others follow their destiny as it best pleases them, without the officious interference of their fellows, it may be that they will say all missionaries of whatsoever sect or congregation should have stayed at home, and not gone gadding to the desert places of the earth seeking to remedy the errors of their God by their exertions; but whilst the ideal still remains of sacrifice (which may, for all I know, be useless in itself, or even harmful), they must perforce allow the Jesuits in Paraguay high rank, or else be stultified.

annihilation of the ‘People’s Will’, was just beginning.

But in the Chaco the Jesuits found conditions most different from those prevailing in their missions between the Uruguay and Parana. Instead of open plains, vast swamps; instead of docile semi-Arcadians like the Guaranis, who almost worshipped them, fierce nomad horsemen, broken into a hundred little tribes, always at war, and caring little for religion of any sort or kind. Again, there seems in the Chaco to have been no means of amassing any kind of wealth, as all the territory was quite uncultivated and in a virgin state; but, still, the settlements had existed long enough for cattle to increase.* Lastly, the incursions of the barbarous tribes were a constant menace both to the Jesuits and their neophytes. Yet in their indefatigable way the Jesuits made considerable progress amongst the Chaco tribes, as both the curious `History of the Abipones' by Father Dobrizhoffer and the inventories preserved by Brabo prove.

annihilation of the ‘People’s Will’, was just beginning.


-- * The total number of cattle was 78,171, as against 698,353 in the towns of the Guaranis. See Brabo, `Inventarios de los bienes hallados a/ la expulsion de los Jesuitas', Appendix, p. 668. ** `History of the Abipones', from the Latin of Martin Dobrizhoffer, London, 1822.

annihilation of the ‘People’s Will’, was just beginning.

It is a curious circumstance that in the missions in the Chaco there were negro slaves, though in the Paraguayan missions they were unknown. In the inventory of the town of San Lucas appear the following entries, under the head of `Negros Esclavos':

`Justo, que sirve de capataz en el campo; sera/ de edad de veinte y siete an~os, mas o/ menos segun su aspecto.'

`Item, Pedro, sera/ de diez y seis an~os y es medio fatuo.'

`Item, Jose/ Felix, sera/ de un mes y medio.' --

Besides their seven establishments in the Gran Chaco, they had three establishments in the north of Paraguay in the great woods which fringe the central mountain range of the country, known as the Cordillera de M'baracayu. These missions, called San Joaquin del Taruma, San Estanislao, and Belen, were quite apart from all the other missions of the Guaranis, far distant from the Chaco, and removed by an enormous distance from those of the Order in the Moxos and amongst the Chiquitos, forming, as it were, an oasis in the recesses of the Tarumensian woods. These three reductions, founded respectively in 1747,* 1747, and 1760, were, as their dates indicate, the swansong of the Jesuits in Paraguay. Founded as they were far from the Spanish settlements, they were quite removed from the intrigues and interferences of the Spanish settlers, which were the curse of the other missions on the Parana. The Tobatines Indians** were of a different class to the Guaranis, though possibly of the same stock originally. Not having come in contact until recent years with the Spaniards, and having had two fierce and prolonged wars with the nearest settlements, they had remained more in their primitive condition than any of the Indians with whom the Jesuits had come in contact in Paraguay. During the short period of Jesuit rule amongst them (1746-1767) things seem to have gone on in a half-Arcadian way. In San Joaquin, Dobrizhoffer, as he says himself, devoted eight years of unregretted labour to the Indians. Most certainly he was one of the Jesuits who understood the Indians best, and his descriptions of them and their life are among the most delightful which have been preserved. He tells of the romantic but fruitless search during eighteen months throughout the forests of the Taruma by Fathers Yegros, Escandon, Villagarcia, and Rodriguez, for the Itatines who had left the reduction of Nuestra Senora de Santa Fe, and had hidden in the woods.

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