pierced by an unendurable pain. I run screaming across
So it appears that the aforesaid were the two chief reasons which made the Jesuits unpopular with the Spanish settlers in Paraguay. But in addition it should be remembered that there were in that country members of almost all the other religious Orders, and that, as nearly every one of them had quarrelled with the Jesuits in Europe, or at the best were jealous of their power, the enmities begun in Europe were transmitted to the New World, and constantly fanned by reports of the quarrels which went on between the various Orders all through Europe, and especially in Rome.
But if it were the case that the Jesuits excited feelings of hatred in their neighbours, yet they certainly had the gift of attaching to themselves the Indians' hearts. No institution, condemned with contumely and thrust out of a country where it had worked for long, its supposed crimes kept secret, and its members all condemned unheard, could have preserved its popularity amongst the descendants of the men with whom it worked, after more than one hundred years have passed, had this not been the case.
I care not in the least for theories, for this or that dogma of politicians or theologists, but take my stand on what I heard myself during my visits to the now ruined Jesuit missions in Paraguay. Horsemen say horses can go in any shape, and, wonderful as it may seem, men can be happy under conditions which no writer on political economy would recognise as fit for human beings. Not once but many times have aged Indians told me of what their fathers used to say about the Jesuits, and they themselves always spoke of them with respect and kindness, and endeavoured to keep up to the best of their ability all the traditions of the Church ceremonies and hours of prayer which the Jesuits had instilled.
That the interior system of their government was perfect, or such as would be suitable for men called `civilized' to-day, is not the case. That it was not only suitable, but perhaps the best that under all the circumstances could have been devised for Indian tribes two hundred years ago, and then but just emerged from semi-nomadism, is, I think, clear, when one remembers in what a state of misery and despair the Indians of the `encomiendas'* and the `mitas' passed their lives. That semi-communism, with a controlling hand in administrative affairs, produced many superior men, or such as rise to the top in modern times, I do not think; but, then, who are the men, and by the exercise of what kind of virtues do they rise in the societies of modern times? The Jesuits' aim was to make the great bulk of the Indians under their control contented, and that they gained their end the complaints against them by the surrounding population of slave-holders and hunters after slaves go far to prove.
-- * For `mitas' and `encomiendas', see foregoing chapters. --
Leaving upon one side their system of administration, and discounting their unalterable perseverance, there were two things on which the Jesuits appealed to the Indians; and those two things, by the very nature of their knowledge of mankind, they knew appealed as much to Indians as to any other race of men. Firstly (and in this writers opposed to them, as Brabo* and Azara,** both agree), they instilled into the Indians that the land on which they lived, with missions, churches, herds, flocks, and the rest, was their own property. And in the second place they told them they were free, and that they had the King of Spain's own edict in confirmation of their freedom, so that they never could be slaves. Neither of these two propositions commends itself to many writers on the Jesuits in Paraguay, but for all that it seems to me that in themselves they were sufficient to account for the firm hold the Jesuits had on their neophytes.
-- * Brabo, `Inventarios de los bienes hallados a la expulsion de las Jesuitas'. ** `Voyage dans l'Ame/rique Me/ridionale'. --
The freedom which the Indians enjoyed under the Jesuit rule might not have seemed excessive to modern minds and those attuned to the mild rule of the Europeans of to-day in Africa. Such as it was, it seemed sufficient to the Guaranis, and even, in a limited degree, placed them above the Indians of the Spanish settlements, who for the most part passed their lives in slavery.
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