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accounts for the interest that people take in the biographies

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With the death of Cardenas the most dangerous enemy the Jesuits ever had in Paraguay had disappeared. They worsted him, and drove him from his see; but the movement set on foot by him and the calumnies he levelled at their Order still remained and flourished, and in the end prevailed against them and drove them from the land. A calumny is hard to kill; mankind in general cherish it; they never let it die, and, if it languishes, resuscitate it under another form; they hold to it in evil and in good repute, so that, once fairly rooted, it goes on growing like a forest-tree throughout the centuries. Therefore, the charges against the Jesuits in Paraguay, which Cardenas first started, are with us still, and warp our judgment as to the doings of the Order in the missions of the Parana and Uruguay even until to-day.

accounts for the interest that people take in the biographies

But neither calumny nor the raids of the Paulistas, nor yet the jealousy of the Spanish settlers in Paraguay, deterred the Jesuits from the prosecution of their task. The missions gradually extended, till they ranged from Santa Maria la Mayor, in Paraguay, to San Miguel, in what is now Brazil; and from Jesus, upon the Parana, to Yapeyu, upon the Uruguay. Most of the country, with the exception of the missions of Jesus and Trinidad, upon the Parana, which to-day, at least, are only clearings in the primeval forest, is composed of open rolling plains, with wood upon the banks of all the streams. Covered as it was and is with fine, short grass, it formed excellent cattle-breeding country, and hence the great industry of the Indians was to look after stock. The country being so favourable for cattle, they multiplied immoderately, so that in the various establishments (`estancias'), according to the inventories published by Brabo, their numbers were immense.

accounts for the interest that people take in the biographies


-- * At the date of the expulsion the number of the cattle was 719,761; oxen, 44,183; horses, 27,204; sheep, 138,827 (`Inventarios de los bienes hallados a/ la expulsion de los Jesuitas', Francisco Javier Brabo, Madrid, 1872). --

accounts for the interest that people take in the biographies

These open rolling plains, called by the natives `campos quebrantados', are generally studded thickly with stunted palms called yatais,*1* but not so thickly as to spoil the grass which covers them in spring and early summer, and even in winter they remain good feeding ground. Thick clumps of hard-wood trees*2* break up the prairie here and there into peninsulas and islands, and in the hollows and rocky valleys bushy palmetto rises above a horse's knees. In general the soil is of a rich bright red, which, gleaming through the trees, gives a peculiarly warm colour to the land. All the French Jesuit writers refer to it as `la terre rouge des missions'. The Jesuits used it and another earth of a yellow shade for painting their churches and their houses in the mission territory. Its composition is rather sandy, though after rain it makes thick mud, and renders travelling most laborious. The flowers and shrubs of the territory are quite as interesting and still more varied than are the trees. Many of the Jesuits were botanists, and the works of Fathers Montenegro,*3* Sigismund Asperger and Lozano are most curious, and give descriptions and lists of many of the plants unclassified even to-day. The celebrated Bonpland, so long detained by Dr. Francia in Paraguay, unfortunately never published anything; but modern writers*4* have done much, though still the flora of the whole country is but most imperfectly known, and much remains to do before it is all classified. The `Croton succirubrus' (from which a resin known as `sangre-de-drago' is extracted), the sumaha (bombax -- the fruit of which yields a fine vegetable silk), the erythroxylon or coca of Paraguay, the incienso or incense-tree of the Jesuits, are some of the most remarkable of the myriad shrubs. But if the shrubs are myriad, the flowers are past the power of man to count. Lianas, with their yellow and red and purple clusters of blossoms, like enormous bunches of grapes, hang from the forest-trees. In the open glades upon the nandubays,*5* the algarrobos, and the espinillos, hang various Orchidaceae,*6* called by the natives `flores del aire', covering the trees with their aerial roots, their hanging blossoms, and their foliage of tender green. The Labiatae, Compositae, Daturae, Umbelliferae, Convolvulaceae, and many other species, cover the ground in spring or run up trees and bushes after the fashion of our honeysuckle and the traveller's joy.

-- *1* `Cocos yatais'. *2* Urunday (`Astrenium fraxinifolium: Terebinthaceae'), curapay (`Piptadenia communis: Leguminaceae'), lapacho (`Tecoma curialis' and `varia: Begoniaceae'), taruma (`Vitex Taruma: Verbenaceae'), tatane (`Acacia maleolens: Leguminaceae'), and cupai (`Copaifera Langsdorfii'). These and many other woods, such as the Palo Santo (`Guaiacum officinalis'), butacae, and the `Cedrela Braziliensis', known to the Jesuits as `cedar', and much used by them in their churches, comprise the chief varieties. *3* `Libro compuesto por el Hermano Pedro de Montenegro de la C. de J., Ano 1711', MS. folio, with pen-and-ink sketches, formerly belonged to the Dukes of Osuna, and was in their library. Padre Sigismundi also wrote a herbal in Guarani, and a Portuguese Jesuit, Vasconellos, has left a curious book upon the flora of Brazil. *4* Domingo Parodi, in his `Notas sobre algunas plantas usuales del Paraguay' (Buenos Ayres, 1886), has done much good work. *5* `Acacia Cavenia'. *6* `Prosopis dulcis'. The famous `balm of the missions', known by the vulgar name of `curalo todo' (all-heal), was made from the gum of the tree called aguacciba, one of the Terebinthaceae. It was sold by the Jesuits in Europe. It was so highly esteemed that the inhabitants of the villages near to which the tree was found were specially enjoined to send a certain quantity of the balsam every year to the King's pharmacy in Madrid. --

The lakes and backwaters of rivers are covered with myriads of water-lilies (all lumped together by the natives as `camalote'), whilst in the woodland pools the Victoria Regis carpets the water with its giant leaves. In every wood the orange and the lemon with the sweet lime have become wild, and form great thickets. Each farm and `rancho' has its orange-grove, beneath the shade of which I have so often camped, that the scent of orange-blossom always brings back to me the dense primeval woods, the silent plains, the quiet Indians, and the unnavigated waterways, in which the alligators basked. Except the Sierra de Mbaracayu,*1* on the north-east, throughout the mission territory there are no mountains of considerable height; and through the middle of the country run the rivers Parana and Uruguay, the latter forming the boundary on the south-east. The rolling plains and woods alternate with great marshes called `esteros', which in some districts, as of that of Neembucu, cover large tracts of land, forming in winter an almost impenetrable morass, and in the spring and early summer excellent feeding-ground for sheep. Throughout the territory the climate is healthy, except towards the woody northern hills. With this rich territory and the false reports of mines, which even unsuccessful exploration could not dispel, it is but natural that the Jesuits were hated far and wide. It must have been annoying to a society composed, as were the greater portion of the Spanish settlements in Paraguay, of adventurers, who treated the Indians as brute beasts,*2* to see a preserve of Indians separated from their territory by no great barrier of Nature, and still beyond their power.*3* Bonpland, in speaking of the country, says: `The whole of the land exceeds description; at every step one meets with things useful and new in natural history.' Such also was the opinion of the French travellers Demersay and D'Orbigny; of Colonel du Graty, whose interesting work (`La Re/publique du Paraguay', Brussels, 1862) is one of the best on the country; the recent French explorer Bourgade la Dardye, and of all those who have ever visited the missions of Paraguay.*4


-- *1* It was from those mountains that the Jesuits procured the seed of the `Ilex Paraguayensis' to plant in their reductions. The leaves beaten into a finish powder furnished the `Paraguayan tea', called `yerba-mate' by the Spaniards and `caa' by the Indians, from which the Jesuits derived a handsome revenue. After the expulsion of the Order all the `yerba' in Paraguay was procured, till a few years ago, from forests in the north of Paraguay, in which the tree grew wild. *2* It was by the Bull of Paul III. -- given at the demand of two monks, Fray Domingo de Betanzos and Fray Domingo de Minaya -- that the Indians were first considered as reasoning men (`gente de razon'), and not as unreasonable beings (`gente sin razon'), as Juan Ortiz, Bishop of Santa Marta, wished. *3* Ibanez (`Histoire du Paraguay sous les Je/suites M.D.CCIXXX.'), a great opponent of the Jesuits, says that European offenders and recalcitrant Indians in the missions were sent as a last resource to the Spanish settlements. This is not astonishing when we remember the curious letter of Don Pedro Faxardo, Bishop of Buenos Ayres (preserved by Charlevoix), written in 1721 to the King of Spain, in which he says he thinks `that not a mortal crime is committed in the missions in a year.' He adds that, `if the Jesuits were so rich, why are their colleges so poor?' *4* It is to be remembered that, of the thirty Jesuit missions, only eight were in Paraguay; the rest were in what to-day is Brazil and the Argentine provinces of Entre Rios, Corrientes, and Misiones. --

In this rich territory the Jesuits, when, after infinite trouble, they had united a sufficient* quantity of Indians, formed them into townships, almost all of which were built upon one plan. In Paraguay itself only some three or four remain; but they remain so well preserved that, by the help of contemporary accounts, it is easy to reconstruct almost exactly what the missions must have been like during the Jesuits' rule.


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