Imatges de pÓgina

was therefore, they argued, better to let them do their worst at a time when, in Brazil, they had obviously the disadvantage, than to allow them to secure themselves in provinces which they would certainly make a point d'appui for fresh aggression when they saw occasion. The second was that strange superstition which first arose in Portugal when the unhappy Sebastian disappeared, and which encouraged his subjects, in their deepest distress and humiliation, to look forward to a time when he was to return again from Fairy Land, or whatever other asylum had received him, to deliver them from all their enemies and make Portugal the mistress of the world. This hope has never been entirely dead in the nation; and, even during their late distresses, and while groaning under the tyranny of Junot, the Sebastianists began again lo attract considerable notice by their prophecies and pretended miracles. At the time however of Braganza's accession, this opinion was to a certain extent transferred to the person of the reigning monarch, in whom, if not Sebastian himself, the line of their ancient kings was yet revived: and by whom they hoped the second and not the least improbable part of the prophecy would be fulfilled, and their country made the head of all nations. Nor could they despair of public safety with such grounds of confidence; nor could they descend to make any disgraceful or injurious treaty with those who were so soon to be their vassals. Wild as this language was, it was not too wild to be commonly held ; and it had probably the good effect of bearing up the national spirit, in a situation where any reasonable grounds of hope were hardly to be met with. To all this must be added the persuasions and influence of those who had relations in Pernambuco, or who were personally interested in the retaining of the colony at all events; and we shall hardly wonder that the voice of the Portugueze nation was unfavourable to the cession, and that they who could do nothing else for the insurgents, were at least resolute not to renounce them. There was one occasion, indeed, on which the danger of the country so powerfully worked on king Joam, that he dispatched an order to their army to retire. But as he had never helped, so he was not allowed to hinder them, and Joam Fernandez went manfully on in the cause which he had undertaken. In the mean time the fate of the contest became every day less doubtful. The name of Brazil became more dear to the national pride. The ten years truce expired, but the Portugueze were still resolute, and though the queen (Braganza's widow and successor) was menaced by Dutch Heets in the Tagus, the republic was too much occupied in other quarters to do her any essential harm. The Dutch grew weary of the war. There were probably, from the first, many moral and religious persons who disapproved of its commencement; their voices were more attended to when it became a losing concern; and some storms, by which their fleets suffered considerably, inspired a general opinion that the Deity was adverse to their cause. Recife, which surrendered in 1654, was the last hold which they possessed in Portugueze America ; and though the war in Europe and India continued six years longer, no event of importance occurred in which Brazil was immediately concerned, till the treaty of 1661; by which, for a stipulated ransom, the Dutch abandoned all claim to its sovereignty.

During this long struggle in the northern provinces of Brazil, the native tribes, which were as yet both numerous and warlike, were naturally involved in the sufferings and connected with the fortunes of the contending Europeans. We have seen repeatedly how serviceable Camaram was to the Portugueze, who rewarded him with the Order of Christ, as well as a considerable grant of lands and letters of nobility. And the names of other tawny tidalgos of his lineage * are noticed in Mr. Southey's pages, who were, like himself, as devout, as loyal, and as chivalrous as the purest blood of Portugal could be. Nor were the Dutch behind hand in the assiduity and success with which they courted the Indians. A cousin of Camaram's, named Pieter Poty, had embraced their cause with much zeal; the savages in general, whether Christians or not, were apparently inclined to prefer their untried yoke to the experienced tyranny of their ancient masters; and a sorceress who bore the formidable name of Anhagniara,' or Mistress of the Devil,' was slain with a cutlass in her hand, while leading on a party of Tapuyas against a Portugueze intrenchment. But all these circumstances rather retarded than accelerated their advances to civilization and happiness. The Dutch clergy, indeed, have, in almost all their colonies, been laudably active in their attempts to diffuse Christianity; the doctrines of the reformed religion had made a progress among the Indians of Pernambuco, which appears to have much disquieted the Jesuit Vieyra; and writing and reading, together with Dutch paper and sealing wax, were traces which long remained among them of their protestant instructors. But the labours of the Jesuits were interrupted, the stay of the Dutch was too short to produce any lasting effect; and the cruelties and sufferings of war far more than counterbalanced the endeavours of their missionaries, inasmuch as the worst passions and the most hateful practices of uncivilized man were stimulated and encouraged by the Dutch officers

among their Tupi and Tapuya adherents. Two instances are on record

· Camaram' is Portugueze for • Prawn,' and is a translation of the Brazilian word • Pory,' which was the name given to this chief by his countrymen. The custom of the Tupis to take their proper names from fish and reptiles has been already noticed in our review of Mr. Southey's former volume.

in which Portugueze prisoners of the best families were given up, literally by scores at a time, to the war-kettles of the cannibals. How was it possible to reclaim these last from habits thus allowed and even countenanced by their civilized and Christian masters!

In the meantime, however, that singular empire (for it in no small degree deserves that name) was established by the Jesuits in Paraguay, of which the rise, progress and overthrow are inseparably connected with the History of Brazil; wbile they constitute in themselves one of the most extraordinary and interesting portions of the general history of mankind. It is here, too, that Mr. Southey has, in our opinion, most succeeded as an historian. In the account of these strange establishments, his usual minuteness of detail is not only necessary but agreeable and appropriate; while without losing sight of the real faults and follies of these religioners, without dissembling the monstrous errors of their creed, and the pernicious consequences inherent in their peculiar system of education and government, he has given us such pictures of industry untired, undaunted courage and disinterestedness almost apostolical; so much genuine piety; so much love for the souls of men; and such an heroic devotion of themselves to the best interests of human pature, the instruction of the ignorant and the deliverance of the slave, as may well kindle the emulation of those who have a purer faith to disseminate than that in the cause of which Anchiata and Vieyra forsook the temptations of power, honour, and court favour, for the dangers of lawless and unfriendly lands, and the society of ignorant savages.

When the Jesuits, in 1586, first entered Paraguay, little pains had been taken by any of the religious orders for the conversion of the Indians of that extensive province. A Franciscan, named Rolanos, had made a few converts, and composed a catechism in the Guarani language; but he had some years before been recalled on account of his age and infirmities; and the few priests and monks who still continued in the province were not only indifferent, but actually hostile to any measures which might be adopted for the advantage and instruction of the natives. The general character indeed of the white inhabitants was marked by all the ignorance, vice, and cruelty by which back settlements have been usually disgraced; and the system of oppression to which the Indians were subject was such as to give them, one and all, a furious hatred for the Spanish name, and a reluctance apparently invincible to receive any religious instruction from those whom they at first naturally identified with their tyrants.

The system of the Spanish conquerors, in every part of America, bad been to assign their Indian subjects, together with the lands which they occupied, to different adventurers, who received the name of Encomenderos; as the districts and population thus granted received that of Encomiendas. The savages were thus supposed to be recommended to the protection of their new lords, who were enjoined to treat them kindly, to see that they were taught some handicraft trade, and instructed in Christianity-while after two lives (which time was presumed to be sufficient for their civilization) the tribe was to be completely emancipated, and placed on the same footing with the Spaniards themselves, excepting that they were still liable to the capitation-tax. Meantime they were not so much slaves, in our West Indian acceptation of the term, as serfs and adstricti glebæ. Their masters were neither allowed to sell, banish, nor misuse them; and their condition was further determined by the circumstances under which they became subjects of the Spanish monarchy, Those who were subdued in open war were called Yanaconas, the appellation given to a race of slaves or Helots, whom the Europeans, at their first coming, found in Peru. In this case the lord had, as in Russia, an unlinited right to the labour of his peasants, provided he fed and clothed them ; this kind of Encomiendas was naturally therefore the most valuable to the possessor. If the Indians, on the other hand, had submitted voluntarily they had many considerable privileges. The mitayus, or taskmen, as they were in that case called, had municipal officers chosen from their own number, according to the forms of a Spanish town; the Encomendero could only claim their labour for two months in the year, and between the ages of eighteen and fifty; and from this obligation the women and the chiefs, with their eldest sons, were, as well as the municipal officers, exempted. These rules were doubtless conceived by the Spanish government in the true spirit of humanity, and in the hope of regulating a merciless system, which it had in vain laboured to repress. But the temptations to the abuse of power were so numerous, and the means of redress so remote, that those regulations which favoured the Indians were in almost every case disregarded. Instead of the subjection of the tribes terminating in two generations, they would seem to have been granted and regranted by successive governors, under the pretence, which might always be urged, that they were not yet sufficiently civilized. Where white men were themselves the judges, the laws would always be construed favourably to their interests ; even the situation of the mitayos was little better than absolute slavery; and, as few men would voluntarily submit themselves to such a system of government, their number was of course but small, in comparison with the still more oppressed Yanaconas.

Among meu thus exasperated and injured, the Jesuits hoped for little success; and, though they pleaded the cause of these sufferers from the pulpit, with a zeal which made almost every white man in Paraguay their enemy, they appear to have left their religious instruction to the other monastic orders, by whom, from their vicinity to the principal towns, they might be easily and securely visited. They themselves performed the task of converting those tribes who were independent of the Spanish crown, and of gathering in their harvest of souls from the less frequented fields of the marsh and the wilderness : even here, however, the pernicious effects of the slave-system followed them. The Encomiendas were, by their nature, a growing evil; and, as the Spanish population increased, and as the Indian population of the first conquered lands melted away under the weight of their burthens, new applications were made to every governor for grants of those tribes and villages which had escaped the cupidity of former adventurers; while a regular slave-trade, of the true African character, was prosecuted with all its usual horrors of war and kidnapping in those remote and less accessible nations, which Encomiendas could not reach. Against these abominations, it was the first step of the Jesuits to obtain a royal edict from Madrid, expressly forbidding the Spaniards to make war against the Indians, unless in self-defence—and declaring that the king would have none but missionaries employed to reduce them.' He wanted no subjects by compulsion, nor did he seek to deprive the people of these countries of their liberty, but to reclaim them from their savage and dissolute way of life; to make them know and adore the true God, and render them happy here and hereafter.' Happy would it have been for Peru and Mexico had such sentiments actuated the Spanish government at the time of their discovery! In furtherance of these benevolent objects, the Jesuits were empowered by the same instrument to collect their converts into townships; to govern them independently of any town or fortress; to build churches; and, above all, in the king's name, to resist all persons who might attempt, under any pretext whatever, to subject these new Christians to the burthen of personal service.


The district of Guayra, a wide and fertile country, extending from the eastern bank of the Parana to the then undefined borders of Brazil, was the scene chosen by these missionaries for their first labours. The first fruits of their preaching, two hundred Indian families, were collected by their exhortation into a village, which they called Loretto; and they busied themselves in long journies among the surrounding tribes, to persuade them of the advantages which they would enjoy, if they consented to gather together and live under the new system. Their equipment for these expeditions was strikingly picturesque and simple :-a breviary, a cross six feet high, which served the itinerant for a staff, a flint and steel, and a few


« AnteriorContinua »