Imatges de pÓgina

cannon into the field. The Reductions became secure from open violence. This security operated as a most powerful engine of conversion, and every accession of numbers increased it. Their limits, though curtailed of their original extent, were still sufficiently ample; and it is from this time that their system may date that perfect independence of the Spanish local government which was necessary to its perfection. On several occasions, indeed, their muskets and discipline stood them in no small stead against their countrymen in Assumpcion and Buenos Ayres, as well as the Portugueze in Santo Paulo; and in the course of a long and furious quarrel between the governor and bishop of Paraguay, the Jesuits, who espoused the cause of the former, brought a sufficient army into the field to counterbalance the whole force of the Spanish colonists, who were leagued, almost to a man, on the side of the prelate.

But, though the physical strength which the Jesuits wielded was thus considerable, it was a calumny as unfounded as it was malicious, which their enemies industriously circulated, that the labour of their Indian converts was employed to enrich the order; and that large annual remittances of gold, and other valuable commodities, took place from their Reductions to Europe. Gold, though diligently sought for, has never been found to exist in any part of the country over which the Jesuits bore rule; and the very small quantity of the herb of Paraguay, which only they were allowed to export, was never of sufficient value to defray the necessary expense of the missions, or to render them independent of supplies from Europe, or of the annual bounty which the king of Spain conferred on them. The system of tutelage, indeed, in which the converted Indians were carefully retained, though admirably calculated, in the first instance, to reclaim them from their life of savage wandering, was in no degree adapted to advance their progressive improvement either in civilization, or riches, or knowledge, or, we may even add-virtue. The system pursued soon made them cease to be savages-but it opposed an insuperable barrier to their becoming enlightened and industrious citizens of a civilized community.

Of that system, however, we have still to regret, that the accounts before us are, in many respects, imperfect and inconsistent. The statement of Azara is a hideous and disgusting caricature; containing many charges, which its writer must himself have known to be unfounded, and many more, which those who are not blinded by prejudice must at once perceive to be incredible. Dobrizhoffer and the other Jesuit writers are the avowed apologists, or advocates of their own system; and, great and benevolent as the exertions of their order have been in America, it is but too certain, that truth,


where the interests or reputation of that order were concerned, was by no means indispensable in the catalogue of Jesuit virtues. But as, when truth is left behind, neither censure nor praise is likely to be consistent, it is not surprizing that we should find many instances where not only Azara and the Jesuits are in direct opposition, but where even the Jesuits are irreconcileable with themselves. Thus the main principle of their whole system is represented by both sides, and Mr. Southey has, accordingly, assumed the fact as incontested, to have consisted in a community of all possessions, and the utter exclusion of private property from the Reductions: yet it appears tolerably certain, not only that every Indian family had its own patch of ground, on the cultivation of which its members were to depend for support, but that many individuals acquired wealth enough to contribute gold and silver ornaments to the shrines and altars. How such wealth could be acquired, where nothing was raised for sale, and where no trade was carried on, except by the missionaries themselves for the common benefit, is by no means easy to conceive: but the fact is sufficient to prove, that we do not quite understand the details of their Utopian republic. Enough, however, is told us in the present volume to correct, in all essential points, the unjust and exaggerated estimate which has been usually formed of it, and to establish it in its real character as an improvement on the Encomienda system, or rather as the bouâ-fide application of that system to the humane purposes to which it was, in every instance, nominally destined. Those who have read the benevolent fancies of Mr. Owen of Lanark, will discover in the Jesuit villages many traces of resemblance to his project for disposing of parish paupers. Both the one and the other, indeed, when stripped of the verbiage with which they have for various reasons been obscured or decorated, will be found nothing else than servitude in its mildest and most amiable formthe beau idéal of a sugar plantation-applicable with good effect to certain stages of human society, and containing admirable hints for the administration of an infant colony; but which no man in his senses could wish to see universal, or substituted for those light and invisible links of public feeling and cultivated society, which restrain us from those actions only which are hurtful to our neighbours; and, instead of compelling us to be happy after a certain rule, allow us to pursue our own objects after our own manner, at our own peril, and for our own advantage.

Each Jesuit establishment was, in the proper sense of the word, a single large plantation, cultivated by all the male converts, or clients of the order, divided into gangs, according to their age and strength, under the direction of the Jesuit rector of the place, assisted by overseers taken from among the Indians themselves.

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Women and girls were employed in lighter labours, and in different manufactures suited to their sex. The cleverest lads were brought up to handicraft trades, for many of which, where only imitation was required, the Guaranis had a natural and surprizing aptitude. The unmarried persons were regularly mustered to these labours every morning by the sound of musical instruments, and were fed in much the same manner as those who are called mess or pot-negroes on a West-Indian estate. With married persons, and those children who were too young to be separated from their parents, a different system was pursued-but one which also is usual in the West Indies--namely, that each father of a family, instead of his former allowance of food, had a certain portion of land, which he tilled, on his own account, on those days when the order did not require his services. What leisure was allowed for this purpose does not appear. The whole system was kind and indulgent, and there was probably, in this instance, no reason for complaint. In ordinary cases the produce of these patches of ground was sufficient for maintenance. If it fell short, the deficiency was supplied, and an allowance of coarse and (if Azara be credited) of scanty clothing was annually furnished to each individual. If the Indian, through age or infirmity, became incapable of cultivating his ground, it was taken from him, and he received food instead. A separate dwelling was allotted to each family, a single apartment of clay, roofed with shingles, and only excelling the negro houses in Jamaica, as having the useful and elegant appendage of an external porch or veranda. A Reduction usually contained eight hundred or a thousand of these huts, arranged in a regular plan, having a square in the centre, where stood the school, the workhouses, the rector's house, and the church of the same materials with the other buildings. The sick had an hospital, and widows and helpless persons an almshouse.

The education of the children was the object of all others on which most labour was bestowed, and it was, according to Catholic notions, perfect. It was such, however, as would by no means be thought sufficient in a more enlightened age and country. They were trained, indeed, in habits of early industry and obedience, and were fully embued with a reverence for that system of saint and image-worship which their preceptors thought fit to dignify with the name of Christianity-but their instructions seldom went further.--Few were taught to read, still fewer were made acquainted with the Spanish language; and though the Jesuits decorated the most docile of their subjects with many titles and offices of civil rank and authority, they, in no single instance, admitted them into their own order or into the Christian ministry. In the management both of children and adults, the rod and the


lash appear to have been liberally employed; and their introduction was, indeed, a natural result of a system where idleness was not necessarily followed by hunger and misery. He who is to be, fed whether he works or not, or whether his work is well or ill performed, will always require some stimulus to exertion which may supply the place of that fear which he has lost; but of the two species of compulsion, stripes are surely far more injurious to the human character than hunger. Of the moral and religious conduct of the Indians, however, a most favourable picture is drawn. Broken in from infancy to a discipline the most minute, inquisitive and incessant, of which there is any record in history;-removed from most of the temptations which visit civilized or uncivilized man-the boys and girls separated from infancy with monastic care, and, with equal care, coupled together in marriage when fifteen or sixteen years old; they are said to have retained through life the amiable qualities of childhood, but they retained its weakness also. Years passed away (the Jesuits assure us) without the confessions of a Guarani revealing any crime which required absolution; but so feeble were their minds, and their consciences so scrupulous, that the patience of the spiritual guide was wearied out with a long detail of trifles; and a single Indian occupied more time in the confessional than half a dozen of Europeans. Their vices, too, (for the reluctant admission of Dobrizhoffer shews that vice of a very black nature might sometimes penetrate into this paradise,) appear to have been of a degraded and unmanly character; and even their bodies were less vigorous than might have been expected in a community where hunger was unknown, and where all were trained to moderate and salubrious labour. This is, in part, no doubt, to be ascribed to their unreasonably early marriages; but it may be ascribed still more (as we conceive) to the unceasing inspection and discipline under which they were placed, and the want of those athletic diversions, those emulous labours, those salutary struggles with their equals, which, with European children, call every muscle into early use, and string at once the body and the soul to endurance and daring vigour and activity. When they had hoed their mandioc, (a task, of course performed, because it was a task, with as little zeal or exertion as possible,) the young Guarani had indeed his amusements, or those actions which he was instructed to call amusement, prescribed for him, under the eye of his kind preceptors, who, unhappily, forgot that amusement, when prescribed, becomes itself a task. Nor was the choice of these amusements good. The young labourers were taught to weave garlands for the saints, to sing psalms, to dance figure dances, to act plays taken from Scripture, and to walk to church in procession; but a cricket-match, a game at prison-bars, a ramble


out of bounds in the neighbouring woods, a quarrel even, with its usual consequences, would have been worth all these put together. Foot-ball was their only play which deserved the name, and even this, when exercised under clerical inspection, was not likely to be very animated.

With all these defects of system, it would be extremely unjust to deny that much real good was done, or that the Guarani of the Reductions was a much wiser, a much better and a much happier being, than he had been in that condition from which the Jesuits took him. Had not the advantages conferred by them been sufficiently great and obvious, it is plain, indeed, that no power of spiritual exhortation would have sufficed to draw the savage from his woods, or to detain him a voluntary prisoner, in a condition of life so utterly at variance, not only with his own peculiar habits, but with the natural feelings and instinctive independence of the human race. And it is almost certain, that if the power thus acquired over these uncultivated children of the desert had been more judiciously directed, and, above all, if it had been gradually removed, and the objects of this assiduous care accustomed by degrees to shift for themselves, and introduced into the commerce and society of the neighbouring European settlers, the Guaranis would, long since, have ranked among civilized nations; and have been themselves, in their turn, the instruments of dispersing the spiritual and temporal blessings of Christianity among the other native tribes of South America. Instead of this, no greater anxiety was shewn by the Jesuits than to perpetuate the state of seclusion and pupilage, which was at first undoubtedly necessary. All intercourse with the Spaniards or Portugueze was forbidden as much as possible. This was justified on the ground of the bad example which those colonists offered; and the fact alleged in justification was probably correct. But that is a feeble virtue which cannot stand the open air; and if the Indians had been taught, as they might have been, to respect themselves, and to take care of their own spiritual and temporal interests, neither the one nor the other would have been in much danger from a race of men whom they were not likely to love, and whom they had no occasion to fear. But the true reason was, the inconsistency of such an intercourse with that equality of condition which the Jesuits sought to preserve among their pupils. The Indian who had traded in Peru, or made a voyage to Europe, would have been so much richer and wiser than the rest, that he would have been less disposed to defer to the authority of the spiritual guardian. Disparity of circumstances would have been introduced, and, where this exists to any great degree, the government cannot be purely despotic. Accordingly, though the Jesuits had many officers who nominally answered to


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