Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

dined to set tip a king of their own; and it was certainly a moment when, if ever, a colony is fairly entitled to such a privilege,— when Portugal and the rest of Brazil had revolted against Spain; and when the option was presented to them, either to adhere to the allegiance which they had lately professed to Philip, or to receive Braganza as their sovereign; or, which they themselves preferred, to bid adieu both to Castile and Portugal.

To carry this plan into effect they had very ample means before them. Their population was not inconsiderable—increasing rapidly—and, by the prevalence of Indian blood, (which here more than in any other part of Portugueze America composed the basis of the stock,) admirably adapted to the climate, and uniting the intelligence of their European fathers with the hot and enterprizing blood of their maternal tribes. Their territory was extensive, very fertile, well situated for trade, and absolutely inaccessible to invasion; and it is probable, that, had their intention of establishing an independent government been, at that time, carried into effect, the germ would have been formed of an empire which would ere this have overshadowed the whole of South America.

But the most respectable planters were, in their hearts, attached to the land of their fathers. The individual on whom the popular choice fell defended himself, sword in hand, against the tumultuous efforts of his fellow-citizens to crown him; and though it is possible this transaction may have given rise to the exaggerated reports, above-mentioned, of their independence and lawless liberty, it is certain that their allegiance to the mother-country, though probably little thought of where it interfered with their local interest, was, thenceforward, in name at least, unbroken. Nor can there be any doubt,, that it was their resistance to the extension of Jesuit missions eastward, however much to be lamented on grounds of general humanity, which preserved to the Portugueze monarchy the ample regions between the Parana and the Tiete, with the mines of Goyazes, Mato Grosso, and Cuyaba.

Unhappily for the Jesuits and their new converts, this country, which the Paulistas had always regarded as belonging to Portugal, and more peculiarly as their own mining and slaving ground, was among the first scenes of the labours of the missionaries. Both Portugal and Spain indeed were at that time under the same sovereign; and it might have been supposed that the court of Castile, which protected them against the Spanish slave-dealers, would have been equally able and willing to support them against the Brazilians. But, by a singular impolicy, the Spanish government had made no attempt to unite the nations as well as the crowns.. Each country was to keep the exclusive advantage of its own colonies: the Paulistas were little disposed to be either cajoled or

alarmed alarmed out of their ancient privilege; and the numerous bodies of defenceless Indians, whom the fathers had collected in their Reductions, were regarded in no other light than as a booty of the most valuable kind, and most easy acquisition. There was yet another motive or pretext for these barbarous enterprizes. The Paulistas, who were all of the Mamaluto, or mixed race, were, in part, of Tupi blood. The Guaranis, from whom the Jesuit Reductions were formed, were the enemies of the Tupi nation; and this obsolete feud was the more readily revived and cherished, as adding the pleasure of revenge to that of avarice and adventure. Against this danger the Jesuits had, in the first instance, no defence but the ineffectual one of prayers and tears, and an appeal to the symbols and sanctions of their religion.

In the space of nine months, fifteen hundred head of Christian Indians were driven for sale into Brazil, besides the far greater num> ber who were butchered for attempting to resist, or who dropped down dead before their brutal drivers. Two Jesuits, Manilla and Maceta, had the courage lo follow, as closely as they could, the rear of this band of robbers and assassins, trusting to what they might find in the woods for subsistence, and administering such consolation as they could to the dying, with whom the road was strewed. On their arrival at Brazil, they made vain applications for redress to the governor of St. Paulo, and afterwards to the governor-general at Bahia. The slaves were already sold and dispersed through the country. The Paulistas cared nothing for such feeble laws as then prevailed in America; and the only fruit of their journey was. the restoration of a very few captives by individuals who had purchased them out of charity.

The first effect of these incursions was mere ruin and unmingled misery. The Jesuits, hopeless of protection, emigrated with their flocks beyond the Parana, chased by the Paulistas, and exposed to all the evils of hasty flight—the attacks of wild beasts, famine, and pestilence. The province of Guayra, containing thirteen populous Reductions, was abandoned; but the greatness of the outrage which had been committed, and the visible necessity that, if the missions were to go on at all, they must have the means of self-defence, were urged successfully with the Spanish ministry, and the important permission was given, that the Jesuits might provide their converts with fire-arms. Of this measure the effects were speedily visible. The converts, who always greatly outnumbered their persecutors, being now on a level with them in arms, and led on by Europeans, who, though the work of. death was abhorrent to their profession, appear to have been by no means backward in acquiring a new science, soon learned to defeat them. By an easy stretch of their licence, the fathers brought

ji 3 • cannon 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 Assumption and Buenos Ayres, as well as the Portugueze in Santo Paulo; and in the course of a long and furious

Juarrel between the governor and bishop of Paraguay, the esuits, 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

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 bona-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 form— the beau ideal 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.

H 4 Women 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 po(-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 emimed 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.

Li the management both of children and adults, the rod and the

lash

« AnteriorContinuar »