Part 2 out of 6
only to find the country already conquered from the Pacific side,
and to be met by the messengers of the wise President, La Gasca,
who told him to return, and named one Diego Centeno Governor of Paraguay
instead of him. Centeno died before he could assume the governorship,
so it seemed that fate determined that Irala was to continue in command.
After a year and a half he returned to Paraguay, having found
no gold or riches, but bringing many thousand Indians as slaves.
It is important to remember that Irala, who was remarkable
for his relatively kind treatment of the Indians, on this occasion
led so many of them captive. On arriving at Asuncion he found
a rebellion going on, as not infrequently occurred when a Spanish Governor
left his domains. His lieutenant, Mendoza, had been killed
by one Diego de Abreu. After quieting matters in Asuncion,
he despatched Nuflo de Chaves (one of his captains) to found a town
on the higher waters of the Paraguay.
Like many other captains of those days, the idea of Chaves was to make himself
quite independent of authority; so, striking into the interior,
he founded the town of Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia.
After many adventures he was killed by an Indian, who struck him with a club
whilst he was sitting eating without his helmet.
Irala died at the little village of Ita in 1557, and was buried
in the cathedral at Asuncion, which he was building at the time.
With him expired the generation of the conquering soldiers of fortune,
who, schooled in the wars of Italy, brought to America
some of the virtues and all the vices of the Old World.
After him began the reign of the half-caste Spaniards who were
the progenitors of the modern occupants of the Spanish-American republics.
At Irala's death the usual feuds, which have for the last three hundred years
disgraced every part of Spanish America, began. Into them it is unnecessary
to enter, for with Irala died almost the only Governor of Paraguay
who showed the smallest capacity to make himself obeyed.
True indeed that Arias de Saavedra, a native of Paraguay
and Lieutenant-Governor under Ramirez de Velasco, the Governor of Tucuman,
displayed some traces of ability and of intelligence. He it was
who first appealed to Spain for missionaries to convert the Indians.
Whilst Alvar Nunez and Irala, with Nuflo de Chaves and the other captains,
had been conquering and building towns, the Jesuits had been
preaching in the wilderness and gathering together the Indian tribes.
Not ten years after the foundation of their Order,* or about 1550,
they had landed at San Salvador de Bahia in Brazil.
* Acquaviva was General of the Order at this time; he was a man
of marked ability and great energy.
In 1554, in the district of Guayra, on the upper waters of the Parana,
and above the cataract, the towns of Ontiveros, Ciudad Real, and Villa Rica,
had been founded by Don Ruy Diaz de Melgarejo.
In 1586 Fathers Alfonso Barcena and Angulo left the town of Santa Maria
de las Charcas (Bolivia) at the request of Francisco Vitoria,
Bishop of Santiago, who had appealed for missionaries to the Society of Jesus.
They reached the province of Guayra, and began their labours.
Shortly afterwards they were joined by Fathers Estezan Grao,
Juan Solano, and Thomas Fields; Solano and Fields had already visited
some of the wandering tribes upon the Rio Vermejo in the Chaco.
In 1593 others arrived, as Juan Romero, Gaspar de Monroy,
and Marcelino Lorenzana. Shortly after this they founded
the college in Asuncion. Then Fathers Ortega and Vellarnao penetrated
into the mountains of the Chiriguanas, and began to preach the Gospel
to the Indians.
In 1602 Acquaviva, seeing the necessity of common action,
called all the scattered Jesuits of Paraguay and the river Plate
to a conference at Salta to deliberate as to their future policy.* In 1605
Father Diego Torres was named Provincial of the Jesuits of Paraguay and Chile,
thus proving both the paucity of Jesuits in South America at the time,
and the little idea the General in Rome had of the immensity of the countries
he was dealing with.
* Before this date the Jesuits in Paraguay had been under
the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishops of Peru.
Torres arrived in Lima with fifteen priests, and almost at the same time
some others arrived at Buenos Ayres; both parties proceeded to Paraguay.
Already the Jesuits found themselves a prey to calumny.
Both in Tucuman and Paraguay they were expected to lend themselves
to the enslavement of the Indians. In Chile Father Valdivia
was expelled from Santiago, and took refuge at Tucuman. There he found
the condition of affairs so intolerable that he went to Madrid
to solicit the protection of the King, Philip III., for his Indian subjects.
In 1608 Philip issued his royal letters patent to the Society of Jesus
for the conversion of the Indians in the province of Guayra.
The Bishop and the Governor, Arias de Saavedra (himself a Paraguayan
by birth), offered no objection, and the scheme of colonization
was agreed upon at once.
Thus the Jesuits obtained their first official status in America.
Fathers Simon Maceta and Jose Cataldino (both Italians)
left Asuncion on October 10, 1609, and arrived in February, 1610,
on the banks of the river Paranapane.*
* Paranapane = the White Parana, or, according to others,
the Parana without fish.
There they met the Indians amongst whom Fields and Ortega
had begun to labour, and there they founded the Reduction* of Loreto,
the first permanent establishment instituted by the Jesuits
amongst the Guaranis. Thus, in the woods of Paraguay,
upon a tributary of the Parana but little known even to-day,
did the Society of Jesus lay the first foundation of their famous missions.
But little more than fifty years from the foundation of their Order,
thus had they penetrated to what was then, and is perchance to-day,
after their missions all are ruined, one of the remotest corners of the world.
* Reduction (`reduccion') was the Spanish name for a missionary establishment.
There they built up the system with which their name is linked for ever
-- the system which for two hundred years was able to hold together
wandering Indian tribes, restless as Arabs, suspicious above
every other race of men -- and which to-day has disappeared,
leaving nothing of a like nature in all the world.
Early days of the missions -- New settlements founded --
Relations of Jesuits with Indians and Spanish colonists --
Destruction of missions by the Mamelucos -- Father Maceta --
Padre Antonio Ruiz de Montoya -- His work and influence --
Retreat of the Jesuits down the Parana
It does not seem doubtful but that the work done by Fathers Ortega and Filds*
had borne some fruit. Perhaps not quite after the fashion
that the Jesuits believed; but when Maceta and Cataldino
arrived at Guayra and founded the Reduction of Loreto,
their success at first was of a nature that almost justified
the epithet `miraculous', an epithet which indeed all men apply
to any enterprise of theirs which meets success. Almost from
the first inception of the missions, the Jesuits found themselves
in the strange position of, though being hated by the Spanish settlers,
yet recurred to as mediators when any of the wild tribes
proved too powerful for the Spanish arms. Thus, far from cities,
far from even such elementary civilization as Paraguay should show,
almost upon the edge of the great cataract of the Parana,
the Jesuits founded their first reduction; to which the Indians flocked
in such numbers that a second was soon necessary, to which they gave
the name of San Ignacio, in memory of the founder of their rule.
* Some of the Spanish writers refer to Filds as Padre Tom Filds.
His real name was Fields, and he was a Scotchman.
For the first few years all went well with the Jesuits. The Indians,
happy to escape the persecutions of the Spaniards on the one hand,
and the incursions of the Paulistas* on the other, flocked to the reductions,
mission after mission was soon formed, and the wild Indians
gathered up into townships and taught the arts of peace.
But though the Guaranis at first entered into the Jesuit reductions
as a refuge against their persecutors, the Portuguese and Spaniards,
soon, as was only natural to men accustomed to a wild forest life,
they found the Jesuit discipline too irksome, and often fled
back to the woods. Then the poor priest, left without his flock,
had to take up the trail of the flying neophytes, follow them
to the recesses of the forests, and persuade them to come back.
* The Paulistas were the inhabitants of the Portuguese (now Brazilian)
town of Sao Paulo. Azara, who hated the Jesuits (his brother,
Don Nicolas de Azara, having been concerned in their expulsion),
says that fear of the Paulistas contributed to the success of the Jesuits
with the Indians. Dean Funes (`Historia del Paraguay', etc.)
says just as reasonably that it was fear of the Spanish settlers.
As a means to secure the confidence of the Indians, the Jesuits
found themselves obliged to communicate as rarely as possible
with the Spanish settlements. Thus, from the first the policy of isolation,
which was one of the chief charges brought against the Order in later years,
was of necessity begun.* Voltaire, no lover of religious Orders,
says of the Jesuits:** `When in 1768 the missions of Paraguay
left the hands of the Jesuits, they had arrived at perhaps
the highest degree of civilization to which it is possible
to conduct a young people, and certainly at a far superior state
than that which existed in the rest of the new hemisphere.
The laws were respected there, morals were pure, a happy brotherhood
united every heart, all the useful arts were in a flourishing state,
and even some of the more agreeable sciences; plenty was universal.'
* There was, however, a royal Order (`cedula real') which applied
to all America, which especially prohibited Spaniards from living
in the Indian towns, and, moreover, provided that even for purposes of trade
no Spaniard should remain for more than three days in an Indian town.
** `Histoire Politique et Philosophique des Indes', vol. i., p. 289
It is, however, to be remembered that Voltaire wrote as a philosopher,
and not as an economist, and that his statement most probably
would be traversed by those who see advancement rather
in material improvement than in moral happiness, for without doubt,
in Lima and in Mexico upon the whole, society must have made
amongst the Spanish and Spanish-descended citizens greater advances
than in the Jesuit reductions of Paraguay. In some respects
their almost inaccessible situation close to the cataract of the Parana
was favourable to the early Jesuits, and in quick succession
the villages of Loreto, San Francisco Xavier, San Jose, San Ignacio,
San Pedro, and others of less importance, were founded, containing in all
about forty thousand souls.*
* Cretineau Joly, `Histoire Religieuse, Politique et Litte/raire
de la Compagnie de Je/sus', vol. iii., cap. v., p. 322 (Paris, 1846).
So in the Jesuit reductions of the province of Guayra
was first begun the system of treating the Indians kindly,
and standing between them and the Spanish settlers,
which made the Company of Jesus so hated afterwards in Paraguay.
Little by little their influence grew, so that when, in 1614,
Padre Antonio Ruiz de Montoya arrived, he found that there were already
one hundred and nineteen Jesuits in Guayra and in Paraguay.
Of all the Jesuits who, during the long period of their labours,
appeared in Paraguay, he was the most remarkable; one of the most learned men
of the age in which he lived, he yet united in himself
the qualities of a man of action to those of scholar and of missionary.
Without his presence most likely not a tenth part of the Indians
would have escaped after the destruction of the missions of Guayra
in 1630 and 1631 at the hands of the half-civilized hordes
known as Paulistas or Mamalucos, who from the city of San Paulo
carried fire and sword amongst the Guaranis.
It is easy to understand that the Spanish colonists,
who had looked on all the Indians as slaves, were rendered furious
by the advent of the Jesuits, who treated them as men.
To-day the European colonist in Africa labours less to enslave
than to exterminate the natives; but if a body of clergy of any sect
having the abnegation and disregard of consequences of the Jesuits of old
should arise, fancy the fury that would be evoked if they insisted
that it were as truly murder to slay a black man as it is to kill a man
whose skin is white. Most fortunately, our clergy of to-day,
especially those of the various churches militant in Uganda, think otherwise,
and hold that Christ was the first inventor of the `colour-line'.
At the first settlement of South America great semi-feudal fiefs
called `encomiendas' were granted to the conquerors. One of the conditions
of their tenure was that the `encomenderos' (the owners of the fiefs)
`should see to the religious education of the Indians'.
Much the same kind of thing as to enjoin kindness and Christian forbearance
upon the directors of a modern Chartered Company. But, in addition
to the `encomiendas', two other systems were in vogue called
`yanaconas' and `mitayos', which were in fact designed to reduce the Indians
to the condition of mere slaves.
Herrera* says that the `"yanaconas" were men destined from birth
to perpetual slavery and captivity, and in their clothing, treatment,
and the conditions of their toil, were differently treated from free men.'
* `Historia General de los hechos de los Castellanos
en las Islas y tierra firme del Mar Oceano', decad. v., lib. iv., cap. xl.
In Paraguay these `yanaconas' were known as `Indios Originarios',
and generally were descendants of Indians conquered in war; they, too,
were in a condition of serfdom. They lived in the house of the `encomendero',
and could not be sold, and the `encomendero' was (in theory) obliged
not only to feed and clothe them, but to instruct them in religious truths.
In order to see that these conditions were duly carried out, visitors were
sent each year to hear what mutually the `encomenderos' and the Indians
had to say.
Herrera*1* describes the Indians under the `mitayo' system
by the name of `mitayos tindarunas', explaining that the word `tindaruna'
signifies `forced labour'. The chiefs had to provide
a certain number of them every year to work in mines and manufactories,
and so well was the labour in the mines known to be fatal,
that the Indians upon being drawn for service disposed of all their property,
and not infrequently divorced their wives. The `mitayos' were
at the beginning Indians who had not fought against the Spaniards,
but had submitted to their rule. They were grouped in townships
composed of portions of a tribe under a chief to whom the Spaniards gave
the position of Alcalde. In the towns thus formed only the men
between eighteen and fifty were liable to be drawn for service in the mines;
originally their term of service was for only two months in the year,
and for the remaining ten months they were in theory as free
as were the Spanish settlers. By 1612 the abuses of their system
had so diminished the number of the Indians that Don Francisco de Alfaro
was named by the Spanish Government to report upon it,
and to reform abuses where he found it possible. His report declared
that the Guaranis and Guaycurus should not be made slaves of,
and it abolished in their favour the forced labour which they had
previously endured. The European settlers in Asuncion thought
that this was owing to the influence of the Jesuits, and therefore
they expelled them from the town. Recalled to Santiago,
they founded there a college, and those who remained in Paraguay
pushed on the mission-work. Brabo*2* points out that
the first twenty reductions founded by the Company of Jesus were settled
in the first twenty years from their first appearance in the land,*3*
and that from the foundation of the Mission of St. George
(the last established of the first twenty towns) to that of San Joaquim,
in the wild forests of the Taruma, they employed a hundred and twelve years.
In the interval they chiefly occupied themselves in the consolidation
of their first settlements, and in various unsuccessful attempts
to institute similar reductions amongst the Indians of the Chaco
across the Paraguay.
*1* `Historia General de los hechos de los Castellanos en
las Islas y tierra firme del Mar Oceano', decad. v., lib. x., cap. lxxx.
*2* `Inventarios de los bienes hallados a/ la Expulsion de los Jesuitas'
*3* The Franciscans had already five or six settlements.
But whilst the Jesuits were settling their reductions
in the province of Guayra and those upon the Parana and Uruguay,
a nest of hawks looked at their neophytes as pigeons
ready fattening for their use. Almost eight hundred miles away,
at the city of San Paulo de Piritinanga, in Brazil, a strange society
had come into existence by degrees. Peopled at first
by Portuguese and Dutch adventurers and malefactors, it had become
a nest of pirates and a home for all the desperadoes of Brazil and Paraguay.
This engaging population, being in want of wives whereby
to propagate their virtues, took to themselves Indians and negresses,
and bred a race worse ten times than were themselves,
as often happens both in the cases of Mulattos and Mestizos in America.
Under the name of Mamelucos* (given to them no one knows why)
they soon became the terror of the land. Equally at home on horseback,
in canoes upon the rivers, or in schooners on the sea,
excellent marksmen and courageous fighters, they subsisted chiefly
by procuring Indians as slaves for the plantations in Brazil.
In a short time they exhausted all the Indians near San Paulo,
and were forced to search far in the depths of the unknown interior.
Little by little, following the course of the great rivers in their canoes,
they reached the Jesuit settlements upon the upper waters of the Parana,
where they burned the towns and the churches, made captives of the converts,
and killed the priests. Montoya relates that a Jesuit,
having clasped an Indian in his arms to save him, was deluged with his blood,
a Mameluco having crept up behind him and plunged his lance into the Indian
behind the Jesuit's back. The Mameluco, on being, as Montoya says,
`reprehended' by the Jesuit, dogmatically remarked, `I shall be saved
in spite of God, for to be saved a man has only to believe,'**
a remark which showed him clearly an honest opponent of the Jesuits,
as they insisted greatly on the doctrine of good works.
* The word in Brazil is used to designate a half-breed, but the etymology
** `Me he de salvar a pesar de Dios, porque para salvarse el hombre
no ha menester mas que creer' (Ruiz Montoya, `Conquista Espiritual').
Montoya adds with a touch of humour quite in Cervantes' vein:
`Este, sabe ya por experiencia la falsedad de su doctrina,
porque le mataron de tres balazos, sin confesion.'
Ruiz Montoya and others tell us that the plan of action of the Paulistas
was either to attack the Jesuit reductions on Sunday, when the sheep
were gathered in the fold listening to Mass, surround the church,
murder the priest, and carry off the neophytes as slaves; or else,
disguised as Jesuits, enter a mission, gain the confidence of the Indians,
and then communicate with their soldiers, who were waiting in the woods.
But not content with this, it seems, so often did they practise singing Mass
to pass as Jesuits, that on returning to San Paulo, in their orgies,
their great diversion was to masquerade as priests. So that the rascals
not only profited by their villainy, but extracted much amusement
from their wicked deeds.* This, in Montoya's opinion, was even more damnable
than the actual crime. And so no doubt it was, and we in England,
by having made our vice as dull as virtue is in other lands,
have gone some way towards morality, for vice and virtue,
both deprived of humour, become not so far separated
as some virtuous dull folk may think.
* The Mamelucos sometimes pushed their forays right through Paraguay
into the district of the Moxos, and Padre Patricio Fernandez,
in his curious `Relacion de los Indios Chiquitos' (Madrid, 1726),
relates their adventures in that far-distant district,
and the conflicts which the Indians, led by their priests and helped
by the Spanish settlers, sustained.
Quite naturally, these redoubtable land and river pirates
saw in the Jesuit reductions upon the Paranapane, and generally
throughout the district of Guayra, merely an opportunity of capturing
more Indians than usual at a haul. In 1629 they first appeared
before the Mission of San Antonio and destroyed it utterly,
burning the church and houses, and driving off the Indians to sell as slaves.
San Miguel and Jesus-Maria shortly suffered the same fate. In Concepcion
Padre Salazar was regularly besieged, and he and all the people reduced
to eating dogs, cats, rats, mice, and even snakes. At the last moment,
when about to surrender, Father Cataldino, hastily arming some Indians with
any rude weapons at his command, marched on the place and raised the siege.
A worthy member of the Church militant this exploring, fighting,
intrepid Italian priest, and one the Company of Jesus should honour,
for to him, perhaps as much as to any of these first explorers
of the Upper Parana, is credit due.
But still the Mamelucos ran their course, destroying town after town,
so that in the short space of a year (1630-31) they destroyed partially
the reductions of San Francisco Xavier, San Jose, San Pedro,
and La Concepcion; and the two first founded, San Ignacio and Loreto,
were ruined utterly. The wretched Indians, to whom by law
the Jesuits were forbidden to serve out firearms, stood no chance
against the well-trained Paulistas, with their horses, guns, and bloodhounds,
assisted as they were by troops of savage Indians who discharged
poisoned arrows from blowpipes and from bows. Small wonder that,
as Montoya, Charlevoix, Lahier,*1* and Filiberto Monero*2* all agree,
despair took hold of them, so that in many instances
they cursed the Jesuits and fled back to the woods. When one reflects
that many of the Indian tribes looked upon baptism as a poison,*3*
it is not strange that they should have associated effect with cause,
and set down all their sufferings to the influence of the malignant rite
to which the Jesuits had subjected them. The isolated Jesuits
ran considerable risk from their own sheep, and Padre Mola,
after the ruin of San Antonio, was suspected by them of being in league
with the Paulistas, and had to flee for safety to another town;
and as a touch of comedy is seldom wanting to make things bitterer
to those in misfortune, a troop of savage Indians, having arrived
to attack the Reduction of San Antonio, and finding it already burning,
instantly thought poor Padre Mola had been the instigator,
and, starting on his trail, almost surprised him before he reached a refuge
from their patriotic rage.
*1* Lahier (Francisci) S. I., `Annae Paraguarie, Annor. 1635, et duor. sequ.'
*2* `Relazioni della Provincia del Paraguai'.
Thus in the greater world reformers of all sorts have not infrequently
in times of scarcity and danger been taken by their proteges
for the authors of their trials and stoned, whilst the smug Government
which caused the ruin, well bolstered up in the affection of its `taxables',
chuckled, serenely confident in the unending folly of mankind.
Most certainly the Jesuits struggled to do their duty to their neophytes
in what they thought they saw was right. On foot and unattended
Fathers Maceta and Mansilla followed the fifteen thousand captives to Brazil,
confessing those who fell upon the road before they died,
and instant in supplication to the Paulistas for the prisoners' release.
Father Maceta especially behaved heroically, carrying the chains of those
who could hardly drag themselves along, himself half dead
with hunger and his constant toil. Especially he strove to effect
the release of a captive chief called Guiravera, who had been
one of his bitterest enemies, and strove so hard that a Paulista captain,
either touched by his zeal or wearied with his pleading,
released the chief, his wife and family, and six of the Indians of his tribe.
The chief returned to become the Jesuits' best friend,
and the two priests on foot followed the captives' train.
What they endured on foot without provisions, tortured by insects,
and in danger from wild beasts, as well as constant perils from the Paulistas,
who now and then pricked them with lances or fired pistols over their heads
to frighten them away, none but those who have journeyed
in the forests of that forgotten corner of the world can estimate.
I see them in their torn and sun-browned cassocks struggling through
the `esteros'*1* in water to the knees, falling and rising oft,
after the fashion of the supposititious Christian on life's way;
pushing along through forest paths across which darted humming-birds,
now coming on a dying man and kneeling by his side, now gathering
the berries of the guavirami*2* to eat upon the road, and then again
catching sight of a jaguar as it slunk beside the trail, and all the time
convinced that all their efforts, like the efforts of most of those
who strive, would be in vain. So stumbling through the woods,
crossing the rivers on inflated ox-skins, baked by the sun
upon the open plains, at length the Jesuits reached San Paulo,
where they had a college, and without resting set at once to work.
In season (and what in cases of the kind is ten times more important),
out of season, they besought, pleaded, and preached, and finding
as little grace from the Paulista chiefs as a transgressor against
some fiery dogma would find from a sour-faced North British dogmatist,
they started for Rio de Janeiro to see the Council-General of Brazil.
There they were told that the right person to address
was the Captain-General of the colony, who had his residence in Bahia,
five or six hundred miles away. Not the least daunted, they set out,
and found Don Diego Luis Oliveira more or less friendly, but as usual
fearful of giving offence to those who had a vested interest in the trade.
Then the two Jesuits, hearing that another invasion of the Paulistas
was expected in Guayra, started back on their long journey
through the woods, over the plains, across the mountain ranges,
and through the dank `esteros' which lay between them and their missions
on the Parana. The Captain-General seems to have been roused
to a sense of the position by their words, for on his annual visitation
at San Paulo he spoke in public to the colonists against their slave raids,
when a shot fired from the meeting ended his speech.*3* The inhabitants
then signified to him that, sooner than give up what seemed to them
a justifiable and honest means of life, they would be debaptized.
How they proposed to debaptize themselves is not related,
but perhaps after the fashion of the Guaranis -- by sand, hot water,
and scraping with a shell; though why the tongue should be thus scarified
seems doubtful, for no sect of Christians that is known
exacts that people at that sacrament should put out their tongues,
and even baptism does little or nothing to increase the power of scandal
inherent both in those who have been and those who never were baptized.
*1* An `estero' is a tract of country covered by water
to the depth of two or three feet. The bottom is usually hard,
but it is full of holes and hummocks. High pampa grass and reeds
not infrequently obscure the view, and clouds of insects
make life miserable. If the tract extends to more than a day's journey,
the night passed on a dry hummock, holding one's horse and listening
without a fire to the wild beasts, is likely to remain
present to one in after-life, especially if alone; the only things
that seem to link one to humanity are one's horse and the familiar stars.
Perhaps that is why Capella has always seemed to me in some sort
my own property.
*2* This curious berry, about the size of a large damson,
grows on a little shrub in sandy and rocky soils.
It has a thick yellow rind and several large seeds,
and the property of being icy cold in the hottest weather --
a true traveller's joy. Dr. de Bourgade de la Dardye,
in his excellent book on Paraguay (the English edition
published in London in 1892), thinks it is either a eugenia or a myrtus.
*3* Charlevoix, vol. i., liv. vii., p. 384.
About this time (1630) the poor Jesuits were much tormented
by the return to paganism of their Indians, and most especially
by a hideous dwarf who set himself up as a god, and found
a host of worshippers. Good Father Charlevoix thinks
that `ce petit-monstre',* despairing of being thought a man, had no resource
but to give out he was a god, and remarks that, as even more hideous gods
have been adored, it is not surprising that the Indians took him at his word.
When stripped of the somewhat strange phraseology of the simple Jesuit,
there is nothing really shocking in the incident. People in general,
in making gods, endue them with their own least admirable attributes,
and logically these poor Indians but followed out the general scheme.
* Ibid., liv. vii., p. 359.
But in the midst of heresies and dwarf-gods, with the Paulistas
almost always in the field, a man arose who was to lead
the Jesuits and their neophytes out of Guayra and settle them
securely below the cataract in the Misiones of Paraguay.
Born probably late in the sixteenth century in Spain,
Antonio Ruiz de Montoya was amongst the first of the Jesuit Fathers
who came to Paraguay. In 1612 we find him recently arrived from Spain;*1*
sent up to the province of Guayra to the assistance of Fathers
Maceta and Cataldino. For thirty years,*2* as he himself informs us
in his book, he remained in Paraguay, and in his own pathetic words
he tells us how most of his life was spent. `I have lived,' he says,
`all through the period of thirty years in Paraguay, as in the desert
searching for wild beasts -- that is, for savage Indians --
crossing wild countries, traversing mountain chains, in order
to find Indians and bring them to the true sheepfold of the Holy Church
and to the service of His Majesty.*3* With my companions I established
thirteen reductions or townships in the wilds, and this I did
with great anxiety, in hunger, nakedness, and frequent peril of my life.
And all these years I passed far from my brother Spaniards have made me
almost a rustic and ignorant of the polished language of the Court.'
Travelling as he did continually, few knew the country
from Guayra to Yapeyu*4* so well as he; he tells us that
for `all travelling equipment' he took a hammock, and a little mandioca flour,
that he usually travelled on foot with either sandals or bare feet,
and that for eight or nine years he never once tasted bread.
*1* Charlevoix, `Histoire du Paraguay', vol. lvi., p. 285.
*2* `Conquista Espiritual del Paraguay', Ruiz de Montoya,
*3* This may either mean to the service of God or to the service of the King
(Philip III.), for in the time of Montoya `Majesty' was used in addressing
both the King of Spain and the King of Heaven.
*4* Yapeyu, or Reyes, was the southernmost of the Jesuit reductions.
It was situated upon the Uruguay in what is now
the Argentine province of Entre Rios.
About the year 1611-12 we find him charged with a mission
to the Provincial at Asuncion to disabuse him of a report
which had been carried there that the Jesuits of Guayra
were garnering in no fruit from all their labours in the wilds.
The rumour had been so much repeated that the superiors in Asuncion
were on the point of calling back the missionaries and giving up all hope.
Montoya, accompanied by six Indians, set out upon the journey,
which by land to-day is enough to appal the boldest traveller.
Walking along, he found himself about the middle of his way alone,
his Indians having loitered in the rear. Night caught him in the forests,
and a storm came on. He passed the night at the foot of a large tree,
hungry and wet, and, waking in the morning, found himself
so crippled with arthritic pains as to be obliged to continue his journey
on his hands and knees. Alone and helpless, he dragged himself to a place
called Maracayu, and, failing to obtain a canoe, went on another league,
and there lay down to die, his leg being swelled enormously
with the rheumatic pains. Then, as he says himself, he prayed to San Ignacio,
telling him that from a sentiment of obedience he had set out upon
the journey through the waste. Nothing could have been better,
for the saint (who must have seen him all the time), flattered, perhaps,
that his own chief virtue had been the cause of so much pain,
promptly healed him and restored his leg to its usual size,
and Montoya went on his way rejoicing to Asuncion. The Provincial
heard and was disabused, but was unable to send a single man to help,
and poor Montoya set off again back to Guayra alone, having gained nothing
but his sufferings on the road.
Again, in 1614, we find him in Asuncion combating calumnies
spread by the Spanish settlers against the Jesuits.
In the same year (as he informs us*) he was witness
in the Reduction of Loreto of a strange circumstance.
`An Indian,' he says, `of intelligence and pious conduct called me
to administer the last Sacraments, and to confess him before he died,
and this I did. As there seemed little hope of his recovery,
and pressing business called me away, I quitted him after having given orders
for his burial. He died in a short time -- at least, all those
who were with him had no doubt of this; on my return I found the man
whom I had charged to stay beside the Indian till his death
preparing for his funeral. Toward mid-day they came to tell me
that the dead man had come to life, and wished to speak to me. I ran there,
and found him with a cheerful face in the middle of a crowd of Indians.
I asked him what had happened since I last saw him, and he answered me
that the instant that I quitted him his soul had taken its departure
from his body; then, at a point which he thought near to his hammock,
a devil had appeared, who said to him, "You are my prey,"
and that he answered it could not be, for he had confessed himself
to the best of his ability, and had received the holy Viaticum
before his death; that the devil had sustained that his confession
had been incomplete, and that he had forgotten to confess
that twice he had been drunk, to which he answered that it was an oversight,
and he hoped that God would not remember it. Then, on the devil sustaining
that he had committed a sacrilege, St. Peter had appeared, followed by angels,
and driven off the fiend. I asked him how he had known St. Peter,
and he replied by describing him, though he had never seen
an image of the saint. "The saint," he said, "covered me with his mantle,
and I felt myself instantly carried through the air. First I perceived
a lovely landscape, and further on a great city, from which
a shining light appeared. Then the Apostle and the angels stopped,
and the first said to me, `This is the city of the Lord;
we live here with Him, but the time of your entry is not yet.
It is written that your soul shall once more join your body,
and in three days you must appear in church.' Then all was dark,
and in an instant I woke up alive and well."
* `Conquista Espiritual', p. 22.
`I,' says Montoya, `understood by the last words of St. Peter
that the man had to die in three days, and I asked what he thought himself.
"I think," said he, "that next Sunday they will carry my body to the church,
and I am certain that I only returned to life in order to exhort
my relatives and my friends to listen to your instructions." . . .
When Sunday came he made his general confession,* admitted the two sins
the devil had reproached him with, exhorted all to live a Christian life,
and a few moments afterwards quietly gave up the ghost.'
* This time, it is to be hoped, without omissions.
This is the sole occasion on which Padre Ruiz Montoya even remotely
touches the field of miracles, as he in general relies
upon himself, his knowledge of the world, and on his patience,
which must have been almost North British in its quality,
if he acted up to his own favourite maxim of `by returning thanks for injuries
is how wise men conduct their business.'*
* `Dando gracias por agravios negocian los hombres sabios.'
In 1623 we find him praying Father Cataldino to let him accompany
the expedition to Itiranbaru, a mountain wooded to the summit,
in which lived several wild tribes. There he so worked upon the Indians
as to establish them in a reduction under the title of St. Francis Xavier,*
and left the mountain, which had been a haunt of savages,
as Padre del Techo says in his curious work on Paraguay,
`all at the service of the Lord.'
* Soon afterwards ruined by the Paulistas.
In 1623, whilst preaching, he was suddenly assailed by hostile Indians,
and seven of his Indians pierced with arrows at his feet.
Undoubtedly, he must have been killed had not an Indian
taken his hat and cloak, and run into the middle of the enemy
to distract the fire. In the confusion both the heroic Indian and Montoya
managed to escape, the latter getting into a canoe which, fortunately,
was ready at the river-side. But in the midst of all his occupations
he had time to study natural history in the spirit of the time,
as the following description clearly shows: `Amongst the other
rarities of the land is an amphibious animal. . . . It is like a sheep,
with but the difference that its teeth and nails are like a tiger's,
which animal it equals in ferocity. The Indians never look on it
without terror, and when it sallies from the marshes where it lives
(which it does ordinarily in troops), they have no other chance of escape
but to climb up a tree, and even then sometimes are not in safety,
for this terrible creature sometimes uproots the tree, or sometimes
stays on guard until the Indian falls into its jaws.' Thus far Montoya;
but Charlevoix informs us that, `en langue Guaranie', it is known as the `ao',
and rather tamely adds, `When one of these animals is slain,
the people make a jacket of its skin.'
Again, Montoya tells us of the horse on which the venerable Padre Roque
used to ride, which, when he died, refused all food, and wept perpetually,
two streams of water running from its eyes. It never allowed an Indian
to mount it after its master's death, and finally expired,
close to his grave, of grief. A kindly, scholarly, intrepid priest,
well skilled in knowledge of the world, and not without
some tincture of studies in science, as the above-related anecdotes
reveal to us. No doubt the Indians loved him far and wide,
and his superiors stood in some little awe of him, as those in office
often do of their subordinates when they show that capacity for action
which is a sure bar to advancement either in Church or State.
In 1627 Montoya was made head of the missions in Guayra,
which opened up to him the opportunity of showing what kind of man he was.
In this year the Spaniards of Villa Rica, the nearest town in Paraguay
to the reductions in Guayra, sent out an expedition to chastize some Indians
who had insulted a chief called Tayaoba, whom Montoya had baptized.
This was the pretext for the expedition, but Montoya knew well
that the real object was to hunt for slaves. He brought before the Governor
the edict of the King of Spain forbidding any war to be made upon the Indians
without sufficient cause. All was in vain, and the expedition
left Villa Rica and plunged into the wilds. Montoya, sore against
the Governor's desire, went with the expedition, taking with him
Padre Salazar and some well-armed Indians. It was lucky for the Spaniards
that he was there, for on the second day a flight of arrows
burst from a wood and wounded many of them. The captain of the expedition
ordered a retreat, which, situated as they were, exposed on all sides
to the fire of an enemy whom they could not see, must have proved fatal.
Montoya counselled throwing up earthworks before some huts
which stood upon the edge of the woods in which the Indians were;
this done, he sent a messenger to Villa Rica for reinforcements.
Even behind the earthworks the Spaniards were hard pressed;
no one could show himself without being pierced by an arrow.
The number of the Indians daily increased, till on the third day
they numbered about four thousand, and seemed likely to advance upon the huts.
The Spanish captain ordered a rally, and the neophytes wished to decamp,
taking Montoya with them, and then gain the shelter of the woods.
This he would not allow, and, charging with the soldiers,
put the Indians to flight. The Spaniards, far from being grateful
for their lives, seeing their hopes of making prisoners had vanished,
wished to lay hands upon the Indians whom Montoya had brought,
and who had fought beside them in the recent fray. Hearing that
in the morning the Spanish soldiers would attack his neophytes,
Montoya sent them off by night, and in the morning, when the Spanish captain
found him and the other priest alone, he said, `Thinking you had no other use
for the Indians, I advised them to return.' The captain had the grace
to say nothing but, `Then, you gave them good advice, my father.'
The two priests waited patiently till the soldiers had retired,
and then sent for their Indians and quietly went home. Thus it appears
that at necessity Padre Montoya was a true son of San Ignacio.
In 1628 Montoya seems to have met for the first time Padre Diaz Tano,
who afterwards was his companion both in the retreat from Guayra
down the Parana and in his mission to the King. No matter
whether a man make his career with Indians in the wilds of Paraguay
or amongst the so-called reasoning people in more sophisticated lands,
if he once show himself superior to the ordinary run of men,
there is something of an invidious character certain to be attributed to him
by those who think that genius is the worst attribute that man can have.
This, Montoya did not escape from amongst the Spaniards, but the Indians,
at least, were less envious, being perhaps less educated, for they believed
that the soul of one of their `caciques',* known in his life as Quaratici,
had entered into him. The rumour reached at last a chief called Guiravera,
known to the Spaniards as the `Exterminator' from his cruelty,
who, hearing that the soul of his late rival had entered into Montoya,
came to see him at the head of a large retinue of people of his tribe.
Montoya and Maceta were at Villa Rica, and on the chief's approach
they happened to be seated in the plaza of the town. As he approached them,
followed by his men, and with a threatening air, they remained seated,
merely motioning him to take a seat upon a bench. This he did, after making
one of his men cover the seat with a tiger-skin and stand behind on guard.
What passed between them, most unluckily, Montoya has not set down.
What he has told us only makes us wish for more, for it appears
that after the usual salutations Guiravera refused to speak,
and getting up walked about the town, silently looking at everything.
But, as it ever happens, even Montoya was no exception
to the general run of history-writers, who usually are occupied alone
with facts which seem to them important at the time,
forgetting that posterity (for whom they write) can judge of the result
as well as they themselves, but thirst for details to complete the chain
betwixt them and their predecessors. One thing is set down `in extenso'
-- not by Montoya, but by another Jesuit -- that is,
the sermon which Montoya preached to bring the chief into the fold.
Considered as a sermon it does not seem out of the common way,
and judged by its results was futile at the time, for the chief
answered coldly that he would think the matter over, and then retired
into the woods. But the seed thus sown in Villa Rica was to bear fruit,
for in a year the chief, either tired of his ancestral gods or having pondered
on the sermon, came into the fold and was baptized as Paul.
* `Cacique' = chief.
An irruption*1* of the Mamelucos called Father Montoya from
baptizing Indians and recovering their souls to the more prosaic,
if as useful, task of saving their bodies, which he did
at the immediate peril of his own. The Mamelucos had appeared (1628)
before the Reduction of Encarnacion, and many of the Indians had already
taken refuge in the woods. Those who remained were like a flock of sheep
without a shepherd, and knew not what to do. Padre Montoya hastened
to the spot, and called on every Christian to take up arms.
Under the circumstances he undoubtedly was right; still, in reading history
one is puzzled to observe how often and in how many different countries
Christians have to resort to arms. But before proceeding to extremities,
Montoya sent out Fathers Mendoza and Domenecchi with some of
the principal inhabitants of the reduction to parley with the Mamelucos,
who, under their celebrated leader Antonio Raposo, were encamped
outside the place. Upon arriving within range of the Paulista camp
they were greeted with a shower of balls and arrows, which killed
several of the Indians and wounded Father Mendoza in the foot. But when,
in spite of his wound, the Jesuit advanced towards the camp and insisted
on speaking with the leader, the Mamelucos were so struck with his courage
that they gave up to him several of the Indians whom they had taken prisoners
upon the previous day. Next day Father Montoya, encouraged by
the unhoped-for success of Father Mendoza, went out himself,
and, facing the Paulistas, somewhat imprudently threatened them
with the wrath of Heaven and the King if they did not retire.
The wrath of Heaven is often somewhat capricious in its action,
and the King of Spain, although as wrathful as he had been an Emperor,
was too far away to inspire much terror in his subjects on the Parana.
So that the Paulista treated the wrath of both their Majesties
as qualities which he could well neglect, and for sole answer
ordered his men to march upon the town. But, whether owing
to their hard hearts having been touched by the good Father's eloquence,
or the fact that the neophytes were under arms, when the Paulistas
arrived close to the town they altered their intentions and filed off
into the woods. Profiting by the respite from hostilities,
Montoya, in conjunction with Padre Diaz Tano and a Father bearing
the somewhat curious name of Padre Justo Vansurk Mansilla,*2*
devoted all his attention for the time to the Mission of Santa Maria la Mayor,
which was the most flourishing of all the missions of the time,
and which to-day still shows the greatest remnants of the Jesuits' work,
both in regard to architecture and the remains of Indian population
still settled on the old mission lands. But even there
the Jesuits did not escape without their trials, for it appears*3*
that a quantity of new proselytes arrived with women, whom the good Fathers
stigmatized as `concubines', and whom the ignorant Indians
in the innocence of their hearts looked on as wives. The order being given
to dismiss these concubines (or wives), a few submitted; but the rest,
leaving the mission, started cultivating a tract of land in the vicinity.
*1* These raids were known as `malocas'.
*2* In Paraguay it was not unusual for foreign Jesuits
to hispaniolize their names; thus, Smith became Esmid.
But it was more usual to add a Spanish name, as appears
to have been the case with P. Vansurk Mansilla. Father Manuel Querini,
in his report to the King of Spain in 1750, mentions the names of Boxer,
Keiner, and Limp, with many other French, English, and German names,
amongst those of priests at the various missions.
*3* Montoya, `Conquista Espiritual'. Also Charlevoix.
Then the good Fathers, with Montoya at their head, hit on a stroke of genius.
Taking the opportunity when the seceding Indians were away
gathering their crops, they set fire to their houses and carried off
the children and the women,* back to the mission. The recalcitrants
appeared next day at Santa Maria la Mayor, and were received again
into the bosom of the Church. Heresy, also, now and then made its appearance,
for two rascals, having built two temples upon two hills,
transported to them the skeletons of two magicians long since dead,
and the fickle people left the churches empty, and went to worship
at the magicians' shrines. But in this season of sorrow and of care,
and whilst the churches in the Mission of Encarnacion were left deserted,
Montoya once again showed his determination, and put things right.
Not being able to cope alone with the heathen, Father Diaz Tano
went to Guayra, and induced Montoya (still the superior of the reductions
in that province) to give his aid. He came, and, having armed
some of the faithful, at dead of night attacked the temples and razed them
to the ground.
* It is certain that the Guaranis, like many other Indians,
were polygamists, and Xarque, in his `Vida Apostolica
del P. Joseph Cataldino', thus explains the matter:
`El tener tanto numero de concubinas, no solamente lo ocasiona
su natural lascivo, sino tambien, el vicio de la embriaguez,
pues teniendo tantas criadas tenian con mas abundancia su cerveza y vino.'
Thus Xarque seems to agree with the late Miss Mary Kingsley,
who in one of her books (though she says nothing about
the `natural lascivo' of the negroes of the West Coast of Africa)
seems to attribute the polygamy of the negroes to the difficulty
a man experiences, in the countries in which she travelled,
in getting his food prepared by one wife.
In 1631 Montoya and others came in the forests of Guayra
upon the wild Caaguas. These they strove hard to civilize,
but, after labouring long, with all their eloquence were able
to induce only eighteen to return with them to the Encarnacion.
It was `with difficulty that they were able to give them
a sufficient knowledge of the mysteries of our faith to be able
to bestow the rite of baptism.' It may be that the Caaguas,
not having much to occupy their minds, approached the mysteries of our faith
in more receptive attitudes than is attained by those whose minds are full.
But, anyhow, Montoya, with true prudence, deferred their baptism
till just before their death, for a few months of life outside the forests
proved fatal to them all. Faith is a wondrous thing,
and able to move most things, even common-sense. One wonders, though,
why, when the Jesuits learned from experience that the poor Indians
invariably died when exposed to the burning sun upon the plains,
they continued in their fatal efforts to inflict baptism
on the unoffending people of the woods. If it were necessary,
it surely might have taken place in their own homes, and the patients then
might have been left to chance, to see how the reception of the holy rite
acted upon their lives.
In 1631 the Mamelucos broke into the province of Guayra.
All was confusion, and Montoya sent Father Diaz Tano to Asuncion
to beg the Governor, Don Luis de Cespedes, to send them help.
He answered that he could do nothing, and thus by leaving
the whole territory of Guayra without defence lost a rich province
to the Crown of Spain. Though at the time (1631) Portugal and Spain
were united, yet in the Indies their subjects were at war,
and though in Europe Spain was the stronger of the two,
in America the Portuguese conquered about that time rich provinces,
which to-day form part of the quondam Empire of Brazil.
Upon the failure of Don Luis de Cespedes to render help,
Padre Diaz Tano was despatched to Charcas*1* to lay the matter
before the Audiencia Real (the High Court of the Indies).
The frequent journeys and diplomatic negotiations in which
the Jesuits of Paraguay were engaged rendered them far more apt
to manage business than members of the other Orders in America.
Whilst in Guayra all was confusion, and the Paulistas swept through the land
ruining everything, upon the Uruguay things prospered, and Padre Romero
founded two new reductions (1631), known as San Carlos and Apostoles;
he also laid the foundation of that territory in which
the persecuted neophytes of Guayra were soon to find a safe retreat.
Father Diaz Tano by this time had returned from Charcas
with a decree of the High Court, declaring the action of Don Luis de Cespedes
in failing to protect Guayra against the Mamelucos prejudicial to
the interests of the King; but as neither he nor the High Court of Charcas
possessed any power by means of which to stimulate the Governor
to greater zeal, the decree was useless, and Tano and Ruiz Montoya
found themselves summoned hastily to meet a new attack. But before
they arrived the missions, both of San Francisco Xavier and of San Jose,
had been destroyed. As there were still three reductions undestroyed,
Montoya, as Provincial of Guayra, called all the Jesuits of the province
to deliberate as to their chance of making a defence. The debate ran high;
some of the priests wished that the neophytes should fight to the end;
others, more sensible, pointed out that the ill-armed and quite untrained
militia of the missions could do nothing with their bows and arrows
against the well-led and well-disciplined Paulistas all armed with guns.*2*
Padre Truxillo gave it as his opinion that it would be more prudent
to transport the Indians to a place of safety, and pointed out
that near the cataract of Guayra they would be able
to cross the river and place it between themselves and the Paulistas
in case of an attack. This advice seemed prudent to the rest,
and Father Truxillo set out to make his preparation for the march.
Few European travellers even to-day have visited the great cataract
known as El Salto de Guayra, or in Portuguese As sete Quedas.
Bourgade la Dardye*3* has described it in his book on Paraguay.
Situated as it is in the midst of almost impenetrable forests,
it has not even now been properly placed upon the map. Bourgade la Dardye
inclines to think he was the first to visit it since the expedition sent
by the elder Lopez, President of Paraguay, under Lieutenant Patino in 1861.
Before that time it had been left unvisited since 1788,
when the Boundary Commissioners sent to determine the dividing line
between the Spanish and Portuguese possessions camped near it for a week.
Felix de Azara writes about it in his `Historia del Paraguay',*4*
but he does little more than reproduce the account given
by the Boundary Commissioners. He places it in 24d 4' 27" lat.,
and refers to it as `a tremendous precipice of water*5*
worthy of Homer or of Virgil's pen.' He says the waters do not fall
vertically as from a balcony or window (`como por un balcon o/ ventana'),
but by an inclined plane at an inclination of about fifty degrees.
The river close to the top of the falls is about four thousand nine hundred
Castilian yards in breadth, and suddenly narrows to about seventy yards,
and rushes over the fall with such terrific violence as if it wished
to `displace the centre of the earth, and cause thus the nutation
which astronomers have observed in the earth's axis.' The dew or vapour
which rises from the fall is seen in the shape of a column
from many miles away, and on it hangs a perpetual rainbow,
which trembles as the earth seems to tremble under one's feet.
`The noise,' he says, `is heard full six leagues off, and in the neighbourhood
neither bird nor beast is found.' In Azara's time the journey
was not too pleasant, for he says: `He who wishes to see this fall
must cross the desert for thirty leagues from the town of Curuguaty
to the river Guatimi. There he must choose trees to construct canoes.
In these he must embark all those who go with him, arms and provisions,
and besides, where he embarks, leave an armed escort
to secure his base of supplies from the wild Indians' attack.
In the canoes he then must navigate the Guatimi for thirty leagues
until it joins the Parana, and always with much care,
for in the woods upon its banks are Indians who give no quarter.*6* . . .
Then there remain three leagues to sail upon the Parana,
then one can reach the falls either in the canoes or struggling along
the woods which fringe the river's bank.'
*1* Charcas is situated in what is now Bolivia, and was extremely inconvenient
for all dwellers on the eastern side of the Andes to reach.
Whether this was a masterpiece of policy calculated
to discourage lawsuits, or whether it was merely due
to Spanish incuriousness and maladministration, is a moot point.
*2* The Indians of the missions were not allowed to possess firearms
at this period.
*3* `Paraguay', Dr. E. de Bourgade la Dardye; English edition
by George Philips junior (London, 1892). The Indians
call it Salto de Canandiyu, which, according to Azara,
was the name of a `cacique' whom the first Spaniards met there.
*4* `Descripcion y Historia del Paraguay', Madrid, 1847.
*5* `Y es un espantoso despen~adero de agua', etc.
(`Descripcion del Paraguay', tomo i., p. 39).
*6* `No dan cuartel'.
Azara was, perhaps, of all the travellers of the last century,
the man who above all things shines in accuracy, and in point of fact
his description of the cataract is the best we have up to the present time.
Bourgade la Dardye tells us that not far above the cataract
the Parana expands into a lake almost five miles in breadth,
and from the lake the river issues in two great arms, which have
forced their way through the mountains known as the Sierra de Mbaracyu.
Dr. Bourgade la Dardye seems to think the circular eddies found in the whirls
are the most curious features of the falls. He describes them thus:
`They flow in falls varying from fifty to sixty feet in depth;
these circular eddies, which are quite independent of one another,
range along an arc of about two miles in its stretch.
They are detached like giant caldrons yawning unexpectedly at one's feet,
in which the flood seethes with incredible fury; every one of these
has opened for itself a narrow orifice in the rock, through which
like a stone from a sling the water is hurled into the central whirlpool.
The width of these outlets rarely exceeds fifteen yards,
but their depth cannot be estimated. They all empty themselves
into one immense central chamber about two hundred feet wide,
rushing into it with astounding velocity. . . . A more imposing spectacle
can scarcely be conceived, and I doubt whether abysses such as these
exist elsewhere in the world.' He places the falls in latitude 24d 2' 59",
but corrects the longitude given by Azara as 56d 55' west of Paris
to 58d 18' 8" -- that is, 53d 57' 53" west from Greenwich, which certainly
has some importance in fixing the breadth of the territory of Paraguay.
But neither Azara nor the French traveller, with their yards and feet,
their longitude and latitude, and the rest, give an idea
of the grandeur of the place. Buried in the primeval forests,
forgotten by the world, known to the wandering Indians who give no quarter
(any more to-day than in Azara's time), the giant cataract
is a lost wonder of the world. In the ruined missions on the Parana,
two hundred miles away, I have heard the Indians talk of it with awe.
They told how through the woods tangled with undergrowth,
matted together with lianas, they had hewed a path. Monkeys and parrots
chattered at them, and a white miasmatic vapour hung over trees and lakes,
burying the clearings in its wreaths, and lifting only at mid-day,
to close again upon the woods at night. They talked of alligators, jaguars,
the giant ant-eater, and the mysterious bird known to them as the `ipetata',
which in its tail carries a burning fire. In the recesses of the thickets
demons lurked, and wild Caaguas, who with a blowpipe and a poisoned arrow
slew you and your horse, themselves unseen. Pools covered
with Victoria regia; masses of red and yellow flowers upon the trees,
the trees themselves gigantic, and the moss which floated from their branches
long as a spear; the voyage in canoes, whirled like a cork upon the rapids;
lastly the falls themselves, and how they, awestricken at the sight,
fell prostrate and promised many candles to the Virgin and the saints
on their return, they talked of into the watches of the night.
Somehow, I like those countries which, as the province of Guayra
and Paraguay, appear to have no future, and of which the charm is in the past.
It pleases me to think that the sharp business men of times gone by,
patting their stomachs (the prison of their brain),
predicted great advancement, and were all deceived. For then it seems
as if the prognostications of to-day's schemes may also fail,
and countries which they have doomed to progress still remain as is Guayra,
their towns deserted, with but the broken spire of some old church
emerging from the verdure of the tropics, as the St. Paul's Rocks
rise sheer out of the sea. If there is charm in the unknown,
there is at least as great a charm in the forgotten,
and the Salto de Guayra is one of the most forgotten corners of the earth.
To this wild place Father Mendoza proposed to lead the Indians
from the Reductions of San Jose and San Francisco Xavier,
and then unite with them any of the fugitives he could assemble
from those reductions which had been destroyed. But even
the doglike patience of the Indians was at an end, and they preferred
to die or be led captives rather than run the chances of escape
in such a solitary place. In their despair, and placed between
the Paulistas and the fear of emigration, the neophytes turned,
as even more civilized people than themselves will turn,
on their best friends, and held the Jesuits responsible for all their woes.
Two Indian women, wives of `caciques', having been taken by the Paulistas,
the Indians broke into the church where a Jesuit (Padre Salazar)
was officiating, and interrupted him during the Mass
with the most bitter insults. One of the Indians menaced him with a lance,
another with an arrow, whilst a third tried to snatch the chalice
from his hands. He escaped, and ran, holding the chalice,
out into the woods, followed by two little Indian boys. Wandering about,
he fell in with the other Jesuits, all like himself outcasts,
without a church, and almost deserted by the Indians.
Padre Ruiz Montoya alone possessed a shadow of authority,
and he advised the outcasts with the remnant of their flocks
to retire into the woods, and sow a crop of maize for food,
whilst he endeavoured to get help from Paraguay. Hardly was this done,
when news was brought him which made him alter all his plans.
Two messengers came to inform him that an army of Paulistas
was marching on Villa Rica, and that a strong detachment of them
was advancing from the south. Then Padre Montoya took a supreme resolve,
and ordered the evacuation of the two principal reductions
(San Ignacio and Loreto) which yet remained intact. They were the first
which had been founded in Guayra, and were as important as
any of the Spanish towns in Paraguay. The churches, all the Jesuit writers,
as Montoya, Charlevoix, Mastrilli, and Lozano, are agreed,
were finer than any in the land. The Indians were, according to Montoya,
far better Christians than the inhabitants of the Spanish settlements,
and their faith and innocence were above all praise.
They cultivated cotton and had large herds of cattle,
so that the most bitter enemies of the Jesuits must allow
that much had been accomplished in the short space of two-and-twenty years.
In 1609 the Jesuits came to Guayra, and found it absolutely untouched;
and when in 1631 they left it, it was upon the road to become
one of the most flourishing American provinces of the Spanish throne.
The other missionaries imagined that nothing would persuade the Indians
to depart from their homes, where for so many years they had been happy;
but after Montoya explained to them his plans, they all assented to them
as with a single voice.
The plan by means of which the Jesuit Moses led his sheep
out of the wilderness of Guayra was most remarkable.
The river Parana forms a great artery between Brazil and Paraguay;
upon each side of it a network of rivers disembogue. The Paranapane,
on which most of the missions of Guayra were situated, flows from the east,
and falls into the Parana, not much more than fifty miles
above the cataract. After the last of the once-flourishing
six Jesuit reductions had been evacuated at the orders of Montoya,
he collected all the boats, rafts, and canoes, and after much persuasion
got all the Indians persuaded to follow him to seek for safer habitations
lower down the Parana. The population of the six reductions
has been estimated at about one hundred thousand souls; but of these,
during the years of 1629 and 1630, thousands had been led captive
to San Paulo, and thousands had dispersed into the woods.
Still, assembled on the banks of the Paranapane, there was
a multitude of Indians of every sex and age. Fortunately or unfortunately,
no record by an eye-witness exists,* except that written by Montoya,
and he is modest to a fault about all details, and absolutely silent
as to the part he played himself. He tells us that at the starting-point
were gathered two thousand five hundred families, and this
in spite of the dispersions and the efforts made by the Spanish settlers
in the town of Ciudad Real,** who feared, with cause, to be exposed
to the full fury of the Paulistas without allies. It appears the Indians
were in a state of spiritual exaltation, for some young men having remarked
the Jesuits were packing up a Christ and an image of the Blessed Virgin,
which in happier times had been miraculous, they declared
that to affront exile, and even death, in such good company
was a foretaste of heaven.
* At least, I have been unable to discover any other account
by an eye-witness.
** This city was situated near the great falls of Guayra,
and was destroyed by the Paulistas, as well as the city of Villa Rica,
after the Jesuits and their Indians left the province.
Montoya, in opposition to the modern style, tries to shift
the burden of the praise on to the shoulders of the Provincial,
Padre Francisco Lopez Truxillo,*1* but with indifferent success.
This matter of bearing your own praise will require regulation in the future,
when an advance of civilization has opened people's eyes to the perception
that praise is just as disagreeable to the sufferer as is blame.
The sentinel whom they had placed to warn them of the enemy's approach
gave the alarm. Montoya sent at once to Ciudad Real for help,
but the Spanish settlers were too hard pressed themselves to give assistance.
Nothing remained but to make a portage of all their rafts, boats,
and canoes, and then to re-embark and sail down the Parana
out of the reach of the Paulistas. Montoya passed in review his boats,
and found he had seven hundred, and that twelve thousand people
had embarked with him on leaving the Paranapane. When the Paulistas found
the Jesuits had evacuated all their towns, they burnt the churches,
on the principle, perhaps, that, the nests once pulled down,
the rooks would not return. They turned the Jesuit cells into barracks
for themselves, taking, as Montoya says with horror, `infamous women'
into those chaste abodes, where never woman had passed through the doors.
The Paulistas then entered into a rigorous examination*2* of the Jesuits'
private lives, hoping to find some scandal to bring against them.
Especially they questioned the Indian women, giving them presents to discover
everything they knew. All was in vain, the discipline of the Order,
or the strict conscientiousness of the individual members of it, not having
given scandal any hold.*3* The most difficult part of the great exodus
was now to come. The rapids and the cataracts of the Parana extend
to nearly ninety miles, and the whole country is a maze of tangled forest
interspersed with rocks. No paths exist, the place is desert,
and over the dank mass of vegetation the moisture from the clouds of vapour
thrown up by the falling water descends in never-ending rain.*4*
In order to endeavour to save the trouble of reconstructing
new rafts and canoes at the bottom of the cataract, Montoya launched
three hundred empty boats (sending an Indian in advance) to see if any of them
would arrive safely at the bottom of the falls. Not one escaped;
and so the pilgrimage began, almost without provisions and without arms,
in the middle of a country quite uncultivated, and where game was scarce.*5*
To make things worse, intelligence was brought that, a few miles below
the beginning of the falls, the Spaniards of Guayra had built a wooden fort,
surrounded with a strong stockade, hoping to intercept the retreating Indians,
and make slaves of any who might fall into their hands. Montoya himself,
dressed as an Indian, went out to observe the enemy, and on his return
the whole immense assemblage silently plunged into the woods,
leaving so little traces of its passage that the Spaniards in the fort
were still expecting them when they were far beyond their reach.
*1* `Conquista Espiritual', p. 48.
*2* `Rigoroso examen' (`Conquista Espiritual').
*3* In all the books and pamphlets I have searched about the Jesuits
in Paraguay, both friendly and unfriendly to the Order,
I have never found a charge of personal unchastity advanced
against a Jesuit. In regard to the other religious Orders
it is far otherwise.
*4* Azara, `Descripcion e Historia del Paraguay', tomo i., p. 40:
`En las inmediaciones del Salto hay proporcion para tomar
las medidas geometricas que se quiera y metiendose por el bosque
se puede reconocer lo inferior del Salto, bien que para este
es menester desnudare totalmente porque llueve mucho.'
*5* Azara records (book i.) the Indian fable that no living thing
could exist near the cataract. Though this is of course untrue,
yet in most Paraguayan forests near water, game is both scarce
and hard to find.
Each Indian had to take his bundle on his back; even the children
carried bundles in proportion to their strength. The missionaries carried
what was held most sacred, as altar-plate and images of saints.
In front a band of men armed with machetes (cane-knives)
opened the way through the dense woods and pathless jungle of the bank;
and as they marched along, Montoya says they sang hymns
which the Jesuits had taught them, and at the sound of them
fugitives who had been hiding in the woods came out and joined
their march. Especially those from the out-station of Tayaoba
joined them; their priest, Pedro de Espinosa, had met his death
`with a good chance of his eternal welfare,' as Montoya says.*
But after the second day the hymns no longer sounded through the woods,
nor did they play upon the harps and other instruments,
whose strings being all broken and the wood unglued,
`they left them on the rocks, being too sad to look at them.'
All through the weary journey Montoya seems never once to have despaired,
and sets down in his book the adventures of each separate day,
never forgetting to chronicle anything strange or pathetic
as it occurred to him. On the fourth day he sent off Fathers Diego,
Nicolas Hennerio, and Mansilla into the province of Itatines
to found a mission there, acting upon orders which had just reached him
from the Provincial of the Order shortly before he had started from Guayra.
They took with them `bells, images, and everything suitable
for the foundation of a mission'; but the first two were martyred
by the wild Indians, and the third just fled in time to save his life.
It took the fugitive Indians eight weary days of marching
to reach the lower end of the cataract, where once again
the Parana was navigable. On their arrival they hoped to find
provisions and more boats; but none were there, their own stores
were almost done, and the people too exhausted to march on.
Fever broke out, and many of them died; and others, lost in the forests,
without a guide, wandered about till death released them from their march.
A weaker man than Padre Montoya might have despaired of ever issuing
from the woods. However, he set the Indians to work to make canoes,
and others** to cultivate patches of maize for food, working himself
alternately with axe and hoe to give example to the neophytes.
Others, again, cut down the enormous canes, which in that region
grew to fifty feet in height, to make them into rafts.
* `Con buenas prendas de su salud eterna' (`Conquista Espiritual').
** Fathers Suarez, Contreras, and Espinosa were Montoya's lieutenants
in this memorable retreat. It is difficult to give the palm
to the energy and courage of the four priests, or to
the resignation and faith of the immense multitude of Indians
who were saved by them.
So, after a considerable time, all was in readiness for a new start,
and luckily provisions from the reductions on the Parana arrived.
So they embarked again, and on the journey a raft in which
a woman and two children were sitting upset, to Montoya's agony,
as he knew that `in that river there are fish that the people call culebras,*
which have been seen to swallow men entire, and throw them out again
with all their bones broken as if it had been done with stones.'
He says: `I confess I suffered infinitely, and, turning my eyes to heaven,
I blamed my sins as having been the cause of so much misery,
and said, "O Lord, is it possible that for this Thou hast brought
these people out of their country, that my eyes should endure
the spectacle of so much misery, and my heart break at so much suffering,
and then to let them die devoured by savage fish!"' As the good man
was praying, the Indian woman's head appeared above the water,
and Montoya himself, aided by Indians, drew her and the children
in safety to the land. But his trials were not at an end,
for many of the hastily constructed rafts and canoes sank before his eyes,
and the mortality of Indians was great. Eventually they found
a temporary refuge in the Reduction of the Nativity upon the Acaray,
and at Santa Maria la Mayor upon the Iguazu. Then famine raged,
and the arrival of so many people increased the scarcity,
so that six hundred of the new arrivals died in one reduction,
and five hundred in the next. At last the scarcity became so great
that the poor Indians had to roam about the forests to gather fruit,
and many of them died in the recesses of the woods.
* `Culebra' is the Spanish for a serpent. These fish may have been waterboas,
or, again, as seems probable by their digestive powers,
some kind of hypothetical fish not yet catalogued.
Seeing no hopes of saving the remainder, Montoya led them further on
to the banks of a little river called the Jubaburrus,*
and there he once again founded two reductions, which he named
Loreto and San Ignacio, after the two the Mamelucos had destroyed.
He bought ten thousand head of cattle out of the money the King allowed
to the Jesuits of Guayra, and from the sale of some few objects
saved from the general destruction of the towns, and settled down his Indians,
who in Guayra had been all agriculturists, to a pastoral life.
Thus did he bring successfully nearly twelve thousand people
a distance of about five hundred miles through desert country,
and down a river broken in all its course by rapids,
landing them far from their enemies in a safe haven at the last.
Most commonly the world forgets or never knows its greatest men,
while its lard-headed fools, who in their lives perhaps have been
the toys of fortune, sleep in their honoured graves, their memory
living in the page of history, preserved like grapes in aspic
by writers suet-headed as themselves. But though this Hegira
was the most stirring episode of Montoya's life, he yet had work to do,
and in the province of diplomacy rendered as great, or even greater,
services to the Indians, whom he loved better than himself,
as in the memorable journey when he led them down the Parana.
* The name of this river seems to have passed through the machine
of some medieval typewriter, for it is like no name in any language,
and Montoya knew Guarani well, having written much in that language.
Spain and Portugal in South America -- Enmity between
Brazilians and Argentines -- Expulsion of Jesuits from Paraguay --
Struggles with the natives -- Father Mendoza killed --
Death of Father Montoya
In the province of Guayra the Spaniards who had looked with disfavour
on the Jesuits, and had enslaved the Indians when they were able,
were in sore straits. The Mamelucos, finding no more Indians to enslave,
fell on the two towns of Villa Rica and Ciudad Real, destroyed them utterly,
and forced the inhabitants to flee for refuge into Paraguay.
Thus Guayra went the way of Matto Grosso and several other
provinces of Spain, and became Portuguese. Strangely enough,
most of these losses happened when Spain and Portugal were joined
under one crown. At home the Spaniards and the Portuguese,
however much they detested one another, were forced to keep the peace.
In America they were always at war, which ended invariably
to the detriment of Spain.* The strife begun by the Papal Bull of 1493,
in which Pope Alexander VI. divided the territories
discovered and to be discovered between Portugal and Spain, went on,
till bit by bit Spain was stripped of the provinces of Matto Grosso,
Rio Grande, and Guayra, and found herself drawn into the numerous disputes
about the Colonia del Sacramento, which cost so much blood
to both contending Powers. Perhaps the most curious and interesting
incident of the long struggle was the Three Years' War,
which began in 1750, after the marriage of Ferdinand VI. of Spain
with Dona Barbara of Portugal. By the treaty entered into at this marriage,
seven of the most flourishing of the missions situated
on the left bank of the Uruguay were ceded to Portugal
in exchange for La Colonia del Sacramento on the river Plate.
The towns resisted change of sovereignty, as Portugal to them
was typified by the Paulistas, their most inveterate enemies.
The Marquis de Valdelirios in his curious despatches touches much
upon this war, but perhaps the best account is to be found
in the curious memoir of the Irish Jesuit Father, Tadeo Hennis,**
who was the backbone of the resisting Guaranis.
* Even so late as the year 1777, in which the last treaty of boundaries
was signed at San Ildefonso, Portugal was the gainer, though not so greatly
as by the former treaties of 1681 and 1750.
** `Efemerides o Diario de la Guerra de los Guaranies', por P. Tadeo Hennis.
This journal has, I think, never been published in its entirety,
but portions of it are to be found in the collection of documents,
Bulls, despatches, etc., published at Madrid in 1768
under the title of `Causa Jesuitica de Portugal'. The author of this book
calls Hennis a German, but his name, Thadeus Ennis (as it is often spelt),
and his love of fighting look un-Germanic. Portions of the diary
are also to be found in the work of Bernardo Ibanez de Echegarray,
entitled `Histoire du Paraguay sous les Je/suites' (Amsterdam, 1780).
Either the original or an old manuscript copy exists
in the archives of Simancas, where I have seen, but unfortunately
did not examine, it. A portion of the work is also included
in the `Coleccion de Angelis' (Buenos Ayres, 1836).
The ancient enmity of the two nations has been continued in their descendants,
the Brazilians and the Argentines and Uruguayans, and little by little
Brazil is absorbing all the northern portion of the Republic of Uruguay.
After the retreat under Montoya down the Parana, the Jesuit missions,
especially in Paraguay and what is now the province of Corrientes,
for some time enjoyed a period of peace and of repose, and the strange
policy of the Jesuits was developed, and township after township arose
amongst the Guaranis (1630-31). But there was still no rest
for Ruiz Montoya, who was of those who rest but in the grave. In 1632,
at the instance of the Governor and magistrates of the township of Jerez,
Montoya sent Fathers Jean Ranconier and Mansilla to the north of Paraguay
to found a mission amongst the Itatines, a forest-dwelling tribe.
Their territory was marshy and the climate bad, and woods of indiarubber-trees
covered all the land. Fathers del Techo and Charlevoix
both speak of the `rebounding balls' with which they played,
which, thrown upon the ground, start up again as if they were filled with air.
This is, perhaps, one of the first times that indiarubber is mentioned,
though in some places Jean de Lery* seems to indicate he was acquainted
with its use.
* `Histoire d'un Voyage faict en la Terre du Bre/sil'.
The Jesuits found that to make progress was not easy with these Indians,
who willingly enough listened to their preaching, but refused to alter
their social habits, to which the Jesuits ascribe the fact that even then
their numbers were diminishing. Like most of the Indians of America,
they were polygamists, which custom in their race operates differently to
polygamy amongst the negroes: for whereas they seem to increase and thrive,
the Indians even at the conquest often tended to become extinct.
When a headman amongst the Itatines died, a number of his followers
jumped down precipices to accompany him upon his journey to a better world.
This custom and polygamy gave much trouble to the Jesuits,
but their most admirable patience and knowledge of mankind helped them
to overcome them by degrees. All was about to flourish in the mission,
when one Acosta, a Brazilian priest, appeared. Perhaps he was in league
with the Paulistas, or perhaps was jealous of the Jesuits, for he tried hard
to lead a number of the Indians to San Paulo to show them (as he said)
how they should follow the true law of God.*
* The way of the neophyte even to-day is hard, so many priests
of different jarring sects disputing for his soul as hotly as if
it were a preference stock which they had private intimation
was just about to rise.
The Itatines, either suspecting that Acosta's true law was false,
or tired of his preaching, rose and killed him; but the effect was bad,
and there grew up amongst those infidels a coldness even towards
the Jesuits themselves. Had it not been for two miraculous events
which happened opportunely, as such things should happen
if they are to be turned to good account, much harm might have been done.
A chief, having cursed a priest, was seized at once with a malignant ulcer
in the throat, which shortly killed him. The Itatines did not apparently
think anything of the influence of the unhealthy climate in which they lived,
and set the occurrence down to the act of God.
But more was still to come. Another chief having so far forgotten himself
as to jeer at a priest, a thunderbolt fell so close to him
that he was knocked senseless, and lay as dead. These two events confirmed
the Jesuits' power, and things began to flourish in their four new missions.
But the Great Power, so careful of the individual effort of His priests,
seems to have been most unaccountably remiss of their success considered
as a whole. In the same year (1632) the Mamelucos appeared and ruined
all the four missions, so that the efforts of the Jesuits and the miracles
In 1633 the first skirmish took place between the Bishop of Paraguay
and the Jesuits. This skirmish little by little grew into a war,
kept up for more than a hundred years, and ended finally
in the expulsion of the Jesuits from Paraguay. The Governor,
Don Luis de Cespedes, having called upon the Indians of the Jesuit missions
for personal service, a proceeding quite against both
the King's orders and the Papal Bulls, the Bishop thought the moment
opportune to press for tithes. This, too, was equally forbidden
both by a Bull and by an order of the Council of the Indies. Padre Romero
went to Asuncion and displayed his Bulls and his orders of the Council,
and the Governor withdrew his claims. The Bishop, after some opposition,
withdrew likewise, and the Provincial of the Order arrived at Asuncion,
bringing with him an order from the King signifying that
the Indians of the reductions were to be left entirely to the Jesuits.
So for the present the Jesuits scored a victory, though in the future
it was to cost them dear. But the Governor of Paraguay
having returned apparently to his design of exacting personal service
from the Indians of the missions, the Provincial checkmated him
with a royal order from Philip IV. The order was addressed
to the Viceroy of Peru, the fourth Count of Chinchon. The missive,
dated at Madrid in 1633, condemned in the strongest terms
all personal service (that is, forced labour) amongst the Indians,
not only of the Jesuit missions, but of Peru and Mexico.
With a touching confidence in his own powers, and absolute right Divine,
the well-meaning King added to his orders a paragraph commanding
all to be done as he had ordered within six months. Strange to find
Philip IV., whom Velasquez has immortalized and shown us as he sat upon
his horse ineffable, so far away from the Museo del Prado, where alone
he ever seems really to have lived. But foolish Governors and Bishops
were not the Jesuits' worst enemies in Paraguay. In 1634 the Provincial,
Father Boroa, was shipwrecked in a voyage up the Uruguay, and only saved
by the devotion of his neophytes.
Sometimes the cruel treatment of the natives by the Spanish settlers
was avenged upon the Jesuits. This was the case with a band of Guapalaches,
who, coming on Father Espinosa in a wood, attacked and massacred
him and all his Indians, and, having cut his body into pieces,
left it for the wild beasts to eat. Upon another occasion Father Mendoza
fell into an ambuscade, from which he might have escaped had not his horse
sunk in a miry stream. Long he defended himself with an Indian shield,
but at length was stretched upon the ground and left for dead.
During the night he revived, and dragged himself up to some rocks;
but the Indians in the morning, following up his trail, came on him
praying in a loud voice. They told him that he served a blind God,
or at best a powerless God, as He did nothing to defend His servant;
then, after torturing him cruelly, they despatched him,
and, taking out his heart, said: `Let us see if his soul
will take the road to heaven.' These savages do not seem to have been
genuinely interested in finding out what became of the soul
after the dissolution of the body, for they sat down and made
a hearty meal of two young Indians who accompanied the unlucky priest.
But they had heard their victim say that when he baptized them
it purified their souls, and the last words of Father Mendoza had been
to recommend his soul to God. I often wonder if the Christians of to-day,
their creed so firmly fixed by the martyrdoms of simple folk,
who held their faith without perhaps much reasoning on it,
know what they owe to men like Father Christopher Mendoza,
slain by the Indians in the Paraguayan woods. Your ancient martyr,
fallen out of fashion and forgotten by the Christians of to-day,
should have his homage done to him, if only by the chance writer,
who in his studies for some subject of no interest to the general world
comes on his trail of blood; for martyrdom, no matter how obscure,
forgotten by the people of the faith for which the martyr suffered,
is a slur not only on the faithful, but on the faith itself. In 1636 occurred
the second invasion of the Paulistas, which induced Father Montoya,
accompanied by Father Diaz Tano, to go to Europe to seek protection
for the Indians both from the King of Spain and from the Pope.
The Mamelucos burst into the province of Tape,* and,
as the mission of Jesus-Maria (one of the few left undestroyed
at the former invasion) was most exposed, Father Romero asked
permission of the Governor of the River Plate** to make some trenches
to defend the place. The Governor consented, but the storm burst
on the mission before the defences were in a fit state to defend.
The mission priests Antonio Bernal and Juan Cardenas were in the front ranks
encouraging the Indians, and both were badly wounded. Fathers Mola and Romero
went about ministering to the wounded, but escaped themselves. At last,
the Mamelucos having set fire to the church, capitulation became inevitable,
and the chief part of the Indians were led away in chains.
The same fate would have overtaken the mission of San Cristobal,
where father Romero had retreated with some fugitives from Jesus-Maria,
had not the people and their priest retreated hastily upon
the mission of Santa Ana. But even there they were not long in safety,
and had to undertake another perilous journey down the river Iguai.
Here a party of passing Mamelucos fell into an ambuscade,
and were hewn in pieces, presumably before the Lord. The Mamelucos
pushed their advance so far that Father Montoya had given orders
that all the missions of that province should be burned. The inhabitants,
who trusted him quite blindly, were just about to begin to burn their houses,
when an order from the Provincial stopped them from doing so till he himself
appeared upon the scene. He arrived, and, gathering up the scattered Indians
as far as he was able, left them for safety in some of the missions
which had not been destroyed, and set off himself to ask for help
from the Governor of Paraguay.
* This province was sometimes called Guayra, and sometimes La Provincia
de Vera, Vera being the family name of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca.
Its position, etc., may be determined by reference to
the curious volume of maps published at Madrid by Don Francisco Javier Brabo
** That a mission could be so undefended as to need trenches,
that a Jesuit should ask leave to make such elementary defences,
even in the face of imminent danger, seems to prove that the Jesuits
at least in 1636 had no intention of defying the sovereign power,
as was so often alleged against them.
Finding no help either from him or from the Governor of the River Plate,
he went to Corrientes, and was received almost with contumely.
Then, desperate, he equipped an army of the mission Indians,
and advanced to fight the Mamelucos; but they had retreated into Brazil,
and were beyond his reach. Seeing that nothing was to be hoped
from the Spanish Governors, he sent a box of papers in a ship
going to Portugal, and laid his case before the Council of the Indies.
Montoya and Charlevoix relate that the box was thrown into the sea near Lisbon
by some enemy of the Jesuits, but providentially was washed up by the tide,
and, being found miraculously, was taken to the King of Spain.
Whether this happened as it is written, who shall say? But, in distress,
when have good men (before the time of the encyclopaedists)
been without a miracle to sustain their cause? In the next year (1637)
Father Montoya and Tano started upon their mission to Europe,
and a new field was opened to Montoya in which to show his talents
on the Indians' behalf.
Whilst Father Montoya was in Spain, the Provincial appointed Father Alfaro
to take his place. He fell on troublous times, for the Mamelucos
were preparing to attack the three remaining missions
in the province of Guayra.* As they were not defensible,
it was agreed to evacuate them, and to retreat into the provinces
upon the Uruguay. When they were just about to start from Santa Teresa,
where the inhabitants of the other missions had been collected,
the Mamelucos appeared just before Christmas. The Indians were driven off
as slaves, and the Mamelucos, with their usual sense of humour,
attended Mass as penitents on Christmas Day, with candles in their hands,
and listened to the sermon in an edifying way. The priest reproached them
for their cruelty, and they, after listening devoutly, gave him
the liberty of two choir boys, and quietly left the church.
* San Joaquin, Santa Teresa, Santa Ana.
At length the Jesuits, rendered desperate by the perils to which
the mission Indians were exposed, armed several bands of Indians and attacked
the Mamelucos. But, as was to be expected, the half-armed Indians
were always worsted by the well-armed and disciplined Paulista bands,
and then the Jesuits took the supreme resolve to evacuate Guayra entirely,
and place the Indians in safety between the rivers Parana and Uruguay.
Formed into three great companies, the Indians started on their second exodus.
Although the difficulties were less than in the voyage down the Parana,
still, to march several thousand Indians just emerged from savagery,
accompanied by their women and children, and charged with
all their possessions, through a wild country, where they were exposed
to the attack of a well-armed enemy upon the way, was not an easy task.
Father Christobal Arenas formed them into three divisions,
leading the first himself; but the Provincial seems to have done
most of the organizing, for Charlevoix says that `to his courage, prudence,
and inalterable kindness,' the success was due.*
* `Histoire du Paraguay', liv. ix., p. 446.
Courage and prudence and inalterable kindness are the three virtues
which have most moved the world; perhaps the last has been most efficacious,
and one would hope that in the future it would be the only one
of the whole three required.
Twelve thousand Indians, not counting women and children,
were thus led into a territory* between the rivers Uruguay and Parana,
rich, fertile, and, as the distance between the rivers
is not above some five-and-twenty miles, defended in some measure,
and easily rendered almost impregnable.
* This territory is now the Argentine province of Misiones.
No one can see the heart of man, and, even if God sees it,
He never tells us what is there, so that we are obliged to judge of actions
as we find them, and leave the search for motives to omniscients.
On the face of it, the Jesuits, both those who led the Indians
down the Parana and those who headed them in this migration
to the Mesopotamia between the Uruguay and Parana, were not impelled
by thought of gain; and if a Jesuit must of necessity have some dark scheme
behind the smallest action of his life, these men concealed it so deep down
within their souls that all the researches of their keenest enemies
have not been able to throw light on it. But, even settled
in their new homes, the Indians were defenceless against the Mamelucos,
as it was a state maxim of the Spanish court that the Indians
should never be allowed the use of guns. This was a wise enough precaution,
without doubt, for the Indians of the Encomiendas, who lived
amongst the Spaniards and owed them personal services;
but arms for the Indians of the missions were a necessity of life.
Therefore, before he started for Madrid, the Provincial impressed upon Montoya
to approach the Council of the Indies and the King, and represent to them
that it was impossible to guarantee the existence of the reductions
against the Mamelucos unless the Indians were allowed to provide themselves
with arms. So Father Montoya, though he was charged to press
for various reforms, was most especially impressed upon this point.
He was to tell the King that the Indians were not to be allowed
to keep their arms themselves, but that they would be kept by the Jesuits,
and served out to the Indians in case of an attack; then, that the arms
would not cost a penny to the treasury, but be all paid out of the alms
collected for the purpose by the Company; lastly, and this was
a true stroke of Jesuit policy, that, to instruct the Indians how to shoot,
they would bring from Chile certain Jesuits who in the world had served
as soldiers. One sees them brought from the frontiers of Araucania,
and from the outposts of the trans-Andean towns, half sacristan,
half sergeant, instant in prayer, and yet with a look about them
like a serious bull terrier -- a fitting kind of priest for a frontier town,
and such as could alone be found amongst the Jesuits.
About this time (1639) the third invasion of the Mamelucos took place,
and Father Alfaro, who had been left in charge of the missions
on the Uruguay and Parana, was shot by a Mameluco with a crossbow,
and fell dead from his horse. The Governor of Paraguay, on hearing of it,
marched with an army, and, having killed two or three hundred
of the Mamelucos, took the rest prisoners, and carried them
back to Asuncion. There, to the disgust of all the Jesuit historians,
he menaced them with the wrath of Heaven and let them go.
The feelings of a churchman, when his own privilege is thus usurped,
may be compared to those of a strict game-preserver who sees
his coverts poached. It is not so much the damage that is done
as the personal insult and the humiliation which he suffers in his pride.
In this year, too, the Indians of the missions rendered
their first armed service to the State which afterwards so often
drew on them in its necessity and treated them so ill.
The Governor of Buenos Ayres, Don Pedro Estevan Davila,
was setting out upon an expedition against a tribe of Indians
who had taken refuge in the islands of the Lake Ybera.
Eighty of the Indians were sent, and, being well led and armed,
contributed considerably towards success. Next year a second contingent
was required by the Governor of Tucuman, and duly sent to his assistance.
History seems to repeat itself, and foolish soldiers and others
never to gain experience; for the Governor (Padre del Techo
in his `Historia Paraquaiae' tells us), having made war in Flanders,
could never be dissuaded that the same system was not suitable
for warfare in America. Accordingly, he set out in good order,
but neglected to send out scouts, and consequently fell into
the middle of the Calchaquis strongly entrenched within a marsh,
attacked them with a rush, lost heavily, and had to retire to Tucuman.
But all this time Father Montoya and Diaz Tano were striving
in Rome and at Madrid with the Pope and with the King.
Urban VIII., at that time God's vicegerent for the Christian portion
of the world, received Diaz Tano kindly, listened to all he had to say
with interest, promised him his help, and gave him a Papal letter
menacing the Mamelucos with the wrath of God. From Rome Father Tano
went to Madrid, and thence to Lisbon, whence he sailed armed with
the protection of the Pope and accompanied by a fresh band of zealous priests.
Arrived in Rio de Janeiro, he published the Papal letter, and fixed it
on the doors of the Jesuit College and on those of their church. He seems
on this occasion to have been wanting in the chief Jesuit virtue, prudence,
or at the least he seems to have mistaken the character of the people
amongst whom he was. Most of the colonists having relations
with the Mamelucos were indignant, and a mob broke in the doors
both of the college and of the church. The riot grew so serious
that the Governor convoked a council, and cited Father Tano to appear.
He came and spoke, and in the eyes of the chief people of the place
made out his case; but the multitude, caring not much for reason
(and nothing for philanthropy), became more furious, but was appeased at last
by a petition being sent in protest to the Pope.
But if these things passed in Rio de Janeiro (which Del Techo refers to
as `oppido sanctorum'), what was the fury of the people in San Paulo,
the very centre of the Mamelucos, when the Vicar-General published the brief
by order of Don Pedro Albornoz! The people rose immediately,
and menaced the Vicar-General with instant death unless he instantly
withdrew the brief. This he refused to do, although forced on his knees
and with a naked sword held at his throat. His courage quieted them,
and they drew up an appeal which they tried hard to make him sign,
but he again refused. The mob, having demanded the brief,
was told it was in the college of the Jesuits. Thither they went post-haste,
and were met upon the steps by the Superior, dressed in canonicals and holding
the holy wafer in his hand. He spoke, and most of them fell prostrate
on the ground before the Body of our Lord. Others stood upright,
and said that, whilst they adored the Holy Sacrament with their whole souls,
they would not suffer that their slaves, who were their chiefest property,
should be set free. An atheist (or some kind of Protestant) cried out
to fire upon the priest, but he had no support. The Superior then gave them
a copy of the brief, and they returned to the Vicar-General
to ask for absolution for any censure of the Church they might have incurred;
but he for the third time was obdurate, and let them welter in their sin.
The news of the revolution which liberated Portugal from Spain
having just reached the town, the Jesuits had to retreat from it,
leaving the inhabitants enraged against them and more determined than before
to push their forays into Paraguay. But the time was past
for their incursions, for Father Ruiz Montoya had prospered at Madrid,
and secured even more than he had hoped for when he started on his quest.
On arriving at Madrid, which he did after a prosperous journey of four months,
he waited on the King (Philip IV.), and laid before him and commissaries
chosen from the Indies and Castile the following points:
1. That the law of 1611, which provided that no Indians, unless taken
in a just war, should be reduced to slavery, should be put into effect.
2. That the Pope should be approached to confirm the briefs
of Paul III. and Clement VIII., which contained the same provisions.
3. That those who did not conform to these instructions
should be handed over to the Inquisition to be judged.
4. That the Indians who had been enslaved by the Paulistas
should be at once set free and the aggressors punished.
The King after deliberation granted every point, and, further,
regulated the tribute which the Indians were to pay.* All this was easy
to enact, but, like most other laws, not quite so easy to put into effect.
Moreover, as the revolution which separated Portugal from Spain
had just occurred, all Spanish thunder against the Mamelucos
was of but small account. Montoya then pressed the demand
for license to use firearms in self-defence against the Mamelucos.
The King after deliberation granted this last point, and from that time
the incursions of the Mamelucos ceased in Paraguay and generally
throughout the mission territory. Then also there was set on foot
that Jesuit militia which rendered such good service to the crown,
but was the cause of so much murmuring, as it protected the mission Indians
both from the Paulistas and from the inroads of the Spanish colonists.
* This seems to prove the malice of those who set about
that the Indians of the missions paid no taxes to the Crown.
Father Montoya never returned to Paraguay, where he had fought so long
and done so much for the poor Indians. Apparently it was not written
that he should see the results of all his efforts, for, having embarked
at Seville for Peru, he was detained at Lima on business of the Order.
From thence he went to Tucuman, and, having returned to Lima,
died aged seventy. The Viceroy and the chief members of the Audiencia
(with whom he had struggled all his life) accompanied his body to the grave,
and it is said that several miracles showed forth the glory
he enjoyed in heaven.
That may be so, and if they happened (as they well may have done,
for, after all, a miracle* really exists for those who credit it),
if Heaven has honoured him, 'tis more than man has done:
for even in Paraguay his name is not remembered, though it remains enshrined
in the neglected pages of many a dusty Latin or a Spanish book.
* Vieyra, the great Portuguese Jesuit, said that all miracles
were possible to God, but yet that he had never heard that our Lord
had ever cured anyone of folly.
But all the time that Fathers Montoya and Diaz Tano were in Europe
a serious danger to the Jesuits was growing up. At the discovery
of the New World, the Franciscans had been the first of all the Orders
to go out. Some had accompanied Columbus, some were with Cortes in Mexico.
Almagro and Pizarro's hosts had their Franciscan chaplains.
In his commentaries, Alvar Nunez relates how he met some of the Order
in Brazil. Lastly, the first of all the saints of the New World
was a Franciscan.
In 1638 the Franciscans in the province of Jujuy* disputed with the Jesuits
the right to certain missions, accusing them, as Padre del Techo says,
`of putting their sickle into their ripening corn.'**
What could be more annoying if it were true? As if a Wesleyan mission
in the Paumotus Group should, after having shed its Bibles and its blankets
like dry leaves, suddenly find an emissary from Babylon itself
arrive and mark the sheep!
* Now a province of the Argentine Republic.
** `Historia Paraquariae', book xii., cap. xii.
But from Jujuy the dissensions spread to Paraguay, where the Franciscans
had several missions extending from Yuti to Cazapa, thus being
almost within touch of the Jesuit Gospellers in Santa Maria,
upon the eastern bank of the Tebicuari, which bounds their territory.
These jealousies might have gone smouldering on, and never burst out
into fire, had not the appointment of a Franciscan to the see of Paraguay
caused the flames to flare out fiercely.
Had a firebrand been wanted to stir up strife, none better
could have been found than Don Bernardino de Cardenas, who was just then
appointed to the bishopric of Paraguay.
Don Bernardino de Cardenas, Bishop of Paraguay -- His labours
as apostolic missionary -- His ambitions and cunning --
Pretensions to saintliness -- His attempts to acquire supreme power --
Quarrels between Cardenas and Don Gregorio, the temporal Governor
Don Bernardino de Cardenas first saw the light in the town of La Plata,*
capital of the province of Charcas in Bolivia, or, as it was then called,
Alta Peru. The date of his birth is uncertain, but it would appear
to have been in the early years of the seventeenth century. At an early age
he entered the Franciscan Order.
* La Plata was sometimes called Chuquisaca, and is to-day known as Sucre.
As the Franciscans had had the honour of having furnished to the calendar
the first saint canonized in the New World, it seems to have been
the dream of Cardenas from his earliest youth to emulate him.
In this desire he seems to have acted in good faith,
and all his life the dream of saintship haunted him.
Charlevoix* says `he made a rather superficial study of theology,
and then engaged in preaching, in which, with memory, assurance, and facility,
he found it easy to succeed in a country where brilliant gifts
are more esteemed than solid learning.' Certainly a preacher
without assurance, memory, and facility would scarcely have succeeded
in any country; and in what country in the world is brilliancy
not far esteemed above the deepest scholarship? Besides, `he was
a man of visions (`homme a\ visions') and revelations, which he
took good care to publish.' Visions are generally, in the case of saints,
confined to the soul's eye, and revelation to the inward ear;
if, therefore, the recipient of them does not make them known,
they run the risk of being lost. In a word, according to Charlevoix,**
he was `one of the most complete and dangerous ecstatics that ever lived.'
`His first successes' (whether as preacher or ecstatic are not specified)
caused his superiors to name him guardian of their college of La Plata.
They soon repented of their choice. No sooner was he named Superior
than he sought to qualify himself for saintship by a sort of royal road.
Saints are of several classes, and, in looking through the calendars,
it strikes one how different seem to have been the methods by which
they severally attained their goal.
* `Histoire du Paraguay', vol. i., book ix., p. 478.
** Charlevoix, vol. i., book xi. Dean Funes, in his
`Ensayo de la Historia Civil de Paraguay, Buenos Ayres y Tucuman',
vol. ii., book iii., p. 10 (Buenos Ayres, 1816), says of him:
`Se adquirio/ muy en breve una reputacion mas brillante que solida.'
Prince Juan Manuel, in the preface to his `Fifty Pleasant Stories
of Patronio', says that, `amongst the many strange things our Lord God made,
He thought good to make one marvellous in special -- that is, that,
of the numberless men who are on earth, not one entirely resembles any other
in his face.' He might have said the same of saints and of their ways.
One, like St. Francis of Assisi, treats his father (as it seems to me)
but scurvily, and yet to every other created man and all the animals he is
a brother. The saint of Avila founds convents, mingles with men of business,
and has visions in the intervals of her journeying through Spain upon an ass.
Again, another preaches to the Indians or the Japanese,
gives up his substance, begs his bread from door to door,
and leaves the devil's advocate scarcely a quillet or a quiddity against him.
Lastly, you find against the names of some merely the docket
`virgin' or `martyr', as their case or sex may serve.
Don Bernardino adopted none of these methods of procedure.
Carrying a heavy cross, with ashes on his head and shoulders bared,
followed by all his priests, he sallied out one day to discipline himself
in public. This plan did not succeed with all the world,
for his superiors ordered him to remain inside his convent gates.
There he remained, and, as his Life informs us, profited by his retreat
to study Holy Scriptures, and to such good effect that,
the next time he preached, he charmed his hearers by his eloquence.
Soon after this the Archbishop of La Plata held a provincial council,
with the object of reforming the morals of the Indians in his diocese.
Cardenas, being a fluent speaker, was chosen for the post
of Apostolic Missionary. From this time dates the beginning of his fame.
In those days all the Indians of the Charcas, and generally of all Peru,
were sunk in misery, but little removed from slaves, and their religion
was a mixture of Christianity and paganism -- just the kind of folk
a fluent preacher of the style of Cardenas could work upon.
All through the province he made his apostolic progress,
preaching, converting, and confessing, everywhere preceded by his fame
as seer of visions, miracle-worker, and recipient of celestial light.
He took his way, dressed like a pilgrim, on foot, carrying a wooden cross,
and followed by a multitude of Indians from town to town.
Religion in America (Catholic or Protestant) has always tended to revert
to the original Eastern form, from which, no doubt, it sprung. The influence
of the vast plains and forests, and the great distances to travel,
have introduced the system of camp meetings amongst the Protestants,
whereas the Catholics have often held a sort of ambulatory mission,
the people of one village following the preacher to the next, and so on,
in the same fashion as in Palestine the people seem to have followed
John the Baptist.
Soon the news was spread about that the Indians who followed Cardenas had
told him of rich mines, on the condition that he would not divulge the secret
to the Spaniards. At that time the search for mines was carried
almost to madness in Peru. Even to-day, in almost every mining town,
a mysterious, poverty-stricken man sometimes approaches you
with great precaution, and, drawing from his pocket an object
wrapped in greasy paper, declares with oaths that it is `rosicler'
(red silver ore), and that he knows where there are tons and tons of it.
In Mexico the curious class of miners known as `gambusinos'
rove through the valleys of the Sierra Madre armed with pick and pan,
passing their lives in hunting mines, as pigs hunt truffles.
If they come upon a mine, they never try to work it, but sell the secret
for a trifling sum, and, drinking out the money, start on again to find
the mines worked by the Aztecs, till an Apache bullet or arrow stops them,
their El Dorado still ahead, or they are found beside their pick and shovel
dead of thirst.
Neither in Mexico nor in Peru do things grow less in telling,
and we may well suppose the stories of the mines the Indians told to Cardenas
became colossal; for at last the Alcalde of Cochabamba wrote on the subject
to the Count of Salvatierra, the Viceroy of Peru.
As Charlevoix says, `it seemed as if it all worked to the advantage
of the holy missionary, who, not content with saving souls, did not forget
the interests of his native land.' In the middle of his triumphs,
being recalled to Lima, no one doubted that it was in order
to confer with the Viceroy about the supposititious mines. Others, again,
imagined that a mitre was destined for the successful evangelist,
and therefore many, even quite poor people, pressed forward to offer funds
to help him on his way. With quite apostolic assurance,
he took all that was offered to him, being certain, as some think,
that, the mines being real, he could some day repay with usury
all he had borrowed, or, as others said, being indifferent
about the matter, and trusting to repay in that better country
where no usury exists and where no gold corrupts.
The Viceroy, being a man of little faith, sent to investigate
the supposititious mines, but found them non-existent.
The superiors of Cardenas, as judicious as the higher officers
of the Franciscan Order often proved themselves throughout America,
informed him that he had given offence to many by his
public scourgings and processions carrying a cross, and, most of all,
that in his sermons propositions had escaped him of a nature
likely to bring him under the censure of the Holy Office.