« ElőzőTovább »
treated, by his own account, with the utmost hospitality. The disorder by which he was attacked does not seem referable to any known in this country by observation or report, and our author was willing to have believed its first approach to be unattended with danger, but for the contrary assurance of his kind host? This disease, however, we are informed, is one of those non-descripts which defy all atteinpts at classification: it exists for no precise period; some linger for many months, others only a few months, and some but a few days, before it terminates fatally. Ju the latter event Mr. Davie informs his correspondent with great gravity and serious assertion that he will never write another letter.'
The next communication, written after a long interval, an-e nounces our author's recovery from this formidable malady, pwing in a great measure to the care of the fathers of a cona vent of the order of St. Dominic; his head, however, he shrewdly suspects, is not yet settled, and that for the notable reason that all his recollections seem a kind of chaos. Like a love-sick girl locked up in a garret, he yields to his propensity to write, in a situation where, we believe, few people would have thought of making any movement, which they could avoid with safety to themselves. This is the true cacoethes scribendi, and illustrates the truth of Pope's rea mark, that
• Heaven first sent letters for some wretch's aid.': The consequence of this exertion of his hand and mind was, however, so alarming to his health that he was interdicted from the use of pens and paper for the grievous period of a forte night; at last the beloved impleinents of correspondence were restored, and our author proceeds to detail the events of his illness, with the aid of a French monk named Brother Jerome. A venerable man, it seems, was sent by the governor to see Mr. Davie, and he, after examining his tongue and the roots of his nails, declared bin to be attacked by the faitfa, and bled him with an instrument like a glazier's diamond, which was knocked into the vein of bis arm with a hammer. The Indian surgeons, we are informed, are so expert that no bad effects ever arise from this scientific operation. This being done, the doctor proceeded to boil a quantity of herbs in water, which the patient was compelled to drink, and the solid part was applied to his stomach and bowels, though without any good consequences to either; and during this uncertainty of his recovery, the ship in which he arrived was obliged to pursue ber course. After some interval, the disorder began to abate, but he continued to be as delirious as at any period, and he was removed, by order of the governor, to Buenos Ayres: at that place he was visited by another Indian sage, who, by fumigating the head of bis patient with a certain herb, in the space of a fortnight restored him to the use of as much reason as he ever possessed. Soon after this happy occurrence, Mr. Davie received from his attendants a cross which had belonged to his last mistress, which he had worn lied round his neck: and the lover's devotions with which he bore it to his lips, edified the pious catholics around him, and imparted to them a holy transport, that from a land of infidels one sheep was preserved to ihe flock of St. Peter. This incidental mistake our author represents bimself to have improved to his own advantage, and to have received numerous favours and privileges as a brother in religion, though a stranger in politics. His English apparel was taken from him, and he was provided with the habit of a novice of St. Dominic, and tutored into a knowledge of the mysteries and forms of popery. All this, we are informed, he went through without betraying by his ignorance or surprise the profane education of a lierelic; indeed be seems to have attracted more attention by the fairness of his sandy complexion' than by any other qualities of his body or mind. On his part he chiefly remarked, with regard to the dress of the natives of Paraguay, that on the festival of Corpus Christi, they all, at least those of a certain age and rank, wore an English gold watch, suspended by a belt round the waist, which demonstrates, according to our author, that though they dislike our nation, they love our manufactures, He on the other hand, is not unmindful of his native land, and expresses more · English joy' at the sight of a large pile of cakes, tastefully and temptingly arranged, than at all the gorgeous exhibitions of religious ceremonies.
Mr. Davie by degrees procured the friendship of some of the monks of his convent, and in particular of one who was called the Father Hernandez, and who al last received bim under his special protection. The population of Paraguay, he was enabled to observe, consisted of several descriptions of people; the Spaniards and their descendants of uncorrupted blood hold the reins of authority undisputed in their hands, and live, according to these accounts, in possession for the greater part of considerable wealth, and in the constant pursuit and attainment of pleasure. The native Indians, wbo: are by far the most puinerous part of the inhabitants, are partly wild and unsubdued, living the life of the Tartarian hordes, and scarcely ever quitting their horses but during the
periods allotted to sleep and refreshment. This they have been enabled to do by the amazing increase of horses in these fertile and ill peopled districts. The Spaniards, on their first taking possession of Paraguay, suffered some of these animals to run wild, and from the peculiarly lavourable circumstances in which they were placed, their number augmented so rapidly, that in every quarter they are now to be found in immense herds. The Indians soon learning their use and their value, became an equestrian nation, and have by these very means bid defiance to the power, the arms, and the discipline of the Spaniards, opposing cunning to courage, retreat to attack, and compensating by the rapidity of their movements for the feebleness of their other resources. Black cattle have also in the same manner become extremely numerous in the wilds of Paraguay, and afford an exhaustless supply of food and source of profit to the inhabitants. Tiey are not, however, altogether as plentiful as at a former , periud, so immensely great have been the numbers wantonly slaughtered for the sake only of their skivs.
The Indian tribes subjected to the Spaniards are in a very different situation, and have lost, with their liberty, the most valuable privileges of huinanity, and many of them are adscripti gleba, like the boors of Russia, and the ancient zillains of our own country. In the instances where they have been converted by the exertions of the ecclesiastics, their fate has been greatly more fortunate, they are treated in every respect more gently and humanely, and the conduct of the priests has been generally of the most exeinplary, kind. It cannot have escaped the knowledge or recollection of almost any of our readers, how immense the establishments of the Jesuits were at one period in these provinces, and how the jealousy of a feeble and despotic government became alarmed at the prosperity and progress of these missionaries, and dreaded the astonishing influence ,which they had obtained over the minds of their converts. The other orders of the catholic religion succeeded to a great part of the authority of the Jesuits, on the expulsion of that able body of men from the Spanish dominions; but all the more dangerous privileges they had possessed, were abridged or withdrawn, and the whole settlements subjected. to the controul of the secular arm. According to the accounts of this author, however, the Spanish government still aims at a farther extension of its power, and proceeds by rapid steps to appropriate to itself all the means of in Suence within its territories,
The Indians who belong to the government are let out to private individuals, to be enıployed by them in labour, which is done without any regard to the power of these untortunate beings to undergo exertion, and they are urged to complete their tasks,wbich are often enormous,by the terror or the appli. cation of the superintendant's whip. On Mr. Davie's remarking to a Spaniard that the negro slaves in the British planta, tions were better treated, he was answered, Very true, sir, and so are my domestic slaves, who am but a merchant. But what is the reason? The African we are obliged to put. chase; and if through ill-usage he dies, there is so much money lost. Now the native Indian is the property of the state, and no one suffers by his loss but his majesty, who has it in his power to replace it immediately without feeling the Jeast inconvenience. The method by which this is done, is by a requisition on all the settlements in Paraguay, lo supply for the use of the government a certain number of men from among the converted Indians, who are not yet reduced to absolute slavery. By these means the Spaniards have procured slaves, to replace those whom their severities have killed or unfitted for labour. The European government is unfortunately at too great a distance to interfere in these arrangements with very effectual controul, and the viceroys and other agents of deputed authority have little other object, than to acquire for themselves an immense and rapid fortune, regardless of the calls of injured humanity, or the mischiets of a time-serving and fatal policy. But this wanton sacrifice of lives, with the introduction of that most destructive disorder the small-pox, has already diminisbed the numbers of the native Indians to an alarming extent, and unless a new set of maxims be adopted by the government, and a line of .conduct more in unison with the precepts of their religion, a total extirpation of the original inhabitants seems likely to ensue. Already they have been obliged to commence the importation of negroes from Africa, for the purposes of domestic servitude, and the services of that odious and dangerous race have been preferred to those of the mild and tractable aboriginal inhabitants. The behaviour of the Spaniards to the natives of their American dominions has always been of the most barbarous as well as short-sighted and impolitic description. But surely our author need not have left this, or any other country, to have sought in the continent of South America an opportunity of arraigning the justice of heaven, in permitting the earthly triumph of oppressive vice over weaker rirtue; a subject highly important and full of diffi
culty, but which is not to be treated with any sort of advantage, in the narrow space wbich Mr. Davie has given to its consideration. His concluding remark is the only one of this part of the work that we can approve; ' It is a dark subject: I had better leave it.'
We meet with frequent observations on the state of defence of Buenos Ayres, and the other parts of the province of Paraguay. According to our author, a few English ships and two or three regiinents would be sufficient to reduce the whole under the dominion of Great Britain. It seems now generally imagined, whether truly or not we know not, that Sir Home Popham and Sir David Baird are gone to prove the justice of these assertions. Great part of the difficulty, it would appear, will arise from the navigation of thie great river of La Plata, provided with sands and shoals énough to embarrass the boldest and most dextrous navigators; if these were overcome, Mr. Davie fears, we suppose he meant hopes, that neither a miserable fort, a pompous governor, for sonte half-clothed regiments of long-haired Indians, and whiskered Spaniards, could oppose an effectual resist ance to the attack of a British force. The Spanish troops, our author assures us, are the dirtiest and most slovenly in the whole world; and he is inminediately led to remark the contrast between the everlasting cleanliness of the North, and the superabundant filthiness of the South American.
• The former,' observes Mr. Davie,' makes ye hop, skip, and jump, like an opera dancer, to escape the transparent sprinkling of a notable mop-twirler, or to screen your clothes and eyes from the unfriendly benedictions of the general white washing, which annually, and in a small degree weekly, takes place in most of the capital towns. And this some of the shrubs I sent you from Philadelphia can testify, for three of them were, by one of these daughters of cleanliness, plentifully baptized with her Olympian dew, which cost me two days labour to wash off from the leaves only, but from the back it was impossible to remove it. I remember it was done while I was gone to seek the captain of the vessel that was to convey them to England. When I returned and saw what had been done, I fore got I was in Pennsylvania, and began to anathematise most devoutly. Mrs. a ran out io inquire what was the matter, with her grey stuff gowo, and white washing cap most delicately dappled. I told my grievance, and demanded redress. “ Lord bless me," said she, " is that ali! wby, would you have had us leave that side of the room undone?"
Undone, madam!" | exclaimed in all the rage of injured genius, " yes, I would have had the whole house, nay, the whole city left unwhitewashed, rather than that the shrubs should have been sprinkled in this diabolical manner.". "I do not doubt you