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timientos were put an end to: but the mita, the tribute, and every other species of tyranny, were maintained to a much later date.
We have scarcely the heart to go on with this story;-the worst parts of it are still to come. Even this repartimiento was nothing to the mita, or compulsory service of the Indians. Every village was forced to supply annually a given number of hands, for the purpose of being sent to work under the lash in the mines, in the public haciendas, or farms, or, which seems to have been the worst fate of all, in the obrajes, or manufactories. Ex facie, the Indians, who were thus forced from their homes and natural occu pations, were by law entitled to their release at the end of the year; but means were always devised by which their slavery became perpetual. A nominal sum, from fourteen to eighteen dollars, was allotted to each labourer, who, for this pretended hire, was bound to work three hundred days in each year, leaving for Sundays and holidays the remaining sixty-five. But the master kept an account of any days lost above this number by sickness or other causes, and the Indian had to make these up by extra work in the following year.-(p. 268.) Of the eighteen dollars mentioned above, eight were at once subtracted to pay the Indian's tribute to the king; from the ten which remained, two and a quarter were still further deducted to pay for his clothes ; so that only seven dollars and three-quarters were left for the maintenance of himself and his family, for their clothing, and for the heavy exactions of the church, which were never remitted. Nor was this all; for, the little patch of ground allowed to the Indian, for the cultivation of his maize, being inadequate to raise a sufficient quantity, he was compelled to buy monthly from his master half a fanega more; and as he charged six reals for this, (more than double the proper price,) the wretched Indian's bill at the end of the year, for maize alone, amounted to nine dollars, or one dollar and a quarter more than it was possible for him to gain; so that after labouring for three hundred days in the year exclusively for his master, to say nothing of the culture of his own garden, and having received only a coarse cloth wrapper and twelve fanegas of maize, he found himself in debt a sum which, as he could not discharge it in money, was carried to account of next year's work. In process of time, as it was physically impossible to discharge so many accumulating obligations, &c. the Indian became, to all intents and purposes, a slave for life and in order to complete the iniquity, the children, being made responsible for the father's debts, were forced to work on, after his death, till these were all discharged, which of course was prevented from ever happening by the same swindling processes. (p. 271.) When a set of newly-drawn men set out for the obrajes, their whole tribe assembled, and, with lamentations solemu and funereal, bade them adieu for ever.
The Curas now re-appear on the stage. It is well said at the beginning of the third chapter of Part Second, (perhaps the most remarkable in the whole volume,) that after what has been written of the boundless rapacity of the corregidors, the cruelties of the mita, the injustice of the repartimientos, the forcible occupation of the Indian territory, the utter absence of all legal protection in the case of the natives, and the rapid decrease of their over-worked population, it might fairly be supposed that their measure of suffering was full to the brim; but the fact was otherwise for those persons, whose sacred duty it was to soothe and protect them, used all their authority to augment the hardships of their fate, and thus added intense mental misery to every bodily suffering which human nature could bear.-(p. 334.) From the moment the priest reached his appointed station, he set about screwing out of his flock as large a portion as he could of the little money left by the corregidors. Every device that could be thought of was adopted to multiply saints' days and other festivals, as on these occasions something was always levied for saying mass, for a sermon, for the procession, for incense, for wax candles, and so on all these fees were demanded in ready money; and when the poor wretches had none, they were stripped of their poultry, eggs, and pigs, and were often left to live upon wild herbs and roots. While the priest in his own person was thus working money, as they termed it in mining phraseology, out of the Indian men, an ally, faithful in this matter at least, his concubine, contrived to make no small profit out of their wives and daughters. This she accomplished by getting up a little obraje of her own, where she forced them all to work at her different jobs. One she set to spin, another to sew, a third to weave; while to those who were too infirm for such tasks, she distributed a cock and a hen a-piece, requiring the old women to produce in return so many chickens, at the end of a certain period.-(p. 340.) These private obrajes, be it noted, were sometimes held in the church, and, in order that no time might be lost, the workers were placed with their noisy looms at one end of the holy edifice, while the Señor Cura was saying mass at the other.-(p. 341.) The Indian's lot while alive was no enviable one, and it was not to be expected that he should be much more considered after his death. Accordingly, we find that the body was usually left unburied, to be devoured by vultures and dogs, unless a sufficient sum of money was collected to defray the priest's fees for the funeral. But if there happened to be any property left by the Indian, the priest always contrived to secure the whole of it, to the exclusion of the widow and children; and the manner in which he effected this was of a piece with the rest of the system, for he insisted upon giving the deceased a sumptuous funeral, though directly against the wishes of the survivors, and
then sent in an all-devouring bill, against which there was no appeal. p. 341.
In return for this total sacrifice of liberty and fortune, it is triumphantly alleged by Spanish writers, that there was given to the aboriginal inhabitants of the country the inestimable blessing of Christianity; but, alas! it is scarcely possible to imagine a moré complete mockery than what was called the conversion of the Indians in South America. Let us listen to the statement of the official report before us :
'As we have now fully exposed the tyrannical conduct of the priests, as well as the profligacy of their manners, it only remains to describe the nature of the spiritual charge they take of their flocks; and what mea sures they have adopted for the instruction of the Indians in the principles of Christianity. It has already been mentioned, that just before mass on Sundays a few words of the doctrines of the faith were read. This, we found, was done in the following manner. All the inhabitants of the village, male and female, being assembled in the churchyardthe men on one side, the women on the other-and seated on the grass, the service alluded to began. The person who officiated was not the priest himself, but generally an old blind Indian, maintained for this purpose. Having placed himself in the midst of the congregation, he began to chant certain prayers in a tone between speaking and singing, in which he was followed word for word by his auditors. This service, which was read sometimes in Spanish, (of which these people know not a word,) and sometimes in the Inca language, lasted for about half an hour, and in this consisted the whole of the Christian instruction given to the natives in South America. The result was, that an Indian of sixty or seventy years old, knew no more of the matter than a child of as many months. Neither one nor the other, indeed, ever learned a syllable beyond what a parrot might have been equally well taught in the same time. No person was ever catechized, nor was any explanation given of the holy mysteries. In point of fact, the attention of the congregation was solely directed to the music of the chanter's voice, and although they learned to repeat by rote certain phrases, not a single spark of meaning ever entered along with that when we asked the words. So deplorable indeed was their ignorance, them "of whom does the Holy Ghost consist?" they sometimes answered, "the Father," and sometimes said, "The Virgin Mary;" but if interrogated more closely, it became evident they either answered at random, or framed such replies as they fancied would be most acceptable The only two things to which, on these occasions, the priest attended with hearty zeal and diligence were-first, to see that no one came empty-handed; and secondly, to ascertain that the contribution was what it ought to be: these material points settled, he considered the duties of his holy office as fulfilled. After these meetings, the Indians were in the habit of indulging in the most horrible debauchery, and the priests, so far from repressing such scenes, took care to encourage them, solely on account of the gain which they reaped from the meeting.
On these occasions the whole party got drunk upon chica, and before the evening was over, fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters, were seen rolling about on the ground indiscriminately.'-p. 350..
In short,' to adopt the conclusion of these official commissioners, if we examine the moral and religious state of the Indians, miscalled converted, we must frankly confess that it is difficult to discover the difference for the better between their condition when first discovered, and that in which we see them at present.'-p. 353.
This is enough, and perhaps it will be thought more than enough, to give our readers an idea of this very singular book. Our extracts from it have been made with perfect fairness; but it may very possibly be remarked, that they are, without exception, unfavourable to the Spaniards. Such is the case; and we must say distinctly that it is not the least striking feature in this report, that while it is singularly minute and circumstantial in all its details, there is not one circumstance recorded to relieve the gloom of all-over-shadowing despotism. In the history of every other country, however barbarously peopled-however despotically governed there is always something, however small, to cheer the prospect, and to save the national character from absolute degradation; but in South America, by the showing of two Spanish authors of the highest character for knowledge and veracity, whose wish, on every account, it must have been to represent things as favourably as possible, there seems to have been absolutely nothing to set off the general darkness of injustice, rapacity, and cruelty. The personal conduct of the Jesuits may be supposed to form something like an exception, and to a certain extent this is true; but it must be recollected that the whole weight of their extensive authority was directed to the unqualified support of those principles of government which thus afflicted the Spanish colonies during three dark and bloody centuries, and which still oppress the mother-country herself.
It may, perhaps, be asked-why, supposing the melancholy details of this Report to be true, we have taken so much pains to extend their publicity, since the countries to which the book refers have been revolutionized, and a new order of things established? In the first place, we are by no means certain that any important amelioration in the condition of the Indians has taken place; and we are not without hopes that these remarks may have the effect of exciting travellers to investigate a question in every respect important to the well-being of those great countries, and consequently also to us, who are now so intimately connected with them. We think, in the next place, that a thorough insight into the policy of the administration which so long directed the affairs of South America, may afford the means of understanding many
anomalies which occur, from time to time, in the government of the New States; and enable our statesmen at home, as well as those persons whose business leads them to establish a personal intercourse with the inhabitants, to make greater allowances for the ignorance and prejudice by which it is quite natural to suppose they must still be distinguished, though the original cause may be gone. They have as yet enjoyed the advantages of freedom for a very short interval, and it is the most unreasonable thing possible to expect that, for one generation at least, there will not be discernible on the modern character many traces of the ancient evils. That the Creoles have already, in many districts at least, greatly improved in manners, and in political sentiment, is most certain; and we know that, in proportion as they have learned to respect themselves, their inbred distrust of strangers has subsided. They can now feel, in some degree, and we believe they really begin to understand, that commercial intercourse may be quite as beneficial to themselves as to the foreigners, who, while they carry away nothing but the superfluous gold and silver, leave more than an equivalent behind. These and a hundred other maxims, in other nations considered the flattest common-places, are, only just beginning to gain admission with the South Americans; but still it frequently happens in those countries, that when foreigners are perplexed by inconsistencies, they are too apt to fancy there is dishonesty, where it is merely ignorance that interrupts business.
The South Americans themselves, also, we are quite sure, will do well to study this volume with care. In many places, it cannot fail to wound their pride; but it may be advantageously used as a sort of mirror, by which they may discover the existence of many spots which no other means could have detected, and thus enable them much sooner to gain the esteem and the confidence of nations, which it ought to be their chief study to conciliate. The example of the contempt and beggary into which their ancient rulers have now fallen, solely by a perseverance in the system which it is the object of this book to expose, ought to act as a fearful warning to them; and though we cannot expect its effect to be as immediate as we could wish, it is certain that their surest course to happiness lies now, and must continue to lie, in steering clear of the political vices so palpably put forward in this report. The South Americans have now an opportunity of retrieving their national character, and this they can only do by proving to the world that heretofore they have been unfairly dealt with, and that the reiterated assertion made by the Spaniards, of their utter incapacity to govern their own country, was a libel devised by a band of oppressors,-not a truth derived from observation of external facts, and, worse still, from the secret sympathies of common blood equally predisposed for slavery.