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lization to the Indians, the protectors and friends of the persecuted and injured, and the patrons of science. They were viewed with dislike by the powerful Spaniards in America, because they were a constant check upon their cruelty and avarice. And finally, became the victims of the jealousy of the Spanish and Portuguese kings. But for their conduct in America, which did not suit these monarchs, it is not likely that the Jesuits would have been put down 'in Europe.* In making these observations I have been actuated by a regard for truth and justice, and not through any partiality to the Jesuits, as such, neither am I disposed to say that they were not actuated by the same ambition in America as elsewhere. I speak of facts that are well attested, not of supposed intentions which are only matters of conjecture. The colleges before enumerated were established at a period, when there was less dread that the Americans might conceive the design of throwing off their allegiance; and it is questionable, whether at a later period, the establishment of these institutions would have been permitted at all. Little or no improvement was permitted in the method of study, so as to keep pace with the march of science. It is notwithstanding admitted, that the American seminaries were conduct. ed on a more liberal plan than those of Spain, the credit of which is due to the Jesuits. In spite of these
*“The Jesuits must be attacked in Europe," was the expression of the marquis de Pombal, when through the fathers a check was put to the practice of reducing the Indians to slavery. The missions of Paraguay were an eyesore to the Brazillians. Justice is now beginning to be done to the laudable exertions of the Jesuits in America.
shackles, a number of men distinguished for their learning appeared in South America; some of the best historians, mathematicians, and naturalists, have sprung up under all these difficulties. The enlightened European travellers who have visited America at different times, in the pursuit of scientific objects, have all expressed their surprise on finding Americans as learned as themselves, and who saved them much trouble by tendering them at once the fruits of their researches. The taste for literature and science, was confined to the Spanish Americans; the European Spaniards being only men of business, and in the pursuit of wealth. It is highly probable, that the unwillingness on the part of Spain to encourage literature, may have had an opposite effect from that intended, by producing a desire for what was virtually forbidden. Experience proves to us, how vain is the attempt to change the direction of the mind seriously bent on the acquisition of knowledge. The burning thirst will be gratified by some means or other. This is clearly proved by the state of learning and information among the higher classes in South America. Depons and Humboldt both inform us, that the South Americans of education, long before the revolution, entertained the greatest contempt for the state of learning in Spain; that their minds were completely emancipated from thraldom in this respect.* They knew perfectly well that Spain was overrun with priests, beggars, and corrupt nobles, and that the press was enslaved by the inquisition. They knew that a very different state of things existed in the United States, England, and
* See Depons' Caraccas, Humboldt, &c.
France, where within the last century, the human mind had been continually making the most surprising progress. The books which occasionally found their way through the numerous watches posted at every avenue to prevent their entrance, were regarded as treasures. I have been informed, that there have been instances of young creoles transcribing the whole of a prohibited book! From Spain they expected nothing to enlighten them; and this may account for the well known fact, that in the Spanish Cortes, the American members exhibited an astonishing superiority in learning, as well as liberality over those from the different provinces of Spain. But this intelligence and spirit of inquiry in the higher classes of Americans, formed a singular contrast with the ignorance and apathy prevailing in the great body of the population. The first were compelled to keep their knowledge to themselves; they had neither the opportunity nor the means of diffusing it, while the common people from their utter insignificance in a political point of view, had nothing to stimulate their curiosity; al. though I have no doubt they were more intelligent, and less slavish in their minds than the same class of people in Spain. In America there were many learned jurists, theologians, and physicians, and well educated gentlemen, but the people taken in the aggregate, in point of information, were very far inferior to the colonists in North America.
The inquisition within the last thirty or forty years, exercised its functions with augmented severity, to prevent the introduction of prohibited books into the American colonies. Every ship which sailed from Spain, was obliged to give the strictest account of the
books on board, under the severest penalties; and on her arrival, she had to undergo a search by the inquisitorial commissioners. These commissioners of the holy office, were established in every town and village; and it was their duty to make frequent domiciliary visits, to see that no prohibited books had eluded the “armed watch” of the inquisition. The list of prohibited books, includes all the most esteemed classic works of modern times; among them, are those of Addison, Marmontel, Montesquieu, Barlamaqui, Racine, Fenelon, Robertson, and many others of the same class. It will excite a smile when I add, thạt even poor Rubinson Crusoe and his man Friday are proscribed! No use can be made of any book, without being first examined by the commissioners of the holy office. The severest restrictions are placed on booksellers—they can offer no book for sale without previous permission, and heavy penalties are inflicted on such as are detected in buying or selling a prohibited book. To the domiciliary visits, every house is exposed at all hours, day and night, and wo to him in whose dwelling there should be discovered one of these formida. ble enemies of the Spanish dominion in America! Every advantage was taken, moreover, of the superstitious fears of the weak; an instance of which may be given, that will excite the horror of the reader. A learned Mexican, Don Jose de Roxas, who died at New Orleans in 1811, was denounced by his own mother, for having a volume of Rousseau in his possession; and for this offence he was confined within the prisons of the inquisition for several years. He finally effected his escape to the United States, but it was several months before he could be convinced that the theory of the American government as explained to him, could really be reduced to practice. * He became afterwards a most enthusiastic admirer of our political institutions.
In some parts of South America, especially Caraccas and Buenos Ayres, whose situations led to more frequent intercourse with strangers, than Mexico or Lima, the vigilance of the inquisition was probably often eluded; and it is not impossible that the commissioners themselves, were more or less rigid in the execution of their trusts. It is certain, that in Venezuela and La Plata, apd perhaps St. Fee de Bogota, revolutionary politics had already formed a mine under the Spanish power, and that there was only wanting a fit oppportunity to explode.
With respect to the press, its liberty as understood by us, was entirely out of the question. The only thing which the Americans could aspire to, with any hope of success, was the liberty of printing, not of publishing; that is, no one could establish a press at all, without special permission. The city of Caraccas repeatedly besought the council of the Indies, to grant them this privilege, but in vain. Perhaps the Spanish system of universal monopoly, united in that instance with expediency, in preventing the extention of an art so dangerous to tyranny, and so favorable to the true greatness and felicity of mankind. In Mexico and Lima, the press had been permitted, but on the most narrow and contracted scale. At Buenos Ayres, an indifferent press and types, which
* His papers are in my possession, I happened to lodge in the same house in New Orleans.