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A TALE OF PARAGUAY.
1. Amid those marshy woodlands far and wide Which spread beyond the soaring vulture's eye, There grew on Empalado's southern side Groves of that tree whose leaves adust supply The Spaniards with their daily luxury; A beverage whose salubrious use obtains Through many a land of mines and slavery,
Even over all La Plata's sea-like plains, And Chili's mountain realm, and proud Peru's
2. But better for the injured Indian race Had woods of manchineel the land o'erspread : Yea, in that tree so blest by Nature's grace A direr curse had they inherited, Than if the Upas there had rear'd its head And sent its baleful scions all around, Blasting where'er its effluent force was shed,
In air and water, and the infected ground, All things wherein the breath or sap of life is found.
poor Guaranies dreamt of no such ill, When for themselves in miserable hour, The virtues of that leaf, with pure good will They taught their unsuspected visitor, New in the land as yet. They learnt his power Too soon, which law nor conscience could restrain, A fearless but inhuman conqueror,
Heart-harden'd by the accursed lust of gain, O fatal thirst of gold ! O foul reproach for Spain !
4. For gold and silver had the Spaniards sought Exploring Paraguay with desperate pains, Their way through forests axein hand they wrought; Drench'd from above by unremitting rains They waded over inundated plains, Forward by hope of plunder still allured ; So they might one day count their golden gains,
They cared not at what cost of sin procured, All dangers they defied, all sufferings they endured.
5. Barren alike of glory and of gold That region proved to them ; nor would the soil Unto their unindustrious hands unfold Harvests, the fruit of
peace, . and wine and oil, The treasures that repay contented toil With health and weal;treasures that with them bring No guilt for priest and penance to assoil,
Nor with their venom arm the awaken'd sting Of conscience at that hour when life is vanishing.
6. But keen of eye in their pursuit of gain The conquerors look'd for lucre in this tree: An annual harvest there might they attain, Without the cost of annual industry. ’T was but to gather in what there grew free And share Potosi's wealth. Nor thence alone. But gold in glad exchange they soon should see
From all that once the Incas called their own, Or where the Zippa's power or Zaque's laws were
7. For this, in fact though not in name a slave, The Indian from his family was torn ; And droves on droves were sent to find a grave In woods and swamps, by toil severe outworn, No friend at hand to succour or to mourn, In death uppitied, as in life unblest. O miserable race, to slavery born!
Yet when we look beyond this world's unrest, More miserable then the oppressors than the opprest.
8. Often had Kings essay'd to check the ill By edicts not so well enforced as meant ; A present power was wanting to fulfil Remote authority's sincere intent. To Avarice, on its present purpose bent, The voice of distant Justice spake in vain; False magistrates and priests their influence lent
The accursed thing for lucre to maintain : O fatal thirst of gold ! O foul reproach for Spain !
9. O foul reproach! but not for Spain alone But for all lands that bear the Christian name ! Where'er commercial slavery is known; O shall not Justice trumpet-tongued proclaim The foul reproach, the black offence the same ? Hear, guilty France ! and thou, O England, hear! Thou who hast half redeem'd thyself from shame,
When slavery from thy realms shall disappear, Then from this guilt, and not tillthen, wilt thou be clear.
10. Uncheck'd in Paraguay it ran its course, Till all the gentler children of the land Well nigh had been consumed without remorse. The bolder tribes meantime, whose skilful hand Had tamed the horse, in many a warlike band Kept the field well with bow and dreadful spear. And now the Spaniards dared no more withstand
Their force, but in their towns grew pale with fear If the Mocobio, or the Abipon drew near.
11. Bear witness, Chaco, thou, from thy domain With Spanish blood, as erst with Indian, fed ! And Corrientes, by whose church the slain Were piled in heaps, till for the gather'd dead One common grave was dug, one service said ! Thou too, Parana, thy sad witness bear From shores with many amournful vestige spread,
And monumental crosses here and there, And monumental names that tell where dwellings
12. Nor would with all their power the Kings of Spain, Austrian or Bourbon, have at last avail'd This torrent of destruction to restrain, And save a people every where assaild By men before whose face their courage quail’d, But for the virtuous agency of those Who with the Cross alone, when arms had fail'd,
Achieved a peaceful triumph o'er the foes, And gave that weary
land the blessings of repose.
The arduous enterprize, contented well
14. And now it chanced some traders who had fell’d The trees of precious foliage far and wide On Empalado's shore, when they beheld The inviting woodlands on its northern side, Crost thither in their quest, and there espied Yeruti's footsteps: searching then the shade At length a lonely dwelling they descried,
And at the thought of hostile hordes dismay'd To the nearest mission sped and ask'd the Jesuit's aid.