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Their spiritual father took a Cross in hand
16. He was a man of rarest qualities, Who to this barbarous region had confined A spirit with the learned and the wise Worthy to take its place, and from mankind Receive their homage, to the immortal mind Paid in its just inheritance of fame. But he to humbler thoughts his heart inclined;
From Gratz amid the Styrian hills he came, And Dobrizhoffer was the good man's hònour'd name.
17. It was his evil fortune to behold The labours of his painful life destroy'd ; His flock which he had brought within the fold Dispersed ; the work of ages render'd void, And all of good that Paraguay enjoy’d By blind and suicidal Power o'erthrown. So he the years of his old age employ'd,
A faithful chronicler in handing down Names which he loved, and things well worthy to be
18. And thus when exiled from the dear-loved scene, In proud Vienna he beguiled the pain Of sad remembrance : and the Empress Queen, That great Teresa, she did not disdain In gracious mood sometimes to entertain Discourse with him both pleasurable and sage; And sure a willing ear she well might deign
To one whose tales may equally engage The wondering mind of youth, the thoughtful heart
19. But of his native speech because well nigh Disuse in him forgetfulness had wrought, In Latin he composed his history; A garrulous, but a lively tale, and fraught With matter of delight and food for thought. And if he could in Merlin's glass have seen By whom his tomes to speak our tongue were taught,
The old man would have felt as pleased, I ween, As when he won the ear of that great Empress Queen.
20. Little he deem'd when with his Indian band He through the wilds set forth upon his way, A Poet then unborn, and in a land Which had proscribed his order, should one day Take up from thence his moralizing lay, And shape a song that, with no fiction drest, Should to his worth its grateful tribute pay,
And sinking deep in many an English breast, Foster that faith divine that keeps the heart at rest.
Behold him on his way! the breviary
Than earth's hard lap, and rustling overhead
22. Yet may they not without some cautious care Take up their inn content upon the ground. First it behoves to clear a circle there, And trample down the grass and plantage round, Where many a deadly reptile might be found, Whom with its bright and comfortable heat The flame would else allure : such plagues abound
In these thick woods, and therefore must they beat The earth, and trample well the herbs beneath their feet.
23. And now they heap dry reeds and broken wood; The spark is struck, the crackling faggots blaze, And cheer that unaccustom'd solitude. Soon have they made their frugal meal of maize; In grateful adoration then they raise The evening hymn. How solemn in the wild That sweet accordant strain wherewith they praise
The Queen of Angels, merciful and mild : Hail, holiest Mary! Maid, and Mother undefiled.
24. Blame as thou may'st the Papist's erring creed, But not their salutary rite of even ! The prayers that from a pious soul proceed, Though misdirected, reach the ear of Heaven. Us unto whom a purer faith is given, As our best birthright it behoves to hold The precious charge; but, oh, beware the leaven
Which makes the heart of charity grow cold ! We own one Shepherd, we shall be at last one fold.
25. Thinkest thou the little company who here Pour forth their hymn devout at close of day, Feel it no aid that those who hold them dear, At the same hour the self-same homage pay, Commending them to Heaven when far away ? That the sweet bells are heard in solemn chime Through all the happy towns of Paraguay,
Where now their brethren in one point of time Join in the general prayer, with sympathy sublime?
26. That to the glorious Mother of their Lord Whole Christendom that hour its homage pays ? From court and cottage that with one accord Ascends the universal strain of praise ? Amid the crowded city's restless ways, One reverential thought pervades the throng ; The traveller on his lonely road obeys
The sacred hour, and as he fares along, In spirit hears and joins his household's even-song.
27. What if they think that every prayer
A vain delusion this we rightly deem :
28. That prayer perform'd, around the fire reclined Beneath the leafy canopy they lay Their limbs : the Indians soon to sleep resign'd; And the good Father with that toilsome day Fatigued, full fain to sleep, ... if sleep he may, Whom all tormenting insects there assail ; More to be dreaded these than beasts of prey
Against whom strength may cope, or skill prevail, But art of man against these enemies must fail.
29. Patience itself that should the sovereign cure For ills that touch ourselves alone, supply, Lends little aid to one who must endure This plague: the small tormentors fill the sky, And swarm about their prey ; there he must lie And suffer while the hours of darkness wear ; At times he utters with a deep-drawn sigh
Some name adored, in accents of despair Breathed sorrowfully forth, half murmur and half