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It is to the Jesuits, that we are indebted for almost all our information with respect to Chili. Bordering on that peculiar theatre of their efforts, the vast vale of Paraguay, Chili early attracted the notice of these indefatigable religious victors, whose spiritual ambition grasped at wider empire than was ever dreamed of, by the Alexanders and Bonapartes. While the greatest secular conqueror has never been able to subdue to his allegiance more than a few adjacent kingdoms, the Jesuits established their missions from the extremity of California eastward to Japan; and at the same moment calculated eclipses for the Chinese emperor, instructed the children of the French monarchs, and presided in the councils of the natives, in the vast Pampas of la Plata. The zeal and industry, which they displayed in the description of the countries which they explored, form some compensation for the moral defects of their system. Much of our geographical and historical information, of some of the countries most difficult of access, is derived to us from the writings of these intrepid warriors of the cross.
The first important work on the country we are now considering, is that of Father Ovalle, entitled, Historia y Relacion del Reyno de Chile, y de las Missiones y Ministerios que en el exercita la Compagnia de Jesus. Father Ovalle was born in Chili, and there admitted into the society of Jesuits. Having repaired to Rome, on the business of his order, his work was published in that city, both in Italian and Spanish, in the year 1646. Although Father Ovalle is somewhat too liberal in his account of the miracles attending the ministry of his order in Chili, his work is replete with information. It contains an historical account of the wars and settlements of the Spaniards, south of the desert of Atacama, and west of the Andes, from their first entrance into that region down to the year 1643, the period at which he repaired to Europe. He died shortly after his return to America at Lima, in 1651. An English version of his work is contained in the third volume of Churchill's valuable collection.
The voyage of Frezier to the South Sea was made in the years 1712–1714, and some valuable notices of Chili are given in the account of this voyage, which was published at Paris in 1716, under the title Relation du Voyage à la Mer du Sud et aux Cotes de Chili, du Perou, et du Bresil, fait
pendant, 1712–14. This work is pronounced by Meusel one of the best in its class. Translations were soon made of it into the principal European languages. It was published in English in London, in 1718, with a postscript by Edmund Halley, and an account of the settlement, commerce, and riches of the Jesuits in Paraguay.'
The work of Frezier was made the subject of some animadversions by a French ecclesiastic, Father Louis Feuillée, of the Minim friars, whose own appeared a few years after that of Frezier. This work is advantageously known from the testimony of Molina, who bestows upon it the highest praise. This most learned Frenchman,' says Molina, in the preface to his Saggio sulla Storia Naturale del Chili, 'has described, with extraordinary accuracy, the principal plants, which grow on this coast, and some of the animals which are there found. His descriptions are correct, and entirely conformed to the objects described. I have not been able to discover the slightest error in any part of the work of this able author. But his history, having been published at the royal expense, with great apparatus of most beautiful engravings, has never been reprinted, and has become very rare, and of consequence is known to few. The strictures of Father Feuillée on the work of Frezier drew forth a reply from the latter, in his second edition, which appeared at Paris in 1732.
In 1776 the Abbé Vidaurre published anonymously at Bologna, his Compendio della Storia geografica, naturale e civili del Regno del Chile. When the preface of Molina was written, this work was not printed, as it is spoken of in that preface as still existing in manuscript. Molina speaks in high terms of the accuracy, with which Vidaurre describes the productions of the country, and the manners of its inhabitants. His knowledge of the country was derived from a long residence in it. In fact, we inser from the expressions of Molina in citing his name, that he was a native Chilian. His general plan, in the division and arrangement of his subject, was adopted by Molina. A map of the country, a plan of Santiago the capital, and some other views, all made from accurate observations, add to the value of this work.*
There is some confusion in the account of this work, which we are not able to unravel. Molina, in the preface to his work, published in 1782, speaks
Less known than the foregoing, and in respect to the native language of the Chilians, more valuable, perhaps, than any other, is the work of a German Jesuit, published at Münster, in Westphalia, in three volumes, 8vo. in 1779, with this title ; Bernardi Havestat in America Meridionalis Regno Chilensi e Soc. Jesu Missionarii, Chilidúgú, sive res Chilenses, vel Descriptio Status tum naturalis, tum civilis Regni populique Chilensis.
This learned author passed twenty years as a Jesuit Missionary in the kingdom of Chili. The main object of the work is to promote the knowledge of the Chilian language, which, in his Latin preface and Spanish epilogue, he avers to be as much above all other languages, as the Chilian Andes are above the mountains of the earth. The work is divided into seven parts. The first is a very ample grammar of the Chilian tongue, amounting to near two hundred pages. The second is a translation into the Chilian tongue of Father Pomey's Indiculus universalis. The third is a Chilian catechism in verse and prose. The fourth is an ample vocabulary of the Chilian language. The fifth is a Latin vocabulary, corresponding with the preceding. The sixth contains the music for accompanying the organ, in chanting the poetical catechism. The seventh is the author's diary of a missionary excursion in the years 1751 and 1752, illustrated by a map. From this analysis of its contents, it is plain that the Chilidúgu might justly form an addition to the list of grammars and dictionaries of the native languages of Spanish America, which is given by M. de Humboldt in bis Relation Historique 1. 504. We observe, in that list, no Chilian grammar or dictionary, except a French manuscript, in possession of M. W. de Humboldt, sur la Langue des Araucans de Chili. Molina observes in the preface to the second part of his history, that there are several printed and manuscript grammars of the Chilian to be met with, but that he has principally made use of that of Febres, printed at Lima in 1765. A Chilian grammar was also composed by Garcilasso de la Vega, though the language is radically different from his native Peruvian.
of Vidaurre's work as still unpublished. Living as Molina did at Bologna, and acquainted as he had been with Vidaurre's work in manuscript, it seems hardly possible that, if the latter had been published at Bologna six years before, Molina could have been ignorant of it. And yet Meusel attaches the name of Vidaurre in brackets, to the Compendio della Storia, &c. published at Bologna, in 1776. As Molina mentions un Compendio anonimo che si publicò in Lingva Italiana in 1776, and has in fact constructed his own in some degree upon it, we are strongly inclined to think that to be the work incorrectly ascribed by Meusel to Vidaurre, and that the work of the latter is still in manuscript. This conjecture gains strength from the fact, that Meusel cites no other work by the name of Compendio.
Superior to all the foregoing works is that of the Abbé Giovanni Ignazio Molina, a Chilian creole, well educated, and possessing all the natural talents requisite for the work which he undertook. He published it in two parts in the Italian language. The first part, under the title Saggio sulla Storia naturale del Chili, was published at Bologna in 1782, in octavo. The second appeared five years after, and was called Saggio sulla Storia civile del Chili.
The materials for both were collected during his long residence in the country, as a member of the company of Jesuits. On the dissolution of that order, he was expelled from the dominions of Spain, and deprived of his manuscripts and collections in natural history. The former he accidentally recovered, after his arrival in Italy, and from them he composed his work on Chili, of which the part relative to the natural history of the country appeared, as we have mentioned, in 1782. The appearance of the second volume was delayed by the Abbé Molina, in the hope of receiving from Peru the second volume of the manuscript history of the Abbé Olivarez, the first of which was already in his possession. Of this manuscript work Molina speaks in his preface in the following terms; the · History of Olivarez may be called perfect in its kind, for the diligence and judgment with which its author has been able to arrange the most interesting facts of the almost continual war between the Spaniards and the Araucanians.' We cannot enough regret the want of this and another work, which Molina also mentions as existing in manuscript, that of the Chevalier Don Pedro Figueroa, a work composed in the middle of the last century on the civil history of Chili, from the entry of the Spaniards downward. Should our readers be inclined to join us in the opinion intimated in the note on pp. 290–91, that the work of Vidaurre is also still in manuscript, it would follow that three of the most important productions on the subject of Chili are still withheld from the world. The library of the university of Bologna, to which city many Jesuits resorted after the suppression of the Order,
would perhaps be a likely place to find them in, especially as the manuscript of Olivarez was in the hands of the Abbé Molina at that place. We hope some of our countrymen, on their travels in Italy, will make successful search for works so interesting to the study of American history; nor would our minister to Chili perform a service beneath the dignity of his functions, in bringing to light from the libraries of the convents, where they are possibly concealed, in Concepcion or Santiago, these, and other works of interest to the knowledge of the continent on which we live.
A translation of the entire work of the Abbé Molina, by an American gentleman, was published at Middletown, in Connecticut, in 1808. Besides the whole of the original work, some notes are added to this translation from the French and
versions, and supplementary notes of larger compass from the anonymous compendium published at Bologna in 1776, of which we have already spoken. To this translation is appended an analysis of the Araucana of Ercilla, and several extracts from that poem in the versions of Hayley and Boyd.
In his preface, Molina says, the histories, or rather the accounts in print, (besides the four poems, which have been published on the Araucanian war,) are those of Ovalle, of Father Gregorio di Leon, of James Texillo, of Don Melchior dell
' Aquila, and an anonymous compendium, published in Italian, in 1776, which, to a certain extent, furnishes a completer notice of Chili, than the other printed works, particularly in reference to geography and natural history. As to the printed works here mentioned, that of Ovalle has been already described. Our conjectures with respect to the compendium we have also expressed. The work of Texillo was published in Madrid in 1647, under the title of Guerra de Chile, which would lead us to suppose, that it relates chiefly to the history of the Araucanian wars. Of the works of Gregorio di Leon and Melchior dell'Aquila, we have not learned anything beyond this notice. On the other hand, the section of Meusel on the Chilian writers contains the titles of two works, apparently of a historical character, not mentioned by Molina. These are Mendez Discursos sobre la Centinela del Reino de Chile, Lima, 1641; and Rosales (a Jesuit) Historia General del Reyno de Chile. Of neither of these
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