Being in England in 1900 for change and rest, I was introduced to an eccentric old gentleman of miserly tendencies, but possessed of $5,000,000. Hearing of my wanderings in South America, he told me that he owned a tract of land thirteen miles square in Paraguay, and would like to know something of its value. The outcome of this visit was that I was commissioned by him to go to that country and explore his possession, so I proceeded once more to my old field of labor. Arriving at the mouth of the River Plate, after five weeks of sea- tossing, I was, with the rest, looking forward to our arrival in Buenos Ayres, when a steam tug came puffing alongside, and we were informed that as the ship had touched at the infected port of Bahia, all passengers must be fumigated, and that we must submit to three weeks' quarantine on Flores Island. The Port doctor has sent a whole ship-load to the island for so trifling a cause as that a sailor had a broken collar-bone, so we knew that for us there was nothing but submission. Disembarking from the ocean steamer on to lighters, we gave a last look at the coveted land, "so near and yet so far," and were towed away to three small islands in the centre of the river, about fifty miles distant. One island is set apart as a burial ground, one is for infected patients, and the other, at which we were landed, is for suspects. On that desert island, with no other land in sight than the sister isles, we were given time to chew the cud of bitter reflection. They gave us little else to chew! The food served up to us consisted of strings of dried beef, called charqui, which was brought from the mainland in dirty canvas bags. This was often supplemented by boiled seaweed. Being accustomed to self- preservation, I was able to augment this diet with fish caught while sitting on the barren rocks of our sea-girt prison. Prison it certainly was, for sentries, armed with Remingtons, herded us like sheep.

The three weeks' detention came to an end, as everything earthly does, and then an open barge, towed by a steam-launch, conveyed us to Montevideo. Quite a fresh breeze was blowing, and during our eleven hours' journey we were repeatedly drenched with spray. Delicate ladies lay down in the bottom of the boat in the throes of seasickness, and were literally washed to and fro, and saturated, as they said, to the heart. We landed, however, and I took passage up to Asuncion in the "Olympo."

The "Olympo" is a palatial steamer, fitted up like the best Atlantic liners with every luxury and convenience. On the ship there were perhaps one hundred cabin passengers, and in the steerage were six hundred Russian emigrants bound for Corrientes, three days' sail north. Two of these women were very sick, so the chief steward, to whom I was known, hurried me to them, and I was thankful to be able to help the poor females.

The majestic river is broad, and in some parts so thickly studded with islands that it appears more like a chain of lakes than a flowing stream. As we proceeded up the river the weather grew warmer, and the native clothing of sheepskins the Russians had used was cast aside. The men, rough and bearded, soon had only their under garments on, and the women wore simply that three-quarter length loose garment well known to all females, yet they sweltered in the unaccustomed heat.

At midnight of the third day we landed them at Corrientes, and the women, in their white (?) garments, with their babies and ikons, and bundles - and husbands - trod on terra firma for the first time in seven weeks.

After about twelve days' sail we came to Bella Vista, at which point the river is eighteen miles wide. Sixteen days after leaving the mouth of the river, we sighted the red-tiled roofs of the houses at Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay, built on the bank of the river, which is there only a mile wide, but thirty feet deep. The river boats land their passengers at a rickety wooden wharf, and Indians carry the baggage on their heads into the dingy customs house. After this has been inspected by the cigarette-smoking officials, the dark- skinned porters are clamorously eager to again bend themselves under the burden and take your trunks to an hotel, where you follow, walking over the exceedingly rough cobbled streets. There is not a cab for hire in the whole city. The two or three hotels are fifth- rate, but charge only about thirty cents a day.

Asuncion is a city of some 30,000 inhabitants Owing to its isolated position, a thousand miles from the sea-coast, it is perhaps the most backward of all the South American capitals. Although under Spanish rule for three hundred years, the natives still retain the old Indian language and the Guarani idiom is spoken by all.

The city is lit up at night with small lamps burning oil, and these lights shed fitful gleams here and there. The oil burned bears the high-sounding trade-mark, "Light of the World," and that is the only "light of the world" the native knows of. The lamps are of so little use that females never dream of going out at night without carrying with them a little tin farol, with a tallow dip burning inside.

I have said the street lamps give little light. I must make exception of one week of the year, when there is great improvement. That week they are carefully cleaned and trimmed, for it is given up as a feast to the Virgin, and the lights are to shed radiance on gaudy little images of that august lady which are inside of each lamp. The Pal, or father priest, sees that these images are properly honored by the people. He is here as elsewhere, the moving spirit.

San Bias is the patron saint of the country, It is said he won for the Paraguayans a great victory in an early war. St. Cristobel receives much homage also because he helped the Virgin Mary to carry the infant Jesus across a river on the way to Egypt.

Asuncion was for many years the recluse headquarters of the Jesuits, so of all enslaved Spanish-Americans probably the Guaranis are the worst. During Lent they will inflict stripes on their bodies, or almost starve themselves to death; and their abject humility to the Pai is sad to witness. On special church celebrations large processions will walk the streets, headed by the priests, chanting in Latin. The people sometimes fall over one another in their eager endeavors to kiss the priest's garments, They prostrate themselves, count their beads, confess their sins, and seek the coveted blessing of this demi-god, "who shuts the kingdom of heaven, and keeps the key in his own pocket."

A noticeable feature of the place is that all the inhabitants go barefooted. Ladies (?) will pass you with their stiffly-starched white dresses, and raven-black hair neatly done up with colored ribbons, but with feet innocent of shoes. Soldiers and policemen tramp the streets, but neither are provided with footwear, and their clothes are often in tatters. The Jesuits taught the Indians to make shoes, but they alone worethem, exporting the surplus. Shoes are not for common people, and when one of them dares to cover his feet he is considered presumptuous. Hats they never wear, but they have the beautiful custom of weaving flowers in their hair. When flowers are not worn the head is covered by a white sheet called the tupoi, and in some cases this garment is richly embroidered. These females are devoted Romanists, as will be seen from the following description of a feast held to St. John:

"Dona Juana's first care was to decorate with uncommon splendor a large image of St. John, which, in a costly crystal box, she preserved as the chief ornament of her principal drawing-room. He was painted anew and re-gilded. He had a black velvet robe purchased for him, and trimmed with deep gold lace. Hovering over him was a cherub. Every friend of Dona Juana had lent some part of her jewellery for the decoration of the holy man. Rings sparkled on his fingers; collars hung around his neck; a tiara graced his venerable brow. The lacings of his sandals were studded with pearls; a precious girdle bound his slender waist, and six large wax candles were lighted up at the shrine. There, embosomed in fragrant evergreens - the orange, the lime, the acacia - stood the favorite saint, destined to receive the first homage of every guest that should arrive. These all solemnly took off their hats to the image."

Such religious mummery as this is painful to witness, and to see the saint borne round in procession, with men carrying candles, and white-clad girls with large birds' wings fastened to their shoulders, dispels the idea of its being Christianity at all.

The people are gentle and mild-spoken. White-robed women lead strings of donkeys along the streets, bearing huge panniers full of vegetables, among which frequently play the women's babies. The panniers are about a yard deep, and may often be seen full to the brim with live fowls pinioned by the legs. Other women go around with large wicker trays on their heads, selling chipa, the native bread, made from Indian corn, or mandioca root, the staple food of the country. Wheat is not grown in Paraguay, and any flour used is imported. These daughters of Eve often wear nothing more than a robe-de-chambre, and invariably smoke cigars six or eight inches long. Their figure is erect and stately, and the laughing eyes full of mischief and merriment; but they fade into old age at forty. Until then they seem proud as children of their brass jewellery and red coral beads. The Paraguayans are the happiest race of people I have met; care seems undreamed of by them.

In the post-office of the capital I have sometimes been unable to procure stamps, and "Dypore" (We have none) has been the civil answer of the clerk. When they had stamps they were not provided with mucilage, but a brush and pot of paste were handed the buyer. If you ask for a one cent stamp the clerk will cut a two cent stamp and give you a half. They have, however, stamps the tenth part of a cent in value, and a bank note in circulation whose face value is less than a cent. There are only four numerals in the Guarani language: 1, petei ; 2,_moncoi; 3,_bohapy; 4,_irundu. It is not possible to express five or six. No wonder, therefore, that when I bought five 40-cent stamps, I found the clerk was unable to count the sum, and I had to come to the rescue and tell him it was $2.00. At least eighty per cent. of the people are unable to read. When they do, it is of course in Spanish, A young man to whom I gave the Gospel of John carefully looked at it, and then, turning to me, said: "Is this a history of that wonderful lawyer we have been hearing about?" To those interested in the dissemination of Scriptures, let me state that no single Gospel has as yet been translated into Guarani.

A tentative edition of the "Sermon on the Mount" has recently been issued by the British and Foreign Bible Society, a copy of which I had the honor to be the first to present to the head executive.

Gentle simplicity is the chief characteristic of the people. If the traveller relates the most ordinary events that pass in the outside world, they will join in the exclamation of surprise-"Ba-eh-pico! Ba-eh-pico!"

Information that tends to their lowering is not always accepted thus, however, for a colonel in the army, when told that Asuncion could be put into a large city graveyard, hastily got up from the dinner table and went away in wounded pride and incredulity. The one who is supposed to "know a little" likes to keep his position, and the Spanish proverb is exemplified: "En tierra de los ciegos, el tuerto es rey" (In the blind country the one-eyed are kings). The native is most guileless and ignorant, as can well be understood when his language is an unwritten one.

Paraguay is essentially a land of fruit, 200 oranges may be bought for the equivalent of six cents. Small mountains of oranges may always be seen piled up on the banks ready to be shipped down the river. Women are employed to load the vessels with this fruit, which they carry in baskets on their heads. Everything is carried on their heads, even to a glass bottle. My laundress, Cunacarai [Footnote: The Guarani idiom can boast of but few words, and Mr., Mrs. and Miss are simply rendered "carai" (man), "cuna-carai" (woman) and "cunatai" (young woman); "mita cuna" is girl, "mita cuimbai" is boy, and "mita mishi" - baby.] Jesus, although an old woman, could bear almost incredible weights on her hard skull.

As the climate is hot, a favorite occupation for men and women is to sit half-submerged in the river, smoking vigorously "The Paraguayans are an amphibious race, neither wholly seamen nor wholly landsmen, but partaking of both." All sleep in cotton hammocks, - beds are almost unknown. The hammocks are slung on the verandah of the house in the hotter season and all sleep outside, taking off their garments with real sang froid. In the cooler season the visitor is invited to hang his hammock along with the rest inside the house, and in the early morning naked little children bring mate to each one. If the family is wealthy this will be served in a heavy silver cup and bombilla, or sucking tube, of the same metal. After this drink and a bite of chipa, a strangely shaped, thin-necked bottle, made of sun-baked clay, is brought, and from it water is poured on the hands. The towels are spotlessly white and of the finest texture. They are hand-made, and are so delicately woven and embroidered that I found it difficult to accustom myself to use them. The beautifully fine lace called nanduti (literally spider's web) is also here made by the Indian women, who have long been civilized. Some of the handkerchiefs they make are worth $50 each in the fashionable cities of America and Europe. A month's work may easily be expended on such a dainty fabric.

The women seem exceptionally fond of pets. Monkeys and birds are common in a house, and the housewife will show you her parrot and say, "In this bird dwells the spirit of my departed mother." An enemy, somehow, has always turned into an alligator - a reptile much loathed by them.

In even the poorest houses there is a shrine and a "Saint." These deities can answer all prayers if they choose to. Sometimes, however, they are not "in the humor," and at one house the saint had refused, so he was laid flat on the floor, face downwards. The woman swore that until he answered her petition she would not lift him up again. He laid thus all night; whether longer or not I do not know.

Having heard much concerning the moralite of the people, I asked the maid at a respectable private house where I was staying: "Have you a father?" "No, sir," she answered, "we Paraguayans are not accustomed to have a father." Children of five or six, when asked about that parent, will often answer, "Father died in the war." The war ended thirty-nine years ago, but they have been taught to say this by the mother.

As in Argentina the first word the stranger learns is manana (to- morrow), so here the first is dy-qui (I don't know). Whatever question you ask the Guarani, he will almost invariably answer, "Dy- qui." Ask him his age, he answers "Dy-qui" To your question: "Are you twenty or one hundred and twenty?" he will reply "Dy-qui." Through the long rule of the Jesuits the natives stopped thinking; they had it all done for them. "At the same time that they enslaved them, they tortured them into the profession of the religion they had imported; and as they had seen that in the old land the love of this world and the deceitfulness of riches were ever in the way of conversion to the true faith, they piously relieved the Indians of these snares of the soul, even going so far in the discharge of this painful duty as to relieve them of life at the same time, if necessary to get their possessions into their own hands," [Footnote: Robertson's "Letters on Paraguay."]

"The stories of their hardness, and perfidy, and immorality beggar description. The children of the priests have become so numerous that the shame is no longer considered." [Footnote: Service.]

As the Mahometans have their Mecca, so the Paraguayans have Caacupe; and the image of the Virgin in that village is the great wonder-worker. Prayers are directed to her that she will raise the sick, etc., and promises are made her if she will do this. One morning I had business with a storekeeper, and went to his office. "Is the carai in?" I asked. "No," I was answered, "he has gone to Caacupe to pay a promise." That promise was to burn so many candles before the Virgin, and further adorn her bejewelled robes. She had, as he believed, healed him of a sickness.

The village of Caacupe is about forty miles from Asuncion. "The Bishop of Paraguay formally inaugurated the worship of the Virgin of Caacupe, sending forth an episcopal letter accrediting the practice, and promising indulgences to the pilgrims who should visit the shrine. Thus the worship became legal and orthodox. Multitudes of people visit her, carrying offerings of valuable jewels. There are several well-authenticated cases of persons, whose offerings were of inferior quality, being overtaken with some terrible calamity." [Footnote: Washburn's "History of Paraguay."]

Funds must be secured somehow, for the present Bishop's sons, to whom I was introduced as among the aristocrats of the capital, certainly need a large income from the lavish manner I noticed them "treat" all and sundry in the hotel. "It is admitted by all, that in South America the church is decadent and corrupt. The immorality of the priests is taken for granted. Priests' sons and daughters, of course not born in wedlock, abound everywhere, and no stigma attaches to them or to their fathers and mothers." [Footnote: "The Continent of Opportunity." Dr. Clark.] Hon. S. H. Blake, in the Neglected Continent, writes: "I was especially struck by the statement of a Roman Catholic - a Consular agent with a large amount of information as to the land and its inhabitants. He stopped me in speaking of the priests by saying, 'I know all that. You cannot exaggerate their immorality. Everybody knows it - but the Latin race is a degenerate race. Nothing can be done with it. The Roman Church has had four centuries of trial and has made a failure of it.'"

When a person is dying, the Pai is hurriedly sent for. To this call he will readily respond. A procession will be formed, and, preceded by a boy ringing a bell, the Host, or, to use an everyday expression, God, will be carried from the church down the street to the sick one. All passers-by must kneel as this goes along, and the police will arrest you if you do not at least take off your hat. "Liberty of conscience is a most diabolical thing, to be stamped out at any cost," is the maxim of Rome, and the Guarani has learned his lesson well. "In Inquisition Square men were burned for daring to think, therefore men stopped thinking when death was the penalty."

Wakes for the dead are always held, and in the case of a child the little one lies in state adorned with gilded wings and tinselled finery. All in the neighborhood are invited to the dance which takes place that evening around the corpse. At a funeral the Pai walks first, followed by a crowd of men, women and children bearing candles, some of which are four and five feet long. The dead are carried through the streets in a very shallow coffin, and the head is much elevated. An old woman generally walks by the side, bearing the coffin lid on her head. The dead are always buried respectfully, for an old law reads: "No person shall ride in the dead cart except the corpse that is carried, and, therefore, nobody shall get up and ride behind. It is against Christian piety to bury people with irreverent actions, or drag them in hides, or throw them into the grave without consideration, or in a position contrary to the practice of the Church."

All Saints Day is a special time for releasing departed ones out of purgatory. Hundreds of people visit the cemeteries then, and pay the waiting priests so much a prayer, If that "liberator of souls" sings the prayer the price is doubled, but it is considered doubly efficacious.

A good feature of Romanism in Paraguay is that the people have been taught something of Christ, but there seems to be an utter want of reverence toward His person, for one may see a red flag on the public streets announcing that there are the "Auction Rooms of the child God." In his "Letters on Paraguay," Robertson relates the following graphic account of the celebration of His death: "I found great preparations making at the cathedral for the sermon of 'the agony on the cross.' A wooden figure of our Saviour crucified was affixed against the wall, opposite the pulpit; a large bier was placed in the centre of the cathedral, and the great altar at the eastern extremity was hung with black; while around were disposed lighted candles and other insignia of a great funeral. When the sermon commenced, the cathedral was crowded to suffocation, a great proportion of the audience being females. The discourse was interrupted alternately by the low moans and sobbings of the congregation. These became more audible as the preacher warmed with his discourse, which was partly addressed to his auditory and partly to the figure before him; and when at length he exclaimed, 'Behold! Behold! He gives up the ghost!' the head of the figure was slowly depressed by a spring towards the breast, and one simultaneous shriek - loud, piercing, almost appalling - was uttered by the whole congregation. The women now all struggled for a superiority in giving unbounded vent to apparently the most distracting grief. Some raved like maniacs, others beat their breasts and tore their hair. Exclamations, cries, sobs and shrieks mingled, and united in forming one mighty tide of clamor, uproar, noise and confusion. In the midst of the raging tempest could be heard, ever and anon, the stentorian voice of the preacher, reproaching in terms of indignation and wrath the apathy of his hearers! 'Can you, oh, insensate crowd!' he would cry, 'Can you sit in silence?' - but here his voice was drowned in an overwhelming cry of loudest woe, from every part of the church; and for five minutes all further effort to make himself heard was unavailing. This singular scene continued for nearly half an hour; then, by degrees, the vehement grief of the congregation abated, and when I left the cathedral it had subsided once more into low sobs and silent tears.

"I now took my way, with many others, to the Church of San Francisco, where, in an open space in front of the church, I found that the duty of the day had advanced to the funeral service, which was about being celebrated. There a scaffolding was erected, and the crucifixion exactly represented by wooden figures, not only of our Lord, but of the two thieves. A pulpit was erected in front of the scaffold; and the whole square was covered by the devout inhabitants of the city. The same kind of scene was being enacted here as at the cathedral, with the difference, however, of the circumstantial funeral in place of the death. The orator's discourse when I arrived was only here and there interrupted by a suppressed moan, or a struggling sigh, to be heard in the crowd. But when he commenced giving directions for the taking down of the body from the cross, the impatience of grief began to manifest itself on all sides, 'Mount up,' he cried, 'ye holy ministers, mount up, and prepare for the sad duty which ye have to perform!' Here six or eight persons, covered from head to foot with ample black cloaks, ascended the scaffold. Now the groans of the people became more audible; and when at length directions were given to strike out the first nail, the cathedral scene of confusion, which I have just described, began, and all the rest of the preacher's oratory was dumb show. The body was at length deposited in the coffin, and the groaning and shrieking of the assembled multitude ceased. A solemn funeral ceremony took place: every respectable person received a great wax taper to carry in the procession: the coffin after being carried all round was deposited in the church: the people dispersed; and the great day of Passion Week was brought to a close."