A Vanished Arcadia: Being Some Account of the Jesuits in Paraguay, 1607 to 1767

A Vanished Arcadia: Being Some Account of the Jesuits in Paraguay, 1607 to 1767

A Vanished Arcadia: Being Some Account of the Jesuits in Paraguay, 1607 to 1767

A Vanished Arcadia: Being Some Account of the Jesuits in Paraguay, 1607 to 1767

Excerpt

Historicus nascitur, non fit. I am painfully aware that neither my calling nor election in this matter are the least sure. Certain it is that in youth, when alone the historian or the horseman may be formed, I did little to fit myself for writing history. Wandering about the countries of which now I treat, I had almost as scant object in my travels as a Gaucho of the outside 'camps.' I never took a note on any subject under heaven, nor kept a diary, by means of which, my youth departed and the countries I once knew so well transmogrified, I could, sitting beside the fire, read and enjoy the sadness of revisiting, in my mind's eye, scenes that I now remember indistinctly as in a dream. I take it that he who keeps a journal of his doings, setting down day by day all that he does, with dates and names of places, their longitude and latitude duly recorded, makes for himself a meal of bitter-sweet. Your truest dulcamara is to read (with glasses), the faded notes jotted down hurriedly in rain, in sun, in wind, in camps, by flooded rivers, and in the long and listless hours of heat -- in fact, to see again your life, as it were, acted for you in some camera obscura, with the chief actor changed. Diaries, unless they be mere records of bare facts, must of necessity, as in their nature they are autobiographical, be false guides; so that, perhaps, I in my carelessness was not quite so unwise as I have often thought myself. I made no . . .

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