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them, with the title of Protector of the Indians. e)
The manner in which they were executed. To vest such extraordinary powers as might at once overturn the system of government established in the New World, in four persons, who, from their humble condition in life, were little intitled to possess this high authority, appeared to Zapatà, and other minifters of the laté king, à measure so wild and dangerous, that they refused to issue the dispatches necessary for carrying it into execution. But Ximenes was not of a temper patiently to brook opposition to any of his schemes. He sent for the refractory ministers, and addressed them in such a tone, that in the utmost consternation they obeyed his orders. f) The fuperintendents, with their associate Zuazo, and Las Cafas, failed for St. Domingo. Upon their arrival, the first act of their authority was to set at liberty all the Indians who had been granted to the Spanish courtiers, of tò any perfon not résiding in Ainerica.' This, together with the information which had been received from Spain concerning the object of the commiffion, spread a general alarm. The colonists concluded that they were to be deprived at once of the hands with which they carried on their labour, and that, of consequence, ruin was unavoidable. But the fathers of St. Jerome proceeded with such caution and prudence, as soon dissipated all their fears. They discovered, in every step of their conduct, a knowledge of the world, and of affairs, which is feldom acquired in a cloister; and displayed a moderation and gentleness still more rare among persons trained up in the folitude and austerity of a monastick life. Their ears were open to information from every quarter, they compared the different accounts: which they received, and, after a mature confideration of the whole, they were fully satisfied that the state of the colony rendered it impossible to adopt the plan proposed by Las Casas, and recommended by the cardinal. They plainly perceived that the Spaniards settled in America were so few in number, that they could neither work the mines which had been opened, nor cultivate the country; that they depended for both upon the labour of the natives, and, if deprived of it, they must inftantly relinquish their conquests, or give up all the advantages which they derived from them; that no allurement was so powerful as to furmount the natural aversion of the Indians to any laborious effort, and that nothing but the authority of a master could compel them to work; and if they were not kept constantly under the eye and discipline of a fuperior, lo
e) Herrera , déc. 2. lib. ii. c. 3.
1) Ibid. dec. 2. lib. ii. e, 0.
great was their natural listlessness and indifference, that they would neither attend to religious instruction, nor observe those rites of Christianity which they had been already taught. Upon all those accounts, the superintendents found it necessary to tolerate the repartimiento's, and to suffer the Indians to remain under subjection to their Spanish masters. They used their utmost endeavours, however, to prevent the fatal effects of this establishment, and to secure the Indians the confolation of the best treatment compatible with a state of servitude. For this purpose, they revived former regulations, they preferibed new ones, they neglected no circumstance that tended to mitigate the rigour of the yoke; and by their authority, their example, and their exhortations, they laboured to inspire their countrymen with sen. timents of equity and gentleness, towards the unhappy people upon whose industry they depended. Zuazo, in his department, seconded the endeavours of the superintendents. He reformed the courts of justice, in such a manner as to render their decisions equitable as well as expeditious, and introduced various regulations which greatly improved the interior police of the colony. The fatisfaction which his conduct, and that of the superintendents gave, was now univerfal among the Spaniards settled in the New World, and all admired the boldness of Ximenes, in having departed from
the ordinary path of business in forming his plan, as well as his fagacity , in pitching upon persons, whose wisdom, moderation, and disinterestedness, rendered them worthy of this high truft. g): T 'i d h e i
Las Casas dissatisfied with them. i Las Casas alone was dissatisfied. The prur dential considerations which influenced the super! intendents, made no impression upon him, He regarded their idea of accommodating their conduct to the state of the colony, as the maxim of an unhallowed timid policy, which tolerated what was unjust, because it was beneficial. He contended, that the Indians were by nature free, and, as their protector, he required the superintendents not to bereave them of the common privilege of humanity. They received his most virulent remonftrances without emotion, but adhered firmly to their own system. The Spanish planters did not bear with him so patiently, and were ready to tear him in pieces for insisting in a requisition fo odious to them. Las Casas, in order to screen himself from their rage, found it necessary to take shelter in a convent; and perceiving that all his efforts in America were fruitless, he foon set out for Europe, with a fixed resolution
g) Herrera , dec. 2. lib. ii. c. 15. Remesal Hist. Gener. lih,
ii. c. 14, 15, 16.
not to abandon the protection of a people whore he deemed to be cruelly. oppressed. h)
His negociations with the ministers of Charles V.
Had Ximenes retained that vigour of mind with which he usually applied to business, Las Casas must have met with no very gracious reception upon his return to Spain. But he found the cardinal languishing under a mortal diftemper, and preparing to resign his authority to the young king, who was daily expected from the Low Countries. Charles arrived, took poffeffion of the government, and, by the death of Ximenes, loft a minifter, whose abi. lities, and integrity intitled him to direct his affairs. Many of the Flemish nobility had accompanied their fovereign to Spain. From that warm predilection to his countrymen, which was natural at his age, he consulted them with respect to all the tranfactions in his new kingdom, and they, with an indiscreet eager. ness, intruded themselves into every business, and seized almost every department of adminiftration. i) The direction of American affairs was an object too alluring to escape their attention. Las Casas observed their growing influence, and though projectors are usually too fanguine to conduct their fchemes with much
b) Herrerą. dec. 2. lib. ii. c. 16.
i) Hist. of Charles V. vol. ii. p. 49.