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and disinterested; and though, from the accomplishment of his designs, inestimable benefits would result to the crown of Castile, he never had claimed, nor ever would receive any recompence on that account.
The scheme of Las Casas approved of.
Charles, after hearing both, and consulting with his minifters, did not think himself sufficiently informed to establish any general arrana gement with respect to the ftate of the Indians;
but as he had perfect confidence in the integriity of Las Casas, and as even the bishop of - Darien admitted his scheme to be of such im
portance, that a trial should be made of its effects, he issued a patent, (1520.) granting him the district in Cumana formerly mentioned, with full power to establish a colony there according to his own plan, s)
His preparations for executing it.
Las Casas pushed on the preparations for his voyage with his usual ardour. But, either from his own inexperience in the conduct of affairs, or from the secret opposition of the Spanish nobility, who universally dreaded the fuccess of an institution that might rob them of
8) Herrera, dec. 2. lib. iv. c. 3. 4. 5. Argenfola Annales
d'Aragon, 74, 97. Remisal Hist. Gener. lib. ii, c. 19, 20,
the industrious and useful hands which cultivat. ed their estates, his progress in engaging husbandmen and labourers was extremely flow, and he could not prevail on more than two hundred to accompany him to Cumana.
Departs for America, and meets with formidable
Nothing', however, could damp his zeal. With this flender train, hardly sufficient to take paffeffion of such a vast territory, and altogether unequal to any attempt towards civilizing its inhabitants, he set fail. The first place at which he touched was the island of Puerto Rico. There he received an account of a new obstacle to the execution of his scheme, more insuperable than any he had hitherto encountered. When he left America in the year one thousand five hundred and fixteen, the Spaniards had little intercourse with any part of the continent, except the countries adjacent to the gulf of Darien. But as every species of internal industry began to ftagnate in Hifpaniola, when, by the rapid decrease of the natives, the Spaniards were deprived of those hands with which they had hitherto carried on their operations, this prompted them to try various expedients for supplying that loss. Considerable numbers of negroes were imported; but, on account of their exorbitant price, many of the planters could not afford to purchase them. In
order to procure slaves at an easier rate, some of these fitted out vessels to cruize along the coast of the continent. In places where they found themselves inferior. in strength, they traded with the natives , and gave European toys in exchange for the plates of gold worn by them as ornaments ; but, wherever they could furprise or overpower the Indians, they carried them off by force, and fold them as slaves in Hispaniola. t) In those predatory excursions, the most atrocio’s acts of violence and cruelty were committed. The Spanish name was held in detestation all over the continent. Whenever any ships appeared, the inhabitants either fled to the woods, or ruthed down to the shore in arms, to repel those hated disturbers of their tranquillity. They forced some parties of the Spaniards to retreat with precipitation; they cut off others; and in the violence of their resentment against the whole nation, they murdered two Dominican mifsionaries, whose zeal had prompted them to settle in the province of Cumana: u) This outrage
against persons revered for their fanctity, ex<cited such indignation among the people of
Hispaniola, who, notwithstanding all their li, centious and cruel proceedings, were poflessed with a wonderful zeal for religion, and
t) Herrera, dec. 3. lib. ii. c. 3. u) Oviedo , Hift. lib. xix. c. 3.
a superstitious respect for its ministers, tha: they determined to inflict exemplary punishmer not only upon the perpetrators of that crime but upon the whole race. With this view they gave the command of five ships and thre hundred men to Diego Ocampo, with order, to lay waste, the country of Cumana with fi: and sword, and to transport all the inhabitan as slaves to Hispaniola. This armament Li Casas found at Puerto Rico, in its way to th continent; and as Ocampo refused to defer hi voyage, he immediately perceived that it wouk be impossible, to attempt the execution of bs pacifick plan in a country destined to be the sea of war and defolation. x)
Labours to furmount them.
In order to provide against the effects this unfortunate incident, he set sail direct for St. Domingo, leaving his followers cantor, ed out among the planters in Puerto Rico. Free many concurring causes, the reception whic Las Casas met with (12th April 1517.) in H: 1 fpaniola was very unfavourable. In his nege. ciations for the relief of the Indians, he has censured the conduct of his countrymen fett). ed there with such honeft severity as rendere: him univerfally odious to them. They coni. dered their own ruin as the inevitable con
*) Herrera, dec. 2. lib. ix. c. 8, 9.
sequence of his success. They were now elated with hope of receiving a large recruit of flavęs from Cumana, which must be relinquished if Las Casas were assisted in settling his projected colony there. Figueroa, in confequence of the instructions he had received in Spain, 'had made an experiment concerning the capacity of the Indians, which was reprefented as decisive against the system of Las Casas. He collected in Hispaniola a good number of the natives, and settled them in two villages, leaving them at perfect liberty, and with the uncontrouled direction of their own actions. But that people, accustomed to a mode of life extremely different, incapable of assuming new habits at once, and dejected with their own misfortunes as well as those of their country, exerted fo little indusa try in cultivating the ground, appeared so dea void of solicitude or foresight in providing for their own wants, and were such strangers to arrangement in conducting their affairs, that the Spaniards pronounced them incapable of being formed to live like men in social life, and considered them as children,' who should be kept under the perpetual tutelage of persons superior to themselves in wisdom and fagacity.y)
Final miscarriage of his scheme. Notwithstanding all those circumstanees, which alienated the people to whom Las Casas
y) Herrera, dec. 2. lib. x. c. 5.