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ficated, and Las Casas was ordered to return to Velasquez at Xagua. A most intimate friendship existed between Las Casas and one Pedro de Renteria, a devout and contemplative person, much given to solitude, and who would have made an excellent monk; his occupations, however, were entirely secular, and he was employed by the Governor Diego Velasquez as alcalde or magistrate. Owing to the friendship which existed between them, the governor, when he began to make repartimientos, gave to Las Casas and Renteria a large village, and Indians in common. Here they lived, the Clerigo as the busier man, taking the greater part of the management of their joint affairs. He was as much engaged as others were in making his Indians work at the mines, and getting a large profit out of their labour; however, he was personally kind to them, and provided for their wants, but, to use his own words, "he took no more heed than the other Spaniards to bethink himself that his Indians were unbelievers, and of the duty that there was on his part, to give them instruction, and to bring them into the bosom of the Church of Christ."

Being with one exception the only ecclesiastic in the whole island, he had often to say Mass and preach. When preparing to do so for the Feast of Pentecost, 1514, he was much struck by certain passages in the thirty-fourth chapter of Ecclesiasticus, verses 18 to 22; he remembered, too, what he had formerly heard the Dominicans in Hispaniola preach, and particularly a certain religioso who had refused him absolution be

cause he possessed Indians. His conscience became aroused, he set to work to study the principles of the matter, as well as the facts around him, and soon came to the conclusion that the system of repartimientos was iniquitous, and that he must preach against it.

He felt now that it was his duty to give up his own Indians; this he deeply regretted, not for the loss of worldly advantage, but because he knew that no one in Cuba, would treat them as kindly as he had done. But his sermons would be of no avail, unless he practised what he preached; he resolved therefore to give them up. When Las Casas came to this determination, his friend and partner Renteria happened to be absent from home in Jamaica, but the Clerigo went boldly to the governor, and put the matter before him as concerning his own salvation, and that of the rest of the Spaniards; he told him too, that he had made up his mind to give up his own slaves, but wished this decision to be kept secret till Renteria had returned.

Velasquez was greatly astonished, for Las Casas had the character of one who loved gain; he besought him therefore to do nothing rashly, and to take fifteen days to think the matter well over. But Las Casas was inexorable, and to the credit of the governor, be it said, he ever after held the Clerigo in greater esteem than before.

Las Casas was unable to conceal his intention till his partner's return, for, when preaching shortly after, he took occasion to mention the conclusion he had come to as regarded himself, and urged upon his

hearers the danger to which they exposed their souls by retaining their repartimientos of Indians. All were amazed. Some were struck with compunction, others as surprised to hear it called a sin to use Indians, as if they had been told it was a sin to use the beasts of the field.

Finding that his exhortations, both in public and in private, on this matter, were of little avail, Las Casas determined to go to the fountain of all authority, the King of Spain; but he did not possess a farthing in money; all that remained to him was a mare worth a hundred pesos. He wrote to Renteria, urging him to return immediately, as business of importance required that he should go to Spain, and that unless he returned at once he could not wait to see him before his departure. Strange to say, during his absence in Jamaica, very similar thoughts had arisen in Pedro de Renteria's breast. He had retired into a monastery to spend Lent in a retreat, and there reflecting on the miseries of the Indians, he began to think whether something could not be done at least for their children. He had come to the conclusion to ask the king's leave to found colleges for the young Indians, and, for this purpose, to go to Spain to obtain the royal sanction; but, on receiving the Clerigo's letter, he hurried back to Cuba. When the two friends had their first private interview, and when Renteria, speaking first, informed Las Casas of his plan, the kind priest listened to his words with astonishment and reverential joy, thinking it a sign of Divine favour, that so good a man

as Renteria should thus unexpectedly confirm his own resolve.

He then related to him what he had himself already thought and done in this matter. It was agreed between them that Las Casas should go to Spain; and by the sale of their farm, provision was made for his journey. Accompanied by two Dominican monks, Las Casas quitted Cuba, and sailed for Hispaniola, where he desired an interview with Pedro de Cordova, the prelate of the Dominicans in the New World, before leaving for Spain.

After his departure the Spaniards were more cruel than ever towards the Indians, who, seeking refuge in flight, were pursued by dogs trained for the purpose. They then had recourse to suicide—whole families and villages putting themselves to death- -as the only means of escape, for these poor people believed in a future state of being, where ease and felicity awaited them.


Immediately on arriving in St Domingo, Las Casas obtained an interview with Pedro de Cordova. excellent monk received him kindly, and applauded his purpose, but gave little hope of success in King Ferdinand's time, owing to the influence which the Bishop of Burgos and the secretary, Lope Conchillos, had with the king, for they were entirely in favour of the system of repartimientos, and possessed Indians themselves.

Grieved, but not dismayed, Las Casas declared his intention to persevere, and in September 1515, accompanied by two Dominican monks, he embarked at St

Domingo for Spain. On arriving at Seville, he was graciously received by the archbishop of that city, who furnished him with letters to the king and some of his courtiers. He continued his journey, and met the king at Plasencia, just before Christmas 1515. Las Casas, avoiding his ministers, sought and obtained an interview with the monarch, informing him of the motives which had brought him to Spain, and fully describing the wrongs and sufferings of the Indians. Ferdinand, who was old, ailing, and nigh unto death, did not deny to Las Casas the second audience he asked for, saying he would hear him some day during the Christmas festival.

Meanwhile, he gained the king's confessor to his use, who related to Ferdinand all the stories of the wrongs of the Indians which the Clerigo had told him. Las Casas was ordered to go to Seville and wait there for the king's coming, when he would give him a long audience, and provide a remedy for the evils he complained of. The confessor advised him to see the Bishop of Burgos, who had the chief management of Indian affairs, and Conchillos, as perhaps when they heard his narrative of the miseries and sufferings of the Indians, their hearts would soften. Las Casas took the advice and submitted his views and information to these ministers. Conchillos received him with courtesy and kindness, but the bishop was very rough. Las Casas finished his audience by informing the bishop how seven thousand children had perished in three months; while he was detailing the account of their

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