« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
Flanders, was besieged by Flemish merchants, who sought to obtain these exclusive privileges. The effect of this was, that the settlers gave more for their slaves, and consequently had more inducement to attack the Indians.
In this state of things Las Casas met the new king in Spain, in 1517, when he is stated to have contrived the slave trade, and, according to Robertson's apparent arrangement of facts, to have vanquished the philanthropy of Ximenes, then dead. In this year, at the earnest instance of the commissioners, it is true that the fiscal scheme of Ximenes was revoked by the new ministry, so far as to authorize all Spaniards residing in America to import and purchase slaves ; but the trade, it must be recollected, had never for a moment ceased; the only dispute was as to the terms on which it should be permitted with a view to the revenue.
The utmost then that can be brought against Las Casas is, that he countenanced the proceeding by which the Flemish monopolies were destroyed, (or rather were intended to be, for the king again interfered with the freedom of the trade by granting an exclusive privilege to his major domo, which the colonists, in 1523, once more exerted their influence to destroy.) If he had done so, it would have amounted only to this, that, being brought up in a country where slavery was supported by immemorial usage, and sanctioned by the church, he bounded his efforts to prevent the subjugation of newly discovered nations, instead of directing his energies to the destruction of the principle of slavery in any shape. So Wilberforce and Clarkson might be blamed for not emancipating the present and future slave population of our colonies, while they placed bounds to the extension of the trade. He found one race of men in slavery; men whose value would ensure some consideration in their treatment from their masters, and was of opinion, that it was impolitic and inhuman to drive them to enslave and murder a population free and independent, and totally unfit for laborious employment, by throwing difficulties in the way of the colonists using what the existing laws of society, however erroneously, treated as their property.
But we have shown that there is no ground for fixing Las Casas even with the tolerance of slavery in any form, or with any participation in these schemes, which were, after all, mere fiscal regulations, and it does not seem necessary to say any thing more on the strange looseness of Robertson's statements, by which a previous trading regulation of Ximenes is converted into a moral opposition to the arguments of Las Casas in favour of a proposal made, if at all, after that minister's death.
We have already remarked on the comprehensive principles on which his arguments against any infringements of the liberties of man were founded. His writings breathe any thing but the spirit of a partial advocate for a favourite class, and it is impossible to conceive that such a man, if conscious of even a momentary concession to arbitrary or temporizing policy, should not attempt to shield himself from the obvious charge of inconsistency by some apology or palliation.
The acts of Las Casas, in this very year, form a striking comment on what must have been his feelings upon the question, and the means which suggested themselves to his mind, as most honourable to his country, and most consistent with sound policy as well as enlightened humanity. We actually find him zealously employed in collecting a number of Spanish labourers, to whom, by the permission of government, he held out inducements to proceed with him to the colonies; and, if this plan failed, it was not for want of the unwearied exertions of this disinterested friend of his species.
The seeds of error were, however, sown, and historians found the topic favourable for declamation. The tale would turn a paragraph with effect, and no one inquired whether it was true.
Las Casas had many enemies; two centuries later he would have had still more, for cruelty and rapaciousness would have had more time to know the value of the ill-gotten plunder, which his efforts were directed towards preventing. It is not very probable, that all would have refrained from the practical answer which his conduct would have offered to his arguments. We find they were not slow in fixing the blame of their enormities at the door of others. One of their earliest resources was to ascribe the desolation and depopulation of America to the intolerant and fanatie zeal of the church. How willing would they have been to attribute the miseries of their slaves to Las Casas, the indefatigable labourer in the benevolent task of conciliating and civilizing the minds of the natives; of whom he observes, that it was far easier to make them Christians, than to keep their oppressors so!
Nothing is more unfounded than the charges attempted to be brought by the oppressors of America against the missionaries, who spread over the country in the pious work of conversion. Above all, the Dominicans are entitled to the highest praise, and their mode of conversion is worthy of imitation, even in these more enlightened days of zeal for bringing in the Heathen. Their plan was to conciliate the natives by perpetual and unwearied acts of kindness, to teach them useful arts, and to better their temporal, as well as spiritual, condition: whatever became of their doctrines, they did good, and paved the way for the reception of higher degrees of moral improvement.
Marmontel has lent his name to the absurd and ignorant cry against fanaticism, as the cause of the destruction of the Indians. The time is, we hope, past, when any one who has learned to repeat with emphasis the words superstition and fanaticism, can set up for a philosopher. No assertion was ever more unjust, and opposed to every line of authentic history. Almost without exception, the ecclesiastics of America were the active, nay (if in any thing), the fanatic opposers of the cruelty, avarice, and ambition of the settlers. It was not religion which brought on the misery of the natives ; on the contrary, it religion, and religion alone, which lifted up its voice and its exertions against the oppressors, and has received its reward in all the calumnies which thwarted vice could heap upon the men who stood in the
of destruction. Having thus taken a view of the allegations against Las Casas, we willingly leave it with any impartial judge to say, whether they can be considered as proved against a man, whose works and writings were always founded on honest, straight-forward principles of attachment to liberty on the widest basis. On all occasions, we have found him strenuously advocate the equal rights of all men, without distinction of colour, religion, or country; in short, every principle which he professed gives the lie to the calumny attached to his name.
Few men have employed so long a life in such eminent services towards mankind. The friends of religion, morality, and liberty, owe the tribute of the deepest respect to his memory. He was the ornament and benefactor of America, and deserves to be the glory of Europe which gave him birth. We discharge this duty to his memory, not only because we think. it of some importance that history should be a tissue of truth rather than of falsehood, but because we feel a consolation in observing, that the enormities practised on America were not without their counterbalance in the heroic virtue of some of the champions of freedom and humanity. We have a duty to discharge, as well towards the departed as towards posterity, and none more sacred than that of tearing down the mark of disgrace, that would disfigure the escutcheon of a great and good man who has descended into the tomb. His talents and virtues often place him in advance of the age in which he lives, and his only appeal for protection and due estimation is to posterity; to it descend his good deeds and his example, and with them should pass the obligation of rendering that debt of homage and respect, which was denied to him by his cotemporaries.
Art. VII.— The Life of Bishop Latimer, as compiled from Fox's
Book of Martyrs. Three Volumes, folio, (black letter) 1641.
The worthy champion, and old practised soldier of Christ, Master Hugh Latimer, was the son of one Hugh Latimer, of Thureaston, in the county of Leicester, a husbandman of right good estimation; with whom also he was brought up until he was of the age of four years or thereabouts. At which time his parents (having him as then left for their only son, with six daughters,) seeing his ready, prompt, and sharp wit, purposed to train him up in erudition and knowledge of good literature; wherein he so profited in his youth, at the common schools of his own county, that at the age of fourteen years, he was sent to the university of Cambridge ; where, after some continuance of exercises in other things, he gave himself to the study of such school divinity as the ignorance of that age did suffer. Zealous he was then in the Popish religion, and there with so scrupulous, as himself confessed, that being a priest, and using to say mass, he was so servile an observer of the Romish decrees, that he thought he had never sufficiently mingled his massing wine with water; and, moreover, that he should never be damned if he were a professed friar, with divers such superstitious fantasies. And in this blind zeal he was a very enemy to the professors of Christ's gospel, as both his oration made when he proceeded bachelor of divinity against Philip Melancthon, and also his other works, did plainly declare. But, especially, his popish zeal could in no case abide in those days good Master Stafford, reader of the Divinity Lectures in. Cambridge; most spitefully railing against him, and willing the youth of Cambridge in no wise to believe him. Notwithstand. ing such was the goodness and merciful purpose of God, that when he saw his good time, by the which way he thought to have utterly defaced the professors of the gospel and true church of Christ, he was at length himself, by a member of the same, prettily caught in the blessed net of God's word. For Mr. Thomas Bilney, being at that time a trier out of Satan's subtilities, and a secret overthrower of Antichrist's kingdom, seeing Master Latimer to have a. zeal in his ways, although without knowledge, was stricken with a brotherly pity towards him, and bethought by what means he might best win this zealous ignorant brother to the true knowledge of Christ. Wherefore, after a short time, he came to Master Latimer's study, and desired him to hear him make his confession. Which thing he willingly granted; by hearing whereof he was, through the good spirit of God, so touched, that hereupon he forsook
his former studying of the school doctors, and other such fopperies, and became an earnest student of true divinity, as he himself, as well in his conference with Master Ridley, as also in his first sermon made upon the Paternoster, doth confess.
So that whereas before he was an enemy, and almost a persecutor, of Christ, he was now a zealous seeker after him; changing his old manner of reviling and railing, into a diligent kind of conferring, both with Master Bilney and others, and came also to Master Stafford, before he died, and desired him to forgive him. . After this his winning to Christ, he was not satisfied with his own conversion only, but, like a true disciple of the blessed Samaritan, pitied the misery of others, and therefore became both a public preacher, and also a private instructor to the rest of his brethren within the university, by the space of three years, spending his time partly in the Latin tongue among the learned, and partly amongst the simple people in his natural and vulgar language. Howbeit, as Satan never sleepeth when he seeth his kingdom to begin to decay: so likewise now, seeing that this worthy member of Christ would be a shrewd shaker thereof, he raised up his impious imps to molest and trouble him. Amongst these there was an Augustine friar, who took occasion, upon certain sermons that Master Latimer made about Christmas, 1529, as well in the church of St. Edward, as also in St. Augustine's, within the university of Cambridge, to inveigh against him; for that Master Latimer, in the said sermons, alluding to the common usage of the season, gave the people certain cards out of the 5th, 6th, and . 7th chapters of St. Matthew, whereupon they might, not only then but always else occupy their time. For the chief triumph in the cards he limited the heart, as the principal thing, that they should serve God withal ; whereby he quite overthrew all hypocritical and external ceremonies not tending to the necessary furtherance of God's holy word and sacraments.
For the better attaining hereof, he wished the scriptures to be in English, whereby the common people might the better learn their duties, as well to God as their neighbours.
The handling of this matter was so apt for the time, and so pleasantly applied of him, that not only it declared a singular towardness of wit in the preacher, but also wrought in the hearers much fruit, to the overthrow of popish superstition, and setting up of perfect religion.
This was upon the Sunday before Christmas day; on which day, coming to the church, and causing the bell to be tolled to a sermon, he entered into the pulpit, taking for his text the words of the gospel aforesaid, read in the church that day; Tu quis es, &c. In delivering the which cards, as is abovesaid, he made the heart to be triumph, exhorting and in
VOL. VI. PART II,