Open main menu

Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/447

This page needs to be proofread.

CONQUEST OF MEXICO. 425 bishops and other prelates for the administration of the offices of the church and divine worship, and such was the view I then entertained of the course best to be pursued ; but having well considered this matter, it now appears to me that your sacred Majesty may in a different manner provide for the more easy conversion of the natives of this country, and their instruction in the principles of our holy faith. The plan I would re- commend is, that a number of religious persons, (or priests,) as I have already mentioned, zealous for the conversion of this people, should come out, for whom houses and monasteries should be erected in the pro- vinces wherever it may seem proper ; and that tithes be assigned them to defray the expense of building their houses, and for their support, the surplus to be applied to the erection and ornamenting of the churches in the villages where the Spaniards reside, as well as to maintain the clergy who officiate in them. Officers appointed by your Majesty should collect and keep an account of the tithes, and with them supply the monasteries and churches ; for which purpose they will be more than sufficient, and a balance left for the disposition of your Majesty. Let your Majesty petition his Holiness [the Pope] to grant you the tenths of these parts for this purpose, giving him to understand the service rendered to God our Lord by the conversion of this people, which can be accomplished in no other way ; for if bishops and other prelates are sent, they will follow the custom practised by them for our sins at the present day, by disposing of the estates of the church, and expending them in pageants and other foolish matters, and bestowing rights of inheri- tance on their sons or relatives. A still greater evil would result from this state of things ; the natives of this