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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/448

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426 LETTERS OF CORTES. • country formerly had their priests, who were engaged in conducting the rites and ceremonies of their rehgion ; and so strict were they in the practice of honesty and chastity, that any deviation therefrom was punished with death ; now if they saw that the affairs of the church and what related to the service of God were entrusted to canons and other dignitaries, and if they understood that these were the ministers of God, whom they beheld in- dulging in vicious habits and profaneness, as is the case in these days in Spain, it would lead them to undervalue our faith and treat it with derision, and all the preaching in the world would not be able to counteract the mis- chief arising from this source. As the conversion of this people is, and ought to be, the principal object of your Majesty, which we likewise who reside here ought as Christians to keep in view, and sedulously endeavor to promote, I have sought to coun- sel your imperial Majesty in regard to this matter, and 1o express my opinion respecting it ; which I beg your High- ness to receive as proceeding from one of your subjects and vassals, who exerts, and will still continue to exert, his strength in extending the realms and seignories of your Majesty throughout this land, and in making known your royal fame and great power amongst these nations ; and who at the same time desires, and will labor with all his soul, to induce your Highness to command the pro- pagation of our holy faith, as the means of securing hap- piness in eternal life. As for the purpose of establishing orders, consecrating churches, their decorations, holy oil, &c. in the absence of a bishop, it would be inconvenient to send abroad to obtain the proper means, your Majesty should likewise petition his Holiness to delegate this