Departure of the expedition under the command of VASCO DE GAMA (A.D. 1497). Mountains of Portugal, Cintra, Morocco. Madeira; the burning shores of the Desert of Zanhagan; passage of the Tropic; cold waters of the dark river Senegal. San Jago; pass the rocky coasts of Sierra Leone, the island of St. Thomas, the kingdom of Congo, watered by the great river Zaire. They cross the line and behold the magnificent constellation of the Southern Cross, not visible in the northern hemisphere. After a voyage of five months, with continued storms, they arrive in the latitude of the Cape. Apparition of Adamastor, the giant of the Cape of Storms. His prophecy. The King of Melinda confirms, by the tradition of his people, the weird story of the Cape-giant told him by GAMA. Narrative of the voyage continued; arrival of the expedition at the Port of Good Promise; pass by the ports of Mozambique and Mombas, and arrive at Melinda.
WHILE on the beach the hoary father stood,
And spoke the murmurs of the multitude,
We spread the canvas to the rising gales,
The gentle winds distend the snowy sails.
As from our dear-lov’d native shore we fly
Our votive shouts, redoubled, rend the sky;
"Success, success!" far echoes o’er the tide,
While our broad hulks the foamy waves divide.
From Leo 1 now, the lordly star of day,
Intensely blazing, shot his fiercest ray;
When, slowly gliding from our wishful eyes,
The Lusian mountains mingled with the skies;
Tago’s lov’d stream, and Cintra’s 1 mountains cold
Dim fading now, we now no more behold;
And, still with yearning hearts our eyes explore,
Till one dim speck of land appears no more.
Our native soil now far behind, we ply
The lonely dreary waste of seas, and boundless sky
Through the wild deep our vent’rous navy bore,
Where but our Henry plough’d the wave before; 2
The verdant islands, first by him descried,
We pass’d; and, now in prospect op’ning wide,
Far to the left, increasing on the view,
Rose Mauritania’s 3 hills of paly blue:
Far to the right the restless ocean roar’d,
Whose bounding surges never keel explor’d
If bounding shore (as reason deems) divide
The vast Atlantic from the Indian tide. 4
Nam’d from her woods, 5 with fragrant bowers adorn’d,
From fair Madeira’s purple coast we turn’d: 5
Cyprus and Paphos’ vales the smiling loves
Might leave with joy for fair Madeira’s groves;
A shore so flow’ry, and so sweet an air,
Venus might build her dearest temple there.
Onward we pass Massilia’s barren strand,
A waste of wither’d grass and burning sand;
Where his thin herds the meagre native leads,
Where not a riv’let laves the doleful meads;
Nor herds, nor fruitage deck the woodland maze;
O’er the wild waste the stupid ostrich strays,
In devious search to pick her scanty meal,
Whose fierce digestion gnaws the temper’d steel.
From the green verge, where Tigitania ends,
To Ethiopia’s line the dreary wild extends.
Now, past the limit, which his course divides, 1
When to the north the sun’s bright chariot rides,
We leave the winding bays and swarthy shores,
Where Senegal’s black wave impetuous roars;
A flood, whose course a thousand tribes surveys,
The tribes who blacken’d in the fiery blaze
When Phaëton, devious from the solar height,
Gave Afric’s sons the sable hue of night.
And now, from far the Libyan cape is seen,
Now by my mandate named the Cape of Green; 2
Where, midst the billows of the ocean, smiles
A flow’ry sister-train, the happy isles, 3
Our onward prows the murm’ring surges lave;
And now, our vessels plough the gentle wave,
Where the blue islands, named of Hesper old,
Their fruitful bosoms to the deep unfold.
Here, changeful Nature shows her various face,
And frolics o’er the slopes with wildest grace:
Here, our bold fleet their pond’rous anchors threw,
The sickly cherish, and our stores renew.
From him, the warlike guardian pow’r of Spain,
Whose spear’s dread lightning o’er th’ embattled plain
Has oft o’erwhelm’d the Moors in dire dismay,
And fix’d the fortune of the doubtful day;
From him we name our station of repair,
And Jago’s name that isle shall ever bear.
The northern winds now curl’d the black’ning main,
Our sails unfurl’d, we plough the tide again:
Round Afric’s coast our winding course we steer,
Where, bending to the east, the shores appear.
Here Jalofo 4 its wide extent displays,
And vast Mandinga shows its num’rous bays;
Whose mountains’ sides, though parch’d and barren, hold,
In copious store, the seeds of beamy gold 1
The Gambia here his serpent-journey takes,
And, thro’ the lawns, a thousand windings makes;
A thousand swarthy tribes his current laves
Ere mix his waters with th’ Atlantic waves.
The Gorgades we pass’d, that hated shore, 2
Fam’d for its terrors by the bards of yore;
Where but one eye by Phorcus’ daughters shar’d,
The ’born beholders into marble star’d;
Three dreadful sisters! down whose temples roll’d
Their hair of snakes in many a hissing fold,
And, scatt’ring horror o’er the dreary strand,
With swarms of vipers sow’d the burning sand.
Still to the south our pointed keels we guide,
And, thro’ the austral gulf, still onward ride:
Her palmy forests mingling with the skies,
Leona’s 3 rugg’d steep behind us flies;
The Cape of Palms 4 that jutting land we name,
Already conscious of our nation’s 5 fame.
Where the vex’d waves against our bulwarks roar,
And Lusian towers o’erlook the bending shore:
Our sails wide swelling to the constant blast,
Now, by the isle from Thomas nam’d we pass’d;
And Congo’s spacious realm before us rose,
Where copious Layra’s limpid billow flows;
A flood by ancient hero never seen,
Where many a temple o’er the banks of green, 1
Rear’d by the Lusian heroes, through the night
Of pagan darkness, pours the mental light.
O’er the wild waves, as southward thus we stray,
Our port unknown, unknown the wat’ry way,
Each night we see, impress’ d with solemn awe,
Our guiding stars, and native skies withdraw,
In the wide void we lose their cheering beams,
Lower and lower still the pole-star gleams.
Till past the limit, where the car of day
Roll’d o’er our heads, and pour’d the downward ray:
We now disprove the faith of ancient lore;
Boötes shining car appears no more.
For here we saw Calisto’s 2 star retire
Beneath the waves, unaw’d by Juno’s ire.
Here, while the sun his polar journeys takes,
His visit doubled, double season makes;
Stern winter twice deforms the changeful year,
And twice the spring’s gay flowers their honours rear.
Now, pressing onward, past the burning zone,
Beneath another heaven and stars unknown,
Unknown to heroes and to sages old,
With southward prows our pathless course we hold:
Here, gloomy night assumes a darker reign,
And fewer stars emblaze the heavenly plain;
Fewer than those that gild the northern pole,
And o’er our seas their glitt’ring chariots roll:
While nightly thus, the lonely seas we brave,
Another pole-star 1 rises o’er the wave:
Full to the south a shining cross 2 appears,
Our heaving breasts the blissful omen cheers:
Seven radiant stars compose the hallow’d sign
That rose still higher o’er the wavy brine.
Beneath this southern axle of the world
Never, with daring search, was flag unfurl’d;
Nor pilot knows if bounding shores are plac’d,
Or, if one dreary sea o’erflow the lonely waste.
While thus our keels still onward boldly stray’d,
Now toss’d by tempests, now by calms delay’d,
To tell the terrors of the deep untried,
What toils we suffer’d, and what storms defied;
What rattling deluges the black clouds pour’d,
What dreary weeks of solid darkness lower’d;
What mountain-surges mountain-surges lash’d,
What sudden hurricanes the canvas dash’d;
What bursting lightnings, with incessant flare,
Kindled, in one wide flame, the burning air;
What roaring thunders bellow’d o’er our head,
And seem’d to shake the reeling ocean’s bed:
To tell each horror on the deep reveal’d,
Would ask an iron throat with tenfold vigour steel’d: 1
Those dreadful wonders of the deep I saw,
Which fill the sailor’s breast with sacred awe;
And which the sages, of their learning vain,
Esteem the phantoms of the dreamful brain:
That living fire, by seamen held divine, 2
Of Heaven’s own care in storms the holy sign,
Which, midst the horrors of the tempest plays,
And, on the blast’s dark wings will gaily blaze;
These eyes distinct have seen that living fire
Glide through the storm, and round my sails aspire.
And oft, while wonder thrill’d my breast, mine eyes
To heaven have seen the wat’ry columns rise.
Slender, at first, the subtle fume appears,
And writhing round and round its volume rears:
Thick as a mast the vapour swells its size,
A curling whirlwind lifts it to the skies;
The tube now straightens, now in width extends,
And, in a hov’ring cloud, its summit ends:
Still, gulp on gulp in sucks the rising tide,
And now the cloud, with cumbrous weight supplied,
Full-gorg’d, and black’ning, spreads, and moves, more slow,
And waving trembles to the waves below.
Thus, when to shun the summer’s sultry beam
The thirsty heifer seeks the cooling stream,
The eager horse-leech fixing on her lips,
Her blood with ardent throat insatiate sips,
Till the gorg’d glutton, swell’d beyond her size,
Drops from her wounded hold, and bursting, dies.
So, bursts the cloud, o’erloaded with its freight,
And the dash’d ocean staggers with the weight.
But say, ye sages, who can weigh the cause,
And trace the secret springs of nature’s laws,
Say, why the wave, of bitter brine erewhile,
Should to the bosom of the deep recoil
Robb’d of its salt, and, from the cloud distil,
Sweet as the waters of the limpid 1 rill?
Ye sons of boastful wisdom, famed of yore,
Whose feet unwearied wander’d many a shore,
From nature’s wonders to withdraw the veil,
Had you with me unfurl’d the daring sail,
Had view’d the wondrous scenes mine eyes survey’d,
What seeming miracles the deep display’d,
What secret virtues various nature show’d,
Oh! heaven! with what a fire your page had glow’d!
And now, since wand’ring o’er the foamy spray,
Our brave Armada held her vent’rous way,
Five times the changeful empress of the night
Had fill’d her shining horns with silver light,
When sudden, from the maintop’s airy round,
"Land! land!" is echoed. At the joyful sound,
Swift to the crowded decks the bounding crew
On wings of hope and flutt’ring transport flew,
And each strain’d eye with aching sight explores
The wide horizon of the eastern shores:
As thin blue clouds the mountain summits rise,
And now, the lawns salute our joyful eyes;
Loud through the fleet the echoing shouts prevail,
We drop the anchor, and restrain the sail;
And now, descending in a spacious bay,
Wide o’er the coast the vent’rous soldiers stray,
To spy the wonders of the savage shore,
Where stranger’s foot had never trod before.
I and my pilots, on the yellow sand,
Explore beneath what sky the shores expand.
That sage device, whose wondrous use proclaims
Th’ immortal honour of its authors’ 1 names,
The sun’s height measured, and my compass scann’d,
The painted globe of ocean and of land.
Here we perceiv’d our vent’rous keels had past
Unharm’d the southern tropic’s howling blast;
And now, approach’d dread Neptune’s secret reign,
Where the stern power, as o’er the austral main
He rides, wide scatters from the polar star
Hail, ice, and snow, and all the wintry war.
While thus attentive on the beach we stood,
My soldiers, hast’ning from the upland wood,
Right to the shore a trembling negro brought,
Whom, on the forest-height, by force they caught,
As, distant wander’d from the cell of home,
He suck’d the honey from the porous comb.
Horror glar’d in his look, and fear extreme,
In mien more wild than brutal Polypheme:
No word of rich Arabia’s tongue 1 he knew,
No sign could answer, nor our gems would view:
From garments strip’d with shining gold he turn’d,
The starry diamond and the silver spurn’d.
Straight at my nod are worthless trinkets brought;
Round beads of crystal, as a bracelet wrought,
A cap of red, and, dangling on a string,
Some little bells of brass before him ring:
A wide-mouth’d laugh confess’d his barb’rous joy,
And, both his hands he raised to grasp the toy.
Pleas’d with these gifts, we set the savage free,
Homeward he springs away, and bounds with glee.
Soon as the gleamy streaks of purple morn
The lofty forest’s topmost boughs adorn,
Down the steep mountain’s side, yet hoar with dew,
A naked crowd, and black as night their hue,
Come tripping to the shore: Their wishful eyes
Declare what tawdry trifles most they prize:
These to their hopes were given, and, void of fear
(Mild seem’d their manners, and their looks sincere),
A bold rash youth, ambitious of the fame
Of brave adventurer, Velosó his name,
Through pathless brakes their homeward steps attends,
And, on his single arm, for help depends.
Long was his stay: my earnest eyes explore,
When, rushing down the mountain to the shore
I mark’d him; terror urged his rapid strides,
And soon Coëllo’s skiff the wave divides.
Yet, ere his friends advanc’d, the treach’rous foe
Trod on his latest steps, and aim’d the blow.
Moved by the danger of a youth so brave,
Myself now snatch’d an oar, and sprung to save:
When sudden, black’ning down the mountain’s height,
Another crowd pursu’d his panting flight;
And, soon an arrowy, and a flinty shower
Thick o’er our heads the fierce barbarians pour.
Nor pour’d in vain; a feather’d arrow stood
Fix’d 1 in my leg, and drank the gushing blood.
Vengeance, as sudden, ev’ry wound repays,
Full on their fronts our flashing lightnings blaze
Their shrieks of horror instant pierce the sky,
And, wing’d with fear, at fullest speed they fly.
Long tracks of gore their scatter’d flight betray’d,
And now, Velosó to the fleet convey’d,
His sportful mates his brave exploits demand,
And what the curious wonders of the land:
"Hard was the hill to climb, my valiant friend,
But oh! how smooth and easy to descend!
Well hast thou prov’d thy swiftness for the chase,
And shown thy matchless merit in the race!"
With look unmov’d the gallant youth replied,
"For you, my friends, my fleetest speed was tried;
’Twas you the fierce barbarians meant to slay;
For you I fear’d the fortune of the day;
Your danger great without mine aid I knew,
And, swift as lightning, to your rescue flew." 1
He now the treason of the foe relates,
How, soon as past the mountain’s upland straits,
They chang’d the colour of their friendly show,
And force forbade his steps to tread below:
How, down the coverts of the steepy brake
Their lurking stand a treach’rous ambush take;
On us, when speeding to defend his flight,
To rush, and plunge us in the shades of night;
Nor, while in friendship, would their lips unfold
Where India’s ocean laved the orient shores of gold.
Now, prosp’rous gales the bending canvas swell’d;
From these rude shores our fearless course we held:
Beneath the glist’ning wave the god of day
Had now five times withdrawn the parting ray,
When o’er the prow a sudden darkness spread,
And, slowly floating o’er the mast’s tall head
A black cloud hover’d: nor appear’d from far
The moon’s pale glimpse, nor faintly twinkling star;
So deep a gloom the low’ring vapour cast,
Transfix’d with awe the bravest stood aghast.
Meanwhile, a hollow bursting roar resounds,
As when hoarse surges lash their rocky mounds;
Nor had the black’ning wave, nor frowning heav’n
The wonted signs of gath’ring tempest giv’n.
Amaz’d we stood. "O thou, our fortune’s guide,
Avert this omen, mighty God!" I cried;
"Or, through forbidden climes adventurous stray’d,
Have we the secrets of the deep survey’d,
Which these wide solitudes of seas and sky
Were doom’d to hide from man’s unhallow’d eye?
Whate’er this prodigy, it threatens more
Than midnight tempests, and the mingled roar,
When sea and sky combine to rock the marble shore."
I spoke, when rising through the darken’d air,
Appall’d, we saw a hideous phantom glare;
High and enormous o’er the flood he tower’d,
And ’thwart our way with sullen aspect lower’d
An earthy paleness o’er his cheeks was spread,
Erect uprose his hairs of wither’d red;
Writhing to speak, his sable lips disclose,
Sharp and disjoin’d, his gnashing teeth’s blue rows;
His haggard beard How’d quiv’ring on the wind,
Revenge and horror in his mien combin’d;
His clouded front, by with’ring lightnings scar’d,
The inward anguish of his soul declar’d.
His red eyes, glowing from their dusky caves,
Shot livid fires: far echoing o’er the waves
His voice resounded, as the cavern’d shore
With hollow groan repeats the tempest’s roar.
Cold gliding horrors thrill’d each hero’s breast,
Our bristling hair and tott’ring knees confess’d
Wild dread, the while with visage ghastly wan,
His black lips trembling, thus the fiend began:-- 1
"O you, the boldest of the nations, fir’d
By daring pride, by lust of fame inspir’d,
Who, scornful of the bow’rs of sweet repose,
Through these my waves advance your fearless prows,
Regardless of the length’ning wat’ry way,
And all the storms that own my sov’reign sway,
Who, mid surrounding rocks and shelves explore
Where never hero brav’d my rage before;
Ye sons of Lusus, who with eyes profane
Have view’d the secrets of my awful reign,
Have pass’d the bounds which jealous Nature drew
To veil her secret shrine from mortal view;
Hear from my lips what direful woes attend,
And, bursting soon, shall o’er your race descend.
"With every bounding keel that dares my rage,
Eternal war my rocks and storms shall wage,
The next proud fleet 1 that through my drear domain,
With daring search shall hoist the streaming vane,
That gallant navy, by my whirlwinds toss’d,
And raging seas, shall perish on my coast:
Then he, who first my secret reign descried,
A naked corpse, wide floating o’er the tide,
Shall drive------ Unless my heart’s full raptures fail,
O Lusus! oft shalt thou thy children wail;
Each year thy shipwreck’d sons shalt thou deplore,
Each year thy sheeted masts shall strew my shore.
"With trophies plum’d behold a hero come, 2
Ye dreary wilds, prepare his yawning tomb.
Though smiling fortune bless’d his youthful morn,
Though glory’s rays his laurell’d brows adorn,
Full oft though he beheld with sparkling eye
The Turkish moons 3 in wild confusion fly,
While he, proud victor, thunder’d in the rear,
All, all his mighty fame shall vanish here.
Quiloa’s sons, and thine, Mombaz, shall see
Their conqueror bend his laurell’d head to me;
While, proudly mingling with the tempest’s sound,
Their shouts of joy from every cliff rebound.
"The howling blast, ye slumb’ring storms prepare,
A youthful lover, and his beauteous fair,
Triumphant sail from India’s ravag’d land;
His evil angel leads him to my strand.
Through the torn hulk the dashing waves shall roar,
The shatter’d wrecks shall blacken all my shore.
Themselves escaped, despoil’d by savage hands,
Shall, naked, wander o’er the burning sands,
Spar’d by the waves far deeper woes to bear,
Woes, e’en by me, acknowledg’d with a tear.
Their infant race, the promis’d heirs of joy,
Shall now, no more, a hundred hands employ;
By cruel want, beneath the parents’ eye,
In these wide wastes their infant race shall die;
Through dreary wilds, where never pilgrim trod,
Where caverns yawn, and rocky fragments nod,
The hapless lover and his bride shall stray,
By night unshelter’d, and forlorn by day.
In vain the lover o’er the trackless plain
Shall dart his eyes, and cheer his spouse in vain.
Her tender limbs, and breast of mountain snow,
Where, ne’er before, intruding blast might blow,
Parch’d by the sun, and shrivell’d by the cold
Of dewy night, shall he, fond man, behold.
Thus, wand’ring wide, a thousand ills o’erpast,
In fond embraces they shall sink at last;
While pitying tears their dying eyes o’erflow,
And the last sigh shall wail each other’s woe. 1
"Some few, the sad companions of their fate,
Shall yet survive, protected by my hate,
On Tagus’ banks the dismal tale to tell,
How, blasted by my frown, your heroes fell."
He paus’d, in act still further to disclose
A long, a dreary prophecy of woes:
When springing onward, loud my voice resounds,
And midst his rage the threat’ning shade confounds.
"What art thou, horrid form, that rid’st the air?
By Heaven’s eternal light, stern fiend, declare."
His lips he writhes, his eyes far round he throws,
And, from his breast, deep hollow groans arose,
Sternly askance he stood: with wounded pride
And anguish torn, "In me, behold," he cried,
While dark-red sparkles from his eyeballs roll’d,
"In me the Spirit of the Cape behold,
That rock, by you the Cape of Tempests nam’d,
By Neptune’s rage, in horrid earthquakes fram’d,
When Jove’s red bolts o’er Titan’s offspring flam’d.
With wide-stretch’d piles I guard the pathless strand,
And Afric’s southern mound, unmov’d, I stand:
Nor Roman prow, nor daring Tyrian oar
Ere dash’d the white wave foaming to my shore;
Nor Greece, nor Carthage ever spread the sail
On these my seas, to catch the trading gale.
You, you alone have dar’d to plough my main,
And, with the human voice, disturb my lonesome reign."
He spoke, and deep a lengthen’d sigh he drew,
A doleful sound, and vanish’d from the view:
The frighten’d billows gave a rolling swell,
And, distant far, prolong’d the dismal yell,
Faint, and more faint the howling echoes die,
And the black cloud dispersing, leaves the sky.
High to the angel-host, whose guardian care
Had ever round us watch’d, my hands I rear,
And Heaven’s dread King implore: "As o’er our head
The fiend dissolv’d, an empty shadow fled;
So may his curses, by the winds of heav’n,
Far o’er the deep, their idle sport, be driv’n!"------
With sacred horror thrill’d, Melinda’s lord
Held up the eager hand, and caught the word.
"Oh, wondrous faith of ancient days," he cries,
"Conceal’d in mystic lore and dark disguise!
Taught by their sires, our hoary fathers tell,
On these rude shores a giant-spectre fell,
What time, from heaven the rebel band were thrown: 1
And oft the wand’ring swain has heard his moan.
While o’er the wave the clouded moon appears
To hide her weeping face, his voice he rears
O’er the wild storm. Deep in the days of yore,
A holy pilgrim trod the nightly shore;
Stern groans he heard; by ghostly spells controll’d,
His fate, mysterious, thus the spectre told:
’By forceful Titan’s warm embrace compress’d,
The rock-ribb’d mother, Earth, his love confess’d:
The hundred-handed giant 1 at a birth,
And me, she bore, nor slept my hopes on earth;
My heart avow’d, my sire’s ethereal flame;
Great Adamastor, then, my dreaded name.
In my bold brother’s glorious toils engaged,
Tremendous war against the gods I waged:
Yet, not to reach the throne of heaven I try,
With mountain pil’d on mountain to the sky;
To me the conquest of the seas befel,
In his green realm the second Jove to quell.
Nor did ambition all ray passions hold,
’Twas love that prompted an attempt so bold.
Ah me, one summer in the cool of day,
I saw the Nereids on the sandy bay,
With lovely Thetis from the wave, advance
In mirthful frolic, and the naked dance.
In all her charms reveal’d the goddess trod,
With fiercest fires my struggling bosom glow’d;
Yet, yet I feel them burning in my heart,
And hopeless, languish with the raging smart.
For her, each goddess of the heavens I scorn’d,
For her alone my fervent ardour burn’d.
In vain I woo’d her to the lover’s bed,
From my grim form, with horror, mute she fled.
Madd’ning with love, by force I weep to gain
The silver goddess of the blue domain;
To the hoar mother of the Nereid band 2
I tell my purpose, and her aid command:
By fear impell’d, old Doris tries to move,
And, win the spouse of Peleus to my love.
The silver goddess with a smile replies,
"What nymph can yield her charms a giant’s prize!
Yet, from the horrors of a war to save,
And guard in peace our empire of the wave,
Whate’er with honour he may hope to gain,
That, let him hope his wish shall soon attain."
The promis’d grace infus’d a bolder fire,
And shook my mighty limbs with fierce desire.
But ah, what error spreads its dreadful night,
What phantoms hover o’er the lover’s sight!
The war resign’d, my steps by Doris led,
While gentle eve her shadowy mantle spread,
Before my steps the snowy Thetis shone
In all her charms, all naked, and alone.
Swift as the wind with open arms I sprung,
And, round her waist with joy delirious clung:
In all the transports of the warm embrace,
A hundred kisses on her angel face,
On all its various charms my rage bestows,
And, on her cheek, my cheek enraptur’d glows.
When, oh, what anguish while my shame I tell!
What fix’d despair, what rage my bosom swell!
Here was no goddess, here no heav’nly charms,
A rugged mountain fill’d my eager arms,
Whose rocky top, o’erhung with matted brier,
Receiv’d the kisses of my am’rous fire.
Wak’d from my dream, cold horror freez’d my blood;
Fix’d as a rock, before the rock I stood;
"O fairest goddess of the ocean train,
Behold the triumph of thy proud disdain;
Yet why," I cried, "with all I wish’d decoy,
And, when exulting in the dream of joy,
A horrid mountain to mine arms convey!"
Madd’ning I spoke, and furious, sprung away.
Far to the south I sought the world unknown,
Where I, unheard, unscorn’d, might wail alone,
My foul dishonour, and my tears to hide,
And shun the triumph of the goddess’ pride.
My brothers, now, by Jove’s red arm o’erthrown,
Beneath huge mountains, pil’d on mountains groan;
And I, who taught each echo to deplore,
And tell my sorrows to the desert shore,
I felt the hand of Jove my crimes pursue,
My stiff’ning flesh to earthy ridges grew,
And my huge bones, no more by marrow warm’d,
To horrid piles, and ribs of rock transform’d,
Yon dark-brow’d cape of monstrous size became,
Where, round me still, in triumph o’er my shame,
The silv’ry Thetis bids her surges roar,
And waft my groans along the dreary shore.’"------
Melinda’s monarch thus the tale pursu’d,
Of ancient faith, and GAMA thus renew’d:--
Now, from the wave the chariot of the day,
Whirl’d by the fiery coursers, springs away,
When, full in view, the giant Cape appears,
Wide spreads its limbs, and high its shoulders rears;
Behind us, now, it curves the bending side,
And our bold vessels plough the eastern tide.
Nor long excursive off at sea we stand,
A cultur’d shore invites us to the land.
Here their sweet scenes the rural joys bestow,
And give our wearied minds a lively glow. 1
The tenants of the coast, a festive band,
With dances meet us on the yellow sand;
Their brides on slow-pac’d oxen rode behind;
The spreading horns with flow’ry garlands twin’d,
Bespoke the dew-lapp’d beeves their proudest boast,
Of all their bestial store they valued most.
By turns the husbands, and the brides, prolong
The various measures of the rural song.
Now, to the dance the rustic reeds resound;
The dancers’ heels, light-quiv’ring, beat the ground;
And now, the lambs around them bleating stray,
Feed from their hands, or, round them frisking play.
Methought I saw the sylvan reign of Pan,
And heard the music of the Mantuan swan: 1
With smiles we hail them, and with joy behold
The blissful manners of the age of gold.
With that mild kindness, by their looks display’d,
Fresh stores they bring, with cloth of red repaid;
Yet, from their lips no word we knew could flow,
Nor sign of India’s strand their hands bestow.
Fair blow the winds; again with sails unfurl’d
We dare the main, and seek the eastern world.
Now, round black Afric’s coast our navy veer’d,
And, to the world’s mid circle, northward steer’d:
The southern pole low to the wave declin’d,
We leave the isle of Holy Cross 2 behind:
That isle where erst a Lusian, when he pass’d
The tempest-beaten cape, his anchors cast,
And own’d his proud ambition to explore
The kingdoms of the morn could dare no more.
From thence, still on, our daring course we hold
Thro’ trackless gulfs, whose billows never roll’d
Around the vessel’s pitchy sides before;
Thro’ trackless gulfs, where mountain surges roar,
For many a night, when not a star appear’d,
Nor infant moon’s dim horns the darkness cheer’d;
For many a dreary night, and cheerless day,
In calms now fetter’d, now the whirlwind’s play,
By ardent hope still fir’d, we forc’d our dreadful way.
Now, smooth as glass the shining waters lie,
No cloud, slow moving, sails the azure sky;
Slack from their height the sails unmov’d decline,
The airy streamers form the downward line;
No gentle quiver owns the gentle gale,
Nor gentlest swell distends the ready sail;
Fix’d as in ice, the slumb’ring prows remain,
And silence wide extends her solemn reign.
Now to the waves the bursting clouds descend,
And heaven and sea in meeting tempests blend;
The black-wing’d whirlwinds o’er the ocean sweep,
And from his bottom roars the stagg’ring deep.
Driv’n by the yelling blast’s impetuous sway
Stagg’ring we bound, yet onward bound away:
And now, escaped the fury of the storm,
New danger threatens in a various form;
Though fresh the breeze the swelling canvas swell’d,
A current’s headlong sweep our prows withheld:
The rapid force impress’d on every keel,
Backward, o’erpower’d, our rolling vessels reel:
When from their southern caves the winds, enraged,
In horrid conflict with the waves engaged;
Beneath the tempest groans each loaded mast,
And, o’er the rushing tide our bounding navy pass’d. 1
Now shin’d the sacred morn, when from the east
Three kings 2 the holy cradled Babe address’d,
And hail’d him Lord of heaven: that festive day 3
We drop our anchors in an opening bay;
The river from the sacred day we name, 4
And stores, the wand’ring seaman’s right, we claim:
Stores we receiv’d; our dearest hope in vain,
No word they utter’d could our ears retain;
Nought to reward our search for India’s sound,
By word or sign our ardent wishes crown’d. 5
Behold, O king, how many a shore we tried!
How many a fierce barbarian’s rage defied!
Yet still, in vain, for India’s shore we try,
The long-sought shores our anxious search defy.
Beneath new heavens, where not a star we knew,
Through changing climes, where poison’d air we drew;
Wandering new seas, in gulfs unknown, forlorn,
By labour weaken’d, and by famine worn;
Our food corrupted, pregnant with disease,
And pestilence on each expected breeze;
Not even a gleam of hope’s delusive ray
To lead us onward through the devious way--
That kind delusion 1 which full oft has cheer’d
The bravest minds, till glad success appear’d;
Worn as we were, each night with dreary care,
Each day, with danger that increas’d despair;
Oh! monarch, judge, what less than Lusian fire
Could still the hopeless scorn of fate inspire!
What less, O king, than Lusian faith withstand,
When dire despair and famine gave command
Their chief to murder, and with lawless power
Sweep Afric’s seas, and every coast devour!
What more than men in wild despair still bold!
These, more than men, in these my band behold!
Sacred to death, by death alone subdued,
These, all the rage of fierce despair withstood; 2
Firm to their faith, though fondest hope no more
Could give the promise of their native shore!
Now, the sweet waters of the stream we leave,
And the salt waves our gliding prows receive:
Here to the left, between the bending shores,
Torn by the winds the whirling billow roars;
And boiling raves against the sounding coast,
Whose mines of gold Sofala’s merchants boast:
Full to the gulf the show’ry south-winds howl,
Aslant, against the wind, our vessels roll:
Far from the land, wide o’er the ocean driv’n,
Our helms resigning to the care of heav’n,
By hope and fear’s keen passions toss’d, we roam,
When our glad eyes beheld the surges foam
Against the beacons of a cultur’d bay,
Where sloops and barges cut the wat’ry way.
The river’s opening breast some upward plied,
And some came gliding down the sweepy tide.
Quick throbs of transport heav’d in every heart
To view the knowledge of the seaman’s art;
For here, we hop’d our ardent wish to gain,
To hear of India’s strand, nor hop’d in vain.
Though Ethiopia’s sable hue they bore
No look of wild surprise the natives wore:
Wide o’er their heads the cotton turban swell’d,
And cloth of blue the decent loins conceal’d.
Their speech, though rude and dissonant of sound,
Their speech a mixture of Arabian own’d.
Fernando, skill’d in all the copious store
Of fair Arabia’s speech, and flow’ry lore,
In joyful converse heard the pleasing tale,
That, o’er these seas, full oft, the frequent sail,
And lordly vessels, tall as ours, appear’d,
Which, to the regions of the morning steer’d,
And, back returning, to the southmost land
Convey’d the treasures of the Indian strand;
Whose cheerful crews, resembling ours, display
The kindred face and colour of the day. 1
Elate with joy we raise the glad acclaim,
And, "River of good signs," 2 the port we name:
Then, sacred to the angel guide, 3 who led
The young Tobiah to the spousal bed,
And safe return’d him through the perilous way,
We rear a column 4 on the friendly bay.
Our keels, that now had steer’d through many a clime,
By shell-fish roughen’d, and incased with slime,
Joyful we clean, while bleating from the field
The fleecy dams the smiling natives yield:
But while each face an honest welcome shows,
And, big with sprightly hope, each bosom glows,
(Alas! how vain the bloom of human joy!
How soon the blasts of woe that bloom destroy!)
A dread disease its rankling horrors shed,
And death’s dire ravage through mine army spread.
Never mine eyes such dreary sight beheld,
Ghastly the mouth and gums enormous swell’d; 5
And instant, putrid like a dead man’s wound,
Poisoned with fœtid steams the air around.
No sage physician’s ever-watchful zeal,
No skilful surgeon’s gentle hand to heal,
Were found: each dreary mournful hour we gave
Some brave companion to a foreign grave.
A grave, the awful gift of every shore!------
Alas! what weary toils with us they bore!
Long, long endear’d by fellowship in woe,
O’er their cold dust we give the tears to flow;
And, in their hapless lot forbode our own,
A foreign burial, and a grave unknown!
Now, deeply yearning o’er our deathful fate,
With joyful hope of India’s shore elate,
We loose the hawsers and the sail expand,
And, upward coast the Ethiopian strand.
What danger threaten’d at Quiloa’s isle,
Mozambique’s treason, and Mombassa’s guile:
What miracles kind Heav’n our guardian wrought,
Loud fame already to thine ears has brought:
Kind Heaven again that guardian care display’d,
And, to thy port our weary fleet convey’d,
Where thou, O king, Heaven’s regent power below,
Bidd’st thy full bounty and thy truth to flow;
Health to the sick, and to the weary rest,
And sprightly hope reviv’d in every breast,
Proclaim thy gifts, with grateful joy repaid,
The brave man’s tribute for the brave man’s aid.
And now, in honour of thy fond command,
The glorious annals of my native land;
And what the perils of a route so bold,
So dread as ours, my faithful lips have told.
Then judge, great monarch, if the world before
Ere saw the prow such length of seas explore!
Nor sage Ulysses, 1 nor the Trojan 2 pride
Such raging gulfs, such whirling storms defied;
Nor one poor tenth of my dread course explor’d,
Though by the muse as demigods ador’d.
O thou whose breast all Helicon inflam’d, 3
Whose birth seven vaunting cities proudly claim’d
And thou whose mellow lute and rural song, 4
In softest flow, led Mincio’s waves along,
Whose warlike numbers, as a storm impell’d,
And Tiber’s surges o’er his borders swell’d;
Let all Parnassus lend creative fire,
And all the Nine 1 with all their warmth inspire;
Your demigods conduct through every scene
Cold fear can paint, or wildest fancy feign;
The Syren’s guileful lay, dire Circe’s spell, 2
And all the horrors of the Cyclop’s cell; 3
Bid Scylla’s barking waves their mates o’erwhelm
And hurl the guardian pilot from the helm, 4
Give sails and oars to fly the purple shore,
Where love of absent friend awakes no more; 5
In all their charms display Calypso’s smiles,
Her flow’ry arbours and her am’rous wiles;
In skins confin’d the blust’ring winds control, 6
Or, o’er the feast bid loathsome harpies 1 prowl;
And lead your heroes through the dread abodes
Of tortur’d spectres and infernal 2 gods;
Give ev’ry flow’r that decks Aonia’s hill
To grace your fables with divinest skill;
Beneath the wonders of my tale they fall,
Where truth, all unadorn’d and pure, exceeds them all.------
While thus, illustrious GAMA charm’d their ears,
The look of wonder each Melindian wears,
And pleased attention witness’d the command
Of every movement of his lips, or hand.
The king, enraptur’d, own’d the glorious fame
Of Lisbon’s monarchs and the Lusian name;
What warlike rage the victor-kings inspir’d!
Nor less their warriors’ loyal faith admir’d.
Nor less his menial train, in wonder lost,
Repeat the gallant deeds that please them most,
Each to his mate; while, fix’d in fond amaze,
The Lusian features every eye surveys;
While, present to the view, by fancy brought,
Arise the wonders by the Lusians wrought,
And each bold feature to their wond’ring sight
Displays the raptur’d ardour of the fight.
Apollo now withdrew the cheerful day,
And left the western sky to twilight grey;
Beneath the wave he sought fair Thetis’ bed,
And, to the shore Melinda’s sov’reign sped.
What boundless joys are thine, O just Renown,
Thou hope of Virtue, and her noblest crown!
By thee the seeds of conscious worth are fir’d,
Hero by hero, fame by fame inspir’d:
Without thine aid how soon the hero dies!
By thee upborne, his name ascends the skies.
This Ammon 1 knew, and own’d his Homer’s lyre
The noblest glory of Pelides’ ire. 2
This knew Augustus, and from Mantua’s shade
To courtly ease the Roman bard convey’d; 3
And soon exulting flow’d the song divine,
The noblest glory of the Roman line.
Dear was the Muse to Julius; ever dear
To Scipio, though the pond’rous, conquering spear
Roughen’d his hand, th’ immortal pen he knew,
And, to the tented field the gentle Muses drew.
Each glorious chief of Greek or Latian line,
Or barb’rous race, adorn’d the Aonian shrine;
Each glorious name, ever to the Muse endear’d.
Or woo’d the Muses, or, the Muse rever’d.
Alas, on Tago’s hapless shores alone
The Muse is slighted, and her charms unknown;
For this, no Virgil here attunes the lyre,
No Homer here awakes the hero’s fire.
On Tago’s shores are Scipios, Cæsars born,
And Alexanders Lisbon’s clime adorn;
But, Heaven has stamp’d them in a rougher mould,
Nor gave the polish to their genuine gold.
Careless and rude, or to be known or know,
In vain, to them, the sweetest numbers flow:
Unheard, in vain their native poet sings,
And cold neglect weighs down the Muse’s wings,
Ev’n he whose veins the blood of GAMA warms, 4
Walks by, unconscious of the Muse’s charms:
For him no Muse shall leave her golden loom,
No palm shall blossom, and no wreath shall bloom:
Yet, shall my labours and my cares be paid
By fame immortal, and by GAMA’S shade:
Him shall the song on ev’ry shore proclaim,
The first of heroes, first of naval fame.
Rude, and ungrateful, though my country be,
This proud example shall be taught by me-
"Where’er the hero’s worth demands the skies,
To crown that worth some gen’rous bard shall rise!"
END OF THE FIFTH BOOK.
133:1 The sun is in the constellation Leo in July.--Ed.
134:1 The Serra de Cintra, situated about 15 miles N.W. of Lisbon.--Ed.
134:2 See the life of Don Henry, prince of Portugal, in the preface.
134:4 The discovery of some of the West Indian islands by Columbus was made in 1492 and 1493. His discovery of the continent of America was not till 1498. The fleet of GAMA sailed from the Tagus in 1497.
134:5 Called by the ancients Insulæ Purpurariæ. Now Madeira, and Porto Santo. The former was so named by Juan Gonzales, and Tristan Vaz, from the Spanish word madera, wood. These discoverers were sent out by the great Don Henry.
135:1 The Tropic of Cancer.--Ed.
135:2 Called by Ptolemy Caput Assinarium, now Cape Verde.
135:3 The Canaries, called by the ancients Insulæ Fortunatæ.
135:4 The province of Jalofo lies between the two rivers, the Gambia and the Zanago. The latter has other names in the several countries through which it runs. In its course it makes many islands, inhabited only by wild beasts. It is navigable for 150 leagues, at the end of which it is crossed by a stupendous ridge of perpendicular rocks, over which the river rushes with such violence, that travellers pass under it without any other inconvenience than the prodigious noise. The Gambia, or Rio Grande, runs 180 leagues, but is not so p. 136 far navigable. It carries more water, and runs with less noise than the other, though filled with many rivers which water the country of Mandinga. Both rivers are branches of the Niger. Their waters have this remarkable quality; when mixed together they operate as an emetic, but when separate do not. They abound with great variety of fishes, and their banks are covered with horses, crocodiles, winged serpents, elephants, ounces, wild boars, with great numbers of others, wonderful for the variety of their nature and different forms.--FARIA Y SOUSA.
136:1 Timbuctu, the mart of Mandinga gold, was greatly resorted to by the merchants of Grand Cairo, Tunis, Oran, Tlemicen, Fez, Morocco, etc.
136:2 Contra hoc promontorium (Hesperionceras) Gorgades insulæ narrantur, Gorgonum quondam domus, bidui navigatione distantes a continente, ut tradit Xenophon Lampsacenus. Penetravit in eas Hanno Pœnorum imperator, prodiditque hirta fœminarum corpora viros pernicitate evasisse, duarumque Gorgonum cutes argumenti et miraculi gratia in Junonis templo posuit, spectatas usque ad Carthaginem captam.--PLIN. Hist. Nat. l. 6. c. 31.
136:3 Sierra Leone.
136:4 Cape Palmas.--Ed.
136:5 During the reign of John II. the Portuguese erected several forts, and acquired great power in the extensive regions of Guinea, Azambuja, a Portuguese captain, having obtained leave from Caramansa, a negro prince, to erect a fort on his territories, an unlucky accident had almost proved. fatal to the discoverers. A huge rock lay very commodious for a quarry; the workmen began on it; but this rock, as the p. 137 devil would have it, happened to be a negro god. The Portuguese were driven away by the enraged worshippers, who were afterwards with difficulty pacified by a profusion of such presents as they most esteemed.
137:1 The Portuguese, having brought an ambassador from Congo to Lisbon, sent him back instructed in the faith. By this means the king, queen, and about 100,000 of the people were baptized; the idols were destroyed and churches built. Soon after, the prince, who was then absent at war, was baptized by the name of Alonzo. His younger brother, Aquitimo, however, would not receive the faith, and the father, because allowed only one wife, turned apostate, and left the crown to his pagan son, who, with a great army, surrounded his brother, when only attended by some Portuguese and Christian blacks, in all only thirty-seven. By the bravery of these, however, Aquitimo was defeated, taken, and slain. One of Aquitimo’s officers declared, they were not defeated by the thirty-seven Christians, but by a glorious army who fought under a shining cross. The idols were again destroyed, and Alonzo sent his sons, grandsons, and nephews to Portugal to study; two of whom were afterwards bishops in Congo.--Extracted from Faria y Sousa.
137:2 According to fable, Calisto was a nymph of Diana. Jupiter having assumed the figure of that goddess, completed his amorous desires. On the discovery of her pregnancy, Diana drove her from her train. p. 138 She fled to the woods, where she was delivered of a son. Juno changed them into bears, and Jupiter placed them in heaven, where they form the constellations of Ursa Major and Minor. Juno, still enraged, entreated Thetis never to suffer Calisto to bathe in the sea. This is founded on the appearance of the northern pole-star, to the inhabitants of our hemisphere; but, when GAMA approached the austral pole, the northern, of consequence, disappeared under the waves.
138:1 The Southern Cross.
138:2 The constellation of the southern pole was called The Cross by the Portuguese sailors, from the appearance of that figure formed by seven stars. In the southern hemisphere, as Camoëns observes, the nights are darker than in the northern, the skies being adorned with much fewer stars.
139:2 That living fire, by seamen held divine.--The sulphureous vapours of the air, after being violently agitated by a tempest, unite, and when the humidity begins to subside, as is the case when the storm is almost exhausted, by the agitation of their atoms they take fire, and are attracted by the masts and cordage of the ship. Being thus, naturally, the pledges of the approaching calm, it is no wonder that the superstition of sailors should in all ages have esteemed them divine, and--
[paragraph continues] In the expedition of the Golden Fleece, in a violent tempest these fires were seen to hover over the heads of Castor and Pollux, who were two of the Argonauts, and a calm immediately ensued. After the apotheoses of these heroes, the Grecian sailors invoked these fires by the names of Castor and Pollux, or the sons of Jupiter. The Athenians called them Σωτῆρες, Saviours.
140:1 In this book, particularly in the description of Massilia, the Gorgades, the fires called Castor and Pollux, and the water-spout, Camoëns has happily imitated the manner of Lucan. It is probable that Camoëns, in his voyage to the East Indies, was an eye witness of the phenomena of the fires and water-spout. The latter is thus described by Pliny, l. 2. c. 51. Fit et caligo, belluæ similis nubes dira navigantibus vocatur et columna, cum spissatus humor rigensque ipse se sustinet, et in longam veluti fistulam nubes aquam trahit. When the violent heat attracts the waters to rise in the form of a tube, the marine salts are left behind, by the action of rarefaction, being too gross and fixed to ascend. It is thus, when the overloaded vapour bursts, that it descends--
141:1 That sage device.--The astrolabe, an instrument of infinite service in navigation, by which the altitude of the sun, and distance of the stars is taken. It was invented in Portugal during the reign of John II. by two Jewish physicians, named Roderic and Joseph. It is asserted by some that they were assisted by Martin of Bohemia, a celebrated mathematician. Partly from Castera. Vid. Barros, Dec. 1. lib. iv. c. 2.
142:1 Arabic, one of the most copious and wide-spoken of languages.--Ed.
143:1 Camoëns, in describing the adventure of Fernando Velosó, by departing from the truth of history, has shown his judgment as a poet. The place where the Portuguese landed they named the Bay of St. Helen. They caught one of two negroes, says Faria, who were busied in gathering honey on a mountain. Their behaviour to this savage, whom they gratified with a red cap, some glasses and bells, induced him to bring a number of his companions for the like trifles. Though some who accompanied GAMA were skilled in the various African languages, not one of the natives could understand them. A commerce, however, was commenced by signs and gestures. GAMA behaved to them with great civility; the fleet was cheerfully supplied with fresh provisions, for which the natives received cloths and trinkets. But this friendship was soon interrupted by a young, rash Portuguese. Having contracted an intimacy with some of the negroes, he obtained leave to penetrate into the country along with them, to observe their habitations and strength. They conducted him to their huts with great good nature, and placed before him, what they esteemed an elegant repast, a sea-calf dressed in the way of their country. This so much disgusted the delicate Portuguese, that he instantly got up and abruptly left them. Nor did they oppose his departure, but accompanied him with the greatest innocence. As fear, however, is always jealous, he imagined they were leading him as a victim to slaughter. No sooner did he come near the ships, than he called aloud for assistance. Coëllo’s boat immediately set off for his rescue. The Africans fled to the woods; and now esteeming the Portuguese as a band of lawless plunderers, they provided themselves with arms, and lay in ambush. Their weapons were javelins, headed with short pieces of horn, which they throw with great dexterity. Soon after, while GAMA and some of his officers were on the shore taking the altitude of the sun by the astrolabe, they were suddenly and with great fury attacked by the ambush from the woods. Several were much wounded, multos convulnerant, inter quos Gama in pede vulnus accepit, and GAMA received a wound in the foot. The admiral made a speedy retreat to the fleet, prudently choosing rather to leave the negroes the honour of the victory, than to risk the life of one man in a quarrel so foreign to the destination of his expedition, and where, to impress the terror of his arms could be of no service to his interest. When he came nearer to the East Indies he acted in a different manner. He then made himself dreaded whenever the treachery of the natives provoked his resentment.--Collected from Faria and Osorius.
144:1 The critics have vehemently declaimed against the least mixture of the comic, with the dignity of the epic poem. It is needless to enter into any defence of this passage of Camoëns, farther than to observe that Homer, Virgil, and Milton have offended the critics in the same manner, and that this piece of raillery in the Lusiad is by much the politest, and the least reprehensible, of anything of the kind in the four poets. In Homer are several strokes of low raillery. Patroclus having killed Hector’s charioteer, puns thus on his sudden fall: It is a pity he is not nearer the sea! He would soon catch abundance of oysters, nor would the storms frighten him. See how he dives from his chariot down to the sand! What excellent divers are the Trojans! Virgil, the most judicious of all poets, descends even to burlesque, where the commander of a galley tumbles the pilot into the sea:--
[paragraph continues] And, though the character of the speakers, the ingenious defence which has been offered for Milton, may, in some measure, vindicate the raillery which he puts into the mouths of Satan and Belial, the lowness of it, when compared with that of Camoëns, must still be acknowledged. Talking of the execution of the diabolical artillery among the good angels, they, says Satan--
To whom thus Belial, in like gamesome mood.
Leader, the terms we sent were terms of weight,
Of hard contents, and full of force urg’d home,
Such as we might perceive amus’d them all,
And stumbled many------
-----------------------this gift they have beside,
They show us when our foes walk not upright."
146:1 The translator in reply to the critics will venture the assertion, that the fiction of the apparition of the Cape of Tempests, in sublimity and awful grandeur of imagination, stands unsurpassed in human composition.
147:1 The next proud fleet.--On the return of GAMA to Portugal, a fleet of thirteen sail, under the command of Pedro Alvarez Cabral, was sent out on the second voyage to India, where the admiral with only six ships arrived. The rest were mostly destroyed by a terrible tempest at the Cape of Good Hope, which lasted twenty days. "The daytime," says Faria, "was so dark that the sailors could scarcely see each other, or hear what was said for the horrid noise of the winds. Among those who perished was the celebrated Bartholomew Diaz, who was the first modern discoverer of the Cape of Good Hope, which he named the Cape of Tempests."
147:2 Behold a hero come.--Don Francisco de Almeyda. He was the first Portuguese viceroy of India, in which country he obtained several great victories over the Mohammedans and pagans. He was the first who conquered Quiloa and Mombas, or Mombaz. On his return to Portugal he put into the bay of Saldanha, near the Cape of Good Hope, to take in water and provisions. The rudeness of one of his servants produced a quarrel with the Caffres, or Hottentots. His attendants, much against his will, forced him to march against the blacks. "Ah, whither," he exclaimed, "will you carry the infirm man of sixty years?" After plundering a miserable village, on the return to their ships they were attacked by a superior number of Caffres, who fought with such fury in rescue of their, children, whom the Portuguese had seized, that the viceroy and fifty of his attendants were slain.
147:3 The crescent, the symbol of Mohammedanism.--Ed.
148:1 This poetical description of the miserable catastrophe of Don Emmanuel de Souza, and his beautiful spouse, Leonora de Sà, is by no means exaggerated. He was several years governor of Diu in India, where he amassed immense wealth. On his return to his native country, the ship in which was his lady, all his riches, and five hundred men, his sailors and domestics, was dashed to pieces on the rocks at the Cape of Good Hope. Don Emmanuel, his lady, and three children, with four hundred of the crew escaped, having only saved a few arms and provisions. As they marched through the wild uncultivated deserts, some died of famine, of thirst, and fatigue; others, who wandered from the main body in search of water, were p. 149 murdered by the savages, or destroyed by the wild beasts. They arrived, at last, at a village inhabited by African banditti. At first they were courteously received, but the barbarians, having unexpectedly seized their arms, stripped the whole company naked, and left them destitute to the mercy of the desert. The wretchedness of the delicate and exposed Leonora was increased by the brutal insults of the negroes. Her husband, unable to relieve, beheld her miseries. After having travelled about 300 leagues, her legs swelled, her feet bleeding at every step, and her strength exhausted, she sunk down, and with the sand covered herself to the neck, to conceal her nakedness. In this dreadful situation, she beheld two of her children expire. Her own death soon followed. Her husband, who had been long enamoured of her beauty, received her last breath in a distracted embrace. Immediately, he snatched his third child in his arms, and uttering the most lamentable cries, he ran into the thickest of the wood, where the wild beasts were soon heard to growl over their prey. Of the whole four hundred who escaped the waves, only six and twenty arrived at another village, whose inhabitants were more civilized, and traded with the merchants of the Red Sea, from whence they found a passage to Europe, and brought the tidings of the unhappy fate of their companions. Jerome de Cortereal, a Portuguese poet, has written an affecting poem on the shipwreck, and deplorable catastrophe of Don Emmanuel, and his beloved spouse.--Partly from Castera.
150:1 The giants or Titans; called "sons of God" in Gen. vi. 2.--Ed.
151:2 Doris, the sister and spouse of Nereus, and mother of the Nereides. By Nereus, in the physical sense of the fable, is understood the water of the sea, and by Doris, the bitterness or salt, the supposed cause of its prolific quality in the generation of fishes.
153:1 And give our wearied minds a lively glow.--Variety is no less delightful to the reader than to the traveller, and the imagination of Camoëns gave an abundant supply. The insertion of this pastoral landscape, between the terrific scenes which precede and follow, has a fine effect. "Variety," says Pope, in one of his notes on the Odyssey, "gives life and delight; and it is much more necessary in epic, than in comic or tragic, poetry, sometimes to shift the scenes, to diversify and embellish the story."
The Portuguese, sailing upon the Atlantic Ocean, discovered the most southern point of Africa: here they found an immense sea, which carried them to the East Indies. The dangers they encountered in the voyage, the discovery of Mozambique, of Melinda, and of Calecut, have been sung by Camoëns, whose poem recalls to our minds the charms of the Odyssey, and the magnificence of the Æneid.--MONTESQUIEU, Spirit of Laws, bk. xxi. c. 21.
154:2 A small island, named Santa Cruz by Bartholomew Diaz, who discovered it. According to Faria y Sousa, he went twenty-five leagues further, to the river Del Infante, which, till passed by GAMA, was the utmost extent of the Portuguese discoveries.
155:1 It was the force of this rushing current which retarded the further discoveries of Diaz. GAMA got over it by the assistance of a tempest. The seasons when these seas are safely navigable, are now perfectly known.
155:2 The wise men of the East, or magi, whom the Roman Catholic writers will have to have been kings.--Ed.
155:3 The Epiphany.--Ed.
155:4 Dos Reis, i.e., of the kings.--Ed.
155:5 The frequent disappointments of the Portuguese, when they expect to hear some account of India, is a judicious imitation of several parts of Virgil; who, in the same manner, magnifies the distresses of the Trojans in their search for the fated seat of Empire:--
156:1 Hope ???.
156:2 It had been extremely impolitic in GAMA to mention the mutiny of his followers to the King of Melinda. The boast of their loyalty, besides, has a good effect in the poem, as it elevates the heroes, and gives uniformity to the character of bravery, which the dignity of the epopea required to be ascribed to them. History relates the matter differently. In standing for the Cape of Good Hope, GAMA gave the highest proofs of his resolution. The fleet seemed now tossed to the clouds, ut modo nubes contingere, and now sunk to the lowest whirlpools of the abyss. The winds were insufferably cold, and, to the rage of the tempest was added the horror of an almost continual darkness. The crew expected every moment to be swallowed up in the deep. At every interval of the storm, they came round GAMA, asserting the impossibility to proceed further, and imploring hint to return. This he resolutely refused. A conspiracy against his life was formed, but was discovered by his brother. He guarded against it with the greatest courage and prudence; put all the pilots in chains, and he himself, with some others, took the management of the helms. At last, after p. 157 having many days withstood the tempest, and a perfidious conspiracy, invicto animo, with an unconquered mind, a favourable change of weather revived the spirits of the fleet, and allowed them to double the Cape of Good Hope.--Extr. from Osorius’s Historia.
158:1 GAMA and his followers were, from the darkness of the Portuguese complexion, thought to be Moors. When GAMA arrived in the East, a considerable commerce was carried on between the Indies and the Red Sea by the Moorish traders, by whom the gold mines of Sofala, and the riches of East Africa were enjoyed. The traffic was brought by land to Cairo, from whence Europe was supplied by the Venetian and Antwerpian merchants.
158:2 "O nome lhe ficou dos Bons-Signais."
158:3 Raphael. See Tobit, ch. v. and xii.--Ed.
158:4 It was the custom of the Portuguese navigators to erect crosses on the shores of new-discovered countries. GAMA carried materials for pillars of stone with him, and erected six crosses during his expedition. They bore the name and arms of the king of Portugal, and were intended as proofs of the title which accrues from first discovery.
158:5 This poetical description of the scurvy is by no means exaggerated. It is what sometimes really happens in the course of a long voyage.
159:1 King of Ithaca.
160:1 The Muses.
160:2 Homer’s Odyssey, bk. x. 460.
160:3 See the Odyssey, bk. ix.
160:4 See Æn. v. 833
160:5 The Lotophagi, so named from the lotus, are thus described by Homer:--
The Libyan lotus is a shrub like a bramble, the berries like the myrtle, purple when ripe, and about the size of an olive. Mixed with bread-corn, it was used as food for slaves. They also made an agreeable wine of it, but which would not keep above ten days. See Pope’s note in loco.
160:6 In skins confin’d the blust’ring winds control.--The gift of Æolus to Ulysses.
The companions of Ulysses imagined that these bags contained some valuable treasure, and opened them while their leader slept. The tempests bursting out, drove the fleet from Ithaca, which was then in sight, and was the cause of a new train of miseries.
161:1 See the third Æneid.
161:2 See the sixth Æneid, and the eleventh Odyssey.
162:1 Alexander the Great.--Ed.
162:2 Achilles, son of Peleus.--Ed.
162:3 Virgil, born at Mantua.--Ed.
162:4 Don Francisco de Gama, grandson of Vasco de Gama, the hero of the Lusiad.--Ed.