In the opening of this, the last canto, the poet resumes the allegory of the Isle of Joy, or of Venus: the fair nymphs conduct their lovers to their radiant palaces, where delicious wines sparkle in every cup. Before the poet describes the song of a prophetic siren, who celebrates the praise of the heroes who are destined to ennoble the name of their country, he addresses himself to his muse in a tone of sorrow, which touches us the more deeply when we reflect upon the unhappy situation to which this great poet was at last reduced. In the song of the siren, which follows, is afforded a prophetic view from the period of Gama’s expedition down to Camoëns’ own times, in which Pacheco, and other heroes of Portugal, pass in review before the eye of the reader. When the siren has concluded her prophetic song, Thetis conducts Gama to the top of a mountain and addresses him in a set speech. The poem concludes with the poet’s apostrophe to King Sebastian.
FAR o’er the western ocean’s distant bed
Apollo now his fiery coursers sped;
Far o’er the silver lake of Mexic 1 roll’d
His rapid chariot wheels of burning gold:
The eastern sky was left to dusky grey,
And o’er the last hot breath of parting day,
Cool o’er the sultry noon’s remaining flame,
On gentle gales the grateful twilight came.
Dimpling the lucid pools, the fragrant breeze
Sighs o’er the lawns, and whispers thro’ the trees;
Refresh’d, the lily rears the silver head,
And opening jasmines o’er the arbours spread.
Fair o’er the wave that gleam’d like distant snow,
Graceful arose the moon, serenely slow;
Not yet full orb’d, in clouded splendour dress’d,
Her married arms embrace her pregnant breast.
Sweet to his mate, recumbent o’er his young,
The nightingale his spousal anthem sung;
From ev’ry bower the holy chorus rose,
From ev’ry bower the rival anthem flows.
Translucent, twinkling through the upland grove,.
In all her lustre shines the star of love;
Led by the sacred ray from ev’ry bower,
A joyful train, the wedded lovers pour:
Each with the youth above the rest approv’d,
Each with the nymph above the rest belov’d,
They seek the palace of the sov’reign dame;
High on a mountain glow’d the wondrous frame:
Of gold the towers, of gold the pillars shone,
The walls were crystal, starr’d with precious stone.
Amid the hall arose the festive board,
With nature’s choicest gifts promiscuous stor’d:
So will’d the goddess to renew the smile
Of vital strength, long worn by days of toil.
On crystal chairs, that shin’d as lambent flame,
Each gallant youth attends his lovely dame;
Beneath a purple canopy of state
The beauteous goddess and the leader sat:
The banquet glows--Not such the feast, when all
The pride of luxury in Egypt’s hall
Before the love-sick Roman 1 spread the boast
Of ev’ry teeming sea and fertile coast.
Sacred to noblest worth and Virtue’s ear,
Divine, as genial, was the banquet here;
The wine, the song, by sweet returns inspire,
Now wake the lover’s, now the hero’s fire.
On gold and silver from th’ Atlantic main,
The sumptuous tribute of the sea’s wide reign,
Of various savour, was the banquet pil’d;
Amid the fruitage mingling roses smil’d.
In cups of gold that shed a yellow light,
In silver, shining as the moon of night,
Amid the banquet How’d the sparkling wine,
Nor gave Falernia’s fields the parent vine:
Falernia’s vintage, nor the fabled power
Of Jove’s ambrosia in th’ Olympian bower
To this compare not; wild, nor frantic fires,
Divinest transport this alone inspires.
The bev’rage, foaming o’er the goblet’s breast,
The crystal fountain’s cooling aid confess’d; 2
The while, as circling How’d the cheerful bowl,
Sapient discourse, the banquet of the soul,
Of richest argument and brightest glow,
Array’d in dimpling smiles, in easiest flow
Pour’d all its graces: nor in silence stood
The powers of music, such as erst subdued
The horrid frown of hell’s profound domains, 3
And sooth’d the tortur’d ghosts to slumber on their chains.
To music’s sweetest chords, in loftiest vein,
An angel siren joins the vocal strain;
The silver roofs resound the living song,
The harp and organ’s lofty mood prolong
The hallow’d warblings; list’ning Silence rides
The sky, and o’er the bridled winds presides;
In softest murmurs flows the glassy deep,
And each, lull’d in his shade, the bestials sleep.
The lofty song ascends the thrilling skies,
The song of godlike heroes yet to rise;
Jove gave the dream, whose glow the siren fir’d,
And present Jove the prophecy inspir’d.
Not he, the bard of love-sick Dido’s board,
Nor he, the minstrel of Phæacia’s lord,
Though fam’d in song, could touch the warbling string,
Or, with a voice so sweet, melodious sing.
And thou, my muse, O fairest of the train,
Calliope, inspire my closing strain.
No more the summer of my life remains, 1
My autumn’s length’ning ev’nings chill my veins;
Down the black stream of years by woes on woes
Wing’d on, I hasten to the tomb’s repose,
The port whose deep, dark bottom shall detain
My anchor, never to be weigh’d again,
Never on other sea of life to steer
The human course.--Yet thou, O goddess, hear,
Yet let me live, though round my silver’d head
Misfortune’s bitt’rest rage unpitying shed
Her coldest. storms; yet, let me live to crown
The song that boasts my nation’s proud renown.
Of godlike heroes sung the nymph divine,
Heroes whose deeds on GAMA’S crest shall shine;
Who through the seas, by GAMA first explor’d,
Shall bear the Lusian standard and the sword,
Till ev’ry coast where roars the orient main,
Blest in its sway, shall own the Lusian reign;
Till ev’ry pagan king his neck shall yield,
Or vanquish’d, gnaw the dust on battle-field.
"High Priest of Malabar," the goddess sung,
"Thy faith repent not, nor lament thy wrong; 1
Though, for thy faith to Lusus’ gen’rous race,
The raging zanioreem thy fields deface:
From Tagus, lo, the great Pacheco sails
To India, wafted on auspicious gales.
Soon as his crooked prow the tide shall press,
A new Achilles shall the tide confess;
His ship’s strong sides shall groan beneath his weight,
And deeper waves receive the sacred freight. 2
Soon as on India’s strand he shakes his spear,
The burning east shall tremble, chill’d with fear;
Reeking with noble blood, Cambalao’s stream
Shall blaze impurpled on the ev’ning beam;
Urg’d on by raging shame, the monarch brings,
Banded with all their powers, his vassal kings:
Narsinga’s rocks their cruel thousands pour,
Bipur’s stern king attends, and thine, Tanore:
To guard proud Calicut’s imperial pride
All the wide North sweeps down its peopled tide:
Join’d are the sects that never touch’d before,
By land the pagan, and by sea the Moor.
O’er land, o’er sea the great Pacheco strews
The prostrate spearmen, and the founder’d proas. 1
Submiss and silent, palsied with amaze,
Proud Malabar th’ unnumber’d slain surveys:
Yet burns the monarch; to his shrine he speeds;
Dire howl the priests, the groaning victim bleeds;
The ground they stamp, and, from the dark abodes,
With tears and vows, they call th’ infernal gods.
Enrag’d with dog-like madness, to behold
His temples and his towns in flames enroll’d,
Secure of promis’d victory, again
He fires the war, the lawns are heap’d with slain.
With stern reproach he brands his routed Nayres,
And for the dreadful field himself prepares;
His harness’d thousands to the fight he leads;
And rides exulting where the combat bleeds:
Amid his pomp his robes are sprinkled o’er,
And his proud face dash’d, with his menials’ gore: 1
From his high couch he leaps, and speeds to flight
On foot inglorious, in his army’s sight.
Hell then he calls, and all the powers of hell,
The secret poison, and the chanted spell;
Vain as the spell the poison’d rage is shed,
For Heav’n defends the hero’s sacred head.
Still fiercer from each wound the tyrant burns,
Still to the field with heavier force returns;
The seventh dread war he kindles; high in air
The hills dishonour’d lift their shoulders bare;
Their woods, roll’d down, now strew the river’s side,
Now rise in mountain turrets o’er the tide;
Mountains of fire, and spires of bick’ring flame,
While either bank resounds the proud acclaim,
Come floating down, round Lusus’ fleet to pour
Their sulph’rous entrails 2 in a burning shower.
Oh, vain the hope.--Let Rome her boast resign;
Her palms, Pacheco, never bloom’d like thine;
Nor Tiber’s bridge, 3 nor Marathon’s red field,
Nor thine, Thermopylæ, such deeds beheld;
Nor Fabius’ arts such rushing storms repell’d.
Swift as, repuls’d, the famish’d wolf returns
Fierce to the fold, and, wounded, fiercer burns;
So swift, so fierce, seven times, all India’s might
Returns unnumber’d to the dreadful fight;
One hundred spears, seven times in dreadful stower,
Strews in the dust all India’s raging power."
The lofty song (for paleness o’er her spread)
The nymph suspends, and bows the languid head;
Hex falt’ring words are breathed on plaintive sighs:
"Ah, Belisarius, injur’d chief," she cries,
"Ah, wipe thy tears; in war thy rival see,
Injur’d Pacheco falls despoil’d like thee;
In him, in thee dishonour’d Virtue bleeds,
And Valour weeps to view her fairest deeds,--
Weeps o’er Pacheco, where, forlorn he lies
Low on an alms-house bed, and friendless dies.
Yet shall the muses plume his humble bier,
And ever o’er him pour th’ immortal tear;
Though by the king, alone to thee unjust,
Thy head, great chief, was humbled in the dust,
Loud shall the muse indignant sound thy praise-
‘Thou gav’st thy monarch’s throne its proudest blaze.’
While round the world the sun’s bright car shall ride,
So bright shall shine thy name’s illustrious pride;
Thy monarch’s glory, as the moon’s pale beam,
Eclips’d by thine, shall shed a sickly gleam.
Such meed attends when soothing flatt’ry sways,
And blinded State its sacred trust betrays!"
Again the nymph exalts her brow, again
Her swelling voice resounds the lofty strain:
"Almeyda comes, the kingly name he bears,
Deputed royalty his standard rears:
In all the gen’rous rage of youthful fire
The warlike son attends the warlike sire.
Quiloa’s blood-stain’d tyrant now shall feel
The righteous vengeance of the Lusian steel.
Another prince, by Lisbon’s throne belov’d,
Shall bless the land, for faithful deeds approv’d.
Mombaz shall now her treason’s meed behold,
When curling flames her proudest domes enfold:
Involv’d in smoke, loud crashing, low shall fall
The mounded temple and the castled wall.
O’er India’s seas the young Almeyda pours,
Scorching the wither’d air, his iron show’rs;
Torn masts and rudders, hulks and canvas riv’n,
Month after month before his prows are driv’n;
But Heav’n’s dread will, where clouds of darkness rest,
That awful will, which knows alone the best,
Now blunts his spear: Cambaya’s squadrons join’d
With Egypt’s fleets, in pagan rage combin’d,
Engrasp him round; red boils the stagg’ring flood,
Purpled with volleying flames and hot with blood:
Whirl’d by the cannon’s rage, in shivers torn,
His thigh, far scatter d, o’er the wave is borne.
Bound to the mast the godlike hero stands, 1
Waves his proud sword, and cheers his woful bands.
Though winds and seas their wonted aid deny,
To yield he knows not, but he knows to die:
Another thunder tears his manly breast:
Oh fly, blest spirit, to thy heav’nly rest!
Hark! rolling on the groaning storm I hear,
Resistless vengeance thund’ring on the rear.
I see the transports of the furious sire,
As o’er the mangled corse his eyes flash fire.
Swift to the fight, with stern though weeping eyes,
Fix’d rage fierce burning in his breast, he flies;
Fierce as the bull that sees his rival rove
Free with the heifers through the mounded grove,
On oak or beech his madd’ning fury pours;
So pours Almeyda’s rage on Dabul’s towers.
His vanes wide waving o’er the Indian sky,
Before his prows the fleets of India fly; 1
On Egypt’s chief his mortars’ dreadful tire
Shall vomit all the rage of prison’d fire:
Heads, limbs, and trunks shall choke the struggling tide,
Till, ev’ry surge with reeking crimson dy’d,
Around the young Almeyda’s hapless urn
His conqueror’s naked ghosts shall howl and mourn.
As meteors flashing through the darken’d air
I see the victors’ whirling falchions glare;
Dark rolls the sulph’rous smoke o’er Dio’s skies,
And shrieks of death, and shouts of conquest rise,
In one wide tumult blended. The rough roar
Shakes the brown tents on Ganges’ trembling shore;
The waves of Indus from the banks recoil;
And matrons, howling on the strand of Nile,
By the pale moon, their absent sons deplore:
Long shall they wail; their sons return no more.
"Ah, strike the notes of woe!" the siren cries;
"A dreary vision swims before my eyes.
To Tagus’ shore triumphant as he bends,
Low in the dust the hero’s glory ends:
Though bended bow, nor thund’ring engine’s hail,
Nor Egypt’s sword, nor India’s spear prevail,
Fall shall the chief before a naked foe,
Rough clubs and rude-hurl’d stones shall strike the blow;
The Cape of Tempests shall his tomb supply,
And in the desert sands his bones shall lie,
No boastful trophy o’er his ashes rear’d:
Such Heav’n’s dread will, and be that will rever’d!
"But lo, resplendent shines another star,"
Loud she resounds, "in all the blaze of war!
Great Cunia 1 guards Melinda’s friendly shore,
And dyes her seas with Oja’s hostile gore;
Lamo and Brava’s tow’rs his vengeance tell:
Green Madagascar’s flow’ry dales shall swell
His echo’d fame, till ocean’s southmost bound
On isles and shores unknown his name resound.
"Another blaze, behold, of fire and arms!
Great Albuquerque awakes the dread alarms:
O’er Ormuz’ walls his thund’ring flames he pours,
While Heav’n, the hero’s guide, indignant show’rs
Their arrows backward 2 on the Persian foe,
Tearing the breasts and arms that twang’d the bow.
Mountains of salt and fragrant gums in vain
Were spent untainted to embalm the slain.
Such heaps shall strew the seas and faithless strand
Of Gerum, Mazcate, 3 and Calayat’s land,
Till faithless Ormuz own the Lusian sway,
And Barem’s 4 pearls her yearly safety pay.
"What glorious palms on Goa’s isle I see, 5
Their blossoms spread, great Albuquerque, for thee!
Through castled walls the hero breaks his way,
And opens with his sword the dread array
Of Moors and pagans; through their depth he rides,
Through spears and show’ring fire the battle guides.
As bulls enrag’d, or lions smear’d with gore,
His bands sweep wide o’er Goa’s purpled shore.
Nor eastward far though fair Malacca 1 lie,
Her groves embosom’d in the morning sky;
Though with her am’rous sons the valiant line
Of Java’s isle in battle rank combine,
Though poison’d shafts their pond’rous quivers store;
Malacca’s spicy groves and golden ore,
Great Albuquerque, thy dauntless toils shall crown!
Yet art thou stain’d." 2 Here, with a sighful frown,
The goddess paus’d, for much remain’d unsung,
But blotted with a humble soldier’s wrong.
"Alas," she cries, "when war’s dread horrors reign,
And thund’ring batteries rock the fiery plain,
When ghastly famine on a hostile soil,
When pale disease attends on weary toil,
When patient under all the soldier stands,
Detested be the rage which then demands
The humble soldier’s blood, his only crime
The am’rous frailty of the youthful prime!
Incest’s cold horror here no glow restrain’d,
Nor sacred nuptial bed was here profan’d,
Nor here unwelcome force the virgin seiz’d;
A slave, lascivious, in his fondling pleas’d,
Resigns her breast. Ah, stain to Lusian fame!
(’Twas lust of blood, perhaps ’twas jealous flame;)
The leader’s rage, unworthy of the brave,
Consigns the youthful soldier to the grave.
Not Ammon 1 thus Apelles’ love repaid,
Great Ammon’s bed resign’d the lovely maid;
Nor Cyrus thus reprov’d Araspas’ fire;
Nor haughtier Carlo thus assum’d the sire,
Though iron Baldwin to his daughter’s bower,
An ill-match’d lover, stole in secret hour:
With nobler rage the lofty monarch glow’d,
And Flandria’s earldom on the knight bestow’d." 2
Again the nymph the song of fame resounds:
"Lo, sweeping wide o’er Ethiopia’s bounds,
Wide o’er Arabia’s purple shore, on high
The Lusian ensigns blaze along the sky:
Mecca, aghast, beholds the standards shine,
And midnight horror shakes Medina’s shrine; 1
Th’ unhallow’d altar bodes th’ approaching foe,
Foredoom’d in dust its prophet’s tomb to strew.
Nor Ceylon’s isle, brave Soarez, shall withhold
Its incense, precious as the burnish’d gold,
What time o’er proud Columbo’s loftiest spire
Thy flag shall blaze: Nor shall th’ immortal lyre
Forget thy praise, Sequeyra! To the shore
Where Sheba’s sapient queen the sceptre bore, 2
Braving the Red Sea’s dangers shalt thou force
To Abyssinia’s realm thy novel course;
And isles, by jealous Nature long conceal’d,
Shall to the wond’ring world be now reveal’d.
Great Menez next the Lusian sword shall bear;
Menez, the dread of Afric, high shall rear
His victor lance, till deep shall Ormuz groan,
And tribute doubled her revolt atone.
"Now shines thy glory in meridian height"--
And loud her voice she rais’d--"O matchless knight!
Thou, thou, illustrious Gable, thou shalt bring
The olive bough of peace, deputed king!
The lands by thee discover’d shall obey
Thy sceptred power, and bless thy regal sway.
But India’s crimes, outrageous to the skies,
A length of these Saturnian days denies:
Snatch’d from thy golden throne, 1 the heav’ns shall claim
Thy deathless soul, the world thy deathless name.
"Now o’er the coast of faithless Malabar
Victorious Henry 2 pours the rage of war;
Nor less the youth a nobler strife shall wage,
Great victor of himself though green in age;
No restless slave of wanton am’rous fire,
No lust of gold shall taint his gen’rous ire.
While youth’s bold pulse beats high, how brave the boy
Whom harlot-smiles nor pride of power decoy!
Immortal be his name! Nor less thy praise,
Great Mascarene, 1 shall future ages raise:
Though power, unjust, withhold the splendid ray
That dignifies the crest of sov’reign sway,
Thy deeds, great chief, on Bintam’s humbled shore
(Deeds such as Asia never view’d before)
Shall give thy honest fame a brighter blaze
Than tyrant pomp in golden robes displays.
Though bold in war the fierce usurper shine,
Though Cutial’s potent navy o’er the brine
Drive vanquish’d: though the Lusian Hector’s sword
For him reap conquest, and confirm him lord;
Thy deeds, great peer, the wonder of thy foes,
Thy glorious chains unjust, and gen’rous woes,
Shall dim the fierce Sampayo’s fairest fame,
And o’er his honours thine aloud proclaim.
Thy gen’rous woes! Ah gallant injur’d chief,
Not thy own sorrows give the sharpest grief.
Thou seest the Lusian name her honours stain,
And lust of gold her heroes’ breasts profane;
Thou seest ambition lift the impious head,
Nor God’s red arm, nor ling’ring justice dread;
O’er India’s bounds thou seest these vultures prowl,
Full gorged with blood, and dreadless of control;
Thou seest and weepst thy country’s blotted name,
Tire gen’rous sorrow thine, but not the shame.
Nor long the Lusian ensigns stain’d remain:
Great Nunio 2 comes, and razes every stain.
Though lofty Calè’s warlike towers he rear;
Though haughty Melic groan beneath his spear;
All these, and Diu yielded to his name,
Are but th’ embroid’ry of his nobler fame.
Far haughtier foes of Lusian race he braves;
The awful sword of justice high he waves:
Before his bar the injur’d Indian, stands,
And justice boldly on his foe demands,
The Lusian foe; in wonder lost, the Moor
Beholds proud rapine’s vulture grip restore;
Beholds the Lusian hands in fetters bound
By Lusian hands, and wound repaid for wound.
Oh, more shall thus by Nunio’s worth be won,
Than conquest reaps from high-plum’d hosts o’erthrown.
Long shall the gen’rous Nunio’s blissful sway
Command supreme. In Dio’s hopeless day
The sov’reign toil the brave Noronha takes;
Awed by his fame 1 the fierce-soul’d Rumien shakes,
And Dio’s open’d walls in sudden flight forsakes.
A son of thine, O GAMA, 2 now shall hold
The helm of empire, prudent, wise, and bold:
Malacca sav’d and strengthen’d by his arms,
The banks of Tor shall echo his alarms;
His worth shall bless the kingdoms of the morn,
For all thy virtues shall his soul adorn.
When fate resigns thy hero to the skies,
A vet’ran, fam’d on Brazil’s shore 3 shall rise:
The wide Atlantic and the Indian main,
By turns, shall own the terrors of his reign.
His aid the proud Cambayan king implores,
His potent aid Cambaya’s king restores.
The dread Mogul with all his thousands flies,
And Dio’s towers are Souza’s well-earn’d prize.
Nor less the zamorim o’er blood-stain’d ground 4
Shall speed his legions, torn with many a wound,
In headlong rout. Nor shall the boastful pride
Of India’s navy, though the shaded tide
Around the squadron’d masts appear the down
Of some wide forest, other fate renown.
Loud rattling through the hills of Cape Camore 1
I hear the tempest of the battle roar!
Clung to the splinter’d masts I see the dead
Badala’s shore with horrid wreck bespread;
Baticala inflam’d by treach’rous hate,
Provokes the horrors of Badala’s fate:
Her seas in blood, her skies enwrapt in fire,
Confess the sweeping storm of Souza’s ire.
No hostile spear now rear’d on sea or strand,
The awful sceptre graces Souza’s hand;
Peaceful he reigns, in counsel just and wise;
And glorious Castro now his throne supplies:
Castro, the boast of gen’rous fame, afar
From Dio’s strand shall sway the glorious war.
Madd’ning with rage to view the Lusian band,
A troop so few, proud Dio’s towers command,
The cruel Ethiop Moor to heav’n complains,
And the proud Persian’s languid zeal arraigns.
The Rumien fierce, who boasts the name of Rome, 2
With these conspires, and vows the Lusians’ doom.
A thousand barb’rous nations join their powers
To bathe with Lusian blood the Dion towers.
Dark rolling sheets, forth belch’d from brazen wombs,
And bor’d, like show’ring clouds, with hailing bombs,
O’er Dio’s sky spread the black shades of death;
The mine’s dread earthquakes shake the ground beneath.
No hope, bold Mascarene, 1 mayst thou respire,
A glorious fall alone, thy just desire.
When lo, his gallant son brave Castro sends--
Ah heav’n, what fate the hapless youth attends!
In vain the terrors of his falchion glare:
The cavern’d mine bursts, high in pitchy air
Rampire and squadron whirl’d convulsive, borne
To heav’n, the hero dies in fragments torn.
His loftiest bough though fall’n, the gen’rous sire
His living hope devotes with Roman ire.
On wings of fury flies the brave Alvar
Through oceans howling with the wintry war,
Through skies of snow his brother’s vengeance bears;
And, soon in arms, the valiant sire appears:
Before him vict’ry spreads her eagle wing
Wide sweeping o’er Cambaya’s haughty king.
In vain his thund’ring coursers shake the ground,
Cambaya bleeding of his might’s last wound
Sinks pale in dust: fierce Hydal-Kan 2 in vain
Wakes war on war; he bites his iron chain.
O’er Indus’ banks, o’er Ganges’ smiling vales,
No more the hind his plunder’d field bewails:
O’er ev’ry field, O Peace, thy blossoms glow,
The golden blossoms of thy olive bough;
Firm bas’d on wisest laws great Castro crowns,
And the wide East the Lusian empire owns.
"These warlike chiefs, the sons of thy renown,
And thousands more, O VASCO, doom’d to crown
Thy glorious toils, shall through these seas unfold
Their victor-standards blaz’d with Indian gold;
And in the bosom of our flow’ry isle,
Embath’d in joy shall o’er their labours smile.
Their nymphs like yours, their feast divine the same,
The raptur’d foretaste of immortal fame."
So sang the goddess, while the sister train
With joyful anthem close the sacred strain:
"Though Fortune from her whirling sphere bestow
Her gifts capricious in unconstant flow,
Yet laurell’d honour and immortal fame
Shall ever constant grace the Lusian name."
So sung the joyful chorus, while around
The silver roofs the lofty notes resound.
The song prophetic, and the sacred feast,
Now shed the glow of strength through ev’ry breast.
When with the grace and majesty divine,
Which round immortals when enamour’d shine,
To crown the banquet of their deathless fame,
To happy GAMA thus the sov’reign dame:
"O lov’d of Heav’n, what never man before,
What wand’ring science never might explore,
By Heav’n’s high will, with mortal eyes to see
Great nature’s face unveil’d, is given to thee.
Thou and thy warriors follow where I lead:
Firm be your steps, for arduous to the tread,
Through matted brakes of thorn and brier, bestrew’d
With splinter’d flint, winds the steep slipp’ry road."
She spake, and smiling caught the hero’s hand,
And on the mountain’s summit soon they stand;
A beauteous lawn with pearl enamell’d o’er,
Emerald and ruby, as the gods of yore
Had sported here. Here in the fragrant air
A wondrous globe appear’d, divinely fair!
Through ev’ry part the light transparent flow’d,
And in the centre, as the surface, glow’d.
The frame ethereal various orbs compose,
In whirling circles now they fell, now rose;
Yet never rose nor fell, 1 for still the same
Was ev’ry movement of the wondrous frame;
Each movement still beginning, still complete,
Its author’s type, self-pois’d, perfection’s seat.
Great VASCO, thrill’d with reverential awe,
And rapt with keen desire, the wonder saw.
The goddess mark’d the language of his eyes,
"And here," she cried, "thy largest wish suffice.
Great nature’s fabric thou dost here behold,
Th’ ethereal, pure, and elemental mould
In pattern shown complete, as nature’s God
Ordain’d the world’s great frame, His dread abode;
For ev’ry part the Power Divine pervades,
The sun’s bright radiance, and the central shades;
Yet, let not haughty reason’s bounded line
Explore the boundless God, or where define,
Where in Himself, in untreated light
(While all His worlds around seem wrapp’d in night),
He holds His loftiest state. 1 By primal laws
Impos’d on Nature’s birth (Himself the cause),
By her own ministry, through ev’ry maze,
Nature in all her walks, unseen, He sways.
These spheres behold; 2 the first in wide embrace
Surrounds the lesser orbs of various face;
The Empyrean this, the holiest heav’n
To the pure spirits of the bless’d is giv’n:
No mortal eye its splendid rays may bear,
No mortal bosom feel the raptures there.
The earth, in all her summer pride array’d,
To this might seem a drear sepulchral shade.
Unmov’d it stands; within its shining frame,
In motion swifter than the lightning’s flame,
Swifter than sight the moving parts may spy,
Another sphere whirls round its rapid sky.
Hence motion darts its force, 3 impulsive draws,
And on the other orbs impresses laws;
The sun’s bright car attentive to its force
Gives night and day, and shapes his yearly course;
Its force stupendous asks a pond’rous sphere
To poise its fury, and its weight to bear:
Slow moves that pond’rous orb; the stiff, slow pace
One step scarce gains, while wide his annual race
Two hundred times the sun triumphant rides;
The crystal heav’n is this, whose rigour guides
And binds the starry sphere: 1 That sphere behold,
With diamonds spangled, and emblaz’d with gold!
What radiant orbs that azure sky adorn,
Fair o’er the night in rapid motion borne!
Swift as they trace the heav’n’s wide circling line,
Whirl’d on their proper axles, bright they shine.
Wide o’er this heav’n a golden belt displays
Twelve various forms; behold the glitt’ring blaze!
Through these the sun in annual journey towers,
And o’er each clime their various tempers pours;
In gold and silver of celestial mine
How rich far round the constellations shine!
Lo, bright emerging o’er the polar tides,
In shining frost the Northern Chariot rides; 1
Mid treasur’d snows here gleams the grisly Bear,
And icy flakes incrust his shaggy hair.
Here fair Andromeda, of heav’n belov’d;
Her vengeful sire, and, by the gods reprov’d,
Beauteous Cassiope. Here, fierce and red,
Portending storms, Orion lifts his head;
And here the Dogs their raging fury shed.
The Swan, sweet melodist, in death he sings,
The milder Swan here spreads his silver wings.
Here Orpheus’ Lyre, the melancholy Hare,
And here the watchful Dragon’s eye-balls glare;
And Theseus’ ship, oh, less renown’d than thine,
Shall ever o’er these skies illustrious shine.
Beneath this radiant firmament behold
The various planets in their orbits roll’d:
Here, in cold twilight, hoary Saturn rides;
Here Jove shines mild, here fiery Mars presides;
Apollo here, enthron’d in light, appears
The eye of heav’n, emblazer of the spheres;
Beneath him beauteous glows the Queen of Love--
The proudest hearts her sacred influence prove;
Here Hermes, fam’d for eloquence divine,
And here Diana’s various faces shine;
Lowest she rides, and, through the shadowy night,
Pours on the glist’ning earth her silver light.
These various orbs, behold, in various speed
Pursue the journeys at their birth decreed.
Now, from the centre far impell’d they fly,
Now, nearer earth they sail a lower sky,
A shorten’d course: Such are their laws impress’d
By God’s dread will, 1 that will for ever best.
"The yellow earth, the centre of the whole,
There lordly rests sustain’d on either pole.
The limpid air enfolds in soft embrace
The pond’rous orb, and brightens o’er her face.
Here, softly floating o’er th’ aërial blue,
Fringed with the purple and the golden hue,
The fleecy clouds their swelling sides display;
From whence, fermented by the sulph’rous ray,
The lightnings blaze, and heat spreads wide and rare;
And now, in fierce embrace with frozen air,
Their wombs, compress’d, soon feel parturient throws,
And white wing’d gales bear wide the teeming snows.
Thus, cold and heat their warring empires hold,
Averse yet mingling, each by each controll’d,
The highest air and ocean’s bed they pierce,
And earth’s dark centre feels their struggles fierce.
"The seat of man, the earth’s fair breast, behold;
Here wood-crown’d islands wave their locks of gold.
Here spread wide continents their bosoms green,
And hoary Ocean heaves his breast between.
Yet, not th’ inconstant ocean’s furious tide
May fix the dreadful bounds of human pride.
What madd’ning seas between these nations roar!
Yet Lusus’ hero-race shall visit ev’ry shore.
What thousand tribes, whom various customs sway,
And various rites, these countless shores display!
Queen of the world, supreme in shining arms,
Hers ev’ry art, and hers all wisdom’s charms,
Each nation’s tribute round her foot-stool spread,
Here Christian Europe 1 lifts the regal head.
Afric behold, 2 alas, what alter’d view!
Her lands uncultur’d, and her son’s untrue;
Ungraced with all that sweetens human life,
Savage and fierce they roam in brutal strife;
Eager they grasp the gifts which culture yields,
Yet, naked roam their own neglected fields.
Lo, here enrich’d with hills of golden ore,
Monomotapa’s empire hems the shore..
There round the Cape, great Afric’s dreadful bound,
Array’d in storms (by you first compass’d round),
Unnumber’d tribes as bestial grazers stray,
By laws unform’d, unform’d by reason’s sway:
Far inward stretch the mournful sterile dales,
Where, on the parch’d hill-side, pale Famine wails.
On gold in vain the naked savage treads;
Low, clay-built huts, behold, and reedy sheds,
Their dreary towns. Gonzalo’s zeal shall glow 1
To these dark minds the path of light to show:
His toils to humanize the barb’rous mind
Shall, with the martyr’s palms, his holy temples bind.
Great Naya, 2 too, shall glorious here display
His God’s dread might: behold, in black array,
Num’rous and thick as when in evil hour
The feather’d race whole harvest fields devour,
So thick, so num’rous round Sofála’s towers
Her barb’rous hordes remotest Africa pours:
In vain; Heav’n’s vengeance on their souls impress’d,
They fly, wide scatter’d as the driving mist.
Lo, Quama there, and there the fertile Nile
Curs’d with that gorging fiend, the crocodile,
Wind their long way: the parent lake behold,
Great Nilus’ fount, unseen, unknown of old,
From whence, diffusing plenty as he glides,
Wide Abyssinia’s realm the stream divides.
In Abyssinia Heav’n’s own altars blaze, 3
And hallow’d anthems chant Messiah’s praise.
In Nile’s wide breast the isle of Mĕrŏē see!
Near these rude shores a hero sprung from thee,
Thy son, brave GAMA, 1 shall his lineage show
In glorious triumphs o’er the paynim 2 foe.
There by the rapid Ob, her friendly breast
Melinda spreads, thy place of grateful rest.
Cape Aromata there the gulf defends,
Where by the Red Sea wave great Afric ends.
Illustrious Suez, seat of heroes old,
Fam’d Hierapolis, high-tower’d, behold.
Here Egypt’s shelter’d fleets at anchor ride,
And hence, in squadrons, sweep the eastern tide.
And lo, the waves that aw’d by Moses’ rod,
While the dry bottom Israel’s armies trod,
On either hand roll’d back their frothy might,
And stood, like hoary rocks, in cloudy height.
Here Asia, rich in ev’ry precious mine,
In realms immense, begins her western line.
Sinai behold, whose trembling cliffs of yore
In fire and darkness, deep pavilion’d, bore
The Hebrews’ God, while day, with awful brow,
Gleam’d pale on Israel’s wand’ring tents below.
The pilgrim now the lonely hill ascends,
And, when the ev’ning raven homeward bends,
Before the virgin-martyr’s tomb 1 he pays
His mournful vespers, and his vows of praise.
Jidda behold, and Aden’s parch’d domain
Girt by Arzira’s rock, where never rain
Yet fell from heav’n; where never from the dale
The crystal riv’let murmur’d to the vale.
The three Arabias here their breasts unfold,
Here breathing incense, here a rocky wold;
O’er Dofar’s plain the richest incense breathes,
That round the sacred shrine its vapour wreathes;
Here the proud war-steed glories in his force,
As, fleeter than the gale, he holds the course.
Here, with his spouse and household lodg’d in wains,
The Arab’s camp shifts, wand’ring o’er the plains,
The merchant’s dread, what time from eastern soil
His burthen’d camels seek the land of Nile.
Here Rosalgate and Farthac stretch their arms,
And point to Ormuz, fam’d for war’s alarms;
Ormuz, decreed full oft to quake with dread
Beneath the Lusian heroes’ hostile tread,
Shall see the Turkish moons, 2 with slaughter gor’d,
Shrink from the lightning of De Branco’s sword. 3
There on the gulf that laves the Persian shore,
Far through the surges bends Cape Asabore.
There Barem’s isle; 1 her rocks with diamonds blaze,
And emulate Aurora’s glitt’ring rays.
From Barem’s shore Euphrates’ flood is seen,
And Tigris’ waters, through the waves of green
In yellowy currents many a league extend,
As with the darker waves averse they blend.
Lo, Persia there her empire wide unfolds!
In tented camp his state the monarch holds:
Her warrior sons disdain the arms of fire, 2
And, with the pointed steel, to fame aspire;
Their springy shoulders stretching to the blow,
Their sweepy sabres hew the shrieking foe.
There Gerum’s isle the hoary ruin wears
Where Time has trod: 3 there shall the dreadful spears
Of Sousa and Menezes strew the shore
With Persian sabres, and embathe with gore.
Carpella’s cape, and sad Carmania’s strand,
There, parch’d and bare, their dreary wastes expand.
A fairer landscape here delights the view;
From these green hills beneath the clouds of blue,
The Indus and the Ganges roll the wave,
And many a smiling field propitious lave.
Luxurious here, Ulcinda’s harvests smile,
And here, disdainful of the seaman’s toil,
The whirling tides of Jaquet furious roar;
Alike their rage when swelling to the shore,
Or, tumbling backward to the deep, they force
The boiling fury of their gulfy course:
Against their headlong rage nor oars nor sails,
The stemming prow alone, hard toil’d, prevails.
Cambaya here begins her wide domain;
A thousand cities here shall own the reign
Of Lisboa’s monarchs. He who first shall crown
Thy labours, GAMA, 1 here shall boast his own.
The length’ning sea that washes India’s strand
And laves the cape that points to Ceylon’s land
(The Taprobanian isle, 2 renown’d of yore),
Shall see his ensigns blaze from shore to shore.
Behold how many a realm, array’d in green,
The Ganges’ shore and Indus’ bank between!
Here tribes unnumber’d, and of various lore,
With woful penance fiend-like shapes adore;
Some Macon’s orgies; 3 all confess the sway
Of rites that shun, like trembling ghosts, the day.
Narsinga’s fair domain behold; of yore
Here shone the gilded towers of Meliapore.
Here India’s angels, weeping o’er the tomb
Where Thomas sleeps, 4 implore the day to come,
The day foretold, when India’s utmost shore
Again shall hear Messiah’s blissful lore.
By Indus’ banks the holy prophet trod,
And Ganges heard him preach the Saviour-God;
Where pale disease erewhile the cheek consum’d,
Health, at his word, in ruddy fragrance bloom’d;
The grave’s dark womb his awful voice obey’d,
And to the cheerful day restor’d the dead;
By heavenly power he rear’d the sacred shrine,
And gain’d the nations by his life divine.
The priests of Brahma’s hidden rites beheld,
And envy’s bitt’rest gall their bosom’s swell’d.
A thousand deathful snares in vain they spread;
When now the chief who wore the triple thread, 1
Fir’d by the rage that gnaws the conscious breast
Of holy fraud, when worth shines forth confess’d,
Hell he invokes, nor hell in vain he sues;
His son’s life-gore his wither’d hands imbrues;
Then, bold assuming the vindictive ire,
And all the passions of the woful sire,
Weeping, he bends before the Indian throne,
Arraigns the holy man, and wails his son:
A band of hoary priests attest the deed,
And India’s king condemns the seer to bleed.
Inspir’d by Heav’n the holy victim stands,
And o’er the murder’d corse extends his hands:
‘In God’s dread power, thou slaughter’d youth, arise,
And name thy murderer,’ aloud he cries.
When, dread to view, the deep wounds instant close,
And, fresh in life, the slaughter’d youth arose,
And nam’d his treach’rous sire. The conscious air
Quiver’d, and awful horror raised the hair
On ev’ry head. From Thomas India’s king
The holy sprinkling of the living spring
Receives, and wide o’er all his regal bounds
The God of Thomas ev’ry tongue resounds.
Long taught the holy seer the words of life;
The priests of Brahma still to deeds of strife
(So boil’d their ire) the blinded herd impell’d,
And high, to deathful rage, their rancour swell’d.
’Twas on a day, when melting on his tongue
Heav’n’s offer’d mercies glow’d, the impious throng,
Rising in madd’ning tempest, round him shower’d
The splinter’d flint; in vain the flint was pour’d:
But Heav’n had now his finish’d labours seal’d;
His angel guards withdraw the etherial shield;
A Brahmin’s javelin tears his holy breast-------
Ah Heav’n, what woes the widow’d land express’d!
Thee, Thomas, thee, the plaintive Ganges mourn’d, 1
And Indus’ banks the murm’ring moan return’d;
O’er ev’ry valley where thy footsteps stray’d,
The hollow winds the gliding sighs convey’d.
What woes the mournful face of India wore,
These woes in living pangs his people bore.
His sons, to whose. illumin’d minds he gave
To view the ray that shines beyond the grave,
His pastoral sons bedew’d his corse with tears,
While high triumphant through the heav’nly spheres,
With songs of joy, the smiling angels wing
His raptur’d spirit to the eternal King.
O you, the followers of the holy seer,
Foredoom’d the shrines of Heav’n’s own lore to rear,
You, sent by Heav’n his labours to renew,
Like him, ye Lusians, simplest Truth pursue. 1
Vain is the impious toil, with borrow’d grace,
To deck one feature of her angel face;
Behind the veil’s broad glare she glides away,
And leaves a rotten form, of lifeless, painted clay.
"Much have you view’d of future Lusian reign;
Broad empires yet, and kingdoms wide, remain,
Scenes of your future toils and glorious sway--
And lo, how wide expands the Gangic bay!
Narsinga here in num’rous legions bold,
And here Oryxa boasts her cloth of gold.
The Ganges here in many a stream divides,
Diffusing plenty from his fatt’ning tides,
As through Bengala’s rip’ning vales he glides;
Nor may the fleetest hawk, untir’d, explore
Where end the ricy groves that crown the shore.
There view what woes demand your pious aid!
On beds and litters, o’er the margin laid,
The dying 1 lift their hollow eyes, and crave
Some pitying hand to hurl them in the wave.
Thus Heav’n (they deem); though vilest guilt they bore
Unwept, unchanged, will view that guilt no more.
There, eastward, Arracan her line extends;
And Pegu’s mighty empire southward bends:
Pegu, whose sons (so held old faith) confess’d
A dog their sire; 2 their deeds the tale attest.
A pious queen their horrid rage restrain’d; 3
Yet, still their fury Nature’s God arraign’d.
Ah, mark the thunders rolling o’er the sky;
Yes, bath’d in gore, shall rank pollution lie.
"Where to the morn the towers of Tava shine,
Begins great Siam’s empire’s far-stretch’d line.
On Queda’s fields the genial rays inspire
The richest gust of spicery’s fragrant fire.
Malacca’s castled harbour here survey,
The wealthful seat foredoom’d of Lusian sway.
Here to their port the Lusian fleets shall steer,
From ev’ry shore far round assembling here
The fragrant treasures of the eastern world:
Here from the shore by rolling earthquakes hurl’d,
Through waves all foam, Sumatra’s isle was riv’n,
And, mid white whirlpools, down the ocean driv’n. 1
To this fair isle, the golden Chersonese,
Some deem the sapient monarch plough’d the seas;
Ophir its Tyrian name. 2 In whirling roars
How fierce the tide boils down these clasping shores!
High from the strait the length’ning coast afar
Its moonlike curve points to the northern star,
Opening its bosom to the silver ray
When fair Aurora pours the infant day.
Patane and Pam, and nameless nations more,
Who rear their tents on Menam’s winding shore,
Their vassal tribute yield to Siam’s throne;
And thousands more, 3 of laws, of names unknown,
That vast of land inhabit. Proud and bold,
Proud of their numbers, here the Laos hold
The far-spread lawns; the skirting hills obey
The barb’rous Avas’, and the Brahma’s sway.
Lo, distant far, another mountain chain
Rears its rude cliffs, the Guio’s dread domain;
Here brutaliz’d the human form is seen,
The manners fiend-like as the brutal mien:
With frothing jaws they suck the human blood,
And gnaw the reeking limbs, 1 their sweetest food;
Horrid, with figur’d seams of burning steel,
Their wolf-like frowns their ruthless lust reveal.
Cambaya there the blue-tinged Mecon laves,
Mecon the eastern Nile, whose swelling waves,
‘Captain of rivers’ nam’d, o’er many a clime,
In annual period, pour their fatt’ning slime.
The simple natives of these lawns believe
That other worlds the souls of beasts receive; 1
Where the fierce murd’rer-wolf, to pains decreed,
Sees the mild lamb enjoy the heav’nly mead.
Oh gentle Mecon, 1 on thy friendly shore
Long shall the muse her sweetest off’rings pour!
When tyrant ire, chaf’d by the blended lust
Of pride outrageous, and revenge unjust,
Shall on the guiltless exile burst their rage,
And madd’ning tempests on their side engage,
Preserv’d by Heav’n the song of Lusian fame,
The song, O VASCO, sacred to thy name,
Wet from the whelming surge, shall triumph o’er
The fate of shipwreck on the Mecon’s shore,
Here rest secure as on the muse’s breast!
Happy the deathless song, the bard, alas, unblest!
"Chiampa there her fragrant coast extends,
There Cochin-China’s cultur’d land ascends:
From Anam Bay begins the ancient reign
Of China’s beauteous art-adorn’d domain;
Wide from the burning to the frozen skies,
O’erflow’d with wealth, the potent empire lies.
Here, ere the cannon’s rage in Europe roar’d, 1
The cannon’s thunder on the foe was pour’d:
And here the trembling needle sought the north,
Ere Time in Europe brought the wonder forth.
No more let Egypt boast her mountain pyres;
To prouder fame yon bounding wall aspires,
A prouder boast of regal power displays
Than all the world beheld in ancient days.
Not built, created seems the frowning mound;
O’er loftiest mountain tops, and vales profound
Extends the wondrous length, with warlike castles crown’d.
Immense the northern wastes their horrors spread; 1
In frost and snow the seas and shores are clad.
These shores forsake, to future ages due:
A world of islands claims thy happier view,
Where lavish Nature all her bounty pours,
And flowers and fruits of ev’ry fragrance showers.
Japan behold; beneath the globe’s broad face
Northward she sinks, the nether seas embrace
Her eastern bounds; what glorious fruitage there,
Illustrious GAMA, shall thy labours bear!
How bright a silver mine! 1 when Heav’n’s own lore
From pagan dross shall purify her ore.
"Beneath the spreading wings of purple morn,
Behold what isles these glist’ning seas adorn!
’Mid hundreds yet unnam’d, Ternate behold!
By day, her hills in pitchy clouds inroll’d,
By night, like rolling waves, the sheets of fire
Blaze o’er the seas, and high to heav’n aspire.
For Lusian hands here blooms the fragrant clove,
But Lusian blood shall sprinkle ev’ry grove.
The golden birds that ever sail the skies
Here to the sun display their shining dyes,
Each want supplied, on air they ever soar;
The ground they touch not 2 till they breathe no more.
Here Banda’s isles their fair embroid’ry spread
Of various fruitage, azure, white, and red;
And birds of ev’ry beauteous plume display
Their glitt’ring radiance, as, from spray to spray,
From bower to bower, on busy wings they rove,
To seize the tribute of the spicy grove.
Borneo here expands her ample breast,
By Nature’s hand in woods of camphor dress’d;
The precious liquid, weeping from the trees,
Glows warm with health, the balsam of disease.
Fair are Timora’s dales with groves array’d,
Each riv’let murmurs in the fragrant shade,
And, in its crystal breast, displays the bowers
Of Sanders, blest with health-restoring powers.
Where to the south the world’s broad surface bends,
Lo, Sunda’s realm her spreading arms extends.
From hence the pilgrim brings the wondrous tale, 1
A river groaning through a dreary dale
(For all is stone around) converts to stone
Whate’er of verdure in its breast is thrown.
Lo, gleaming blue, o’er fair Sumatra’s skies,
Another mountain’s trembling flames arise;
Here from the trees the gum 2 all fragrance swells,
And softest oil a wondrous fountain wells.
Nor these alone the happy isle bestows,
Fine is her gold, her silk resplendent glows.
Wide forests there beneath Maldivia’s tide 3
From with’ring air their wondrous fruitage hide.
The green-hair’d Nereids tend the bow’ry dells,
Whose wondrous fruitage poison’s rage expels.
In Ceylon, lo, how high yon mountain’s brows!
The sailing clouds its middle height enclose.
Holy the hill is deem’d, the hallow’d tread
Of sainted footstep 1 marks its rocky head.
Lav’d by the Red Sea gulf, Socotra’s bowers
There boast the tardy aloe’s beauteous flowers.
On Afric’s strand, foredoom’d to Lusian sway,
Behold these isles, and rocks of dusky gray;
From cells unknown here bounteous ocean pours
The fragrant amber on the sandy shores.
And lo, the Island of the Moon 2 displays
Her vernal lawns, and num’rous peaceful bays:
The halcyons 3 hov’ring o’er the bays are seen,
And lowing herds adorn the vales of green.
"Thus, from the cape where sail was ne’er unfurl’d,
Till thine, auspicious, sought the eastern world,
To utmost wave, where first the morning star
Sheds the pale lustre of her silver car,
Thine eyes have view’d the empires and the isles,
The world immense, that crowns thy glorious toils--
That world where ev’ry boon is shower’d from Heav’n,
Now to the West, by thee, great chief, is giv’n. 4
"And still, O blest, thy peerless honours grow,
New op’ning views the smiling fates bestow.
With alter’d face the moving globe behold;
There ruddy ev’ning sheds her beams of gold.
While now, on Afric’s bosom faintly die
The last pale glimpses of the twilight sky,
Bright o’er the wide Atlantic rides the morn,
And dawning rays another world adorn:
To farthest north that world enormous bends,
And cold, beneath the southern pole-star ends.
Near either pole 1 the barb’rous hunter, dress’d
In skins of bears, explores the frozen waste:
Where smiles the genial sun with kinder rays,
Proud cities tower, and gold-roof’d temples blaze.
This golden empire, by the heav’n’s decree,
Is due, Castile, O favour’d power, to thee!
Even now, Columbus o’er the hoary tide
Pursues the ev’ning sun, his navy’s guide.
Yet, shall the kindred Lusian share the reign,
What time this world shall own the yoke of Spain.
The first bold hero 2 who to India’s shores
Through vanquish’d waves thy open’d path explores,
Driv’n by the winds of heav’n from Afric’s strand,
Shall fix the holy cross on yon fair land.
That mighty realm, for purple wood renown’d,
Shall stretch the Lusian empire’s western bound.
Fir’d by thy fame, and with his king in ire,
To match thy deeds shall Magalhaens aspire. 3
In all but loyalty, of Lusian soul,
No fear, no danger shall his toils control.
Along these regions, from the burning zone
To deepest south, he dares the course unknown.
While, to the kingdoms of the rising day,
To rival thee he holds the western way,
A land of giants 1 shall his eyes behold,
Of camel strength, surpassing human mould:
And, onward still, thy fame his proud heart’s guide
Haunting him unappeas’d, the dreary tide
Beneath the southern star’s cold gleam he braves,
And stems the whirls of land-surrounded waves.
For ever sacred to the hero’s fame,
These foaming straits shall bear his deathless name.
Through these dread jaws of rock he presses on,
Another ocean’s breast, immense, unknown,
Beneath the south’s cold wings, unmeasur’d, wide,
Receives his vessels; through the dreary tide
In darkling shades, where never man before
Heard the waves howl, he dares the nameless shore.
"Thus far, O favour’d Lusians, bounteous Heav’n
Your nation’s glories to your view has giv’n.
What ensigns, blazing to the morn, pursue
The path of heroes, open’d first by you!
Still be it yours the first in fame to shine:
Thus shall your brides new chaplets still entwine,
With laurels ever new your brows enfold,
And braid your wavy locks with radiant gold.
"How calm the waves, how mild the balmy gale!
The halcyons call; ye Lusians, spread the sails
Old ocean, now appeas’d, shall rage no more.
Haste, point the bowsprit to your native shore:
Soon shall the transports of the natal soil
O’erwhelm, in bounding joy, the thoughts of ev’ry toil."
The goddess spake 1; and VASCO wav’d his hand,
And soon the joyful heroes crowd the strand.
The lofty ships with deepen’d burthens prove
The various bounties of the Isle of Love.
Nor leave the youths their lovely brides behind,
In wedded bands, while time glides on, conjoin’d;
Fair as immortal fame in smiles array’d,
In bridal smiles, attends each lovely maid.
O’er India’s sea, wing’d on by balmy gales
That whisper’d peace, soft swell’d the steady sails t
Smooth as on wing unmov’d the eagle flies,
When to his eyrie cliff he sails the skies,
Swift o’er the gentle billows of the tide,
So smooth, so soft, the prows of GAMA glide;
And now their native fields, for ever dear,
In all their wild transporting charms appear;
And Tago’s bosom, while his banks repeat
The sounding peals of joy, receives the fleet.
With orient titles and immortal fame
The hero, band adorn their monarch’s name;
Sceptres and crowns beneath his feet they lay,
And the wide East is doom’d to Lusian sway. 1
Enough, my muse, thy wearied wing no more
Must to the seat of Jove triumphant soar.
Chill’d by my nation’s cold neglect, thy fires
Glow bold no more, and all thy rage expires.
Yet thou, Sebastian, thou, my king, attend;
Behold what glories on thy throne descend!
Shall haughty Gaul or sterner Albion boast
That all the Lusian fame in thee is lost!
Oh, be it thine these glories to renew,
And John’s bold path and Pedro’s course pursue: 2
Snatch from the tyrant-noble’s hand the sword,
And be the rights of humankind restor’d.
The statesman prelate to his vows confine,
Alone auspicious at the holy shrine;
The priest, in whose meek heart Heav’n pours its fires,
Alone to Heav’n, not earth’s vain pomp, aspires.
Nor let the muse, great king, on Tago’s shore,
In dying notes the barb’rous age deplore.
The king or hero to the muse unjust
Sinks as the nameless slave, extinct in dust.
But such the deeds thy radiant morn portends,
Aw’d by thy frown ev’n now old Atlas bends
His hoary head, and Ampeluza’s fields
Expect thy sounding steeds and rattling shields,
And shall these deeds unsung, unknown, expire!
Oh, would thy smiles relume my fainting ire!
I, then inspir’d, the wond’ring world should see
Great Ammon’s warlike son reviv’d in thee;
Reviv’d, unenvied 1 of the muse’s flame
That o’er the world resounds Pelides’ 2 name.
"O let th’ Iambic Muse revenge that wrong
Which cannot slumber in thy sheets of lead;
Let thy abused honour crie as long
As there be quills to write, or eyes to reade:
On his rank name let thine own votes be turn’d,
Oh may that man that hath the Muses scorn’d
Alive, nor dead, be ever of a Muse adorn’d."
298:1 Far o’er the silver lake of Mexic.--The city of Mexico is environed with an extensive lake; or, according to Cortez, in his second narration to Charles V., with two lakes, one of fresh, the other of salt water, in circuit about fifty leagues. This situation, said the Mexicans, was appointed by their God Vitzliputzli, who, according to the explanation of their picture-histories, led their forefathers a journey of fourscore years, in search of the promised land. Four of the principal priests carried the idol in a coffer of reeds. Whenever they halted they built p. 299 a tabernacle for their god in the midst of their camp, where they placed the coffer and the altar. They then sowed the land, and their stay or departure, without regard to the harvest, was directed by the orders received from their idol, till at last, by his command, they fixed their abode on the site of Mexico.
300:1 Before the love-sick Roman.--Mark Antony.
300:2 The beverage--the fountain’s cooling aid confess’d.--It was a custom of the ancients in warm climates to mix the coolest spring water with their wine, immediately before drinking; not, we may suppose, to render it less intoxicating, but on account of the cooling flavour it thereby received. Homer tells us that the wine which Ulysses gave to Polyphemus would bear twenty measures of water. Modern luxury has substituted preserved ice, in place of the more ancient mixture.
300:3 Music, such as erst subdued the horrid frown of hell, etc.--Alluding to the fable of Orpheus. Fanshaw’s translation, as already observed, was published fourteen years before the Paradise Lost. These lines of Milton--
bear a resemblance to these of Fanshaw--
[paragraph continues] To slumber amid their punishment, though omitted by Fanshaw, is literal:--
301:1 No more the summer of my life remains.--It is not certain when Camoëns wrote this. It seems, however, not long to have preceded the publication of his poem, at which time he was in his fifty-fifth year. This apostrophe to his muse may, perhaps, by some be blamed as another digression; but, so little does it require defence, that one need not hesitate to affirm that, had Homer, who often talks to his muse, introduced, on these favourable opportunities, any little picture or history of himself, these digressions would have been the most interesting parts of his works. Had any history of Homer complained, like this of Camoëns, it would have been bedewed with the tears of ages.
302:1 Thy faith repent not, nor lament thy wrong.--P. Alvarez Cabral, the second Portuguese commander who sailed to India, entered into a treaty of alliance with Trimumpara, king of Cochin, and high priest of Malabar. The zamorim raised powerful armies to dethrone him. His fidelity to the Portuguese was unalterable, though his affairs were brought to the lowest ebb.--See the history in the Preface.
[paragraph continues] Thus Virgil:--
[paragraph continues] That the visionary boat of Charon groaned under the weight of Æneas is a fine poetical stroke; but that the crazy rents let in the p. 303 water is certainly lowering the image. The thought, however, as managed in Camoëns is much grander than in Virgil, and affords a happy instance where the hyperbole is truly poetical.
The Lusiad affords many instances which must be highly pleasing to the Portuguese, but dry to those who are unacquainted with their history. Nor need one hesitate to assert that, were we not acquainted with the Roman history from our childhood, a great part of the Æneid would appear to us intolerably uninteresting. Sensible of this disadvantage which every version of historical poetry must suffer, the translator has not only in the notes added every incident which might elucidate the subject, but has also, all along, in the episode in the third and fourth books, in the description of the painted ensigns in the eighth, and in the allusions in the present book, endeavoured to throw every historical incident into that universal language, the picturesque of poetry. When Hector storms the Grecian camp, when Achilles marches to battle, every reader understands and is affected with the bold painting. But when Nestor talks of his exploits at the funeral games of Amarynces (Iliad xxiii.) the critics themselves cannot comprehend him, and have vied with each other in inventing explanations.
303:1 Proas, or paraos, Indian vessels which lie low on the water, are worked with oars, and carry 100 men and upwards apiece.
[paragraph continues] See the history in the Preface.
304:2 Round Lusus’ fleet to pour their sulph’rous entrails.--How Pacheco avoided this formidable danger, see the history in the preface.
304:3 Nor Tiber’s bridge.--When Porsenna besieged Rome, Horatius Cocles defended the pass of a bridge till the Romans destroyed it behind him. Having thus saved the pass, heavy armed as he was, he swam across the Tiber to his companions. Roman history, however, at this period, is often mixed with fable. Miltiades obtained a great victory over Darius at Marathon. The stand made by Leonidas at Thermopylæ is well known. The battles of Pacheco were in defence of the fords by which alone the city of Cochin could be entered. The numbers he withstood by land and sea, and the victories he obtained, are much more astonishing than the defence of Thermopylæ.
306:1 Bound to the mast the godlike hero stands.--English history affords an instance of similar resolution in Admiral Bembo, who was supported in a wooden frame, and continued the engagement after his legs and thighs were shivered in splinters. Contrary to the advice of his officers, the young Almeyda refused to bear off, though almost certain to be overpowered, and though both wind and tide were against him. His father had sharply upbraided him for a former retreat, where victory was thought impossible. He now fell the victim of his father’s ideas of military glory.
307:1 The fleets of India fly.--After having cleared the Indian seas, the viceroy, Almeyda, attacked the combined fleets of Egypt, Cambaya, and the zamorim, in the entrance and harbour of Diu, or Dio. The fleet of the zamorim almost immediately fled. That of Melique Yaz, Lord of Diu, suffered much; but the greatest slaughter fell upon the Egyptians and Turks, commanded by Mir-Hocem, who had defeated and killed the young Almeyda. Of 800 Mamelukes, or Turks, who fought under Mir-Hocem, only 22, says Osorius, survived this engagement. Melique Yaz, says Faria y Sousa, was born in slavery, and descended of the Christians of Roxia. The road to preferment is often a dirty one; but Melique’s was much less so than that of many. As the King of Cambaya was one day riding in state, an unlucky kite dunged upon his royal head. His majesty in great wrath swore he would give all he was worth to have the offender killed. Melique, who was an expert archer, immediately despatched an arrow, which brought the audacious hawk to the ground. For the merit of this eminent service he was made Lord of Diu, or Dio, a considerable city, the strongest and most important fortress at that time in all India. --See Faria, l. 2, c. 2.
308:1 Great Cunia.--Tristan da Cunha, or d’Acugna.
308:2 Heav’n indignant showers their arrows backward.--Some writers relate that, when Albuquerque besieged Ormuz, a violent wind drove the arrows of the enemy backward upon their own ranks. Osorius says, that many of the dead Persians and Moors were found to have died by arrows. But as that weapon was not used by the Portuguese he conjectures that, in their despair of victory, many of the enemy had thus killed themselves, rather than survive the defeat.
308:4 Bahrein, in the Persian Gulf.
308:5 What glorious palms on Goa’s isle I see.--This important place p. 309 was made an archbishopric, the capital of the Portuguese empire in the east, and the seat of their viceroys; for which purposes it is advantageously situated on the coast of Dekhan. It still remains in the possession of the Portuguese.
309:1 Malacca.--The conquest of this place was one of the greatest actions of Albuquerque. It became the chief port of the eastern part of Portuguese India, and second only to Goa. Besides a great many pieces of ordnance which were carried away by the Moors who escaped, 3000 large cannon remained the prize of the victors. When Albuquerque was on the way to Malacca, he attacked a large ship; but, just as his men were going to board her, she suddenly appeared all in flames, which obliged the Portuguese to bear off. Three days afterwards the same vessel sent a boat to Albuquerque, offering an alliance, which was accepted. The flames, says Osorius, were only artificial, and did not the least damage. Another wonderful adventure immediately happened. The admiral soon after sent his long-boats to attack a ship commanded by one Nehoada Beeguea. The enemy made an obstinate resistance. Nehoada himself was pierced with several mortal wounds, but lost not one drop of blood till a bracelet was taken off his arm, when immediately the blood gushed out. According to Osorius, this was said to be occasioned by the virtue of a stone in the bracelet, taken out of an animal called Cabrisia, which, when worn on the body, could prevent the effusion of blood from the most grievous wounds.
309:2 Yet art thou stain’d.--A detail of all the great actions of Albuquerque would have been tedious and unpoetical. Camoëns has chosen the most brilliant, and has happily suppressed the rest by a display of indignation. The French translator has the following note on this passage: "Behold another instance of our author’s prejudice! The action which he condemns had nothing in it blameable: but, as he was of a most amorous constitution, he thought every fault which could plead an amour in its excuse ought to be pardoned; p. 310 but true heroes, such as Albuquerque, follow other maxims. This great man had in his palace a beautiful Indian slave. He viewed her with the eyes of a father, and the care of her education was his pleasure. A Portuguese soldier, named Ruy Diaz, had the boldness to enter the general’s apartment, where he succeeded so well with the girl that he obtained his desire. When Albuquerque heard of it, he immediately ordered him to the gallows."
Camoëns, however, was no such undistinguishing libertine as this would represent him. In a few pages we find him praising the continence of Don Henry de Meneses, whose victory over his passions he calls the highest excellence of youth. Nor does it appear by what authority the Frenchman assures us of the chaste paternal affection which Albuquerque bore to this Indian girl. It was the great aim of Albuquerque to establish colonies in India, and, for that purpose, he encouraged his soldiers to marry with the natives. The most sightly girls were selected, and educated in the religion and household arts of Portugal, and portioned at the expense of the general. These he called his daughters, and with great pleasure he used to attend their weddings, several couples being usually joined together at one time. At one of these nuptials, says Faria, the festivity having continued late, and the brides being mixed together, several of the bridegrooms committed a blunder. The mistakes of the night, however, as they were all equal in point of honour, were mutually forgiven in the morning, and each man took his proper wife whom he had received at the altar. This delicate anecdote of Albuquerque’s sons and daughters is as bad a commentary on the note of Castera as it is on the severity which the commander showed to poor Diaz. Nor does Camoëns stand alone in the condemnation of the general. The historian agrees with the poet. Mentioning the death of D. Antonio Noronha, "This gentleman," says Faria, "used to moderate the violent temper of his uncle, Albuquerque, which soon after showed itself in rigid severity. He ordered a soldier to be hanged for an amour with one of the slaves whom he called daughters, and whom he used to give in marriage. When some of his officers asked him what authority he had to take the poor man’s life, he drew his sword, told them that was his commission, and instantly broke them." To marry his soldiers with the natives was the plan of Albuquerque: his severity, therefore, seems unaccountable, unless we admit the ‘perhaps’ of Camoëns, ou de cioso, perhaps it was jealousy.--But, whatever incensed the general, the execution of the soldier was contrary to the laws of every nation; * and the honest indignation of Camoëns against one of the greatest of his countrymen, one who was the grand architect of the Portuguese empire in the East, affords a noble instance of that manly freedom of sentiment which knows no right by which king or peer may do injustice to the meanest subject. Nor can we p. 312 omit the observation, that the above note of Castera is of a piece with the French devotion we have already seen him pay to the name of king, a devotion which breathes the true spirit of the blessed advice given by Father Paul to the republic of Venice: "When a nobleman commits an offence against a subject," says the Jesuit, "let every means be tried to justify him. But, if a subject has offended a nobleman, let him be punished with the utmost severity."
309:* Osorius relates the affair of Diaz with some other circumstances; but with no difference that affects this assertion.
311:1 Not Ammon.--Campaspe, the most beautiful concubine of Alexander the Great, was given by that monarch to Apelles, whom he perceived in love with her. Araspas had strict charge of the fair captive, Panthea. His attempt on her virtue was forgiven by Cyrus.
311:2 And Flandria’s earldom on the knight bestow’d.--"Baldwin, surnamed Iron-arm, Grand Forester of Flanders, being in love with Judith, the daughter of Charles the Bald, and widow of Ethelwolf, king of England, obtained his desire by force. Charles, though at first he highly resented, afterwards pardoned his crime, and consented to his marriage with the princess."--CASTERA.
This digression in the song of the nymph bears, in manner, a striking resemblance to the histories which often, even in the heat p. 312 of battle, the heroes of Homer relate to each other. That these little episodes have their beauty and propriety in an epic poem will strongly appear from a view of M. de la Motte’s translation of the Iliad into French verse. The four and twenty books of Homer he has contracted into twelve, and these contain no more lines than about four books of the original. A thousand embellishments which the warm poetical feelings of Homer suggested to him are thus thrown out by the Frenchman. But what is the consequence of this improvement? The work of La Motte is unread, even by his own countrymen, and despised by every foreigner who has the least relish for poetry and Homer.
312:1 And midnight horror shakes Medina’s shrine.--Medina, the city where Mohammed is buried. About six years after GAMA’S discovery of India, the Sultan of Egypt sent Maurus, the abbot of the monks at Jerusalem, who inhabit Mount Sion, on an embassy to Pope Julius II. The sultan, with severe threats to the Christians of the East in case of refusal, entreated the Pope to desire Emmanuel, king of Portugal, to send no more fleets to the Indian seas. The Pope sent Maurus to Emmanuel, who returned a very spirited answer to his holiness, assuring him that no threats, no dangers, could make him alter his resolutions, and lamenting that it had not yet been in his power to fulfil his purpose of demolishing the sepulchre and erasing the memorials of Mohammed from the earth. This, he says, was the first purpose of sending his fleets to India. It is with great art that Camoëns so often reminds us of the grand design of the expedition of his heroes to subvert Mohammedanism, and found a Christian empire in the East. But the dignity which this gives to his poem has already been observed in the preface.
312:2 Where Sheba’s sapient queen the sceptre bore.--The Abyssinians contend that their country is the Sheba mentioned in the Scripture, and that the queen who visited Solomon bore a son to that monarch, from whom their royal family, to the present time, is descended.
313:1 Snatch’d from thy golden throne.--Gaeta only reigned three months viceroy of India. During his second voyage, the third which the Portuguese made to India, he gave the zamorim some considerable defeats by sea, besides his victories over the Moors. These, however, are judiciously omitted by Camoëns, as the less striking part of his character.
The French translator is highly pleased with the prediction of GAMA’S death, delivered to himself at the feast. "The siren," says he, "persuaded that Gaeta is a hero exempt from weakness, does not hesitate to mention the end of his life. Games listens without any mark of emotion; the feast and the song continue. If I am not deceived, this is truly great."
313:2 Victorious Henry.--Don Henry de Menezes. He was only twenty-eight when appointed to the government of India. He died in his thirtieth year, a noble example of the most disinterested heroism.
314:1 Great Mascarine.--Pedro de Mascarenhas. The injustice done to this brave officer, and the usurpation of his government by Lopez Vaz de Sampayo, afford one of the most interesting periods of the history of the Portuguese in India.
314:2 Great Nunio.--Nunio de Cunha, one of the most worthy of the Portuguese governors.
315:1 Awed by his fame.--That brave, generous spirit, which prompted Camoëns to condemn the great Albuquerque for injustice to a common soldier, has here deserted him. In place of poetical compliment, on the terrors of his name, Noronha deserved infamy. The siege of Dio, it is true, was raised on the report of his approach, but that report was the stratagem of Coje Zofar, one of the general officers of the assailants. The delays of Noronha were as highly blamable as his treatment of his predecessor, the excellent Nunio, was unworthy of a gentleman.
315:2 A son of thine, O Gama.--Stephen de Gama.
315:3 A vet’ran, fam’d on Brazil’s shore.--Martin Alonzo de Souza. He was celebrated for clearing the coast of Brazil of several pirates, who were formidable to that infant colony.
315:4 O’er blood-stain’d ground.--This is as near the original as elegance will allow--de sangue cheyo--which Fanshaw has thus punned:-- p. 316
a place near Banbury in Oxfordshire.
316:1 Cape Comorin, the southernmost point of India.--Ed.
316:2 The Rumien fierce, who boasts the name of Rome.--When the victories of the Portuguese began to overspread the East, several Indian princes, by the counsels of the Moors, applied for assistance to the Sultan of Egypt, and the Grand Signior. The troops of these Mohammedan princes were in the highest reputation for bravery, and though, composed of many different nations, were known among the orientals by one common name. Ignorance delights in the marvellous. The history of ancient Rome made the same figure among the easterns, as that of the fabulous, or heroic, ages does with us, with this difference, it was better believed. The Turks of Roumania pretended to be the descendants of the Roman conquerors, and the Indians gave them and their auxiliaries the name of Rumēs, or Romans. In the same manner, the fame of Godfrey in the East conferred the name of Franks on all the western Christians, who, on their part, gave the name of Moors to all the Mohammedans of the East.
317:1 No hope, bold Mascarene.--The commander of Diu, or Dio, during this siege, one of the most memorable in the Portuguese history.
317:2 Fierce Hydal-Kan.--The title of the lords or princes of Decan, who in their wars with the Portuguese have sometimes brought 400,000 men into the field. The prince here mentioned, after many revolts, was at last finally subdued by Don John de Castro, the fourth viceroy of India, with whose reign our poet judiciously ends the prophetic song. Albuquerque laid the plan, and Castro completed the system of the Portuguese empire in the East. It is with propriety, therefore, that the prophecy given to GAMA is here summed up. Nor is the discretion of Camoëns in this instance inferior to his judgment. He is now within a few years of his own times, when he himself was upon the scene in India. But whatever he had said of his contemporaries would have been liable to misconstruction, and every sentence would have been branded with the epithets of flattery or malice. A little poet would have been happy in such an opportunity to resent his wrongs. But the silent contempt of Camoëns does him true honour.
In this historical song, as already hinted, the translator has been attentive, as much as he could, to throw it into these universal languages, the picturesque and characteristic. To convey the sublimest instruction to princes, is, according to Aristotle, the peculiar province of the epic muse. The striking points of view in which the different characters of the governors of India are here placed, are in the most happy conformity to this ingenious canon of the Stagyrite.
The motions of the heavenly bodies, in every system, bear at all times the same uniform relation to each other; these expressions, therefore, are strictly just. The first relates to the appearance, the second to the reality. Thus, while to us the sun appears to go down, to more western inhabitants of the globe he appears to rise, and while he rises to us, he is going down to the more eastern; the difference being entirely relative to the various parts of the earth. And in this the expressions of our poet are equally applicable to the Ptolemaic and Copernican systems. The ancient hypothesis which made our earth the centre of the universe, is the system adopted by Camoëns, a happiness, in the opinion of the translator, to the English Lusiad. The new system is so well known, that a poetical description of it would have been no novelty to the English reader. The other has not only that advantage in its favour: but this description is perhaps the finest and fullest that-ever was given of it in poetry, that of Lucretius, l.v. being chiefly argumentative, and therefore less picturesque.
Our author studied at the university of Coimbra, where the ancient system and other doctrines of the Aristotelians then, and long afterward, prevailed.
320:1 He holds His loftiest state.--Called by the old philosophers and school divines the sensorium of the Deity.
320:2 These spheres behold.--According to the Peripatetics, the universe consisted of eleven spheres inclosed within each other; as Fanshaw has familiarly expressed it by a simile which he has lent our author. The first of these spheres, he says--
[paragraph continues] In their accounts of this first-mentioned, but eleventh, sphere, which they called the Empyrean, or heaven of the blest, the disciples of Aristotle, and the Arab Moors, gave loose to all the warmth of imagination. And several of the Christian fathers applied to it the descriptions of heaven which are found in the Holy Scripture.
320:3 Hence motion darts its force.--This is the tenth sphere, the Primum Mobile of the ancient system. To account for the appearances p. 321 of the heavens, the Peripatetics ascribed a double motion to it. While its influence drew the other orbs from east to west, they supposed it had a motion of its own from west to east. To effect this, the ponderous weight and interposition of the ninth sphere, or crystalline heaven, was necessary. The ancient astronomers observed that the stars shifted their places. This they called the motion of the crystalline heaven, expressed by our poet at the rate of one pace during two hundred solar years. The famous Arab astronomer, Abulhasan, in his Meadows of Gold, calculates the revolution of this sphere to consist of 49,000 of our years. But modern discoveries have not only corrected the calculation, * but have also ascertained the reason of the apparent motion of the fixed stars. The earth is not a perfect sphere; the quantity of matter is greater at the equator; hence the earth turns on her axis in a rocking motion, revolving round the axis of the ecliptic, which is called the procession of the equinoxes, and makes the stars seem to shift their placed at about the rate of a degree in 72 years; according to which all the stars seem to perform one revolution in the space of 25,920 years, after which they return exactly to the same situation as at the beginning of this period. However imperfeet in their calculations, the Chaldean astronomers perceived that the motions of the heavens composed one great revolution. This they called the annus magnus, which those who did not understand them mistook for a restoration of all things to their first originals.
320:* However deficient the astronomy of Abulhasan may be, it is nothing to the calculation of his prophet Mohammed, who tells his disciples, that the stars were each about the bigness of a house, and hung from the sky on chains of gold.
321:1 And binds the starry sphere.--This was called the firmament, or eighth heaven. Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Apollo, Venus, Mercury, and Diana, were the planets which gave name to, and whose orbits composed, the other spheres or heavens.
322:1 In shining frost the Northern Chariot rides.--Commonly called Charles’ Wain. Andromeda was the daughter of Cepheus, king of Ethiopia, and of Cassiope. Cassiope boasted that she and her daughter were more beautiful than Juno and the Nereids. Andromeda, to appease the goddess, was, at her father’s command, chained to a rock to be devoured by a sea monster, but was saved by Perseus, who obtained of Jupiter that all the family should be placed among the stars. Orion was a hunter, who, for an attempt on Diana, was stung to death by a serpent. The star of his name portends tempests. The Dogs; fable gives this honour to those of different hunters. The faithful dog of Erigone, however, that died mad with grief for the death of his mistress, has the best title to preside over the dog-days. The Swan; whose form Jupiter borrowed to enjoy Leda. The Hare, when pursued by Orion, was saved by Mercury, and placed in heaven, to signify that Mercury presides over melancholy dispositions. The Lyre, with which Orpheus charmed Pluto. The Dragon which guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides, and the ship Argo complete the number of the constellations mentioned by Camoëns. If our author has blended the appearances of heaven with those of the painted artificial sphere, it is in the manner of the classics. Ovid, in particular, thus describes the heavens, in the second book of his Metamorphoses.
323:1 Such are their laws impress’d by God’s dread will.--Though a modern narrative of gallant adventures by no means requires the supposition of a particular Providence, that supposition, however, is absolutely necessary to the grandeur of an epic poem. The great examples of Homer and Virgil prove it; and Camoëns understood and felt its force. While his fleet combat all the horrors of unploughed oceans, we do not view his heroes as idle wanderers; the care of heaven gives their voyage the greatest importance. When GAMA falls on his knees and spreads his hands to heaven on the discovery of India, we are presented with a figure infinitely more noble than that of the most successful conqueror who is supposed to act under the influence of fatalism or chance. The human mind is conscious of its own weakness. It expects an elevation in poetry, and demands a degree of importance superior to the caprices of unmeaning accident. The poetical reader cannot admire the hero who is subject to such blind fortuity. He appears to us with an abject, uninteresting littleness. Our poetical ideas of permanent greatness demand a GAMA, a hero whose enterprises and whose person interest the care of Heaven and the happiness of his people. Nor must this supposition be confined merely to the machinery. The reason why it pleases, also requires, that the supposition should be uniform throughout the whole poem. Virgil, by dismissing Æneas through the ivory gate of Elysium, has hinted that all his pictures of a future state were merely dreams, and has thus destroyed the highest merit of the compliment to his patron Augustus. But Camoëns has certainly been more happy. A fair opportunity offered itself to indulge the opinions of Lucretius and the Academic Grove; but Camoëns, in ascribing the government of the universe to the will of God, has not only preserved the philosophy of his poem perfectly uniform, but has also shown that the Peripatetic system is, in this instance, exactly conformable to the Newtonian. p. 324 Though the Author of nature has placed man in a state of moral agency, and made his happiness and misery to depend upon it, and though every page of human history is stained with the tears of injured innocence and the triumphs of guilt, with miseries which must affect a moral, or thinking being, yet we have been told, that God perceiveth it not, and that what mortals call moral evil vanishes from before His more perfect sight. Thus the appeal of injured innocence, and the tear of bleeding virtue fall unregarded, unworthy of the attention of the Deity. * Yet, with what raptures do these philosophers behold the infinite wisdom and care of Beelzebub, their god of flies, in the admirable and various provision he has made for the preservation of the eggs of vermin, and the generation of maggots. †
Much more might be said in proof that our poet’s philosophy does not altogether deserve ridicule. And those who allow a general, but deny a particular providence, will, it is hoped, excuse Camoëns, on the consideration, that if we estimate a general moral providence by analogy of that providence which presides over vegetable and animal nature, a more particular one cannot possibly be wanted. If a particular providence, however, is still denied, another consideration obtrudes itself; if one pang of a moral agent is unregarded, one tear of injured innocence left to fall unpitied by the Deity, if Ludit in humanis Divina potentia rebus, the consequence is, that the human conception can form an idea of a much better God. And it may modestly be presumed we may hazard the laugh of the wisest philosopher, and without scruple assert, that it is impossible that a created mind should conceive an idea of perfection superior to that which is possessed by the Creator and Author of existence.
323:* Perhaps, like Lucretius, some philosophers think this would be too much trouble to the Deity. But the idea of trouble to the Divine Nature, is much the same as another argument of the same philosopher, who having asserted, that before the creation the gods could not know what seed would produce, from thence wisely concludes that the world was made by chance.
323:† Ray, in his Wisdom of God in the Creation (though he did not deny a Providence), has carried this extravagance to the highest pitch. "To give life," says he, "is the intention of the creation; and how wonderful does the goodness of God appear in this, that the death and putrefaction of one animal is the life of thousands." So, the misery of a family on the death of a parent is nothing, for ten thousand maggots are made happy by it.--O Philosophy, when wilt thou forget the dreams of thy slumbers in Bedlam!
325:1 Here Christian Europe.--Vès Europa Christian.--As Europe is already described in the third Lusiad, this short account of it has as great propriety, as the manner of it contains dignity.
325:2 Afric behold.--This just and strongly picturesque description of Africa is finely contrasted with the character of Europe. It contains also a masterly compliment to the expedition of GAMA, which is all along represented as the harbinger and diffuser of the blessings of civilization.
326:1 Gonsalo’s zeal shall glow.--Gonsalo de Sylveyra, a Portuguese Jesuit, in 1555, sailed from Lisbon on a mission to Monomotapa. His labours were at first successful; but ere he effected any regular establishment he was murdered by the barbarians.--CASTERA.
326:2 Great Naya, too.--Don Pedro de Naya. . . . In 1505 he erected a fort in the kingdom of Sofala, which is subject to Monomotapa. Six thousand Moors and Caffres laid siege to this garrison, which he defended with only thirty-five men. After having several times suffered by unexpected sallies, the barbarians fled, exclaiming to their king that he had led them to fight against God.--CASTERA.
326:3 In Abyssinia Heav’n’s own altars blaze.--Christianity was planted here in the first century, but mixed with many Jewish rites unused by other Christians of the East. This appears to give some countenance to the pretensions of their emperors, who claim their descent from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and at least reminds us of Acts viii. 27, where we are told, that the treasurer of the Queen of Ethiopia came to worship at Jerusalem. Numerous monasteries, we are told, are in this country. But the clergy are very ignorant, and the laity gross barbarians. Much has been said of the hill Amara--p. 327
and where, according to Urreta (a Spanish Jesuit), is the library founded by the Queen of Sheba, and enriched with all those writings of which we have either possession or only the names. The works of Noah, and the lectures on the mathematics which Abraham read in the plains of Mature, are here. And so many are the volumes, that 200 monks are employed as librarians. It is needless to add, that Father Urreta is a second Sir John Mandevylle.
327:1 Thy son, brave Gama.--When Don Stephen de Gama was governor of India, the Christian Emperor and Empress-mother of Ethiopia solicited the assistance of the Portuguese against the usurpations of the pagan King of Zeyla. Don Stephen sent his brother, Don Christoval with 500 men. The prodigies of their valour astonished the Ethiopians. But after having twice defeated the tyrant, and reduced his great army to the last extremity, Don Christoval, urged too far by the impetuosity of his youthful valour, was taken prisoner. He was brought before the usurper, and put to death in the most cruel manner. Waxed threads were twisted with his beard and afterwards set on fire. He was then dipped in boiling wax, and at last beheaded by the hand of the tyrant. The Portuguese esteem him a martyr, and say that his torments and death were inflicted because he would not renounce the faith.--See Faria y Sousa.
327:2 Infidel, pagan.
328:1 Before the virgin-martyr’s tomb.--He must be a dull reader indeed who cannot perceive and relish the amazing variety which prevails in our poet. In the historical narrative of wars, where it is most necessary, yet from the sameness of the subject, most difficult, to attain, our author always attains it with the most graceful ease. In the description of countries he not only follows the manner of Homer and Virgil, not only distinguishes each region by its most striking characteristic, but also diversifies his geography with other incidents introduced by the mention of the place. St. Catherine, virgin and martyr, according to Romish histories, was buried on Mount Sinai, and a chapel was erected over her grave. It is now the Monastery of St. Catherine.--Ed.
328:2 The crescent, the sign of Turkish supremacy.--Ed.
328:3 De Branco’s sword.--Don Pedro de Castel-Branco. He obtained a great victory, near Ormuz, over the combined fleets of the Moors, Turks, and Persians.
329:1 There Barem’s isle.--The island of Bahrein is situated in the Persian Gulf. It is celebrated for the plenty, variety, and fineness of its diamonds.
329:2 Her warrior sons disdain the arms of fire.--This was the character of the Persians when. GAMA arrived in the East. Yet, though they thought it dishonourable to use the musket, they esteemed it no disgrace to rush from a thicket on an unarmed foe. This reminds one of the spirit of the old romance. Orlando having taken the first invented cannon from the King of Friza, throws it into the sea with the most heroic execrations. Yet the heroes of chivalry think it no disgrace to take every advantage afforded by invulnerable hides and enchanted armour.
[paragraph continues] Presuming on the ruins which are found on this island, the natives pretend that the Armuzia of Pliny and Strabo was here situated. But this is a mistake, for that city stood on the continent. The Moors, however, have built a city in this isle, which they call by the ancient name.
330:1 He who first shall crown thy labours, Gama.--Pedro de Cabral, of whom see the preface.
330:3 Some Macon’s orgies.--Macon, a name of Mecca, the birthplace of Mohammed.
330:4 The tomb where Thomas sleeps.--There is (to talk in the Indian style) a caste of gentlemen, whose hearts are all impartiality and candour to every religion, except one, the most moral which ever the world heard of. A tale of a Brahmin, or a priest of Jupiter, would to them appear worthy of poetry. But to introduce an apostle Common sense, however, will prevail; and the episode of St. Thomas will appear to the true critic equal in dignity and propriety.
To renew and complete the labours of the apostle, the messenger of Heaven, is the great design of the hero of the poem, and of the p. 331 future missions, in consequence of the discoveries which are the subject of it.
The Christians of St. Thomas, found in Malabar on the arrival of GAMA, we have already mentioned. The Jesuit missionaries have given most pompous accounts of the Christian antiquities of India and China. When the Portuguese arrived in India, the head of the Malabar Christians, named Jacob, styled himself Metropolitan of India and China. And a Syriac breviary * of the Indian Christians offers praise to God for sending St. Thomas to India and China. In 1625, in digging for a foundation near Sigansu, metropolis of the province of Xensi, was found a stone with a cross on it, full of Chinese, and some Syriac characters, containing the names of bishops, and an account of the Christian religion, "that it was brought from Judea; that having been weakened, it was renewed under the reign of the great Tam" (cir. A.D. 630). But the Christians, say the Jesuits, siding with the Tartars, cir. A.D. 1200, were extirpated by the Chinese. In 1543, Fernand Pinto, observing some ruins near Peking, was told by the people, that 200 years before, a holy man who worshipped Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, lived there; and being murdered, was thrown into a river, but his body would not sink; and soon after the city was destroyed by an earthquake. The same Jesuit found people at Caminam who knew the doctrines of Christianity, which they said were preached to their fathers, by John, the disciple of Thomas. In 1635, some heathens, by night passing through a village in the province of Fokien, saw some stones which emitted light, under which were found the figure of crosses. From China, St. Thomas returned to Meliapore in Malabar, at a time when a prodigious beam of timber floated on the sea near the coast. The king endeavoured to bring it ashore, but all the force of men and elephants was in vain. St. Thomas desired leave to build a church with it, and immediately dragged it to shore with a single thread. A church was built, and the king baptized. This enraged the Brahmins, the chief of whom killed his own son, and accused Thomas of the murder. But the saint, by restoring the youth to life, discovered the wickedness of his enemies. He was afterwards killed by a lance while kneeling at the altar; after, according to tradition, he had built 3300 stately churches, many of which were rebuilt, cir. 800, by an Armenian named Thomas Cananeus. In 1533, the body of the apostle, with the head of the lance beside him, was found in his church by D. Duarte de ’geneses; and in 1558 was, by D. Constantine de Braganza, removed to Goa. To these accounts, selected from Faria y Sousa, let two from Osorius be added. When Martin Alonzo de Souza was viceroy, some brazen tables were brought to him, inscribed with unusual characters, which were explained by a learned Jew, and imported that St. Thomas had built a church at Meliapore. And by an p. 332 account sent to Cardinal Henrico, by the Bishop of Cochin, in 1562, when the Portuguese repaired the ancient chapel of St. Thomas, † there was found a stone cross with several characters on it, which the best antiquarians could not interpret, till at last a Brahmin translated it, "That in the reign of Sagam, Thomas was sent by the Son of God, whose disciple he was, to teach the law of heaven in India; that he built a church, and was killed by a Brahmin at the altar."
A view of Portuguese Asia, which must include the labours of the Jesuits, forms a necessary part in the comment on the Lusiad: this note, therefore, and some obvious reflections upon it, are in place. It is as easy to bury an inscription and find it again, as it is to invent a silly tale; but, though suspicion of fraud on the one hand, and silly absurdity on the other, lead us to despise the authority of the Jesuits, yet one fact remains indisputable. Christianity had been much better known in the East, several centuries before, than it was at the arrival of GAMA. Where the name was unknown, and where the Jesuits were unconcerned, crosses were found. The long existence of the Christians of St. Thomas in the midst of a vast pagan empire, proves that the learned of that kingdom must have some knowledge of their doctrines. And these facts give countenance to some material conjectures concerning the religion of the Brahmins.
330:* The existence of this breviary is a certain fact. These Christians had the Scripture also in the Syriac language.
330:† This was a very ancient building, in the very first style of Christian churches. The Portuguese have now disfigured it with their repairs and new buildings.
332:1 When now the chief who wore the triple thread.--Of this, thus Osorius: "Terna fila ab humero dextero in latus finistrum gerunt, ut designent trinam in natura divina rationem.--They (the Brahmins) wear three threads, which reach from the right shoulder to the left side, as significant of the trinal distinction in the Divine Nature." That some sects of the Brahmins wear a symbolical tessera of three threads is acknowledged on all hands; but, from whatever the custom arose, it is not to be supposed that the Brahmins, who have thousands of ridiculous contradictory legends, should agree in their accounts or explanations of it. They have various accounts of a Divine Person having assumed human nature. And the god Brahma, as observed by Cudworth, is generally mentioned as united in the government of the universe with two others, sometimes of different names. They have also images with three heads rising out of one body, p. 333 which they say represent the Divine Nature. * But are there any traces of these opinions in the accounts which the Greek and Roman writers have given us of the Brahmins? And will the wise pay any credit to the authority of those books which the public never saw, and which, by the obligation of their keepers, they are never to see; and some of which, by the confession of their keepers, since the appearance of Mohammed, have been rejected? The Platonic idea of a trinity of divine attributes was well known to the ancients, yet perhaps the Athanasian controversy offers a fairer field to the conjecturist. That controversy for several ages engrossed the conversation of the East. All the subtilty of the Greeks was called forth, and no speculative contest was ever more universally or warmly disputed; so warmly, that it is a certain fact that Mohammed, by inserting into his Koran some declarations in favour of the Arians, gained innumerable proselytes to his new religion. Abyssinia, Egypt, Syria, Persia, and Armenia were perplexed with this unhappy dispute, and from the earliest times these countries have had a commercial intercourse with India. The number, blasphemy, and absurdity of the Jewish legends of the Talmud and Targums, bear a striking resemblance to the holy legends of the Brahmins. The Jews also assert the great antiquity of their Talmudical legends. Adam, Enoch, and Noah are named among their authors; but we know their date; Jerusalem, ere their birth, was destroyed by Titus. We also know, that the accounts which the Greek writers give of the Brahmins fall infinitely short of those extravagances which are confessed even by their modern admirers. And Mohammedanism does not differ from Christianity, more than the account which even these gentlemen give, does from that of Porphyry. That laborious philosopher, though possessed of all the knowledge of his age, though he mentions their metempsychosis and penances, has not a word of any of their idols, or the legends of Brahma or his brothers. On the contrary, he represents their worship as extremely pure and simple. Strabo’s account of them is similar. And Eusebius has assured us they worshipped no images. † Yet, on the arrival of the modern Europeans in India, innumerable were their idols; and all the superstition of ancient Egypt, in the adoration of animals and vegetables, seemed more than revived by the Brahmins. Who that considers this striking alteration in their features, can withhold his contempt when he is told of the religious care with which these philosophers have these four thousand years preserved their sacred rites.
332:* To these undoubted facts the author will not add the authority of a Xavier, who tells us, that he prevailed upon a Brahmin to explain to him some part of their hidden religion; when to his surprise, the Indian, in a low voice, repeated the Ten Commandments.
332:† . . . χιλιάδες πολλὰι τῶν λεγομένων Βραχμάνων, ὅιτινες κατὰ παραδισόν τῶν προγόνων καὶ νόμων, οὐτε φονεύουσιν, ΟΥΤΕ ΞΟΑΝΑ ΣΕΒΟΝΤΑΙ--EUSEB. Prep. Evan. lib. 6, c. 10, p. 275. Ed. Paris, 1628.
334:1 Thee, Thomas, thee, the plaintive Ganges mourn’d.--The versification of the original is here exceedingly fine. Even those who are unacquainted with the Portuguese may perceive it.
335:1 Like him, ye Lusians, simplest Truth pursue.--It is now time to sum up what has been said of the labours of the Jesuits. Diametrically opposite to this advice was their conduct in every Asiatic country where they pretended to propagate the gospel. Sometimes we find an individual sincere and pious, but the great principle which always actuated them as a united body was the lust of power and secular emolument, the possession of which they thought could not be better secured than by rendering themselves of the utmost importance to the see of Rome. In consequence of these principles, wherever they came their first care was to find what were the great objects of the fear and adoration of the people. If the sun was esteemed the giver of life, Jesus Christ was the Son of that luminary. and they were his younger brethren, sent to instruct the ignorant. If the barbarians were in dread of evil spirits, Jesus Christ came on purpose to banish them from the world, had driven them from Europe, * and the Jesuits were sent to the East to complete his unfinished mission. If the Indian converts still retained a veneration for the powder of burned cow-dung, the Jesuits made the sign of the cross over it, and the Indian besmeared himself with it as usual. Heaven, or universal matter, they told the Chinese, was the God of the Christians, and the sacrifices of Confucius were solemnized in the churches of the Jesuits. This worship of Confucius, Voltaire, with his wonted accuracy, denies. But he ought to have known that this, with the worship of tien, or heaven, had been long complained of at the court of Rome (see Dupin), and that after the strictest scrutiny the charge was fully proved, and Clement XI., in 1703, sent Cardinal Tournon to the small remains of the Jesuits p. 336 in the East with a papal decree to reform these abuses. But the cardinal, soon after his arrival, was poisoned, in Siam by the holy fathers. Xavier, and the other Jesuits who succeeded him, by the dexterous use of the great maxims of their master Loyala, Omnibus omnia, et omnia munda mundis, gained innumerable proselytes. They contradicted none of the favourite opinions of their converts, they only baptized, and gave them crucifixes to worship, and all was well. But their zeal in uniting to the see of Rome the Christians found in the East descended to the minutest particulars. And the native Christians of Malabar were so violently persecuted as heretics that the heathen princes took arms in their defence in 1570 (see Geddes, Hist. Malabar), and the Portuguese were almost driven from India. Abyssinia, by the same arts, was steeped in blood, and two or three Abyssinian emperors lost their lives in endeavouring to establish the pope’s supremacy. An order at last was given from the throne to hang every missionary, without trial, wherever apprehended, the emperor himself complaining that he could not enjoy a day in quiet for the intrigues of the Romish friars. In China, also, they soon rendered themselves insufferable. Their skill in mathematics and the arts introduced them to great favour at court, but all their cunning could not conceal their villainy. Their unwillingness to ordain the natives raised suspicions against a profession thus monopolized by strangers; their earnest zeal in amassing riches, and their interference with, and deep designs on, secular power (the fatal rock on which they have so often been shipwrecked), appeared, and their churches were levelled with the ground. About 90,000 of the new converts, together with their teachers, were massacred, and their religion was prohibited. In Japan the rage of government even exceeded that of China, and in allusion to their chief object of adoration, the cross, several of the Jesuit fathers were crucified by the Japanese, and the revival of the Christian name was interdicted by the severest laws. Thus, in a great measure, ended in the East the labours of the society of Ignatius Loyola, a society which might have diffused the greatest blessings to mankind, could honesty have been added to their great learning and abilities. Had that indefatigable zeal which laboured to promote the interests of their own brotherhood and the Roman see been employed in the real interests of humanity and civilization, the great design of diffusing the law of Heaven, challenged by its author as the purpose of the Lusiad, would have been amply completed, and the remotest hordes of Tartary and Africa ere now had been happily civilized. But though the Jesuits have failed, they have afforded a noble lesson to mankind.
335:* This trick, it is said, has been played in America within these twenty years, where the notion of evil spirits gives the poor Indians their greatest misery. The French Jesuits told the Six Nations, that Jesus Christ was a Frenchman, and had driven all evil demons from France; that he had a great love for the Indians, whom he intended also to deliver, but taking England in his way, he was crucified by the wicked Londoners.
337:1 The dying.--The innumerable superstitions performed on the banks of the river Ganges, afford a pitiable picture of the weakness of humanity. The circumstances here mentioned are literally true. It is no uncommon scene for the English ships to be surrounded with the corpses which come floating down this hallowed stream.
[paragraph continues] The tradition of this country boasted this infamous and impossible original. While other nations pretend to be descended of demi-gods, the Peguans were contented to trace their pedigree from a Chinese woman and a dog; the only living creatures which survived a shipwreck on their coast.--See Faria.
337:3 A pious queen their horrid rage restrain’d.--Thus in the original:
338:1 And ’mid white whirlpools down the ocean driven.--See the same account of Sicily, Virg. Æn. iii.
338:2 Ophir its Tyrian name.--Sumatra has been by some esteemed the Ophir of the Holy Scriptures; but the superior fineness of the gold of Sofala, and its situation, favour the claim of that Ethiopian isle.--See Bochart. Geog. Sacr.
338:3 And thousands more.--The extensive countries between India and China, where Ptolemy places his man-eaters, and where Mandevylle found "men without heads, who saw and spoke through holes in their breasts," continues still very imperfectly known. The Jesuits have told many extravagant lies of the wealth of these provinces. By the most authentic accounts they seem to have been peopled by colonies from China. The religion and manufactures of the Siamese, in particular, confess the resemblance. In some districts, however, they have greatly degenerated from the civilization of the mother country.
339:1 And gnaw the reeking limbs.--Much has been said on this subject, some denying and others asserting the existence of anthropophagi or man-eaters. Porphyry (de Abstin. i. 4 § 21 *) says that the Massagetæ and Derbices (people of north-eastern Asia), esteeming those most miserable who died of sickness, when their parents and relations grew old, killed and ate them, holding it more honourable thus to consume them than that they should be destroyed by vermin. St. Jerome has adopted this word for word, and has added to it an authority of his own: "Quid loquar," says he, (Adv. Joy. l. 2, c. 6), "de cæteris nationibus; cum ipse adolescentulus in Gallia viderim Scotos, gentem Britannicam, humanis vesci carnibus, et cum per sylvas porcorum greges et armentorum, pecudumque reperiant, pastorum nates, et fæminarum papillas solere abscindere, et has solas ciborum delicias arbitrari?" Mandevylle ought next to be cited. "Aftirwarde men gon be many yles be see unto a yle that men clepen Milhe: there is a full cursed peple: thei delyten in ne thing more than to fighten and to fle men, and to drynken gladlyest mannes blood, which they clepen Dieu."--P. 235. Yet, whatever absurdity may appear on the face of these tales; and what can be more absurd than to suppose that a few wild Scots or Irish (for the name was then proper to Ireland), should so lord it in Gaul, as to eat the breasts of the women and the hips of the shepherds? Yet, whatever absurdities our Mandevylles may have obtruded on the public, the evidence of the fact is not thereby wholly destroyed. Though Dampier and other visitors of barbarous nations have assured us that they never met with any man-eaters, and though Voltaire has ridiculed the opinion, yet one may venture the assertion of their existence, without partaking of a credulity similar to that of those foreigners, who believed that the men of Kent were born with tails like sheep (see Lambert’s Peramb.), the punishment inflicted upon them for the murder of Thomas à Becket. Many are the credible accounts, that different barbarous nations used to eat their prisoners of war. According to the authentic testimony of the best Portuguese writers, the natives of Brazil, on their high festivals, brought forth their captives, and after many barbarous ceremonies, p. 340 at last roasted and greedily devoured their mangled limbs. During his torture the unhappy victim prided himself in his manly courage, upbraiding their want of skill in the art of tormenting, and telling his murderers that his belly had been the grave of many of their relations. Thus the fact was certain long before a late voyage discovered the horrid practice in New Zealand. To drink human blood has been more common. The Gauls and other ancient nations practised it. When Magalhaens proposed Christianity to the King of Subo, a north-eastern Asiatic island, and when Francis de Castro discovered Santigana and other islands, a hundred leagues north of the Moluccas, the conversion of their kings was confirmed by each party drinking of the blood of the other. Our poet Spenser tells us, in his View of the State of Ireland, that he has seen the Irish drink human blood, particularly, he adds, "at the execution of a notable traitor at Limerick, called Murrogh O’Brien, I saw an old woman, who was his foster-mother, take up his head whilst he was quartering and suck up all the blood that run thereout, saying, that the earth was not worthy to drink it, and therewith also steeped her face and breast and tore her hair, crying out and shrieking most terribly." It is worthy of regard that the custom of marking themselves with hot irons, and tattooing, is characteristic both of the Guios of Camoëns and of the present inhabitants of New Zealand. And if, as its animals indicate, the island of Otaheite was first peopled by a shipwreck, the friendship existing in a small society might easily obliterate the memory of one custom, while the less unfriendly one of tattooing was handed down, a memorial that they owed their origin to the north-eastern parts of Asia, where that custom particularly prevails.
339:* Ιστοροῦνται γοῦν Μασσαγέται καὶ Δέρβυκες ἁθλιωτάτους ἡγεῖσθαι τῶν οἱκείων τοὺς ἀυτομάτους τελευτήσαντας· διὸ καὶ φθάσαντες καταθύουσιν καὶ ἐστιῶνται τῶν φιλτάτων τοὺς γεγηρακότας.
340:1 Other worlds the souls of beasts receive.--That Queen Elizabeth reigned in England, is not more certain than that the most ignorant nations in all ages have had the idea of a state after death. The same faculty which is conscious of existence whispers the wish for it; and, so little acquainted with the deductions of reasoning have some tribes been, that not only their animals, but even the ghosts of their domestic utensils have been believed to accompany them to the islands of the blessed. Long ere the voice of philosophy was heard, the opinion of an after state was popular in Greece. The works of Homer bear incontestable evidence of this. And there is not a feature in the history of the human mind better ascertained, than that no sooner did speculation seize upon the topic, than belief declined, and, p. 341 as the great Bacon observes, the most learned, became the most atheistical ages. The reason of this is obvious. While the human mind is all simplicity, popular opinion is cordially received; but, when reasoning begins, proof is expected, and deficiency of demonstration being perceived, doubt and disbelief naturally follow. Yet, strange as it may appear, if the writer’s memory does not greatly deceive him, these certain facts were denied by Hobbes. If he is not greatly mistaken, that gentleman, who gave a wretched, a most unpoetical translation of Homer, has so grossly misunderstood his author, as to assert that his mention of a future state was not in conformity to the popular opinion of his age, but only his own poetical fiction. He might as well have assured us, that the sacrifices of Homer had never any existence in Greece. But, as no absurdity is too gross for some geniuses, our murderer of Homer, our Hobbes, has likewise asserted, that the belief of the immortality of the human soul was the child of pride and speculation, unknown in Greece till long after the appearance of the Iliad.
341:1 Oh gentle Mecon.--It was on the coast of Cochin-China, at the mouth of this river, the Maekhaun, or Camboja of modern writers, that Camoëns suffered the unhappy shipwreck which rendered him the sport of fortune during the remainder of his life. The literal rendering of the Portuguese, which Mickle claims the liberty of improving, is, "On his gentle, hospitable bosom shall he receive the song, wet from woful, unhappy shipwreck, escaped from destroying tempests, from ravenous dangers, the effect of the unjust sentence upon him whose lyre shall be more renowned than enriched."--Ed.
342:1 Here ere the cannon’s rage in Europe roar’d.--According to Le Comte’s memoirs of China, and those of other travellers, the mariner’s compass, fire-arms, and printing were known in that empire, long ere the invention of these arts in Europe. But the accounts of Du Halde, Le Comte, and the other Jesuits, are by no means to be depended on. It was their interest (in order to gain credit in Europe and at the court of Rome) to magnify the splendour of the empire where their mission lay, and they have magnified it into romance itself. It is pretended, that the Chinese used fire-arms in their wars with Zenghis Khan, and Tamerlane; but it is also said that the Sogdians used cannon against Alexander. The mention of any sulphurous composition in an old writer is, with some, immediately converted into a regular tire of artillery. The Chinese, indeed, on the first arrival. of Europeans, had a kind of mortars, which they called fire-pans, but they were utter strangers to the smaller fire-arms. Verbiest, a Jesuit, was the first who taught them to make brass cannon, set upon wheels. And, even so late as the hostile menace which Anson gave them, they knew not how to level, or manage, their ordnance to any advantage. Their printing is, indeed, much more ancient than that of Europe, but it does not deserve the same name, the blocks of wood with which they stamp their sheets being as inferior to as they are different from the movable types of Europe. The Chinese have no idea of the graces of fine writing; here, most probably, the fault exists in their language; but the total want of nature in their painting, and of symmetry in their architecture, in both of which they have so long been experienced, afford a heavy accusation against their genius. But, in planning gardens, and in the art of beautifying the face of their country, they are unequalled. Yet, even in their boasted gardening their genius stands accused. The art of ingrafting, so long known to Europe, is still unknown to them. And hence their fruits are vastly inferior in flavour to those of the western world. The amazing wall of defence against the Tartars, though 1500 miles in extent, is a labour inferior to the canals, lined on the sides with hewn stone, which everywhere enrich, and adorn their country; some of which reach 1000 miles, and are of depth to carry vessels of burthen. These grand remains of antiquity prove that there was a time when the Chinese were a much more accomplished people than at present. Though their princes for many centuries have discovered no such efforts of genius as these, the industry of the people still remains, in which they rival, and resemble, the Dutch. In every other respect they are the most unamiable of mankind. Amazingly uninventive, for, though possessed of them, the arts have made no progress among the Chinese these many centuries: even what they were taught by the Jesuits is almost lost. So false in their dealings, they boast that none but a Chinese can cheat a Chinese. The crime which disgraces human p. 343 nature, is in this nation of atheists, and most stupid of all idolaters, common as that charter’d libertine, the air. Destitute, even in idea, of that elevation of soul which is expressed by the best sense of the word piety, in the time of calamity whole provinces are desolated by self-murder; an end, as Hume says, of some of the admired names of antiquity, not unworthy of so detestable a character. And, as it is always found congenial to baseness of heart, the most dastardly cowardice completes the description of that of the Chinese.
Unimproved as their arts is their learning. Though their language consists of few words, it is almost impossible for a stranger to attain the art of speaking it. And what a European learns ere he is seven years old, to read, is the labour of the life of a Chinese. In place of our 24 letters, they have more than 60,000 marks, which compose their writings; and their paucity of words, all of which may be attained in a few hours, requires such an infinite variety of tone and action, that the slightest mistake in modulation renders the speaker unintelligible. And in addressing a great man, in place of "my Lord," you may call him a beast, the word being the same, all the difference consisting in the tone of it. A language like this must ever be a bar to the progress and accomplishments of literature. Of medicine they are very ignorant. The ginseng, which they pretended was a universal remedy, is found to be a root of no singular virtue. Their books consist of odes without poetry, and of moral maxims, excellent in themselves, but without investigation or reasoning. For, to philosophical discussion and metaphysics they seem utterly strangers; and, when taught mathematics by the Jesuits, their greatest men were lost in astonishment. Whatever their political wisdom has been, at present it is narrow and barbarous. Jealous lest strangers should steal their arts--arts which are excelled at Dresden, and other parts of Europe--they preclude themselves from the great advantages which arise from an intercourse with civilized nations. Yet, in the laws which they impose on every foreign ship which enters their ports for traffic, they even exceed the cunning and avarice of the Dutch. In their internal policy the military government of Rome under the emperors is revived, with accumulated barbarism. In every city and province the military are the constables and peace officers. What a picture is this! Nothing but Chinese or Dutch industry could preserve the traffic and population of a country under the control of armed ruffians. But, hence the emperor has leisure to cultivate his gardens, and to write despicable odes to his concubines.
Whatever was their most ancient doctrine, certain it is that the legislators who formed the present system of China presented to their people no other object of worship than Tien Kamti, the material heavens and their influencing power; by which an intelligent principle is excluded. Yet, finding that the human mind in the rudest breasts is conscious of its weakness, and prone to believe the occurrences of life under the power of lucky or unlucky observances, they permitted p. 344 their people the use of sacrifices to these Lucretian gods of superstitious fear. Nor was the principle of devotion, imprinted by Heaven in the human heart, alone perverted; another unextinguishable passion was also misled. On tablets, in every family, are written the names of the last three of their ancestors, added to each, "Here rests his soul;" and before these tablets they burn incense, and pay adoration. Confucius, who, according to their histories, had been in the West about 500 years before the Christian era, appears to be only the confirmer of their old opinions; but the accounts of him and his doctrine are involved in uncertainty. In their places of worship, however, boards are set up, inscribed, "This is the seat of the soul of Confucius," and to these, and their ancestors, they celebrate solemn sacrifices, without seeming to possess any idea of the intellectual existence of the departed soul. The Jesuit Ricci, and his brethren of the Chinese mission, very honestly told their converts, that Tien was the God of the Christians, and that the label of Confucius was the term by which they expressed His divine majesty. But, after a long and severe scrutiny at the court of Rome, Tien was found to signify nothing more than heavenly or universal matter, and the Jesuits of China were ordered to renounce this heresy. Among all the sects who worship different idols in China, there is only one which has any tolerable idea of the immortality of the soul; and among these, says Leland, Christianity at present obtains some footing. But the most interesting particular of China yet remains to be mentioned. Conscious of the obvious tendency, Voltaire and others have triumphed in the great antiquity of the Chinese, and in the distant period they ascribe to the creation. But the bubble cannot bear the touch. If some Chinese accounts fix the era of creation 40000 years ago, others are contented with no less than 884953. But who knows not that every nation has its Geoffry of Monmouth? And we have already observed the legends which took their rise from the Annus Magnus of the Chaldean and Egyptian astronomers, an apparent revolution of the stars, which in reality has no existence. To the fanciful who held this Annus Magnus, it seemed hard to suppose that our world was in its first revolution of the great year, and to suppose that many were past was easy. And, that this was the case, we have absolute proof in the doctrines of the Brahmins, who, though they talk of hundreds of thousands of years which are past, yet confess, that this, the fourth world, has not yet attained its 6000th year. And much within this compass are all the credible proofs of Chinese antiquity comprehended. To three heads all these proofs are reduceable--their form of government, which, till the conquest of the Tartars in 1644, bore the marks of the highest antiquity; their astronomical observations; and their history.
Simply and purely patriarchal, every father was the magistrate in his own family; and the emperor, who acted by his substitutes, the Mandarins, was venerated and obeyed as the father of all. The most passive submission to authority thus branched out was inculcated p. 345 by Confucius, and their other philosophers, as the greatest duty of morality. But, if there is an age in sacred or profane history where the manners of mankind are thus delineated, no superior antiquity is proved by the form of Chinese government. Their ignorance of the very ancient art of ingrafting fruit-trees, and the state of their language (like the Hebrew in its paucity of words), a paucity characteristic of the ages when the ideas of men required few syllables to clothe them, prove nothing farther than the early separation of the Chinese colony * from the rest of mankind; nothing farther, except that they have continued till very lately without any material intercourse with the other nations of the world.
A continued succession of astronomical observations, for 4000 years, was claimed by the Chinese, when they were first visited by the Europeans. Voltaire, that son of truth, has often with great triumph mentioned the indubitable proofs of Chinese antiquity; but at these times he must have received his information from the same dream which told him that Camoëns accompanied his friend GAMA in the voyage which discovered the East Indies. If Voltaire and his disciples will talk of Chinese astronomy, and the 4000 years antiquity of its perfection, let them enjoy every consequence which may possibly result from it. But let them allow the same liberty to others. Let them allow others to draw their inferences from a few stubborn facts, facts which demonstrate the ignorance of the Chinese in astronomy. The earth, they imagined, was a great plain, of which their country was the midst; and so ignorant were they of the cause of eclipses, that they believed the sun and moon were assaulted, and p. 346 in danger of being devoured by a huge dragon. The stars were considered as the directors of human affairs, and thus their boasted astronomy ends in that silly imposition, judicial astrology. Though they had made some observations on the revolutions of the planets, and though in the emperor’s palace there was an observatory, the first apparatus of proper instruments ever known in China was introduced by Father Verbiest. After this it need scarcely be added, that their astronomical observations which pretend an antiquity of 4000 years, are as false as a Welch genealogy, and that the Chinese themselves, when instructed by the Jesuits, were obliged to own that their calculations were erroneous and impossible. The great credit and admiration which their astronomical and mathematical knowledge procured to the Jesuits, afford an indubitable confirmation of these facts.
Ridiculous as their astronomical, are their historical antiquities. After all Voltaire has said of it, the oldest date to which their history pretends is not much above 4000 years. During this period 236 kings have reigned, of 22 different families. The first king reigned 100 years, then we have the names of some others, but without any detail of actions, or that concatenation of events which distinguishes authentic history. That mark of truth does not begin to appear for upwards of 2000 years of the Chinese legends. Little more than the names of kings, and these often interrupted with wide chasms, compose all the annals of China, till about the period of the Christian era. Something like a history then commences, but that is again interrupted by a wide chasm, which the Chinese know not how to fill up otherwise, than by asserting that a century or two elapsed in the time, and that at such a period a new family mounted the throne. Such is the history of China, full brother in every family feature to those Monkish tales, which sent a daughter of Pharoah to be queen of Scotland, which sent Brutus to England, and a grandson of Noah to teach school among the mountains in Wales.
342:* The Chinese colony! Yes, let philosophy smile; let her talk of the different species of men which are found in every country; let her brand as absurd the opinion of Montesquieu, which derives all the human race from one family. Let her enjoy her triumph. Peace to her insolence, peace to her dreams and her reveries. But let common sense be contented with the demonstration (See Whiston, Bentley, etc.) that a creation in every country is not wanted, and that one family is sufficient in every respect for the purpose. If philosophy will talk of black and white men as different in species, let common sense ask her for a demonstration, that climate and manner of life cannot produce this difference; and let her add, that there is the strongest presumptive experimental proof that the difference thus happens. If philosophy draw her inferences from the different passions of different tribes; let common sense reply, that stripped of every accident of brutalization and urbanity, the human mind in all its faculties, all its motives, hopes and fears, is most wonderfully the same in every age and country. If philosophy talk of the impossibility of peopling distant islands and continents from one family, let common sense tell her to read Bryant’s Mythology. If philosophy assert that the Kelts wherever they came found aborigines, let common sense reply, there were tyrants enough almost 2000 years before their emigrations, to drive the wretched survivors of slaughtered hosts to the remotest wilds. She may also add, that many islands have been found which bore not one trace of mankind, and that even Otaheite bears the evident marks of receiving its inhabitants from a shipwreck, its only animals being the hog, the dog, and the rat. In a word, let common sense say to philosophy, "I open my egg with a pen-knife, but you open yours with the blow of a sledge hammer."
346:1 Immense the northern wastes their horrors spread.--Tartary, Siberia, Samoyada, Kamtchatka, etc. A short account of the Grand Lama of Thibet Tartary shall complete our view of the superstitions of the East. While the other pagans of Asia worship the most ugly monstrous idols, the Tartars of Thibet adore a real living god. He sits cross-legged on his throne, in the great temple, adorned with gold and diamonds. He never speaks, but sometimes elevates his hand in token that he approves of the prayers of his worshippers. He is a ruddy well-looking young man, about 25 or 27, and is the most miserable wretch on earth, being the mere puppet of his priests, who dispatch him whenever age or sickness make any alteration in his features; and another, instructed to act his part, is put in his p. 347 place. Princes of very distant provinces send tribute to this deity and implore his blessing, and, as Voltaire has merrily told us, think themselves secure of benediction if favoured with something from his godship, esteemed more sacred than the hallowed cow-dung of the Brahmins.
347:1 How bright a silver mine.--By this beautiful metaphor (omitted by Castera) Camoëns alludes to the great success, which in his time attended the Jesuit missionaries in Japan. James I. sent an embassy to the sovereign, and opened a trade with this country, but it was soon suffered to decline. The Dutch are the only Europeans who now traffic with the Japanese, which it is said they obtain by trampling on the cross and by abjuring the Christian name. In religion the Japanese are much the same as their neighbours of China. And in the frequency of self-murder, says Voltaire, they vie with their brother islanders of England.
347:2 The ground they touch not.--These are commonly called the birds of Paradise. It was the old erroneous opinion that they always soared in the air, and that the female hatched her young on the back of the male. Their feathers bear a mixture of the most beautiful azure, purple, and golden colours, which have a fine effect in the rays of the sun.
348:1 From hence the pilgrim brings the wondrous tale.--Streams of this kind are common in many countries. Castera attributes this quality to the excessive coldness of the waters, but this is a mistake. The waters of some springs are impregnated with sparry particles, which adhering to the herbage, or the clay, on the banks of their channel, harden into stone, and incrust the original retainers.
348:2 Here from the trees the gum.--Benzoin, a species of frankincense. The oil mentioned in the next line, is that called the rock oil, petroleum, a black fetid mineral oil, good for bruises and sprains.
348:3 Wide forests there beneath Maldivia’s tide.--A sea plant, resembling the palm, grows in great abundance in the bays about the Maldivian islands. The boughs rise to the top of the water, and bear a kind of apple, called the coco of Maldivia, which is esteemed an antidote against poison.
349:1 The tread of sainted footstep.--The imprint of a human foot is found on the high mountain, called the Pic of Adam. Legendary tradition says, that Adam, after he was expelled from Paradise, did penance 300 years on this hill, on which he left the print of his footstep. This tale seems to be Jewish, or Mohammedan; for the natives, according to Captain Knox (who was twenty years a captive in Ceylon), pretend the impression was made by the god Budha, when he ascended to heaven, after having, for the salvation of mankind, appeared on the earth. His priests beg charity for the sake of Budha, whose worship they perform among groves of the Bogahah-tree, under which, when on earth, they say he usually sat and taught.
349:2 And lo, the Island of the Moon.--Madagascar is thus named by the natives.
349:3 The kingfishers.
349:4 Now to the West, by thee, great chief, is given.--The sublimity of this eulogy on the expedition of the Lusiad has been already observed. What follows is a natural completion of the whole; and, the digressive exclamation at the end excepted, is exactly similar to the manner in which Homer has concluded the Iliad.
350:1 Near either pole.--We are now presented with a beautiful view of the American world. Columbus discovered the West Indies before, but not the continent till 1498--the year after GAMA sailed from Lisbon.
350:2 The first bold hero.--Cabral, the first after GAMA who sailed to India, was driven by tempest to the Brazils, a proof that more ancient voyagers might have met with the same fate. He named the country Santa Cruz, or Holy Cross; it was afterwards named Brazil, from the colour of the wood with which it abounds. It is one of the finest countries in the new world.
350:3 To match thy deeds shall Magalhaens aspire.--Camoëns, though he boasts of the actions of Magalhaens as an honour to Portugal, yet condemns his defection to the King of Spain, and calls him--p. 351
[paragraph continues] "In deeds truly a Portuguese, but not in loyalty." And others have bestowed upon him the name of traitor, but perhaps undeservedly. Justice to the name of this great man requires an examination of the charge. Ere he entered into the service of the King of Spain by a solemn act, he unnaturalized himself. Osorius is very severe against this unavailing rite, and argues that no injury which a prince may possibly give, can authorize a subject to act the part of a traitor against his native country. This is certainly true, but it is not strictly applicable to the case of Magalhaens. Many eminent services performed in Africa and India entitled him to a certain allowance, which, though inconsiderable in itself, was esteemed as the reward of distinguished merit, and therefore highly valued. For this Magalhaens petitioned in vain. He found, says Faria, that the malicious accusations of some men had more weight with his sovereign than all his services. After this unworthy repulse, what patronage at the court of Lisbon could he hope? And though no injury can vindicate the man who draws his sword against his native country, yet no moral duty requires that he who has some important discovery in meditation should stifle his design, if uncountenanced by his native prince. It has been alleged, that he embroiled his country in disputes with Spain. But neither is this strictly applicable to the neglected Magalhaens. The courts of Spain and Portugal had solemnly settled the limits within which they were to make discoveries and settlements, and within these did Magalhaens and the court of Spain propose that his discoveries should terminate. And allowing that his calculations might mislead him beyond the bounds prescribed to .the Spaniards, still his apology is clear, for it would have been injurious to each court, had he supposed that the faith of the boundary treaty would be trampled upon by either power. If it is said that he aggrandized the enemies of his country, the Spaniards, and introduced them to a dangerous rivalship with the Portuguese settlements; let the sentence of Faria on this subject be remembered: "Let princes beware," says he, "how by neglect or injustice they force into desperate actions the men who have merited rewards."
In the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries, the spirit of discovery broke forth in its greatest vigour. The East and the West had been visited by GAMA and Columbus; and the bold idea of sailing to the East by the West was revived by Magalhaens. Revived, for misled by Strabo and Pliny, who place India near to the west of Spain, Columbus expecting to find the India of the ancients when he landed on Hispaniola, thought he had discovered the Ophir of Solomon. And hence the name of Indies was given to that and the neighbouring islands. Though America and the Moluccas were now found to be at a great distance, the genius of Magalhaens still suggested the possibility of a western passage. And accordingly, p. 352 possessed of his great design, and neglected with contempt at home, he offered his service to the court of Spain, and was accepted. With five ships and 250 men he sailed from Spain in September, 1519, and after many difficulties, occasioned by mutiny and the extreme cold, he entered the great Pacific Ocean or South Seas by those straits which bear his Spanish name Magellan. From these straits, in the 52t degree of southern latitude, he traversed that great ocean, till in the 10th degree of north latitude he landed on the island of Subo or Marten. The king of this country was then at war with a neighbouring prince, and Magalhaens, on condition of his conversion to Christianity, became his auxiliary. In two battles the Spaniards were victorious, but in the third, Magalhaens, together with one Martinho, a judicial astrologer, whom he usually consulted, was unfortunately killed. Chagrined with the disappointment of promised victory, the new baptised king of Subo made peace with his enemies, and having invited to an entertainment the Spaniards on shore, he treacherously poisoned them all. The wretched remains of the fleet arrived at the Portuguese settlements in the isles of Banda and Ternate, where they were received, says Faria, as friends, and not as intruding strangers; a proof that the boundary treaty was esteemed sufficiently sacred. Several of the adventurers were sent to India, and from thence to Spain, in Portuguese ships, one ship only being in a condition to return to Europe by the Cape of Good Hope. This vessel, named the Victoria, however, had the honour to be the first which ever surrounded the globe; an honour by some ignorantly attributed to the ship of Sir Francis Drake. Thus unhappily ended, says Osorius, the expedition of Magalhaens. But the good bishop was mistaken, for a few years after he wrote, and somewhat upwards of fifty after the return of the Victoria, Philip II. of Spain availed himself of the discoveries of Magalhaens. And the navigation of the South Seas between Spanish America and the Asian Archipelago, at this day forms the basis of the power of Spain: a basis, however, which is at the mercy of Great Britain, while her ministers are wise enough to preserve her great naval superiority. A Gibraltar in the South Seas is only wanting. But when this is mentioned, who can withhold his eyes from the isthmus of Darien--the rendezvous appointed by nature for the fleets which may one day give law to the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans: a settlement which to-day might have owned subjection to Great Britain, if justice and honour had always presided in the cabinet of William the Third?
352:1 A land of giants.--The Patagonians. Various are the fables of navigators concerning these people. The Spaniards who went with p. 353 Magalhaens affirmed they were about ten feet in height, since which voyage they have risen and fallen in their stature, according to the different humours of our sea wits.
353:1 The goddess spake.--We are now come to the conclusion of the fiction of the island of Venus, a fiction which is divided into three principal parts. In each of these the poetical merit is obvious, nor need we fear to assert, that the happiness of our author, in uniting all these parts together in one great episode, would have excited the admiration of Longinus. The heroes of they Lusiad receive their reward in the Island of Love. They are led to the palace of Thetis, where, during a divine feast, they hear the glorious p. 354 victories and conquests of the heroes who are to succeed them in their Indian expedition, sung by a siren; and the face of the globe itself, described by the goddess, discovers the universe, and particularly the extent of the eastern world, now given to Europe by the success of GAMA. Neither in grandeur, nor in happiness of completion, may the Æneid or Odyssey be mentioned in comparison. The Iliad alone, in epic conduct (as already observed) bears a strong resemblance. But however great in other views of poetical merit, the games at the funeral of Patroclus, and the redemption of the body of Hector, considered as the interesting conclusion of a great whole, can never in propriety and grandeur be brought into competition with the admirable episode which concludes the poem on the discovery of India.
Soon after the appearance of the Lusiad, the language of Spain was also enriched with an heroic poem, the author of which has often imitated the Portuguese poet, particularly in the fiction of the globe of the world, which is shown to GAMA. In the Araucana, a globe, surrounded with a radiant sphere, is also miraculously supported in the air; and on this an enchanter shows to the Spaniards the extent of their dominions in the new world. But Don Alonzo d’Arcilla is in this, as in every other part of his poem, greatly inferior to the poetical spirit of Camoëns. Milton, whose poetical conduct in concluding the action of his Paradise Lost, as already pointed out, seems formed upon the Lusiad, appears to have had this passage particularly in his eye. For, though the machinery of a visionary sphere was rather improper for the situation of his personages, he has, nevertheless, though at the expense of an impossible supposition, given Adam a view of the terrestrial globe. Michael sets the father of mankind on a mountain--
[paragraph continues] And even the mention of America seems copied by Milton:--
[paragraph continues] It must also be owned by the warmest admirer of the Paradise Lost, that the description of America in Camoëns--
To farthest north that world enormous bends,
And cold beneath the southern pole-star ends,"
conveys a bolder and a grander idea than all the names enumerated by Milton.
Some short account of the writers whose authorities have been adduced in the course of these notes may not now be improper. Fernando Lopez de Castagneda went to India on purpose to do honour to his countrymen, by enabling himself to record their actions and conquests in the East. As he was one of the first writers on that subject, his geography is often imperfect. This defect is remedied in the writings of John de Barros, who was particularly attentive to this head. But the two most eminent, as well as fullest, writers on the transactions of the Portuguese in the East, are Manuel de Faria y Sousa, knight of the Order of Christ, and Hieronimus Osorius, bishop of Sylves. Faria, who wrote in Spanish, was a laborious inquirer, and is very full and circumstantial. With honest indignation he rebukes the rapine of commanders and the errors and unworthy resentments of kings. But he is often so drily particular, that he may rather be called a journalist than an historian. And by this uninteresting minuteness, his style, for the greatest part, is rendered inelegant. The Bishop of Sylves, however, claims a different character. His Latin is elegant, and his manly and sentimental manner entitles him to the name of historian, even where a Livy or a Tacitus are mentioned. But a sentence from himself, unexpected in a father of the communion of Rome, will characterize the liberality of his mind. Talking of the edict of King Emmanuel, which compelled the Jews to embrace Christianity under severe persecution: "Nec ex lege, nec ex religione factum . . . tibi assumas," says he, "ut libertatem voluntatis impedias, et vincula mentibus effrenatis injicias? At id neque fieri potest, neque Christi sanctissimum numen approbat. Voluntarium enim sacrificium non vi malo coactum ab hominibus expetit neque vim mentibus inferri, sed voluntates ad studium veræ religionis allici et invitari jubet."
It is said, in the preface to Osorius, that his writings were highly esteemed by Queen Mary of England, wife of Philip II. What a pity is it, that this manly indignation of the good bishop against the impiety of religious persecution, made no impression on the mind of that bigoted princess!
356:1 And the wide East is doom’d to Lusian sway.--Thus, in all the force of ancient simplicity, and the true sublime, ends the poem of Camoëns. What follows is one of those exuberances we have already endeavoured to defend in our author, nor in the strictest sense is this concluding one without propriety. A part of the proposition of the poem is artfully addressed to King Sebastian, and he is now called upon in an address (which is an artful second part to the former), to behold and preserve the glories of his throne.
356:2 And John’s bold path and Pedro’s course pursue.--John I. and Pedro the Just, two of the greatest of the Portuguese monarchs.
357:1 Reviv’d, unenvied.--Thus imitated, or rather translated into Italian by Guarini:--
Similarity of condition, we have already observed, produced similarity of complaint and sentiment in Spenser and Camoëns. Each was unworthily neglected by the grandees of his age, yet both their names will live, when the remembrance of the courtiers who spurned them shall sink beneath their mountain tombs. These beautiful stanzas from Phinehas Fletcher on the memory of Spenser, may also serve as an epitaph for Camoëns. The unworthy neglect, which was the lot of the Portuguese bard, but too well appropriates to him the elegy of Spenser. And every reader of taste, who has perused the Lusiad, will think of the Cardinal Henrico, and feel the indignation of these manly lines
"And had not that great hart (whose honour’d head ‡
All lies full low) pitied thy woful plight
There hadst thou lien unwept, unburied,
Unblest, nor graced with any common rite;
Yet shalt thou live, when thy great foe § shall sink
Beneath his mountain tombe, whose fame shall stink;
And time his blacker name shall blurre with blackest ink.
357:* Colin Clout, Spenser.
357:† Glorian, Elizabeth in the Faerie Queen.
357:‡ The Earl of Essex.
357:§ Lord Burleigh.
357:2 p. 357 Achilles, son of Peleus.